Featured OPA Contest Winner: Lisa Baldwin

Out West

 

It was your silence that turned me
Out and away from the hollowness
Resounding through this empty place
We sometimes felt was home.
Along the beach road, walking away,
I know one bird on the wire
Is less alone than two
Perched yards apart.

A silent sea stack divides the Pacific
On the fulcrum of its presence,
Cuts a single swell into
Two urgent, shore-bound surges,
Movement rushed by solid stillness,
Water curved by rock,
Rock carved by moving water
Into the shapely hips of Earth’s
Ripe daughter posing in the shallows alone.

I long for a pelagic life, unbound,
In the company of sooty terns
Alone to drown or rise
On some airborne mercy.

 

 

Lisa Baldwin: My poem, “Out West,” comes out of an awareness that loneliness has little to do with being alone. I began working on this poem after a trip to the Oregon Coast, a place with deep emotional significance for me but one I had not visited in the seven years following the death of my father. Here I began learning about the beauty of solitude and the sounds that run under and carry silence. “Out West” is the result of this lesson.

 

Lisa E. Baldwin is a full-time teacher and writer who believes poetry is necessary for a good life. A fifth-generation Oregon native, her poetry draws on the beauty, diversity and history of our place. She lives on a little farm in Southern Oregon with her husband and honeybees.

Featured OPA Contest Winner: Andy Durrenberger

Leaving Bones Upon the Sand

 

He could not stay away from the beacon house.
The turret of light pulled him, flopping
up the beach, gills drowning in the air.
There was no desire but the primitive need to satisfy
curiosity about the creature that looked out to sea,
then back to land, with a swivel for a neck.
Realization came too late, there was no mystery and water too far away.
Weariness closed his eyes for the last time,
while fingers of light try to push eyelids open, singing
“Stay at sea, stay at sea.”

 

 

adurrenberger

Andy Durrenberger: The poem “Leaving Bones Upon the Sand” began as a writing prompt at a Wordstock workshop in 2012.  The presenter handed me a postcard of a windswept lighthouse but for some reason the words beacon house seemed more appropriate. Ten furious minutes later I not only had the beginnings of the poem but discovered I was in a workshop for fiction writers. They were patient and kind with their criticism, usually starting their sentence with “you’re a poet!?” No matter, after about a year of adding and subtracting commas , the words finally reflected the idea I intended.  With so much of the world pulling us to distraction, it is easy to become drawn by curiosity rather than need.  It is when we devote too much of ourselves to one “shiny” that we fail to provide for the mundane and necessary parts of life that make it possible to just breath.

It is an honor to be able to share my poem with so many people and I am thankful to the OPA for their support of Poetry in Oregon.

 

Andy Durrenberger grew up as the oldest child of a career U.S. Air Force family. By the time he graduated high school there had been seven moves, living in places like Nebraska, Roswell N.M., Puerto Rico and Germany. Relocating to Oregon in 1990, he settled in the Portland area and began a family with his wife, Loralyn. He is a 2007 graduate of Portland State University where his professors included Henry Carlile and Ursula K. Le Guin. Previous poems have been published by Four and Twenty and The Railroad Poetry Project.

Featured OPA Contest Winner: Keli Osborn

Codicil for Grief

That he no longer sleeps past four in the morning.

That she drank a six-pack of Miller’s before lying down with the handgun.

That he found his brother in the backseat of a Ford. That his brother never woke up. That his brother’s notebooks were filled with tiny words. That his brother slept with his wife.

That she learned her father’s grandfather was Alvarez. That she learned she wasn’t Cherokee. That her mother knew all along.

That her son’s camera was filled with photos. That his desk was organized neatly. That his socks were dirty. That he looked serene beneath the bandages and tubes. That she had to decide about the tubes. That he already had decided about his corneas and kidneys.

That his niece refused to walk by the casket. That she said he had raped his own wife. That his wife was pregnant, and crying.

That he misses his children. That he hates pulling sentry duty. That he sweats 24 hours a day, even in his sleep. That his fatigues smell like mildew. That he decides never to eat Chinese food when he gets home.

That two of the brothers sobbed at the wake, and a third told them to stop. That they met their uncle for the first time, and his hair was red. That they found yellowing union leaflets beside the rubber bands and scissors in their mother’s kitchen drawer.

That he told her never to bring a black man home. That he used different words. That he threatened to lock the gate. That he reminded her about his deer rifle.

That his room always reeked of Old Spice. That his mother’s father taught him how to shave. That he never met his own father, but knew where he lived. That he worked the night shift at Motel 6 for 12 years. That no one returned his library books.

That her daughter moved away and stopped answering the phone. That her daughter changed her phone number. That her daughter changed her name. That she hasn’t seen her daughter in more than 20 years.

That he might have been someone else, if not for the obit. That the picture looked remarkably like him. That she has his wedding invitation from 1981 in a shoebox at the back of the hallway closet.

Wherefore, my only flashlight is broken.

 

kosbornKeli Osborn said: I wrote “Codicil for Grief” as I considered again the loss to suicide of a beloved family member. In the process of reflecting and writing, other half-memories, borrowed anecdotes and imagined stories surfaced and blurred. I wanted to capture some of the howl in binding and unbinding ourselves to one another–speak to our most basic contracts and inevitable violation.

 

Keli Osborn is a writer, teacher and mediator living in Eugene with her family. She reads and writes poetry with the brilliant support of Red Sofa Poets and 1st & 3rd Thursday, and has been published in Denali, New Verse News, and regional chapbooks. Keli was a point guard on her high school basketball team, which explains everything.