Dulcimer Poetry

"Under the Only Moon" is a major collection of Dwain Wilder's poetry, comprising poems from the 1980s up through 2009.

"Under the Only Moon," Foothills Publishing, Kanona, NY; 2011; 73 pp;$15. Please use the "Contact Us" for inquiries.

Here is a sampling from the book:

The World and You, at Play

It was I saw the seeming
         of the seesaw play while the wind
         sowed pebbles in our hair.

It was I had the caring of my brother’s pet crow,
         stealing our bright pennies off to his night,
         as he haw-hawed summer till it flew away.

I broke the jars. I hid the treasure. I threw the stones.
I smelled the gravel where the cats all shat
         in the magic dark floor of the garage.
It was I saw Barry break his arm in a box,
         tumbling from the attic with his eyes shut bright.
What did he learn in the air?

It was I scarred the trees.
I wrecked the fences.
I scratched the hog’s ears ‘til butchering day.
The creeks full of crawdads
         swam with our cries where we
         found snake spit on the cockleburr shells,
         drowning in the torrents of the bottle-green skies
         when the dry spell broke that June.

I saw the seeming
         all the summer day
         green as the clover
         round as a knee
         dare of the eye
         brick of the shin
         deeps of the sewer trench
         hewn in the road.

 It was I breathed the wish
It was I filled the fields
It was I lived to see
All our vast boy seeming
Held in the heart
Of the thunderhead throng
Hovering on the edge of the world
And gone.

Home Roads

 Out on the star prairies
he hydrogen clouds are everlasting
glowing darkly in the void
while the moon knits the mists
on the Arkansas fields
beside the home-bound road. 

The day’s road,
        Dharma’s body taken for home, is blessed each day
         the truckers’ panicked black scrawls scrubbed
         from the stone each day, the fur and bone scraps burnished
         onto the stone each day
Under the adamant sun. 

The circadians scribble their ancient electric thrill
making the roadside woods and creeks their own in the night
and while the mists outlast the moon. 

Just so, I make them all my own
while I reach for home.

Nested Dreams and Blossoms

Under the brown bromide streetlight,
        crushed stone lying about the casually filled hole
         could seem to be crab apple blossoms shed in the breeze.

Our neighborhood clutches so at its poor streets,
         its little shrunken yards, the trees that shove
         the house foundations awry.
The eye can't miss the dreams, as one walks along. 

As a child I couldn't understand why the curbing ended where
it did, twenty yards into Bohannon Street, and why
gravel was content to lie in the middle of some intersections,
baking in the relentless sun,
and why you could catch crawdads in the ditches only round where we lived.

For crawdads, reasons for things
         are always local, and beyond them
the crawfish hold sway,
working crawfish sense.
Beyond teir claw, this neighborhood is the city’s left-over plans,
poorly fed.
One may walk here at peace
in the blues and reds of day's end, if one dare a senseless place,
Pondering this place where the tinkering
and machinery in back yards and paved lots works
for a while
and then doesn't anymore. 

The mice are back in the house
I want to find the boulevard they’ve chewed
down along the foundations, fill it full of mortar.
We’re always killing things here,
inside the dreams of reasons.


The skies are ringing with geese,
and in the park at the foot of our road for days now,
weeks early here
on frigid Lake Ontario.

 The parklands spread thin
their wintered-over greens and frozen browns,
muddy, poised between warmth and frost.
Precarious as a lost glove spring seems
in this moment, as I doubt its power. 

Looking from my shop window under the cedars' shadows
at the light-stencilled earth
and the bright fallow field beyond,
their seductions tease at my tidy comfort. 

In the gray afternoon March rattles its reeds,
dabbles at budding.
Its chilly fingers blow my hair the wrong way,
flaunting ramshackle charms.

Your Mother's Last Breath

Your mother's last breath smells of her milk,
         the slightly rancid sweetness of it drying on your bib.
         pungent, somewhat sour the smell of her body
         as she lies in her last hour, without affect
         other than a sigh and the pulse at her throat. 

Her last breath taunts you with the smells of her kitchen,
         cinnamon, black-eyed peas, fish, cornbread,
         underlain by the smell of her body,
         soon, now, to be claimed by forces she has always
danced with,
         a few times mastering, sometimes herself overcome. 

As you breathe in this lurid perfume
         in the presence of her lidded eyes,
         her lips slack, tongue unmoving,
Your mother's last breath fills a moment
         in which all your words, all your thoughts,
         all your wishes, all distractions
Are brought to a stop
Before her unfathomable ability to be there
         and then not.

She will pass easily from this moment,
But how shall you?

A Small House


A small house makes a magic home,
         being, as it must, larger on the inside
         than out. Yet for all its wonders,
         its limitations impose,
         or suggest, necessities, disciplines.
Similarly, those inhabiting a small house
         must be larger inside than out,
         ready for connections with all who are there
         without the least suggestion of cobwebs
         or bad electricity or sour plumbing.

Householding can be peculiar.
There may be no places
         for closeting, for instance, or for make-up,
         glue, hammer,
         the odd inflammable.
Belongings should be as sparse, of course,
         as harsh words. Loud expressions or feelings
         may find little projection
         in a small house,
         but may rattle it apart, if persistent. 

Living in a small house is a jewel to be glimpsed,
         perhaps turned from time to time but never stared at.
To census-takers wanting the exact number of occupants,
         reply there is no such figure.
Never, never measure the foundations.