Poet

Peter G. Quinn

 

    A graduate of Lewis and Clark College, he studied with poets Vern Rutsala, Tony Ostroff and William Stafford. In 1976 he received an Academy of American Poets Award. For several years following, poet John Willson and Peter convened a poetry group called Moonphases in Portland.

     Peter published ‘Painting Circles on Straight Highways’ (Irenicon Press), his first full length book of poetry, in 2012. He has published in Salish Sea Magazime, Mississippi Mud, Foxfire, the Portland Oregonian and Pacific Northwest Magazine, Tidepools, Northwinds Anthology, and the Port Townsend Leader.

   His work appears in A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, from WoodleyPress.  Alone Together poems and essay duringCOVID, from Central Avenue Press.                          

 

    He continues to write poetry and lead workshops to feed his poetry passion.He has assisted in the editing of several books, one published by Wiley. A lifelong lover of sci-fi, historical fiction and non-fiction, he enjoys content editing works in those genres.

Three Realities                             

 

I. Confine

 

We are asked to strand ourselves

make our house an island.

 

Protection Island out our window

now seems an elder.

 

How long will it be? What if it’s longer

than the stalwart freezer can give?

 

How close to touch live skin

will we get again?

 

How often to venture out?

For what essential or forgotten thing?

 

Where will cash come from?

What bills can be paid?        

 

Any checks in the mail today?

Pray tomorrow.

 

How long will

neighbor helping neighbor hold ?

 

The world is focused

upon big cities at least

 

a coast away.

My little town shuttered and shuddering

 

braced for the maybe,

maybe the certainty of losing

 

store, job, neighbor, life.

The only certainty;

 

yesterday is gone.

Masks and soap

 

enough food and FedEx

the essentials – unless

 

they run out of things to deliver.

Patience is courage.

 

A red breasted house finch

flies in softer, lighter air,

 

its song a joyful hymn

calm, bright and free.

 

 

II  Conflict

 

Witness the daily scree

catch every word

 

count the

“incredible’s”

 

“unbelievable’s”

“they will magically disappear’s”.

 

Ego balloons defensive

accusations a covering fire to

 

doubt, confusion,

from hoax

 

to fifteen cases

then two million

 

now one hundred-thousand dead.

Now more. Now more. No more.

 

Blood-eyed vulture tears

at the sinews of our future.

 

 

 

III    Convalesce

 

We’ve stopped the suffocating

spray of your oil

 

into your water, your sky.

You are freed from our need to go

 

as fast as we can

as far as we wish

 

as often as we please.

We’ve exhausted you

 

taken more than our fair share

not asked

 

thanked or honored you

as if we owned

 

not owed you.

I will be the least I can

 

let you breathe

be your tempered witness.

 

Turtles come to empty shores, laden with

leathery eggs, replenish in quantity.

Therapy

There is a smell

to warm leather

almost sweat or

am I projecting?

 

Someone, five minutes

before, sat where

I am now, talked,

clung to a tassle

 

on the Moroccan pillow

golds, browns, reds

they spilled their hearts

admitted their worries

 

sobbed, took a tissue

from the box on the

next cushion, still there;

their warmth drained

 

into the leather

three-cushion-couch

round arms, high back

I have now sunk into

 

reaching for the pillow

ready for my turn to bleed.

Mt. St. Helens

Nineteen Eighty

 

A grape stained piece of canvas

held ryebread,

Jonathan apples,

 

Camembert cheese

an anonymous bottle of wine

theifed from a barrel, tagged

 

with brix sugar, crush date.

We worked Yamhill vineyards

pulled weeds, liberated, trained

 

vines, absorbed the metre,

measure of – outside, felt gentle

pulse of a volcano as it sighed in, out

 

purging what was too much for it

to hold. We watched the volcano channel,

 

sixty miles away, it filled the screen.

We sat on the tailgate in red

Dundee hills drank in life as St. Helens

 

built to deadly, silent then,

uncaring of our point

in its time.