Saturday, September 15, 2007



Poems and postcards. They go together like August and peaches, summer and your own cliché, I'm fresh out of fresh. Passing poems around in this fashion is hardly new, but this summer Washington poets Paul E. Nelson and Lana Hechtman Ayers came up with the idea of collecting addresses of poets from all over the place and then providing each of us with a list of names so we could write a poem on a postcard and send it to someone on the list every day for the month. Subject matter was completely open. We could respond to the image on the card, or, once they began to arrive, someone's card to you. Or we could take inspiration from an incoming card and write from there. Thirty little poems out, thirty little poems in, at least in theory. In my case I received 22, and I know of at least one of mine that somehow lost its way and has yet to show up at its destination. I did, however, write and send 30, and I'm posting them here, a week's worth at a time.



Let it begin with a river,
one that passes gracefully
between two countries as different as planets,

Let it be decorated with dams,
alive with rapids,

Let it slake the thirst of all creatures
that find their way to its edge,

Let it flow like words
finding their way to fertile ground,

Let it begin with a river.



a word you shake out in summer
when a cold lake offers the only relief.
I go from room to room
turning out lights, hiding
from the latest bloom of caddis flies
determined to dash the last of their sticky lives
against my lamp, and when the last of these
is extinguished, my pillow.

Sometime after two a.m., coyotes yip and yell,
celebrate their latest kill.
I flick a caddis fly off my arm,
watch it hit the floor,
and want to cry my victory, too.


hummingbirds compete for
feeder time
with paper wasps,
small, striped bandits
out for last call
in the slow dusk


Ah ha! They've begun to arrive. Two from Seattle, one from Julene Tripp Weaver with an image of Powell's Books, and a delightful poem that's really a short story in nine lines entitled "The Gig", from John Davis.


Smoke hangs sleepy in the air,
enters your pores like some demon lover.

You head for the beach,
stop first for beer,
then for the mail
where you discover words
of sad sax, words
of books hidden on shelves.

You dive into all of this
and ponder as you
come up for air.



I buy some postcards for the pictures,
don’t look on the back
where this guy named Dick
has used up to a third of the space
for messages to ramble on
about his photograph,
ignoring apostrophes here,
vague pronoun references there,
misspelling Blaylocks while I
try to jam a poem
into the space that remains.
What a dick!


“Looks like a cave in here”
says a friend, nodding at
the closed drapes and blinds,
even the skylight is shuttered
against the relentless heat
that lasts but a moment
in the pastiched weather
of a year.
August arrives in a blaze of smoke and ashes—
time for the annual trek
into the mountains.


This one was inspired by a quartet of anagrams of Teck Cominco I got from Michael Dylan Welch.


who’s sad…
an anagram for shadows

next door cat hides in the long grass
beside the trailer

you only notice him
because you saw him lie down

his ears are shadows
who’s sad now?



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