No Pines Stir

First I had to ask the hill
to take a walk within me
this tall hill

went on singing
I had to ask it

to hear me
I had to find a place to lay down

in the dirt’s soft darkness
the trees have been building

between hills
where roots will nook me to their water

the leaves high up will ask

ask will answer
only myself

white mushrooms glowed by the trail
waiting for sunset

does the earth sigh

at your neck, acorn caps fallen off and beetles
all the grasses

who is asking
the dirt and its animals
if you wait and nothing happens

can I stay or has it ended
there was no promise

but a final sound
from a final voice
I was drawn along

made me the urge

made rust rain
purple, certain
in its song

made me breathe deep
the coldest air I’d held

the bright gut at the bottom
trying sound

there was no promise


A. J. Collins is often almost done with his first book of poems. His work has been supported by the MFA program at UC-Irvine, a Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship, and has been published in Bodega, Spoon River Review, Conduit, Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Pittsburgh, coordinates global bribery and fraud investigations for a compliance consultancy, and makes functional ceramic wares, among other wildness.