Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

Landscape Poems

By Lauren Napier

Reading Maps

There are things about my fingers that i used to know better

Because they touched maps more often 

i used to know what an inch was

Based on the length of my own thumb:

Tip of my thumb to the joint

He used to know the map as well as the palm of his hand

The distance between joint and nail tip 

that marked 500 miles in his rearview 

500 miles closer to the ever-moving destination

tonight : there 

tomorrow : there

And Here never being a sure point 

ever-treading beneath his tires 

He used to know the map as well as the palm of his hand 

before he stopped looking at his fingers 

and seeking the horizon of the what’s next


Lady Justice

In this town, Justice does not wear a blindfold

Untethered by a cloth of mere thread

She can see the pleas of both meek and bold 

So Her gaze, rightly so, inspires great dread 

The limbs of folly and the whims of humans 

Subliminal threads of greed and Gold 

not much avoids her earthly sermons

Her judgements they are bought and sold 

Here she stands of stone in the desert wind 

Lording over a dusty dry land 

Not much remains in the soil of her kin 

But civil war costumes at her left hand 

A land forgotten and asking just to blossom

Within Justice‘s parched and marble pale bosom. 



Nine goldfinches flitted about the feeder
Their song interlacing with the waves in the bay
Salt on the porch furniture slats
Salt along a cheekbone
As I went to make soup
The rim of the colander was exactly the width of a chickpea
Making a wooden spoon an impossible instrument for transferring garbanzos
from stove to pot
And the holes of the strainer were too big to hold the alphabet
T’s and i’s falling uncrossed and undotted toward the drain
As a gasp of loss is too big to be held by a body’s frame
Letters and oxygen both struggle to stay inside

Today I learned that there are no kites sold on the islands of Hawaii
Volcanic winds indifferent to their course and flight
I thought about how colorful carry-ons from the mainland could inspire jealousy in children’s eyes
And tears fell from mine as
the goldfinch greedily squawked at the crow with a beak filled with shrimp tails:
The neighborhood trash
“If you pulled it out, you can toss it back in.”
The sea is a cyclical thing

A gasp without exhalation is taken
silenced by a grey-skied exhale
A stifled oroboros
Heavy with a rift in her heart
A pebbly beach
free of sea detritus
and a volcanic shoreline
full of colors in flight
Would be a welcomed exchange
To see you again in tomorrow’s night.


An elegy for renamed lands

I long to know the sound of cracked mud spoken in the land’s native tongue 

speckled pink with turquoise for eyes 

blue stone birthed when water mingled with earthly tears 

ever-changing mirroring the hues of the earth a reflection of the changing temperament of humans 

laden with the excessive saliva produced every time the land has been renamed

these bastardizations are mispronounced 

Tread upon 

the saliva that shifts from the inside of one cheek to another 

Veiny flash glistening with a gasp

cocked head

as the tire bumps the thud ignored wholly 

30 miles later 

3 1/2 hours passed


it’s 2:02 there’s a pheasant on the side of the road

Route 2 

Has two white lines proving a protective boundary 

cast by the county planner 

salted in winter reinforcing the lines 

wings outstretched catching the last of the days light 

the last of the preserved feathers 

the fingertips of the

Of the sun’s rays almost as thin as the narrow primary 

dying dry dead 

once the lands shone proud under their rightful names 

Glottal stops empowered in buttes 

canyons and chasms 

and then the snow started to fall 


Erasing nature’s spoiled Canvas 

feather pressed between the pages of the atlas spit upon thumb and forefinger 

moistly turning the pages

Tires moving forward 

Memory and feather preserved


whatever is in a name?

Strange barren terrain 

Absent of a flag 

Shall not remain unnamed for long

For land cannot be mapped until it is claimed 

Is not found until it is seen by human eyes 

Topographical existence upon flimsy paper legitimizing the physical 

Paper made from the trees that sit upon the land in question

The land questioned

The question of how can anyone own the land 

Is there a contract written in cloud wisps

Bequeathing grains of sand and blades of grass

To the careless undersigned

Who has become the witless undertaker 

For the undertaking 

Man wields his pen at 

Mother Earth

A convoluted inversion of Oedipus’ plight 

The lain and the slain at his feet 

Metal ballpoint tip – cold and sterile against the living paper

Ink scratching the texture

Skyscrapers pierce the sky 

Fingernails scrape skin

The paper dissolves in a summer rain storm 

Crumbled in the branches’ fingers

And offered to the omniscient sky

Fates sealed

Time elapsed 

Earth warming with a slowly boiling shame 

Of being convinced

Someone else could be her steward

Glaciers melting in her angry gaze

She longingly whispers to those who used to tread here

Those who honored the space surrounding 

Instead of trampling 

Who moved as a part of the seasons and wind 

Rather than rooting moving feet and setting themselves apart 

Layering cement over the soil

But a whisper is hard to hear over the landscape‘s swan song 

That plays in harmony with mankind‘s reveille


Lauren Napier is a multi-disciplined artist from Washington State. You can find her on tour or on twitter @punkrockdoll