Squirrel Hill

“Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
            — Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”
Eyes of the author.

Randy Minnich

PHOTO: Randy Minnich

Randy Minnich was a research chemist and chemistry professor. Now retired, he has time to write and pursue environmental interests. He has published two poetry books, Wildness in a Small Place and Pavlov’s Cats: Their Story, which can be purchased through lulu.com and Amazon. His poetry has appeared in Main Street Rag, Blueline, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Uppagus, and other publications.

The Ecstasy of Wings

Have you seen a nighthawk plummet
booming past your sixth-floor window?
How it flutters to the skyline,
considers the city, the street below,
then in ecstasy the bottom falls away?

Or watched the sooty chimney swifts,
those sharp black blades that carve the blue,
flitter up a corkscrew higher, higher—
wheel, point their black bills at the earth
and slice a breathless arc in wild delight?

Sometimes, neck craned longingly up
but shoe soles planted firmly down,
I think I’d trade opposable thumbs
for wings.

Appeared in Blueline, #43  
January's Moon

The Wolf Moon’s cold hard light
reflects upon my rocking chair,
and I on it, and on the tales—
how mighty hunter Rabbit snared Moon-man
and Raven’s trick that sent Moon home—
those tales that flowed from old folks’ tongues
around the popping, snapping fire
to sleepy ears securely pressed
into the cozy valleys of mothers’ breasts.

Oh I suppose the physicists are right:
First-light burst from quantum chaos,
clouds of cosmic dust jostled and swirled,
coalesced to suns, worlds, a cratered moon
and—late last May—that iridescent wasp
that laid, without malice, her egg
into the black and yellow caterpillar.

So much, I guess, for fireside tales.
But the Wolf Moon’s cold hard light
is falling on my lover’s face
as death’s grey tide creeps up her arms,
and I need to climb a hill and howl,
and I need the Moon to hear.

Appeared in U.S.1 Worksheets #68


The sky is turning peach to purple.
Saturn sparkles in the midnight blue beyond.
Silhouettes of poplar, pine and willow
ink upon the fading day the many ways to be a tree.

Snow is chalk dust on the slate-gray lawn.
The neighbor’s roof—a stark black
triangle. In brown, some sparrows flutter
in the naked tangle of forsythia.

One by one, down the street,
windows light in cozy golden rectangles
that veil—the flicker of the evening news:
impending war, dread of disease.

The walls seem strong, the doors are locked.
Still, I worry…Oh stop it! The sun
has been setting for four billion years,
and yes Nature does love catastrophe:

after the meteor, T. rex was gone
but sparrows thrived.

Appeared in Rune, April 2022