Michael Lavers

Two poems from Michael Lavers’s After Earth

followed by a note on the author


Abridged Taxonomy of Light

Some light unfurls enormous wings,
as though sunning itself. Some light
just roosts, grooming its blue and thinning

plumage down to stars. Some evenings,
even waning sun will overrun the atmosphere’s
cracked dish, or else the dark will whisper

to the skull like waves slowly devouring a cliff.
Sometimes September shifts its weight
onto unwinnowed wheat and spins out gold,

gamboge, champagne, chartreuse.
Sometimes the Earth and this whole edge
of space seem like the blast of chaff

after whatever midnight mass of nothingness
or suns there was before this mess began,
that hornets’ nest of silhouette and shade.

But somewhere light grows cold, and heavy,
and condenses to a river whose vast delta
feeds whole galaxies of coral seas,

thicker forests, greener trees, and eyes
more clear and cavernous than these.

Field Guide

Come little wind, come sad chinook, come catch
me like a weed, some strain of yellow vetch,
pluck nothing but the uncut rusty strings
of purple sedge and mouse-ear; strum these rows
of barberry and spread the milfoil’s disease,
unsift the sleeping houndtongue and the toadflax,
drain the sour backwaters of my brain
to sow a line of henbane, tansy, ragwort,
brome, the greater groundsel then the lesser;
choke my ears with burs if you are there,
just speak as plainly as you can: say something,
true or not, like beargrass, not a grass,
which bears don’t eat, no matter what it’s called:
elk grass, turkey beard, quip quip, firelily.


Michael Lavers’ poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Crazyhorse, 32 Poems, The Hudson Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Georgia Review, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the 2016 University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. He teaches poetry at Brigham Young University.

Abridged Taxonomy of Light first appeared in the Georgia Review;Field Guide first appeared in Crazyhorse.