Stan Galloway

Wallace Stevens at a Playground in Kharkiv

Beside the teeter-totter
snow cleared by 5- and 6-year-olds
the missile ostriches, butt up
making mud
three feet all around.

Snowflakes fell yesterday
benign, amoral.

A blackbird would rise from the ground
not nest itself
in vulnerable terrain.

Child and parent
are one:
A child and a missile
should never be one.

I prefer beauty to destruction
not the screams of children running
but the silence in the seconds after
detonation deferred.

The play house
the plastic bus
the three-foot slide with safety bar
stare at the intruder
uninvited child with ill intentions.

The Greek philosopher says
the ideal image of existence
resides within our heads
a child’s fantasy of good will.

The blackbird left the playground
of its own will, and may return
in circles or in eights
a welcome guest.

At the arrival of a blackbird –
any number of blackbirds –
children laugh
and clap
and understand the world.

The wind
cold as any February
greets children
the way the blackbird flies.

The rabbi says
every natural thing
contains the spark of G*d
but says nothing of the unnatural.

The blackbird is free
to ride the swing
sit upon the bus
but not the missile.

The snow will fall again
with or without blackbirds
with or without children.



Stan Galloway writes from the hills of West Virginia. He is the founder of Pier-Glass Poetry as well as the author or editor of 9 collections, including Endlessly Rocking (Unbound Content, 2019).