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11 April, 2017: Oracle


by Lee Chilcote
We pull onto a narrow shoulder
where fog grips the chaparral above the ocean cliffs
and hike past redwood groves
along Sobranes Creek to Doud Peak.
The sea thunders below.
Highway One is a thin, grey line between rocks.
Brown and green mountains
unfold like a map on a table.
As we hike down the trail,
the sound of the cars grows louder.
When we reach the parking lot, there’s a screech of tires –
            a truck hauling an empty trailer
                        has slammed its brakes
            to avoid a car
                       slowing in the lane ahead.
The trailer jackknifes into oncoming traffic.
            A pick-up truck jerks its wheel
                        to avoid it,
fights to stay on the shoulder,
                                    teeters and flips over the hill.
For a moment lasting forever,
we hear the crash of the surf below.
Then, as we dial our phones,
the driver stumbles woozily onto the shoulder,
staring at his hands like a child.
“Oracle,” by Lee Chilcote. © Lee Chilcote, 2017. Used by permission of the author.

Lee Chilcote lives in a 1900 Victorian in Cleveland with his wife, Katherine, and their three children. He has worked as a community organizer, real estate developer, writer and teacher. He holds degrees from Oxford University and Cleveland State University. His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Next City and numerous literary journals, and his chapbook of poems, The Shape of Home, is now out from Finishing Line Press. He is the co-founder and director of Literary Cleveland.


Write a poem on one of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath or sloth.

Chantelle Brady
I feel like a sloth.
I walk like a sloth.
I eat like a sloth.
I relax like a sloth.
I sleep like a sloth.
Especially when I am depressed
like a sloth.
4/20/2017 1:27:35 PM

All work and no play
Does not sound like fun.
I would rather relax and enjoy time
Sitting in the sun.

I do not want to fix up the house,
Work in the yard or do chores.
I do not wish to find a job
Spending time working in a store.

On Sunday I would rather not appear
In any type of church. You see
Sleep and sit and lay around is all
I wish to have, a life of luxury.
4/14/2017 6:18:00 PM

To look out at the
world and see only one's self
me myself and I

To look out at the
world and desire only that
which you don't yet have

To look out at the
world and desire only that
which others possess

To look at a thing
and desire it only for
beauty or power

To look at a thing
and desire only to have
ever more of it

To be in the world
and desire only to be
idle, inactive

To look at someone
and feel only toward them anger
desire to punish
4/12/2017 12:37:36 PM

Cometh before the fall
Or announce a revolution
One man's vice
Another's voice

Teamwork and pride created 11 rings
Overzealous pride created 21 gun salute
One man's vice
Another's voice

Better than good
Or, worse than bad
Need to succeed
Proud indeed
4/11/2017 9:53:59 PM

Jess Stork Glicoes
Really enjoyed the moment of pause in the poem before the last two lines. Like an intake of breath.
4/11/2017 8:00:25 PM

When I first looked at today's task of writing about one of the seven deadly sins I faced the dilemma of picking one. However I did notice this...pride has a side that to me is not sinful...when the pride is not to draw attention or boast about oneself but to acknowledge people or things that deserve it. If these are sins I will continue being a sinner...on the other hand greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth represent behavior I have been guilty of and am not very proud I solved my dilemma of writing about one of the seven deadly sins...for me a task too writing a poem instead...about them all...
4/11/2017 12:11:46 PM

Susan Rebecca Teller
Thanks for sharing. That one is incredible.
4/11/2017 10:14:08 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.