Poetry from J.D. DeHart

Pearls & Swine

We sold our precious goods
and refined our gold with dross
to make power moves.

We took a word that used to mean
something beautiful, mixed it with flavors
of hatred and hubris –

so that, now, the word does not
mean what it used to anymore. To destroy
an idea, you don’t have to hold the opposite

just mix it with contraries, wait
a bit, and soon you will forget what
you meant in the first place.

We used to say love your neighbor,
now we say make your money. We used
to say care for each other. Now we say
to hell with you, the world must go on,

but what we accomplish in this
numbing march, who can say.


evaporate into the air
on our breath, in fog,
carrying identity and universe
on whispered syllables.

Some are made of chalk, and this
is how I think of hate. Curls of anger
to wipe away, a stream of positional
phrases to wash away.

But words, they also move,
chameleonic, into the architecture
of print,

ink quill, blinking
screen, ideas made more

And this is why we practice.

An anchor of sound that takes root
in the soil of an open page,
implanted firmly in the mind,
a notion that builds.

I move words, I love them,
I erase them and regret it.

I have learned not to throw
them away, as one would old
junk mail or harvested detritus.

The way a word can
turn the world — spoken,
written, sang,

offered in praise or
in slicing critique,

resonates an unmeasured
sense of power, speaks again
to the strength
of a reading and writing community.

What started as a fingernail
was formed into a half-sliver
of moon
by the tellers of tales.
From a leg bone
grew a fearsome giant,
an entire mythological system.

It was a tree trunk
the whole time.
This is how it always begins.

Someone who seems soft as gossamer,
revealing rows and rows of gossip.

A simple event in the day is retold
until it grows legs, wings, horns –
attacks a small village.
The story is stowed around
until it no longer resembles the original,
the narrative unwinds.
A lie becomes a cage, but
who’s confined, it’s hard to make
out for sure.

I wish you could have
been there to see the large bird
go flapping through the trees.
I think it was a heron, but it might
have been a stork or any number
of oversized creatures with wings.
It was not a bat. Your father would
probably know.
In any case, I watched as it caught the air,
first a circle back, and then angling into
a nearby hiding place, perching beyond sight,
masterfully dodging forest.

I suppose a direct path of flight was
not possible, but you came out the door
seconds after it was gone, leaving only

butterflies to behold.
The heron, as it turns out, is an image
of persistence and wisdom, as we arrive
in this new stage of the journey.
There is Summer

in my soul today.
Tomorrow is May. Grief
will not hide long.

Even as numbers rise, and
leaders storm away, clouded,
I find a world in pausing.

A gentle unthawing
of months of freezing,
a tundra in my mind
warming slowly.

The earth revolves
and resolves, a lingering pain
from months of loss, unknowing
yet to come.

Some move on, some linger,
some haunt, some cling to the numbers,
while others do not believe a word
of it.

I begin to bud, but also take stock
of my growing thorns.