On this dawning of white-crowned sparrow song sugaring into my open window, April Poetry Month is coming to a close. I’m sharing a few poems I wrote from this time (with thanks to fellow poets for helpful comments for revisions). Enjoy….as yellow-rumped warblers unroll their migration-in-motion unfurling melodies…

Anam Cara (an abecedarian poem)

Alive in the dawning over Wallowa mountains
Before the kestrel hovers over snow-melt meadow
catching first sun glint on fiery raptor wings
Dreaming in the lull before fully awake
Enveloped in my sleeping bag, I meander in
free-flow river musing as if I could join
Geese flying wingtip to wingtip above the Grande Ronde
Hallelujahs of honking over shadowed elk
Imminent, this rising up from the East,when
Jays will mimic a red-tailed hawk about to soar–
Kindling the first rays over the sleeping blue
Lion of mountains wilding the valley edge
More of this please
Nighthawks knifing the edge of light and dark
Orchid called Calypso offering sensual lips to
Pollinator bumblebees deceived, this
Queen without nectar, Calypso concealed in deep forest
Rising now. This new day this
Sun a blurred bright spreading orb
Too much to bear upon my corneas. I bow before
ululations of sentient stone
vowing my part, in sickness and in health
wilderness and rewild. I’ll try. So small, one
X upon the Elkhorn slope above Baker City
Yes. I love this world. This now. This
zephyr breeze scented in promise.

Art @Robin Coen, part of Refugia of the Blue Mountains Series


Slap! Startle!
Flat tail paddles
pooled creek awake

Minnows flash
stars eddying
to safety

Kingfisher pours
cascading consonants
beaver-felled trees
slowing quick currents
into murmured vowels,

Alarm recedes

Beavers resume

American Robin, @Ryan Schain, Macauley Library

a bird sews the seam (Rewriting Emily Dickinson’s A Bird Came Down the Walk)

A bird knows –more than what I saw. Keen senses
found the angle worm. the way he tugged the fellow–
stuck spaghetti washed down with a dew
drop teetered on the tip of grass,
then hopped over an inconvenient beetle
shiny black sheath on a six-legged jaunt. A frightened bead
hurrying from danger—
I glance with rapid eyes worried until bird
stirred his velvet wings. Cautious
I offered him a last
crumb. Unrolled. Earth undone and unrowed–
a softer home
oars divide the ocean. Our divide
not yet too silver for a seam

Bessie Butte Riffs While Hiking in Sunshine

All the riches of the world—Bessie Butte
Millions of manzanita leaves coining the sky

Song of Fox Sparrow arrival. Grace notes
perched on a speared branch

Two hands on weathered fallen juniper
I see the winged ant readying…

Woodpecker tattoos the burned tree—
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

Ruffled in her brushy coat renewed by fire
Bessie Butte shrugs off the planted pines

When distant chainsaws rip, gnash, and roar
Courting Fox Sparrows cannot hear their duetting

Chainsaw lull, a raven circles
split-fingered flap on my worried brow

Violin bow across taut string of Cascades
vibratos uplifting volcanos past
the tipping point, all glaciers
will melt as my anger surges…at us

I am coast, I am ocean, I am Cascadia
I am, was, is, will always be slipping backwards on sand

Pause here. Rub frocked leaf-burst of bitterbrush
Resiny sap tanging tastebuds

I forget actors and movies
remember birds and flowers

An ashy scaled wish underfoot—
Western fence lizard plumes by

What is a stanza?
A beetle round hole in a gray log

Hawkins Pass, –art @ Robin Coen, Refugia of the Blue Mountains Series

(inspired by Camille Dungy prose poem:  “this beginning may have always meant this end”)

the origin is the confluence…

When autumn crisps the alpine fescue rooted in headwaters of the Imnaha River at Hawkins Pass in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowas, a lone pika pauses in his harvest of hay. Tiny oval ears perked, whiskers whisking and furry paws fast upon granite stone that tumbles and breaks into talus, into the den where soon he will curl up as the falling snows tuck him in with a crooning of millions of snowflakes singing their way into deepening blankets. All winter he will snooze and wake to nibble his dried grass feast. All winter the mountain will dream geologic swirls. All winter the ravens will plummet in the ferocity of blizzards until the melting, blooming, greening, gushing forth of trickles, creeks, waterfalls, and flooding life into the Imnaha, Snake, and Columbia Rivers to the ocean confluence where chinook salmon will enter to swim five hundred miles guided by the scent of origin, the one we are forgetting, the one that will save us if we cast off our shoes, go barefoot among heather, lupine, and pearly everlasting.


Notes-Artist Robin Coen and I are creating a Refugia of the Blue Mountain series–her artwork and my writing (poetry plus prose) as the first Artist in Residence for the Greater Hells Canyon Council.

Thanks to poet Irene Cooper for her helpful revision suggestions for the Bessie Butte poem and this last “the origin is the confluence” poem, and gratitude to fellow poets from an April poetry month Facebook group.