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Fall 2004, Volume 22.1

Poetry

Keith Moore

Photo of Keith Moore.

Keith Moore is a graduate of the University of Utah, where he majored in music and English. He served a church mission in the Province of Ontario, and later two years in the military as stenographer to Seventh Army Headquarters at Stuttgart. He has taught English at College of Eastern Utah and at Utah State University. He has taught piano and worked on a body of fiction and poetry for several decades, with a variety of publication, including a story in Western Humanities Review.



The Animal Mother

Don't serve my dreams
With too much science
And go sparingly with the word "instinct"

Is anything more wondrous
Than the animal mother?
When a cow licks her calf
And the colt sidles along the mare
Don't distill it to Darwinism

Who dares catalogue their protectiveness
Or cerebrate the assiduity
Of any parent fowl?

Give me raw and unexplained
The udder-nudging of the lambkin
The frolicsome bounce and the way
A pair of them look, standing at the fence
Clean, unsullied, the ears that droop

Don't place Tabby in any textbook form—
I'll stand by and marvel at her kittens'
Minute snouts safe in that harbor of fur
As she coils them in her forelegs
A whole winter afternoon

No "instinct" talk—let this maternal care
Always mystify me—

A glance at a goat and kid
From a fast-moving car
Ever a saltant thing—

So that my Nature stays
Unscrubbed
And never dressed for church

 

Late-life

The orange of the vased marigolds
Slant-rhymes with deep magenta,
The hue of the mums next them
On the south sill where
That tip of that blue spruce
Is all I have
To sip morning coffee to,
Along with my new
Holstein cat purring on the arm
Not holding the cup,
Her coiled warmth against my heart

Too bad it's not Puget Sound
Gulls over the wake of a barge
Canada geese and Lake Pend Oreille
A massive rhododendron wall
And deer in true-rhyme before it

An abacus of sparrows on a wire
And at rare times
City gulls in a dawn-sun dip
Are my only wealth now

I scrounged the flowers,
I don't have land,
But satisfactions—small—
Slant-rhyme's what it's come to

 

Spring Flowers

With the exception of violets
Spring flowers have a certain
Vulgar rubber meretriciousness
This is necessary
While trees are bare

 

The Herd at Bliss

Bliss is just what tourists avoid
Nothing sybarite or much cozy
Or soft or "fun" or easy to do
Nowhere, dull, they say, options few
No motel pool, no suave cafe
Tiny, tacky, and a bit of grit
Glary truckstop, gas pumps, Oxbow
Skinny Pig, anonymous basic pub
Pancake joints and dumpsters
Peeling stucco, cowhands, DRINK SQUIRT
Why a backstreet called Kentucky?
Tired laundromat, ugly old school
Ghost motels, stringy streets
All too seedy to adorn the Snake
Down in its awesome chasm—
Nightstop for only a fool

TV in the room didn't work
Didn't want it anyway
Took a long walk west of town
In a June-solstice rain
The poignant passing of a train
Solstice hay and pungent sage
Sunflowers—Bliss smelled "fun"

No people—only I and the herd
And the westering sun lentissimo
Scrimmed by tranquil rain—and the herd
Very large, across the road
I counted nearly a hundred

I suddenly, unexpectedly choreograph—
How they stood in place in the rain
How the calves ran as echoes
Of the cows and bulls, wary—
Pranced as I turned and pranced
All the way to the west fence
And turned and pranced to the east
In the rain, in simulation of what I did and
The calves echoed all the motions and
They stood and stared when I did and
If I turned and pranced they turned and
Pranced all the way to the east fence—
The summer earth rumbled like
Adumbrating a Tschaikovsky finale—and
It rained on the solstice in the sage and
Emblazoned a sight I'll never forget

You can't get this at Las Vegas or
Los Angeles or Twin Falls

 

The Glacial Basins

That trio of
Massive glacial basins
Atop Mount Nebo
Can't reflect in Mona Lake—
Little Mona Lake
Is there on a whimsical scale
As though God, bored,
Had one of those lesser days
Of slapdash work,
Like us

 

Early March After Rain

In early March
City trees rainbathed
Take on quick clean rooster-hues
And give a moment's string-tuning
That even more than
Mid-April's pea-green cadenza
Quivers expectations

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