By Peter Halstead

Souls of the lost that chase around us,
Feeding on the honey of the glare,
Seem to like the flowers most
Whose faces always turn to stare

At sky, as stamens always seem to thrive,
Filled with visions of their ends,
When least likely to survive,
Their disks mirrored with the legends

Of the future carried
In their faces, children of the coming
Bliss, saved from horror, unharried
In their slow focus on the numbing

Blare of heaven, the optimistic blaze
That coats their slow extinction
As brilliantly as the ocean haze
Veils the future of a hopeful sun.

March 6th, 7th, and 9th, 2022


I wrote this poem about refugees. I know we’ve all seen the video of a Ukrainian woman telling Russian soldiers to carry seeds “so at least sunflowers will grow here when you die.”

Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine. They attract butterflies, which the Greeks thought of as souls, and which Nabokov extended to meaning the souls of the dead.

If you look closely, sunflowers carry in the yellow disks of their faces hundreds of baby blossoms, children that resemble the adults they will become.

This is about the optimism of absolute despair, when the only salvation is to defy fate and simply hope. I think a lot of us spend a lot of time just wishing. What are the words of a poem but wishes? Action, though, is born out of words, out of wishes.