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

The Shoal

by Edward Ahern

The shoal sour dries in wind drifts
as the leavings of the ebb come into view.
Shell piles here, sand there, rimmed by
barnacle rocks and wet-rotting weed.

Gulls and terns pick at scattered
remnants of crab and fish,
and lift dying clams high enough
to drop them onto the rocks.

The water almost, almost stops,
a hovering quiver in the shoal’s edges,
before the surge rewets the gasping buried
on its slithering way across the crest.

Men who ignore this ever-change
are trapped by it.
One or two boats a year aground,
one or two men a decade drowned.

Feeding and dying quicken with the flow,
little fish pushed across the shoal
toward waiting jaws,
birds swooping for the crippled.

Force of water rules the shoal,
which heaves its crests and shallows
to appease the ever-flowing god
who never looks back.

The water climbs man-high above the shoal,
And, stirred only by wind
fondles fish and weed and shell
until ebbing implacably into turmoil.

Canyon Music

by David Chorlton

From Spinebill, Stonechat and Sapphire
to the Leafbird, Lory and Linnet
birds are named where language
turns to music. Say Firecrest,
Jacamar, Kestrel and Kite
and we speak in the key of each call.
There’s a list that runs from the tongue:
Pelican, Mousebird and Motmot; Ostrich,
Merganser, Loon, and the letters
sing themselves together
never out of tune,
                            until a tree falls
followed by another, then a river
is smuggled from its bed
without water to replace it
and the world is quieter one day
than the day before
when we come to listen
and the Hermit thrush seems far
away with centuries of song
inside a few repeating notes
in a canyon’s shadow play
of sound.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Politics of Watermelon

by Marissa Glover

Wait for the season
to plant—warm soil; water well.
The vine will take root.

Harvest carefully:
Yellow-brown, half-dead tendrils
means ripe for picking.

Hear a hollow thump?
Has the white belly yellowed?
With a sharp knife, cut.

Spoon out the black seeds—
fill the newspaper with them;
consider the pith.

Feast until you reach
the bitter rind; spit it out.
Use what’s left for mulch.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The way back

by Samara Golabuk

Tannin stains the riverbed
with the waters' carmine flow.
Strings of weeds—
undine's pleistocene strands—
point the way forward
toward bends and narrows,
and later, toward a dock
with orange buoy floats
that mark off the danger.

Soon,
there is a darkening, a bonfire,
then a casserole, and
for the morning,
coffee from the bean.
The bellow and rattle of the kettle
will wake us. The river, in our muscles now,
follows the long road to memory,
jeweled and dark.

Unfettered

by Carl Mayfield

White-
crowned
sparrows
at first light
pick up
their shadows
and go

The Morning after the Fire

by  Jude Cowan Montague

Two huge hares
leap like glory through the tufts.
They go left, they go right,
in search of food.
The light is quiet and golden.
One reaches the fence and waits.
The other goes past, far and fast.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Prague Sonata

by Terrence Sykes

turmeric & ginger
copper early dusk
along the Vltava

faded rose moon
reluctantly tendrils across
ashened stars

autumn cicada
murmur & chant
cluttered linden grove

ancient medlar
merely staging
poetic lament

amongst  branches
longing  nightingale
I remember sky

Sunday, January 7, 2018

we do not touch our living
half so well as elephants touch their dead

by Samara Golabuk

What staticky mud is skin. Be thou not a
germophobe, worlds are we. Biomes.

The grandmothers know, we are
moths pinned by their knowing —

eyes, lancets to the soul. Matr-
ix of flesh most modern still

goes dark with the clay, ochre
smear, the blood a marker.

A dowsing rod nicks water’s veins,
pricks tongues turned to their magic,

shapes runes in the dusky dark
of our mouths as clavichord keys bite

the winds in half, knot its spillways,
turn them toward the caverns of our hearts,

(that corded beast, Hephaestus forge),
thumb-dump, thumb-dump, some

dumb thing stunts the pumps but
there’s no water here in heaven,

we are born in the milky gray
middleway between morning and stillness,

little puddles, withered udders,
we drink and are animals together.

Squirrel

by Paul Waring

September sparks the rush:
razor-eyed sprees to stock
and store as autumn opens
for business.

Summer retires, goodbyeless,
before want-away geese
flee in formation
on damp-smoked air.

Squirrel, grounded, scoops
first falls after fuss of wind
and mob-handed rains
fleece crowds of trees.

Memory-mapped burials
in musty larders; a network
of near and far relays, stop-
start dashes that risk life

on roads as cold-stiffened
days shrink into dark; call
you back to winter’s grip
as land and lake shiver

beneath glass-sharp sheets.
Now there’s nothing to see,
do or lose sleep over. Sit tight:
save your breath.

Perennial Petunias Weeping on a Lonely Store Corner

by Adam Levon Brown

Sugar-shocked Preamble for decadence is swung
triangularly south for the Winter greed

Ducks flock eastward, bounding telephone
wires flying towards motorway heaven

The ducks fly to the north, delving deeper into denial,
reaching for a place where hunters of vengeance cannot shoot

Premonitions of a lonely world lead one to consider a darkened
alley where light never graces soulless sidewalks of smog

Moments of clarity bring unhinged pearl avenues of death
to a roaring end, meeting mule-tide occasions of froth

Perennial seasons of corruption end in tides of gray
nuanced jubilation for the eves of convoluted joy

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sanderling

by Lindy Le Coq

hyper-action birds
dance with waves at oceans edge
gleaning intently

cha-cha out with tide
about-face and quick-step in
tiny feet churning

peck in sand then up
to survey - pirouette - preen
tuck beak under wing