Sunday, July 31, 2011

2 poems: Local culture/Meanwhile

Local culture

What price come the symbols
  in a back-country cowboy town
    evolved to modern artsi-fartsy tourist trap
The rodeo is come to town
  complete with local and traveling cowgirls,
    rodeo-cowboys and predators of all kinds.
Descendants of former inhabitants,
  invited if they wear their feathers, bring ponies,
    look like expected indigenes.
Yet the muttering on the street
   and in city hall is all about "those indians"
      selling salmon on the street, drinking in the bars.
Ahh well... it's about the money
   leave the money... and leave . . . soon.
     It will be all over but the counting.
         Ralph Anderson, Entry # 17


A valley full of ecotourists explore,
  lured by the chance to see or hear
    some or one of the states' 17 wolves...
Settle for seminar sessions with old skulls.
  a few local and regional "wolf experts"
     and rehashing the socio-political battles.
 Many locals lie low or retreat,
  for the high country and back corners
    are rich in this season with views and resources.
First berries report from the banks
  of the Wallowa and canyon walls
     saskatoons ripen and feed birds, bears and people.
And hunters sharpen their arrows
  for bear season starts this week
    and stalkers will again scour the canyons.
Shorebirds are migrating, swifts still feed young,
  there are dependent hawks and owls everywhere,
    and hummingbirds cluster at feeders.

       Ralph Anderson, Entry # 18

Five Poems

Hay Plains

As broad and  flat and worn
as the palm of God’s hand,
criss-crossed with lines of life and death
that those who know the palmist’s art
can read and can, perhaps, survive.
Sheep move, licelike, through the follicles
but nothing else, until God sighs
and half an inch of topsoil
blows away.

By Joe Massingham, Entry # 12

On Bullock Mountain

Sapling sentinels stare silently out over endless plains.
Sparse grass huddles coldly on the ground.
A furtive wind half sighs, half growls with fear,
as it skulks in the trees behind me.
An old grey roo leaps once, twice
and into the cavernous grey-green.
The mountain draws the darkening shawl
of night around its shoulders.
I turn and walk down.
A hiss of relief escapes from
the gums as I depart.
At the foot of the track I look out
over a sullen frost burnt field
that waits, resentfully, for the time
when my kind go and it can tear down
the fences and be free.

By Joe Massingham, Entry # 13

Rain Shower

The peasant sky pauses
In its journeys over oceans,
filling waterpots
to carry on its shoulders
whilst it travels overland
until it stumbles and
pours the lot
on the naked earth
stretched out sunbathing,
causing the hair on her skin
to stand up straight
quite suddenly, before
she seeks such shelter
as she can, whilst
waiting for the leering sun
to stare down at her again.

By Joe Massingham, Entry # 14

Wind Games

Wind whispers sweet nothings to adolescent wheat,
suggesting they go off together to the city.
She giggles, tosses her hair, hunches her shoulders,
 turns her delicately tanned face to the sun.
Rebuffed, wind moves on, but the lure
of bright lights lingers with wheat.
Autumn comes and full-grown wheat goes,
 but to the silo, not the city. Wind,
furious at finding her gone,
vandalises the fragile stubble,
scoops up top soil and carries it off,
dumping it on a distant shoreline
when his attention is attracted by
flirtatious, blonde-haired waves.

By Joe Massingham, Entry # 15


In kitchens on the properties
stand pine or eucalypt, sturdy and square,
scrubbed daily to a soft silk surface.
In grander dining rooms, here and there,
red cedar stands, carved after Sheraton
 or Adam, polished as red
as Empire once was on the maps.
And after dinner gentlemen converse
whilst they help themselves
from sparkling glass and polished box
set out on side tables made from claret ash.

In the towns the merchants
have desks of silky oak
at which they make their modest fortunes.
At weekends their families forgather
round the drop-leaf elm
to take part in that most old English of rituals,
 Sunday lunch:
roast meat, and two veg, followed by
a custard covered pudding,
even on the hottest day.

In the city we buy our heritage,
paying usurious prices to a dealer
for a walnut, oak or other imported bargain,
or make do with oregon and veneer,
a skin put on to make things look respectable,
much as we put on our manners when we come to table.

By Joe Massingham, Entry # 16

Author’s note:  ‘The Tablelands’ (properly the New England Tablelands) are in the north     
                         of New South Wales, Australia)


tall grass
blue sky
big heat
dusty open
clods and burrows
possibilities on an endless horizon

by Kate Russell, Entry #11

where water was

somebody stamped this spot
to “comfortable for a bed down”
the trail runs to the creek and
sign of deer and fox are
everywhere present, at least
along the decline of the old
waterway, the one shoved
west by high water and thaw.
grasses, weeds, grasses, weeds
pawprints, and the holes in
the greenscape left by a
bounding whitetail.  one
more time, look around, here,
it is a wildlife superhighway
and the toll price for prey: high.

the collector

foraging, he
opens the small vial
the perfume of the prairie
grass pollen
whiffs of onion, the
green smell
of wildflowers and
a whisper of dust and musk
from the footprint of
over there
on the next ridge

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three Poems

-for Odin

With a fast swipe of her hand,
she pushes everything off the counter.
The messy bottle of ketchup
that has never done anything but harm,
a container of stained shirts;
the napkins with their weak,
onion-thin consolations;
the plates that serve,
like frozen hands,
the bitterest food.
She watches as it all
crashes and mixes to the floor
into a pattern of disaster
she can identify.
Skin and bone shards
swimming in blood.
The moaning of shattered bodies.
The floor’s silence. 

By Valentina Cano, Entry 8

A Hopeful Morning

Sandbags seem to block my view.
I struggle to part
the tan bundles,
pushing the churn of grains,
but nothing shifts.
With a pull,
I slice into them.
My hand is covered in
seeds that will never bloom,
in pieces of stuffing
that will never fill anything again.
I let out a scream,
like opening a gate,
horses made of anger and fear
pouring out to maim
with hooves of sound.
I raise a handful of spilled sand.
Let it twist to the sky once,
then slam it down
to the tiles with a crunch.

By Valentina Cano, Entry 9

Canned Lies

If you’d known it would happen,
if you’d realized the future undoing,
like unwinding a watch,
like skinning an apple,
would you still have said it?
Would your words have trickled
out through straws of laughter
to bloom like frozen flowers?
You’d have allowed the sweat
to spring free
from your boiling flesh, to
to cooler terrains.
You’d still have made a knot
of your lies
and thrown them up,
to flirt with a room
that was a snip of sitcom.
One covered in colored sugar,
secrets tucked liked
napkins under sofa cushions.

By Valentina Cano, Entry 10

Six Poems

1. Changes
I'm looking around and searching you there,
The bright prospect lights only frown as I stare,
My heart's getting lost in the shatters.
I know you'll pick them all up when you come,
And I'll never mind if you steal at least some,
Just keep them, and nothing else matters.
Those white and green lights got my secret revealed,
I'll write it all down and cherish it sealed,
One day it will find destination.
Whoever discovers the mystery penned,
They won't guess a word, I have got it all planned,
This madness becomes my salvation.
The eyes of the suburbs will warm and appease
My heart, ever-aching, with evident ease.
Your look in the window still shows.
It's fixed in the soul, it's fixed in the glass,
This moment can linger for good either pass,
It's changing. Well, destiny knows.

By April Avalon, Entry 2 
2. Only Dreaming
My arms held so tightly around your waist
Just spoke for me, as I'd got my lips sealed.
At least they indulged in a new better taste -
Embraced by temptations, I chose to yield.
This night was a blinding exhilarant flash
Of life that's unfiltered, of love that's pristine.
You found the beauty within such a crash,
You planted some hope in the dream world of mine.
But pleasure is gone like this cherry cigar -
The dawn didn't let fortune's secret unfold
Or give me a sign, leading where you are.
A dream half believed in is all that I hold.

By April Avalon, Entry 3

3.  From The Heart
I'm here in the corner, devoured by cold,
My little ribbed shell hides a desperate sigh,
It holds an enigma for you to unfold
Until I'm asleep to your breath's lullaby.
My soul is rushing beyond the extremes,
Revealing the vibe that is hard to appease,
But once you discover the door to my dreams,
My consciousness lives through a moment of peace.
Whenever my lips start exploring your skin,
They bleed unexplainable bitter remorse -
My poison leaves stains, and it feels from within,
But lips ever sealed do appear much worse.

By April Avalon, Entry 4
 4. Evening
I'm breathing the smoke of fruit cigarettes,
One's already burnt; I am craving for more.
I'm lighting the last one with no regrets -
If you were beside me, it well could be four.
I'm slowly turning the key in my lock;
It usually takes me two minutes or three,
But I have been blind to the obstinate clock -
Alas, there is no one waiting for me.
My room has no present but treasures the past;
Its walls will recall every breath that we share...
I'm feeling so cold. I break down at last:
My papers will choke on the ink of despair.
My heart's like a violin's sound, unclear;
It's out of tune for a permanent matter.
I'll sign all these verses with only one tear
And seal with a sigh just to send with a letter.

By April Avalon, Entry 5
5. Heartless-can-be?

I'm wild and sometimes even heartless-can-be,
I'm fond of collecting illusions to ruin,
I'm breaking the rules life has written for me,
"Create to destroy" best describes what I'm doing.
I'm scarily dangerous, silently loud -
A walking disaster you'd better ignore,
The pain in the neck of a desperate crowd.
But I'm like a magnet - you'll only want more.
You'll figure me out, you'll get to the core -
One beauty, two fears, three dangers - it's me.
You'll enter my heartspace and close the door
For anyone else who I wanted to be.
My truth was denying devotion and faith,
And now you've proved right the opposite true.
A chain of mistakes is the sign of my days;
My strength will forgive me - it led me to you.

By April Avalon, Entry 6
6. Fate And Fortune
This northern city with headlights-eyes
Has buried me in its cold and gloom;
You'll see this place in a dreadful guise
And once sweet home will seem a tomb
Once you're aware there's no way out,
Once dreams of youth say goodbye and grin.
It goes farther and makes me doubt
In all the things I have ever seen.
Its blood has turned into ice and snow -
It's endless winter in every heart.
The winds of grief never cease to blow,
The art of grief is the greatest art.
And once in this cradle of dirt and despair
A wandering stranger demanded my mind.
He asked me about this damned northern air
I'd better not breathe - I would leave it behind.
He said: "I'm in love with this misery, miss.
Destruction is right what we need to create.
True art is in grief, I've been dreaming of this.
My yesterday's fortune's tomorrow's fate.
I know all secrets my destiny knows,
So this boring dwelling won't be a surprise".
I thought: "He's my twin, and it clearly shows".
That evening he opened my widely shut eyes.
A perfect stranger has built a wall
To be a shield from this gloom and lies,
From endless rains of this city's gall
That falls on me from the shattered skies.
The wave of feelings can warm the days
Of dull existence in Bitterland
And melt the ice in this rotten place,
In every heart that it's due to mend.
This northern city with headlights-eyes
Has turned us down in its nasty voice
And... brought together. We've paid the price
Of fate to fortune. We've made the choice. 

By April Avalon, Entry 7

Friday, July 29, 2011

at some point

there it is, if you look hard: all
that snow and ice plating
the upland again - under
a glower of moonlight and
a howl or two. so hole up
on the prairie as best you can.
somewhen, it is the season
favored centuries past,
despite the heat waves
that shimmer today.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

for inspiration only

What is Terry Tempest William's "Buried Poems" piece? A link to a version.

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.

by Dorian Zimmerman, 1

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

practice makes.imperfect

A scruffy young redtail

                                               this time.

found (but not found poetry)

Screen capture of the announcement of the grant which funds the contest - from May!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

POETRY Contest for 2011 begins!

Thanks to Wallowa County Cultural Trust Coalition for their 2011 grant to the "Cache"!  A local Wallowa County artist has been commissioned to prepare the art box for the installation, and a $50 cash prize has been set aside for the top poem submitted to the 2011 poetry contest, which ends December 31, 2011. The Zumwalt Prairie Poetry Cache is a 10 year project to collect community and visitor poems about the prarie in all its aspects.

The collection - including a series of community poetry blogs and a physical art object cache box being commissioned from a local artist, also using the WCCTC grant - is inspired by Terry Tempest Williams essay "Buried Poems" in which a very small town is transformed by the discovery of buried poems.

Any form of poem may be submitted with no entry fee to ZumwaltPrairieCache @ Poems will be electronically published at the 2011 community poetry site Submissions may also be selected for a chapbook at a later date.  THANKS to Wallowa County Cultural Trust Coalition!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Young love on the edge of the prairie

Ted’s young stud stamps and strikes Just missing the barbed wire
The show mare responds
in kind

“We told her and told her, he’s ugly and you don’t
want his babies,”said Pat

And then we hung out a hot wire on the fence, right
along with the red flags

But mares like women and men for that
matter don’t always listen

and barbed wire bites hard just like spring breakups