Monday, July 2, 2012

Wanderings on the Zumwalt Prairie (II)

If you clear a bit of the prairie
of rocks, that is, not grass
If you could, a dozen would do
You could build a sturdy old rock jack
Ostensibly to hold the barbed wire fence
but really an altar perch for meadowlarks,
for gospel music that you can embrace

Why are those two coyotes howling midday?
In harmony with the red-winged blackbirds,
meadowlarks and sparrows
While crickets talk thunder
with the black squall rising over the ridge
like a night with nattering stars

Some rain did fall
not enough to dampen the choir
just enough to chime in, awaiting
Yellow sun opened the grey veil

My toes picked a bouquet of wildflowers
even though picking was outlawed on the preserve
somehow my toes didn’t get the message
A spray of biscuitroot with yellow umbrellas
A splash of succulent wild onion
not enough to feed your belly
just enough to feed your sensory delight
somehow my spirit got the message

Francis Opila

Friday, February 17, 2012


egg-heavy geese -
the cycle of life,
then goslings, goslings

Monday, December 26, 2011

winner of 2011 Zumwalt Prarie Poetry contest - Dorian Zimmerman

Below Peaks like White Knuckles

Spring doesn’t come,
it molts,
gray with feathered clouds.

Gusts ruffle skies,
sloughing winter fluff.
White hills now downy
with yarrow—white puffs—
like the dappled flanks of fawns

ripple with invaders,
a Mongol horde
of cheatgrass.

Their tassels
like banners in a limp wind.

Terraced by tenacious hoof,
wounded ridges
beholden to their tenants.
Elk, deer, bighorns,
their white flags wisping
across the vastness—
dandruff from a dandelion’s fat head.

Slopes shorn
by river gossip and the mosaic
of Corriente cattle—
their name, almost “running”
in the native tongue,

their indignant groans, their lowered
brows insinuate
an ensuing battle.
They, like their dueƱos,
will not flee.

Hard earth
beneath bootsoles—this
land disavows ease.

It has been this way,

Folks here,
like Steelhead smolts,
swimming backwards down-
bent to their origins,
tailfins facing futures.
Dorian Zimmerman 
Thanks to Wallowa County Cultural Trust Coalition for the artist grant fund that provided the honorarium for this contest.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

giving back

As you may know, Wallowa County Cultural Trust Coalition provided the grant that sponsored this contest and also production of the art box for poetry that the Nature Conservancy will be displaying.

After saving for 13 years, I got a new truck! I splurged and every time the license renews, the Oregon Cultural Trust, which supplied the grant distributed by the Coalition, gets $30. By the time I'm ready for the next truck, perhaps I will have put back enough for someone else to get a $250 grant for their art!

Below, the evidence!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out on the edge

Out on the edge of the prairie
  where the brown bunchgrasses
     overlook green alfalfa fields
and the view is filled over 200 degrees
  with the span of the Wallowas
a low hill has a small ring of rocks.
What a location to sit and ponder
   of time and traditions and
yet... the crustose lichens lie thick
  on the up-turned faces of these stones
waiting still for one to come again.
A perfect perch on the edge
  of the wolf highway, where stars
     fill the sky and mind
to wait for a vision, to craft a tale,
   to consider what to pass on
to "the-people" who are yet to come.
What use did this site serve,
  what contemplation found field here,
     what stories lie buried, fed to the wind
as if... previous use might add value
  to what yet lies exposed and open
to the questing mind... and heart.
Ralph Anderson, Entry #25

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

carte postale

And if the prairie dreams
is it of mice in the
                     rye grass?
or is that the hawk's
dream of the prairie?
Susan Whitney

Susan Whitney, Entry # 24

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

1 of 1,000,000 (The Day Without Nouns)

Just for (the span of the sun and moon)
Name ( ) no thing
Along comes --blank-- the dark time

Make it (more than okay), let it
Be yours if there was a Name for that
Yet more, let it be beyond the gerund

Speak no (noun-meaning-word), just
pass along the (angled land) as if
There never was youth or (caution).

No need to Name the (feathered ones)
Sort the calls and cries (slot them)
in memory and (forget)

responding to William Stafford's Notice What This Poem is Not Doing. The
original title of the response via fortuitous typo, "The Day Without Nous."