READ LOCAL First is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. Each month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.
Today, 15 Bytes features Cedar City-based poet Natalie Young. Here she provides three poems, part of a larger series set in Utah with both fictional and non-fictional characters, including humans, aliens, and a monster who has lived in the Great Salt Lake for centuries. The setting is dystopian and, to a point, similar to modern day with the monster ruminating on past times.
Sunday Blog Read continues to accrue a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment.
So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the work of Natalie!
Now miles from any real city roaming
in a red rock bowl. She recalls a time
at 13 when a stray attacked.
They walk the sea floor, boots filling
with red dust: rusty animal
heads, pioneers’ tombstones.
Commitment not an option. No way
to describe, to know how.
But its giant departure is clear.
She claims old bites
are good reason to give up
an adopted dog after six days.
The look in the canine eyes:
endless. The stare—
like finding a giraffe
body under a skiff of snow.
off, keeping things up.
All of this was once under water.
Here Is What’s Left of Lake Bonneville
She is determined to see. Lock the creature in a still, share
his looks with those who’ll listen. She takes
a handful of diced tuna. Dabs the juice
from the tin can on her collar bone. The lake is saltier
than the sea, a pH between toothpaste and milk
of magnesia. Salt can’t be destroyed—won’t dissipate
or burn—all that can be done is grind
the small crystals into dirt and watch it lose
worth. This lesson she learned in Sunday school, the spiritual
point less poignant. Even salt will sift its way
to shore, the edges of his liquid home. One toe
at a time, she dribbles fish purée,
until she is up to her earlobes. Empty
cans bob near outstretched fists. Mosquitoes line her forehead.
Torso stripped, eyes closed. A lake
housing a monster with nowhere else to go,
without a single outlet, it’s up to the earth’s inventions now.
(Originally appeared in Pamplemousse)
Pretending to be interviewed, the monster gets choked up,
tells the cameraman to shut the damn thing off.
Your environment doesn’t change
much from day to day, you see
the same things. What inspires you?
I spend time remembering, wondering
what birds see
when they fly away.
Does that help generate new ideas?
I don’t have much use for such things.
You don’t wear clothing. How does that feel?
I guess you’re looking for “liberating,”
But how would I know?
It’s so quiet out here.
The quiet came gradually,
not a sudden silence.
Is it peaceful?
If everything was brought back
at once…the noise, the movement
but could I still handle it?
You lived through a lot—more than most books
can claim. What keeps you
going? What’s next?
I’d like to be surrounded by something
other than salt water; to step on dry ground;
someone to look and call
(Originally appeared in Rock & Sling)
© 2015 Natalie Young
Natalie Young is a founding editor of the independent poetry magazine Sugar House Review, which just released its five-year anniversary issue. Her poetry has been published in magazines such as Rattle, Los Angeles Times, Green Mountains Review, Tampa Review, South Dakota Review, and others. She lives in Cedar City where she works as a graphic designer for an ad agency based out of Salt Lake City.
Other work from the series above can be found online at:
http://www.rattle.com/poetry/tag/speculative-poetry/, http://pamplemoussevt.org/byline/natalie-young/, http://greenmountainsreview.com/?p=3386
Past featured writers in 15 Bytes’ Sunday Blog Read: Katharine Coles, Michael McLane, Darrell Spencer, Larry Menlove, Christopher Bigelow, Shanan Ballam, Steve Proskauer, April Wilder, Calvin Haul, Lance Larsen, Joel Long, Lynn Kilpatrick, Phyllis Barber, David Hawkins, Nancy Takacs, Mike Dorrell, Susan Elizabeth Howe, Star Coulbrooke, Brad Roghaar and Jerry Vanleperen, Maximilian Werner, and Markay Brown.