Three Poems ~ Steve Ullom



We rolled on metal wheels
hungry for the next inch of rail,
the next mile on the map,
surging towards a jagged seam of earth
through which we would have to pass,
a dark tear against royal blue sky
made as if scissors weren’t available.

The juncture stretched motionless
hanging above the edge of the gold-spun prairie carpet
along the entire horizon,
an event line beyond sight,
all of it crouching as it waited in perfect stillness
against our insistent momentum.

It pulled all eyes from the heat-dry grass
outside the train window, pulled eyes
from silvery duck ponds reflecting sun and sky,
endless prairie and mirrors submitting to something greater.
Gaining size and resolution as we were pulled towards it,
indefinite shadows resolved into massive peaks,
somber gray and streaked with white snow
down worry lines and crevices,
mountains between sky and earth
aged in that movie-star grace,
silvered with wisdom
and shrouded below
with greater shadows that robed the sides
holding mystery as long as possible
until shifting clouds took over.

Even from behind the window
the vow of silence could be felt,
all thought given to reverence,
as if it was an approach to a holy temple.
Foot-soldier hills warded the final miles
and outside, perhaps unseen,
but surely there as guide
Raven was winging alongside the train.



Unnatural movements through natural places

Water fowl busked in the shallow water,
shining blue and green feather heads
out of brown reeds,
but we moved too quickly
to toss them money for their performance,
thinking all things are for us.

Clouds billboard the sky,
advertisements for coming weather
and casting durable shadows
over rough cut hillsides,
decorated only infrequently by sparse grass
and gravel roads
bisecting the view.

It is unseen but there must be
a moving wind
causing the struggle of birds
flapping in the air,
finding they had no movement
except to travel one direction.

With us.

Too bad for them, but that is why
they now busk for their dinner,
I guess.




White feather
incarcerated by a strand
of once-empty spider web,
now a spinning pinwheel
in deepening dusk winds,
tapping a percussive backing
to evening birds
stretching last vocal chords
before bed, undertones
to the neighbor’s arguments
through an open window.

The wind speaks suddenly,
a Pentecostal tongue slipping
from feather to ear,
about a change of weather.