something has been reading the fireroots

by brenda hillman


aw aw: crows’ eyebrows… 
The termites have hastily married—soon  
they’ll drop veined wings—  till their vows 
                          are outside!  In the woods,
a shaman moment… tries a cure:
pleiades of sun,   a thrush  [Catharus guttatus] 
     brings spots to you, a seedful anarchist—

              The magicks are merging.
 Lambs swell in the bellies of the ewes;
the great dead approach,
       famished for winter berries…
     What is the enigma 
you carry halfway to equinox, 
your soul feeling his own princely skin
               in the back seat?

Origins of expression— in the caves, 
the fury of nations, 
the handmade stars of lovers’ cries,
     the abstract stroke—; stop telling us 
        what to do, Indo-European languages!
everything has been eating the fireroots, 
    its fluffy hatchlings scratch along— 
it says to itself:
we are on loan from a seamless realm
   —in the pledge, dot-dot,
   —in the syllable of the clause 
              (You’re just making that up)
Am not. 	(Are too.)
Am not.

 


“Something Has Been Reading the Fireroots” was first published in Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire, Wesleyan University Press, 2013

practical water

by brenda hillman


What does it mean to live a moral life

It is nearly impossible to think about this

We went down to the creek
The sides were filled 
    with tiny watery activities

The mind was split & mended
Each perception divided into more

& there were in the hearts of the water molecules
    little branches perpendicular to thought

Had lobbied the Congress but it was dead
Had written to the Committee on Understanding
Had written to the middle  
    middle of the middle
    class but it was drinking
Had voted in cafes with shoplifters &
    beekeepers stirring tea made of water
    hitched to the green arc

An ethics occurs at the edge 
of what we know

The creek goes underground about here
     
The spirits offer us a world of origins    
Owl takes its call from the drawer of the sky



Unusually warm global warming day out

A tiny droplet shines 
    on a leaf & there your creek is found
   
It has borrowed something to
    link itself to others

We carry ourselves through the days in code
DNA like Raskolnikov’s staircase neither
    good nor bad in itself

Lower frequencies are the mind
What happened to the creek 
    is what happened
    to the sentence in the twentieth century 
It got social underground

You should make yourself uncomfortable 
If not you who

Thrush comes out from the cottony 
   coyote bush glink-a-glink 
           chunk  drink 
   trrrrrr
   turns a golden eyebrow to the ground

We run past the plant that smells like taco sauce

Recite words for water 
    weeter wader weetar vatn
    watn voda 
[insert all languages here]

Poor Rimbaud didn’t know how to live 
    but knew how to act
Red-legged frog in the pond sounds like him



Uncomfortable & say a spell: 
blossom knit & heel affix
fiddle fern in the neck of the sun

It’s hard to be water
    to fall from faucets with fangs
    to lie under trawlers as horizons 
    but you must

Your species can’t say it
You have to do spells & tag them
     
Uncomfortable & act like you mean it
    
Go to the world
Where is it
Go there

 


“Practical Water” was previously published in Practical Water (Wesleyan University Press, 2009)

misanthropy

by robert wrigley


— for Paul
 

The only words that exist here
are mine. Well, mine and Paul’s,
who carved his name and a date
twelve years ago in this log
by the fire ring. Let me revise:
the only words that are spoken here
are mine, though they are infrequent.

Unless I am mistaken, all I’ve said
aloud today is “Good morning”
to a cedar waxwing, and “Thank you”
to the wind, for blowing the horde
of mosquitoes away for a while.
Also “Shit,” when I dropped my spoon
in the dirt at breakfast this morning.

At the top of the peak I walked up
earlier, I said “Yes,” peculiarly affirming
the sweat and rigor of the walk. Also the view.
On the way down, entering the trees again,
I saw a bear’s excavation at the base
of a slope of scree and started singing,
for some reason, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

Because I love places without people,
some people conclude I do not love them.
That I prefer the company of trees.
But by tomorrow, the third day of near wordlessness,
I will be a garrulous fool, addressing the lake
and greeting a single small, white cloud
like an old and very dear friend passing through.

That night I’ll speak my praise to the fire
and say a few poems by heart to the dark.
Then, as the flames begin to settle to coals,
I’ll speak to Paul himself, almost as though
he were here with me, and promise him,
though I disapprove of what he has done,
that I’ll get his name, at least, into a poem.

written in a journal, while sitting on a rock, in the frank church river of no return, august, 2008

by robert wrigley


Very early gray-lit morning. I’m shivering
in my boxers, barefoot in sparse high country grass,
pissing, when I see on the lake’s opposite shore,
a solitary wolf, making its way wherever it is
it’s going, half an hour or so before sunrise.
It may be that it senses my shivering before it sees me,
or hears the spatter of my piss, but now there is no doubt
I am something it would rather not see nor especially be seen by.
It picks up its pace and moves back into the trees.
It stops now and then to be sure I haven’t moved,
then at last breaks into an actual run, and disappears
among boulders along an ancient glacier’s terminal moraine.
I do not ordinarily rise so early to relieve myself,
but through the tent flap I could see mist rising
from the cold surface of the lake, still
and dimpled everywhere by feeding trout.
They were feeding, and still are, on mosquitoes,
which are now everywhere on me and likewise feeding,
but I’m still standing here, shivering, knowing
when the sun comes out it will awaken the wind,
and the wind will ruck the surface of the water
to a thousand tiny, soundless waves, and knowing also
that if I stay where I am, motionless, I might yet see
the wolf again, though I do not, and at last
I do a kind of spasmodic dance to shake away
the mosquitoes, and head back to my tent,
when I note, along the way, the massive canine tracks
of a wolf all around the fire ring, all across
the worn campsite ground to within no more
than a foot from the head of my tent
and around the tents of my still-sleeping compatriots too,
which I will point out to them when they awaken,
after I’ve put on my clothes and built the morning fire,
after I’ve lowered the food bags from the tree limb
we hoisted them to last night, and brewed
a pot of coffee, and sat myself on rock,
and slathered bug dope abundantly over
all my exposed flesh, as I wait for the sun to rise,
for the wind to roughen the surface of the lake,
for them to join me here, where I will point out the tracks
and tell them, in great detail, what it is I have seen.

country mice

by amber dawn


crickets, monarchs, paints and sparrows
frenchman river, sweet grass sky holds still
out here everything stops
for the wind

— “everything holds still for the wind,” Leah Horlick
 

We find each other
in the cosmopolitan squint, polished
concrete, smoked chrome rooms.
She’s hard to peg at first
lace dress chic, prosecco cocktail
starry in her hand. She’s been
chin-upped by the west. Tested
by an incomprehensible horizon
and passed, but for her pose and bend.
For the wind

that sweeps the wide-open
motherland has left her
with a slant stance, sideways
as corn bowed to a storm.
I too am made
from orchard and axe, crop
and scythe, harvest born
humble earth miles and years
behind me. It’s all rock
out here. Everything stops

making sense in the seam
of mountains and million
dollar condos, high-rise residential
more density, more gravel, more glass, more.
Where I come from elevators
are for nursing homes or sawmills.
She sees the soiled knees of my jeans
knows I kneel to a once-was prayer
late waterways, bygone wells
forgotten river. Sweet grass sky holds still

during these vigils, holds space
for choked swamp, cedar stump
tributaries split from the ocean
Vancouver’s bloodstone—step forward.
My home is a backwards stamp, like hers.
parched-lawn green, forever level.
Now we find each other turned by urban obstacles.
The far-removed markers we share and seek
chokecherries, ink caps, chorus frogs, golden yarrow
crickets, monarchs, paints and sparrows

 


“Country Mice” was previously published in Where the Words End and My Body Begins (Arsenal Pulp Press, Spring 2015)

coyotes on the edge of town

by sean arthur joyce


— New Denver, BC, March, 2014
 

Crisp March night
under half-moon sky.
Coyotes on the edge of town
throating the song of the forest—
fluted, wild as an icy crag,
flawless ease
of ancient lore,
all the dogs silent.

What shivers
is the sub-zero night.
Moon-carved shoulder
of Goat Mountain
an eerie resonator.
Cobalt blue of winter sky
brilliant—stark against fir
steeped in black.
One thing is sure
amongst so much doubt—
a voice
calling out mastery
from the dark

roots dancing

by susan mccaslin


You could say roots
             squidged as they are
between dark heaps of soil
             shivering and soaked
don’t dance
                          but you’d be wrong

for in that dry, wet
                          wondering dark
they curiously minuet
                          drawing near                and apart
wiggle-stepping             spreading
                                       corkscrewing    around stones

weaving lateral-vertical designs
             criss-crossing
                                                    turning	
delving, snaking
                                                                                                          spiraling wide
clasping and unclasping 
hands
                                                    in the dark ground


Roots are chords
                                                     (cords)             fluent thrummings
drawing water
                                                    from dance’s core

while trees                                 their lanky siblings
                                                                                             thrust themselves skyward

Yes, you’d be wrong
                                                    about roots 
                                                                               not dancing
simply sitting shivering                                                                 and soaked
                                                    between dark clods of soil
hunching together

                                                    immobile

exhibit: in the woods, outside duncan, british columbia

by renée sarojini saklikar


That a bomb is made. That is known.
That the bomb is set off, that is known, in the woods, outside Duncan, cousin-town
                        to the village Paldi.




*



Of all the locations in Empire, real and imagined, past and present,
                        It is here: June 1985, 
there are no straight lines— 




if there is a man, he is making detonation—
                        Time loads up incident.
                        In recounting there is implication. 
                        Describe all particulars.


                        Piney scented,
                                    the woods.                    Where is
the past 
                                    also present


we never speak of it

 


“Exhibit: in the woods, outside Duncan, British Columbia” was previously published in children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections, (Nightwood Editions, 2013)

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