Thursday, November 16, 2023

Shh, Shh, Shh

The ghosts appeared as they do 

whenever I go to the woods –

Mom and Dad, grandparents,

aunts and uncles, a brother-in-law,

friends, deer, bear, turkey, Europens

and Natives.  All the way back

to that near murder called a sacrifice.

Then back to Abel.  It’s part of the price I 

pay to enter the woods, a jug of wine 

to Charon for their brief reprieve.

They don’t talk much or maybe I don’t.

It’s as if the limitations of words are 

finally accepted; there is something

in their presence that gives a curious

hope I have never been able to name,

the way holding a crying baby next 

to you, rocking softly, whispering,

“shh, shh, shh” calms the child

and you.  I often forget I’ve gone to the woods 

to hunt being haunted by those presences 

holding me next to them.

-Byron Hoot 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Not Like Any Other

It is Sunday morning.  I am driving from

The Laurel Highlands through Ligonier

through Derry through Blairsville past

Homer City past Indiana to south 

of Punxsutawney to home.  A little under

 two hours.  My processional, my hymn,

my prayer, my offering, my sermon, communion,

benediction, recessional.  There’s little traffic

as if this morning retains some vestiges

of worship, some sacred, holy scent falling,

rising in the air.  It may edge beyond noon.

Perhaps to the border of Monday.  Perhaps

longer if this unhurried time can be remembered.

It’s as if everyone knows it’s Sunday morning

on these Pennsylvania secondary roads,

villages, towns, hillsides and fields.  Every act

a promise kept without any promise being made.

I got home and entered that sanctuary, the fallen

leaves off my porch like fallen prayers to be answered.


-Byron Hoot   

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Wait

When hunting, I think about the nature

of waiting, how much of my life
is taken by it. How here in the woods
to wait is to hunt and even moving
holds a cautious movement as the ground
holds fallen leaf covered trees, grapevines,
branches, rocks.  Every step a careful waltz
putting me nowhere but where I am.
How if deer appear or not, the sensation
of being where I am is a sacrament.
It enters the blood, that sense of the wild

where now is an eternity and a dance.  Now 

split like a piece of wood revealing the nature
of the grain, which way it goes, how to go with it. 

-Byron Hoot

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Return

The mists rose from patches of pines

like prayer incense rising, disappearing    

as words thinned and the burden

of the prayers dissolved until there 

was only the scent of pine and the air

was cleared for response.  It took all

day for the answers to appear.  Hours

of driving in the congestion of speed 

and slow downs, of cars and trucks 

and semis feet from front and back

bumpers and then that thinned some 

two hours from home as I drove west

into the grandeur of the sunset –

mauve clouds with gray underlings,

pink patches mixed with wisps 

of white, the sun slipping behind 

the clouds in that evening glow of gold

and felt the answers to the unspeakable

morning prayers and knew I’d soon be home.

-Byron Hoot!  

Sunday, October 1, 2023


Mary’s Town
That’s what they named it
German Catholics
Promised land that was fertile



A place as beautiful and welcoming as their homeland

Instead they found massive hemlocks and white pine





But they stayed

Built a church

A brewery

And eventually discovered their future 

In carbon

The people of Marienstadt measured time by the church bells

And the factory whistle

They built tidy houses

And proclaimed that it was

A good life

The little boy was called to the fence that separated

His grandfather’s store

From the factory

Dollars for lunch for these men

He ran back to fetch them food


Years later he

Stood in that place 

on Christmas Eve

The store long gone

The factory, mostly empty

And watched the wind carry snow 

across the cracked pavement, 

Bend the tall grass 

that hid the abandoned railroad tracks

He remembered 

his grandmother’s rooms on the second floor

And his mother 

sitting on the porch, 

a beautiful bird perched on her shoulder

By Bekki Titchner


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Affect

There is a destination to arrive at on Thursday

and that affects what I will do today.

The argument could be made there’s always

a destination affecting today.

And that would be true, perhaps even right

the way a stride demands two steps 

going in the same direction.  The car is clean,

filled up with gas.  The packing waiting 

for me and the list in my mind to be checked off

when I put the duffel bag in the car.

I’m thinking about what time to leave,

how far I want to drive, the finishing off

of the trip after a night in some motel

with no reservation made.  I have not been

where I’m going for a long time; there are 

few returns I make – today turning into                                                   

tomorrow enough of a return for me.

I am almost ready to leave.

-Byron Hoot

Monday, September 25, 2023

Where I’m From

I am from plant-scented candles

From yarn made for crocheting and jars of stored food

I am from a mix of red bricks and  tan parts etched into thick walls

With creaky halls moving on their own

I am from a quiet yet loud house echoing with sounds all too familiar

the old trees that don't go on for long 

Whose long-gone limbs I remember 

As if they were my own

I’m from modified passed-down recipes and dark-ish hair 

From Meghan, Evan, Rachel, Melissa, and Gorman 

I’m from overly cold rooms cold as a rainy autumn mornings

and messy closets brimming with random junk

And from skipping breakfasts 

I’m from stories told years later and the “scribble monster”

 and “beans beans The more you eat the more you toot” and patty cake

I’m from nothing specific 

I’m from Charleston, West Virginia and Cincinnati 

And skyline chili and sweet pepper-filled spaghetti

From my dad's first fight

ending with him crashing into a dumpster

with a bloody nose and a loud bang still going through his head

Magnets collected over the years some having family photos 

and others with small pretty rocks attached

Stuck to the side of the fridge 

By Iva Reynolds   Sep 15, 2023

Friday, September 22, 2023

And Still

"There is no end to imagining. . .. 
Or to wondering at superfluous 
beauty. . . A world of words could
not describe this wordless world."
Wendell Berry, A Small Porch,, #14
. . . and yet we write and read 
and listen.  The world is words
insufficient and our urge 
to find the right ones in the right
order like confessing our sins
week after week absolved,
given our penance and hope.
This may be the divine mystery:
our refusal damnation. 
our acceptance salvation, 
grace -- the world of paradox
we live in.

-Byron Hoot

Friday, August 25, 2023

A Tale

It’s 9:30.  My car and another

in the parking lot.  Someone 

with a cell phone on, that light

not reaching that face.  One, two

cars on the street.  The stop lights

and their dogged rhythm and my 

obedience to them when the sign

No Turn On Red means nothing.

I wait for the green light.  The near

empty road out of town, 

the lights receding in the rearview

mirrors and one Amish

buggy going my way I slow down 

to pass.  Then turn off onto an unmarked

road with fields of corn and soy beans 

and woods at the edge of the road 

watching for deer and bear.

My lights strike one of those yellow

signs with the symbol of a curve 

and the bright reflection blinding me

for a second or two as I hold the steering wheel,

feel the tires on the road, remember where

I am until the blindness passes.

I am struck by that moment of faith I 

had to take.  Disconcerted trying to 

recall how many times I’ve had

to hold on not seeing where I was 

going yet not driving off the road,

the one in front of me,

the one inside me, the one taking me home.

-Byron Hoot

Friday, August 11, 2023

That Echo

I am listening so I know where to look

when I hear that seductive language 

of surrendering in victory of what 

is unknown inviting me to know 

that outpouring of the cornucopia 

of experience that turns my ignorance

into knowledge, the delight of knowing

something new.  Almost always

it’s a voice that turns my eyes, my heart

and soul, that joins the human and divine

reminding me I am of that mixed blood

of time and eternity.  It may be that God

breathed life into Adam but it wasn’t 

until Adam spoke that God knew Adam was

alive – I seek that golden echo. 

-Byron Hoot 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

That Prayer

Even as I clear my bookshelves,

I have ordered a book or two.


This love of words ordered to create

meaning and music I cannot resist.


Maybe it was being raised on old hymns

and the King James Bible that is to blame


for this blessing, this curse, this love

of language and storytelling,


this bifurcated vision of the world –

the human and the divine 


and the inability to separate one

from the other: beauty from truth,


the salvation of no avoidance,

that nearly savage grace of going through.

Words have been my blessing and curse:

“Bless me, curse me but do not leave me untouched.”

-Byron Hoot  

Shh, Shh, Shh

The ghosts appeared as they do   whenever I go to the woods – Mom and Dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, a brother-in-law, friends, deer, ...