Sunday, February 18, 2018

Arnarstapi

by Jamie O’Connell

shipwrecked
shoreline

/ waves blued
by fire /

black pebble sun
splits sea /

/ how sun
feeds sea /

bones, flesh

Everything Turns Away

by M.J. Iuppa

How seemingly steady— this
sift of snow gracing rows up-

on rows of apple trees holding
their pointe, like Degas’s tiny

dancers suffering the cold
introspective moment

as if it were crucial
to solving life’s little

ambiguities— argot of wind
or flight of stairs— both

leading to disaster . . .

Slender arms flung
high in the air.

The Annals of Pine

by Taylor Graham

Atop a tall pine, in sagacious gray robes
the bird presides, ringing out his name
to all the surrounding peaks: Clark’s
Nutcracker, extricating nut after nut
from a pine cone. How else might they be
freed to sprout, to ensure the species
survives? The bird is hungry. Thus
continues a script of ages, letter by letter
on the fragile paper of generations.
Far below, a deer mouse searches fallen
nuts to stuff her cheeks, writing her own
history in the annals of pine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

While Walking, Edge of Town

by Joe Cottonwood

Flash of lightning
with paws

Puma!
furry limber legs
of muscle —
scrambling up a roadcut

Gone — an instant
vanished

A weed trembles

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lines

by Robin Smith

red chokeberry bush--
the titmouse and
the blue jay take turns

Top of the Mountain

by Melissa Kelly

Snow covered mountain top
The blue and greys mixing
Blended into the white top
Tip touches the cloud masses
Thin the air, cold as ice
Making its way down
To the green valleys below

World Outside Our Fences

by Taylor Graham

Last night a light rain washed with wood-
smoke-fog took the pasture. Silence.
Then frantic barking above highway fence.
So much moving dark. Drifting wisps
of smoke-fog. My flashlight caught him:
stag-stance perfect posture, young buck
at bay, antlers fuzzed in flash-light fog.
Deer parrying dog who doesn’t know
the game. A rush-thrust-darting muffled
by fog and pricked by rain. At last
my dog comes to call, leads the way back
home – that small part of the unknown
world we fenced to call our own.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

They Took Our Birch Trees

by Erin Geil

It seemed that overnight
Those tall skinny lives
Had left us to our own
Devices, but the reality
Is that they died long ago
Some sort of rot.
A painting now hangs on
The roper's wall
Of overpopulated birches
with hidden faces that
you're meant to find.
But all I see are kidnap victims
And empty spots of ground.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Industry

by Connye Griffin

Drum clock out as morning warms,
Hammers stowed ‘til dusk, but
One missed the memo. He labors on
Driven to erase all algae,
His mouth like a hammer’s claw
Scraping underwater metal and plastic
Fat otters drop off the shore
Spectacular Spoonbills reach for the light
A heron resents their graceless antics
And says so, disgruntled--squawking
Alien noise in a bird statuesque, poised
A modern pterodactyl’s call
How long they’ve been on the job, laboring
A man’s phlemgy cough breaks their rhythm
Reverberates across the cove. They pause
For some slice of a second but
Theirs are lives rarely rising to double digits
Their biology sets its clock and runs down
So they resume their work, the business of living,
Full in the knowledge life is brief and sweet as
A hummingbird rises from below, ascending
To the call of nectar, necessary for its
Advance at the speed of dart, dance, delight
Smaller birds tweet, gossip, and whistle
Against the dove’s melancholy mourning
The sun breaks open a low lying haze
Waking a hen that complains about the early hour
Taking wing, she barely rises above the surface
Her morning calisthenics--an explosion of industry.

The Great Missouri

by Michael H. Brownstein

Clouds mark tracks across an arm of sky;
Blue water pools near the banks,
Grey-green storms of current stretch
Across mudflats, erosion, a stretch of skin.
Near the Mississippi, both clouds and river
Change lanes, dwell into wind and storm,
Stretch the great strengths within
And let out wind and rain, guts and flood.

The Tunguska Non-event

by Todd Mercer

When on fire
the present’s paramount.
There may have been
a meteor to blame, a comet
crashed into the far taiga,
or an errant transatlantic
burst of current
from Nikola Tesla’s lab.
It wasn’t on my mind
the moment
I exploded into flames.
I mouthed a shorthand
stripped-down prayer,
uninformed of the square miles
of matchstick evergreens flattened,
croaked it out
without a thought to
creator or crater-maker:
“Water!” I cried
in my native language,
“Water!” again,
as if anyone could hear.
I wasn’t slightly curious.
about the comet,
gas plume, God’s hand,
the stray wireless transmission,
antimatter, whatever the cause.
Combustion
is strictly present tense.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

She Who Watches
petroglyph in the Columbia River Gorge

by Margaret Chula

Begin by thinking like a snake.  Seek out shafts
of sunlight on rock face, boulder, meadow grass.

Slither through knot of thorns, past sage
with its purple haze of healing and hallucinogen.

Rout through rubble, along the path of spirit quest.
Huddle beneath basalt, sanctuary of animal dreams.

Observe lizard tracks embedded on rock—
spirit visions of antelope scorpion, and salmon.

Trace your fingers along scars of petroglyphs,
volcanic rock now settled, receptive to chisel

and the hands of seekers who leaned into cliff face
to carve out the image of their dream spirit.

Pay attention to bird calls that lead to She Who Watches,
Tsagaglalal who gazes at the mighty river, her eternal vigil.

Coil inside the spirals of her all-knowing eyes—
listen to the pulse of the river’s song.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Smog

by Michael H. Brownstein

This morning
we woke to orange smog streetlamps,
in the pale blue skin of sky,
a shape of white washed shadow:
breathing became hostile
and then  something fell
acid within white
chemically deranged
black blood, broken blossom.

Either/Or

by Anita Sullivan

Frog! No!
Two assumptions in a
split skirmish.

Second stomps out first
like a fire
although they emerge
as one.

Dried oak leaf on the path
exact size,
curled, supple, back-sloped, diffident,
poised
as a Pacific Chorus Frog (wrong color)
but
not imagined
not disguised.

Yesterday, tomorrow
might have been
Frog? No!

But today equal,
no tilt.

Could blame the adolescent light
banging around among
the lichen, now exposed
in the winter oaks. Or

deep and chronic
frog-hunger
aroused under the heart-rock
keeping the balance right.

Ruffed Grouse

by David Chorlton

Because it lives so far
away from you and you’re unlikely
ever to see one, you won’t miss
the Ruffed grouse if it
should continue to decline in number
and eventually become extinct. You’re not
travelling to Canada just
to see the textured plumage
or the way the ruff expands in spring,
not even to explore the forest
where it lives and listen
when the wings produce a drumming
sound. The timbre
of its voice from among the trees
wouldn’t mean much to you
anyway, and even though
you know the temperatures
are rising all around you it doesn’t
occur that a bird could be calling
soon for the very last
time as if goodbye
were not a word but a high pitched call.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bison in Winter

by Sarah Henry

Bison thrive in winter,
with strong humps
and dense coats
like walls of fur.

A bison plows
snow seriously.
His head’s a plow,
always pushing.

He plows to eat.
A bison eats grass
mixed with snow
in the winter months
                               
His head dips
and he snorts.
Steam rushes
through windless air.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lines

by Carl Mayfield

no sound
       from the juniper
     as the crow lands