Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

Five poems by Jared Pearce

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.



            Sentence Patterns


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.


We consider.

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.


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