they’ve set traps for the rats…

they’ve set traps for the rats –
one would think who cares?
except that I’ve seen the mother
coax her young in clambering
up the long patience of her tail
to reach the seed in the feeder
long after the evening’s last birds
have flown to their repose

down the street, they’ve shot the coyote,
and are calling it mercy
one might say so what?
except that she tracked the rats
and carried them back with her
into the deep green bulwark
at the densest edge of the park
where her soft-nosed pups wait

they’ve placed a sign around the corner
and one might think it benign –
until the hard hats descend
with their chainsaws and chippers,
to fell and to sunder the cedar
whose rings will mark an age
that far surpasses this city
and glibly name it progress

© Sarah Whiteley

June crows

four crows in the June grass
watch me watching them
from my bright blanket,
while the fifth plucks sprigs
of blooms from the chestnut

an all-at-once wind teases
white petals into yellow light –
a sudden floral flotilla
and the fifth crow flies with one,
two, three sprouted sprigs

and I from my bright blanket
reaching into the world –
admiring the petals,
yet never wondering
who the bouquet is for

© Sarah Whiteley

last evening in May

the last evening in May
and the dogs are still,
stretched beside the window

as still as the trees
whose wind momentarily
has no urge to prove itself

the light nearly gone,
still there is a lone
hummingbird in the plum

and two house finches
gazing outwards, sitting
squat in the window box

I smell rain tonight,
and the spice remaining
from tonight’s dinner

on the dogs’ last walk
this last evening in May,
we’ll see the Sound

and on the far side will be
mountains, which I know remain
snowy behind their clouds

© Sarah Whiteley


thinking of those days behind the wheel, cat stretched across the dash, exemption stretched out along straight, gray highways

trying now not to swallow that hook, though lately it seems the city hates me, shoves me toward her swilled-to-the-gill gutters

back then, there was the bag kept in the back and it didn’t matter that I had to crawl through the driver’s side window to get back behind the wheel

what mattered was the chance to get out of here, wherever “here” happened to be at that moment, and now it feels that “here” is now once more

and I miss that cat more than ever

© Sarah Whiteley


little fuses of bliss

little fuses of bliss
confides the woman I once
saw flash an oncoming bus
on a different January day

I played in the snow
in my (ha ha!) mini skirt
when the sky turned blue-black
and what’s up with that?

so beautiful, and I hope
you’re blessed, your day
is blessed and full of
little fuses of bliss

sweet lady, I think,
I don’t mind your kind
of strange contagious
and say thanks

© Sarah Whiteley

flower thieves

thirty-nine days of rain that spring
at night we’d poach the roses
pricking our fingers for pale posies
we’d stop to pet the strays
and duck down the alleyways
past the bamboo shadows
and the fountain we could hear
whose waters we never did see
we’d pause and pluck a petal
from the magnolia down the block
and pass it as we walked between us
savoring the scent of something dark
a sweetness undefined
the wisteria dripped blue against the stones
and we’d stop for a moment and breathe
in the sweet damp of green night
together beneath the streetlights
crickets trilling in the thick patches of ivy
trailing tendrils over sidewalks and up walls
we’d plunder the gardens and pillage the trees
thirty-nine days of rain
and all those nights plucking at roses
in spite of the pain
laughing softly and sucking at sore fingers
nine springs later I pull a pink bud
from the rose in the alley
prick my fingers and smile
like it was the last time
we crept like two thieves
through the gardens at night
together beneath the streetlights
between the alleys and the rain

© Sarah Whiteley

I’m happy to say that I’m back. Back in Seattle, back to myself, and back to writing and reading. Walking the neighborhood for the past couple of days has been like one long sigh of relief and all the worries, tension, troubles of the past year are slowly lifting. Such great inner space is created when we can let go and move forward. Just in my case, moving forward meant moving back to the city I love. I can’t wait to catch up on what I’ve been missing – both here and in my city. And what better way to mark my return than with a poem about my neighborhood.

Seattle spring

green is slow in coming
and I am nostalgic
for aimless tripping
through greenhouses
and salt-scented air
hinting of fish
and far-floating drifts
of sea-bound-weed
for a few weeks
lilacs will tint the breeze
with fondness
and daffodils blaze
the beginning
of evening treks
under rain-tipped magnolias
on moss-covered walks
past the sweet molasses
coffee air of the donut shop
I do not think
I would mind
the bickering of starlings
were spring and I there
in the same city air

© Sarah Whiteley