Backyard Georgics by Lance Larsen

It takes a calendar one damp day to declare fall,
weeks of dying mums to second the motion.

* * *

Gone the homeland, gone the father, nothing left
but invisible north to magnetize your doubts.

* * *

Not eulogies or hearses but the sandwiches after,
estranged cousins chewing under one umbrella.

* * *

One clock for errands, one for midnight
trysts, though neither will hurry a slow train.

* * *

Prairie is not the floor nor sky the coffered ceiling.
Even a scarecrow is wise beyond its straw.

* * *

Look down: a river of grass. Look up: a velvet lost
and found. Look inside: no straws to drink that dusk.

* * *

A woman’s watch thieved by a jay €”ah, to be lifted
like that, to be carried like time across lapping waves.

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Lance Larsen will serve as Utah’s poet laureate from May, 2012 until May, 2015. “Backyard Georgics” originally appeared in Poetry. For an introductory essay and Larsen’s bio, go here. For additional poems, go here and here.

Not Necessarily at Rest by Lance Larsen

Rocks stacked at corners of a squatter’s camp,
colored bottles hanging from a tree.
Broken oyster shells
lining a dirt walkway to match the hems
of clouds trundling their gossip
over open-air markets towards the sea.

How can those who watch us
not be flattered at our puny attempts at beauty €”
the gods who look down, the dead
who sometimes look up? Yearning works
through us, whiskers to tail, the way
a yawning cat converts stretching into praise.

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Lance Larsen will serve as Utah’s poet laureate from May, 2012 until May, 2015. “Not Necessarily at Rest” originally appeared in Backyard Alchemy (Tampa, 2009). For an introductory essay and Larsen’s bio, go here. For additional poems, go here.

“Rough Translation” by Lance Larsen

I slip outside into a corridor of clarity and breeze €”
that pinking time when owls home to barns, when bats

fold their hunger into gloves of sleep and cranes
whoop in the morning like freckled boys on stilts.

One body: some days, I swear, one is almost enough.
But today?   I want to climb free of this narcotic dark,

squeeze into that broken parable we call first light.
Sadness and wind, meadow and awe.   Who will teach

me to listen with leaves, make sky my skin?   I lean,
wondering which of my faces morning will erase first.

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Lance Larsen’s most recent poetry collection is Backyard Alchemy (Tampa 2009).   His work appears in such venues as New York Review of Books, Orion, Slate, Poetry Daily, Raritan, LIT, Southern Review, and Best American Poetry 2009.   He has received a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.   He teaches at Brigham Young University, where he serves as associate chair.   In spring 2010, he will direct a theater study abroad program in London.   “Rough Translation” was previously published in Field.

*Non-contest guest post*