Michael Lyle – Four Poems



I watch a raccoon wobble
like a drunk from a bar
in daylight, so maybe he’s rabid

or she is old and confused
too many seasons, litters, scavenges
cloudy eyes, achey paws

a turkey vulture circles and leaves
returns with a flock
the raccoon flattens against the grass

animal control joins me in the yard
but doubts rabies
says age and cataracts

it retreats into the tall weeds
and a grove of maple and poplar

as the officer drives away
I imagine my bare feet along the path
among the brush and shriveled leaves



the mother rabbit’s fur
is smooth beneath my hand
her kits gathered
in the nest under the forsythia

we have watched each other for weeks
discerning intent
a searching of hearts

it has come to this
like the first taking of a lover’s hand

she hops slowly
to where I sit
in the back yard
surrounded by fading light

I slowly stroke her back
herself enough
for her brood

and my adolescence
hearing the sock hop beat
four blocks away



today I plotted a garden
pounded stakes into winter mud

the falling hammer
like slow applause

a hedge against mass shootings
errant asteroids
and the faces of refugees

string connects the boundary posts
of the future-shining land

where I will listen to corn silks
marvel at eggplant
pluck beans from heavy wire
and manage a tangle of yellow squash


Eight Point

if I were a deer
I’d head for Yellowstone
to take my chances with the wolves

I’d travel in daylight
so drivers could see
slow down and admire my skin

eat from people’s hands
sleep in their back yards
and pose with children

leave before they woke
avoid strip malls
careful of highways

and other deer who live
where they were born
and want me to stay

fill my ears with water on stone
my nose with loam and doe


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Rather than being observed or judged, beauty must be discovered and absorbed through the lens of amazement. Consideration of beauty reminds me of Galway Kinnell’s wonderful poem “Saint Francis and the Sow” and the need of so many to be retaught their loveliness. Beauty is the cancer patient’s bald head, promises kept and every shining of light in darkness. The world is sacramental beauty and all within it wear a crown.


Michael Lyle is retired from thirty-three years of ordained ministry and lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Michael’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Dappled ThingsThe Hollins Critic, Saint Katherine Review, HummingbirdIthacaLit and Haiku Journal. His essays “Feast” and “Enemy” were winners of The Buechner Narrative Writing Project and published in The Christian Century. In 2005, he published Gathered Stones, Divine Encounters in Everyday Life, a book of essays from his early years in ministry, one of which was published in 2007 in the Guideposts book Miracles. Three of his sermons were published in the Minister’s Annual by Abingdon Press.

He earned his B.A. at Emory & Henry College, M.A. at Wake Forest University, and M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

His Doctor of Ministry focused on the life of faith in multicultural contexts. He studied at seminaries in Washington, D.C., Sweden and Germany. More at: michaellylewriter.com.