One Hundred and One

Collaboratively written and revised by Jose A. Alcantara, Matt Daly, and Eric Paul Shaffer

Audio Poem
Read By Lori Howe

A season has passed since I felt the moraine

pass beneath my feet and beneath the snow.

Stars no longer burn winter’s black

drapery through with pinholes. I stand

between the blue of summer and the lake

of forgetting, the gauze of cells sheathing my hands

empty of everything but traceries,

the upward gaze of daisies submerged in cold water

a fish’s silver fin, the familiar bend and ache.

To be alive with currents shaping my movements

means that I will remain, enmeshed among

a hundred frogs beckoning the warm night.

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Tell Me

– Matt Daly

Audio Poem

Tell me how you speak of yourself
and I will tell you how I speak
of myself and soon our tellings
will become braids in the same river
and soon we will see the red backs
of the kokanee running strong
up the currents of our tellings
and together we will at last
be silent while we watch them
push against that clear pressure
that longs to mingle everything
we say with the vast sea.

We Are in a Rowboat

– Matt Daly

Audio Poem

I am hard at the oars, sweaty, hands blistered
and frankly a little tired of doing all the work
while you sit at ease at the back of the boat

face lifted, anticipating the sunrise over the moraine.
I row us toward the shadowed side of the lake
toward the road, motorhomes hissing along there.

You have not said a word since we left the shore.
I have also not spoken so it still may be neither
of us is annoyed by our differences, or our route

across, or our chosen method of travel. Perhaps
we are enjoying this little journey together
to nowhere significant that is more work for one of us

than the other. The stagnant little pool of splash-water
soaking my shoes is not soaking your shoes
but that does not bother me since I have worked

up enough warmth by rowing that the wind
on my soggy feet is not as cold as it might be
on yours. We see a ranger in a metal canoe

and although we do not say anything or otherwise
show our feelings, we both hope he does not
paddle himself, with his crisp little J stroke

up to check our permit like he has systematically
checked all the anchored motorboats pinned
to the lakebed. We never bother with permits

you and I. Your eyes close as the ranger paddles
past, waves, and I think how I want what belongs
here – the fish that turn red as leaves, the leaves

that fall and run down the river – to be permitted
even the silence between us, your ease while I pull
us with what strength I have toward the inlet

that quiet place you like where the river pours in.

Saying Grace

– Matt Daly

Audio Poem

I’ve never had much use for blessings
rote mutterings over dry roast beef

at my grandparents house in St. George
Utah, three o-clock in the afternoon.

All the green shades drawn to keep out
the red claws of heat the desert sun

threw around. My grandpa spoke more
clearly with his fingers on the Chickering

piano upright in the hall. He blessed us all
with his tinkling Mormon ragtime tunes

from his teenage days bellhopping in Zion
when after hours he played in the band.

On weekends or between shifts he drove
with an older boy with matinee idol looks

to the shady caves of the highway tunnels
to drink beer. His admission of this one

transgression, this little shadow still cool
to him after nearly seventy years gone

more a blessing than any words perfected
or hands waved, even his over the keys.

McNeil, Arkansas, 1942

– Eric Paul Shaffer

Audio Poem

for William Stafford

I am glad I was with you in McNeil, when the curious
townsfolk gathered around you, and your friend drawing
a picture, and your friend writing a poem. I was not

in their eyes, narrowed in afternoon light, but I am glad
I was numbered among the pages of Whitman’s Leaves
of Grass when the suspicious one opened the book

you were reading to seek rhymes in the lines. I was not
in the angry voices rising from throats calling for judgment
upon you, but I was in the delay in fetching the rope

called for in haste. I wasn’t in the crowd gladly and grimly
gathering like a stormcloud over the prairie, but I was
in a voice calling from the crowd to summon the sheriff

quick. I wasn’t in the order to disperse or the jacketed backs
turned from the ground where you had stood, but I’m glad
I was there in the footfalls and dust rising from the road

back to the sheltering camp. I was not in the late moon
or the stars or the life you began that night, but I’m glad
I was there to save your life so that you could save mine.

Cleaning Up After the Storm

– Eric Paul Shaffer

Audio Poem

an epithalamion for Joella and Steve

From the beach this morning, the sound of waves breaking on the reef
is lost in wind rushing through palm leaves. Beneath cloudless blue,

a solid line of litter marks the sand, sticks and bark and leaves and trash

left by high tide after last night’s deluge washed the cliffs clean,

and to the horizon, the sea is brown with earth. The storm was Biblical,

battering the island with crashes and flashes. Rain tore laundry

from lines and floated rubber slippers to the beach. Nobody could sleep

through the lightning, and thunder rattled the panes in their casings.
Dogs quivered beneath the bed. Wind banged doors in their frames
so loud I didn’t hear the neighbor knocking, but the candles kept us

awake, and I finally saw him dripping on the porch. Today,

he went home to inspect his house. His car is sunk to the door panels,

his living room floor lost beneath muddy water, and his garden is gone.
Newly-painted kitchen walls are streaked with leaks he never knew
he had. His power is out. From puddles, I plucked floating clothespins

and searched for gardening gloves, beach mats, and dog food bowls.
He smiled as he splashed to the wall of lava rock between our yards,

pointing at the steep cliff behind me, rising hundreds of feet skyward
from papaya trees, coconut palms, heliconia, red ginger, and mango.

I turned, and he said, “Look at that. Look how green the mountain is.”

Blessings

– Eric Paul Shaffer

Audio Poem

A deer stood in the road, unmoving in light that seemed brighter
than morning. The velvet horns simply shone. The quiet of forest

and suburban cabins was heightened by the busy hiss of a sprinkler
on a green lawn. Over all, the river spoke only to itself as the water

shoved wet, black boulders and broken branches aside. I looked
for the ouzel I know glides through the spray, but saw only one

robin posed alone on the clipped grass. Stumps in the shadows
gleamed with moss, and bits of their strength littered the driveway

gravel. Sometimes, I wish I could say something significant
about all of this, but I can’t. The world speaks louder than I can.

The road to the highway seems longer in sunshine and the river
quieter. And I’m sure if I stop and listen, soon enough, I’ll see

a magpie light on the ground, all that glossy black and white
and that mad, fleeting iridescence sunlight strikes from the wings.

Birds

– Jose A. Alcantara

Audio Poem

I

I am an inverse bowerbird.
I am a destroyer of nests.

Every shiny object, every button,
every bottle cap, every aluminum pull tab
that I find, I toss away.

I have even started plucking my own feathers.
I give them to those I love.
The ones nobody wants, I set free on the wind.

II

I am a hush-throated warbler.
singing my song of silence all day long.

I sing too loudly for most people to hear.
Sometimes I sing so long that my throat hurts
and then I have to stop.

When that happens, sit and talk with me.
Just keep talking until I learn to love you.
That’s how I get my song back.

Come Closer

– Jose A. Alcantara

Audio Poem

The grass is a roiling river of light
cascading down the mountain
among spruce, fir, and hemlock
the leaf blades reaching for the sun
at if it were a god and they saints.

I want to give myself like that.
To the sun, yes, but more so to my brothers
my sisters, to strange misfits and friends.
Yes, come closer. Let us walk into this
like we were a river roiling in light.