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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: Shawn Fawson


At the city library, woodblock prints along the wall 

grow smaller in size.  On the paper there are cold pools, 

not meant to last.  With long shovels, farmers flick 

dead bee hives and dung into an entanglement of trees. 

Perhaps this is what Hokusai’s Bullfinch and Weeping Cherry

offers: you move freely, unencumbered.  You breathe.

A leaf passes continuously through the afterlight.  You see 

bird tracks or a woman’s steps fading into snow. 

But me, I see the gist of a woman’s body residing 

in refusal.  The hourglass of her slight frame fills with snow. 

All trace of us having passed through the exhibit is gone. 

Very little happened.  We never spoke about it.


Migrating geese.

Lotion on our children’s backs.

The sand-bucket’s red.

Knots on bikini strings.

Hair swept up, big time.

So we guess it’s summer. 

But our children 

remind us anyway. 

A book, a palette.

Two paths we never went.

When we look up, 

the geese are gone.


Speak, stranger.  We sleep in separate countries, yet the same moon 

climbs into our beds.  Tell me how you’ve failed at intimacy. 

I’ll tell you about the shouts of a man drenched in acid. 

Nowhere has become his familiar perched like night on my shoulder.

My room’s an ugly place to think of you from, with its mossy 

linoleum and warped attic.  Over a chair, lace hangs 

loosed of its pins.  Views of parking lots and chimney-smoke domesticate 

the windows.  Will the time come when we say, pain’s over

In your country, mining towns disappear 

off mountain-tops leaching lead and arsenic.  In this country, nuclear villages 

now deposit coal and ash along the shore.  The ocean floor opens 

its throat and no fish come.  What’s left? 

Two dogs sniff dust; three cows graze on raindrops. Somewhere between us, 

one kerosene-light tilts off curtains and casts up rafters 

like something worth living for.


Shawn Fawson works and resides with her family in Freeland, WA. Her book 'Giving Way' was published by The Bitter Oleander and won the Utah Book Award for Poetry. Her MFA is from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.


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