Some mornings barrel in, head on
careening straight out of the mineshaft
hauling up the night shift and unordered cargo.
Inside the echo of clattering cars
still loaded with yesterday’s steaming slag
a semi-consciousness anticipates
orchestration—some sort of birdsong
to herald the onrush,
expects to crest into firelight
atop the refrain of some cosmic love
song, some sudden insight— and wonders
Where are the flutes?
Where are the violins?
Belying still dusky surfacing seconds
a memory from the candle
flame of an ancient age—
of a piccolo’s shy lilt—
casts a merry shadow along the stone
wall dancing about the notion
that we could remain
here, in this half dream
slide stepping sideways.
Everyone’s intentions are good.
Perhaps settling wouldn’t be so bad.
But then a cardinal’s trill reminds
what has taken lifetimes to learn:
The sun is not called, but summons.
It is we who tunnel underground
seeking fortunes and burrow away
from the gods. Each day’s business
is about nothing less than the soul.
Shelly Norris currently resides in the woods of central Missouri with her husband John, two dogs, and seven cats. A Wyoming native, Norris began writing poetry around the age of 12. As a single mother of three sons, Norris had to concentrate on achieving an education and beginning a career to sufficiently support the family. Early in this journey it became clear that pennies from publishing poetry would not feed and shod hungry barefoot boys, so she necessarily dedicated her time and energy to building a teaching career. Meanwhile, working in the shadows grading sub-par essays, and editing for other writers, she has been slow to send forth her own writings into the cold world of rejection and possible publication in obscure volumes. One who struggled furiously with the art-life balance, Norris knew her destiny to be—like Burroughs, Bukowski, Stevens, and Wilder—a more dedicated and widely published writer later in life. While pecking away at various essays, short stories, and a couple of novels, Norris is wrestling a pile of about 100 poems into cohesive chapbooks and manuscripts embodying the vicissitudes of unrequited love and loss, dysfunctional wounds, healing quests, and the role of cats in the universal scheme.