Snow dancer

Your pixie breath catches the light
on an icy cold day when snow
sets off the color of your pink hair
Dancing in front of me just a moment
so that I notice your eyes are black
painted on the surface of your face,
impenetrable as the frozen water beneath you
Just a moment before you are gone –
your presence fading in vapor
leaving me exposed, skin stuck to await you



It’s a good day to stay indoors and write. Enjoy the snow.



©Daniel von der Embse

Smell of bones

On the block where the charnel house sat
overgrown with spearmint
making the combination of smells
like sweet tea swished in trench mouth –

The scent is carried by the wind into my garden
where a fat black cat watches for fleeing rats
flushed out of hiding by crashing skulls
in the first part of day before the light becomes too great

Awaking on this spring day to clear the house
of corpses and make room for those coming,
I sit and breathe deeply to smell the stories
of the dead – each one in its own way mine



This poem first appeared in The Blue Hour, January 2015


©Daniel von der Embse

Letting go the ghosts

In Seattle we amble
along once familiar streets
nothing the way we remember
but the rain, deep, soaking

Wandering the scenes
of our broken courtship
surrounded by ghosts,
waving the warning signs
that were there all along
but forgotten

We hold onto each other
like lost tourists
and walking faster I feel
with each step how easily
you could have let me go

Thankful that you instead
let go these haunted places,
we talk about home
where dry clothes are waiting
to change us back
into our old selves again

This poem first appeared in CandleLit eJournal, November, 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse

Secret death of birds

The birds of earth are called
to die in secret ritual
high, high above upon rooftops unseen

their wings’ last heaving, landing a silent perch
cooing in faint gurgle, eyes gently closing,
heads pulled inward,

their bodies then transformed
to dust by God –
never seen, never recorded

leaving us with nothing
to prove the secret of their deaths
only the fresh new flocks
that must return to earth each year


This poem was first published in Harpoon Review, December 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse


She says
you come into this world alone
you leave this world alone

And I think, no, my mother,
she was there
but then she was gone
before I could remember
how it felt to be loved

We leave this world
it doesn’t matter who
is there

We leave them
to remember how it feels
to have been loved



This poem was first published in After The Pause, December 2014

The rescue

In the morning, daylight,
the shrill whimper of a coyote
way off somewhere

In his voice, fear,
the cry for help carried
from the distant hills

The sharp bark of dogs, syncopates
his wailing, afraid, surrounded
out of reach of his brothers

I am mesmerized by the voices
and listen with all my hearing
for how the end comes

In that moment, a rescue
by his fellows, running off, free –
the scenario I choose,
the better to imagine myself



This poem was first published in Across The Margin, October 2014.

Solitary heart

In our wedding pictures,
the scar above my lip
foretells of the battle of wills,
the constant sparring,
that ultimately tore us apart
On our last day of fighting
I hold your fist in my hand,
able no longer to be happy
and in your company,
carrying this solitary heart
to where it can rest,
never again to feel so alone
as when we were together


This poem appeared in Penny Ante Feud, December 2014.


©Danielvon der Embse

A prayer before resting

Before bed you asked
me to read you
the Lord’s Prayer

a strange request
unsettling to me
in my exhaustion

Laying you to rest
I pray it now
remembering you –

a video flickering,
streaks barely visible
in the light

shadow beings
chasing us
back to when

we could see
it all, everything
in the dark



The poem was first published in Across The Margin, October 2014.



©Daniel von der Embse

The mess we left

What can we tell
from these pictures on walls,
jars filled with glass candies wrapped
in paper that cuts?

What do we know of them
who left their secrets here
in plain sight of passersby?
The water-stained wall
the empty picture hook
the drawer full of broken glass

Listen and you can hear
the uneasiness of a life never quite
cleaned up or put away
asking only for quiet,
a place to be left alone

Perhaps if we sit and wait
these walls will spill open
to explain the sudden change

For now let us stop
and sit with
the mess we left
and contemplate ourselves
reflected back at us
in a broken mirror


This poem was first published in The WovenTale Press, June 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse