HomeSouthern VoiceTwo poems by Ronnie Sirmans

Two poems by Ronnie Sirmans


Remember that year
the aurora borealis
could be seen as far
as where we lived?

Never had anyone
recorded the natural
splendor lighting up
Georgia’s night sky.

That year we called
the northern lights
our southern lights.
O confused heavens!

The meteorologists
said sun-sent plasma
muddled magnetism.
O confused heavens!

Our breaths shimmered
in blessed fluorescence
as we briefly witnessed
light whip the darkness.


I open the door to go get the newspaper,
the old-fashioned delivery to driveway,
and a stork on the stoop startles me.
When my heart at last restarts, I advise:
“You’re way too late.” The long-legged
wood stork shakes its head, makes clear:
It has carried nothing for me anyway,
not even today’s plastic-swaddled news.
The plush plumage of the avian torso
shines blindingly white, but its head,
featherless, grayish, and so up close
makes me think of scaly pine bark,
of the similarly crinkled bald heads
of its buzzard cousins at a wild wake.
The long beaks on all wood storks
look weathered, from sun and storms
and from carrying so many babies.
Toting human tots must be stressful,
leading to losing a feathered noggin.
“Shoo,” I say, and at first it scampers
like a petulant child before flying off,
revealing wings edged in black like
the sudden flashing blade of a scythe.

Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, The South Carolina Review, Fathom, Heart of Flesh and elsewhere. Read his previous poems in Deep South here.

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