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
The wind flutters the blinds
clatters the slats…
A tapping of white canes
held by invisible men in fedoras
their pockets full of harmonicas
one or a two
not one or two
even one or two
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.
Let everyone on earth who is alone now
reading, sleeping, sitting in small rooms
alone and meditating,
cutting wood, walking desperately through
Let everyone alone and praying
Let everyone alone and grieving
Let everyone alone
Let everyone contained and pure
in solitude know — Know
That in the early morning hours
all the prayers of solitaries
rise vibrating out of the dim earth,
not like birds but like
the deepest voice of earth itself
Rise out of the tangled grasses
of individual living
the way the mist does in the morning —
Reclaiming and replenishing heaven.
Download the podcast
Barbara LaMorticella lives in the woods outside Portland, Oregon, and hosts a poetry program on KBOO radio. She’s been a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and a recipient of the Stewart Holbrook award for outstanding contribution to Oregon Literary Arts. A retired medical transcriber, she’s performs her work widely and is working on her third collection of poems.