Head of the Metolius by CC WillowI have almost always lived on the West Coast; born in the Bay Area and my parents moved my family to Oregon in 1979. As such, I have a very Pacific NW frame of mind. Which translate to its metaphors and images being used liberally in my poems …

Samples below

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Wet Day in Tillamook

Artic Front came down the
mountain ranges,
changing weekend plans, too
cold to be wet.
But the car’s already loaded;
my family, my boys
long to leave the city,
to challenge the road.

West we head. West
and north.
We race the cyclists
to the coast;
wonder at their stamina,
their toughness.
We crave our comfort
the most.

Soon we’re at the motel
unloading our bags;
through the rain, the hail,
the storm
but then through a
fire-lit lobby, carpeted hall . . .
A race for us at last,
to a room, our towels.
Our goals lay shimmering in
the room in the back –
the heated pool, the hot tub,
the steam room.

A mountain range now between
us and our city home.
Mother Nature did not defeat us.
for we got soaked as
she had planned;
but on our terms
soaking in the water watching
the cold, wet outside the windows,
too wet to worry
the cold.

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Blowout Creek

Morning light
floods the tiny meadow,
the elks’ hidden rest.

Verdant ferns and fallen woods
sheltered by the hillside
secret the tell-tale prints away.

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“We-chah” is the Cherokee for raccoon. It seemed appropriate as I was talking to a raccoon at Celeilo Falls …


… the landscape
has changed
sublimated & distilled,
like the cherokee,
yet deep in the land
the tribal blood still flows.

How can they hate us;
if they look deep,
my grandmother
looks back at them.

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Celeilo Falls

Even the white mans’ heart
must cry at Celeilo Village.

Long House surrounded
by mobile homes;

only sign of life
starving dog,

next to contaminated water –
“do not drink”.

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Route Nine


i hover on the edge of my seat
my bag again on my back
my stop is coming

but the light is red
half a block ‘til the doors open
and that mental second hand is loud

a tick tick ticking
don’t be late
need the light to turn.

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March 5


today’s the day i anticipated
a personal holiday
the signal of seasons giving way to life
to warming up
to opening up

i warned my son two weeks ago
i started the countdown; not yet march
but deep in my bones, earth waiting to spring forth
daffodils trumpeting its advent
and today the wind excitedly whispered

“enough, ‘thia, it’s been long enough.”

in my hands i feel that low long threep sigh as I gather
that taped resistance then the annual surrender,
the pulling off of thin plastic,
the wadding up, the tossing away.

one room after another, layers off
insulating curtains opened
slat blinds accessible and rolled up,
glass exposed …
naked window, the world

… right there inches away

maybe even, in a moment of glorious sun heat,
a slide open,
blossom scented air
a green breeze
alert cat on a sill

the rooms have taken on a wild light …
we endured. winter has retreated;
it’s breath only a nightly echo
already fading and nine months
until the next needed hibernation.

from my window seat i watch robins feast,  build nests.

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the water flowing looks brown
burnt umber
it isnt brown, it is clear
it flows over rocks, pebbles
containing copper, granite, crushed earth
the water is clear
what you see isn’t the water.

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i ride waves but not the kind i want
no, these drown me

people liken me to a disney character
its the hair, its the name

its not the life, mine is dry
but strong currents of despair, pain, loss

gaia’s children are crying, lost
north winds blowing across plains

walking volcanos steaming
water levels rising, or worst, lakes drained

maybe its compassion fatigue, these weeping wounds
that rise, those undertows that pull under

and then up to a crest, raging water holding me in unstable air
there will be that impact upon hard sand or rocky cliffs

i say you’re only human, flesh and blood and imperfection
but i lie, i feel your otherness – that primal devils whirlpool

carving coastlands, carving me
waves carrying my supine mind, crashing

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there are ducks –
the gardener says –
that sit on the bridge
and watch the water,
watch their flocks
float under and away;
a pair – he says –
until this week.

this week – he doesn’t know –
where they went;
the railing was bare
empty when i arrived with easel
but i remember how
shortly, after setting out acrylics –
a drake flew up, curving
around trees
over the swift water –
and two minutes later
the hen – her dun back
eclipsed by wide powerful wings;
away they flew
down the corridor of cool green,
their light bellies reflected
in a creek dotted with mossy rocks,
thirsty roots.

there are ducks –
the gardener says –
you should have come last week.

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deirdra’s heart

you can see it in the tall purple poppies nestled under the douglas fir
their tissue-paper petals almost transparent when the afternoon light shines through;
how clay and blue pots gather around the small fountain
like bees to pollen, like birds to grain, like small dogs to waiting love.
saint fiacre watches over her, as he does most gardeners;
together they welcome the pilgrims and their paints for the day.
and oh, in that small cell where a tiny waterfall falls among summer irises –
you can see it as three small frogs lift their lily pad blankets and blink, contentedly –
three lilies have greeted her today, a light pink reflected into dark green depths;
and in little secret gardens on the hill, benches offered up in both sun and shade,
parasols protecting against harshness, and a view
the deep valley of the willamette river, tiny farms and homes planted like wild daisies
i have even walked the circular paths in the forest, there she was
an out of the way greenhouse, a small glade with trunks waiting for story-time,
ferns as tall as myself stand waiting, breathing moist air, moss clings to evergreen firs
mostly, though you can hear it, strings in a contemplative celtic lilt –
the music her love calling out to her, telling her he is everywhere she is.

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early morn on an overcast day
it oregoned at Mission Mill.

a slight mist that became a drizzle,
became a heavy sprinkle where observers would

seek shelter under mature trees
became drops forming a stream

stream becoming a silver water race downhill
under walkways and through gears

to western willamette and north to ocean.
oregon. the morning oregoned and I

fled the trees and the now-wet benches,
like ducks, i sought shelter on the banks

someplace apart from others but with a view
an antique porch, one that held personages and parsonages

school children who then farmed the valley
built wool mills and laid out paper;

they didn’t wait the water out, they used it
and kept it flowing – west, north, out

i sat next to may irises on the bank
and watched oregon flow pass, under 13th street

to flow pass university, hospital, city hall, library
in and out of ponds; it wouldn’t stay contained

as it wove woolen blankets and pressed paper
as it cooled children and housed ducks, herons,

observers. I could not stay ashore, I wanted
bare feet to follow as it’s rills slid under commute traffic,

saddling spillways and watching bridges pass overhead
it had already left the forests, left the sky

it was sliding all over the ground, Oregon finding
rivulets and land folds, where it could pool.

I can’t let them bottle it up, pour it into plasticized forms
and ship it away; Oregon should never be contained.

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a tanka

Teasing one another
taunting fish and other animals
each one doing what it pleases
running up hills of snow just to slide down again
swimming like fish but faster

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