(C) Shanan Ballam 2020.  
All nature photographs on this site by Shanan Ballam
Portrait photograph by Robb Kunz
Logan City
Poet Laureate
Project

Welcome to A Celebration of Cache Valley Voices, Shanan's Logan City Poet Laureate Project! The following poems were written by Cache Valley residents during poetry writing workshops I led for the 2020 Write @ the Logan Library Writers Conference.

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  

Dusting

             by Adrian Thomson

In pink rooms

Where only lamps cast

Dark halos

On the stucco pink ceiling

Projecting no light

Into dark corners

 

The edges of the square

Furrows at the base of the wall

Line grayscale highways where

Spiders walk on bouncing feet

And the heavy pink carpet

Like air pocket-less cake

Appears hairy 

 

But there is no way to see it

In the wintertime

When only the lamps splay light

In dark fingers along the pink walls

And not enough in the edges

To discern it from shadow.

 

So when crocuses below the window

Outside burst from chthonic sleep

And the far-yard pine tree

No longer houses

Shivering rabbits or bedding deer

Beneath its base

And the snows at last retreat

Except for a band in the shadow

Of the high wooden fence 

 

Lace curtains pull open

The highways are seen

The vacuum emerges

The edges are cleaned

The rooms shine warm pink

Like the inside of eggshells

Adrian Thomson is a first-year graduate student in the Graduate Instructorship at Utah State University. He balances teaching with his interest in Creative Writing, which began in Fiction but now focuses on poetry. 

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.

Kiss

       by Flora Shrode

 

Proof that a little can go

a long way.

A familiar treat--

sweet, smooth, evokes

memory and desire

reflected like light on the

creased silver wrapper.

The delicate labeled tag

opens an idea, possibility

beneath a gentle tug.

Flora Shrode lives in North Logan, UT, where she moved from her native Tennessee in 2001. After 28 years as an academic librarian, she opened a new life chapter in 2017 and enjoys activities with various community groups. Flora has varied interests, including reading, writing, hiking, knitting, watching TV, camping, and traveling to Phish concerts with her husband, Paul Jakus.

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. 

Cache Winter

                      January 25, 2020

 

Traveled through dense, cold fog.

I heard dump trucks I couldn’t see.

Taste of green pear with arugula, goat cheese,

                                               and candied pecans.

Sticky cherry coke foaming over my fingers.

 

I heard dump trucks I couldn’t see.

Cache Valley drivers can’t count to four.

Sticky cherry coke foaming over my fingers.

Gray-white shrinking piles of snowy cover.

 

Cache Valley drivers who can’t count to four.

People talking in low voices, sharing thoughts

                                                    or keeping secrets.

Gray-white shrinking piles of snowy cover.

But aha! The bus is running a half an hour        earlier now.

 

People talking in low voices, sharing thoughts

                                                    or keeping secrets.

Taste of green pear with arugula, goat cheese,

                                                and candied pecans.

But aha! The bus is running a half an hour        earlier now.

Traveled through dense, cold fog.

 

Group Pantoum created with lines by David Newbold, Brock Dethier, Linda Morse, Aaron Timm, Iris Nielson, Letha Winger, Carol Foht, and Sally Thomas.

Hershey’s Kiss

                          by Anne Schill

 

Grandma lays them out

for the grandkids

on Christmas Eve

in a china plate

bordered with blue flowers

that frankly,

look more like soap bubbles

than forget-me-nots

but still hold the most glorious

gift of the holidays.

The glass nativity watches over

as I take a silver drop

from the aluminum pond.

The angel smiles

and the star glows

and I swear I see something in

baby Jesus’s eyes,

like he wants one too,

and maybe that’s what Mom means when she says

God always knows how I’m feeling.

I take one and unwrap it,

the paper slip crinkling

like a page from the Bible.

I try to pull the foil

away without tearing it

but my excitement finds its way into my stubby fingers

and with a twitch,

the wrapper breaks.

I sigh, and cradle it in my hands for a moment to mourn.

Then I rip away the rest of the foil

and partake in the blessed sweet flavor

of Grandma’s humble gift.

I crumple the wrapper into a ball

and stick it in my pocket

as a record of my zealous commitment

to perfection.

I take another drop from the bowl,

its tiny body settling between the grooves of my palm,

and I try once more.

Anne Schill attempts to untangle life through writing, visual art, and music.

God of Winter

                        by Alan Briggs

 

my blizzard wrecks terror 

millions of unseen flee,

screaming before the swath

of frost hurling from my path 

who is the norse god of blizzards?

of ice storms?

of the myriad words for snow

I am.

directing my polar divinity's fury.

until I turn

forgetting long learned arcane preparations 

and icy winds knock

me from my arctic Parthenon

a forgotten patriarchal oracle

don't spit into the wind

cold sheets smother my face.

slobbering fenrir with slushy poison

heralding ragnarok

and I am vanquished and 

entombed

until icy fingered 

i curse runiecally 

and turn the snowblower chute 

to make another pass

across the driveway

Alan Briggs writes poetry because he never learned to tap dance. He should have lived more; breaking pieces off the Berlin Wall and trying to get arrested by the KGB were ethereal pleasures. He lives in Nibley with his wife (who still likes him most days), his son, two chickens who refuse to lay eggs in winter, and one cat. He has drafted three books and published one. The night he can watch the moon rise over Cache Valley and can distill it into pungent, reverent, soulful prose will be the culmination of his life.

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.

Strangers on the Street                  

                                        by Carol Foht 

 

Each day is a gift we  

should count as a blessing.

If we stop the rushing  

we might observe what we’re missing?

 

Our lives are geared to live a fast pace.

We barely take time to see face-to-face.

 

Would a glance with a smile be that hard to share?

Just to let someone know…we see them there!

 

A man in a hurry pushes on by…leather shoes,

a suit and a tie, a perfect business dress.

His surroundings don’t matter.

His world is focused on building success.

 

A couple huddles closely together;

voices whispering low.

With thoughts and secrets

they don’t want strangers to know.

 

A young boy--red eyes swollen;

a face lacking expression

Heavy thoughts weigh him down.

Today he fights his depression.

 

A group of girls pass; giggling and sharing their stories of boys.

It’s good to hear such a cheerful noise.

Their age holds innocence and good times for sharing.

With a spring in their steps; there’s no time for caring.

 

Wrapped in a tattered old coat and ragged old clothes.

Walks a man defeated with the weight of a war he fought years ago.

Faded words on a misshapen hat that sits cocked on straggly hair.

“If you enjoy your freedom thank a veteran” is the message he wears. 

Passersby, look away as if not to see.

 Who do they notice most and try hardest not … is it him or me?

 

An old couple hold hands, moving slower each today.

Do they wish for moments they let slip away?

Has time pushed passed them like strangers out on the street?

Do they look back on moments ignored; lost in a heartbeat.

 

If we stop the rushing 

we might observe what we’re missing.

Carol Foht moved to Cache Valley with her husband 5 years ago after retiring as a Realtor. She’s always been a "wannabe writer" and is getting more into poetry which she’s dabbled in over the years. Also, she’s writing a fictional novel on the Oregon Trail. Carol’s writer's group here has given her the push to continue where she left off when she became too tied up with work. She retired from John Deere before becoming a realtor. She worked on her novel for 2 years in between careers then put it aside till she retired and moved to Cache Valley. My people have been stuck in Wyoming waiting for her to write them out of there and get them back on the trail again!