Excerpt from The Heron Place

 “The Heron Place” is the winner of the Swan Scythe Press Poetry Award, appearing as a chapbook in December 2015.  It is a long poem or poem-sequence that explores memory, myth, and landscape – the idea of “place” – mixing it with personal reflection and experiences of loss and love. See swanscythe.com for ordering copies.

This poem was also finalist for the first Hillary Gravendyk Award (Inlandia) and for the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. Below, I’ve reprinted the short selection published in Nimrod International. Excerpts are also appearing in Terrain.org, “Journal of the Built and Natural Environments.”

- V -

gods have walked each inch of the earth
(young Rama was taught)
and every place is holy

if we but knew the tales

* * *

yes walked
but in what flesh?
what skin or fur or root?

since godstuff is coy
(all the stories say) and often mistaken
for dusty visitors with staves
eagles doves
birds of all kinds apparently

apparently seethed with godhead yet
abiding our roads, our stench
occasionally selecting (too fast for defense)
Greek boys
Galilean virgins
the odd watcher on a quiet hillside
to marry their molten beauty to and forsake

* * *

a flicker’s wing calls
orange retreat deep into pines

branches empty of all but waver
and a sweet echo among
lingering turpentines

sun visits the pinestraw
moving negligently
through an afternoon

maybe I will drowse
pillow on a blue knapsack
beneath the tall sway

slumber through whatever
strokes skin or
whispers dreaming

* * *

once a youthful god of fire
exploiting some buried twist or flaw
in the dark Allburdening One
tricked his way to the surface
where we walk

spouted into sunlight and rain
and became this hill, and later
lent himself to forests, took to wandering
as rivers, dallied with filagree of fern
and yellow elaboration of wing and song
until dreaming so many dreams he forgot
his own undersoil slumbering as a hill of stone

* * *

and once, later on, a word started here
and storied tall as fir trees and listeners

weaving bones of stones and sounds of wind
wild in the god’s grassy hair and almost-forgotten limbs
and he was this also
lasting long into the night-tellings like
sparks flung upwards to the stars

* * *

young Rama heard such things as these
he was a god himself, it turned out, who needed

and as he remembered them the earth
grew flowers where he walked