Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481
Mong Lan sets A Ranch Bordering the Salty River to music (sets it on her piano).
#aRanchBorderingTheSaltyRiver by Stephen Page published by Finishing Line Press. Cover photo by Patrick Lemoine. Cover design by Elizabeth Maines McCleavy.
#ranching #story #stories #novel #poetry #novelInVerse
While it is yet dark I slide from between
the sheets, pad to the kitchen, brew coffee,
and pack sweetrolls in a plastic bag. I strip
off my pajamas, shower myself with insect
repellent, and put on yesterday’s clothes. I
shoulder my backpack, and slip out the back
door, closing it quietly behind me. In the vestige
of moonlight I walk past the barn, feeling the dew
wet my ankles. Just inside the edge of the
Wood I breakfast on a treestump. Two barn
owls screech at my invasion and leave their
branch perch. A bat flaps violently by my
head. I roll marmalade around my tongue
and smell fecund earth spiced with decaying
leaves. A silver fox darts across a clearing,
and I unseat myself to wander the wood.
In the penumbra of trees I walk–I listen to
silence–I do not feel the weight of my
pack–I misplace time–an hour when I click
the light on my digital watch. The Myth
I seek does not appear but feel I was close
to finding it, or it finding me. A wooddove pops
its wings as it departs eucalypti mist auraed by
a vanilla sunrise. Treefrog croaks crescendo
then stop as I exit the treeline. A peach sun rises
behind a windmill as I cross the field to breakfast
a second time, this time with my wife.
In a lemon tree behind our ranchhouse, I discover
a newly made wasp nest bowing a brace of branches.
In the Room of the Dead
Grandfather slits open
A forty-pound fish
From anus to throat,
His nostrils flaring
At the effluvium.
Grandmother sits upon the lap
Of her gray-suited father,
Her pale dress fluttering
Above her chubby thighs,
Their skin dusted
With corn silk,
Stubble in the field
Your high-headed friend
Who prefers blue oxfords
And khakis with loafers,
Who planted the blooms
That perfume your garden,
Breathes ether and oxygen
Through a plastic mask
And winces at each needle prick
Of the vein-finding nurse.
You mother in lavender chiffon
Who swallowed every morning
whole garlic clove
Wheezes in a sanitary cloud
Of baby powder,
Her stomach cancer
Your father, a tall man
In a baker apron,
Sips aromatic yerba
In front of flock
Of sparrow, the birds
Of his diabetic
An antique wool blanket
Is folded neatly
Upon the foot of the bed,
And atop the cedar chest of drawers,
The sliver frames
Never quite tarnish to black,
But remain a constant state of gray,
The chromatic faces stilled
By the opening of the door.
You are red-breasted, your song flute-like,
Your wings brown, your sharp eyes whitely circled.
A common day your voice makes remarkable;
So rare, you laid a single light blue egg.
As your mate vanished in northern flight,
Not perceiving reason, you cawed alarm
Plummeting before an olive-drab truck;
Callused-index-fingered riders caged you.
Escaping, you darted directly to a lawn
And plucked a burrowing worm; starving, you bore it
To your nestling, ravenous for her breath.
Your albino fledgling shudders on the edge
Of the nest, as summer winds sway the tree,
And below, a muddy river roars silently.
“The poet chooses to make the sonnet form contemporary and succeeds in creating a powerful and distinctive music . . . Keats-like in the sensuous attention to language and its cadences, The Timbre of Sand adds to our consciousness of the world and nourishes us in the process. With his first book, Page makes an impressive debut that deserves an enthusiastic audience.”
—–Colette Inez – author of Clemency and Naming the Moons
“He is able to take a microcosm and create a universe . . . I find his ear for language the caliber of some of the finest poets.”
—–Ernesto Sabato – author of On Heroes and Tombs and The Tunnel
“His poetry is distinguished.”
—–Raymond Kennedy – author of The Bitterest Age and Lulu Incognito
“It is as good and as stylish as any I have read in Atlantic Monthly or the New Yorker. Steve will only continue to grow in his craft. He is a writer of unusual promise.”
—–Leonard G. Shurtleff – writer for TheEconomist
Page should be applauded. It is always of interest to see how today’s poets approach strong measures, and the quantity of his one straight shot is impressive, not to mention quite good quality. It definitely makes for a very nice song.
—–Shaadi Khoury – The New York Spectacle
“Full of science, philosophy, mathematics, and meter.”