T. Clear

Pine Row Issue No. 9 Spring 2024 - Featured Poet

Coop Repairs

Mud underfoot like a rat

too many days dead in the alley.

The hens hold their feathers close

to the skin, not an inch of dry ground

and this rain, without mercy.

Plastic sheeting stapled against chicken wire

makes a quick job of keeping the wet out

before the wind lashes me sideways,

my parka useless in the torrent.

An armload of fresh straw and I'm done.

Not a bad place to sleep, I think,

nested snug in a shipping pallet hut,

elbowed-in with chickens. No one will notice

my wings, withered where they once sprouted,

folded carefully out of sight.

About the poem:  as shared by the poet

How did you get started writing poetry? 

I've been fortunate to receive lots of encouragement from some really stellar teachers, starting in 7th grade, and continuing in high school and into college. I was encouraged to send out submissions early on, and after that first acceptance (197_?), my mind was made up. This was what I wanted to do, what I wanted from life.

Who has had the biggest impact on you as a poet?

A wonderful University of Washington professor, Nelson Bentley, had more impact on me as a poet than anyone since. His class was famous on campus, and once you'd enrolled in a class, you were given a lifetime pass to drop by at any time. More than anything, though, he taught me the value of humor, and that being a poet didn't preclude other things in life. It was perfectly fine to do whatever it was one wanted to do -- and to also write poetry. His advice continues to resonate, and I hear it still when I write, these 40 years later.

What inspires your poetry?

What inspires me: ruins, abandoned things, the micro-universe as seen through magnification, fog, the golden hour, bees, the color blue, overhearing someone singing on a flung-open-window day. Electrical storms. Fast-moving rivers. Frozen mud puddles. (I'll stop here, knowing there is so much more.)

What is next for you?

Hopefully a second book, whose theme has not yet emerged.

Anything else you'd like to share? (website, etc)

My book is A House, Undone, available from MoonPath Press. My website: tclearpoet.com

I was born sixth of seven children, into a noisy, crowded and loving household, in a house bumped up against Pacific Northwest second-growth woodlands, open fields and orchards. My earliest memories are of wandering among Douglas firs and alders, my legs skirted in bracken ferns, ever-wary of stinging nettles. My five sisters and I harvested hazelnuts and apples, blackberries and rhubarb, the promise of pie luring us back into the kitchen where all nine of us gathered each evening for supper. It was a gentle life, and provided the landscape from which my writing has grown.

As the only of my siblings to complete a four-year college degree, I studied verse writing at the University of Washington, and continued there in the Graduate Writing Program. 

In 1991, after the death of the deeply inspiring and beloved University of Washington poet and professor Nelson Bentley, I felt moved to initiate some small act to honor his legacy, and pulled together a writing group, out of which, three years later, Floating Bridge Press was born. The writing group continued to meet for nearly 30 years before dispersing, and FBP, under new leadership, continues to play a vital role in the Washington State poetry community.

My first poems were published in 1975, in the newsprint publication Yakima, and since then have appeared in many magazines. My book-length manuscript, A House, Undone, is available from Moon Path Press.

I chair the curating committee for Easy Speak Seattle, a twice-monthly open mic venue that also features local musicians and writers. I'm a lifelong resident of Seattle, and work in Human Resources at Seattle Cider Company.

-- now accepting submissions for the next issue -- 

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