Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Wyatt Townley’

Ahead of Everywhere by Wyatt Townley

If you should precede meWyatt Townley Headshot (color)

if you cross the line

after which no shoes are required

if you grow out of your clothes

before I grow out of mine

and enter the atmosphere I breathe

I will hunt you down eyes closed

every day every night every

breath one breath closer I

will take you in breathe you out

a cosmic CPR

on the couch in the car

in the woods in bed

for if you should precede me

you’ll be in front of me forever

ahead of everywhere

I turn as I push off

to the word ahead of this one

~ Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley’s books of poems include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and her latest, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), a Kansas Notable Book and winner of the Nelson Award, completed with a fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission and just nominated for the Pushcart Prize. (www.WyattTownley.com)

from The Afterlives of Trees by Wyatt Townley (Woodley Press, 2011)

16. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Wyatt Townley

Breath:  everything is riding on it.
Under the door winter slides
its white envelope, past due, past due

as we move from bed to chair
and room to room, our lives
sighing in the cedars

strung on backroads to this place
where we go in and out
breath by breath, gravel and ice

underfoot, Orion overhead.

–Wyatt Townley

135. Finding the Scarf

The woods are the book

we read over and over as children.

Now trees lie at angles, felled

by lightning, torn by tornados,

silvered trunks turning back

to earth. Late November light

cuts through the oaks in diagonals

as our small parade, father, mother, child,

shushes through, the wind searching treetops

for the last leaf. Childhood lies

on the forest floor, not evergreen

but oaken, its branches latched

to a graying sky. Here is the scarf

we left years ago like a bookmark,

meaning to return the next day,

having just turned our heads

toward a noise in the bushes,

toward the dinnerbell in the distance,

toward what we knew and did not know

we knew, in the spreading twilight

that returns changed to a changed place.

– Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is a fourth-generation Kansan. Her work has appeared in journals ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek. Books of poetry include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and her new collection, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), which she won a Master Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete.

51. Inside the Snow Globe

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest, week two: snow and ice (professional category)

At long last you are in

the blizzard behind glass,

this trail of flakes your cape

of disappearance.

Dogs romp on the path.

Skaters twirl on the lake.

Under the ice, life

swirls.  The yellow chapel

is forever framed by evergreens

and at the end of the pathway

the scene starts over:

The skaters are still

turning, it is still snowing,

turning and snowing.

Moving from solid to scattered

effervescent to evanescent

takes a lifetime.

Everything is nothing

if you look long enough.

– Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is a fourth-generation Kansan. This poem is from her new collection, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), which she won a Master Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete. Other books of poems include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown) and Perfectly Normal (The Smith). Her work has appeared in journals ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek.


48. Centering the House

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest, week one: storms (professional category)

All night Kansas

the lungs of the continent

takes a sip of the galaxy

swirling stars and barbed wire

sofabeds and willows

books and doors banging open

signs disappear whole towns

ditch themselves in the countryside

I stir the coffee to center the house

the place our mothers and fathers

and theirs and theirs passed through

their aprons strung on telephone wires

this tunnel of wind this trial

makes trees throw back their heads

and the hair along our arms stand up

we’re nothing but breath on its way through the woods

– Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is a fourth-generation Kansan. Her work has appeared in journals ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek. Books of poetry include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and her new collection, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), which she won a Master Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete.

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