Flagstones by Steve McDonald


sometimes it’s a matter of dropping
once again to my knees

as if in prayer as if an unfettering

as if in kneeling above the flagstones
buried under soil’s scarf of root and blade

the world for a while disappears

an early fall heat wave a trowel in my hand
I slide it under the sod that spreads like a shroud

across the face of each segmented slab of stone

the urge of soil to recapture
whatever has been wrested from it relentless

the gloves on my hands hang heavy with mud

I lift a thatched pile of turf and slice it
from the surface of the flagstone

the work is slow my knees sink into the grass

the heat of the afternoon shimmers
into the air the earth and I are spinning in space

and I am wondering who is kneeling here


Steve McDonald‘s second full-length book, Credo, was a finalist in the 2016 Brick Road Poetry Press competition. His chapbook Golden Fish / Dark Pond was the winner of the 2014 Comstock Review Chapbook contest. McDonald has also published the full-length collection House of Mirrors (Tebot Bach, 2013), and the chapbook Where There Was No Pattern (Finishing Line Press, 2007). His individual poems have won awards from Tiferet, Nimrod, Beyond Baroque, Passager, Sow’s Ear, and others, including Best New Poets 2010. Poetry has appeared in Boulevard, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, RATTLE, The Crab Creek Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Spillway, and elsewhere. Professor Emeritus of English and retired Dean of Languages and Literature at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, he lives with his wife, Marlyle, in Murrieta and can be contacted through my website at