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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

By a Window Overlooking a Ravine; How It Is; The Lake Between Us

By Sheila Bender

By a Window Overlooking a Ravine


An and, a that, an adjective

remove themselves.

A fissure and my poem arrives.


My poems sit in chairs

at my table or nibble my cuffs

like hedge hogs clamoring for peanuts

or chocolate or a week's worth of soup

with carrots and a turnip.


My poems sail in the cold water of Discovery Bay.

They also capsize and drift, come ashore

like logs in a storm, beach themselves

because of the weather.


By a window overlooking a ravine,

with a view to the snow-covered

mountains, revision is in the air,

a line becomes a title.

How It Is


A solar flare is expected in this century to wipe out earth's

electrical systems, take years to get things running again.

Island nations will vanish as oceans rise, bananas will go extinct.


A bone discovered in southwest China indicates another human species

lived beside us 14,000 years ago.


My husband reads aloud from a story: "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night

only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."


A friend installed communication satellites in war-torn countries.

"The veneer of civilization is very thin," he said.

The Lake Between Us

I am bound to the ground calculating distances

in the streets of towns and villages.

Oh, you who are ever the one not worried,

A mighty lifting from the ground you walk on.

Perhaps this life of ours is one wholly of contradiction,

like a boat drifting around an anchor.

Not one time but so many, not many but an infinity,

no end, no end. Yet. And yet.


Sheila Bender is a poet, memoirist and writing instruction book author. Her work includes Creative Writing DeMystified for McGraw-Hill, the prose memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief from Imago Press and her poetry collection Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, also from Imago Press. She has served as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer in Poetry for Seattle University and facilitates those who write from personal experience through her website,

"By a Window Overlooking a Ravine

I spend a lot of time in my studio which has windows that allow me to look out over a ravine behind our house and watch deer as they walk up from the ravine. Another set of windows allows me to look out over my backyard and my neighbors’ to a view of Discovery Bay. What better to be looking at when you are trying to discover what is at the bottom of your heart and mind than a bay named for discovery? I wrote this poem in search of what I might write about. It turned out that I recorded what it is like writing a poem.

How It Is

Small chunks of facts and dialog seem to store themselves in me. One day I decided to write some of them down and after a few months, because I had to submit some writing to my writing group, I put some of the facts and dialog together in a list. The title for the poem came after I realized the feeling behind the accumulation. This is not a happy time in the world, but somehow it helped me to know both that another species related to us had been here before. I could figure there will be “an after” us.

The Lake Between Us

My husband and I couldn’t be more different in the ways we approach problems and solutions. This poem is a reflection on how those differences feel to me when we come up against them."


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