Scot Siegel was born in Oakland, California, and resides in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Siegel is the author of three full-length poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks. He has received fellowship-residencies from Playa at Summer Lake and awards and commendations from Nimrod International, Aesthetica (UK), the Oregon State Library, and the Oregon Poetry Association. Scot Siegel is a past contributor to Manifest West and author of Thousands Flee California Wildflowers (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and The Constellation of Extinct Stars (Salmon Poetry, 2016).
Light and Power
– Wm. “Windy” Stiles
After the fire, mother sent me away,
put me on a train to K-Falls.
Bisbee was no place for a child.
I never met my father; half-lawman,
half-train robber, at twelve he shot
his father dead.
Now I keep a one-room apartment
over a diner in a town with no liquor,
one pastor, and the only petrol around.
I work for Light & Power, pulling wire
over rimrock, electrifying farms
and far-flung ranches,
Righting poles downed by storms,
restoring light to the darkest homes.
– Summer Lake, 1928
Nineteen degrees. Wind from the east,
like rolling pins over the dull xylophone
of our one-room schoolhouse. Mrs Reed
hates me. I can tell. And I miss Peter
The Rexall. Soda fountain. Root Beer
float. Sweat on fluted glass. Hear that
wind? It wicks the woodstove’s heat
down to the quick, then licks what’s left
From the hearth. Hardly any warmth
touches our faces. Yet my pupils’
eyes are bright. They watch me pace.
They listen, intently, as I say:
Write a poem, of summer. Something
with lavender, or watermelons.
North of Paisley, where hay stubble yields
to desert scrub, just above Summer Lake’s
salt-rimmed shore, rests a ramshackle ranch,
a real sore of a farm; no tractor, no wagon,
not even a horse. Though hard water springs
forth from a seam in the earth. It seethes
with vapors tinged with sage and sulfur,
seemingly the Devil’s work.
The barn is an engineering marvel,
plumbed with showers and a shoulder-
deep pool. After fourteen hours spooling
wire, I don’t go to the saloon. That jade
water is a glove that soothes a man’s
every ache, and dissolves all worry.
At night, when others are asleep,
I roll over on my side and conjure us.
The memory returns as lantern, a flame;
first to the muscle that is my tongue,
then hands and shoulders; and I grow
strong with the taste of you–
the bed sways in its moorings; the water
clouds with scenes of our tangled limbs–
Then it ends, and the world is dark again,
but for the fragrance of sage.
In The Town Where All The Men Are Widowers
Bushtits in the latticework of dusk
soothe the fever.
A train disembodied from its whistle
pushes us along.
The radio caught between stations
Some who live apart are less alone
than those who live together.
The half-life of a wish cannot
yet had we never met I would
miss you more—
The distance between solace
is the depth
of the train’s whistle.