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Near Mt. Lassen

by Keith Ekiss

October snow last night against the peaks,
—here only rain on the waterproof tent.
I heard the detailed complaint of thunder,
how it argued with itself, restless, relentless,
but it was lightning that had me plotting
last will and testament in the sleeping bag,
that epileptic flash, a blast that seemed
to well up inside the fearful part of me.

Today, everything that’s living looks
almost dead. The sight was terribly grand,
a witness wrote of the last eruption.
Roots work the ash, pygmied pines
drop stunted cones, less than a finger length.
The smallest one held in my pocket for you.


Keith Ekiss is a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. His recent poems have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, North American Review, and Washington Square. He is the past recipient of a Witter Bynner Translators Residency from the Santa Fe Art Institute for his translations of Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio. (1/2006)

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