In an Old Growth Forest

A trail without foot- or hoofprints ends here

at a graveyard older than the forest.

Between the weeds are names

etched into hardest stone,

but letters have worn away

so that rare trespassers like me

will never know whose story

to tell, how old

they would be now,

how young are the fallen leaves

that season after season

become their burial gowns.

Forgotten headstones lean

in many directions,

perhaps toward places

their buried feet meant to go.


Along the old logging road

there are more fossils than trees:

petrified tire tracks, bright-white

styrofoam replacing shadows,

plastic Scotch bottles full of rainwater,

bones too broken to identify the species.

Not even an army of grass

can reclaim a wasteland,

nor can broken limbs find

their missing trunks.

Still there are ghosts that cannot leave

this abandoned road, this long scar

of incision. Still there is the faint scent

of diesel and sweat on sawdust,

and the soiled breeze

is too weak to carry

the human scent away.

Robert S. King lives in Athens, GA, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014), Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014), and Messages from Multiverses (Duck Lake Books, 2020). His personal website is