Your valley-scented breath

Last evening I had the honor of participating in a local effort, here in Yakima, featuring the work of 30 poets of which I was one. We each were assigned a photograph, also by local artists, and tasked to produce a piece that was representative of that photo. It was a fun affair and drew many poetry/photography/art enthusiasts who drank local wine and beer and otherwise supported a great cause: The Yakima Light Gallery. The name of the event was Light Write

The event

The following was my offering (image not included for copyright reasons, and so as not to infringe upon the Gallery’s intention to gain physical viewers…at least until after September!).


Your valley-scented breath

Your valley-scented breath, raspy, wind-dried and whiskered,

blusters loudly, secrets untethered from your mountain mistress,


haughty and aloof. Your nose, veiled and distant,

thrust shamelessly into the virgin air,


undrapes an impish, powdered face,

intruding on the lesser ones.


Lacking restraint, you choose to hold back nothing.

Instead, winking impudently, you shrug in brazen withdrawal


and tilt the globe to burnish your burnt, brown breast –

glacial bosom, alive, rising above the depths


of the hot belching earth, quivering in silence but

creased with ten thousand yesterdays. Dug deep


into your dark maw, full of old light and new promises,

there boasts a hardscrabble domain. You wear pitted patterns


like a tiara, dousing noon-day heat in cowboy spittle.

There’s a mischievous glint in eyes drawn tight against


a yawning sky where your introspections crouch,

petitioning their release from dusty shelves.


As the choir of stones sings the well-worn songs,

a valley coos, relaxing on your grizzled lap.


An untidy blouse of wayward blue

billows out willing, mottled, stretched across


the scarred loom of your ancient back.

There, there it is we shall walk.


There, where sallow cheeks of star-burnt faces

hide themselves behind the paint of the green years.


Silly fool! What lips have you to kiss these wandering feet,

still too soft, that bleed at your touch?


So, cough up your tumbleweed tales of

desperado dances and roughneck rambles.


Let your thin, dry tongue trace lightly in meandering lines,

the long-forgotten stories of mound-bellied earth,


unaccustomed to such attention. Only then would you

blush and turn the other cheek.

©Robert Alan Rife, May, 2014

The event 2

 The Poets 

The poets



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