Collaborations

There is your answer, where the stones are kept

 

 

A woman wearing a bandanna

is praying from the front pew of a church.

She is thinking of the same things again,

a deserted home with a fallen chimney,

the chest high remains filled with cement,

her father pulling railway ties from the mouth of the soil

with no need for language or help

even as the sky strained the moon and stars from night.

 

She was shuffling stones in her hand

beneath creek water,

with the pocket on her dress still unworn.

There was someone saying,

sometimes the stones need to find you.

Photograph by Teri Talpe

Staring to the Bend in the River and All What You’ll Leave Behind

 

 

What I am on your skin,

in the air where your voice treads

            as calm as brown lies in Copper Canyon,

is amnesia waking.

 

Here, there is the death of mothers

and the blankets they felt you needed around you, 

            trying to comfort you into repenting, each time

I reminded you of your nakedness.

 

And whatever is concealed

beneath the pleated drapes in black ink

            or the burning scarves wrapped around your neck,

you will no longer feel

 

because it is December

and the tides of sunlight are perforated,

            loosening across the dreams you keep

for the waters around the bend to hear.

 

And if you jumped in the alluvial of dusk

that dances as the cunning plexus of a gypsy does,

            you wouldn’t scream or yell for help jokingly,

as children do to gain attention.

Photograph by John Higgins

Printmaking by Nels Johnson

Fire Storm

 

 

Don’t wait for me to come to you.  Winds

blow in from the west

and I move east into a deep timber

where Chinook winds feed me

my own heat and flames

 

over and over.  Out of myself,

bound to the course of chance,

embers spread crowning treetop by treetop.

I want you to know I can’t control myself

and I wouldn’t want this

 

ever to change.  I wonder why I have to tell you this,

maybe, like me, you believe

no matter how uncontrollable or vicious a nature is,

living in harmony by what it was designed for

 

is true innocence. I can ruin this world.

Scorching the broad green and brown

bands of forest.  Splitting

the old and diseased trees by my throw

 

of heat.  I stampede through weavings

of waterlogged douglas fur and ponderosa pine.

They die loudly, an excruciating

crackling and popping till the fibers of

douglas fur woods and ponderosa pine needles

begin melting, leaking into the hardening

 

arteries of earth.  But I cannot make promises,

winds recede and the rains come along with

your chainsaws, Pulaskis and shovels

cleaning a wide and empty line of forest

to a floor of dirt in front of me. 

It is possible to be starved

 

and not even notice.  If the winds held onto me

I would be free.  They would blow me up again

into a hysterical spiral and loop

to show I would never want to return earth

back to seedlings and bulbs.

 

Nevertheless, if I should ever be asleep

I hope for dreams of winds and trees.

Printmaking by Kelli MacConnell

Printmaking by Janine Wong