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 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  

Archive

Harlequin

              by Linda Morse


Always in unexpected entrances

Brought in by a shrill wind of want.

Like a barker at a carnival
He begs forgiveness and respite.


Seeker of carousels and wishing wells
He juggled grandiose delusions
In cold reality of spent light and hall
Of mirrors with shards of death and fright.


His world of dreams now crushed
By wild parade of troupes in masquerade,

Bright masks of hope on visages of

Dangerous drugs and marijuana lights,


A giant ferris wheel with magic fools,

Where rides of fortune turned him upside down.

Returning now as harlequin of broken dreams

To shattered scenery and voices he can drown.


His deck of cards dealt from losing hands,
The ace of diamonds turning up as clowns.
Is this the last frenetic ride, the final spiral down?

And will his colored lanterns
                          all turn dark in mystery of sham?

Linda Smith Morse grew up on the Zollinger Fruit Farm just east of River Heights where her love of nature, literature and art began. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Utah State University in 1966; in 1988, she returned to USU and earned her Master’s in Human Resources and began working part-time as an instructor in the Department of English, also serving as the Internship Coordinator for English until September 2015.


Linda was Editor of the USU literary magazine, Crucible, during her junior year and has been published in several other Crucibles as well as receiving several poetry award’s including the President’s Award at the Annual Spring Festival of the Utah State Poetry Society in 1990.


Oil painting is also one of Linda’s pastimes. She was a charter member of the Artists’ Gallery in downtown Logan and displayed her paintings there until 2018. Currently her work can be viewed on instagram@lindasmorse.art. She can be reached by email at lzmorse@gmail.com.

Lost at Sea

                 by Gail Christensen

On the second morning of January,

first cup of coffee in hand,

I stand in the kitchen as if

on the bow of a ship, gazing out

on the sea of maple floor,

the jetsam of pine and glitter,

drops of red wine, chocolate crumbs,

the ghostly shoe prints of sailors,

evidence smeared on the smooth glass,

that something happened here,

something joyful in the cold night,

time that will not in the same way

be again, a spilling still warm

that needs not be so soon swept away,

not before a moment of silence,

not before a proper goodbye;

and so, respectfully, I linger,

unmoored to the impatient hour tapping

its foot on shore, and adrift

in the dead calm that comes before

I pour another cup.

Gail Christensen grew up in Ogden, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in English. She also retired from USU where she was a typesetter and graphic designer for various departments on campus. She and her husband have lived in Richmond, Utah since 1980. They have two daughters and three grandchildren, all living in Salt Lake City.

Somewhere between

                     by Gail Christensen 

 

a rock and a hard place

near the cliff,

a meadow

where clouds hold back

their needles of rain

the whir ceases

and a small light leaps

in the soft grass

and thorny blackberries.

Gail Christensen grew up in Ogden, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in English. She also retired from USU where she was a typesetter and graphic designer for various departments on campus. She and her husband have lived in Richmond, Utah since 1980. They have two daughters and three grandchildren, all living in Salt Lake City.

Early Warning System

                               by Brock Dethier

 

Before my fingers even touch the foil

it sends its warning to my teeth:

Beware! Remove all silver before consuming!

Cannot be responsible for freaked-out teeth.

Brock Dethier recently retired from the Utah State University English Department where he worked for 21 years. 

I Am Play-doh
                        by the Lillywhite Family

You can make a snake out of me.
I am fruity in hue but vanilla in scent.
Rolling, stretching, breaking, and then 
                             squishing and reforming.
I am like crumbling leaves.

I am fruity in hue but vanilla in scent.
I am sticky.
I am like crumbling leaves.
I'm a squishy type of monster.

I am sticky.
Step on me, I'll smash and stiffen in your shoe
I'm a squishy type of monster.
Remember to wash your hands.

Step on me, I'll smash and stiffen in your shoe
Rolling, stretching, breaking, and then 
                            squishing and reforming.
Remember to wash your hands.
You can make a snake out of me.

The Lillywhite Family: Mike, Lori, Erik (14), Ethan (10), Brendan (7), & Lauryn (4). This poem was made as part of our annual family poetry festival. Together we enjoy Lego building, reading, hiking, freeze tag, ice cream, and game nights.

Untitled

           By Jessica McDermott

 

You’ve made your bed,

Now lie in it – the cloud

Mother cried. Her voice

A lick of fresh air

Or a push off a cliff.

The blackberry bush is darker than a bruise and

Still not sweet enough to eat-

At least, not yet.

Jessica McDermott's work has appeared in The Apeiron Review, Manifest West, and Green Panda Press, among others. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Idaho. She and her twin brother co-run the online poetry press Line Rider.

I Want to be Your Rock

                                    by Isaac Timm

 

between the hard Place, your moon

between the whirring anvil

the size of Gibraltar, traveling at 20 times

the speed of sound, which would lick

your oceans into boiling clouds that block

the sun, I will be the striking place, grey

and pocked so you can be mother, and

I will circle like a needle in a record,

a shout that brings you away from the cliff,

and my largest scar you can call your sea

of tranquility

Isaac Timm lives in Logan with his wife,

Aaron.

Weeding

             by Star Coulbrooke

 

Weeding is my meditation, my therapy.

                                    —Iris Nielsen

 

For the light blue mat of star flowers,

fragile-seeming, powder light,

I pull with all my energy—I pull for them.

I pull their tough entangled stems,

their sticky hairs all meshed together,

pulling them from mat on mat of partners

all in bloom, all blooming with these tender

stars, cloud-light and feather-soft, stars

that drop to dark earth as I pull, a patch

of soil now seeded with what must

come up again in season, so many of them,

like stars encrusting my home sky

out in farmland by the river where the Milky

Way encrusts the already-starful dark,

no lights to blot their separate blooms

all falling, falling like these blue star

flowers I hesitate to weed, these blooms

we call weeds, thick as stars.

Star Coulbrooke is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Logan City Utah, founder and coordinator of the Helicon West reading series, and director of the Utah State University Writing Center. Star’s poems are published internationally in journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent poetry collections are Thin Spines of Memory, Both Sides from the Middle, and City of Poetry.

Father as Island

                   By Jessica McDermott

 

Old mask, familiar father, still an island

far and away from his kids. Not an island

that can withstand a hurricane or losing another job –

but one that wears weathered gloves to mend

barbed wire fences and feeds rib-worn horses

that aren’t his own.

 

An island that doesn’t visit

or say I Love You

or even remember the city you live in now,

but one that somehow sends a card on your

birthday like it’s always been there,

waiting for you to come ashore.

Jessica McDermott's work has appeared in The Apeiron Review, Manifest West, and Green Panda Press, among others. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Idaho. She and her twin brother co-run the online poetry press Line Rider.

Redtail

            By Russ Winn

 

I watch the pole, Pacificorp 342703, in the driveway. Wood in the weather,

faded from light and rain, squats soft, spotted at the bottom, still tan

from water-wear, spirals of morning glory, bits of rusted staple from

old missing posters, grounding wire, straight and stiff, leads up to dark

creosote patches, steel bolt stigmata, and a predator.

 

There at the graying top, amidst tangles of shielded coaxial lines, fibers of

Telecom cable, wires wound around a dull transformer stove kettle, perched

upon an overturned glass insulator teacup, sits a red-tailed hawk, her gaze

another black line draping off the pole.

 

She’s been watching rabbits in the neighborhood nudge their

way through field and garden, set free from a car on the corner last

year. For months they could not be counted in their numbers and

shyness, but the hawk on her mast knows the colony. Loves the herd.

 

She watches me, too, as if to ask how long my stay here will last

and how it shall end. Will it be divorce, fierce and sudden bankruptcy

and whisked away by lenders, swooping death from the virus,

or just the years? Just the years…

 

Her form ripples, feathers rouse, and she pivots on her steeple as she looks to say,

“I think I could love you, if you’d like, instead of any of those other creeping

things you fear. I’d make it swift, death from above, torn skin and flayed arteries,

then a wet lump in the grass. More honesty than a pandemic. Less uncertainty.”

 

Now, with the sun behind, unseen, she takes her leave, and I squint. Unable to follow.

Russ Winn teaches composition, research, and curling classes at USU.  His research and writing explore his childhood home and the landscape archaeology surrounding the Bear River Massacre.

(C) Shanan Ballam 2020.  
All nature photographs on this site by Shanan Ballam
Portrait photograph by John DeVilbiss