Logan City
Poet Laureate
Project
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Beckwith Violet Murrays Hill April 1 201
Forget Me Not Baxter Ridge April 24 2019
Maguires Primrose Logan Canyon May 6 201

Welcome to A Celebration of Cache Valley Voices, Shanan's Logan City Poet Laureate Project! All of the following poems were written by current or former Cache Valley residents and include poems written by community members, Utah State University undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. 

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  

Yellow Bell Orange Baxter Ridge April 24

Fishing, His Birthday

                 by Michael Sowder

 

With adams, caddis, tricos, light cahills,

blue-wing olives, royal coachmen, chartreuse trudes,

green drakes, blue duns, black gnats, Nancy quills,

Joe’s hoppers, yellow humpies, purple chutes,

prince nymphs, pheasant tails, Eileen’s hare’s ears,

telicos, flashbacks, Jennifer’s muddlers,

Frank bugs, sow bugs, zug bugs, autumn splendors,

woolly worms, black buggers, Kay’s gold zuddlers,

clippers, tippet, floatant, spools of leader,

tin shot, lead shot, hemostats, needle nose,

rod, reel, vest, net, boots, cap, shades and waders,

gortex shell and one bent Macanudo—

I wade in a swirl of May-colored water,

cast a fine gray quill, the last tie of my father.

Poet, essayist, yoga and meditation teacher, Michael David Sowder writes about wilderness, fatherhood, yoga, Buddhism, and spirituality. Professor of English at Utah State University, his books include The Empty Boat, House Under the Moon, and Whitman's Ecstatic Union.  You can find his work in such places as American Life in Poetry, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, Sufi Journal, New Poets of the American West, Pilgrimage, The New York Times Online, Shambhala SunPoetry KantoThe Bombay Review, and elsewhere. 

 

This poem appears in Michael’s book The Empty Boat.

And There a Butterfly

                 by Star Coulbrooke

 

Among the blue vervain and cattails,

             redwing blackbirds

swerve and sway, trill and warble,

            a thicket of bowing and tossing

in a backdrop of towering clouds,

            and there a butterfly drinks its way

through star-clusters of native pink

            milkweed, drifts over the shaded

path where we walk, hearts aching

            in the pure frothing air

of this our beloved world, at the edge

            of the twenty-first century’s

deep, deep breath, our dying earth

            alive and blooming.

Star Coulbrooke founded and coordinated the Helicon West Featured Authors & Open Mic Reading Series from 2005-2020, which included the Helicon West Community Broadsides and the Helicon West Anthology.

 

As the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Logan from 2014-2019, she led monthly community poetry walkabouts to promote poetry appreciation and provide writing prompts on various themes, inviting participants to share what they wrote and submit their writings for community poems which Star composed and published in her most recent collection, City of Poetry.

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Origin Story

             by Andrew Romriell

 

Listen—

in the beginning, as if by stretching,

you find yourself                                                                        

empty; you run through every bookstore

in search for a different story, filling yourself

with narratives so you never transcribe your own.

At night, your dad tells bedtime stories

with magic and adventure and wild enchanted woods.

Your mom sings lullabies: Que Sera, Sera

or one about all the favorite things.

You wall yourself behind Cheerios’ boxes in the morning

so you can fill your bowl with sugar,

slip spoonfuls of crystal sweetness

between teeth, grinding them down your throat,

filling your belly. The story ends

with uneaten breakfast washing down the sink,

soggy circles swirling into the disposal.

But listen—

 

start again, but this time

the story is you, was you, is you again.

You’re out to dinner with a stranger, but this time

what you hope will be devoured

is you. By this you mean you hope

he leaves the condoms on the dresser drawer.

You simply crave the taste of flesh, the pressure

of another man’s body,

to never see him again.

And though you’ve been told the story

ends here, it mustn’t, it mustn’t.

Transformation starts in rebellion,

in the ravaged T cells of your body,

in cravings, in sugar, in disease,

and in all the favorite things. To end here,

you’ll only hear yourself

screaming from far behind your teeth.

 

So, begin again; begin instead

by leaning close:

in the mouth of the world,

you might finally hear yourself

living.

 

Andrew Romriell is an MFA candidate at The Ohio State University and currently serves as associate nonfiction editor for The Journal. His writing, which primarily explores intersections of queerness, religion, body image, and sexuality, has been featured in The Great River ReviewSouth 85 Literary Journal, the Beyond Words 2020 Queer Anthology, and more. While originally from Utah, he now lives in Columbus, Ohio with his partner, Terrence, and their feline companion, Sokka.

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Pioneer Girl

            by Millie Tullis

 

on saturday

mother braids my hair

 

on wednesday

she lets it down

 

puts her small bone

comb against my head

 

pulls me through

her white teeth

 

she braids her own hair

looking in the bit of tin

 

her white parts

straight as her seams

 

she lets me darn his socks

then eyes my thread

 

unpicks the black hole

and cleans

 

the mouth shut

 

Millie Tullis is a poet and folklorist from Northern Utah. She received an MFA from George Mason University in 2021 and is currently studying Folklore at Utah State University. Her work has been published in Sugar House Review, Rock & Sling, Cimarron Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. She serves as the Assistant Editor for Best of the Net and you can sometimes find her on twitter @millie_tullis.

 

 This poem originally appeared in Sugar House Review #21

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Quietness

          by Peter Johnson

Inventions to enrich our lives,

Fill every corner, nook, and crack,

Screens that glow and flash and shift,

Compute, process, display and track.

 

Hush the screaming lights and sounds,

Seek refuge in some quiet place,

Loose the chains that tie the mind,

Take on a calmer slower pace.

Under Hickman Bridge

                        by Peter Johnson
 

A million years of sand and rain made me who I am

Built up, compressed, washed clean and worn down.

Rusty red, sandy blond, and streaked with black.

I defy the elements openly as an acrobat would

For Newton pulls heavy on my ancient spine.

Yet I arch high overhead triumphant and grand

Shade from a withering sun for wanderers below.

Dr. Peter Johnson is a daytime engineer and nighttime teacher, author, and poet. A Utah native, he returned to the Beehive State after retiring from the United States Air Force, settling in Cache valley to enjoy the scenery, activities, and people while earning enough of a living to support his family, sheep, chickens, ducks, dogs, and whatever other livestock happens to be in the pasture. In addition to uninteresting professional materials, he has written (but never bothered to publish) two novels and a poetry collection. He’s always happy when someone enjoys a poem he wrote!

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Concrete Cat

            by Star Coulbrooke

 

They come to pour footings

a crew of two with shovels

and one to run the excavating machine,

all noise and motion

outside the window

where River the cat jumps to the sill

and paws at the glass.

 

Let me out there, his eyes say,

watching them dig deep and lay forms

in the trench, crane truck

pulling up in front of the house,

lifting its unfolding arm

between power lines, up over the roof

to the back, where it lowers the big tube

down to the arms of a man

who guides it over snapped-together walls

of footings-to-be.

 

River’s eyes move with the motion

as if he’s stalking a toy or watching birds

from the window, for he’s a housecat,

never been outside except in a carrier,

house to car, and wouldn’t he love,

his eyes seem to say, to get in that trench

and grab that swaying tube.

Thankfully, we know he won’t.

He’d be scared to death to go out the door.

Otherwise, he would certainly be

a concrete cat.

Reenactment

            by Millie Tullis

 

we good

girls pushed

and pulled

handcarts down

one hill

and up

another

flour sack

babies on

our hips

long skirts

matching

pale bonnets

we sewed with

our mothers

said we

pulled

to honor

the pioneer

women who

pulled after

their men

joined the

Mormon

Battalion our

congregation

of boys

waited on

the last

hill wide

brimmed hats

in hands

when we

stopped

pulling

they offered

each girl

a little red

drawstring

bag

its belly

full on

a few

red pebbles

and who

can find

a virtuous

woman for

her price

is far

above

rubies

 

This poem originally appeared in Ponder Review 4.1

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The Badger

               By Star Coulbrooke

 

Front leg caught in the jagged vise

               of a spring-loaded trap,

the badger hisses, bares its teeth,

               thick fur framing its blazing

black eyes and glossy snout.

 

Butch, the farm dog, springs

               upon its muscled bulk.

They fight, the badger

            dragging its trap, flailing,

teeth and claws ripping

            a long liver-colored ear,

 

Butch yelping, re-grouping,

            sinking his teeth in

the badger’s nose. We stand

            in a half-circle, Dad,

two brothers, my sister and I,

 

legs shaking, teeth clattering.

            I could not pry my eyes

away, Dad and my brothers

            goading, not cheering,

hoping for the ending,

 

Dad not meaning for this

               bloody battle. He told

Mother later, when he said

               to Butch, Get him,

he regretted it.

 

We kids, blood flying in front

              of us, what kind of lesson

Butch and the badger

              could give. Sixty years

to see what we didn’t back then,

 

when Dad stitched Butch

            with a needle and thread,

buried the badger,

             and hung up the trap.

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HIV: a Self-portrait

                  by Andrew Romriell

 

Anonymity is key—

the lifeblood of my culture.

Beauty in non-solidity. Doorbells

that ring like knocks on wood

invoke the protection of nature and God

and latex.

If only.

 

Breathing,

                              I name myself a martyr 

                              or a product of my time. Of my people.

                              Rather, I am a watered color.

 

I am the sweet aroma of peach skin,

periwinkle pillowcases and pink

sheets, a pale spectrum

of rainbow pigments that leak beside creaking, groaning, 

shifting men and walls.

 

                               And then I am gone—slipped

                               away to the click of a brass lock.

                               I assure myself: I know what this is.

                               I know I am a watercolor—

                               bleeding through,

 

I so easily wash off.

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Archive

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To Climb “The Wellsvilles”*

(A Romance with the Wellsville Ridge)

Part II. Everyone’s Some Time Dream

By Janan Esplin

 

Then there is everyone’s, sometimes dream.

The beautiful. The serene. The Wellsvilles.

 

Starting with fresh dew in early October,

an emerald, lush, terrestrial trail,

the north base shadowing, like a veil.

 

Then circling behind to the top of the ridge,

with great surprise in meeting the mount,

like opening the door of a craft in flight,

fierce crosswind catching all, taking prisoners.

If not before fastened, flying mid-air, all was gone,

over the peak—into Box Elder.

 

Buttoning up quick and tying everything down,

heading south on the high ridge to a calmer ground

 the wind took rest, and so did the trek

taking in more than the view, exclaiming: Oh, say can you see—

the Great Salt Lake and beyond—all the way to Nevada.

 

*The is an excerpt from a longer poem. Click the title to read the full poem and Janan Esplin's bio: To Climb The Wellsvilles.