the poet visits

by eugenia hepworth petty


Itinerant in the Northwest each summer
he plays  sevillanas on the porch
and argues about the use of language 
to describe the rap-poets' hubris

He lives twenty feet above the San Lorenzo
high in the watershed	
where the water runs narrow and shallow
between the banks

At night, roosters, doves and guinea pigs 
sleep in cages in the safety of the house
            the ferret passed away in the spring
miniature horses entertain the children 
of Indian families in Sunnyvale 
on  Ratha Yatra and Diwali 

He recalls the story of when he was 86'd 
from the artist complex in Santa Cruz
"I wasn't being belligerent
 I was being a poet," he says
pacing back and forth

statement of place: eugenia hepworth petty

I have only lived in central Washington for the past few years yet have felt an affinity with the landscape that surprised me, though in truth it makes perfect sense. As a child, I spent many winter and summer holidays in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and on the plains of southern Kansas, and these landscapes never left me, particularly my love of flowing mountain streams and the changing of the seasons. I was born in Texas, but spent most of my life living near the Pacific Ocean on the central coast of California, between Santa Cruz and the East Bay. I earned a bachelor of arts in English from Mills College in Oakland, and a master of arts in Poetics from New College of California in San Francisco before serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a rural village in Western Ukraine. My experiences in Eastern Europe, in landscapes more akin to central Washington than the California coast, inform much of my art today, so to be back among snow, sunflowers, and koza feels like a homecoming to me. I am cherishing the fields and hills of my new home: mist rising off marshland in autumn; herons watching from cattails and iris; raptors sitting atop craggy trees like sentries guarding a mystical underworld. I still have much to explore in Cascadia and the Pacific Northwest but am grateful to be in, as David McCloskey stated, “a land of falling waters.”

the lost man leaves a will

by jennifer boyden


To the wind, the fullness of my mouth, juice
of my openness. To gnawing things, the osseous fists
of my bones’ rebinding. I want the earth
to accept my head. I have wanted to be held
by something my entire life, something that demands
all of me to answer back with holding.

To my gone children, all I cannot say without
my tongue. I call you in silence. You answer
in kind, and are counted. To birds, a nest of hair
and threads for the wobble-necked and pink-bodied.

I give the trust of grass to bear and raccoon,
to the crepuscular world who pauses before taking,
whose staring eyes give back the light of cars
as if to fix the breakage of air
before the great coming down upon them.
I have been broken. I
have been broken.

My walk from one place to this did not leave
a trail: I walked my route only once, and once-
forward is not enough to be remembered by grass.
My path is where I column into my own shape.
I give space to air with my leaving.
I give space to flying with my leaving.

I ask for nothing in return. I have received more
than I asked for, and worse: the world afloat; answers
at once and for nearly everything; animal bellies
untethered and dragging.

To the leaf, serration of my teeth.
To water, ice of my witnessing. It will need it.
To deer, asking and then emptiness before slaughter.
The grass should take my memory. But to the trails worn
by the escaping many, the mud of unknowing.

Here is what I know for now: worms,
I have loved you rightly
since I learned that dirt holds secrets blind and dependent
on whatever mercies we are willing to gift. I gave you names.
I counted your rings, measured your body-yawns

toward darkness. Worms, you are better than stars
because you are here.

Do you remember
how my mother stitched her people’s names
to my cuffs and then disappeared? The birds left
before the people did, but you, you worms, you stayed.

To the worms, my thanks. I ask you to make me rich
within yourselves: you stayed. While the earth
was fleeing itself, I named you, and you answered
to the place of my naming, and remain.


“The Lost Man Leaves a Will” was first published in The Declarable Future, © 2013, by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.

statement of place: jennifer boyden

I used to climb a pine tree just to have a quiet place to read, and I looked forward to the Minnesota winters because the snow makes the world so intimately silent: You can hear your heart, see your breath pushed out just in front of yourself, and then walk through it into another breath. Growing up with many siblings and a small house put me on an early path of pursuing silence and privacy, those places where I can hear the rhythms of my mind and feel word shapes take form, build, connect, and become ideas. I need a fair amount of space and quiet for this to happen. Living in the inland northwest at the edge of the Blue Mountains for the past fifteen years has provided plenty of such spaces: rolling Palouse wheat fields, thick forests, scrubland, and a river with its many tributaries. Oh, the river: I grew up in water, and so it has always been a companion that shares a need for both the hidden and the surface flash. I have lived too many very different places to say with any kind of authority where I am from (Wichita, Kansas; Boston, Massachusetts; southern Oregon, China, etc . . .). But I know what I am from: Lynch Lake, Mill Creek, apple and oak and pine trees, granite and basalt, and grasses . . . . I believe I can claim the what of place more than the where, making my homes among those things where there is potential for recognition of a mutual residence within.

david on the phone

by jennifer boyden


David sober says to feed the bear
who’s eating the birdseed in our front yard.
Says we must, for him, feed it so we’ll earn a badge
under the god he’s wearing lately. God with eyes.
God who sleeps a lot when David needs him most,
and whose waking patience is thin
as the bear’s winter cells. This God of tallying
and disappearances is called upon by David most
in the time of morning vapor when it’s hardest
for David sober to believe: whole day stretched
in front of him like paint thinner, each cup a cup
which is to be used for coffee only. Feed the bear,
David says sober though alone at his end of the hour
when god might wake for him. David says
it would go well for all of us if we pour milk over bread,
honey over meat, and then carry out the bowl.
But lock the door when you’re done, David says
sober, because the source is always sweeter
than the meal. He says the bear’s salvation will be heard,
and might speak for him at the end of his need.

And with what sweetness on the tongue
will it urge the god of that single cup awake?
And with what honeyed breath will it seek
us out again, small gods terrified of the asking?

 


“David on the Phone” was first published in The Declarable Future, © 2013, by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.

sea smoke

by judith skillman


As far as winter
stretches, I am alone
on this cliff
staring down at what
could be fog or steam or mist.

The whisper of reeds recalls
a wound I barely remember,
a figure who could be . . .

As far as we are apart,
as old as that
and more, our differences,
the complaint you mustered
upon finding heat coalesced
into a lump.

The body, cremated, can be compressed
to diamonds. Stroke of gray
on a gull, prescience,
hull of the boat that might have saved Icarus
when he came of age . . .

As far as the dead are concerned,
the sun is smoke
the moon milk,
stars salt. With seared eyes
the dead see the living,
hunched figures
who find by dreaming
what it is they are looking for.

A glimpse of cloth,
bone of hanger left between a coat
torn from its closet
and the marred dowel
from which hung
garment bags. Mothballs
of ancient Styrofoam,
the insects have eaten
through silk, cashmere, linen,
and more.

Hat that should have been worn
in minus centigrade—
the dead see
our flesh in tatters
and the foreshortened days,
foreshadowing.

 


“Sea Smoke” was first published in Heat Lightning New and Selected Poems 1986–2006, reprinted by permission of Silverfish Review Press.

postcards to cascadia: eileen walsh duncan

Duncan Postcard One Back 3

 


There Be Fiends: Dear Mom, / You gave me your truth, warnings / that skitter out of my satchel, / zing my spine. / If I’d known anything, / I would have asked for tools, / and ditched the dress, the lipstick, / all edible markings. / Tools I collected out here: / When cornered, / do not meet their gaze, they / thirst for your retina’s quiver. / Watch the shoulders, they / presage the strike. / To be invisible, / synchronize / each intake of breath. — Eileen Walsh Duncan

View postcard image: The Wizard of Oz

where the water is

by lauren lockhart


men with their mile counting and their maps
            maps with their measurement and

lines,
a curious violence.

the Aspen bends where she wishes, stooping

to touch a white rock
nameless
I am surprised to find that she touches me first

and the Hackberry tree advises
that I follow the bird.

I know which one she means,
the one that fits inside my eye

which means
go where the water is

which means
name your daughter before the men begin to measure her.

anatomy of the profit

by lauren lockhart


one day
while I was floating inside her
my mother gave me a story

with her blood she gave it to me—
a transfused history which has removed my marrow
and replaced it with

fibers from a Douglas Fir.

born from one womb to enter the next—
Earth wounds me and heals me in the same breath.

her story opens
with a perverted momentum—
acres of clear-cutting
which is unlike the cycled fires,

and I do not want to trade my blood.
our infections are each a gift but I can trade my name
as a prelude to forgiveness.
            maybe.

when I am spine down on the ground outside,
I am home.

and I can hear my body’s wooden voice
which is her voice
which is the voice of this place, still

I cannot decide whether to sleep
outside with a spade
or in the basement with the mold.

medicine moves down

by lauren lockhart


weeping,
the water drained from hawk’s belly
rolls down,

sweet like
milk in the sun

the stream collides with all three parts of my
mind and lulls the inflammation there into a

weighted peace.

It begins with the center-

my heart knows it is my organ
and my nest
it knows it is a borrowed comfort

like a sudden breeze through the window

amber liquorish root
shining in the glass