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Martha Silano

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

When God Suggests I Unclench My Jaw

Vacation Infatuation


Things I Learned Floating the Little Wenatchee

No Trace Camping

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

O loving God, O Christ the redeemer, hands in the air
starting at $600.00. We can create almost
anything: flame with bowl,

good shepherd with staff, finito angel.
We can green pastures,
valley and table.

Sleep on, sweet mother and wife. Take they rest.
God called thee home. He thought it best.
Kind more difficult miss. Never-dies

grassmarker.Madonna with dove.Praying Madonna.
Madonna with hand on heart. God saw you
 getting tired. Your text here,

18 characters per line. Choose options.
The face and voice of Pinebrook Golf.
By wisdom

a house is built. God’s love personalized
in 3-5 days. May the glow.
May the life.

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When God Suggests I Unclench My Jaw

I think about why I can’t, why a mouthguard will always be in my woe house,
though there are things I’ve loosened my grip on,
like caring whether the moon notices me,

like what happened last year or in seventh grade, when that boy asked me
if I was a girl. All I’ve sloughed off, like the way I get lost,
driving past the turnoff though the rest area

seemed so familiar. I drove forty miles before a friend called to ask
where are you. All I can say is White Pass, and he’s all
no, no, you went too far, turn around, go right

on the Tieton Road, which turns out there are two Tieton Roads,
though when I finally arrive, I let it go, forgive myself,
move on toward the Korean barbeque and kombucha.

What I’ve ungrasped, ungripped, flung myself from—there’s a long list
that begins with doing yoga on a public beach, not dressing
to impress, but perhaps to depress. Maybe

I should be trying to drop my jaw, stop making my molars
touch. Maybe I should be holding onto something firmly,
but I haven’t figured out what.

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Vacation Infatuation

That was the trip when I took photos of the goddammed supernatural.
A forest straight out of Blueberries for Sal. On that trip I lost track
of my mother, the mothering instinct, everything mother-

induced, including my milk-stained confused. Yes, yes, I took pictures—
don’t you? Pictures of other peoples’ neighbors, of something called
the Diablo Winds.

The best part of that trip? That special feeling of walking
into a heavily palm-treed breakfast buffet, choosing
between over easy and sunny side up.

I’d been hearing about this place since grade school, when Taryn Wenk
came back from the southern climes with a tan.
A January tan!

What I want from a vacation is not a blazing stack of logs but a glass table,
glass chairs. Transparency out the opaque. Flamingo pink
through parted curtains.

What I wanted was a correction. Not the market kind,
not the kind a teacher makes, but a little bit
like watching a pelican

gulp down a pompano. Seriously opposite of a dental cleaning,
a very verbose Zoom meeting. To dilly dally
and doggy paddle past the scriptures

and strictures, the things needing doing. Over easy. Easy over.
The sun pulling me like a dog on a leash that doesn’t
need to be tight.

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He tells me, as I stir my twelve-grain cereal,
Mom, that is so gross, as is my ripped, stained
hoody, the gray in my part. Could he be more

13? Could I be more 52? Takes five minutes to tie
his Vans just so, won’t wear a coat, though it’s 32. 
That’s so dumb! A pig would’ve long ago been slaughtered.

Same goes for the steer. Sows don’t even get to root
with their young, are left to bawl on a cold, hard slab.
Today I don’t want to write about the birds

he knew the names of by the time he was two,
how I wedged him into a Kelty Pack, cajoled him
into the woods saying dee dee dee, hear that?

That’s a black-capped chickadee. Hoofing it up the trail
to show him the biggest, oldest Western red cedar
in all of Seattle. What’s that bird? Soon he knew

all the residents—Steller’s Jay (shek shek shek!),
dark-eyed junco, song sparrow. Somewhere
in that head of his, with the code for accessing

Clan Wars: Goblin Forest, with strategies for TF2,
his favorite scenes from South Park, there must be
the call of the Pileated Woodpecker the morning

he first heard that piercing call that startled us both—
a long, harrowing cry through firs and hemlocks,
big leaf maples, red huckleberry, Oregon grape, salal.

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Things I Learned Floating the Wenatchee

You can check your iPhone while your boyfriend takes a leak on the bank.

A spotted sandpiper bobs its tail almost constantly.

Confidence is wearing a white bikini.

When a river slackens, a Frisbee makes a fine paddle.

If you’re sixteen and pudgy, joining the military seems a good way to firm up.

YouTube-ing could pay for college.

If you get slowed down because you forgot your Frisbee, a guy wearing a Christians in Action ball cap will offer a hitch from his kayak.

The Greater Yellow Legs says something like too too too.

A submerged drift log resembles a sea monster.

I’ve never felt relaxed in any kind of water.

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No Trace Camping

Queen Anne’s lace the color of spent Kleenex  
Wilson’s warbler in a Doug fir
At least one red-breasted nuthatch    
Something pecking at a trunk
Jumbled driftwood felled
Dragged to a violent conclusion     

It’s a towhee it’s a wren
a salt-loving plant a succulent
truly it has no name

Lichen cups on stalks
the color of a productive cough      
Carpenter ants on a nurse log
nursing huckleberries and licorice fern

I have a plan   
When I’m dying I’m coming back
where it’s easy to go off trail       
below comets the ancients believed
the thick smoke of human sins  

One hour and the blowflies will find me      
Two hours the carrion beetles
will file my death certificate   
tamp down my flame      

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Martha Silano is the of five books of poetry, most recently Gravity Assist (Saturnalia, 2019). She also co-edited The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. She teaches at Bellevue College.

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