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Roger Leon Brunette


Westerly, RI, US

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The Cardinal


Roger Leon Brunette

After a night of heavy snow
a deep silence pressed down in the woods
not unlike the weight of stones,
as though every sound
had been squeezed out
and absorbed
into the whiteness.
The glare of morning light on snow
smarts momentarily:
the eyes squint, then adjust.
Somewhere in the distance
a dog's sharp bark carries
like an unseen crack_
Suddenly, as if from nowhere,
a streak of red cuts
across my eyes
like blood rising
from a fresh incision.

Marsden Hartley


Roger Leon Brunette

When Marsden Hartley died
the barrens were still blue with berries,
lobstermen were already out at sea,
the belfries in Ellsworth did not toll

In the small wooden church at Corea,
the upper air was sharp with turpentine and paint,
a canvas stood leaning incomplete against a makeshift easel,
waiting for the sound of slow and heavy steps.

His life had been a house of empty rooms;
wife, family, domesticity - all had been hopelessly beyond his embrace;
more than art or friends, he craved a place he could call "home",
a place to stay his restless feet.

In the end, perhaps reluctantly, he came back to Maine
desperate like a runaway boy for his mother's smile,
but she had none, neither the welcoming arms
nor the warm cheek he had hoped to press his own against.

As if to spite the land that had ignored him
(he would not be interred),
he had his ashes thrown over the Androscoggin.

No more the prodigal, no more the wanderer, he had found his "home" -
secure and lasting like Katahdin's granite walls.

White-tail Deer


Roger Leon Brunette

Night after night they step out
quietly from the small wood and its underbrush
behind the house, punctual
like invited dinner guests.
Then, af if by some rule of protocol,
enforced by generations
of breeding,
known to each one,
they step cautiiously toward
the tender pussywillows.
There, surrounded by the arms
of a cool spring night,
they nibble undisturbed.
But on my bed, uneasy and tensed,
I wait for the shot
that will send them all leaping
wildly into the shattered night air
like startled mourning doves
- except one.