Rowing the Boat
No matter which oar I pulled or how I churned, battering with the oar's end weed that clung, the skew-keeled boat merely lurched and turned widdershins like a top backwards slung, so backwards was the way we rowed her so we went out and away from what we pointed at till we arrived at the place the boat was bent and dropped our lines and panting sat while wild birds flipped in the air and dove for the same bugs the bass were rising for that we hoped to hook so that we could prove ourselves in the boat equal to birds, bugs or bass in the dark on the water where the air is black as a bat and the white stars stare.
— David Lunde
Excerpted from Sludge Gulper 1, by David Lunde Copyright 1971 by David Lunde Published by Basilisk Press and reprinted by permission.
Insufficient, like all apologies,
they are the arms of the starved
dead, stiff extrusions from shallow
graves. The loggers clearcut first,
then planted these excuses and left.
We watch the knob pines wave; even
the fog moving inland is enough
to make them sway: their defeated
roots gnarl around too little clay,
and they fall, unhonored, into bone
yards of themselves, making a low,
tangled sky, the last landscape
of snakes. Heavy with their resinous
cones, the knob pines hold each other
and conspire; their only wish is fire.
If fire were to rise from the crotch
of the hill; if fire were to suck life
out of air like a slow, red mouth; if
fire unsprung these cones into glowing
seed, the dead could rise after.
We make large, decisive noises
against the resurrection of these trees,
and listen, at noon, to their silence.
— David Swanger
Reprinted with permission of Poetry Northwest (Spring 1984 Vol. XXV. No.1) and the poet.
The cliff-house stood in ruins
a few crumbling bricks piled against time
We tried to scale the canyon wall
to reach the homes where no flesh sings.
But Vibram soles just won't work
on the polished rock
of Anasazi trail.
— Leonard Bird
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