Propagation | Lesley Wheeler

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 Lesley Wheeler’s full-length poetry collections are Radioland, The Receptionist and Other Tales, Heterotopia, and Heathen. Her poems and essays appear in Crab Orchard Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, and other journals, and she writes micro-reviews for The Kenyon Review Online. The Henry S. Fox Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, she blogs about poetry at


                                                                     3rd Violation

Mist and whistle and sanguine
flash of cardinal distract her [replace
with me] from plotting. Gravel yields
to mulch, then grass, rough as a tongue.
Thin spring scene swallows her [replace
with me]. Goal and trouble are the same:
lose time. Find a way home.

Never silence—here crows’ racket,
purposeful clatter of rodents in brush,
germinant buzz of distant trucks—but
relief, at least, from voices besides
the syllable-maker between the ears.

Tired noisy scrap of self, uncertain
how to feel, meet remnant of the great
Eastern deciduous forest rising up alive
and barely tolerant of trespass.
Ragged, old, yet coming awake.
Sexless and all sexed up.
Through emissaries, needle
and root and creature, villain
Woods announces sovereignty.