Steve Brisendine: “The Gray King of Winter’s End”

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The Gray King of Winter’s End

We have lions in Kansas, of a sort, but
our sort skulks, yellow-eyed, and slinks
               from one shadow to the next.

Here, March comes in like an old badger,
surly and still possessed of claws
               with a few good scratches left.

It growls through whipping prairie grass, 
burrows down past-dusk suburban streets 
               daring you to try and stop it.

In its prime, it bit with teeth of jagged
ice, dug holes in houses, picked off and
               picked clean the unhoused.

Even in twilight it is nothing you want to 
fight for long; even dulled, its weapons
               still sting, still buffet and bruise.

It chases thunder east to Missouri, nips
at lightning’s heels, gnaws all night
               at chattering screen doors.

Whatever comes to take it to earth at last
will not wear wool, but feathers, and fly
               full speed into April, talons bared.

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a writer, poet, occasional artist and recovering journalist living and working in Mission, KS. He is the author of two collections from Spartan Press: The Words We Do Not Have (2021) and Salt Holds No Secret But This (2022). His work has appeared previously in As It Ought to Be Magazine, as well as in Connecticut River Review Journal, Flint Hills Review, Circle Show and other journals and anthologies. He was a finalist for the 2021 Derrick Burleson Poetry Prize.

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Image Credit: Russell Lee, “Weather vanes, Sheridan County, Kansas” (1939) The Library of Congress

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