Rick Chastain

Image Credit — Sonja Wilkinson

That only the mountains are true

only the stones are without time

Only the sky is true

far blue and far white

and far stars at night

hear our stories, our stories, our stories

Only the river is ever true

taking us where

and where we do not

want to go

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In the year of fire and fear

when even the air has stopped breathing

I have come to see the woods again

to kneel between the waters, joined

where the main creek and her sister join

here there is dark spruce, tangled willow, darting minnow,

and refuge

again to ask

all the questions

but the wild ones say what they have always said

sweep of wind

rippling water

clack of rockfall

silent treefall

osprey wing on water

camp smoke half-remembered

trailhead half-departed

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We have come to the Whitney
our pasts inside us, silent
like the dogwood flower

A tableau of sculptures
march the veranda,
some small and assertive,
some large and lethargic
all migrants, ex-captives

the clank of their chains
still shuffles the High Line
one foot fear, one foot courage
one step fear, one step courage

they join in assembly
they tell of their bondage

One figure, an ape of a figure
big African lips,
on his shoulder a bindle
not of clothes or belongings
but of empty food cans

I remember when father
lived in our car
lived out of cans
he too, emancipated

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Image Credit, Fran Woods

We bought the old place
for it’s reach to the woods
and it’s true…

one step from the door
and on to the trail that winds through the waiting aspen

is to enter the place
where the boundary awaits
where the rusted sign says
“please latch the gate” …
and hear the land speak
of unfinished days.

There’s a corner-tree there
back deep in the woods;
a spruce, near eight feet around
and girded by strands of forgotten barbed wire.

On the day
that the rancher and his boy
built this fence together
did he stand and look across

and loving his son
with each beat of his chest

know that this day

this sweet golden day

this bright manly day

what we do with our days

is like the clear river ?

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If all of the metal

were melted down

in this foothills town

all the rails

with their whispers

of longed-for arrivals

all the nails

holding our homes straight upright

all the girder and truss

with their hard love for safety

all our fence, all our fears

standing sentry at night.

The blood moon arises

the seeing stars know

the sleeping town murmurs

of snow.

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