by Christopher Todd Anderson

Mixed weather.  Shale-gray banks of clouds
obscure the horizon, then fragment overhead
as sunshafts break through cumuli into
rough-hewn chiaroscuro, as if the day itself
can’t decide whether to wake or sleep.

Hiking the northern edge of Lake Manataug,
I find the crooked foreleg of a deer hanging
from a hickory sapling along the path,
hooked at the gristled remnant of a knee:
some drunken hunter’s stroke of cryptic wit.

I touch the fur, feel the underlying bone
fragile as my own daughter’s delicate fibula.
My finger probes the hoof’s worn cleft
as if expecting to find a pearl there, or thorn:
some unequivocal omen for how to read this day.

Thirty years ago I came upon a steer’s horn
dropped in a cornfield where I was with a girl
who said she loved me.  Now her name escapes me,
but sometimes I take the horn from the shelf
in my study and touch its ridged hollowness.

Once by a riverside I found a crow’s wing,
detached, singular: a small feathered boat
I set into the water and watched eddy away,
scraping the dirty shore until it caught the current
and ran out of sight toward distant waters.

Gravel and leaf litter underfoot, I walk back
from lake to car, kicking fallen oak galls,
crunching bones from an owl pellet
beneath my boot.  I keep my eyes to the ground,
ears honed to the spin of the reckless world.

by Christopher Todd Anderson

Last sound in the world:
clattering branches, dry
wood against dry wood.
Centuries ago the world
went stoic, sun expanded,
boiled off oceans, lifted
them like rapture into cold
interstellar space.

These trees have been
naked so long they can’t
remember leaves, those
shimmering green gowns.
Sap hardened in their veins,
living cells coughed and died,
crowded together like bricks.

Now in this last thin air,
limbs sway as the world
spins, atmosphere spiraling
away into black nothing.
Earth’s last sound: clangor
of sticks brushing together
the way human bodies once
touched, but mindless,
arrhythmic as a mute ape
banging together two stones.

by Christopher Todd Anderson

Visible, souls would trail behind us like kites
caught by wind currents, hem and yaw,
leaning away from this world toward heaven.

Or they would be small dogs pulling at the leash,
yapping after scents unseen, all chase and motion,
loving this dirty earth too much ever to be still.

Mostly they rise like fog in lonely places, diffuse,
undifferentiated, dissolving in the noonday heat
after drifting over hay fields the whole cool morning.


Christopher Todd Anderson is Associate Professor of English
at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where he teaches
courses in American literature, creative writing, and popular
culture.  His poetry has appeared in journals such as
Tar River
, River Styx, Terrain, Tipton Poetry Journal, Ellipsis,
Briar Cliff Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.  
One of Anderson’s poems also appears in the 2018
Prize XLII: Best of the Small Presses

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 13, Number 1
(Spring 2018)

Copyright © 2018
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.