Pat Jones

The Switches

We felled the rotting tree before the rains
Because we feared it might crash through a wall,
But though the stub is all that since remains,
Neither our home nor we were spared a fall
Of less corporeal timber all around,
The fast collapse of structures at their roots
That’s brought uncounted households to the ground.
I’ve come to clear our stump and see that shoots
Have made a thin and ill-considered stand
In such a manner I might think that we —
Hit by a blow for which we hadn’t planned
And severed from a vast old certainty —
Like these few switches in a rough-cut cleft,
May yet go on to grow from what we’ve left.


Frank Osen was a finalist in the 2007 Nemerov sonnet competition and won the 2008 Best American Poetry Series poem challenge. He lives in Pasadena, California.