Praise deer

those who tear
at anything you prize
roses or blackberry
those who bend to beechnuts
those who haunt the gloaming
jittery on the margin of fields
tempting you to speed up
those who roll
their hoof and bone dice
against all likelihood
unable to resist the other side

Praise elephant ear hostas

and those who filch them
where they metastasize
exploding at the edge of regimented gardens
shade hungry under volunteer canopies
yolk stained or algae blue
or mix and match
you call the color
station wagon larceny
for those who want
to call it out
in bedroom
and lakeside hoods
splitting their separable roots
secreting them in mulch
driving them into drilled

Praise duck blinds

and all DIY
assassination plots
tree stands
buckbrush huts
camo nets
aproned pits
downwind layouts
head down hold still
sun at your back hidey-holes
tule bundle peekaboo hoodwink
drop the burlap screen
and fire

Praise drench

slant downpours
cloudburst swales
the pink blush
pelted from wild hollyhocks
seed riven by blown rain
from bluestem and wild rye grass
downspouts and culverts
artesian wells
burbling their murky retort

Praise early

leaf fall
leeward roads
strewn already
and mounding in spots
aspen sassafras striped
and sugar maple
a fluttering
autumn come too soon

Photo by Odin Lee.

Jeff Schiff

In addition to That hum to go by (MAMMOTH books), Jeff Schiff is the author of Mixed Diction, Burro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. Hundreds of his pieces have appeared in more than a hundred and thirty publications worldwide, including The Alembic, Bellingham Review, Cincinnati Review, Grand Street, Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, Tulane Review, Tampa Review, Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City, Indiana Review, Willow Springs, and Southwest Review. He has been a professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago since 1987.