The River from the Rain–Eric Paul Shaffer

The River from the Rain–Eric Paul Shaffer

The river spoke of water in high places, glowing

where rocks gave voice to the flow beside the lightless path.

I could only listen. Stumbling along the bank,


climbing into the coming storm, I saw no light

but clouds dull with a full moon and fierce with lightning.


At the cabin, rain clapped a gusty patter in waves

falling through wind. All night long, I lay beneath a roof


made musical by the scatter of drops. In a darkness

pierced only by my ears, I lay listening, and till I woke,

I didn’t know the river from the rain.




Elegy with Lawn Gnome–Lindsay Wilson

Elegy with Lawn Gnome– Lindsay Wilson

Something grows under my grass at night,
poking its whitecaps out from the earth

in a fairy ring. In the window above it sits
the ashes of a woman I cannot bury,

and since she has lost her eyes
I hide a cracked, faded lawn gnome

leaning on a toadstool between the wild roses
tell him to report to me each morning,

but he just says, Cottontail. He says, Blue jay.
He says, Nothing. That’s all he ever says,

and I confess I put those words in his mouth
because that’s what I do when someone dies,

put my words into things, and ask them to speak
for me, but I don’t want my words.

I want a new name for understanding,
more phrases for something lost.

My gardener names the ring’s bare
earth center the dead zone. But the dead

zone, I say, keeps growing like the swells
of a blue stone dropped into a pond,

and the gnome and I are tired of the dead
growing in our yard. The gardener

doesn’t trust the gnome, but tells me even
the dead zone eventually dies. At dusk

the gnome and I drink a few beers and stare
at the hole in our lawn where grass should be.

I’m sorry, I say, for putting my words
in your mouth, sorry for my inheritance

of fungus, these white caps like toes
exposed from a shallow grave.

Wetlands–Leeland Seese

Wetlands–Leeland Seese

River otter waking up

The water and the cattails
Redwing birdsong
Tear salt

stings your tongue

Twitch beneath the tips of grasses
Clumsy stumbler
Little puff of wind

See Diana shamble through the sky

dilatory and forgetful
shawled in early dawn
bluely bundled
pale as a sigh

Clouds are rose petals below her
rolling over

slow and slow
Their melancholy airs

O river otter
Who is left to join you in the hunt?

Snake River Morning–Susan Marsh

Snake River Morning–Susan Marsh

Light shifts along a snowfield
Dawn stirs, blue under the pines
Bugling elk and laughing ravens and the
Slow somber call of an owl

Silence at the river
Before the geese and cranes
Rise in a cacophony of wings, their voices
Raining down among bare branches

Shelter behind a driftwood log:
Rain polishes cobbles at the water
Elk and ravens shelter in the shadows
O sweet small cup of sand.

THE BUTTE–Rodney Nelson

THE BUTTE–Rodney Nelson

the time I saw Rainy Butte might not
have been the only

the blue more mass

than height hefting up out of the plain
was too familiar

the sense of

her hand in mine too well remembered
and the very morning

in the sun

we shared an ache without a word to
have that land

even though it happened

to be raining now

even though she

and I had never been and if I
imagined coming in uniform

a mounted hoplite of one day or

in an earlier
dropping flint bits
at the top

I still would not put quite

the right human figure to my love
of the nonhuman vast

and the time

I saw Rainy Butte was the only

At a Certain Depth of Water–Matt Daly

At a Certain Depth of Water–Matt Daly

“At a certain depth of water,” my son says this morning,
“I turn into a dolphin.” He is talking about his swimming lesson
but I see we are also face-to-face with werewolves,
how little say we have in what we become.

I want to explain to him how all of us transform
many times: I turned into a white room with a blue ceiling
once; I became a bear, charging my human body
with what ferocity and terror I could imagine.

Morning sun pushes the last chill of night
through the open window and over us. I want to warn him
stillness and clarity break in shimmers as the softest movement
of air to the surface of a pond.

Instead I say to him, “One hot evening long before I met your mother,
I saw dolphins leaping in the bay beyond Yelapa.
One by one they turned into sky.”

All the while I think of my high school principal’s son who,
one night full of rainclouds, turned into Seattle.
No one ever heard from him again. I keep this to myself:

once moonlight reaches a certain depth of water,
it turns into what we all turn into, not an animal body.
No magic, not even a silver bullet or a dawn without wind,
can stop our shapes from shifting.

I want to tell my son he will find depths to plumb
under every surface, skies beyond all clouds, but when he sees
the moon above the western hills refuse to dive
away from dawn, I whisper,

“Let’s go to the smooth rock beach today. We can wade
in shallow water, look for colorful stones.”

Front Range Spring Storm–Sonny Zwierkowski

Front Range Spring Storm–Sonny Zwierkowski

April grey
clouds hang
high and thick,
with the wet promise
of rebirth.

The dry Colorado
earthen clay

The neighbor’s
immaculate lawn
at the corner of 51st and Decatur,
burned to amber
in the fall,
stretches its thousand
tiny arms.
The old woman’s
rose bushes along Clay St.,
curved brown and barren
under the low
southern Sun,
stand witness to
the circle curving
back again.

The rain begins
dancing rhythms on chilled
aluminum awnings.
The rising crowing
has begun and
from the cracks emerge
so thirsty


Opportunity to Change–Bret Norwood

Opportunity to Change


Mountain rises up in front of me,
granite, ancient, clothed in greenery,
that I achieved by hiking feet,
in wending wild and lovely ways alone.

Dwarfed by lords the aborigines feared,
Nature’s angels, gods that squash a man
as man tromps ants without a thought,
I think this holy fear, this awe would bind

someone and I…
if one walked this way with me.

Turning, I descend the ridge and then
‘long the banks of black and crystal creeks,
amid some glowing willows, I
continue into shade. Now where to find

someone? And I
wouldn’t know just what to do with
someone, and I
wouldn’t know just what to do with

an opportunity to change.

Evolution, train without a driver,
track with endless junctions: we the led
are sent such strange selected ways.
This life was unforeseen when I was young.

Heat a can of beans as evening ‘rrives.
Pine bough fire’s coughing sparks–
lone star-like light ‘neath night-black cliffs
‘neath night-black night–goes on and on…
What on Earth to do with

Don’t even know.

Walk on.

Some Sunday as I passed
the valley of the gypsum glass,
a figure like a cedar dryad
appeared upon the gravel wash.
She shone as sudden as that Caesar’s ghost–
no less startling than a cactus rose–
a khaki hiker in khaki lands,
sunglass-eyes and sunburned hands.

And I–I just grinned and nodded…

With silent nod and knowing grin,
I sent her on her northbound way.

And I–I continued mine.

As If We Know the World–Connie Wieneke

As If We Know The World

Where it used to be wheat fields nothing but blue-black clouds. The roil fearsome strange animals. Something terrible keeping us still. The clouds slam into us, the roar of hot wind squeezes our already narrow shoulders into stone. The next blast upends our hearts, a sucker punch to each windpipe. Sheet lightning burns three pairs of eyes brilliant blind. The afterimage a mirage. A stampede of horses and buffalo crosses the Hi-Line. The Jabberwocky from the Collier’s book of fairy tales rumbles in from the west and giant dwarfs bicker and scream. Gleeful. Childish. Obscenities. Time to come in. Momma calls on God and the priests, goblins and our father’s belt. Nothing is going to move us. We nail our butts to the well cover, anchor newly formed bones, sinew all the way to China and back. Going to kill yourselves. See if anybody cares. We scoff at the softness behind her tough voice. Our dog eyes watch and lean into the horizon. Limitless, out of reach of words. You can’t stay out there forever. What we prayed for who now can say. Warm rain drops, pestering sand turns to ice. Now! We wait as if we know the world depends on us.