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Morning's Detour

Second-place Winner – 2019 Poetry Contest

One would expect grackles
or crows, purple necks stretched out
in the backstreet gloom, fluttering
from dumpster to chain-link fence.

But here come the wayward geese
fanning out over asbestos shingles
landing flat-footed on the parking lot
in an artful unraveling fuss.

Across the street on a low roof
hangs a six-foot American flag
strung antenna to chimney, a faded
feathered Indian painted over its stars.

Dim lights line the street.
A storefront window is stacked with boxes.
The window above is open, a curtain
swept back against the white wall.

And at the crossing, a freight train slows,
shuffles the geese. They poke the asphalt,
stretch and shudder, rise to travel
the yellow sky. I’m breathlessly late for work.


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Mary Wehner is a poet and visual artist who lives on the shore of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac. A widely published poet, Wehner is also author of several letterpress chapbooks and broadsides through Red Hydra Press, and she has spent two sessions as Poet-in-Residence at Penland School of the Craft in North Carolina.

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