Ted/Nina/Stevie epic Juneau stop as seen by Aunt Jame!

Hittin the Flume on the first day! Bad mamma jammas for sure! #timershot
Onto the carrier already the second day…
…and she liked it! #proudaunt
Our new favorite trailmates.
Ted and Nina checking out the basin from just beyond Perseverance trail head.
A rest on Perseverance. #timershot

Cooling off Mama.

Perseverance pulled off without a hitch. Not bad with two under two!
First salmon catch!
King crab @ Pier 49
Throwing a line in at Sheep Creek
Oh no, not another trail! (Actually she slept in the carrier for almost an hour. Total trooper!)
Here we go again: foresty, gnarly, beachy Dupont

Wild blueberry girl

End of the line…
…or just the beginning?! After we left, my brother asked this sweet, awesome girl to marry him! Welcome to the family Christina, thank you for making Ted so happy and for being who you are in general!! Please come back soon!!

Please purchase my poetry chapbook!

Hello friends,

My second chapbook, a collaboration of poems by me and paintings by my dear friend and graduate school colleague Susan Solomon, has been made available here through Red Bird Press.

It is entitled Catalpa after the tree and the title poem. For the rest, you’ll just have to see for yourself!

It would mean a lot to us if you would support our project by buying our book and/or sharing this link.

Also, please let me and/or Susan know what you think!

Lots of love,



Honoring: a work in progress

Tuesday 21/10/14 — with Raki, yarzeit candle, Hector
Wednesday 22/10/14 — with Abdellatif Laâbi*


O my friend

sleep well

you need it

because you worked hard

like an honourable man

Before you left

you left your office in order

neatly arranged

You switched off the lights

and on stepping out

you looked at the sky

which was almost painfully blue

You gracefully smoothed your moustache

and said to yourself :

only cowards

think that death is the end

Sleep well my friend

Sleep the sleep of the righteous

Rest well

even from your dreams

Let us shoulder the burden a little



Thursday 23/10/14 — with WHITE LILIES, amazing pine cone


After the Funeral by Peter Everwine

After the Funeral 

We opened closets and bureau drawers
and packed away, in boxes, dresses and shoes,
the silk underthings still wrapped in tissue.
We sorted through cedar chests. We gathered
and set aside the keepsakes and the good silver
and brought up from the coal cellar
jars of tomato sauce, peppers, jellied fruit.
We dismantled, we took down from the walls,
we bundled and carted off and swept clean.
Goodbye, goodbye, we said, closing
the door behind us, going our separate ways
from the house we had emptied,
and which, in the coming days, we would fill
again and empty and try to fill again.


Apology and Winter Things by Matthew Dickman

Apology and Winter Things

Matthew Dickman

 In the book of Mark a home is built like a beehive, inside
it’s a shining comb.  A place to face each other in the light.
This is not my home.  My home, constantly turning, has four walls
filled up with winter things:  a north wind and pine cones, a cord
of wet wood. In the yard the leaves rot.  The stone basement fills
up with sticks our dog spits out, the soft bodies of mice our cat
has worked into a pulp of fur and mud: Christmas
has never come so slowly.  In the dark I wait for it to appear
like parents in the doorway, like my dark siblings appearing
from their wax cells: in the bathroom my sister removes her
bandages, in the bedroom my brother hides himself under a bunk,
chews his sucking-thumb.  In the kitchen my mother holds me up
by my wrists and shakes me until I am sorry. I am sorry.  She loves me.
In the book of Mark the mother and son are different:  they hardly touch.

Winter Sunrise Outside a Café Near Butte, Montana by Joseph Hutchison

Winter Sunrise Outside a Café 

        Near Butte, Montana


A crazed sizzle of blazing bees
in the word EAT. Beyond it,


thousands of stars have faded
like deserted flowers in the thin


light washing up in the distance,
flooding the snowy mountains


bluff by bluff. Moments later,
the sign blinks, winks dark,


and a white-aproned cook—
surfacing in the murky sheen


of the window—leans awhile
like a cut lily . . . staring out


into the famished blankness
he knows he must go home to.

Mankindness by Christina Davis

Because he, because she,
in so far as
she (in so far as he) exists
is on the way
to battle.
Not what is your name,
but what
the battle?
“Each one of us has come
here and changed” —
is the battle. Born
a loved one,
borne a loved one.
My father fought in this war, thus I can speak of it.
My mother fought in this, thus I can speak.
My friends, my lovers have fought, have worn
(like the tree) their several directions at once. And I,
in so far as I
               can say “I”
have fought to be related to these —
we strive and strain
but also try to ripen the entity
of the Other.
We kiss on lips, where the tenses attach.
We enter the conundrum
of another’s becoming.
We look for someone who can raise us
up again to feet, or near to standing.
We tend in our terrors to forget (we
do not store them) felicities.
I try each day to stay near beings,
mornings when I am most
mild. And may I nothing harm,
in case it is them.

Epistle: Leaving by Kerrin McCadden

Epistle: Leaving

Dear train wreck, dear terrible engines, dear spilled freight,
dear unbelievable mess, all these years later I think
to write back. I was not who I am now. A sail is a boat,
a bark is a boat, a mast is a boat and the train was you and me.
Dear dark, dear paper, dear files I can’t toss, dear calendar
and visitation schedule, dear hello and goodbye.
If a life is one thing and then another; if no grasses grow
through the tracks; if the train wreck is a red herring;
if goodbye then sincerely. Dear disappeared bodies
and transitions, dear edge of a good paragraph.
Before the wreck, we misunderstood revision.
I revise things now. I teach pertinence. A girl in class told
us about some boys who found bodies on the tracks
then went back and they were gone, the bodies.
It was true that this story was a lie, like all things
done to be seen. I still think about this story, what it would
be like to be a boy finding bodies out in the woods,
however they were left–and think of all the ways they
could be left. There I was, teaching the building
of a good paragraph, dutiful investigator
of sentences, thinking dear boys, dear stillness in the woods,
until, again, there is the boy I knew as a man
whose father left him at a gas station, and unlike the lie
of the girl’s story, this one is true–he left him there for good.
Sometimes this boy, nine and pale, is sitting next to me, sitting there
watching trains go past the gas station in Wyoming,
thinking there is a train going one way, and a train
going the other way, each at different and variable speeds:
how many miles before something happens
that feels like answers when we write them down–
like solid paragraphs full of transitional phrases
and compound, complex sentences, the waiting space
between things that ends either in pleasure or pain. He
keeps showing up, dear boy, man now, and beautiful
like the northern forest, hardwoods iced over.

The Death of Patience by Lauren Berry

The mountain is one speed. The river
is one rush.  The hummingbirds’ needles
are one speed. The boulders are one rush.

The nectar in the globe flower is one speed.
The boy throwing the hummingbird mountain
at his father is one speed, the boulder

that crushes his father is one rush, the nectar
that drips on Father’s near dead lips is one speed—
he closes his eyes with one rush.

Green Apples by Ruth Stone

In August we carried the old horsehair mattress
To the back porch
And slept with our children in a row.
The wind came up the mountain into the orchard
Telling me something;
Saying something urgent.
I was happy.
The green apples fell on the sloping roof
And rattled down.
The wind was shaking me all night long;
Shaking me in my sleep
Like a definition of love,
Saying, this is the moment,
Here, now.



Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits by Martin Espada

No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter’s camp
outside the city
of their understanding.

No one can speak
my name,
I host the fiesta
of the bathroom,
stirring the toilet
like a punchbowl.
The Spanish music of my name
is lost
when the guests complain
about toilet paper.

What they say
must be true:
I am smart.
but I have a bad attitude.

No one knows
that I quit tonight,
maybe the mop
will push on without me,

sniffing along the floor
like a crazy squid
with stringy gray tentacles.

Martin Espada

Fuchsia by Katrina Vandenberg


That summer in the west I walked sunrise
to dusk, narrow twisted highways without shoulders,
low stone walls on both sides. Hedgerows
of fuchsia hemmed me in, the tropical plant
now wild, centuries after nobles imported it
for their gardens. And I was unafraid,
did not cross to the outsides of curves, did not
look behind me for what might be coming.
For weeks in counties Kerry and Cork, I walked
through the red blooms the Irish call
the Tears of God, blazing from the brush
like lanterns. Who would have thought
a warm current touching the shore
of that stone-cold country could make
lemon trees, bananas, and palms not just take,
but thrive? Wild as the jungles they came from,
where boas flexed around their trunks —
like my other close brushes with miracles,
the men who love you back, how they come
to you, gorgeous and invasive, improbable,
hemming you in. And you walk that road
blazing, some days not even afraid to die.

Advertisement for the Mountain by Christina Davis

Advertisement for the Mountain

Christina Davis

There are two versions of every life.

In the first one, you get a mother, a father,
your very own room,
a dandelion’s-worth of chances.

You learn to walk, which is only done by walking.
You learn the past tense of have, which is hunger.

You learn to ask almost anything
is to ask it to be over,
as when the lover asks the other

“Are you sleeping?  Are you beginning
to go away?”

(And whether or not you learn it, life does not penetrate
more than five miles above the earth
or reach more than three miles beneath the sea.

Life is eight miles long.

You could walk it, and be there before sundown.
Or swim it, or fall it, or crawl it.)

The second is told from the point
of view of the sky.

On the Road by Anna Akhmatova

On the Road

by Anna Akhmatova, translated from the Russian by Jane Kenyon

Though this land is not my own
I will never forget it,
or the waters of its ocean,
fresh and delicately icy.

Sand on the bottom is whiter than chalk,
and the air drunk, like wine.
Late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pine trees.

And the sun goes down in waves of ether
in such a way that I can’t tell
if the day is ending, or the world,
or if the secret of secrets is within me again.

West Africa, 2004

TRILLIUM by Louise Gluck


Louise Gluck

When I woke up I was in a forest.  The dark
seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees
thick with many lights.

I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see.
And as I watched, all the lights of heaven
faded to make a single thing, a fire
burning through the cool firs.
Then it wasn’t possible any longer
to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.

Are there souls that need
death’s presence, as I require protection?
I think if I speak long enough
I will answer that question, I will see
whatever they see, a ladder
reaching through the firs, whatever
calls them to exchange their lives–

Think what I understand already.
I wake up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.


Not I, you idiot, not self, but we, we–waves
of sky blue like
a critique of heaven: why
do you treasure your voice
when to be one thing
is to be next to nothing?
Why do you look up?  To hear
an echo like the voice
of god?  You are all the same to us,
solitary, standing above us, planning
your silly lives: you go
where you are sent, like all things,
where the wind plants you,
one or another of you forever
looking down and seeing some image
of water, and hearing what?  Waves,
and over waves, birds singing.


I couldn’t do it again,
I can hardly bear to look at it–

in the garden, in the light rain
the young couple planting
a row of peas, as though
no one has ever done this before,
the great difficulties have never as yet
been faced and solved–

They cannot see themselves,
in fresh dirt, starting up
without perspective,
the hills behind them pale green, clouded with flowers–

She wants to stop;
he wants to get to the end,
to stay with the thing–

Look at her, touching his cheek
to make a truce, her fingers
cool with spring rain;
in thin grass, bursts of purple crocus–

even here, even at the beginning of love,
her hand leaving his face makes
an image of departure

and they think
they are free to overlook
this sadness.

Vintage Blue Anywhere by Paula Cisewski

Vintage Blue Anywhere

Paula Cisewski

You think everyone knows
all about a thing so you don’t

write it down, don’t say.
Everybody does know

about it.  It is difficult.
In the backs of our minds,

while several separate
groups of humans try

to entertain one another,
to be novel or bright,

a similar thought spider crouches.
Consider: the artist who was famously ironic

about being ironic.  By each show’s end,
the whole audience felt stupid.  We loved it!

But some of the crowd was only pretending,
you find out much later.  It’s no wonder,

when even the family cat’s on
Prozac, we’re tired of emotion in art.

That antique sadness is the new
inside joke.  It’s irrevocable, like when driving home

one night, the stranger who pulls up to the red light
next to you is weeping, both your windows

rolled up.  You just begin to have a human reaction,
and then the light’s green.

Provenance by Joseph Stroud


by Joseph Stroud

I want to tell you the story of that winter
in Madrid where I lived in a room
with no windows, where I lived
with the death of my father, carrying it
everywhere through the streets,
as if it were an object, a book written
in a luminous language I could not read.
Every day I left my room and wandered
across the great plazas of that city,
boulevards crowded with people and cars.
There was nowhere I wanted to go.
Sometimes I would come to myself
inside a cathedral under the vaulted
ceiling of the transept, I would find
myself sobbing, transfixed in the light
slanting through the rose window
scattering jewels across the cold
marble floor.  At this distance now
the grief is not important, nor the sadness
I felt day after day wandering the maze
of medieval streets, wandering the rooms
of the Prado, going from painting
to painting, looking into Velazquez,
into Bosch, Brueghel, looking for something
that would help, that would frame
my spirit, focus sorrow into some
kind of belief that wasn’t fantasy
or false, for I was tired of deception,
the lies of words, even the Gyspy violin,
its lament with the punal inside
seemed indulgent, posturing.
I don’t mean to say these didn’t
move me, I was an easy mark,
anything could well up in me–
rainshine on the cobblestone streets,
a bowl of tripe soup in a peasant cafe.
In my world at that time there was
no scale, nothing with which
to measure, I could no longer
discern value–the mongrel eating
scraps of garbage in the alley
was equal to Guernica in all its
massive outrage.  When I looked
in the paintings mostly what I saw
were questions.  In the paradise
panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights
why does Bosch show a lion
disemboweling a deer?  Or that man
in hell crucified on the strings of a harp?
In his Allegory of the Seven Deadly Sins:
Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Avarice,
Pride–of which am I most guilty?
Why in Juan de Flanders’ Resurrection
of Lazarus is the face of Christ so sad
in bringing the body back to life?
Every day I returned to my room,
to my cave where I could not look out
at the world, where I was forced into
the one place I did not want to be.  In
the Cranach painting–behind Venus
with her fantastic hat, her cryptic look,
behind Cupid holding a honeycomb, whimpering
with bee stings–far off in the background,
that cliff rising above the sea, that small hut
on top–is that Cold Mountain, is that where
the poet made his way out of our world?
My father had little use for poems, less use
for the future.  If he had anything
to show me by his life, it was to live
here.  Even in a room without windows.
One day in the Prado, in the Hall
of the Muses, a group of men
in expensive suits, severe looking,
men of importance, with a purpose,
moved down the hallway toward me,
and I was swept aside, politely,
firmly.  As they passed I glimpsed
in their midst a woman, in a simple
black dress with pearls, serene, speaking
to no one, and then she and the men
were gone.  Who was that?  I asked,
and a guard answered: The Queen.
The Queen.  In my attempt to follow
to see which painting she would choose,
I got lost in one of the Goya rooms
and found myself before one of his
dark paintings, one from his last years
when the world held no more illusions,
where love was examined in a ruthless,
savage anger.  In this painting
a woman stood next to Death, her beauty,
her elegance, her pearls and shining hair
meant nothing in His presence,
and He was looking out from the painting,
looking into me, and Death took my hand
and made me look, and I saw my own face
streaming with tears, and the day
took on the shape of a crouching beast,
and my father’s voice called out in wonder
or warning, and every moment
I held on made it that much harder
to let go, and Death demanded
that I let go.  Then the moment
disappeared, like a pale horse, like
a ghost horse disappearing deep inside
Goya’s painting.  I left the Prado.
I walked by the Palacio Real with its
2,000 rooms, one for every kind
of desire.  I came upon the Rastro,
the great open-air bazaar, a flea market
for the planet, where everything in the world
that has been cast aside, rejected, lost,
might be found, where I found Cervantes,
an old, dusty copy of Don Quixote,
and where I discovered an old mirror,
and looking into it found my father’s face
in my face looking back at me,
and behind us a Brueghel world
crowded with the clamor of the market,
people busy with their lives, hunting,
searching for what’s missing.  How casual
they seemed, in no hurry, as if they had all
of time, no frenzy, no worry,
as the Castilian sun made its slow
arch over us, the same sun
that lanced the fish on crushed ice
in the market stalls, fish with open mouths,
glazed stares, lapped against each other
like scales, by the dozens, the madrilenos
gaping over them, reading them
like some sacred text, like some kind
of psalm or prophecy as they made
their choice, and had it wrapped in paper,
then disappeared into the crowd.
And that is all.  I wanted to tell you
the story of that winter in Madrid
where I lived in a room with no windows
at the beginning of my life without my father.
When the fascist officials asked Picasso
about Guernica: “Are you responsible
for this painting?” he looked back
at them, and answered slowly: “No.
You are.”  What should I answer
when asked about this poem?
I wanted to tell you the story of that winter
in Madrid, where my father kept dying, again
and again, inside of me, and I kept
bringing him back, holding him for as long
as I could.  I never knew how much
I loved him.  I didn’t know that grief
would give him back to me, over
and over, I didn’t know that those
cobbled streets would someday
lead to here, to this quietude,
this blessing, to my father
within me.

The Sadness of the Lingua Franca by Christina Davis

The Sadness of the Lingua Franca

In Bird, I speak brokenly. Hiss and flail and never learn.

And the swan will never mouth

the noun for bread,

the declensions of crumb. Though i could stop

its migration with a crumb.

After English, we never do get to be strangers again.

The language is famous and followed,

it has no loneliness left.

It has made it to the moon. It has got god

to speak it. It will get

to everything first, if it can.

But not the swan, pale as a page

I will never have written.

I Was Always Leaving by Jean Nordhaus

I Was Always Leaving

I was always leaving, I was

about to get up and go, I was

on my way, not sure where.

Somewhere else. Not here.

Nothing here was good enough.

It would be better there, where I

was going. Not sure how or why.

The dome I cowered under

would be raised, and I would be released

into my true life. I would meet there

the ones I was destined to meet.

They would make an opening for me

among the flutes and boulders,

and I would be taken up. That this

might be a form of death

did not occur to me. I only know

that something held me back,

a doubt, a debt, a face I could not

leave behind. When the door

fell open, I did not go through.

Orion by James Longenbach


Stars rising like something said, something never

To be forgotten, shining forever–look

How still they are.

Blind hunter crawling

Toward sunrise, then healed.

He opened his eyes to find her waiting

–Afraid–and together they traveled

Lightly: requiring nothing

But a sense that the road beneath them stretched

Forever. At the edge

He entered the water, swam so far

That he became a speck: his body

Washed ashore, then raised to where we see it now–

The belt, the worn-out sword. I’m not


Except that there is nothing beneath us,

No ground without fear. The body vulnerable

–You can look at me–

The body still now, never

Changing, rising forever–stay–

Like something said.

Traveling Light by Linda Pastan

Traveling Light

I’m only leaving you
for a handful of days,
but it feels as though
I’ll be gone forever—
the way the door closes
behind me with such solidity,
the way my suitcase
carries everything
I’d need for an eternity
of traveling light.
I’ve left my hotel number
on your desk, instructions
about the dog
and heating dinner. But
like the weather front
they warn is on its
way with its switchblades
of wind and ice,
our lives have minds
of their own.

Copyright © Linda Pastan

We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship,/although it meant the end of travel. – Elizabeth Bishop

We’d rather have the iceberg than the ship,/although it meant the end of travel. -E. Bishop

In those first few days I
wanted to record everything
The old Westerner
sitting up straight in the cyclo
the way I had earlier
& I was trying to
read critical essays
but there was so much
more all the time which is good,
which is what Bishop
meant in “Casabianca:”
love’s the this,
the boy on the burning
deck and the sailors.

Apartment searching on the brink of the rainy season

Well hello friends…so it has been almost a week for me here in Saigon and I am starting to feel like a local. I have really started to appreciate certain things about the culture and am already, as was predicted, looking forward to getting out of the super-touristy area I landed in.

Woke up this a.m. feeling a lot better and finally began to search for apartments. The most promising one so far is an “expat guesthouse” located near my school, 300 USD/mo., shared space with 5 other teachers. From the outside the place doesn’t look like much–actually from the inside it doesn’t really either. It is located on a dusty street and you need a to open a gate to get in. I will have a room with AC and a bed and a closet, my own bathroom, use of the kitchen, living room, and rooftop terrace, and, believe it or not, a maid who does the laundry (even ironing)!

The main thing that I have had to get used to is the HEAT–it can really get to you and make you so tired. I drink about 2 L of water a day and just soak it all in. Last night there was a lizard on my wall in my hotel, as if to remind me where I was in case I forgot. I am looking forward to getting into a place where I can put all my stuff away–the transition period can be rather stressful as of course all I want to do is write poems and I can’t really do that when I have to get these life things out of the way shelter, figure out what food to eat, money etc. But I have a plan that once I get into this place and get new sheets and a lamp and get my AC going the words will start flowing again.

The other travelers I meet stress me out as well sometimes–it can be enough to just keep yourself sane without having to hear with every new person that they are homesick, they talk about how hard it is to be away from home and it just makes me wonder what they talk about when they are home and why they would decide to come all the way to Vietnam.

That said, I have the urge to call people from home a lot, the only reason I don’t is because I don’t know phone numbers. I have read and reread the comments DK wrote on my poems about 25 times since she gave them back to me, I’ve kept them in my carry-on, I’ve taken them to every cafe. I kept them in my bed with me when I was sick.

Virginia Woolf once said “I never travel without my diary. It is important to have something sensational to read in the train.” It is for the future poems that I am doing this. When I remember that, surprisingly it makes it all a little easier–they don’t even exist yet and already they are so reliable.

Part of Eve’s Discussion by Marie Howe

Part of Eve’s Discussion

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.
Marie Howe

A Moment by Ruth Stone

A Moment

Across the highway a heron stands
in the flooded field. It stands
as if lost in thought, on one leg, careless,
as if the field belongs to herons.
the air is clear and quiet.
Snow melts on this second fair day.
Mother and daughter,
we sit in the parking lot
with doughnuts and coffee.
We are silent.
For a moment the wall between us
opens to the universe;
then closes.
And you go on saying
you do not want to repeat my life.
Ruth Stone

Wild Grapes by Robert Frost

What tree may not the fig be gathered from? 
The grape may not be gathered from the birch? 
It's all you know the grape, or know the birch. 
As a girl gathered from the birch myself 
Equally with my weight in grapes, one autumn, 
I ought to know what tree the grape is fruit of. 
I was born, I suppose, like anyone, 
And grew to be a little boyish girl 
My brother could not always leave at home. 
But that beginning was wiped out in fear 
The day I swung suspended with the grapes, 
And was come after like Eurydice 
And brought down safely from the upper regions; 
And the life I live now's an extra life 
I can waste as I please on whom I please. 
So if you see me celebrate two birthdays, 
And give myself out as two different ages, 
One of them five years younger than I look- 
One day my brother led me to a glade 
Where a white birch he knew of stood alone, 
Wearing a thin head-dress of pointed leaves, 
And heavy on her heavy hair behind, 
Against her neck, an ornament of grapes. 
Grapes, I knew grapes from having seen them last 
One bunch of them, and there began to be 
Bunches all round me growing in white birches, 
The way they grew round Lief the Lucky's German; 
Mostly as much beyond my lifted hands, though, 
As the moon used to seem when I was younger, 
And only freely to be had for climbing. 
My brother did the climbing; and at first 
Threw me down grapes to miss and scatter 
And have to hunt for in sweet fern and hardhack; 
Which gave him some time to himself to eat, 
But not so much, perhaps, as a boy needed. 
So then, to make me wholly self-supporting, 
He climbed still higher and bent the tree to earth, 
And put it in my hands to pick my own grapes. 
'Here, take a tree-top, I'll get down another. 
Hold on with all your might when I let go.' 
I said I had the tree. It wasn't true. 
The opposite was true. The tree had me. 
The minute it was left with me alone 
It caught me up as if I were the fish 
And it the fishpole. So I was translated 
To loud cries from my brother of 'Let go! 
Don't you know anything, you girl? Let go!' 
But I, with something of the baby grip 
Acquired ancestrally in just such trees 
When wilder mothers than our wildest now 
Hung babies out on branches by the hands 
To dry or wash or tan, I don't know which 
(You'll have to ask an evolutionist) 
I held on uncomplainingly for life. 
My brother tried to make me laugh to help me. 
What are you doing up there in those grapes? 
Don't be afraid. A few of them won't hurt you. 
I mean, they won't pick you if you don't them/ 
Much danger of my picking anything! 
By that time I was pretty well reduced 
To a philosophy of hang-and-let-hang. 
'Now you know how it feels/ my brother said, 
* To be a bunch of fox-grapes, as they call them, 
That when it thinks it has escaped the fox 
By growing where it shouldn't on a birch, 
Where a fox wouldn't think to look for it 
And if he looked and found it, couldn't reach it- 
Just then come you and I to gather it. 
Only you have the advantage of the grapes 
In one way: you have one more stem to cling by, 
And promise more resistance to the picker/ 
One by one I lost off my hat and shoes, 
And still I clung. I let my head fall back, 
And shut my eyes against the sun, my ears 
Against my brother's nonsense; 'Drop/ he said, 
Til catch you in my arms. It isn't far/ 
(Stated in lengths of him it might not be. ) 
'Drop or I'll shake the tree and shake you down/ 
Grim silence on my part as I sank lower, 
My small wrists stretching till they showed the banjo strings. 
'Why, if she isn't serious about it! 
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do. 
I'll bend the tree down and let you down by it/ 
[ don't know much about the letting down; 
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet 
And the world came revolving back to me, 
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers. 
Before I straightened them and brushed the bark off. 
My brother said: 'Don't you weigh anything? 
Try to weigh something next time., so you won't 
Be run oft with by birch trees into space/ 
It wasn't my not weighing anything 
So much as my not knowing anything 
My brother had been nearer right before. 
I had not taken the first step in knowledge; 
I had not learned to let go with the hands, 
As still I have not learned to with the heart, 
And have no wish to with the heartnor need, 
That I can see. The mind is not the heart. 
I may yet live, as I know others live, 
To wish in vain to let go with the mind 
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me 
That I need learn to let go with the heart. 

Robert Frost

The Catch by Stanley Kunitz

It darted across the pond
toward our sunset perch,
weaving in, up, and around
a spindle of air,
this delicate engine
fired by impulse and glitter,
swift darning-needle,
gossamer dragon,
less image than thought,
and the thought came alive.
Swoosh went the net
with a practiced hand.
“Da-da, may I look too?”
You may look, child,
all you want.
This prize belongs to no one.
But you will pay all
your life for the privilege,
all your life.

Alla Breve Loving by C.D. Wright

Three people drinking out of the bottle
in the living room.
A cold rain. Quiet as a mirror.

One of the men
stuffs his handkerchief in his coat,
climbs the stairs with the girl.
The other man is left sitting

at the desk with the wine and the headache,
turning an old Ellington side
over in his mind. And over.

He held her like a saxophone
when she was his girl.
Her tongue trembling at the reed.

The man lying next to her now
thinks of another woman.
Her white breath idling

before he drove off.
He said something about a spell,
watching the snow fall on her shoulders.

The musician
crawls back into his horn,
ancient terrapin
at the approach of the wheel.

The Tourist and the Town: San Miniato al Monte by Adrienne Rich

by Adrienne Rich

Those clarities detached us, gave us form,
Made us like architecture. Now no more
Bemused by local mist, our edges blurred,
We knew where we began and ended. There
We were the campanile and the dome
Alive and separate in that bell-struck air,
Climate whose light reformed our random line,
Edged our intent and sharpened our desire.

Could it be always so: a week of sunlight,
Walks with a guidebook picking out our way
Through verbs and ruins, yet finding after all
The promised vista, once!—The light has changed
Before we can make it ours. We have no choice:
We are only tourists under that blue sky,
Reading the posters on the station wall:
Come, take a walking-trip through happiness.

There is a mystery that floats between
The tourist and the town. Imagination
Estranges it from her. She need not suffer
Or die here. It is none of her affair,
Its calm heroic vistas make no claim.
Her bargains with disaster have been sealed
In another country. Here she goes untouched,
And this is alienation. Only sometimes,
In certain towns she opens certain letters
Forwarded on from bitter origins,
That send her walking, sick and haunted, through
Mysterious and ordinary streets
That are no more than streets to walk and walk—
And then the tourist and the town are one.

To work and suffer is to be at home.
All else is scenery: the Rathaus fountain,
The skaters in the sunset on the lake
At Salzburg, or, emerging after snow,
The singular clear stars of Castellane.
To work and suffer is to come to know
The angles of a room, light in a square,
As convalescents learn the face of one
Who has watched beside them. Yours now, every street,
The noonday swarm across the bridge, the bells
Bruising the air above the crowded roofs,
The avenue of chestnut-trees, the road
To the post-office. Once upon a time
All these for you were fiction. Now, made free
You live among them. Your breath is on this air,
And you are theirs and of their mystery.

Pulling Down the Sky (the Sistene Chapel) by Matt Donovan

Pulling Down the Sky

(the Sistene Chapel)

Matt Donovan

Piece by piece the sky was hacked, the star-flung heaven made years before,

its sheen of gold & ultramarine. And the firmament turned to pigmented dust

that caked & stained their forearms & necks & rained down in wide, benedictory arcs

into the space below. It grew dark, of course, & they worked torch-lit

& a man said said plaster, bucket. A man said scaffold, whore. And the hammers

mauling the sky from that height swallowed up the sounds from below:

a robed boy scurrying from the candles, the sunset vesper thrum.

And when they rested, they saw the ruin they had made & knew what was needed

would be done. To pull down the entire barrel vault blue, each starred width

of heaven. To prepare the space where they sky had been for, yes, a god

& the shapes of god. Of cloth, a mule, a knuckle. An axe, a bowl, some bread.

MA candidate stuff II

Kate’s poem’s speaker didn’t want to write about HIM, but she did, and Kate got such a beautiful poem out of it; lucky Kate, that she can do that.

Dr. Hayes said you should never refer to a poet as the speaker in her poem and poked fun of people who’d done so, but he also bought us pizza and Coke and said we were occasionally brilliant.

Walked home from school slowly, again, lucky life, and still frequently feel lucky in libraries and while looking at and walking around old buildings like cathedrals and less ornate things as grand in scale like wind turbines.

In Northfield I felt lucky the question Did I know how many people he had made happy? found its way into “Johnny Carson Poem”; lucky, lucky life.

Sunset by Rainer Maria Rilke

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

How To Like It by Stephen Dobyns

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing? The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept–
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.

Dream (01/19/09)

In a gymnasium in natural mostly gone dark, I sat on the floor watching a small, old-fashioned television set.

It was cold, and when I pulled a blanket over my legs, he took some too and also put both his hands over my hands and moved closer.

When the performance ended he stood, asked me in the light if I wanted to go
to a movie.

“Sure,” I said, my heart beating fast; people still did this? We walked outside. He opened the door to his Saab and we sat, didn’t talk, just drove.

He wore sunglasses, looked over once, smiled.

“Will you drop me off so I can take a shower, and then pick me back up again?”


I looked out my window, smiling to myself. The next twenty minutes or so would be the best I’ve had in years; the sunshine, the chances.

"Like" by Jevin Boardman was selected as this week’s What Light winner by Duluth Poet Laureate Jim Johnson.


Meaning a preference for something.
She enjoys the beach, likes it. Meaning he’ll want
or choose, do as he likes. Meaning similarity,
a winter morning like that first in Minong, Wisconsin.
Meaning one thing typical of another, lying in bed
between the windows, the frames caked in frost
like eyelids crusty from sleep. Meaning as though
it would or should be. She said the clouds
look like rain. Meaning such as. A room lacking
in subjects, like physics. Meaning counterparts,
a group similar, and the like. Meaning resemblance.
Lovelike. More precise for what there was?
A man lying in bed beside a woman, about whom
he wrote poems of love and never did.

Jevin Boardman is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Hamline’s Graduate School of Liberal Studies program. He is unpublished (until now) and resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.