New Year Omens, by Alan Toltzis

New Year Omens
by Alan Toltzis

The tangled crown
of bare wisteria emerges,
woven and frozen against the spreading sky.

In all these years, I only remember
a few blooms under the joists
or at the edges of the pergola.

You remember heavy clusters in late spring,
if the pruning was done right.
Next May will tell us.

Up ahead,
metal scraps, like twisted light,
glance the right lane,
a lone hubcap rocking,
the broken white line, its fulcrum,
while a man in shirtsleeves,
with hands in jeans pockets
that force him into a shrug,
slouches down the road from his stalled car
towards the doe,
her paralyzed body heavy and calm
but still able to raise her head
the moist nose twitching,
air steaming from her nostrils
inhaling familiar scents
—field and winter. . . some dormant grass—
now tinged with purple smears of sorrow and shame
as he approaches like a compulsion urging him forward,
when only waiting will bring an answer.

Process Note: An early draft of the poem had a reference to the highway (Route 95), but I didn’t know until later that day that the highway would become a distinct section of the poem because of the incident with the deer.

Alan Toltzis, is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, Once Sentence Poems, IthacaLit, and r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly. Find him online at


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