READ LOCAL First boasts Utah’s most comprehensive collection of poets and authors. Today, we bring you five poems by Jared Pearce. Pearce obtained a Master’s degree in English from Brigham Young University, and a PhD (in American Poetry, 19th & 20th Century British Literature, and Critical Theory) from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
His books include Down Their Spears (Cyberwit) and The Annotated Murder of One (Aubade). Pearce is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His poem “Foundry” took first place in the 2014 BYU Studies Quarterly competition. Presently, he lives and writes in the state of Iowa.
Dustbowl conditions, they say.
Hottest on record, they report.
My corn is empty shells—
even the deer are hungry, I’m
told. The yellow grass sighs,
and the apple leaves shy
towards their own shade.
Roses, decimated by white
flies, have black spot stripping
their stems. Their blossoms
bulb like tears.
Yet from between the crinkled,
thorned stalks, a straight,
perfect naked lady pinks.
The city men have shut off the water
for the whole neighborhood. They have cut
a hole in the street and are working so
they can restore water to the people.
Their round bodies are serious, their shouting
voices muffled under their pumping
machines are serious, and their tossing
of tools, their gazing into the hole,
their correcting and commenting on the work,
all serious, dedicated—they even have the water
back on as they’d promised. Though the hole
remains, they left warnings. Having looked in,
I could make nothing of their business
except the twinge of envy for finishing something.
The sentences are here.
The students are not necessarily happy.
They are what they are.
We seem to be lost in thought before them.
We become our hands, fumbling
after words, sliding away.
Our black belts reveal
our mastery over this tongue,
and our blurry black eyes make
out that language will
have its way with us.
Where Beauty Goes
Dad mailed me the perfect skipping stone:
only one dimple on one side, otherwise
already honed by the water, all ready
to brush again what tuned it.
It’s shaped like a heart without a point,
the long side snug against my palm,
my index finger canoodles the opposite
crease, comfy like a trigger.
One half-inch thick then tapered
from the center to its rounded edge,
hefty to hold against the wing and bang
off the lake’s face.
Holding it the tension
rinses in: to keep admiring
or fling and drown that thing.
Another droughty year and
still the night is crickets
and birds are morning.
The year has its coercion,
but while I can I pick this
guitar and rattle my rusted
larynx. There must be war
and beleagueredness, there
must be a song to solve this.
For more information: https://jaredpearcepoetry.weebly.com.
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