Thursday, March 9, 2017

This article/ must adhere to the biographies of living/ persons policy

{{DEFAULTSORT:Burleson, Derick}}

Only libraries sort you by last 
name first but this is what this is isn't it
the biggest canon
you can't escape it someone is always editing
you always typoing your published titles always
making up bullshit facts to pass a class to keep from having to really
look you up
[[Category:American male poets]]
I mean did you really think before you went out to feed the dogs
to curry your horse did you really 
think you had all this time for masculinity for living alone 
for farming still for scattering grain for chickens
in this godforsaken cold did you wonder 
any longer how heavy your boots are by themselves
how much weight is added by the psi of feet on permafrost ground
[[Category:Living people]]
some fucking asshole is going to say I can tell already 
without hearing it without words passing from any lips 
into air some asshole will have already typed if not saved it
'but not anymore'
[[Category:People from Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska]]
There are are 300 miles between here and there and I thought you knew that
thought you had calculated the distance I could travel before you'd hit the floor
before the pole star came out thought you could tell Venus from a biplane 
a bush plane carrying someone else's musher daughter supplies
pilot bread freeze-dried chicken and noodles and maybe some dog fish
but you have always had your own fish your own stash your own way 
and you never cared much for fishing alone so I thought you'd wait
thought you'd be preserved a little frozen like maybe you'd stay yourself 
until I got there
[[Category:University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty]]
The driest entry there is is the one where they try to explain what you did in ten words 
or less the reduction of a lifetime just keywords just in case someone 
who needs a research topic researches you looks you up but not by name uses only
what they think you did which is not who you are unless you talk to you
unless you hear your voice emanating from behind a lectern reading lives and lives and lives
from pages you put your students your friends your lover's breaths onto
[[Category:Poets from Alaska]]
I didn't save this you know didn't edit a damn thing this is its own poem but it's not
about you is it it's blowing like a pre tornado wind over a prairie here but cold
colder than Fairbanks actually colder than what exactly 
because the worst is that you didn't wait you didn't have the coffee going you
didn't stick around to see it to its end and I didn't save you you know
didn't have time didn't edit 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Low-pressure System

"skin not bound to the other’s
skin and the afternoon cumulus
rolling in with the smell of rain"

Derick W. Burleson

Bound by breastfeeding, it would have been
difficult to run. Cumulus

clouds graying the Sleeping Lady,
the sleeping baby

in one arm, a burnt Coke can in the other hand.
Another afternoon that felt like a rolling

blackout, hope itself extinguished
while green things rose in the rain.

And I, lady-hostage, with skin singed
by hands, not by fire;

cleaning curdled milk from a tiny
chin's folds.  In the next room, another's skin

beaded with acrid sweat,
freckled with tiny, telltale punctures

gives off a mist like evaporating rain.

I who slept so little save in the afternoon,
rolling chef's knife handle between palms.

Weighing the balance

of tang against flight.



"and if the storm kept
on storming you couldn’t stand
it couldn’t stay within your body"
Derick W. Burleson

If this wind keeps on, there won't be any pigeons
left, poor beleaguered birds
buffeted about.

This wind has surpassed freight train, 
has named itself storm,
though sun shines.

Purple-and-gray missiles fire
from corrugated roof to treetop.
They can't stay within their bodies,

these pigeons. They're catalytic.
They can't stand thermals
rising from tin,

but want ballistics, want cold.
Want sky.

I stepped out into the storming
this morning, early, and felt
the top of my head

come clean off. The pink mountaintops
gyrate with blown snow.

You shot past me, both cannon and iron ball,
split to pieces by
this wind. To feathers. To shot.

I had no time to pull you together,
no heat within
to use for smelt,

to use to pull out your last precious
metal. That's good, you see.

There was no time.
I couldn't name you, couldn't call you



Monday, March 6, 2017


A sudden impact detaching the retina
can cause

sunburst. Some are hot-white.
Others are black.

And then, whatever stood before you is gone,
not disappearing,

nor fading,

but exploded

How I wish human lives
were so quickly


Sunday, January 22, 2017

[they went]

 This poem is fourth in a series unpacking a poem Derick wrote for me after we celebrated the release of Never Night, here in Palmer, Alaska. It was a wonderful evening at Sun Circle Farm, and Derick's poem from that night has always been special to me. 

[they went to eat and drink and listen to poetry. 
The children played and listened and spoke fell 
and were hurt crying for their fathers]
-Derick Burleson, July 2008

Is there poetry in the world, still? Suddenly
an angry chant, a roaring crowd's staccato 

is a brook. Listen.

Played over its lined and silvering rocks,
a melody spoken by fore-fathers

has a descant cried by their children's children's

And the mothers eat dried fruit from their purses,
stand and fall against concrete banks,

listen to one another, to a communal poem

about remaining free. 

Is there poetry still in the world? Hurt
with rocks, with thrown bricks, they still come, crying

stage whispers. Drink.

We've been told all this water
is fed by pure love, upstream of any violence,

fell from sky. Wait.

Is there poetry in this still world? Fathers
hurt by fathers who would not let them cry

stand with mothers hurt by loves who loved
too much drink.

Across this shallow, ice-cold water,
a bass line is being hummed by others.

Their throats are raw, thirsty. Listen. 

They've eaten bread, and salt. 
Folded cups from red paper.

A child drops her cup, which plays its butterfly
march 'til it sticks where tree-trunk fell. 

She cries. Water. 

Wind eats petal-pink rawness on faces-all of them. 
The child steps in 

to rescue her vessel. 
Both sides see her fall, see her begin drifting under.

Neither moves.


Saturday, January 14, 2017


[sweet alyssum and borage in azure bloom in the salad the farm feeds the people who live here and twenty-nine other families] - Derick W. Burleson, July 2008

If I owned twenty-nine acres of land what could
 be done with all that bloom under azure sky?
Sweet cut-grass chaff rising

after mower's rotating blades.
 Simple cuts-chlorophyll

and drying hay and musk of a few horses.

The farm would feed my people: whomever
gathers to live on purple potato,

on bitter baby greens, white alyssum.
On each other, dropping silver hairs into the carved

wood salad bowl. Sharing water dipper, sharing beds.

 If I gathered spring borage, who would eat it?
Who eats the mushrooms I bring now,

pock-capped, spongy undersides, creamy icicles
grown from rotting but still-standing birch? Silage

of Sitka valerian, fern fiddleheads, and dark

brown chaga conks, wrested from trunk and boiled down.
White alyssum on the windowsill, silver

mushroom knife in hand. Yes, whomever gathered to live
on this farm would eat well, it's true. Horses whickering for garden

carrots as sky darkens to azure. What Magic is it

to feed other people, to use one's hands as tillers,
 to turn up from glacial loam an elixir on which to live?

[heifer grazing beneath mountains/ invisible in cloud mist rain vanishing/ now though]

[heifer grazing beneath mountains invisible in cloud mist rain vanishing now though]  
-Derick W. Burleson, July 2008

 Another one drops off the list, daily: dodo,
black rhino, Pyrenean ibex, and you.

It's snowed for two days, a useless snow-dry,
light mist, too loose for construction.
For burying perishables under.

 In the woods, old spruce bearded
yellow-green, blacken their trunks and bend.

What will vanish next?

Stock like our neighbors' small shaggy
heifer, grazing innocently on winter hay.

Perhaps flocks of chickadees dee-dee-dee-ing
suddenly silenced. Me, cause invisible.

In my sleep.

Everyone knows a summer's rain doesn't make up for winter, though.
Nagoonberries, blueberries, bog orchids
spread tendrils beneath snowpack for months.

To feed our dogs, it takes wading
through clouds. Invisible underfoot
are the rhizomes, the runners. Mycelium.

Hope to stoke up vanishing hope.