Poems by J. Stephen Rhodes have appeared in Shenandoah, Tar River Poetry, The International Poetry Review, and The SHOp (Ireland) among others. His poetry collection, The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next, was published in 2008 by Wind Publications. His essays have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Brevity, and Sojourn. Before taking up writing full-time, he was the co-director of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center in Berea, Kentucky, where he helped to prepare seminarians for ministry in the Appalachian region.

Red-eyed Vireo


What if the one you adore the most
wants it kept quiet and is shy
of human company with its cat-o-nine-tails,
hammer and three nails,

and is sick of words from an ever-repentant
lover come home from another night
of blowsy declarations?

What if he prefers the simple
statements of the red-eyed vireo
from its cloister in the tops of trees?

Could you remain silent long enough
to listen, to build your own nest
and sit on it as long as it took?

Could you stay put, restraining
your praise only to song? 





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