Monday Poems

"Song, with Angus

22 hours ago

The cat with his underbite looks like a bony old man
without teeth. Not
Grendel who tortures blind rodents and once
that rabbit, meek
as Christ.

"Of All the Gifts She Ever Gave Him—"

Sep 21, 2015

the empty lake, the static on the radio, the years
with missing handle bars—

the one that halfway fit him was the gloves.
He wore them all spring, then all summer, weeding

even by moonlight, relentless as a ghost,
as constant as the sky we ignore

'til geese fly south and give us a reason to look:
their sad, odd honking like the sound of our desire...

Of course, he was crazy;
all the couples on our street know that.

One morning we woke to the noise of him weeding
his house, uprooting the plumbing, uprooting

"Phone Therapy"

Sep 14, 2015
Lilly Ledbetter, REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi / Lost Horse Press

I was relief, once, for a doctor on vacation
and got a call from a man on a window sill.
This was New York, a dozen stories up.
He was going to kill himself, he said.
I said everything I could think of.
And when nothing worked, when the guy
was still determined to slide out that window
and smash his delicate skull
on the indifferent sidewalk, "Do you think,"
I asked, "you could just postpone it
until Monday, when Dr. Lewis gets back?"

"The River of Light"

Sep 7, 2015

As liquid verdigris or, shaded,
Flowing onyx, the river
Knots, spinning loose

Denticles of fresh cold, catching
A willow branch in a current circlet
Where an ouzel stretches and folds

Mimicking electric spray.
Along both shores, ruby Mimulus
Sparks, Coneflower radiates.

This Is About Darkness

Aug 31, 2015
vasse nicolas, antoine

The forsythia eats sunlight
near the open barn door
where Bill Perry stands in his overalls watching
his dappled-gray Percheron, Pike.

The largest horse on record was a Percheron,
a mare, twenty-one hands
high. This stallion stands, easy,
at nineteen.

Pike can pull a Cadillac up Humpback Mountain
in a headwind.

Three haiku verses from Tyler Knott Gregson's forthcoming collection All The Words Are Yours:  Haiku On Love.

I know not the when
or the why of all of this,
I just know it's you.

"Song of the Powers"

Aug 10, 2015
Bonnie Brezette

Mine, said the stone,
mine is the hour.
I crush the scissors,
such is my power.
Stronger than wishes,
my power, alone.

Mine, said the paper,
mine are the words
that smother the stone
with imagined birds,
reams of them, flown
from the mind of the shaper.

Mine, said the scissors,
mine all the knives
gashing through paper’s
ethereal lives;
nothing’s so proper
as tattering wishes.

"Deer Dance"

Aug 3, 2015
Jim McIntosh

This morning
when the chill that rises up from the ground is warmed,
the snow is melted
where the small deer slept.
See how the bodies leave their mark.
The snow reveals their paths on the hillsides,
the white overcrossing pathways into the upper meadows
where water comes forth and streams begin.
With a new snow the unseen becomes seen.
Rivers begin this way.

"Wool Blanket"

Jul 27, 2015

I slept in the valley
shivering, neck sore
from carrying a dead tree
across my shoulders

I needed the wood
but more
I needed the pain

Raccoon wind
shudders brittle leaves
as when you get a sudden chill
and they say:

"someone has just walked
across your grave"

Twig snaps  –
& I burrow deeper
wishing I had brought
that wool blanket

glad, almost,
that I didn't

"It's Shifts Of Sideways If She Talks To You"

Jul 20, 2015
Hettle Price

For the teenager certain she is ugly, it's shifts
of sideways if she talks to you. Words
drop out of her mouth. She tries to get behind herself

and squeeze down
to a gash in the ground.
Oh she would love to roll from her skin

and disgust you. And stick it, yeah, to your candy pity.
She takes a deep breath
and throws her hair around like rocks.

"Want Song"

Jul 13, 2015

Two musics washing over me, and morning asks,   
which loneliness comes closest to the inky
chromatics inside you?
How can I answer?   
The cricket in the tarantula’s cage
chirrs the next world.
Meanwhile, scraps of Chopin float
up the stairs on my wife’s trilling fingers
which played me whole
worlds ago, last night, when I was buried in weThe Write Question blog

The Happy Campers

Jul 6, 2015

"Si jeunessa sav ait..."

Leaning into the truck,
grinning into the camera,
they camp out in their adolescence
and my front yard
with the insolent charm
of young colts,
sleek with knowing,
wobbly with experience.

The moment I shoot them
I know this is it:
for grace of limb,
studied slouch
the matching dew rags,
rakish hat I wish I could wear.

After the click
they come back to life as if
the magic just goes on.
The truck jolts into gear and,
with careless wave of hands,
they're gone.

"Is The Ouzel Stupid?"

Jun 29, 2015

Though you've spent
your life practicing,
you still don't seem
to understand
how water works.
You aren't supposed
to bounce
that clear pool
then hop the gravel
bottom of the
fastest current
like a robin on
a courthouse lawn—
or flit back
to your rock
and dip like a fat
boxer at a shadow
without arms.
Birds don't work
that way.
Jesus, nothing works
that way.
I'd sooner believe
a small gray
had paddled
the Mississippi to
the Continental Divide.

Niko Pettersen

I hit the town
the way some stranger
steps off a bus...collar up,
head down, feet first.
I said what I could
under my breath,
saw a star hang it up
above the street,
pushed my way past the thought of coffee
(three way clapboard post office,
bus stop, and cafe)
and straight into Lib's Bar.

Four shots later
(my nerves on ice—
head back, collar down,
sacked on my feet)
this cowpoke,
an 8th grader,
lip of snoose,
silver dollar chuckle,
called his shot on cue,
three-banked the eight,

Chris M. Morris

——Follow Me

I know a place where barb-wire
wreathes the heaped bones of horse.
I know where we can shoulder our bright

rifles and bag a twine string
of rabbits. It's out past the alkali basin,
right in the dark yawn of that sod-roof shack.

——It'll Get You Every Time

See how gravel breathes the river?
How water slows and pools, now begins
to stink? I pull mussels from their nests of mud,

"in god's world"

May 25, 2015

questioning gods and wars
are acts of treason.
hell is the reqard
for questioners;
prison for not playing
by the rules. not
doing what you're told
can get you killed
in war, and isn't it
more or less always war
in god's world?

don't be deceived
by snakes or moles.
come inside the temple.
the exterminator
will keep you safe
from the vermin
out there who scratch
damp, fecund dirt
and wallow like swin
in their own
sweet pungency.

"Moment: Grand Canyon"

May 18, 2015
Grand Canyon National Park Service

We have just arrived.
We are standing on the south rim
looking down, feeling our bodies slip

and fall away from us past the cliff face
into that deep space below. We feel light
and small now, our equilibrium shaken, as we watch

the raven riding thermals, its sleek black feathers
shining in the sun as it glides just above the rim
then drops down again. Out across the chasm

Shiva's Temple rises above a moat
of mist and seems to float. Someone aims
a camera, someone puts his hand in his pocket

"why print books"

May 11, 2015
Sabda Press

why print books he said
who needs books these days
everything's on the web

well i wouldn't know i said
i still enjoy turning pages
in a chair by the fire

still window-shop mainstreet
still relish a big screen matinee
buttered popcorn jujubes and milk duds

still sit and think about how
all last century carriages went horseless
and horses thank god are not extinct

still long for real letters in the post
the effort of someone's penmanship
the dear and sincerely yours

"Stranded At Noon's"

May 4, 2015

Now that wet street smell
evening rush hour,
and I have a flat tire.
This morning
a dead dog in the ditch
a black roamer who would come in
and leave our yard sniffing.
Now this rain
this stranding at a gas station
this dead dog in the ditch day.

Two bearded house painters
push through the glass doors,
decide out loud not to pay taxes this year.
No forms in the post office
the day before they're due.

"Six Women Laughing"

Apr 27, 2015
Sean Dreilinger

Backdrop: spirit mountains,
rustling trees, sounds and scents
of late spring. Evening sun
squanders deepest crimson.
To this we drink and to our lives
come together fleetingly and full.
Birds flash at the feeder, call
of an Eurasian dove, an enormous
bee bumps into the glass.


Apr 20, 2015
Paul Sullivan

At the Helena bus depot a deaf man and his sister
wait in a hard, sideways wind.
When the driver asks the man a question,
he points to his ears and shakes his head No.
Raising my eyebrows, I tilt my head,
circle a shape in the air with my hands,
sign language
His face breaks into such a good smile.
Yes! He nods his fist at the wrist, Yes, sign.


Apr 6, 2015

The body—god box—holds
the stuffing, blunt-winded plot,
until it doesn't

    tissue of tiny details
soaking up gestures of wedding
parties, neurons, steering wheel,
sugar bowl, the solarium

the nectar ebbs from the design

an autopsy, the openings filled with liquids,
already locked-out of the house, embarrassed

The river bank has been dented—
material ghost, the knees lock-kneed, knee-deep

What is left is fact and its antihistamine


Mar 16, 2015

Slept by a flat mud
reservoir with sandhill cranes
cluttering sound
all night

way out here
in the dragging wind.

We go for breakfast
smelling like sage, cow and creek water,
small town diner
a new mural half painted across old brick.

Remember how the waitress accuses us
of stealing postcards of their local boys
hometown band?

I tell you, she will not relent
despite all our defending
in our bright polypropylene fleeces
and reflective shoes.

"Holding The Stone"

Mar 9, 2015

You must hold it close to your ear, and
when it speaks to you, you must respond. - Richard Hugo

I found it by the Clark Fork
on a high bank above the river
where someone dumped remains
of an old road, broken slabs
of concrete crowding the river stones.

I admit my first thought was throw it,
skip it on the surface going gold
in sunset, dimple the water like
whitefish rising, give it back
to the river that gave it shape and color.
But once in my hand its calm
And luck took hold.


Feb 23, 2015

My mother held out for tangerines.
They were more willing than the orange,
Rare as China, still, and carried the
Thought, which was never spoken,
That life was no more than that.
Peeling them now in the darkened
Kitchen, the taste of them almost in
My mouth. A mouth forged
From the soft melding of two others
Slipping open like caves found
In darkness, moistening the sweet,
Heavy air that fell between them
With the thought that was never spoken.
My thumbs enter the skin
No differently than did those

I was there
as the rain

drizzle contemplated

I could feel
the world changing
its mind.

Until the drops
thickened into

Like I was there
at snow's invention.

The sound changes,
you know,
once the snowflakes
hit the ground
they decide
to rejoin

The day was wild with certainty.
For a small moment there,
I knew what matters.

"Winter Feeding"

Jan 26, 2015

for Ralph

It must be the kind of work.
The hauling, the pitching,
the sour bale we heave aside,
the extra strength that takes.
It must be the crafty figuring—
Let's short tonight. Hell, we
spread extra last night.

What he would say to that,
the joke he would make.
The off-chance falling star
that caught him wide-eyed
on top of the stack. Wrassling
the froze-up end of a bale,
cutting and cutting twine
that won't let go The knife
that won't close right in fingers
clumsy with cold.

"Sacrilege in Monterey"

Jan 12, 2015

Just down the street
From the Guilded Cage
Where James Dean married
Some guy in gold chiffon

The graffiti above the urinal
In the Bull's Eye
Tavern is quite explicit
As we piss away the day

"Sacred cow makes the best hamburger."


"Frosted Marsh"

Dec 29, 2014

Marsh-grass like a bank creature, black-footed and salt-tipped. Twilight
in the water grown tinsel. You're drawn to them heavily, a clarity
stilled, waiting for the body to catch up. No more events, parties, no
more running ahead but here with the fever, with what is wrong. The
evenings will be long. You will be alone and scared. This familiar out-
of-season, not of harvest but of fast, thrift and reticence, faced with
the same flaws. Look, the ghosts are calling. Will you ignore them

Not Ursa Major, whose outer edge
points at Polaris, our North Star,
or the seven sisters of the Pleiades,
the six daughters of Atlas who shine
dark nights for the one who is lost,
but the little slate-black river bird
always rocking and bobbing
to an inner music at the edges
of ice, slick stone and cold water.
The one who flies low and goes
down under the surface to see
what the fish and the water spirits see,
down in the current where sun
and stars stream and smooth
the hard edges, regrets and fears,