Poetry from Pepper Trail

Read More: A brief interview with Pepper Trail

The Ivories 

In the repository of confiscated things –
Broken slabs of tusk, bags of beads
Fine African heads, cracked and fire-crazed
Statue of Kwan Yin, bodhisattva of compassion
Her forgiving smile slight
Japanese figurines, discreetly fucking
Billiard balls, stacks of ivory wafers
Veneer for grand piano keys

Dizzily I turn away, and the quick trunk
Nooses my ankle, swings me aloft
High above the great gray head
At the top of the upward swoop, time
Blinks, then the heft, the turn
The drive to earth, the crash
Crash of all the fingers on all the keys
All the music there is together
Then silence

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Boat Burial

These were your life, these goods
The axe and the arrows
The sealskin boots, the feathered cloak
You carried these through the world
Kept them close, faithfully
Now, you are gone and so
We lose these also
Put them all away
Into the boat, launch all
Boat, goods, and you
Under the sod, into the earth

The sun again on my broken face
My boat, so long steady, wrecked
All thrown open to the sky
Each thing taken up, carefully
Handled carefully, swaddled
As a baby is swaddled
The crowd like woman at a birth
Murmuring, with the excitement of women
I will not speak
My axe, my arrows, my leather hands
All I have to say


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untitled

Mother / Mars

The young mother’s body, thickened and softened,
made a new geography, a full world readied for baby,
resting place of all the senses. […]


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Trail’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Borderlands, and other publications, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards. His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read More: A brief interview with Pepper Trail