Artwork by Hilary Cole
Boris Schleinkofer, poetrywatch editor
Poetry has a voice in our community, and the Whatcom Watch is adding to its chorus. You all love poetry, right? Well, here you go!
Subject matter is unlimited, but poetry featuring or specific to Whatcom County and issues addressed by Whatcom Watch (government, the environment and media) will likely get first preference.
Please keep it to around 25 lines; otherwise, we might have to edit your work to fit. Don’t make yourself unprintable.
Send poems and your short, two- or three-sentence bios as a word document attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline is the first day of the month.
Please understand that acceptance and final appearance of pieces are subject to space constraints and editorial requirements. By submitting, authors give Whatcom Watch permission for one-time publication rights in the paper and electronic editions.
by Judy Borman Harding
She wears her white lace cape today, Snow having fallen last night;
She hugs herself tight
While I, the lonely looker,
Climb her icy slopes
in the mirror of my mind,
In remembrance of the youth I was.
I scaled her silken crags,
So many long years ago.
I knew her intimate secret crevasses
Her ghost trails, barely to be seen
Her mix of danger and elation
(ten thousand feet of elevation)
Now, she is shrouded,
In her hazy veil, so clouded,
Viewed from city and shore
To the foothills and the town,
Seen from so may vantages afar,
Her impassive, ghostly face,
Her spangled crystals
Creating ribbons of light and color,
Creating sacred space.
Where are the paths into the woods?
By some, forgotten.
Where are the deer who came down to the edge,
Nibbling on our nasturtiums?
Where are the spider webs,
Glistening in the morning dew?
That bandit-faced raccoon,
Who scavenged through the leavings of our lives;
Who would ever have thought I’d miss him?
Now concrete covers the ground
Where once the succulent blackberries waited
To be made into grandma’s pies.
Prefab homes cover the place
Where once I saw a rabbit,
Sun shining through translucent ears.
A car sits here now. Vile oil,
Like blood, dripping from its carcass,
Where Trillium once bloomed.
All in the name of progress, some say,
But our children are shriveling here.
Has anybody noticed?
Fingers on their smart phone keys,
Eyes glued to their TV’s,
Synthesizing sounds to acid rock.
Where once a child might have knelt right here,
Or run across a field of daisies,
Instead he sits within his home, a tomb,
In woods that once were my cocoon.
Judy Harding is a Phoenix resident who spends summers aboard her boat in Squalicum Harbor.
by Rick Hermann
At night I listen to the cries
of the loons and owls who come after dark
to the great pond at the edge
of the pasture.
The questions I bring are always the same:
Why am I here? Why alive?
The snail, shifting slightly
in its whorled shell at the pond’s edge,
wait, wait a while
In the distance, up the bony
ridge beyond our property line,
with rough talk and feral complaints,
become as still
wait just a while longer
I breathe in the night air, vaporous
and heavy with the smell of wet tall grass.
Wanting more. Wanting truth.
My nostrils sting from the skunk cabbage
growing along the pond’s
marshy shore, pushing the yellow
flower’s thick fleshy stamen upward
towards its starry conjugates
in the moonless sky.
The bulrushes whisper
compassion needs us
beauty needs us
love needs us
I am the flower, the lily, the vast
sensate world. The ground under my feet,
substrate of silt and stone,
boulder-laden till from the last retreating glaciers,
makes a hard infertile soil.
But this is where I live, where I grow,
ready to leave my skin, to molt
completely from my thin covering
and come naked into the world again.
love needs us
not the other way around
the stars remind me
wait just a little longer
before you are gone.
Rick Hermann has lived in Bellingham since 1987. He is happiest near or in a river.