Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

Several Poems by Bob Rees

READ LOCAL First represents Utah’s most comprehensive collection of poets and authors. This month we add Bob Rees to our archive of distinguished writers. Rees is Director of Mormon Studies and Visiting Professor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He’s taught at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley. He was a Fulbright Professor of American Studies in the Baltics.

Rees’s poetry, which has appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies, is gathered in Waiting for Morning (Zarahemla Press, 2017). His study of the Book of Mormon, A New Witness to the World, has just been published by By Common Consent Press.


Ashes to Ashes

What remains of you

is in a box

In our bedroom.

I want to touch you

but fear if I did

I would turn to ashes.

Growing Up

When I was eleven,

I knew little of heaven

but much of hell,

which is just as well

because it kept me in fear

of demons far and near,

of witches and devils,

their midnight revels,

phantasms in flight,

demons of fright,

monstrous scions

of bears and lions–

all riding in wagons

pulled by dragons,

their red-eyed evils

hearts of devils.

Then I turned twelve

and put them on the shelf–

went back to seven

and hoped for heaven.


(Hadlee Ruth Murdock:


At the turning from spring,

an imperceptible fear

of winter.

The deceit of summer’s

sun and greening

seduced us


falling leaves

and first snow.

Now, at the longest night,

the shadow turning

toward light,

she is gone–

lilacs and lilygrass grieve.


I see them coming toward me

then angling away.

At Costco

they are everywhere:

white, green, black,

even plaid and polka dotted,

one a red bandana.

We try to read one another’s

incomplete faces

with unanswerable questions.


a mother and her toddler,

both bandaged,

even a golden retriever

who shakes its head

from side to side.

Later, on TV, a doctor

looks over his veil at


he could name–

like the end

of the world.

Bob Rees recently completed his edit of Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons. The work is forthcoming from Signature Books.

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