Switchboard Connections: FIRELAND

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Switchboard Connections - FIRE/LAND: The Exhibition

During the runtime of FIRE/LAND: The Exhibition El Dorado County Poet Laureate 2021-2023, Lara Gularte, led a poetry writing workshop in ekphrasis in the Switchboard Gallery. Surrounded by the artwork from FIRE/LAND: The Exhibition poets crafted poems inspired by what was in the gallery. Lara then facilitated a reading of the poems which came from the workshop for the public to enjoy - those poems are below.

Photographs courtesy of Lara Gularte.

a fine dust, by Sue McMahon

fine dust no pine needles no dead leaves or any crunchy duff that should lay on the forest floor is left nowhere for birds to peck at insects crawling inside the normal layer of nature’s fluff only fine dust of the smallest particles the kind you inhale unexpectedly and makes you choke now the birds…

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Caldor Firestorm, by Carolyn S. Dyle

Caldor Firestorm A night of fire and fury Our hearts trembled Our minds seized by shock A firestorm raging upon us Flames devouring every living thing Above and beneath the earth Relentless and unmerciful Firey embers raining from the sky We flee with terror in our hearts The firestorm charges eastward Leaving ash heaps of…

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Cuckoo, by Jen Rae Vernon

Cuckoo   “Historic Fight” hike three men in forest fire two with shovels, one short-handled, one with pick all thin, long sleeves, suspenders no masks or eye protectors   We keepers of forest and mother nature elemental-destroyers and life-makers scrim red alights on crumpled photo skin these men are ours, CCC Camp kin, a step…

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disconnection, by Sue McMahon

disconnection the fire engulfed the forest as mandala’s arms tried to hold it back yet the circle was broken and no continuance of life could live here now though her arms were stretched wide open the flames she could not catch, while colorful fire whirlies escaped and exploded, deep in the forest the animals ran…

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Hellish Reverie, by Garrett Ramos

Hellish Reverie What conscience swears Is fire’s kiss is not so charming To rouse a sleeping sylvan beauty. But scruples do not falsify my eye, Which looks on hot unheavenly aurora roaring As though This thing that smears an ashen maquillage Would beautify.   Garrett Ramos Salvagers, Lovers Leap, 2023, giclée print, Still from digital…

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Lost Time in the Burn Scar, by Taylor Graham

Lost Time in the Burn Scar   Old fire behaviorist, forester and range manager – teaching how a forest comes back from fire. But unlike the land, you can’t come back. I’m walking below a log deck of burned-dead conifers. I pulled over to see what’s happening, two years after fire that turned the ground…

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Nature’s Own Fire-Works, by Taylor Graham

Nature’s Own Fire-Works   It’s awful – like something from a thriller, a horror movie – but it’s Nature cleaning her house –   awesome – since Time began, an ages-long tradition – but now, on Man-ufactured steroids.   -Taylor Graham Uncontrolled, 2023, Giclée print, Still from the digital video FIRELAND Big Burn

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Notes on Revisiting Caldor, by Taylor Graham

Notes on Revisiting Caldor   23 months after fire: black oak sprouts from a scorched base deerbrush, Sierra milkwort fresh deer prints on old dirt road spotted towhee unseen in the brush dry meadow alive with mullein velvety goldenrod, heart-leaf milkweed among black skeleton conifers, new ponderosa sprouts – too many, too dense for the…

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Passing Through the Flames, by Anton Nemeth

Passing Through the Flames   I sit here on my aging aching butt Among a lot of burnt up branches put Here to show what the flames of fire can do To them and the layers of silent soil Beneath the coat of fallen drying leaves And needles that the trees rain upon them Where…

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Red Dirt Road, by Carolyn S. Dyle

Red Dirt Road Burned out tar paper shacks along a red dirt road Façade blackened with soot and ash, Hopelessness glaring from empty windows, In an open door a black-haired waif, In the darkness a hungry eyed toddler stands, Red dirt clinging to face, feet and hands, Who will hold you, little one. Who will…

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The Burn That Saved Our Landing, by Taylor Graham

The Burn That Saved Our Landing   Flash-back. The day we drove out Caldor Road where we sometimes trained our search dogs. Forest Service beat us there; you recognized Barry’s rig. What was his crew up to? Maybe your dog could find him —   up a little trail, green forest on the one side,…

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The Smoke, the Flame, by Shelley Wagner

The Smoke, the Flame   The wind blew a firestorm Into my house, into my neighbor’s house. It left through the pine trees Dared to return, to burn, to creep   Into my house, my neighbor’s house. The smoke, the flame Dared to return, to burn, to creep Across virgin ground   The smoke, the…

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The Wind, The Water, The Flame, by Joanne Blossom

The Wind, The Water, The Flame When they questioned their supreme deities, The builders, lawmakers, valiant fighters Did not believe them.   They ignored them, would not believe, even laughed At the answers. Others protested, You can’t hunt here, said the rancher to the wolves. You can’t eat here, complained the farmer to the crow.…

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TRAVELLING FIRE/LAND WITH A FOX   Smoke rises, as shadows feed fire. When Kali, Goddess of destruction appears, the sun goes dark.   Trees like fiery pillars reach up to the heavens, and the sky sways with wingspan.   Shadows running, the eagle’s voice a twitter. A gray fox turns himself into smoke to escape…

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Whose Fault?, by Taylor Graham

Whose Fault? I watched on TV as the land burned.   Ponderosa and incense cedar turned to towering torches in flame-smoke sky. The diggins’ ridge not far from home, where we explored glory holes amid bear clover, and trained our search dogs, and walked for meditation, for grounding….   And here it is, in black-gray-crimson…

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