Humanist Voices in Verse: The Gnatcatchers

This week we’re pleased to publish “The Gnatcatchers” by HNN Poetry Editor Daniel Thomas Moran. He served as Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, New York from 2005 to 2007. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Forum, and the Poetry Salzburg Review. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine. His website is

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The Gnatcatchers

Near the final day of
our June, the Gnatcatchers
are tending a third clutch.
The first chicks, born over

the porches post, survived
from shell to down to wing.
All, now long scattered
to the deep of the forest.

The second, three tiny eggs,
was sacrificed to the needs
of nameless predation,
plundered from the fleecy nest,
leaving only bits of shell
on the brown decking below.

But now, a new nest, set
above the kitchen’s window.
Tucked beneath the red eaves
of the metal roof, well sheltered
from wind, water and hungers.

And so again, the Gnatcatchers
call to one another in code,
spinning blithely in ballet, here
above the whispering river.
They snatch what they’ll need
from the dense rising airs,
unaware they are admired
for their unrequited faith, and
all they refuse to believe.

—Daniel Thomas Moran