Late Summer, Strolling by a Neighbor’s Garden


I notice that her bleeding hearts, whose blooms

uplifted us in May, have now been long

dried out like petals pressed in heavy books.

And where I walk, the pavement — rinsed by rain —

yet teems with tiny beings ruined step

by step, mere micro-creatures that our eyes

can’t see, so every breath that we inhale

breaks the living chain and kills —  and cannot


stop.  Jainist Monks, equipped with whisk brooms, sweep

their paths and trap their breath in masks they wear

whenever they’re outside their cells, afraid

to take a sentient organism’s life.

But we are all a part of the great garden,

which waits to make of us a winter pressing.





Matthew Brennan has published eight books and chapbooks of poetry, most recently Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems (Lamar U. Literary Press, 2021).  In 2020, he authored The Colosseum Critical Introduction to Dana Gioia.  His poems and criticism have appeared in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Elder Mountain, Sewanee Review, New York Times Book Review, South Carolina Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  He retired from Indiana State University in 2017 and now lives in Columbus, Ohio.