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Butterfly Count

by Mark McKain

           after Sei Shonagon

It breaks my heart to think . . .
crows would not be considered a moving sight

One dead bat a furry peach pit   One catbird’s symphonic complaint  
Rocks warm from hazy spring sky

Two Campari and sodas orange on the porch   Three orioles: one male neon red  
Two yellow warblers fly to crabapple 

On a pine branch lit by sun’s last rays: two cowbirds   One muskrat disturbs lake 
One sister leans forward in cool orange light smiling  
We dream furiously   Empty space seethes with seeds   Sensitive to wind  ukiyo no kaze—
wind of the world—hardships of the world  
One dog howling in the middle of the day   Fireflies extinguished by insecticide
One tiger swallowtail lingering on laurel   Blue wind descending

the lion mountain at lake’s horizon   One year anniversary:
his going out of this house this world


Mark McKain’s work has appeared in The New Republic, Subtropics, Blue Mesa Review, Green Mountains Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook Ranging the Moon was published in 2003, and in 2006 he was awarded a Writing Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center. He teaches writing at the University of Central Florida. (10/2009)

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