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Poetry Winter 2021    fiction    all issues


Andrej Lišakov

Laura Apol
I Take a Realtor through the House
& other poems

Rebekah Wolman
How I Want my Body Taken
& other poems

Devon Bohm
The Word
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Right Kind of Woman
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Gravestone Flowers
& other poems

Laura Turnbull
& other poems

Andre F. Peltier
A Fistful of Ennui
& other poems

Peter Kent
Reflections on the Late Nuclear Attack on Boston
& other poems

Carol Barrett
Canal Poem #8: Hides
& other poems

Alix Lowenthal
Abortion Clinic Waiting Room
& other poems

Latrise P. Johnson
From My Women
& other poems

Brenna Robinson
& other poems

may panaguiton
& other poems

Elizabeth Farwell
The Life That Scattered
& other poems

Bill Cushing
Two Stairways
& other poems

Richard Baldo
A Note to Prepare You
& other poems

Blake Foster
Aubade from the Coast
& other poems

Bernard Horn
& other poems

Harald Edwin Pfeffer
Still stiff with morning cold
& other poems

Nia Feren
Neon Orange Tree Trunks
& other poems

Everett Roberts
A Mourning Performance
& other poems

Alaina Goodrich
The Way I Wander
& other poems

Olivia Dorsey Peacock
the iron maiden and other adornments
& other poems

Carol Barrett

Canal Poem #8: Pondies

Dear canal, child of the river, child

of one who led ancient trees to mill,

rolled clipped logs in all manner of wind

and weather, floated them toward destiny:

well-oiled saws cut them to planks

and boards for book shelves, post office,

church, fruit stand, mortuary, school.

Your legacy, one of transport, the rising

of new towns with old names, settling

the land with sheep and cows, holly hocks,

porch swings creaking a dusty song.

My friend Rita has lived eighty years

in Bend, says here it was the “pondies”

brought to harvest, long-needled pines, wood

nougat sweet, a bit like licorice when cut, bark

peeling away, layer of dark almond chocolate.

Lumber men ran the logs, rugged boots

rolling them along, steering a gangly

roped-in procession down river, poles in hand.

At ten I got to spin a log in Spirit Lake, wearing

sneakers, not cork-lined boots with spikes.

Falling: an icy splash, pummy stone crunching

underfoot. In your shallow bed built of lava rock,

only an occasional branch tumbles down. But

it remembers what has gone before, the fate

of forefathers, desecration of owled forests.

So many birds flew to their deaths in wildfires,

so many more after the logging stopped, heat

rising ahead of the blaze, dry brush without

shade, ready kindling. The floating branch and I

honor your long history, living tributary,

lineage of noble fir and water, blackbird stream

on high, calls piercing this lofty desert air.

Canal Poem #10: Horizon

Some say the Deschutes was born to bring

a watering hole to wild horses, manes tangled

in the wind, hooves keen on deceiving cougar

or human snares. They’re out there still, beyond

your trickling bid, thundering across the vast

prairie on and off the rez. Near Prineville, a rider

took her steed down a remote mountain trail,

suffered catcalls from revved up Harleys,

afraid they’d spook her horse, more worried

about the throw than what they’d do to her,

bucked off saddle once too often, back askew.

But the wild horses saved her, defiant

challengers rising up to pummel the bikes,

leaving a tame sister to run back to camp.

I’ve never been that fond of horses. My sisters

loved to saddle up, canter in the open field

beyond the corn and barn. What I liked:

the smell of oats in the bin, the warm nuzzle

after handing over a humble carrot. They had

gratitude down. In this world, the wild horse,

a conundrum, symbol of freedom, grazing

the desert grass, silhouette on the horizon.

Some say they trample too many vineyards,

deprive cattle of lush growth along the reservoir,

kick over stone settings for barbed fences.

We must decide what to contain, what to let

roam free. Who can bear witness to their cause,

to the cloud that dares defy the skies? We know

this tension: rules of grammar, or poetic license,

the sermon or the song, news story, or naked memory.

I offer a block of salt for wild horses neighing

in the distance, pray the cattle don’t get there first.

Canal Poem #11: Hides

The history of the world lies—may I be so bold—

in a duet of vacillating poles—scarcity, its gong

lean and gaunt, and plenty, chimes twinkling

in the heart’s balm. Therein we know

the changing tides, the axis along which we align,

claim the canal’s abundant flow, or lobby

to shut off the source, curtain drawn on this era’s

channeled chords. Water, like life, is a shifting

discourse. Take the gray wolf, trapped and pelted

almost to extinction, then saved by law,

transplanted from the tundra of Canada

to Yellowstone, the steppes of Idaho and Montana.

Five breeds have grown to love this land:

coats of white, black, brown, cinnamon

and gray, a range not unlike our human hides.

Ranchers rally to change the rules again,

permit free range shooting, save the cows,

fatten bulls for market without lurking shadows

drawing down their weight, their yield.

Wolves raise their young in acres of buffalo grass,

call to mind another hunt. Scarcity. Plenty.

Playing out again, the gong, the chime.

I watch your free form waves traverse

a tender slope, helicopter humming overhead,

stirring the warm air, tourists on board

for the lava caves due south, where

they’ll descend, trade high noon for the mystery

of deep cold. I wonder when these whirring

blades will sport a gun to clear the land,

wolves in hiding once again, two-legged brethren

in pursuit, yet another round of plenty.

Canal Poem #17: Sinkhole

In May, horror movie in Deschutes River Woods:

while wildfires caught the zip lines of dry grass

further west, you sucked yourself down and out,

steep sinkhole wide as my living room. What

were you trying to say, collapsing in on yourself?

They shut you off at the source, drove backhoes

to fill your dark cavity with rock, then gravel,

grated finer as jagged walls received

their layered fill, the morass finally topped

with a smooth blanket of cement, cured

24 hours to handle the held-back flow.

Customers, assured the break in service,

short-lived, could even watch the repair

in real time. Your history eulogizes injuries

we should have been the wiser for: 1947,

the original flume of untreated lumber

gave way to the risk of rot. Crews bellied up

to a steel flume banked by creosoted timber,

concrete base, remnants of the old Crook County

office in Lytle footing the cost. You rode high

above the earth, air-born river, rumbling

through the lofty dry desert, bellowing

your deep-throated glory song. Now a chorus

of cousin flumes shares the wind, the crows’

calls: Suttong, Fry, Huntington, Slack,

Stennick, Billadeau. Hopeful, I open the door

to walk your restored path, but shut it hard

this early September morning, choking

on smoke. Air quality on the purple monitor,

only one digit less than the days of a year.

One hundred, putrid enough for porous lungs,

burning eyes. By evening, throats swell

indoors. We have run ourselves underground

with careless excess—gas, oil, plastic, coal—

where was it we thought we had so urgently

to go? A sinkhole of unsurpassed gluttony.

Canal Poem #18: Requiem

Last night’s rains have rinsed the air’s burden

of charred smoke on this twentieth anniversary

of the twin tower siege, Pentagon aflame,

a field in Pennsylvania laden with splintered

heroes from flight 93. Devoted Diane Sawyer

has gathered the babies of 9/11 first responders

and top-floor waiters who, alas, succumbed

in the rubble, now twenty, reunited in New York.

How they resemble their determined fathers!

Mothers cultivate memories of those they never

knew. I walk the canal again, cherish the sound

of what tumbles over rock, overcoming dark

obstacles, flowing toward the unity of hope.

The aspens flutter, tip their boughs to nod.

At the pond below the Bridges, the outer circle

of lily pads yellows in the warm September air,

while inner leaves float their green vibrancy.

Blooms punctuate the rippling surface.

I find a requiem of color, movement, grace.

The song of death is long this day. Lilies raise

their petaled arms, praying for deep repose

of the souls of the dead. Whatever wind

prevails, they revel in the moment granted.

I take their cue, await a call from my daughter

in Manhattan, seven when the towers fell, now

contending with Ida whipping her tangled hair.

So much is scattered, broken, leveled,

crushed. Vigils fill the streets. Candles light

my daughter’s island home. The spirit of geese

calls overhead. Ducks nestle in grass. Amen.

Carol Barrett coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. Her poetry books include Calling in the Bones (winner of the Snyder Award from Ashland Poetry Press) and Drawing Lessons. Her creative nonfiction book Pansies (Sonder Press) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards last year. Carol is a former NEA fellow whose work appears in JAMA, Poetry International, The Women’s Review of Books and elsewhere.

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