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James Engelhardt


Listen to James Engelhardt read "O Salt Creek Tiger Beetle:"

O Salt Creek Tiger Beetle

crystal glitter on the creekbank
turning moonlight into frozen stars
as if the earth were invisible

Lewis and Clark’s salt experts
followed animals to licks and springs
marshes and soughs

but the frontier’s over
springs re-channeled
marshes drained and sloughs paved

still, a small female beetle crawls
ridden by her mate
ovipositor set for stream edge

where to go? in a flood
the beetle just lifts
but how to live on concrete?

the city’s salt pillars
lift a myth of righteousness
salt rattle by the stove, on the table

a lifetimer emptying slowly
an entire species disappearing
into deeper channels, drainage

salt the demon of preservation
destruction glazes the ceramic jug

Lewis and Clark balance eggs
at the continent’s edge

beetles wasting in a shrinking basin



Listen to James Engelhardt read "Seeds of Victory Ensure the Fruits of Peace:"

Seeds of Victory Ensure the Fruits of Peace

World War I Propaganda Poster

war garden into canning jars
pickles in brine and herbs and spices
canning kettle rolling over the blue gas

          comfort of the gunstock
          shocked into the shoulder
          nests shattered along the Marne
          snow falling like flecks of ammonia

          world and word remade
          liberty cabbage, Salisbury steak
          kus-sun-ar for a sneeze
          gods retreating even from the trenches

welcome the familiar need to eat, to feed
even on late January plains
make sure the caps don’t pop
every garden a munitions plant

          when do you enter history,
          born low, a commoner
          used to rivers with ice dams
          breaking and flooding?

          the world revealed, holy
          for an instant before turned to dust
          and sky and air transformed
          by canvas and wood

everything dry
or dissolving in jars put up
when every step bruised green

parades, soldier bands,
women driving Red Cross cars,
women with news from Europe

women gardening, picking vegetables
canning fruit, canning meat
food will win the war



James Engelhardt's poems have appeared in Laurel Review, Hawk & Handsaw, Isotope, ACM, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Work is forthcoming in the North American Review and other journals. His Ecopoetry Manifesto is at Octopus Magazine. Originally from western North Carolina, he now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is the managing editor of Prairie Schooner.
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