Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

Excerpt from Upper Level Disturbances

Come Take These Words From Me

Once, through my town, there were rivers.
Thin trees rippled along the spillways.
Morning pierced our breath. Two doves
On the rail bobbing their heads. I am,
My ghost, alone. I stand where there is
No water, thinking water. The laws of nature
Determine all the grief one eye can hold.
Thistles were his winding sheet, my father.
Did he go smooth and gentle? You bum,
What cruder diction than loss?
Though the great pine shove
Taproots down and call the black dirt
Home, though rivers still run,
Though sickly, though this town is not my town,
I wander. Our saws are sharp and never idle long
And through the day we feed the fires
And transform the field-jumble into lines.
Far faces bleared by fire, who are you
That the bright mares of language stride forth
Their flames? I am never more than this.
A green mind in a green world,
And yet the kingdoms that come to my ear.
I look out and know my place.
I, because of love.
In this, there is no recourse.
In this I am humble.
If seeds be language, let them gather.
Let them take these words.




She Called Your Name Over and Over
Then Died They Said

Bright this morning, the whole air
Stripped of ghosts. Furnace
Ticks and bellows and outside
It’s fourteen below. One builds
A craving for solitude that comes
By choice, by consequence.
The telephone stops ringing
And doesn’t start again.
Letters come on holidays
Saying how strong everyone is
In spite of age. Then letters
Stop. This is to tell you I am
Not coming back. I am stronger now.
Yours is a landscape where no past
Thrives. Here at the end
Of a rut-scarred road I have built pasture.
I put on gloves and walk through trees
Gathering tinder for slash-piles
Of what I call my own.




Trying to Remember

What am I willing to lose?
Hear traffic on gravel and know
It is morning, dark clouds
Rippled with wind, small birds
Flinging from trees. Already
You are far away, the molecules
Of scent you left in the air
Vanishing, the bright speck
Of a plane arcing toward the coast.
There is part of me that wants
A failing, here, where dry land
Awaits rain, where larch yellow
On a slope I have no name for,
Where mist borne out of stubble
Will turn to frost soon,
Which is the beauty of not going on,
Of not my home. Hear shotguns
And realize the geese are leaving,
Realize the hazards contained
In the ideas of hope, am learning
How far sound can carry
In this geography, this departure.


Read more about Upper Level Disturbances.