December 2018

Before the Ash

by David Giannini


Dip a sliver of bone or wood

into wet ochre-based compound

and you will be on your way

back 100,000 years

to wall-painting in Africa

where you make no more

splash than spit in a cave

among groping fingers of flame.

Go ahead, go




come forward again, mere

man among trees, 2018.  It is early

and late in human history

with original African genes

in you bending at the woodpile,

split logs with their grain

cells drying fast,

shrinking as you shrink,

toward ash.


“Before the Ash” appears in David Giannini’s forthcoming collection, In A Moment We May Be Strangely Blended (Dos Madres Press, 2019).

David Giannini’s poetry collections include Traveling Cluster (Feral Press); Four Plus Four (Country Valley Press); Porous Borders (Spuyten Duyvil Press); AZ TWO (Adastra Press), a “Featured Book” in the 2009 Massachusetts Poetry Festival; and Faces Somewhere Wild (Dos Madres Press). His book, The Future Only Rattles When You Pick It Up, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2018. His work has appeared in international magazines and anthologies. He lives in Becket, MA.