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Emily Strauss

emilystrauss.jpgEmily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.


for weeks the pillows, blankets, towels
smelled like old charcoal pits, the forests
to the west blazed, the lightening storm
fires from July still burned in September

smoke twists around the light poles early
in the morning, in the dense haze the hills
mere outlines, sun rise a yellow river
through streets of solid orange mist

every breath acrid, a wildfire somewhere
throws off thick clouds that pour down
the blackened gorges, now crawls through
town, my eyes water, I smell like smoke.

Thoughts from a quiet space

but the wind howls and moans through barren trees
with winter’s cold sunset fading, a somber red
telling of fractured night frosts, leaves caught
in frozen ponds, every breath a sharp pain, yet—

the wind still blows, the branches crack together
like chopsticks, dry needles gather under low-hung
boughs twisting together in corners of snow,
white powder churned and drifting in eddies—

suddenly the wind dies, still night expands
toward windows and doors, wood piles buried,
the air now a cold hand circling cedars, clamped
around the house where people brace for more

but hearing only silence are relieved and terrified
at once, caught in a forest that won’t cosset.