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Allen Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood (University of Georgia) and Elegy in the Passive Voice (University of Alaska/Fairbanks), winner of the Midnight Sun Chapbook Contest. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Artist Trust of Washington State as well as the Emerging Writers Prize from Witness magazine, the Grolier Poetry Prize, the Dana Award in Poetry and other honors. Former poet-in-residence for the Poetry Center and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he lives in Lakewood, Washington.  

Clear Glass

         for Richard Hugo

Maybe I shouldn’t even attempt this,
remaking a made thing as others have.
It was a day you would have pronounced
the weather as nondenominational.
I sifted crushed gravel on 15th S. W.
for some token from your gray life
and one bit of weathered glass surfaced,

a piece of the picture window maybe
from a boy long ago playing ball
where he was strictly forbidden to do so.
Honest as a fifth of vodka, cheap or otherwise,
you would have loved deeply such irony
found in this one humble chip of glass,
broken and still able to magnify the light.

previously published in ZYZZYVA


Not far from where a coyote led me
over the sparsely timbered hillside,
I found a feather held in the sagebrush
flanking an abandoned logging road.
I knew the pattern, its bars of tan
almost the color of parchment
or more like that coyote’s pelt actually.
The feather of a great barred owl.
You could say the darker, narrower
scribbles curving toward the quill
suggest rows of silhouettes in flight.
You could say a lesson might exist
in the wind’s subtle dispersal of dust
trickling through Sheepskull Gap,
estranging that feather from its wing.
All you really need to tell anyone
is how a single feather was poised
so the tip of the quill wrote on thin air.

previously published in Dense Growth Anthology

Bearded Barley

Proud and skinny tow-head
stretching for sunshine,

slender arrow of gold
or wand with stiff whiskers,

you offer us summer magic
out of water, dirt and light.

The millstone, the baker,
the slave, pulpit and priest,

they all send their regards.
You send back your straw

so they may build empires
and pray for your safe-keeping

when a cloudburst in August
bows you flat against the earth

below the teeth of the combine,
even the sickle’s blade and cradle;

or when a twister drives you
clear through a telephone pole;

when the unbelievable seems true.
I could have sworn I saw you

hopping a train for the mill,
determined on being refined

into a loaf of bread or angel food
or maybe even the body of Christ.

previously published in O Taste and See


Allen Braden

Allen Braden

A Wreath of Down

A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood
© 2011 Allen Braden  


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