Michael Ansara



For Owen

A released hallelujah rising to the sky,
a newborn curls like a tree frog
to my chest. Now is all

he knows in each virgin instant.
Culmination, double helix braided,
branching; almost-perfect

hand; on the smallest of small fingers,
a bump, mark of where the pattern
almost broke into a sixth finger.

In the end, the design of seven thousand
generations held; now fingers closed,
knuckles pressed into heavy cheeks,

the looming head held
asleep in an attitude suggesting
a weary wariness.




That day on the lake, the task seemed impossible,
but simple—

throw a longline over the limb,
recreate an imagined memory of boyhood,
filtered light, the double dare of height and water.

The limb was too high, our aim and arms too low.
A unique bonding in the frustration of failure
as we heaved battered Campbell’s soup cans,
again to soar, again to fall short, all day,

until finally it was somehow done. A small miracle.
The longline hung quivering, ready for adventure.

I thought your hands shook, your step unsteady,
from exhaustion.

I had no idea this would be your last time on the lake.




Regrets skitter, small mice
under cold, crusted snow.
My mind wanders,
tumbling dice.

Each July,
under our willow’s fresh greening,
the air is a riot
of dragonflies soaring, looping,

The scaled cellophane
doubled wings invisibly fast;
bodies, neon tubes of implausibility,
chinked contraptions of ingenuity.

They will ride
the cold fronts of fall,
surmount two thousand miles,
fly nonstop the wide Gulf of Mexico

To mate, spawn, and die.

As do all the young,
I swore,
to a life lived
with no regrets.

Climbing the contours of their first days,
a raw and hungry flood of flyers
unfurl their tender transparencies,
already knowing enough to find their way

To our home’s air.
I envy their certainty,
their sure sense of place, of belonging.
The gong sounds, another year finished.

I sip champagne and gulp down my despair.




Little things:

the trace of a tiny tunnel
under the snow,

the single black-capped chickadee
in the birch;

the soft-curve feel of you
under blankets.

This winter, poets are dying;
does anyone notice?

In winter, little things must be observed:

Who will see them?
Who will sing them?

In winter, the horizon narrows.

I seek comfort in the little things,
and most of all, from you.


Michael Ansara’s work has been published in Arrowsmith, The Broken Plate, Brushfire, Cognoscenti, Courtship of Winds, El Portal Journal, Ellipsis, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Glint Literary Journal, Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Muddy River Poetry Review, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, Perceptions Magazine, Pine Hills Review, Ponder Review, Salamander, Web del Sol, Ibbetson Street, Passager Books, Pennsylvania English, The Phoenix, Poetry Porch, Potomac Review, Solstice, Visitant Lit, Vox.com, and Wrath Bearing Tree. His first book, What Remains, was published in 2022 by Kelsay Books. He spent many years as an organizer and activist, having served as a regional organizer for Students for a Democratic Society and an executive director of Massachusetts Fair Share. He is the cofounder of MassPoetry (www.masspoetry.org) and serves on the board of Tupelo Press. He studied writing at Lucie Brock-Broido’s Summer Workshop, Joan Houlihan’s on line workshop, and the GrubStreet Master Memoir Class. Michael lives in Carlisle, MA, with his wife.