Following Hay

Order now from Finishing Line Press

Sample Poems from Following Hay


I came across a Rhapsody last night.
Sight reading, my slow fingers
remembered— these keys were first yours.
Dad presented this piano one Mother’s
Day—you swept onto the bench
and played Deep Purple—knew it by heart.
I heard so much about what he didn’t give you.
This little spinet became my practice piano,
one we moved across several states with
Dad’s rising ambition, raises in pay.
When you died, it took one last  trip, longer
than the rest, from Kentucky to California.
The mover said it slid a bit  going over Sierra snow.
But the blond Baldwin needed merely a tuning.
Its white keys don’t sit quite straight, some
slightly raised, and four are chipped, where
Juliet banged before she  started lessons.
Honest, I didn’t see her do this—you’d have
spanked her—some say these flaws lend
character to the ivory. The granddaughter you
never knew plays the Rhapsodies today,
much the way you played, breathing in
the crescendos, tenderness tucked
into those unexpected open intervals
of the right hand.

Late Harvest
Though never did I seek it in my time—  
I found the stable full of rhymes and boys,
limed, serifed, written bold upon— who embroidered
moonfall, fell upon me at dawn. Called forward
by the many miracles of mouth and sibilant song,
delivered to new ports opened on the Black Sea:
Odessa, Kiev, traveling as Empress Catherine,
whose favorite sang late. Crests of iolite wave lapping
minaret and snow-white shore. That voyage south
did end, Catherine fluttered down, as did the brown
barn, fallen upon its hemlock knees. Late April snow
heaved it down. Boys fell out of lofts, sky, or dead
from too much earth, some choked in vines.
A buried harvest sizzles, shushing, hushed—still mine. 
Praise for Following Hay
Of the many books of poems extant, some leave the reader without a mark, some have a poem or several poems that stay with you, and then there’s a collection that stays in the mind almost whole. Following Hay embodies that kind of poetry collection, for Donna L. Emerson’s poems are for those who are passionate and restless about poetry. I’m reminded of an old country dance, called the Hey, where the dancers weave in and out of a circle around their partners; these poems do just that, they have that kind of cohesive movement, they have the linked passages of time, they have the passing down of stories about place and desire and lives lived.

Joseph Zaccardi, Poet Laureate of Marin County California, author of  The Nine Gradations of Light and Render