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Fragments from a Year

September 6, 2012

by Barbara LaMorticella

This Breakable Chain

Stop apologizing for small bliss.
What other bliss were you given?

To stay limber in language
open your ears!

The first command: Always leave your poem’s gate open so a horse might enter.

The first question: What to do with that horse?


A distant haze upon those mountains
and behind those mountains
another line of mountains….
I never know if my words
are haze or mountains

Or perhaps a flock of small birds flying
looking for someplace to land—
any speck will do
that’s solid enough for long enough
for singing.


The wind flutters the blinds
clatters the slats…
A tapping of white canes
held by invisible men in fedoras
their pockets full of harmonicas
and poetry.


Just my
luck a
one or a two

not one or two
even one or two
stanzas just
one or two


Barbara LaMorticella lives in the woods outside Portland, Oregon, hosts a poetry radio show, and agitates for health care reform. Her second collection of poems, Rain on Waterless Mountain, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She is the recipient of the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Oregon Literary Life, and in 2000 was awarded the first Oregon Literary Fellowship specifically for women writers.

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