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"to wherever crows fly", "nothing worse"… Tohm Bakela

to wherever crows fly

October ended. November

rushed in with warm embrace.

The autumn world smelled

like spring. Deciduous trees

stood rank against property

lines. What leaves hadn’t yet

fallen were falling. A blanket

of colorful decay covered the

ground in orange, amber, red,

and brown. Only the crows

remained, begging for death

to fall into their laps. And when

nothing fell, they flew away,

to wherever crows fly.

And you, standing alone,

watched white clouds like

smooth river stones

skip across the


blue sky.

nothing worse

The 7:30am parking lot of

the state psychiatric hospital

is filled with the out of sync

screamed choruses of the

committed. Their clenched

fingers clutch fenced-in

porches that separate them

from the outside world.

You’ve been employed here

for six years, only thirty-two

more to go. Unless of course,

things take an ugly turn and

you end up on the other side

of the nurses station becoming

a patient yourself. And sure,

every clinician jokes about it,

but you’ve seen it happen so

many times before. From this

parking lot you watch the

autumn fog lift, revealing a

bright burning circular orange

sun that rises over treetops,

highlighting dying colors:

red, and amber, and purple,

and brown. And you think

of all the things you think

you’d rather be doing, but

even then you can’t think

of anything. And there’s

nothing worse than that.

halfway through autumn, halfway to winter

after six days, the two feeders

out front remained untouched,

it’s never a good sign when the

birds disappear.

the thermometer on the back

porch reads 73 degrees,

it has for two days.

halfway through autumn,

halfway to winter,

spring returned.

does this happen every year?

is november always like this?

these questions don’t scare you.

not remembering doesn’t scare you.

the thought of snow, that cold wet

white death quietly raining from the

sky upon barren land, scares you.

but for now, there is no snow.

there is only the full feeders,

motionless like retired gallows.

and there is your sorrow, and

your life. all continuing on.

another day, another season,

another year. repeating, again.

and it’s beginning to rain

driving 80mph through the

setting autumn sun,

there’s something

about the way

sinking sunlight

hits power lines on a

deserted county road

that slightly softens

your beating heart,

like a sort of magic,

like seeing the eyes

of the woman you love

after a few days of

being alone.

yet, right now,

this feeling can’t

be enjoyed.

you’re lost in your head again,

seeking answers to questions

that can never be answered,

questions that persist

amongst fading memories

of cold years gone by.

and at home, gazing into black twilight,

there are no shooting stars to wish upon,

no clouds and no moon, just pitch-black,

and it’s beginning to rain.

trading rocks for pinecones

Menacing clouds mixed

with sundowning smiles,

things are not going so

well. I try trading rocks

for pinecones, but kicking

them just doesn’t feel the

same. Where do you go

when the graveyard is

filled and no one

picks up your


simple song

beer foam rising in the bottleneck—

another missed chance to drown

some ants, but in the winter

there are no ants, there is

only you.

springbirds return early to thaw

their wings in the sun, they sing

their songs from wet branches,

they sing their songs for you.

confusion is universal

when the worm dies

on salted concrete,

when you lose

your purpose

to reality.

don’t let this happen.

find love and let it in.

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have been printed widely in journals, zines, and online publications all over the world. He is the author of twenty-four chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including Cleaning The Gutters of Hell (Zeitgeist PressPress, 2023). He is the editor of Between Shadows Press.


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