Poems

Poems 2017-06-08T00:46:29+00:00

“I really admire your poems—they are vivid and fresh and honest. Completely unpretentious and beautifully made. . . .The whole thing has such a warm spirit of ‘We live here’–as you say at one point. The specificity of settings and of your own person alive in these poems is really fetching, but the poems go far beyond yourself to being universal and inviting to any reader.” –Deborah Garrison, author of The Second Child and A Working Girl Can’t Win

Report from the End of the Twentieth Century appears in the premier issue of Scintilla.

Proposal for a National Forest Service Brochure

Park and undress
in the empty parking lot at a trail head
Any mountain trail will do
Let the sun pour down your back
Turn and close your eyes
Watch it pour orange
Dress for the trail. Pack food, water,
and leave your human noises in the car
Climb till your heart, lungs, and limbs braid
into the rope that pulls you on
Trees anchor switchbacks
Give them your hand a few times
and brush gently against plants and shrubs
Disturb no rocks
And when you return to the car
because of course you must
be glad for the seeds which having hitched rides
will drop healthy in your wake

(The Huron River Review 6 2007)

Dog Heart

Kewee rarely stopped for the camera and so the whole
of her photographed life is movement stopped

I must hold the other images—Kewee resting, watching
waiting for me to catch up—in my mind. Impossible

sometimes for me, distracted, obsessed, both
The way not to remember, the way to lose things

Snow wasn’t blowing around in the trees just then
Clouds clotted the sky. The near-shore shallows were still

and green.  That Kewee and I were there together to see it
feels like some sort of miracle, that these feet keep

filling with warmth and carrying me along because
the heart that I will never see simply keeps doing its job

(Bear River Review 2010)

Sand Key

I jump into a school of Sergeant Majors
The yellow- and black-striped disks
of their hundreds of bodies fall, rise
and shatter sunlight

Gulf opens from surface to space
Barracudas hang
in the water and watch
as if it’s air
and they’re raptors
Perhaps they name us

Without preference
clear cold March water
buoys us all

Almost immediately I’m shivering
exaggerating strokes and kicks
to keep warm
To keep the mask sealed
I must not even grin

Who can say what a hurricane means
the one that drowned Sand Key
for instance, destroying buildings and people?

Every living thing is food
The rest is mystery

(Dunes Review 15: 1, Summer 2010)

A note from Alison Swan

Please consider buying literary magazines, or encouraging your local library to carry them. And visit literary websites. When you do so, you help ensure that writers and readers will be able to find one another, because these are the places where writers of new imaginative writing, like the poems above, first find their audience–and sometimes, their book publisher.