Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

W F Lantry

Maps fail here. No human hand can draw
the sheer cliff faces of this mountain range
lifted by earthquakes from the desert floor.
Knife edges of cleft granite, wind-honed rock
cutting azure to bands, slicing the core
of sunlight into ribbons, tying strange
tight labyrinthine knots of figured waves,
prevent all climbing here where light behaves
like water, cresting, breaking, plunging down,
and pooling as moraine along the base
of every mountain, where each granite block,
veined with rose quartz, extends the interlace,
as if a woven fenceline could surround
this cordillera, and there’s nothing left
except to walk around it, find a cleft
or find the southern curve, and then turn west,
walking without a shadow, where once gold
lit up earthlines, where coal seams interlock,
as if their layered patterns could enfold
at once the valley floor and distant crest,
and if we trace those lines, if we pursue
the curving seams of anthracite clear through
the convex hills and sunset light, reweave
their patterns through this vineyard’s corridor,
as if they shared a single stem’s rootstock
but pushed their vines across the veins of ore,
then we could find a passage, and believe
the truth ancient mapmakers, sunblind, saw.
W F Lantry, a native of San Diego, received his Maîtrise from L’Université de Nice and holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. His poetry collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012) and a chapbook, The Language of Birds (Finishing Line Press 2011). Recent honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and in 2012 the Old Red Kimono and Potomac Review Poetry Prizes. His work has appeared in The Valparaiso Fiction Review, Asian Cha, Gulf Coast and Aesthetica. He currently works in Washington, DC, and is a contributing editor of Umbrella: A Journal of Poetry & Kindred Prose.


©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin