George Mosby, Jr.


up on the crest of the roof
two sparrows dance a mating dance
they chirp a while in the early fading mist
(light has not long seeped out from darkness)
and they enter song then
soft and siren as the new scents of wild flowers
tuned in the precise same pitch
the song comes loping
loping through the brightening air
they are spry as young leaves
spinning in a light whirl of wind
as for a while (attacking their dance
with a fresh intenseness) they seem to forget their voices
(their hit of passion is quick)
they spring into the air like hooked lake bass
magnificently fluttering…melting
into the distant trees


George Mosby, Jr.’s work appeared in phoebe multiple times in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Unfortunately, little biographical information on George is found in these issues. From our 1979, 8.2 issue, we see that in addition to phoebe his work appeared in Images, Hanging Loose, The Unicorn, Northwoods Journal, and Vega. In 1978, he won 3rd place in the Wayside Quarterly Poetry Award.

In 1990, phoebe reached out to Mosby’s wife, Judith Ann Mosby. Her response to this request was published in our 20.1&2 issue from 1990. Among other details, she wrote that Mosby was born in 1950. At the age of three, his father, a Korean War veteran, was found hanged in an apple tree in their yard. It is not known whether it was a murder or suicide.

Mosby grew up in poverty, and spent time in the James River Correctional Center where he married Judith Ann in 1982. The following year, upon his parole, they had a daughter.

She closes the letter with this:

“George rests in the backyard of his grandparents, beside his grandmother’s grave. He died of what the medical examiner called an accidental overdose of diphenhydramine, a cough syrup. He was alone at the time of his death and his family is left with doubts as to whether it was an accident, a suicide or a murder.”

Earlier in the letter Judith Ann wrote that, “The poems will have to speak for themselves. I believe there is an underlying concern in George’s work to return to a more peaceful time than the one that surrounded him as an adult.”

sparrows on a rooftop in the spring