Honorable Mention from OPA

Happy news! Found out yesterday that I received an honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association’s fall 2013 poetry contest. I entered my poem Family Tree in the Poet’s Choice category and received 4th honorable mention (out of 5). This is my second time entering and second time receiving a mention. I am feeling quite honored and grateful, knowing there are many, many talented poets in this state, and I’m sure numerous entries in that category. Congrats to all the winners!

New Moon

She saw her chance,
clever girl:

the ripe moment when
watchful moon blinked.

With one hand she swept
a swath of stars

into her basket, stopped
to swallow one whole,

then, with luminous flesh,
slipped away to her secret nest.


Inspired by yesterday’s new moon and this week’s Sunday Whirl wordle prompt, using all 12 words: chance, blinked, saw, ripe, basket, secret, flesh, clever, nest, stars, hand, swept.

Almost Sunset

The sea stacks its white knuckles
against the shore.
I think no one has answered
for centuries
but what do I know?

You’re walking the dogs;
I’m drinking poems.
I decide my home is the quiver of grass,
the almost sunset,
this sweet, messy hotel room.

Now someone is tossing popcorn
to the crows.
They careen and dive
while a border collie circles,
trying to contain, trying to catch.

There was a woman earlier looking at the sea,
curly hair windswept like a painting.
I could tell she was saying goodbye.
When she stood she became an hourglass,
sand falling through her.

Beyond the horizon, galaxies carry on
while we circle,
trying to contain,
trying to catch.


This is still a draft, which I shared on Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Constructive critique welcome – thanks!

Social Media-inspired Haiku

last year’s hail storm
wholly destroyed shade garden;
cautious replanting


Night at Museum
with one hundred fifth-graders;
hope no one throws up


I have seen great things;
both of my sons being born
by far the coolest


the breeze is making
wind chimes sing and trees
dance like Hula girls


lilac bush in bloom
scent drifting in the back door–
so very pleasant!


wild turkey walking
around our driveway just now–
oh, what does it bode?


I don’t have parties
but my pulse says that my heart
wants a new lampshade


These seven haiku were inspired by my friends’ Facebook status updates. In a couple of cases, I combined updates of two different people. I trimmed or added a few words here and there to fit the form, but tried to leave the essence of the thoughts intact.

Motionless from the Iron Bridge: A Review

On May 2, 2013, I wrote my first book review for the Oregon Poetry Association. The book is a local (Northwest) poetry anthology with a bridge theme. I really enjoyed the process, and I hope it helps their sales. It’s a wonderful collection including poems by Oregon’s current Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen and 11 other outstanding poets. It deserves a wide audience!


Motionless from the Iron Bridge: A Northwest Anthology of Bridge Poems
Edited by John Sibley Williams

The first thing that struck me about this anthology, after Jonette Swanson’s haunting iron bridge image on the cover, was the word “motionless” in the title. It hung in my mind, quietly demanding attention. The title, which comes from a poem of the same name by the book’s editor, John Sibley Williams, perfectly captures the contemplative yet grounded tone running through this collection. Read the full review.


Six and Twenty Blackbirds

Six and Twenty Blackbirds

Flecks of ink in bare trees, blackbirds
haunt the schoolyard. Swings hang red,
plastic-still over untroubled snow, silence.
We pretend we have answers, but blame,
like birds’ posturing racket, moves on, leaves
tail feathers to fall, land, make no difference.

Who are we to think we know the difference
between grief and greed? When blackbirds
fall from trees; like leaves
twirling, we cycle through green, gold, red.
In autumn’s dear dying, winter feels the blame,
retreats into silence.

Once I found eight feathered bodies in silence,
drowned in a tub of rainwater; no difference
to anyone but me, who took the blame.
Yet still I wonder about those blackbirds,
why eight small hearts, wild and red
as love, floated cold with sodden leaves.

Another headline, another shooter leaves
us shattered. Sorrow floods nights’ silence,
Christmas lights strung green and red.
We sing a song for difference,
for six and twenty blackbirds
incapable of blame.

Gray is the color of guns and blame,
green the sound of trees unfurling leaves,
absorbing shadows of the blackbirds.
Other birdsong will grace the silence;
reveal a world that forgives difference,
its heart cracked open, a blood-red

elegy for all we’ve lost. No red
apple on the desk; no more time for blame.
We seek to grasp the difference
between truth and fear. As leaves
feed off light, spin sanity from silence.
Above the school now, blackbirds

fly into memory like pressed red leaves.
Beyond blame, act from the healing of silence;
know that makes a difference to the blackbirds.


This poem came about a couple of months ago, after  a member of my poetry critique group challenged us to try writing a sestina, which was the traditional verse category in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Spring 2013 Contest. I had never heard of a sestina let alone attempted to write one, but I decided to give it a shot, and, with encouragement from my group, I submitted it. I’m happy to report that it received an honorable mention.Yay! Feedback welcome, as always… thanks!


Illuminated Planet CoverLater today, I’ll be doing my first “formal” reading at Tsunami Books in Eugene. It’s part of their Third Saturday Readers Series, and I’ll be joined by two other featured poets — Joy McDowell and Jon Labrousse. I’m super excited and grateful. I feel like I’ve come a long way since doing my first open mic last May at the Northwest Poets’ Concord in Newport, Oregon.

Another milestone is I’ve just published my own little chapbook, called Illuminated Planet. It includes 11 poems (a mix of old and new) as well as several gorgeous photos by my friend Maggie Steel. I’m selling it for $5; if you’re interested in purchasing a copy, please email me at k.a.eastlund (at) gmail (dot) com.

I haven’t been posting much here lately, and one reason is that I am focusing more on getting my poems published, and unfortunately, some journals won’t consider work that has appeared on a personal blog. But I am still writing and will try to post more often, and I’m thinking about doing some new things here as well — perhaps interviews and book reviews. Stay tuned!

Tenth Oregon Winter

White sheet of day hangs overhead,
brown leaves skitter over empty sidewalks
or press their wet bodies into the earth.

Listen to the emerald stories of moss,
rusty honks of geese;
marvel at mushrooms big as berets.

Forecasters call for freezing rain,
fog, drizzle (rinse, repeat);
4:30 feels like a bad omen.

Light lamps, fires;
learn to build your nest—
gather blue strips of sky,
add symphony strings, spines of old books.

Notice evergreens, wearing
silver beards of lichen—
how they shelter and welcome
whatever comes.



“We write to taste life twice.”
~ Anais Nin

I write because the moon wraps itself around my ankles
and only this dance shakes it free.

I write to scratch the itch,
to stretch the kinks out of my tangled mind.

I write because I cannot bottle laughter.

I write because it is the raft that carries me
over icy rivers and bottomless oceans.
It is my passport, my talisman, my map home.

I write to learn the thoughts of trees
and stones and ghosts.

I write because I am bewitched
by the clash and swirl of life,
by words like corridor and plaster and millennium.

I write to enter the secret side door of your heart,
to tell you things I cannot tell myself.

I write to bear witness.

I write for the gypsy carnival girl,
the one with striped stockings and a spark in her eyes,
who whispers in my ear:
“Anything, anything…”


© Kelly Eastlund
DRAFT – October 31, 2012

Inspired by a prompt at We Write Poems. Thank you, Neil!

Autumn Song

Cherry tomatoes glow
in the late September sun,
candy-red beside the garlic
gone to seed.

Over the fence thorny arms
of blackberries arch, offering
their post-peak assortment
of unripe, past ripe, withered.

The apples have all fallen
and lie on the dry grass fermenting,
swarmed by drunken bees swirling
in the sharp-sweet scent of decay.

The air is feathered in memory
floating in amber light,
smooth as polished oak
It knows this song, as do you—

minor chords, bittersweet melody,
the turning leaves’ crescendo—
but listen, there is more:

a low, contented chirping
of starlings settling into evening;
a rhythmic hammering
from a distant rooftop.

The grass sighs into green
after the dust of August.
Even stones thirst for rain.

~ ~ ~

Shared at Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub. Very cool place – check it out!