April 29, 2012

“Duncan MacDonell,” by Tait Rains, student, grade 11

I loved my house in Mexico.
I could be there
and let the thoughts in my mind
just drive
a   w   a   y   ,
like putting a bottle in the ocean
and watching it float 
and father away from your ship
until finally you couldn’t see it anymore.
I missed my wife and girls
while I was away.
The more I saw my wife,
the more I fell in love with her.
Why were we divorced
if we were still in love?
Maybe she could tell you.
Oh those polo fields,
how I love to just go for a match.
If I do say so myself,
I was pretty impressive.
Like crabgrass in the lawn,
I eventually dominated 
those games.
How ‘bout them cocktails?
Never was I able to get myself to stop.
Only my 
could do that.

April 28, 2012

“Allan Frank Bednar” by Savanna Stanley, student, grade 11

Out in Minnesota
the winter brought
cold, desolate thoughts.
The farm cried for attention
to those seven children.

Korean War 1950 brought 
out the man in me.
My hands grew numb on
the frontline; the cows
begging to be nourished.
Beautiful teacher.

The definition of children:
seven members of the tribe.
The theory of practical experience
for those young boys.
Train a child in the way he should go . . . .
Warm, sunny beaches, far
west as can be.

He used to say, “People are too busy to work.”
Cracked one callus over another.
Cement poured down the back.
Day one saw hot hands and faintness,
later felt the presence of an angel.

In seven days the earth was made.
In seven more days, I bowed my head.
There is no distance on this earth
as far away as yesterday.

April 27, 2012

"Renee Radding" by Lauren Radding, student, grade 11

I was a hair stylist, 
a cake decorator,
but overall I was a mother, 
the mother of three young children.
I had a husband who was a dentist
and I lived in a small town named Ojai.

I felt a bump,
in fact it was a lump,
a lump of cancer.
The doctors told me that I was 
diagnosed with breast cancer.

The cancer spread throughout my body,
like butter spreads on bread.
I began to feel weak,
as the hair started leaving my head.

I didn’t like to live as if my life was done.
In the time they gave me,
I made sure to have the most fun.

I want the best,
for the ones I love most dear. 
Please don’t cry.
For I will always be near.

April 3, 2012

"Rich Johnson" by Jeffrey Johnson

Jeff's book on Japanese poetics

they called me Ishmael
in the roadside shops,
no truck stops,
in those days

along the two laners
spotted with towns
from east Wisconsin
to Chicago and beyond

i drove through weather
that kept even the best
off the roads
hunkered and huddled indoors

pink sky twisters,
freezing rain,
sideways blizzards,
mistakes were buried six feet under

on that Spanish doubloon
he wagered and nailed to the mast,
i cast my die with all my might
my bid in the gamble of industry

i mounted the crow’s nest
green eyes sharp and peeled
on the horizon
for the prize

through dustbowl wasteland
a generation of best minds,
abandoned in railway cars
begging for sardine tins and a smoke

i pushed on
driving and driven
for what i do not know
and hell, who lives to tell

fearing the whip
sharing a bunk
breathing in desperation
and out desolation

i scratched out
not a living,
but a life
from those roadsides

littered with the broken glass
and dreams
of a hobo generation
that like me lived and died in heroic anonymity