The withered dune grass slumps beneath a sere
Gray frozen sky, as winter tag-teams fall
And nighttime frost compels the Black-Tailed deer
To seek out warmer lairs beneath the tall,

Cone-laden Sitka spruce. The screech of jays
Intone a requiem for summers past,
And fading memories of once-lived days
Grieve “might-have-beens” that long-since breathed their last.

As chill-red sunsets summon forth the stars
And darkness shrouds a world entombed by night,
With lidless eyes we carry unhealed scars
Of broken dreams and wrongs not yet made right.

Yet each new dawn, a-bloom with lightful hours,
Will bear the scent of spring, new hope, and flowers.



James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, Dwell Time, Light, Deronda Review, The Road Not Taken, Fevers of the Mind, Sparks of Calliope, Dancing Poetry, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse. He was honored with being chosen as the winner of the 2021 SCP International Poetry Competition.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

13 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    This is exquisite, James, with many clear images reflecting the title. The jays intoning a requiem for summers past is really wonderful. And juxtaposing the shroud covering the night, with lidless eyes, says so much in a few words.

  2. Paul Freeman

    Fantastic stuff – and full of wisdom.

    It can take a lot to cheer us up these days – and you have with that final, brimming-with-positivity couplet.

    Thanks for the read, James.

  3. Damian Robin

    I love the uplift after the falling negatives of loss, dim colours, and regretful observation of clumps of life drifting away. It tells us all is not lost, a whiff of newness is always present in the fitful hours of morning and a potential bouquet of undescribed blooms.

    • Damian Robin

      Love the photo, James. Almost like barbed wire keeping the sun away, fitting the octave of the sonnet but touching on the possible flowers (or growing vegetation, at least) in the closing couplet.

  4. C.B Anderson

    This poem, James, gives me a lot to chew on. First of all, what is a black-tailed deer doing seeking shelter underneath a tree that is native to the South Pacific? In “darkness shrouds a world entombed by night” you seem to have doubled down on the depression theme, and we can both be glad that we don’t live in Spitzbergen. I’m not sure how “with lidless eyes we carry unhealed scars,” but the image is arresting, and, of course, your poetic license has no expiration date. If nothing else, you have mastered mood and the mysterious role of the pesky hyphen.

    • James A. Tweedie


      Lololol You caught me in one of the biggest brain freezes ever! Having lived in Hawaii for 17 years I am more than familiar with the Norfolk Island Pine, there having been a large specimen on my church property in Mililani (it’s worth mentioning in passing, that early explorers trans-planted them across the Pacific with the thought that, when grown, they could be used to replace damaged masts).

      Somehow this vestigial memory slipped in where the words, Sitka spruce, were supposed to go (I have a large specimen of this tree directly behind my house).

      Only an expert gardener would have likely caught my blunder and I, for one, am glad you did, since someday the poem may appear in print and that would amplify the embarrassment and humiliation all the more!

      As for lidless eyes, that is an allusion to what is all too often our human inability to “turn a blind eye” to the “unhealed scars of broken dreams and wrongs not yet made right” that haunt us from our past, including all those “might-have-beens.”

      And yes, there are several phrases in this poem of which I am quite fond. “Chill-red sunsets” is one. “Lightful hours” is another. And, last but not least, “lidless eyes.”

      For posterity I will request Mike to make the appropriate correction to my arboreal error.

      • Paul Freeman

        Arboreal Anthitheses Limerick

        When writing of trees, please stay calm,
        or else you might spread much alarm;
        for oaks aren’t a place
        where a sloth shows its face,
        nor do bears climb a coconut palm.

  5. James A. Tweedie


    So funny! Now if I can only figure out the difference between an opossum and a possum, and the three-toed and two-toed sloth (I do know that I represent the five-toed species of the latter).

    I no longer, however, climb trees of any kind.

  6. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I really love your imagery and smooth depiction of depression, “Yet” hope. I identify with: “With lidless eyes we carry unhealed scars of broken dreams and wrongs not yet made right.” Then I am refreshed with your words: “Yet each new dawn, a-bloom with lightful hours, will bear the scent of spring, new hope, and flowers.” “Yet” is a wonderful name for your poem!

    • James A. Tweedie

      Thank you, Roy. Evan added the descriptive pre-title which I think captured the contrast between the gloom and the bloom, so to speak! I am pleased that it spoke to you in a personal way. May your Christmas and New Year bring with them the scent of spring, hope, flowers along with the sound of angels.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.