Nov 2, 2015

Project 411 poems unveiled

Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras reveals the two poems he created by using lines submitted for the project. He also explains how he created the poems.


http://www.wabashwatershed.com/2015/11/01/project-411-unveiled/






Embracing the Marvelous: An Introduction to Project 411

Nearly two years ago when I began my term as Indiana Poet Laureate, I set for myself the central goal, through a variety of activities, of bringing together the diverse voices of poets throughout the state. Because the writing of poetry is most often a solitary activity, that sense of solitude can often permeate a poet’s consciousness. Solitude, of course, is good. It allows one to enter into a deeper relationship with one’s core. Isolation, on the other hand, can turn the experience of the self into one of solipsism. As I have said repeatedly during the last two years, “poetry is utterly about community.” How and in what way that sense of community is expressed is, of course, one’s choice, but we’d do well to remember that our thoughts and language are shaped in social contexts. If we are fortunate enough to take up poetry as a vocation, then it is important to see ourselves as interwoven with our fellows, as well as with the animals and plants and rocks—even the galaxies.
I established The Wabash Watershed: Where the Rivers of Tradition Meet the Rivers of Innovation as not only a site in which various poets in Indiana could be brought together but also as a key metaphor for our shared enterprise. As I mentioned in my introduction to the website, “The Wabash River is a central image in the mythos of our great state. As a river it has always intrigued me, in part because it flows freely for a great distance. . .” That distance is 411 miles, before it is dammed.

As I went on to say, “Rivers are rarely complete in themselves. They feed something larger and—just as significantly—are fed by many tributaries. . . . So, the Wabash is fed by many tributaries. So it is with poetry and poets. It is the small, seemingly invisible, currents that form something larger. We are all part of something much larger than the individual could ever be. As ‘tributaries’ we feed that ‘something larger,’ and in the process become it, flowing into it. If we are the Eel River, as just one example, we maintain that individual identity, yet we flow into the Wabash, contributing to a great movement no individual could ever achieve alone.”
This thinking gave birth to Project 411. Why not invite people throughout the state, I thought—poets and non-poets—to participate in a free-flowing poem? Why not offer, in a demonstrable way, an example of individual “tributaries” feeding into and creating something larger? I put out a call throughout the state for lines of poetry—none of which had to deal with rivers, in fact—announcing the collaboration on websites, Facebook, email, and in newspapers throughout the state. While many things about the project please me, one element stands out: I received several submissions from people who do not see themselves as poets. I love that idea and encouraged it. It’s yet another way to allow the great river of poetry to spill over into our other communities and selves (friends, family, coworkers, and others).
There were many ways I could have constructed a poem from the lines submitted. However, what I wanted to avoid was me piecing the poem together with some “idea” or roadmap in mind. Rather, I take the charge of the subtitle of The Wabash Watershed to heart: Where the Rivers of Tradition Meet the Rivers of Innovation. I wanted to blend the tradition of the Wabash with an innovative technique. As a poet not just a little influenced by the Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s, I leaned on a core technique of those artists and writers—collage—allowing “chance operations” to play a central role. Perhaps thirty years ago, some friends and I took turns one afternoon reading aloud an alphabetical index of first lines from the back of a book of poetry by the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Astoundingly, it read like one long poem, yielding new and interesting connections by virtue of a chance collage of lines of poetry that otherwise would not have been placed alongside one another.
Thus, I decided to do something similar with the lines submitted for Project 411. First, I went through the submissions and selected the most evocative 411 lines. Then I alphabetized the lines so as to avoid editorial intrusion on my part.
What you’ll notice in reading the resulting poem is that several connections emerge, by chance, between lines. For example, two poets actually mention food two lines in succession. The phrase “Butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, chocolate—stirred, poured, baking, becoming” is followed by “Calm spread across the crowd like honey oozing over a plate.” If that chance connection were not enough, the very next line also connects to food, though indirectly, by addressing the primary sense through which one experiences food: “Can purple taste its blue half?”
Or, look at two questions poets posed a little later on: “Did anyone see the soft ache of asphalt?” which is directly followed by “Do you remember where you were when it occurred?” That otherwise ambiguous “it” in the second of these lines now connects beautifully to “the soft ache of asphalt.” Another example a little further in the poem—immediately after two lines in a row in which “fish” are mentioned (a coincidence in itself), another poet uses “lured” as a verb but in a context entirely different from fishing, saying, “Flaming sycamores lured me to a Florida college.” Just one line later, another poet evokes both the color and movement of many fishing lures, saying, “Flashes of silver, gliding over brown mud.”
These are the mysteries of language, and our communal Project 411 poem holds many other such connections—some even more subtle. I invite you to remain attentive to these as you read the poem, even as you get carried away by the stream of repetition, music, and expansive imagery.
Early in the first Surrealist Manifesto (1924), poet André Breton proclaims, “Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.” The “marvelous” is certainly manifest in Project 411. The magical quality of our joint efforts—again, like individual tributaries feeding a larger river—should not be underestimated. It should give us hope that—together—we can create something that otherwise would not exist. Those of us interested in the arts would do well to remain attentive to the power that accretes when we lose ourselves in “the other.” In the practice of art, of poetry, we can learn to increasingly offer ourselves to a larger cause, a much wider and more complex field of connection. And something remarkable can occur—a great river of a poem can arise that is much more than the individual currents that feed it.
George Kalamaras
Poet Laureate of Indiana


N.B.
Below are two versions of our collaborative poem. The first presents each individual line, alphabetized, as a tiny tributary feeding the larger river of a poem. The second also presents these same tributaries. However, the stanza organization has an intriguing origin. When the formatting of the lines proved difficult, Tasha Bushnell, media and technology coordinator for the laureateship, switched fonts, and in the process, the document—while still keeping with my alphabetization—“reformatted” itself into fascinating stanza breaks. As a veteran of both my poetry writing and Surrealism classes, Tasha enthusiastically brought this new version to my attention. I was stunned to see the exciting possibilities the stanzas presented. In light of the project’s grounding in chance operations from the outset, I knew that we needed to offer both versions of the poem. Enjoy!


Version 1
A body was dreaming of white angels under the frozen pine

A bowl of Buddha’s bones sustains me

A boy carrying river clams in a plastic bucket

A carp with bulging eyes can’t believe his bad luck, stranded behind
       the baseball fence after the St. Mary’s flood receded

A cobalt and sapphire mosaic, set within a jade frame

A cracked skull my fingers reach in for seed

A crackle of tears dying in the fire—my reply—resounds down the
 bank

A dry lawn held pockets of chestnuts

A fisherman soaks in the pleasure of dawn

A form of erasure, a slate for a new beginning

A lone kayak would lunge forward racing the wind

A lost river is no joke, not some lame fable with pebbles

A quiet roar, a gentle rush, a sigh of passing time

A rabbit rapidly chews a blade of grass, perfectly still, under my pink
 peony

A redbird pumps her bright spot of song on the sweet gum branch

A rogue pope wanders New York, seeking blue hope

A sky of sponge surmounts the censorious bacon

A trail of thoughts and phrases all leading back to someplace safe

A train cannonballs its way across a wooden trestle

A treble cleft gathered the waters to glow the afternoon away

A young child at river’s edge discovers that water cannot be held

After all these rhymes, I remain a scarlet caladium of wuthered
 consonants

After midnight, the dressmaker’s doll began its lifeless dance

Albino lobster, your oddity saves you from clarified butter palate to be
 on museum plate

All along the brackish way, in form neither free nor festive

All summer, the grass blades fiddle their love song for Whitman

Almost lost to pale gray skies, the white bellies of snow geese

An angel birthed from boa constrictor loins and peach brandy

And so the fire ants of Namibia bit my wrist

And so we wind around our fingers the brittle faces of leaves

Anime girls with eyes rounder than Japanese teacups

Another brother knows he will never touch the sea

Another of the thousands of songs on my top ten favorites list

Apples are ripe, and rotting, with goldenrod nearby

As kids, we could smell the rain coming days in advance

As night draws near, children settling in sleeping bags under the stars

At dawn, when the seasons are woven into the word

At last it opens and life blows its trumpet once again

Be a tree wearing a hawk like a small helmet

Bears and ants can’t shake hands

Bedford stone country is no place to drop a bike in the summer; 
 limestone will scorch your skin and raise monuments

Before a black summer sky screaming with stars, they lock fingers and
 lose death

Beware the Tintern Abbey inside the cop’s blueberry-cherry top 

Beyond a patch of occluded pumas, I immersed in the river’s dredge

Blue and black starlight in the night glistens on the shore

Butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, chocolate—stirred, poured, baking,
 becoming

Calm spread across the crowd like honey oozing over a plate

Can purple taste its blue half?

Carry the spilled blood of our fallen souls and lead them to the open
 sea

Carve your name in granite gray and limestone, white and deep

Cascade of blues, greens, and browns wash over grays, an artist’s 
 greatest desire

Cherry Garcia ice cream and beef liver tumbled in the plastic sack like
        a country song: “Jerry and the Dead Cow”

Cherry tomatoes sprawl out of our compost, creeping across the yard,
        surprising us with tiny fruit

Chords of water hum, vibrating rocks like guitar frets, tuning between
        sharp and flat to reach the sweet flow of the chorus we’d
        forgotten, yet remember every note

Christmas lights fling garlands onto the black water

Computers whisper secrets, but the speakers politely pretend they
 don’t hear

Consider the exquisite bulk of the horse, its eyes, its heat

Crickets’ eaaaa eaaaa eaaaaa serenade lull lulling her sleepy head
 deep deeper into the pillow

Crossing from Terre Haute into Illinois, on Christmas Eve, we take 
 Highway 41 north, the slow road to Chicago

Cupcakes: she dressed like the frosting and he, like the pleats on the
 paper liner

Currents lap at the edges, tiny tongues sharing stories

Dandelion seeds danced in the swirl of heat-soaked exhalations

Dashes of daylight boogie on banks

Dawn spreads its moonlight legs and gleams with foggy sunlight 
 above moths and butterflies

Dear Life, one last turn abed before the voice booms upward, the stair
 creaks

Death in a waffle. Not just the slow accumulation of fatal fat, but the
 fast choke

Deep flowing luminous silver waves, slicing withering motions, 
 powerful incantations dance as melodies burst forth in swift 
 waters, reaching heights and never ending

Dewdrops hang from the silky web and reflect the golden sunlight

Did anyone see the soft ache of asphalt? 

Do you remember where you were when it occurred?

Dragonflies hover over oars between paddles

Dreamily, rafters float downstream with the quiet current

Dressed in her father’s autumn browns, she crooned

Dried leaves dapple the green grass with crispy red and muted orange

Drivers hurry home to windows filled with glowing light, lively
        children, and loving spouses

Driving down narrow roads along the edge of the water, stopping only
 to collect crab tree leaves to fan away the heat

Drops of bitter sweat move over the ridge of my lips, tasting like the
 dew on morning glories after a first moon eclipse

During the night, a fist reached in and took my breath away

Each pendulum that swings onto my temple bleeds words into stains 
 on my night

Eager kayakers gather in the misty morning

Early evening, from the banks of the river, I see headlights shine on
        pastel houses in snow

Early March, brooches of ice pinned to the lapel of the current, a 
 friend says, Bet me I can swim to the other side; and I do,
        and he does, but through chaotic calisthenics he snivels, Come 
        get me

Eats a breakfast of warm Gouda and grits

Echoes from a hole cut out of Orion’s old belt

Echoes pulse from walls and floors, through empty rooms and half-
 closed doors

Enthralled by the tapping sound of old beer cans on his feet moved 
 him to venture into melody—

Eroded by currents, polished like new

Even the dead and fallen trees show me you aren’t homeless on the 
 river
Even the strongest ship feels lost in ghosted starshine

Everything flowing remains the river you have come to

Exhale to the clouds, that pupil dilation is a cure-all for lying

Exposed tree roots cling desperately to the eroding banks

February bloomed in the cavity of her belly

February is the worst month for breath

Fiddling figures of fractured fairytales and mottled memories

Fish are suspicious of poets, actors, and shoes

Five sisters, seven brothers, and an angelfish

Flaming sycamores lured me to a Florida college

Flashes of silver, gliding over brown mud

Flat as a velvet glove, the winged mouse skimmed the ridge of our 
 bodies

Flaxen-colored spiderwebs glistened in the stream of light

Fog lines dispersing in unnatural patterns smoothed black the 
 riverbanks

Food chain mysteries broil under gently flowing currents

Foster Park became a rushing river across the golf course into 
 neighborhood basements. The only sounds: the river’s wild 
 current and the tired drone of generators

From steep banks above a low waterline, telltale fragments reveal the
        story

From subterranean mysteries you emerge, disguised as mud and 
 shining

From the darkness, a tree frog’s lament

Ground drowns ice. Blackbird forgets her flapping wing

Haiku ain’t nothing but compressed stardust exploding

He considered his empty coffee cup, greasy lip marks on ceramic,
        and droned on lofty, lazy, a fossil of ambition 

He danced like there was no yesterday

He eagerly dreads working when the house is asleep

He speaks in parables, a veiled dance, so they will be eased gently into
        the currents of the mystery

He was a trickster, disguised as unfinished business

Her hair, the colors of many stories

Her poetic line spun light from a Wabash moon

Her red hair beats graying sky

Her silky-faced rower, naked walnut cinnamon persimmon skin

Her tears rained when she couldn’t recall the caress of lightning
 anymore

Here we live, in the City of Steel, slowly oxidizing to burgundy

His cigarette smoke dances, dissipates onto the remnants of past 
 conversations

How many moist years sold for the splintery shelter of dreams?

How many thirsts have your waters quenched from summer drought 
 and weary toil?

I am from the crick covered in copper clay

I am woman of gray breath and pulsing bite

I can see a bunting light across the dark water, swinging for sunset
 Ash

I cannot see in the daylight the burning of every third eyelash 
 withering the light

I collect the rainwater in blue Ball jars and bring them back to this
        town

I cut a hole in the boat and waited to breathe the river

I did, I didn’t, I thought I would, I wasn’t, I left

I fear nothing as much as the deciduous bark of my writhing hand

I gnaw on these secondhand words, chewing them leaf by leaf, and 
 when I am full, withdraw into chrysalis to rearrange their cells—
 articulate wings—and fly

I go out with a bag of seeds, sow various plants: geraniums, gourds, 
 basil, mallow

I go over to Lake Wawasee and stand on the marina dock, covered 
 with my lures, hooked into every inch of my clothes

I have genuflected to the wind who does not feel my presence while I 
 feel his

I have heard the cat yodeling across the yard to the cream-colored 
 Stars

I have smelled the concrete of statues in rain-soaked parking lots . . .
 sleep is such a heavenly thing

I have spilled green ink all over green paper and have seen the 
 wisdom in my black gestures

I hear your voice; it tells the tale of waving fields and weeping trees 
 and endless blue above

I left the car running, but meant to park it—what else have I forgotten 
 today? . . . no matter 

I left you pouty-eyed and un-hugged in a green-yellow parking lot

I like to dip my toes into the cool refreshing water as the sun sets, 
 watching the trolling boats hum in the distance

I look up into the haze of new leaves on the maple tree, each one like a
 small green hand

I lower myself to the ground and listen to the grasshoppers swap war 
 Stories

I may melt into the Hoosier dirt, fleeing red, ferrous years 
        downstream

I rode my bike to sidewalk practice today

I saw visions of the old couple haunting moonlit rivers and catching 
 dreams in silver cups

I slurp the vanilla cream soda off my fingers while looking out the
        window at Zaharako’s Ice Cream Emporium

I told you, when the bridge swayed, how I felt

I tore them out one by one, replacing with sturdier, hardier varieties—
 thorny and difficult to tame

I traded my bones for termite-beset ash

I trust the river, not for fishing but for reading aloud

I want the dark of thunder out of my scarred throat

I will measure your love by the exact kneeling of brittle remembered
 in my ground

I’m sorry. I cannot mow down the nightshade that grows my hands

I’m the truth. I come back

I’ve long been rafting a river of Tuesdays 

I’ve seen the Little Riley bone-dry and brown with floodwater, but it’s
 most beautiful when it’s somewhere between

Idealized by the moonlight, our lies flickered into truth

If you had made a left turn, you might be sailing, you might be free

If you insist, I’ll ring the doorbell with her tooth under my nail

If you trip up, can you really fall down? Doesn’t this break the basic
 law of gravity or something?

In another era we would never leave the cave; we would become the 
        carbon and salt

In harmony, birds navigate the stream above as fish fly gracefully
        through the water, oblivious to one another’s world

In my area, only the rivers remember that the land is not flat

In the green music box I found what you had lost

In the middle of the middle of the flow, stones hollow tongue

Indigo threads in webs to which cypress and cottonwood cling 

Invoking earth, air, and fire, we handed our pain to the Wabash, 
 which quietly carried it away

Is that birdsong coming through the baby monitor?

It hurts when I disappear into someone else’s magpies, and it hurts
 not to

It seemed they were all suffering from the strange music of midnight

It starts with a river of molars 

It was an awful lot like waking up as the color green

It was great sleeping weather though

It wasn’t true that the river kept us apart; from the beginning we were
 on the same side

It’s all about words, conversations, words, pondering, words, I’ve 
 come away from, words

It’s much harder to pick out the vegetarian zombies, laboring across
 the screen like the liver eaters

Knuckled under, with clay-blind eyes I came upon 

Leaving us with memories of our toys, our dreams

Lemons will tumble off of your red umbrella

Let the rainwater we wipe off our arms quench the drought in our 
 hunger and lack

Let’s erase this 

Let’s say there are two or more ways of mouth

Like a beetle falling into your lap, the mauve idea

Like a blue baseball forever going, going, never gone in the navy night

Like a dandelion pod, I disassembled

Like a mare washing her foal, she licks his tears and he, shaking, finds
 his legs

Lines and stanzas are the electrical synapses that craft collective
 memory  

Lost among the whitewash of stars—lights of an arctic-bound plane

Lourdes shifts from English to Spanish like Juan Pablo Montoya 
 changing gears at Pocono

Make me sway in the swing of oleanders and outlaws

Make peace or make war. I don’t care, just learn to cook

Make your mouth coppery with ohms of the resistance

Marbles its way through Indiana limestone

Melody flows through measured time, tumbling over rocky challenges 
 to join a tumultuous stream fed by the wonder of the spirit 
        and knowledge of years

Moon Park, the toddler named the riverside spot, his first notice of a 
 daytime moon 

Moon slivers pour down

Moonlit hands clasped together as the train passed through Madison

Moons fade beneath smoking purple

Morning glories twist their tendrils around the Highway 46 road sign
        near Nashville, Indiana

Morning is excruciating, the way the sun bleeds my curtain in bits of 
 radioactive orange

Moth wings, she said, stroking my hair

Moths and flies attracted to the light, I guess, the heat, getting caught 
 inside the globe’s baffle, baffled and beaten up in there, finally,
 by the beating up against the flickering light

Muddy brown water, some say, but paradise to Sandie afloat on her 
 inner tube, biting the apple

My ears burned with compliments whispered through tin-can 
 telephones

My eyes skip like flat rocks over the creek

My knuckle bruised, waving to the ground

My mouth was built entirely of redirected rivers

My river cannot swim

Next door, the dog is howling with the sirens

No bank for soft shells anymore, basking in the sun

No matter how tenuous the raft, it is time to return to the river

No matter the signs of assurance or engineering, I avoid that one-lane
        bridge 

No one could be more noir, hunched in gray feathers

Note the limestone, the glistening trails of last night’s traffic

Now, I stay busy whitewashing the insides of the soon-to-be-
        abandoned storefronts, sketching out the Going Out of Business
        sign in a defeated freehand and then painting over even that, a 
        cloudy post-literate alphabet of forgetting, an impressionistic 
        amnesiac smear

Oh no, no, pro bono, ah! no bone in the tongue. A tattoo

Okay, so that’s not what I meant, but this:

Old crow sits in the forest over there but sounds to be on the other 
 side of time

Once a snake circled an oak with a squirrel lining the branches

One finger, just one finger can dance on a raindrop following the 
 Wabash

One footstep, one foible in a flooded landscape, one fragment of rock 
 falling

One page hands off to another like a limitless bucket brigade stringing
 from and toward your fire

One pebble-ripple in this river will reach Innisfree

One skin cannot cover centuries

One slip of the tongue merely spells disaster

Open your fortune cookie as the first snow falls

Or ascend gnarled staircase roots and watch tomorrow wash the 
 Wabash

Our triumph tasted like syncopated melodies on a jazz piano

Painter Creek was named for a panther, not a painter, though it’s 
 been years since we’ve seen either one in these parts

Pale thirst quenched by beating pulse

Papered and scented, he kissed the hem of his mother

Pelvises are plagued by the imprint of whiskey-eyed men

Picturesque waters once witnessed in the altered rain

Pigments, yolk, hair, and feathers: molting from an Amazonian 
 earthquake

Please don’t intrude on the dying with your smart phone

Please forgive the weather, the birds, the clouds forming horse-heads
 on the horizon

Poetry freely flows through cracks in political dams so the world 
 won’t go thirsty for truth and splendor 

Promise us you won’t get out of bed

Reach into the sky and stir the blood found there

Red and blue kayaks where steamships ruled

Ripples of river under the moon

Ripples of water, that and mother’s voice, our first sounds

River mystery: always moving yet always still

Russet water cartwheels at the cadence of canine feet—splish splash 
 amid nuggets of sand and shells

Sacrifice your tongue to salted hemlock and swallow your death

Sail toward Wabash sunsets and Montezuma’s gold

Save nothing, my friend, so make a firestorm of your taut bonfire

Say hello to the boy who became a cloud at the fountain

Say it simply—say it as if biting into a raw onion

Seven Sycamore Sisters growing along the bank. The floods came; the 
 floods went, and one by one they sank     

Shame, like oil on asphalt, not mixing with river, alive and surfaced

She feels even her feelings have feelings

She says ouabache to me, yet I cannot help looking west, thinking
 Wabash, feeling the bottom of the canoe touching gravel

She spoke silently all those awful truths

She wore a fairy-toothed grin and eyes full of light

She’s all backpack, flip-flops, all skinny legs coasting with the traffic
        glinting by like random thoughts

Shirt-sleeved in flurries along a stone fence, I taste the song of 
 chimney

Silence, nothing, until dawn

Silently, deer step from gray shadows of wood

Sitting on the bank, watching the current race away with my thoughts

Sixteen planets away, another shade of gold

Skipping stones create endless ripples in the surface, mimicking the 
 depth of time spent growing up in this place

Smell the white and black clouds, puffing—the lime stench of the city losing
        its strength

Sneezes do not need a microphone

Some even met where you give yourself away, over and over, in 
 roiling certitude

Sparkling algae welcomes the rain, the clouds, and repels the 
 fishermen

Spread out your elbows and expect Wednesday’s elbow in your ribs

Stage left, the night heron pantomimes walking 

Stars of clematis snarl along the bank

Stones collected in one’s pocket, souvenirs of time

Strangely acting in unison, we called and even hunted you

Sunshine sparkles, silvering the river’s surface

Synergy: honeybees collecting, gray wolves hunting 

Tadpoles wiggle in the murky shallows

Taste will tell the tale of what we consume and are consumed by

Tell me your hide, I will foist you ripe shadows

Ten years after mother launched her laugh in the glass dome, we 
 found the floating prism above us

The birds—crows and mourning doves—circle in formation above the 
 clearing in the wood

The boy yanks off his earmuffs to hear the whistle of a chickadee 
 hanging hollow in the icy air

The butterflies danced in a circle of song

The call of the cricket blankets the night with pulsing blues dipped in
 dew

The cat sits on the piano lid and listens to Schubert

The clock landed in a pool of vintage light

The concrete’s now cracked and crazed, heaves from a bunch of frosts 
 and thaws

The convergence of our rivers, the most lasting connection I’ve ever 
 known

The cookie jar holds eyeballs

The crack on metal reverberates with power as workers build the 
 town’s first water tower

The cramped burning smell of hair sits in our winter snowface

The crawdad backed beneath the rock

The dandelions dance and hitch to funk slap-and-pop bass

The darkness gathered itself for a spring

The day falls into a crack in itself 

The deep voice of the loon carries across the moonlit waters

The ditch awoke to the rattle of its own water

The duck pulls the peach sun down the river

The fit, old army man walks his dogs, one behind him and one in 
 front of him

The forsythia against my window became a forest of yellow wallpaper

The heart tattoos defiant against the sternum

The hollow clanging of the chimes, lonesome and signaling death, 
 sways in the white birch of the weeping

The hot iron bar ripped off my calluses, soothing my fractured palm

The knobbed shore—a ruined altar 

The mallard paddles contentedly, having fulfilled her role as guide 
 and guardian of the grown springtime brood that has now 
 ventured forth

The man has a different face than before

The man wanted to forget the insistent blue of forget-me-nots that 
 she scattered across clear ice. Her shutters slammed against 
        the possibility of sunlight

The milkweed pod split to reveal brown seeds and a tuft of troll hair

The moon had its own ghost, off to the south over the mechanical 
 gardens

The morning sun is veined here, lined with silken maize and silt

The mouth of the river is drowned 

The mouth swells into a signature of a charred tree leaning over the 
 waving sky

The mute man at the counter reeked of peppermint oil

The optical rivers became opaque

The orb spider dances on the threads of her day, then feasts on her 
 entanglements to be spun anew

The pallid plume of the egret glows early evening through the riparian 
 hem of cattails

The piano, worn from decades, is now young again, as I am, coaxing 
 intimately turned phrases from its ivory keys

The pine sap sweetened my spirit

The pond reflects autumn’s azure skies, fish sparkling beneath 
 floating fallen leaves where the lilies revealed their palette of
 colors to the summer skies

The rain dragged its fingers through the steaming grass

The red-handled maul rusted next to the rotted stump

The rising water kept us apart

The river beneath the river milked dust from the ground

The river by night: the very definition of serenity

The river distilled blue sky from the bowels of swans

The river moves, out of sight and without a sound, underfoot

The shells moved on, slowly one by one
                             
The silken strips of wood peel songs from our trees

The small snail marinated in the murky seaweed bed

The smile spread across her face like a wave of smooth peanut butter
 under the knife

The sun glistening off the surface, mesmerizing all who dare take a
 glance
 
The tables were still full of musty baby clothes when the yard sale 
 succumbed to the rain

The view from here ain’t so good

The water flows like a musical note in Cole Porter blue

The white-tailed deer climb out of the hot tub and pee in the garden

The wolf-girl’s pupils turned a stunning gold

The year of the drought, the whole world burned brown

The young man lies awake listening to the choir of potatoes in the 
 breadbox

Then the toboggan broke the ice above the creek, and that was my 
 real baptism

There is a poem in these dry riverbeds

There is no leaving this place that has a hold on dreams, growing like
 false aster, spreading a homesickness for a swing on a rope, a
 swim in crisp waters of spring

There were still reflections of unnamed constellations in the windows
 to her soul

There were the pots of herbs lined up on the windowsill, her 
 cookbooks, her grandchildren’s drawings

There’s a lot to be said for a hornet’s nest in a winter’s wind

These days we speak nature—we speak tongue-spun dust

They never know how much they have forgotten till they sit down, 
 touch manual typewriter keys

This body keeps aching out avian wishes I didn’t know existed

This boy with no man clothes, hitchhiking to a blank canvas

Ticking, each bends different from the last

Time runs heavy

Tired pickup trucks sleep in rusty knolls along the roadsides

To weep over my poems is to sleep in my arms

Tragedies of war and nature, archived in newsprint and ink, absorb 
 the sweat ring of her iced tea with sugar and lemon, while she
 brushes cookie crumbs from her lap

Tributaries only contribute more grief 

Trickling water, anonymous drops flowing together in unison, 
 Inseparable

Try to be a field to what crawls and flies

Turkey bones bend the algebra of our kitchen table

Two things never quite the same: the rattle of the loose boards on the
 footbridge, and the light in the trees leaning over the creek

Under the red moon, Fox hid the ace of hearts 

Upriver, not down

Waking and dying all in the same breath

Waking from birth, blood and decades of dirt

Watchful at the screen door, the midnight-hued kitten awaits the 
 dawn and morning songbirds 

Watching the river flow by, wondering who else has watched this 
 water

Water lapping at frost-chiseled footprints in mud

Water laughs 

Water makes its path. It digs. It prods. It pushes

Waves break like a shattered mirror that mends itself

We are partial to bold geometric motifs that melt in the milky 
 moonlight

We built a cabin out of hewn hemlock, set it between a salt lick and a
 creek

We could not find the handle; it was missing, and we were lost

We danced barefoot on a pebbly island in White River

We drove into the sunset. Until we outran the roads on our maps

We drowned in love on Whitewater’s reedy bank

We have to turn off the lights and be quiet

We made ourselves a country of spies, a nation without polymaths

We skate on the frozen pond of yesterday, with sharpened blades of
        arrogance

We swam like Ictiobus, roaming far from Tippecanoe defeat

We sway, feet planted in cool clover patches; the blood moon climbs a 
 star-rung ladder to peek at the varnished water spilling like ink
        behind us as we giggle and sing “There’s a Bad Moon on the 
        Rise”

We were this many when we got it together

We’re all awash with wayward Wabash tributaries

“We’ve knocked down these apartments and row houses and replaced 
 them with apartments and row houses”

Wear the rituals of comfort like knee-socks beneath your skirt; wear 
 the rituals of surprise with neither

What happened to that Gus Macker cap you wore with your aloha 
 shirts?

What kind of a flood would it take to drown all our muskrats?

Wheel after wheel of circling cranes drops down upon the sod

When I looked upward pleading to the heavens as I restlessly walked
        in the woods after midnight, the full moon shattered into pieces
        among the treetops

When she picked up the toad, he peed on her hand

When the rain came, it blustered in like a drunken boyfriend

When the water froze thick walls down, heat from a bonfire cracked 
 the ice into glaciers

When will we know for sure how many hawks it takes to get to 
 California?

Where the Piankashaw travel to gather walnuts

Who are we but a collective, fragmented soul?

Why could I never hear the music between the quarter step of your 
 breath?

With bent elbow I lifted the stone chalice 

With each fall storm, soil from old settlers’ farms dissolves into ponds
 and creeks

With the gumption of Alexander, the grace of Renoir

With the window open I could smell you in the breeze

Wrinkles devour Grandma into lines for the perfect message

Yellow gingko leaves swim away from us

You finally rose up as if to say Hey and then moved on, carrying some
 small part of us out to the rest of the world

You flavor my coffee with rainwater and cottonwood

You heard us saying we want you back but did not pause
 
You know all of the words that fit into the princess purse on your lap

You remember now, treacherous, unseen forces dragging you under

You woke us all up that night with a chainsaw in your heart

You’d think the fish would get in the way, but I can hear the crane 
        shouting Wilde aphorisms from the pond across the interstate

Young lads will find fishing exciting with their red wigglers and poles 
 in hand

Your barefoot daughters play air guitar in a sold-out show for fireflies

Your death keeps dancing across my spine

Your nostril peers into my eye to smell the dead rosewater in my 
 smile

Your Shih Tzu chases black toads through crabgrass beneath a red 
 maple’s shade

*

Version 2
A body was dreaming of white angels under the frozen pine

A bowl of Buddha’s bones sustains me
A boy carrying river clams in a plastic bucket
A carp with bulging eyes can’t believe his bad luck, stranded behind the
  baseball fence after the St. Mary’s flood receded

A cobalt and sapphire mosaic, set within a jade frame

A cracked skull my fingers reach in for seed

A crackle of tears dying in the fire—my reply—resounds down the bank
A dry lawn held pockets of chestnuts
A fisherman soaks in the pleasure of dawn
A form of erasure, a slate for a new beginning
A lone kayak would lunge forward racing the wind
A lost river is no joke, not some lame fable with pebbles
A quiet roar, a gentle rush, a sigh of passing time
A rabbit rapidly chews a blade of grass, perfectly still, under my pink peony

A redbird pumps her bright spot of song on the sweet gum branch
A rogue pope wanders New York, seeking blue hope
A sky of sponge surmounts the censorious bacon

A trail of thoughts and phrases all leading back to someplace safe
A train cannonballs its way across a wooden trestle
A treble cleft gathered the waters to glow the afternoon away
A young child at river’s edge discovers that water cannot be held
After all these rhymes, I remain a scarlet caladium of wuthered consonants
After midnight, the dressmaker’s doll began its lifeless dance
Albino lobster, your oddity saves you from clarified butter palate to be on
  museum plate

All along the brackish way, in form neither free nor festive
All summer, the grass blades fiddle their love song for Whitman
Almost lost to pale gray skies, the white bellies of snow geese

An angel birthed from boa constrictor loins and peach brandy

And so the fire ants of Namibia bit my wrist
And so we wind around our fingers the brittle faces of leaves
Anime girls with eyes rounder than Japanese teacups

Another brother knows he will never touch the sea

Another of the thousands of songs on my top ten favorites list
Apples are ripe, and rotting, with goldenrod nearby
As kids, we could smell the rain coming days in advance
As night draws near, children settling in sleeping bags under the stars
At dawn, when the seasons are woven into the word

At last it opens and life blows its trumpet once again
Be a tree wearing a hawk like a small helmet
Bears and ants can’t shake hands
Bedford stone country is no place to drop a bike in the summer; limestone
  will scorch your skin and raise monuments
Before a black summer sky screaming with stars, they lock fingers and lose
  death

Beware the Tintern Abbey inside the cop’s blueberry-cherry top 

Beyond a patch of occluded pumas, I immersed in the river’s dredge

Blue and black starlight in the night glistens on the shore

Butter, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, chocolate—stirred, poured, baking,
  becoming

Calm spread across the crowd like honey oozing over a plate
Can purple taste its blue half?
Carry the spilled blood of our fallen souls and lead them to the open sea

Carve your name in granite gray and limestone, white and deep

Cascade of blues, greens, and browns wash over grays, an artist’s greatest
  desire
Cherry Garcia ice cream and beef liver tumbled in the plastic sack like a
  country song: “Jerry and the Dead Cow”
Cherry tomatoes sprawl out of our compost, creeping across the yard,
  surprising us with tiny fruit
Chords of water hum, vibrating rocks like guitar frets, tuning between
  sharp and flat to reach the sweet flow of the chorus we’d forgotten,
  yet remember every note
Christmas lights fling garlands onto the black water
Computers whisper secrets, but the speakers politely pretend they don’t
  hear
Consider the exquisite bulk of the horse, its eyes, its heat
Crickets’ eaaaa eaaaa eaaaaa serenade lull lulling her sleepy head deep
  deeper into the pillow
Crossing from Terre Haute into Illinois, on Christmas Eve, we take Highway 41
        north, the slow road to Chicago
Cupcakes: she dressed like the frosting and he, like the pleats on the paper
  liner
Currents lap at the edges, tiny tongues sharing stories
Dandelion seeds danced in the swirl of heat-soaked exhalations
Dashes of daylight boogie on banks
Dawn spreads its moonlight legs and gleams with foggy sunlight above
  moths and butterflies
Dear Life, one last turn abed before the voice booms upward, the stair creaks
Death in a waffle. Not just the slow accumulation of fatal fat, but the fast
  choke

Deep flowing luminous silver waves, slicing withering motions, powerful
  incantations dance as melodies burst forth in swift waters, reaching
  heights and never ending
Dewdrops hang from the silky web and reflect the golden sunlight
Did anyone see the soft ache of asphalt?

Do you remember where you were when it occurred?
Dragonflies hover over oars between paddles
Dreamily, rafters float downstream with the quiet current
Dressed in her father’s autumn browns, she crooned

Dried leaves dapple the green grass with crispy red and muted orange

Drivers hurry home to windows filled with glowing light, lively children,
  and loving spouses
Driving down narrow roads along the edge of the water, stopping only to
 collect crab tree leaves to fan away the heat
Drops of bitter sweat move over the ridge of my lips, tasting like the dew on
  morning glories after a first moon eclipse
During the night, a fist reached in and took my breath away
Each pendulum that swings onto my temple bleeds words into stains on my
  night
Eager kayakers gather in the misty morning
Early evening, from the banks of the river, I see headlights shine on pastel
  houses in snow
Early March, brooches of ice pinned to the lapel of the current, a friend
  says, Bet me I can swim to the other side; and I do, and he does, but
  through chaotic calisthenics he snivels, Come get me
Eats a breakfast of warm Gouda and grits
Echoes from a hole cut out of Orion’s old belt

Echoes pulse from walls and floors, through empty rooms and half-closed
  doors

Enthralled by the tapping sound of old beer cans on his feet moved him to
  venture into melody—
Eroded by currents, polished like new
Even the dead and fallen trees show me you aren’t homeless on the river
Even the strongest ship feels lost in ghosted starshine
Everything flowing remains the river you have come to
Exhale to the clouds, that pupil dilation is a cure-all for lying
Exposed tree roots cling desperately to the eroding banks
February bloomed in the cavity of her belly

February is the worst month for breath
Fiddling figures of fractured fairytales and mottled memories
Fish are suspicious of poets, actors, and shoes
Five sisters, seven brothers, and an angelfish
Flaming sycamores lured me to a Florida college
Flashes of silver, gliding over brown mud
Flat as a velvet glove, the winged mouse skimmed the ridge of our bodies
Flaxen-colored spiderwebs glistened in the stream of light
Fog lines dispersing in unnatural patterns smoothed black the riverbanks

Food chain mysteries broil under gently flowing currents

Foster Park became a rushing river across the golf course into
  neighborhood basements. The only sounds: the river’s wild current
  and the tired drone of generators
From steep banks above a low waterline, telltale fragments reveal the story
From subterranean mysteries you emerge, disguised as mud and shining

From the darkness, a tree frog’s lament
Ground drowns ice. Blackbird forgets her flapping wing
Haiku ain’t nothing but compressed stardust exploding

He considered his empty coffee cup, greasy lip marks on ceramic, and
  droned on lofty, lazy, a fossil of ambition

He danced like there was no yesterday

He eagerly dreads working when the house is asleep

He speaks in parables, a veiled dance, so they will be eased gently into the
  currents of the mystery

He was a trickster, disguised as unfinished business

Her hair, the colors of many stories
Her poetic line spun light from a Wabash moon
Her red hair beats graying sky
Her silky-faced rower, naked walnut cinnamon persimmon skin
Her tears rained when she couldn’t recall the caress of lightning anymore
Here we live, in the City of Steel, slowly oxidizing to burgundy

His cigarette smoke dances, dissipates onto the remnants of past
  conversations

How many moist years sold for the splintery shelter of dreams?

How many thirsts have your waters quenched from summer drought and
  weary toil?

I am from the crick covered in copper clay
I am woman of gray breath and pulsing bite
I can see a bunting light across the dark water, swinging for sunset ash
I cannot see in the daylight the burning of every third eyelash withering the
  light
I collect the rainwater in blue Ball jars and bring them back to this town
I cut a hole in the boat and waited to breathe the river
I did, I didn’t, I thought I would, I wasn’t, I left
I fear nothing as much as the deciduous bark of my writhing hand
I gnaw on these secondhand words, chewing them leaf by leaf, and when I
  am full, withdraw into chrysalis to rearrange their cells—articulate
  wings—and fly
I go out with a bag of seeds, sow various plants: geraniums, gourds, basil,
  mallow
I go over to Lake Wawasee and stand on the marina dock, covered with my
  lures, hooked into every inch of my clothes
I have genuflected to the wind who does not feel my presence while I feel
  his
I have heard the cat yodeling across the yard to the cream-colored stars
I have smelled the concrete of statues in rain-soaked parking lots . . . sleep
  is such a heavenly thing
I have spilled green ink all over green paper and have seen the wisdom in
  my black gestures
I hear your voice; it tells the tale of waving fields and weeping trees and
  endless blue above

I left the car running, but meant to park it—what else have I forgotten
  today? . . . no matter

I left you pouty-eyed and un-hugged in a green-yellow parking lot
I like to dip my toes into the cool refreshing water as the sun sets, watching
  the trolling boats hum in the distance
I look up into the haze of new leaves on the maple tree, each one like a
  small green hand
I lower myself to the ground and listen to the grasshoppers swap war
  stories
I may melt into the Hoosier dirt, fleeing red, ferrous years downstream
I rode my bike to sidewalk practice today
I saw visions of the old couple haunting moonlit rivers and catching
  dreams in silver cups
I slurp the vanilla cream soda off my fingers while looking out the window
  at Zaharako’s Ice Cream Emporium

I told you, when the bridge swayed, how I felt
I tore them out one by one, replacing with sturdier, hardier varieties—
 thorny and difficult to tame
I traded my bones for termite-beset ash
I trust the river, not for fishing but for reading aloud

I want the dark of thunder out of my scarred throat
I will measure your love by the exact kneeling of brittle remembered in my
  ground
I’m sorry. I cannot mow down the nightshade that grows my hands
I’m the truth. I come back

I’ve long been rafting a river of Tuesdays

I’ve seen the Little Riley bone-dry and brown with floodwater, but it’s most
  beautiful when it’s somewhere between
Idealized by the moonlight, our lies flickered into truth
If you had made a left turn, you might be sailing, you might be free
If you insist, I’ll ring the doorbell with her tooth under my nail
If you trip up, can you really fall down? Doesn’t this break the basic law of
  gravity or something?
In another era we would never leave the cave; we would become the carbon
  and salt
In harmony, birds navigate the stream above as fish fly gracefully through
  the water, oblivious to one another’s world

In my area, only the rivers remember that the land is not flat
In the green music box I found what you had lost
In the middle of the middle of the flow, stones hollow tongue

Indigo threads in webs to which cypress and cottonwood cling

Invoking earth, air, and fire, we handed our pain to the Wabash, which
  quietly carried it away
Is that birdsong coming through the baby monitor?
It hurts when I disappear into someone else’s magpies, and it hurts not to
It seemed they were all suffering from the strange music of midnight
It starts with a river of molars

It was an awful lot like waking up as the color green
It was great sleeping weather though
It wasn’t true that the river kept us apart; from the beginning we were on
  the same side
It’s all about words, conversations, words, pondering, words, I’ve come
  away from, words
It’s much harder to pick out the vegetarian zombies, laboring across the
  screen like the liver eaters
Knuckled under, with clay-blind eyes I came upon
Leaving us with memories of our toys, our dreams
Lemons will tumble off of your red umbrella

Let the rainwater we wipe off our arms quench the drought in our hunger
  and lack

Let’s erase this

Let’s say there are two or more ways of mouth

Like a beetle falling into your lap, the mauve idea

Like a blue baseball forever going, going, never gone in the navy night
Like a dandelion pod, I disassembled
Like a mare washing her foal, she licks his tears and he, shaking, finds his
  legs

Lines and stanzas are the electrical synapses that craft collective memory

Lost among the whitewash of stars—lights of an arctic-bound plane
Lourdes shifts from English to Spanish like Juan Pablo Montoya changing
  gears at Pocono
Make me sway in the swing of oleanders and outlaws

Make peace or make war. I don’t care, just learn to cook

Make your mouth coppery with ohms of the resistance

Marbles its way through Indiana limestone
Melody flows through measured time, tumbling over rocky challenges to
  join a tumultuous stream fed by the wonder of the spirit and
  knowledge of years
Moon Park, the toddler named the riverside spot, his first notice of a
  daytime moon

Moon slivers pour down

Moonlit hands clasped together as the train passed through Madison

Moons fade beneath smoking purple
Morning glories twist their tendrils around the Highway 46 road sign near
  Nashville, Indiana
Morning is excruciating, the way the sun bleeds my curtain in bits of
  radioactive orange

Moth wings, she said, stroking my hair
Moths and flies attracted to the light, I guess, the heat, getting caught
  inside the globe’s baffle, baffled and beaten up in there, finally,
        by the beating up against the flickering light
Muddy brown water, some say, but paradise to Sandie afloat on her inner
  tube, biting the apple
My ears burned with compliments whispered through tin-can telephones
My eyes skip like flat rocks over the creek
My knuckle bruised, waving to the ground
My mouth was built entirely of redirected rivers

My river cannot swim
Next door, the dog is howling with the sirens
No bank for soft shells anymore, basking in the sun
No matter how tenuous the raft, it is time to return to the river
No matter the signs of assurance or engineering, I avoid that one-lane bridge

No one could be more noir, hunched in gray feathers
Note the limestone, the glistening trails of last night’s traffic
Now, I stay busy whitewashing the insides of the soon-to-be-abandoned
  storefronts, sketching out the Going Out of Business sign in a
  defeated freehand and then painting over even that, a cloudy post-
 literate alphabet of forgetting, an impressionistic amnesiac smear
Oh no, no, pro bono, ah! no bone in the tongue. A tattoo
Okay, so that’s not what I meant, but this:
Old crow sits in the forest over there but sounds to be on the other side of
  time

Once a snake circled an oak with a squirrel lining the branches
One finger, just one finger can dance on a raindrop following the Wabash
One footstep, one foible in a flooded landscape, one fragment of rock
  falling
One page hands off to another like a limitless bucket brigade stringing
  from and toward your fire

One pebble-ripple in this river will reach Innisfree

One skin cannot cover centuries

One slip of the tongue merely spells disaster
Open your fortune cookie as the first snow falls
Or ascend gnarled staircase roots and watch tomorrow wash the Wabash
Our triumph tasted like syncopated melodies on a jazz piano
Painter Creek was named for a panther, not a painter, though it’s been
  years since we’ve seen either one in these parts
Pale thirst quenched by beating pulse
Papered and scented, he kissed the hem of his mother

Pelvises are plagued by the imprint of whiskey-eyed men
Picturesque waters once witnessed in the altered rain
Pigments, yolk, hair, and feathers: molting from an Amazonian earthquake
Please don’t intrude on the dying with your smart phone
Please forgive the weather, the birds, the clouds forming horse-heads on
  the horizon

Poetry freely flows through cracks in political dams so the world won’t go
  thirsty for truth and splendor 

Promise us you won’t get out of bed
Reach into the sky and stir the blood found there
Red and blue kayaks where steamships ruled
Ripples of river under the moon
Ripples of water, that and mother’s voice, our first sounds
River mystery: always moving yet always still
Russet water cartwheels at the cadence of canine feet—splish splash amid
  nuggets of sand and shells
Sacrifice your tongue to salted hemlock and swallow your death
Sail toward Wabash sunsets and Montezuma’s gold
Save nothing, my friend, so make a firestorm of your taut bonfire
Say hello to the boy who became a cloud at the fountain
Say it simply—say it as if biting into a raw onion

Seven Sycamore Sisters growing along the bank. The floods came; the
  floods went, and one by one they sank

Shame, like oil on asphalt, not mixing with river, alive and surfaced
She feels even her feelings have feelings
She says ouabache to me, yet I cannot help looking west, thinking Wabash,
  feeling the bottom of the canoe touching gravel
She spoke silently all those awful truths

She wore a fairy-toothed grin and eyes full of light

She’s all backpack, flip-flops, all skinny legs coasting with the traffic
  glinting by like random thoughts

Shirt-sleeved in flurries along a stone fence, I taste the song of chimney

Silence, nothing, until dawn
Silently, deer step from gray shadows of wood
Sitting on the bank, watching the current race away with my thoughts
Sixteen planets away, another shade of gold
Skipping stones create endless ripples in the surface, mimicking the depth
  of time spent growing up in this place

Smell the white and black clouds, puffing—the lime stench of the city losing
        its strength
Sneezes do not need a microphone
Some even met where you give yourself away, over and over, in roiling
  certitude
Sparkling algae welcomes the rain, the clouds, and repels the fishermen
Spread out your elbows and expect Wednesday’s elbow in your ribs

Stage left, the night heron pantomimes walking

Stars of clematis snarl along the bank
Stones collected in one’s pocket, souvenirs of time
Strangely acting in unison, we called and even hunted you
Sunshine sparkles, silvering the river’s surface
Synergy: honeybees collecting, gray wolves hunting
Tadpoles wiggle in the murky shallows
Taste will tell the tale of what we consume and are consumed by
Tell me your hide, I will foist you ripe shadows
Ten years after mother launched her laugh in the glass dome, we found the
  floating prism above us
The birds—crows and mourning doves—circle in formation above the
  clearing in the wood
The boy yanks off his earmuffs to hear the whistle of a chickadee hanging
  hollow in the icy air
The butterflies danced in a circle of song
The call of the cricket blankets the night with pulsing blues dipped in dew
The cat sits on the piano lid and listens to Schubert
The clock landed in a pool of vintage light
The concrete’s now cracked and crazed, heaves from a bunch of frosts and
  thaws
The convergence of our rivers, the most lasting connection I’ve ever known
The cookie jar holds eyeballs

The crack on metal reverberates with power as workers build the town’s
  first water tower
The cramped burning smell of hair sits in our winter snowface
The crawdad backed beneath the rock
The dandelions dance and hitch to funk slap-and-pop bass
The darkness gathered itself for a spring
The day falls into a crack in itself
The deep voice of the loon carries across the moonlit waters
The ditch awoke to the rattle of its own water
The duck pulls the peach sun down the river
The fit, old army man walks his dogs, one behind him and one in front of
  him
The forsythia against my window became a forest of yellow wallpaper

The heart tattoos defiant against the sternum
The hollow clanging of the chimes, lonesome and signaling death, sways in
  the white birch of the weeping
The hot iron bar ripped off my calluses, soothing my fractured palm
The knobbed shore—a ruined altar
The mallard paddles contentedly, having fulfilled her role as guide and
  guardian of the grown springtime brood that has now ventured forth
The man has a different face than before

The man wanted to forget the insistent blue of forget-me-nots that she
  scattered across clear ice. Her shutters slammed against the
  possibility of sunlight

The milkweed pod split to reveal brown seeds and a tuft of troll hair
The moon had its own ghost, off to the south over the mechanical gardens
The morning sun is veined here, lined with silken maize and silt
The mouth of the river is drowned
The mouth swells into a signature of a charred tree leaning over the waving
  sky
The mute man at the counter reeked of peppermint oil
The optical rivers became opaque

The orb spider dances on the threads of her day, then feasts on her
  entanglements to be spun anew
The pallid plume of the egret glows early evening through the riparian hem
  of cattails
The piano, worn from decades, is now young again, as I am, coaxing
  intimately turned phrases from its ivory keys
The pine sap sweetened my spirit
The pond reflects autumn’s azure skies, fish sparkling beneath floating
  fallen leaves where the lilies revealed their palette of colors to the
  summer skies
The rain dragged its fingers through the steaming grass
The red-handled maul rusted next to the rotted stump
The rising water kept us apart

The river beneath the river milked dust from the ground

The river by night: the very definition of serenity

The river distilled blue sky from the bowels of swans

The river moves, out of sight and without a sound, underfoot

The shells moved on, slowly one by one
The silken strips of wood peel songs from our trees
The small snail marinated in the murky seaweed bed
The smile spread across her face like a wave of smooth peanut butter under
  the knife
The sun glistening off the surface, mesmerizing all who dare take a glance
 
The tables were still full of musty baby clothes when the yard sale
  succumbed to the rain

The view from here ain’t so good

The water flows like a musical note in Cole Porter blue
The white-tailed deer climb out of the hot tub and pee in the garden
The wolf-girl’s pupils turned a stunning gold
The year of the drought, the whole world burned brown
The young man lies awake listening to the choir of potatoes in the breadbox
Then the toboggan broke the ice above the creek, and that was my real
  baptism
There is a poem in these dry riverbeds
There is no leaving this place that has a hold on dreams, growing like false
  aster, spreading a homesickness for a swing on a rope, a swim in
  crisp waters of spring
There were still reflections of unnamed constellations in the windows to
  her soul
There were the pots of herbs lined up on the windowsill, her cookbooks,
  her grandchildren’s drawings
There’s a lot to be said for a hornet’s nest in a winter’s wind
These days we speak nature—we speak tongue-spun dust
They never know how much they have forgotten till they sit down, touch
  manual typewriter keys
This body keeps aching out avian wishes I didn’t know existed

This boy with no man clothes, hitchhiking to a blank canvas

Ticking, each bends different from the last
Time runs heavy
Tired pickup trucks sleep in rusty knolls along the roadsides

To weep over my poems is to sleep in my arms

Tragedies of war and nature, archived in newsprint and ink, absorb the
  sweat ring of her iced tea with sugar and lemon, while she brushes
  cookie crumbs from her lap
Tributaries only contribute more grief
Trickling water, anonymous drops flowing together in unison, inseparable
Try to be a field to what crawls and flies
Turkey bones bend the algebra of our kitchen table

Two things never quite the same: the rattle of the loose boards on the
  footbridge, and the light in the trees leaning over the creek
Under the red moon, Fox hid the ace of hearts
Upriver, not down

Waking and dying all in the same breath

Waking from birth, blood and decades of dirt
Watchful at the screen door, the midnight-hued kitten awaits the dawn and
  morning songbirds
Watching the river flow by, wondering who else has watched this water
Water lapping at frost-chiseled footprints in mud
Water laughs
Water makes its path. It digs. It prods. It pushes
Waves break like a shattered mirror that mends itself
We are partial to bold geometric motifs that melt in the milky moonlight
We built a cabin out of hewn hemlock, set it between a salt lick and a creek

We could not find the handle; it was missing, and we were lost
We danced barefoot on a pebbly island in White River
We drove into the sunset. Until we outran the roads on our maps
We drowned in love on Whitewater’s reedy bank
We have to turn off the lights and be quiet

We made ourselves a country of spies, a nation without polymaths
We skate on the frozen pond of yesterday, with sharpened blades of
  arrogance
We swam like Ictiobus, roaming far from Tippecanoe defeat
We sway, feet planted in cool clover patches; the blood moon climbs a
 star- rung ladder to peek at the varnished water spilling like ink
  behind us as we giggle and sing “There’s a Bad Moon on the Rise”
We were this many when we got it together

We’re all awash with wayward Wabash tributaries
“We’ve knocked down these apartments and row houses and replaced them
  with apartments and row houses”
Wear the rituals of comfort like knee-socks beneath your skirt; wear the
  rituals of surprise with neither

What happened to that Gus Macker cap you wore with your aloha shirts?

What kind of a flood would it take to drown all our muskrats?

Wheel after wheel of circling cranes drops down upon the sod
When I looked upward pleading to the heavens as I restlessly walked in the
  woods after midnight, the full moon shattered into pieces among the
  treetops
When she picked up the toad, he peed on her hand
When the rain came, it blustered in like a drunken boyfriend

When the water froze thick walls down, heat from a bonfire cracked the ice
  into glaciers

When will we know for sure how many hawks it takes to get to California?
Where the Piankashaw travel to gather walnuts
Who are we but a collective, fragmented soul?
Why could I never hear the music between the quarter step of your breath?
With bent elbow I lifted the stone chalice
With each fall storm, soil from old settlers’ farms dissolves into ponds and
  creeks
With the gumption of Alexander, the grace of Renoir
With the window open I could smell you in the breeze
Wrinkles devour Grandma into lines for the perfect message
Yellow gingko leaves swim away from us
You finally rose up as if to say Hey and then moved on, carrying some small
  part of us out to the rest of the world

You flavor my coffee with rainwater and cottonwood

You heard us saying we want you back but did not pause
 
You know all of the words that fit into the princess purse on your lap
You remember now, treacherous, unseen forces dragging you under
You woke us all up that night with a chainsaw in your heart
You’d think the fish would get in the way, but I can hear the crane shouting 
        Wilde aphorisms from the pond across the interstate
Young lads will find fishing exciting with their red wigglers and poles in
  hand
Your barefoot daughters play air guitar in a sold-out show for fireflies
Your death keeps dancing across my spine
Your nostril peers into my eye to smell the dead rosewater in my smile
Your Shih Tzu chases black toads through crabgrass beneath a red maple’s
  shade





Participants

D.L. Aghabekian, Stevens Amidon, Aleisha R. Balestri, Eric Baus, Nancy Botkin, Brad A. Bott, Tony Brewer, Joyce Brinkman, Michael Brockley, Marsha Browne, Caitlyn Bushnell, Madison Bushnell, Tasha N. Bushnell, Mary Ann Cain, Colleen Card, Dan Carpenter, Kay Castaneda, Curtis L. Crisler, Rick Cummings, Dawn Cunningham, Ellen Cutter, Julie Demoff-Larson, Donna S. Eckelbarger, Shannon Elward, Heather Fox, Rebecca Franklin, Sarah Fronczek, Helen Frost, Jeff Gundy, Janine Harrison, Amy Holston Hesting, Laurie Higi, Jenni Hout, Jackie Huppenthal, George Kalamaras, JL Kato, Charles Kelley, Megan King, Pat Kopanda, Karen Kovacik, Elizabeth Krajeck, Mary Kramer, Becca Lamarre, Marsi Lawson, Nancy Chen Long, Doris Lynch, Louise Magoon, Bryn Marlow, Michael Martone, Bonnie Maurer, Kathy Mayer, Aaron Michael McClaskey, Tracy Mishkin, Roger Mitchell, Aly Noble, Sandie Patterson, Deborah Petersen, Roger Pfingston, Richard Pflum, Janine Pickett, Nancy Pulley, Mary Quigley, Hugh Rettinger, Ron Riha, Stephen R. Roberts, Lucia Walton Robinson, Barbara Shoup, Nancy Simmonds, Kevin Stein, Christopher Stolle, Anthony Thieme, Amy Jo Trier-Walker, Katerina Tsiopos, Shari Wagner, Laurie Walls, Melanie Shifflett Ridner Warner, Kathryn Ann Young, Jordan Zandi


Indiana Counties of Participants

Allen County, Bartholomew County, Brown County, Delaware County, Hamilton County, Jackson County, Jasper County, Kosciusko County, Lake County, Madison County, Marion County, Marshall County, Monroe County, Noble County, Porter County, Ripley County, St. Joseph County, Tippecanoe County, Wayne County, Wells County, Whitley County,

Locales of Participants, Formerly of Indiana and Now Living Elsewhere

Bluffton, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Jay, New York; Peoria, Illinois; San Jose, California; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Wilmington, North Carolina






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