End of the Drought by Sandra Skouson

Rain comes to the man in the field, steady
rain that soaks his shirt.   He makes himself
alone a few paces from his tractor, takes
off his hat, lifts his face to the clouds.
The woman runs from the house to drag
clothes off the line, but having done it
she stands outside the back door, her arms
full of wilting sheets, and breathes again–full
deep breaths for the first time in ten years.

Children bind sticks together for a raft
to float in the gutter.   Laughing, they follow
it downhill to a small dam of sopping weeds
and silt, catch it and bring it back to sail again.
Their feet brown and wet, they come home,
bringing small rocks shining with new colors
to make a row on the window sill.

The desert drinks herself to returning life. Red
clay darkens, gleams, and softens.   Roads crack
and break away.   Washes widen.   The heart
of the mountain draws water to deep shale where
coolness pools and oozes toward the seeps.

Seeds, the wind has stirred with sand through
circles of time, soften and sprout.   The desert
blooms and rejoices against her own identity.

Our prayers are answered, blessings open
the pores of our skin. Our hair looses its
crispness.   Our shoulders loose their tension.
Roses bloom against the eastern wall.

Rain fills our rain gutters, swamps our sewer,
and floods the lower garden.   The house floats
heavily now on an underground river.   We feel
no movement, but we are forced to bale water
or abandon ship.   We live to a new pulse;
the sump pump throbs water out of the basement.
We carry books and boxes upstairs, pull up
the carpet, and set the beds on blocks.   Children
sleep wrapped in blankets on the living room floor.

One day the sun will burn again, the water drain,
the wind fill up with dust.   The desert will come
to her own.   Until that day, our house rides
the jubilee current.   We stay with it.


To read another of Sandra’s Spring Runoff entries and her bio, go here.

*Competition entry*


Walking to the Moon by Sandra Skouson

After breakfast the moon hangs
almost near enough to touch.
I do not resist.   Cutting across the lawn
I walk west past the row
of apple trees, climb the log fence,
crush soggy leaves deeper
into the pasture grass, duck under
the next fence.   From here on
I choose my way carefully through sagebrush,
scuff my shoes against yellow rocks
until the edge of the canyon stops me.

The morning the tree burned,
nothing stopped me.
I followed its shining until
I touched the trunk
and let the branches spill
their sparks, bright cushions,
catkins, clustered flowers
of fire, in my hair.

Behind me someone starts a car.
But for the moon I would go back,
kiss him good-bye, begin my chores.
Instead, half crouching, I grab
the gray branch of fallen juniper
and inch my way into the canyon.


Sandra Skouson, poet and teacher, grew up on a farm in Idaho just west of the Tetons.   As an adult she has lived in many places, Japan, German, Massachusetts, Virginia, California and Arizona.   Currently she writes from Monticello, Utah, in the heart of the four corners area.

*Competition entry*

Definition of Now by Sandra Skouson

The breeze has caught
the cherry tree ready to shed
her petals and the air
is filled with flakes.
They settle in grass
and the lee of the garden steps.
The rosebush that clasps
the creaking trellis
is speckled with white.

What is the time?
It is now.   And the place?
The place is here.
How does now look?
It looks like here.

Time will take away the thrill
of dazzled air, but hope
continues along my spine
to meet the weight of earth
rising from my feet.

There is no language for now;
silence will have to do.
There is no movement for now;
stillness will have to do.

All now is enclosed in this:
at the edge of one breath,
a petal trembles
against my wrist
and the thrush call holds
the center of one note.


To see Sandra’s bio and read more of her work published on WIZ go here, here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

April Fool’s Day, 1997 by Sandra Skouson

So soon after the green grass,
jonquils showing, the willow
shining again, the joke is
on me.   I find a coat, boots,
muffler, drag the snow shovel
out of the shed.   How funny!
Three fender-benders here in
town and broken trees.   Up north,
four people died in a wreck.
Did you mean to blow the shell
off that white pickup, the
pie to be so salty no
one could eat it, my sister
to run from the room in tears?


To read Sandra’s bio and more of her poetry on WIZ, go here, here, and here.

*contest entry*