Patricia Bollin


A woman walks the grassy river shore,
Where seeds fall easily from her open hands.
Apostle geese--they follow wanting more.
Bob their heads in rhythm as each speck lands.
Is this a masked equation: give/control?
Here she's a jesus to each bird. But then
their hunger grows. Their honking turns quite bold.
She slips to blur. I watch the birds contend
with loss, their stately air of disregard.
If I could practice such a basic style
(a subtle swagger shouldn't be too hard),
perhaps the ache would only last awhile.
But I live in the register of next.
And you have redefined yourself as ex.

Within and Without

Across the slick worn tiles infused with grace
I roll your chair past stained glass saints. Their deaths
and blood paste tattoos on your folded face.

"Remember how as Catholic kids we'd dress
as little nuns and priests, march down these aisles
and celebrate St. Patrick and his bless-

ed Ireland?" You don't answer. Just your frail
eyes staring toward the candles' shooting stars
while statues painted shut absorb denial.

You asked to come, sought time that could be ours.
Now silence stamps the air and turns its back.
Until the organ's music fills our ears--

my tight breath waits to see your face react.
No. Nothing. My solo conversation
duets with Bach. I check my watch to track

your meals and pills. It's clear this visit's done.
Out on the sidewalk, sun to stun our cells,
live faces, Lake air--false resurrection. Then

your still strong hands reach down and grab the wheels.
Your still steel look says: will you ever learn?
Your stubborn will--it scrambles to reveal

in garbled whisper: "We've missed the church. Turn
left now, quick." A pause. A look. "But we just--"
You feel a hole, the live erasure burns.

Roll backwards toward the signage of time past.
Now we add this to the list of losts. Lasts.

Vaux Swifts

Tonight 2500 people watched an estimated 5000 Vaux Swifts funnel into the Chapman School chimney in Portland, OR

They made their expected commotion
in the sky, while the kids slid down hills on
pieces of cardboard, shouting and screaming.
I watched the spin spiral of wings.
You focused on the slide-leg-glide event--
With you, all views seem potent.
This night, no kids crashed; no birds collided.
But at dusk, a Cooper's Hawk provided
a frightening show for the crowd as she passed
into the flock and grabbed one of the last
to fly by. Everyone gasped. I thought:
What if this were pure passion? A bird caught
by love's hunger, carried off in the night.
Feeling the soft peck of your eyes, I lost sight.


Patricia Bollin's work has appeared in Pearl, The Clackamas Review, The Fourth River, Tulane Review, The Postcard Project, River Poets Journal, and Oregon Literary Review. Her book reviews have appeared in CALYX and NW Writers. She currently serves as the board chair of Soapstone, a non-profit in Oregon which promotes and celebrates women writers.


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Sylvia Ashby
Jane Blanchard
Patricia Bollin
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Maryann Corbett
Eleanor Cory
Casey FitzSimons
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Claudia Gary
Edith Goldenhar
A. J. Huffman
Cambria Jones
Tamam Kahn
Jean L. Kreiling
Fiona Marshall
Holly Painter
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Andrea Witzke Slot
Linda Stern
Anne-Marie Thompson
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Mezzo Cammin will celebrate its tenth anniversary at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference, on Thursday, May 28, from 3:15-4:30, Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT. Please join us!

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32 Poems
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