THREE POEMS by Lara Candland

gaunt swimmers ransomed

slip across the moat to autumntime
aught in their pockets
dumb pleas too slight for hearing—
harebell and jessamine
capering tipplers
humming through the chamber of august
to hallow docile spectres
their clocks
stealing humbler and softer ticks
sweep the meadows
scooping out earth’s last pearls
harebell and jessamine’s cloaks fall off
slashes of yellow and purple
arranged against dun
arrange yourselves for winter
snow outweighs the grasses
the mashed fields shooken down


our favorite tints were chalked onto the sky

god’s gem-tactics
the colors tease then slake
then flit unannointed
before we put a word to them
we espy tattered clouds
incise them needlessly into a circus
until god shrives and shrives them
and they are gone
almost july
the creek recedes
each barefoot on its own pebble
the desert is fluent in parching—
haply its creatures not beguiled by its crackling
and their wiltings dimple into smiles and crouches
next june
we wade the creek
before summer’s extremity


slake the tongue of springtime

an april snow falls on the altar in the garden
daughters shiver in sundresses
glass bleeds at the snowflakes’ incisions
the winter sketch of storms on the window
everyone is scarred by this spring’s cold
we are eating our wings in desperation
jesus marooned in his tomb

i have clamped shells on my shoulder blades
replacing the wings I ate
shells do not evoke flight

the empty rosebush grins
i select a stone to hold in each hand
i only need to unsuture my skull to fly
my teaspoon of millet
over the land
envisioning the panoply to come
in fields below



Living in Utah, in a place that was once the floor of an ocean and is now a desert, means confronting, accepting, what we never like to accept:  that the world, like our children, like our parents, like our brothers and sisters, will do what the world will do.   That one day there is water, and another day there is not, one day a tree is standing and another day it has fallen.  One day the earth in our neighborhood can give us food, another day it cannot. Things will change, will do something we call “decay”, or something  called “to die”, and then come back, but differently.  This is guaranteed.

The tension between action and acceptance should be held, but not too tightly.

The landscape here has a lunar quality.

And what did the desert of Mars look like before?

As with children, as with parents, as with friends and brothers and sisters, the minimum amount of interference seems to be the optimal way to live in an ecosystem.  The less we cling to the notion that we can control, the better.  Artist Alice Dubiel writes, “In its relentless desire for control, the Western landscape tradition distances the viewer from the outdoors and people.”  “Desire” and “Control” and “Desire for control.”  All impulses to be tempered against the unimaginably more powerful weathers, waters, shudderings, cyclings and burnings that nature makes.  And so, actions to correct our misactions are good.  Actions to impose control should be deeply questioned.  Acceptance of the hierarchy we fall into, whether we like it or not, is our only choice.


Lara Candland’s book Alburnum of the Green and Living Tree was just released from BlazeVox.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, The Colorado Review, Barrow Street, Greatcoat, Fine Madness, The Quarterly and other journals.  Her pamphlet, Tongue Child was published by the University of South Carolina’s Palanquin/TDM series.  She has been a finalist in The Motherwell, Hudson, and St. Lawrence book awards.  She is a founder and the librettist for Seattle Experimental Opera, and a finalist in the Genesis Prizes.  Her opera, Sunset with Pink Pastoral with husband and composer Christian Asplund, was performed by Almeida Opera in London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

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