Summer Reads 2017

Summer Reading 2017: 3 New Poems by Top Portland Poets

Fresh verse from Trevino L. Brings Plenty, Hajara Quinn, and Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

By Trevino L. Brings Plenty, Hajara Quinn, and Cindy Williams Gutiérrez July 10, 2017 Published in the August 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Do Not Right

That feeling. Standing. At the center of Tilikum Crossing. Wanting to jump off. Stopped. At heavy traffic. Four way stop. Foot on brake. A few inches from the
accelerator. Wanting to drive into traffic. Body impact to feel anything.

I think about you. Flood covering left eye. Begin dialogue. Mechanics of loss. Head leans into it. Drapes bone marrow. Scrapes throat. Feet root ground. Lift concrete.
I do what’s not right. I do everything not right to make body sing dirge lullabies.

Trevino L. Brings Plenty is a poet, musician, multimedia video artist, and author of Wakpá Wanági, Ghost River (Backwaters Press).


While we stopped for gas
hay bales practiced
their simple resplendence
alongside the two lane
highway in the late afternoon sun.
A single tree inhabited the field—
the day moon balanced
above it like a bonus point.
Striding out of the gas station,
backlit and contiguous with
the sun, you are a simple thing
following the simplicity of memory’s
stage directions, the blond hairs
of your forearms catching the light
like a bugle call.
Let’s spread our eagles
you said, and then we did.

Hajara Quinn’s Coolth comes out from Big Lucks Books this fall.

Umbilical Cord

My mother never learned to swim. 
I swim in a land lush with rain. I swim with my shoes on.

The farthest she has ever moved is 60 miles upriver.
The Río Grande trickles there, too, despite its grand name. 
A gulf of 2,000 miles divides us. Here, in cascade country,
the Columbia writhes—half a mile across, 55 feet deep.

My mother rarely sees rain fall. 
But she ventures out in thunderstorms
with hail as big as South Texas grapefruit. 
In the pelting of hailstones, I hear her three wishes:
“Stay warm, stay dry. Change your wet socks.” 
And her promise: “I’ll learn to swim if you bring me a pool of Oregon rain.”

Cindy Williams Gutiérrez is the author of The Small Claim of Bones (Bilingual Press) and the award-winning play Words That Burn.
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