voices out of the West, mostly poetry, personal to planetary...

2 Poems by Reg Saner


Forest Mornings I Can't Ask to Happen


Say I'm bending toward yet another clue

to this world it’s taking me forever to know


as my lifetime goes by. Tiny and sprightly

a pine siskin lights up its spruce tip,


all a-twitter at our wild setting. Naked trunks

hugely ruined lie strewn about me like heroes


fallen athwart broken omens of stone,

and laid so low the squirrels convert them


to raceways. Jasper Creek keeps crashing

into its plunge pool, seethes there a while


till calmed to the clarity of an absolute substance:

dark, heavy, and cold. Then, no less mysterious


than we are, again goes lunging pell-mell as water

we don't give a thought to. Oh yes, on forest mornings


I can't ask to happen, any harebell may arrest me

by dangling stream-side into slight mist


from the creek’s cascade, the better to shelter

oracular pollen. A Steller's jay falling freely


down the mountain may flare suddenly up

and open so electric-blue onto dwarf willow


it fires my ambition always to be just as I am

here and now – though chances are


I'll be heading elsewhere with my next breath,

just as forest wind hurrying on, hurrying on,


wouldn't be wind if it didn’t.















This Grizzly


Is a plantigrade-gaited and growly

inquisitor, a huge-humped and hulking

sulker, all bilge-bellied and bossy;

is a boreal and forest-fearsome crush

of claws; is claws alive with bloom

pawed up from tundras of mud;

is hunger-hearted and ugly, a horrible

beauty whose hairy breath is berry-laced

and ruddy as blood; is a hunter

hunted; is harried and hated.


Is a greens-grazing corm-cruncher,

a salad-snatcher, a riffle-raiding

salmon smacker, a basher and elk eater,

a mouse mauler, a moose muncher,

a maw.


And is furthermore female,

for males a mighty mountable smell

and color, and coupled is fecund:

a cub-collared sponge, a food-filter,

a milk-mill—comfy for sucklings

but for all others Big Mama,

one fanged and angry fur-cloud brown.


This grizzly is poached, is paw-prized

and applauded, is study-surrounded,

is rounded up and counted; is sleep-shot

and rifled, radio-rigged and revived;

is written up and written off

as a brave and brazen nose too fell

for what our West has become;

thus hounded, thus Nationally Parked

and impounded, this grizzly

gets pondered.

Reg Saner,

Award-winning poet, essayist, & professor emeritus

Boulder, Colorado


Fullbright Scholar in Florence, Italy

NEA Fellowship,

Guggenheim Fellowship

Walt Whitman Award (1976)

National Poetry Series (1981)

Colorado Governor’s Award (1983), Hazel Barnes Prize (1993)

Wallace Stegner Award (1997), Boulder Poet Laureate (1999) is a non-commercial project, an online anthology, to share a poetic vision of the land we love.

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