Today's poetry for today's world

Reg Saner


Reg Saner is a longtime westerner and mountaineer

whose writing centers on terrain of the American west.

He led an infantry platoon in the Korean War, studied

in Italy at the University degli Studi di Firenze, then

taught at the University of Colorado. His poetry has won

three national prizes, and his writing has appeared in

more than sixty anthologies. He lives with his family

in Boulder.







Click on any book cover to buy Reg Saner's books.








Say I'm bending toward yet another clue

to this world it’s taking me forever to know


as my lifetime goes by.  Tiny and sprightly

a pine siskin lights up its spruce tip,


all a-twitter at our wild setting.  Naked trunks

hugely ruined lie strewn about me like heroes


fallen athwart broken omens of stone,

and laid so low the squirrels convert them


to raceways.  Jasper Creek keeps crashing

into its plunge pool, seethes there a while


till calmed to the clarity of an absolute substance:

dark, heavy, and cold.  Then, no less mysterious


than we are, again goes lunging pell-mell as water

we don't give a thought to.  Oh yes, on forest mornings


I can't ask to happen, any harebell may arrest me

by dangling stream-side into slight mist


from the creek’s cascade, the better to shelter

oracular pollen.  A Steller's jay falling freely


down the mountain may flare suddenly up

and open so electric-blue onto dwarf willow


it fires my ambition always to be just as I am

right here and now – though chances are


I'll be heading elsewhere with my next breath,

just as forest wind hurrying on, hurrying on,


wouldn't be wind if it didn't.




“Forest Mornings I Can’t Ask to Happen”

First appeared in Quarterly Review of Literature (Princeton)











Later, where junipers gnarl and contort

like a lapsed forest on sun-hammered

hardpan, you hear wind settle down, hear


high desert subsiding to one great quietude

this whole plateau seems to float on.  It's then

at the hour when grand stone-ripened times


grow familiar as bat-flitter, Arizona's

pastels turn around, walking steadily off

into a nightfall that kindles the evening star


for your campfire.  As if desert mesas prefer

being listened to that way, constellations

rising behind them do seem to draw nearer


and burn more sincerely for never saying how far

they might take you.  Yet you know yourself

native there, along with the one, the many,


the forever.  And, in a hush uttered by nothing

but everything named “creation,” a canyon wren

singing to the silence it came from.




“North of Wupatki” First appeared in Poetry (Chicago)











Consider just one sacral tableau: three nails

or so to drain a god.  And how, ever after,

the infidel corpses have piled up

thick as centuries.  Even as we speak

holy slaughters accrue and conspire

till everything’s ancient history

late-breaking all over the place.


Nudged by the just thud of humanitarian

bombs it may seem that our national heart

like an angry red planet keeps hurling

itself against the gates of strange cities

yet for all our wise sayings preserved

in alcohol, it’s the old story’s bitter end

returned to fresh beginnings.


Victims flee riding any old thing, school buses,

farm carts.  The very roads become refugees

as under the remote control of Holy Writ

fear, misery, and rage take turns

swallowing each other

as the righteous connive at scenarios

even sacred books couldn’t worsen.

Small wonder the gods have all sailed

off the edge of the world, but how lucky for us

these opposable thumbs evolved just in time

to help carry our grudges.


Meanwhile, none of the other planets fidget

or fuss, they merely roll round and around

like ball bearings.  But here?

The global soldier is earth-colored,

both what he wears and lies in,

with man crawling toward man

across rival axioms.  As each aims and fires

at a difference in cloth, each wins the day,

in dragging by rope naked elders to the quarry.


Wake me when eternity starts, will you?

I don’t want to miss it.                                                                   




“Wake Me” First appeared in War, Literature & the Arts







WRITER'S TIP: Write to discover.  If it’s attention you want,

                               rather than scheming away try to deserve it.        






Return to The Poets table of contents.