NIGHT VISION: LESSON ONE
Individuals can be taught to fixate to one side
of an object to avoid the central blind spot
and to scan, utilizing the most sensitive part
of the retina to improve target detection at night.
--Night Vision Manual for the Flight Surgeon, 1992
Before you look aslant
into the darkness, viewing
that void from an aspect oblique,
the eyes must first remain
unshuttered, no shadowed walls
drawn up against the shade
to feign some sense of mastery,
setting night against night.
Forget any fear of seeing
what the night might hide:
the dark holds nothing
the light won’t show,
and the sun is little more
than the blind spot of heaven.
When hornets' nests are hanging low
The winter will be light of snow.
It hangs upon an alder branch,
a paper pendant in layered veins
of smoke and taupe, swaying at the edge
of an Indian Summer day.
This close to the ground, it seems
an argent emblem to us,
who would draw even the least
pitiless beast into our histories
and prophecies, would ask
a silent hive gravid with apathy
how deep the snow might fall.
And yet, so little interest
in the adage where the workers
starve before the first flake falls,
and the queen alone evades the frost,
concealed in a fold of hickory bark,
beyond the reach of ice or wind,
past any need of hope or knowing.
POEM IN WHICH MY VEHICLE
IS MISTAKEN FOR A POLICE CAR
The government plates on this state college car
lend more authority than either myself
or this old Crown Vic deserve, yet I’ll take
this borrowed thrill and ply my way along
the southbound stream, worrying the eighteen-wheelers--
lumbering whales with pickups and box trucks
hurrying in their wake like unweaned calves--
and I’ll chasten to the point of braking
these schools of coupes and hatchbacks that flash
their tail lights in warning to others of their kind:
a shark now swims among them, for at least
the next three exits--a streak of unmarked
ivory behind a black-tipped snout,
patrolling this jersey barrier reef.
Kevin Casey is the author of And Waking... (Bottom Dog Press, 2016), and the chapbooks The wind considers everything-- (Flutter Press) and For the Sake of the Sun (Red Dashboard). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Chiron Review, and Ted Kooser's syndicated column “American Life in Poetry.”