Daniel Herbert

Daniel Herbert
2 Poems

October in Missoula, Montana

Heaps of it, coming down in crystals. They say the clouds are millions of tons heavy, that their
mass could crush us, drown us in the frozen drop of winter. Then they graciously fall so slowly, so that we may dodge them carefully, and brush their mass off our fall jackets, so
unprepared. First a highlight in the fields, and the brushstroke of a steady hand across the frostline on the mountains. One tree mere feet below the another, graciously green, laughing
at the one above suddenly trapped in winter. Like the frosted alpine trees, flakes fall on the school girl’s lashes, and she blinks them away, brushes them off on her way into the
building. Once pass the jamb, she looks at her purple jacket to find a fossil there, a
melting remembrance of a great weight come to earth. A great force no longer lifted. The frozen
sky come to rest on wool. She might try to draw it later, but for now she stares as it sinks into lilac warmth, a moment for her own. Every unique branch of it reaching out. Every
individuality melting into the end of autumn. We cannot know if all are unique,
but at least all are not the same.


Sitting is for those who watch the world go on by and here he is sitting, when all the world goes before him, beyond his control. It is for the lonely, the lazy, the dying. He watches the balloon man, twisting and tying, the shrieks of latex, matching the tones of the children on their school trip. Surely there is another place he could be, rather than sitting in this din-soaked air, what displeasure. He turns his attention to the busker sitting across the way, drumming some foreign song, the tapping of some stretched out skin, contrasting the flab of his own. All strung out and focused, what ruckus, what terrible aesthetic. Where is his home to rest in peacefully, white walls and neutral tones? Would he not prefer the soothing sounds of a 45 spinning some fresh mid- century croon? Crisp, clean, and concise to this concrete slab, to the pigeons stirring? There’s a big dark cloud moving in, he will be rained on if he does not move, he will be wet and unsettled. As my dog seeks a place to relieve himself, I ask him, “Don’t you see the storm coming in?” He answers with a question, grinning up at the sky, “Don’t you?”

Daniel Herbert currently conducts 12, 13, and 14 year-olds in choir class on a daily basis. He walks his dog in the dark at 5 AM before his Riverside street even notices him. Coming down from a series of years involving decisions he would prefer to label “brave” and a life near wild Montana mountains, his return to Wichita would seem almost regimented in contrast. Yet, a well-lived life and the people surrounding it still fascinate Daniel, and his work is increasingly focused on the insights of children, the inevitable relation of nature’s cycles to man’s history, paradox, and an overwhelming desire to escape at all times.