Click on one of the images below for a surprise poem.
We’ve been saying something like this
For months: slow-ripened sounds
Wafting out of our mouths the way
The hot sweet sweat of cut hay
Whispers and lifts out of a noon field;
Setting each other in our sights
The way the black and white and staring eye
Of the egret fishes: with precision,
Interpreting the light, the ridged waves,
The streaked and mottled back of the catch;
Leaning nearer, close enough to watch
The beloved vein in the neck fire, see
Salt on the lip, the whole forest smoking
As the meteorite burns a swath.
I tell you now, the glacier may take years
To advance, but it never stops moving.
The eyes of the wolf are bigger
And hungrier than we remember.
Look at how my mouth yearns toward yours.
The next conversation, we will speak in tongues.
Jean Monahan is the author of two books of poetry, Hands, Believe It Or Not, and Same Difference. She is in the process of completing a fourth collection, 18th Century Zebra. She has appeared in many journals such as The New Republic, Orion, Graham House, Shenandoah, Seneca Review, Columbia, Chelsea and Nimrod. She has won numerous awards, including a recent 2nd prize in the River Styx magazine 1998 contest and the Open Voice Award from The Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts.
When he left his pack to find a mate, Oregon’s
seventh collared wolf, named OR-7 by state biologists,
became the first wolf in California since 1927, when
the last one was killed for government bounty.
On a digital map, OR-7’s trek is charted — by a GPS
tracking collar and numerous trail cameras — a trembling
south, west, south again,
twelve-hundred miles from Oregon to California
to find Her: Gray wolf, Canis lupus, Loba, Beloved.
In the moonstruck dusk I go a same wilding path, pulled
by night’s map into the forests and dunes of your hips,
divining from you rivers, then crossing them —
proving the long thirst I’d wander to be sated by you.
I confuse instinct for desire — isn’t bite also touch?
Some things cannot be charted —
the middle-night cosmography of your moving hands,
the constellation holding the gods
of your jaw and ear.
You tell me you take wolf naps, and I turn lupanar.
A female gray wolf’s shoulders are narrower than a male’s,
but our mythos of shoulders began before I knew that,
when I broke open my mouth upon yours
as we pressed against the glass doors of the cliff house
looking out into the bay’s shadows hammering
the bronzed bell of the supermoon.
My mind climbed the rise, fall, rise of your bared back.
In me a pack of wolves appeared and disappeared
over the hill of my heart,
I, too, follow toward where I am forever – returning —
And somewhere in the dark
of a remote night-vision camera,
the glowed green music of animals.
Natalie Diaz was born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community. She earned a BA from Old Dominion University, where she received a full athletic scholarship. Diaz played professional basketball in Europe and Asia before returning to Old Dominion to earn an MFA. She is the author of the poetry collections Postcolonial Love Poem (2020), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; and When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012), which New York Times reviewer Eric McHenry described as an “ambitious … beautiful book.” Her other honors and awards include the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf, the Narrative Poetry Prize, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship.
Sometimes, it is a dream:
the robin’s slick song
paring back the morning—
it is not morning,
or, it is not like how morning comes,
as if water from a glass
tipped over, but it is how
I loved you, gradually
and then all at once.
Cherry plum trees
settling into their blush;
hills of sodden wheat;
this golden field
I can’t stop returning to:
you, naked, inching towards me,
an adaptation of tenderness
that fall gently
from your hands.
If only the landscape were that simple:
pollen in the air, each breath
leaving the mouth like a man
pushed from a building—
no, no. He leapt.
To what do I owe your beauty
to which I never fully required,
and yet, while beneath you, is what bloomed.
This is how I began: as dirt
and desire, or simply a small river,
Luther Hughes is the author of the debut poetry collection, A Shiver in the Leaves, (BOA Editions), and the chapbook Touched (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018). He is the founder of Shade Literary Arts, a literary organization for queer writers of color, and co-hosts The Poet Salon podcast with Gabrielle Bates and Dujie Tahat. Recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize, his work has been published in various journal, magazines, and newspapers. Luther was born and raised in Seattle, where he currently lives.
You can bring some of these lovelies to your bookshelf in Earthly Love: Stories of Intimacy and Devotion from Orion.
Not by amulets but by words and scents and signs:
the air awake and still, blue as flag or water hyacinth.
Tone of neutrality. Color of equality. A middle space
where like things congregate, all motion all energy—
as the bond was with my Lord and his Apostle,
with whom He joined in communion at the last, “John,”
He said, “here is thy mother” and “Mother,” He said, “here
is thy son.” Come on thunder, I dare you now to seal
this. A binding made of breeze and gale. A binding made
of rain. And here I would insert both secret and unsecret
names of the winds, the various heavens and the clouds.
The way ripple shadows of a stream reveal where rocks are.
The submerged impediments the currents the refractions
and the tides. Stitch a cloth of sky. Dip it into several vats
of the same dye, leaving out one finger’s width each time
so that the value of the blue seems to grow in intensity
from one end of the bolt to the other. Take this as thy
tabernacle. Afterward the cloth shall be given to orphans sent
out by the living into the streets. Pine branches, because
they do not lose their sap, support you. Twist their redolent
needles in one another’s hair. Lilac sprigs. Spikenard oil.
Gather up and bury the sharp instruments of industry and war,
the pruning hooks the adze the awl the rapier dirk and dagger.
Put away the sword. Put away thy shield. For here is one
upon whom you might lean a lifetime. Then let these words
As the worker bees of a hive devote themselves to one queen.
Or a ramgoat takes another ram as his mate. I am thy faithful
and obedient bond. As David and Jonathan knew each other
in the field, so do I know you, like of my like, love of my
love, flesh of my devotion, seed of my interior. Joy with which
I am wounded, wound in which I am made whole. I have
waited too long to join you. Let us not lose another day
unfinished by the master’s hand. Upon thy letter I fix my seal.
Born in Albany, Georgia, D. A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were Chronic (2009), which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys(2012) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. He has been awarded the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Foundation. His poems have been featured in the Norton anthology American Hybrid (2009) and Best American Poetry (2008). He has blogged for Harriet.
Like the hair she has waited all day to let down,
a shadow unfurls from the ponderosa’s trunk: a plank
one might walk to the horizon’s edge, the dark band
And out there,
a fractured school of minnows
veering all at once, swifts belly-up and disappear
in dune grass.
Like doubloons, gills, like rusted keys,
or the first glimpse of shore, comparisons
fail: She’s A splinter in the general noon;
a stalled grain on which he stands, he is in no way
And still the branches sway like a chorus
of believers: arms urging the moored ship off,
years-later waves washing them into the salt
of what was there.
Chris Dombrowski writes, teaches, and plies the rivers of western Montana. His latest book is The River You Touch, which Kirkus calls, “a heartfelt memoir of life and fatherhood in Big Sky country.” Chris is the author of two acclaimed poetry collections, and his nonfiction debut, Body of Water, was published to enthusiastic reviews in 2016.
After twenty years the love we make
we braid into the hair of the day.
Sometimes I watch each stitch in the quilt
white hairs pecking the days out,
sometimes I cry and stop you
to talk about death. Still you start
telling your beads of memory
into my hand. That day
next to the slough you say
we napped in the car. Buffalo cows
stepped out of the rocks, stopped the calves
in a half-circle behind us. We could not move
or turn. They loomed at us out of the mirrors.
You wrap me in this story, a man coming home
coat full of red cyclamen. Clay strung to the roots.
After some struggle to find the true north of their lives
great and small wings return. White-throated sparrow
slow beat of cranes crossing Dakota. Orioles take
fruit we have left on a human plate. Like a farmer
suppressing his muscles for church, behind you
the uncurtained window, beside you the iron bed
you stand in your black pants, shirtsleeves,
a patch of wrinkles smelling of damp and the iron.
You call to me in the plain speech we use at home.
Answer me earth, mercy.
Answer me rain.
Mary Rose O’Reilley graduated from the College of St. Catherine and completed graduate work at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She was awarded the 2005 Walt Whitman Award for her first book-length collection of poems, Half Wild, which will be published in the spring of 2006 by Louisiana State University Press. O’Reilley’s awards include a Contemplative Studies Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a Bush Artist Grant, and the McKnight Award of Distinction. She is the author of the non-fiction books The love of impermanent things: a threshold ecology (Milkweed Editions, 2006); and The Barn at the End of the World (2000). Since 1978 she has taught English and environmental studies at St. Thomas College. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.