Waking Up

The grace of easy moving light
gently gains the ridge
pouring down manna
on this cornfield. 
Blessed be the long shadows
of the scarecrows
who stood watch all night
until a rooster’s cry
says to stand down
and let the morning enter
still dark-lit souls
who believe that faith
only springs from the ground.


An Old Coal Mine
Descending into the night
of an old coal mine
our miner helmets' light beams
pick out the hundred year old bones
of donkeys who were born
and lived their whole lives
without ever seeing the light of day
hauling the dark residue of paradise
only so far as the coal train terminus
where the coal cars made
the final run to the surface
as white boys stood blackfaced
blinking in the sun
waiting for the anthracite to be unloaded
before dropping down again
into a purgatory
that even Dante wouldn't believe.





William Cullen Jr. is a veteran and was born in Petersburg, Virginia. He lived in Alabama, Georgia and Germany before settling down in Brooklyn, New York, where he works at a social services non-profit. His work has appeared in Canary, Concis, Farming Magazine, Gulf Stream, Pouch, Spillway and Written River: A Journal of Eco-Poetics.