Logan City
Poet Laureate
Project

Welcome to A Celebration of Cache Valley Voices, Shanan's Logan City Poet Laureate Project! Many of the following poems were written by Cache Valley residents during poetry writing workshops I led as Poet Laureate.

If you are a current or former Cache Valley resident and would like to have your poem considered for publication on this site, please e-mail Shanan at shanan.ballam@gmail.com  

On Firedance Island

                 by Sue S. Leth

 

My Father’s death was accidental when  

I was invitro. I became a woman, a grown-up

orphan, there would be no infant, no child,

                      I understood

 

My Mother built the concrete wall when

I was invitro. It was meant to come between

us, before we’d met,

                       I understood

 

At birth, I became the sole proprietor

of a dark well where she stored

the improprieties of an unfaithful

husband in a three year marriage,

                        I understood

 

Fear, regret, anger, sorrow, remorse,

were not allowed to exist in her

consciousness, her piano was her

emotional outlet,

                         I understood

 

Manuel deFalla’s Firedance was all consuming.

The frigid hard resonance – pounded over and

over – was alarming, discordant, exhausting,

                         I understood

 

Alone in my crib, I rode the waves of dissonance

meant to drown a bewitched love, and a child’s basic needs.

Alone on a raft, I knew not to make a sound to

disrupt her music,

                          I understood

 

                          I understood

                          I understood

 

Sue S. Leth retired from higher education and private business in 2012 to continue her writing pursuits in St. George, Utah. All of her aunts and uncles, including her grandparents lived in Lewiston, UT.  She spent summers and the early years of her life with her grandparents, M. E. & Viola Kent. Richmond, Cornish, Smithfield, and Lewiston were her stomping grounds growing up. Dr. Lloyd Kent, her uncle, was a large donor to Utah State University.  

 

Sue is a member of Redrock Writers, USPS, Dixie Poets, and Heritage Writers Guild, where she served as Contest Clerk for USPS, is former president and currently Grant Writer and Funds Dev. for HWG, currently serves as Exec. Dir. for St. George Literary Arts Festival.

 

Sue considers St. George a Mecca for writers and continues her efforts to give back to the writing community.

The Elusive Monarch

                      By Carol Foht

 

          It sees me and wonders.

It hears me push through the tall grasses

My movements making sounds like swishing silk.

It feels a change; it knows it’s not alone.

          It understands nothing of me.

Who watches and why?

It moves – A nervous flutter.

It needs only to be left alone.

It flies—as if responding to a flirtatious pursuit.

Curiosity wins over flight. It doesn’t go far.

It wants to take its place…

To keep its place given by Mother Nature.

It eats of the sweet-sour milkweed.

And it rests as in a contemplative trance.

Its dreams are wrapped in hopes

to continue to be.

Carol Foht and her husband Burny moved to Cache Valley from Dubuque, Iowa in 2014 to be near their daughter Holly Conger and her family. Carol worked for John Deere for 34 and after retiring from Deere, where she worked as a Realtor for ten years. Her husband is a retired electrician. 

Alaska 

      by Britt Allen

 

All I want to do is write that mother

Fucker out of my chest,

Every dark hair, each manipulative daydream. 

I want to scrub his genes out of my siblings

With Listerine and spirit them away, 

Take new names from constellations and jump

Onto trains, head north, fly away, bathe

With ice chips til we’re numb. I’ll teach

 

Them to (un)lock their screaming

And how many murders end domestic disputes. 

We’ll write a new story, one where we bloom

As triplets from a grizzly bear’s womb, our mother

A mountain. There will be no fathers

 

For us, only love, only streams

Of bright summer fish, midnights laced

With gold ribbon. The mountain

Will hold us to her earthen breast, all warm

Breath, three bears bumping noses through

The night. Safe.

Britt Allen is an award-winning poet who graduated with her Master of Arts degree in Literature and Writing from Utah State University in May 2020, where she now teaches academic writing. She is interested in the eroticism of violence in female confessional and lyric poetry, contributing her own experiences and voice with her art. She lives in northern Utah with her partner and rescue dog. Her first chapbook, Harvest, is being published summer 2021 by Finishing Line Press. Follow her work at brittallen.org.

January 

        by Britt Allen

In summer

and early fall I ran

this trail. Once

I raced home with

a berry in my fist

for you, a small

heart lolling

in my palm. 

You taught me 

the universe tastes

like raspberries. 

Today there is

nothing blooming 

over a backyard fence:

the world

sealed

in snow.

In the canal’s belly

beneath the woolen

rosehips lives

a speechless splash

of green, watercress clustered

like sisters in the water. 

I take

a picture, think

for a quote about hope

to send you

and interrupt your

metal indoor day, 

the war on the radio

and in your brain.

I will turn the ashes into snowflakes

where I can. 

Britt Allen is an award-winning poet who graduated with her Master of Arts degree in Literature and Writing from Utah State University in May 2020, where she now teaches academic writing. She is interested in the eroticism of violence in female confessional and lyric poetry, contributing her own experiences and voice with her art. She lives in northern Utah with her partner and rescue dog. Her first chapbook, Harvest, is being published summer 2021 by Finishing Line Press. Follow her work at brittallen.org.

That Thing She Did

           by Susan Pesti-Strobel

Coming home from school

on winter afternoons

I found her so often

 

sitting by the window

her eyes fixed on a world

not outside

 

her fingers idled

by that something that stirred

the folds of her apron

 

her elbows held up

by the brown chair’s curved

arms, a tether from in-laws –

 

she just sat there with shadows

growing in her curls

 

why sit in the dark?

what needed to be seen?

Susan Pesti-Strobel hails from Hungary and has taught writing at USU, as well as at other colleges. While in Cache Valley, she belonged to the poetry group Poetry@3 and had her poems published in their perennial chapbooks, also in the wordriver anthology, ProvoOremWord, Sugar House Review, and Loose Leaves (UK). Susan was judging poetry for the League of Utah Writers and the USU Scribendi creative writing contest. As of this writing, she and her husband Craig are volunteering at Wallowa Lake, OR, searching for a home for their retirement years.

Ode to Cache Valley

              by Susan Pesti-Strobel

 

Generous

like a mother opens

Her arms

You unfold

to me

1. love this liberal

tilts into bluest sky

and you say

I am your gift

2. love is large

if I believe

in it

3. your aspens love me

freely when I steal

into their rhizome

4. bone-scorched

by sun wind fire

your Ranges are rich

in flavors of rocks.

I was home in you

for so long

You taught me love

but not

how to forget.

Susan Pesti-Strobel hails from Hungary and has taught writing at USU, as well as at other colleges. While in Cache Valley, she belonged to the poetry group Poetry@3 and had her poems published in their perennial chapbooks, also in the wordriver anthology, ProvoOremWord, Sugar House Review, and Loose Leaves (UK). Susan was judging poetry for the League of Utah Writers and the USU Scribendi creative writing contest. As of this writing, she and her husband Craig are volunteering at Wallowa Lake, OR, searching for a home for their retirement years.

Archive

Maguire Primrose

                    by Shanan Ballam

 

I stop at the secret place in the canyon

where only a few know where to find them

and wade through scraping brush and branches

with binoculars, past the sprawling willow, ascend 

 

the crumbling ridge. There: magenta saucers

filled with sunlight spilling out through golden

stamen dabbed with pollen. May pauses

with their beauty, their scarcity, interwoven

 

with my life. What more can I do to save 

myself but to learn the language of flowers,

learn to glow like a fierce star, to stand brave

and erect in falling snow, withstand hours  

 

of savage canyon wind, ripping rain, so cruel. 

I survive rooted to earth, brilliant jewel.