Richard Jones

   for William
    and Andrew

My sons rose early, before
the purple-gray mist of first light,
broke camp and started out from
the valley, packs on their backs,
the two of them steadily moving,
talking little if they talked at all,
leaning into the path up the hill
through the woods, hard going,
pressing forward, legs heavy
and fatigued by midday, muscles
burning, breathing heavily, packs
heavier now, tin canteens
banging notes against their hips,
hands raw from scrambling
over chutes of jagged rocks,
leaning into switchbacks and
then in warm afternoon light
up and across the high meadow
to the sheer peaks, the stone
outcroppings where they sat
exhausted, too tired to talk,
realizing they had nothing
to say to anyone, no words
for the sun or the twilight
or the eagle-view of the valley
or the night-fire’s first flames,
the two of them resolved now
to not go down the same men,
maybe never go down again,
and that’s when, they told me,
a multitude of stars came
out of the sky like old friends
with lanterns held high to greet them.

Richard Jones received an MA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from Vermont College. Jones’s first collection of poetry, Country of Air (1986), won the Posner Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. He has since published several additional collections, including The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning (2009), Apropos of Nothing (2006), and The Blessing: New and Selected Poems (2000), which won the Midland Authors Award. Jones has received the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines’ Editors Award for his work editing the literary journal Poetry East. He has also edited the anthologies Poetry and Politics (1985) and Of Solitude and Silence: Writings on Robert Bly (1981), which he co-edited with Kate Daniels. His own poetry appears in the anthologies Poetry 180 (2003, ed. Billy Collins) and Good Poems (2003, ed. Garrison Keillor). Jones has also produced a CD on the art of poetry, entitled Body and Soul. His website is