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Download poem audio in .mp3 format.

Leaving the Garden

When a Great Northern swallows the tracks,
we work in the garden without talking.

We leave our weed pulling
to walk the fire trail to the river.

A car’s wheels hiss up Derby Canyon.
The Wenatchee crawls below the rail bed,

snakes toward the Columbia.
We glimpse an osprey overhead

and try to spot a catbird
meowing high in pine branches.

We hear quail rattle the wild roses,
the snow berries. So—

he sees us before we see him—
a brown and yellow spotted snake—

his flat head balanced above his tail,
the sudden rattle

a Rainbird sprinkler striking tin.
All things move in coils.

In smooth roots and yellow grass,
the sky disappears.

 

 

 


Download poem audio in .mp3 format.

Pet Bones

            Too many ways to go
with a title like this—

            The dogs ass to ass
or the squalling cats.

But also the head rubbed.
            Yes—the head bone.

Or the one found in the yard
            accidentally while digging

to plant another rose bush.

All those mammoth bones
            inside the plains,

the bones of our loved ones
            giving earth a shape.

Also the title could mean
            mistakes made

or something to chew on—
pleasure made of teeth on bone.

 

 

 

Jack Johnson lives on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Peshastin, Washington. He and his wife Devera live in the house they built, in the forest and garden they planted. He teaches English and philosophy at Wenatchee Valley College.

Forest trail photo courtesy Shutterstock.