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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Let’s Talk About Drones



how a man or woman in California fires one off,

then waits and watches on a big-screen TV,

with zoom and replay;

no bang, no cries, bits of children


flying apart in pantomime,

like a Charlie Chaplin movie,

and when that’s over, the pilot,

lacking the comfort of a kill under fire,

goes home to watch his kids play soccer.


Let us wish him a tree to sit under.

And one for us,


because we were raised on playgrounds

and taught about fair play,

and we learned the principle

of equal and opposite force—


for though we wrote the playbook,

others will come to play too.

Then our kids will look at us and scream

the scream we failed to scream

over this game with no olly, olly, en frei,

this game we started for only us to play.


—Barbara Draper

Elegy for the Isle Royal Wolves

      —They found the bodies of three adult wolves, the alpha and     two females, which had fallen through a snow-covered             abandoned mine shaft. The pack may go extinct. June 15, 2012



Gypsy ravens, like black priests, circled over your shambles

at the bottom of the well. Retrieved, so vital in life,

you are now slabs for the scientist’s knife.


Later, perhaps, they’ll stuff you for a hotel lobby, your shadowy

gray-golden mud-matted-fur, washed and blow-dried, your eyes, yellow marbles.


Delicate legs that loped thousands of miles are shattered,

your larynx jammed with a howl mid-air.


Dead silent now,

your chill-call of the numinous.

The eyes that claimed me, lusterless, the optic fluid dry.


On your heart—still

the fresh red of lipstick, kiss of the moon.


Tucked deep within, now in shimmering shards,

the rare mirror of my shadow-self:



and wandering.


I have delighted in you, reveler in moonlight. Trueness to your wilderness self

lures me to you.


So I imagine you back,     loping across the snow, your shadow     long


under a canted winter sun, ravens circling,

and you unconfused, yourself, completely.

                                                                                                     —Barbara Draper




The Fourteen In Itasca State Park Historic Cemetery


These pine cones gathered in a basket. Even the moss talks.

And I talk to the stalwart stones


and the baby sisters, and Louise, nine, the first one in,

a door slammed shut, breakfast half eaten.


I plow dirt gently, seeking the unknowable,

and you surface a bit.    


Here is your village, your village, and your children,

your children —

seven under ten,


and Theodore and Joanna, the grocers,

John, their son, dead, fighting in France,

and Walter, Ida, and Henry,


and William, mistakenly shot for a deer, though some said murder

and started a feud.


We all dance awhile, one, two, three, one, two, three.

It’s a waltz.

                                 I’m enchanted.

It’s as if this were the whole world.


A community of communion wafers tucked into a silver plate,

behind the split rail fence, beside the lake.


A fall rain.

I seek red leaves to adorn your graves.                                                   


The white pines are bowed.

Even the birches bend down.

                                                                                     —Barbara Draper