Mudlark Poster No. 88 (2010)

Collaborative Poems
by James Bertolino & Anita K. Boyle

Sugar Zen

You must descend 
the sugary depths of a ripe pear
to find your full measure

of the very pith that makes
the galaxy speak simply
of what lasts, what leaves

behind small trails on
a string of sound
that fills the ear with

nothing, then


Your canoe cleaves
the morning. This
is good. There is a sound

you can taste, and better
than spring water, colder
than knowing a heart

clarified by snow. Also good
is the warmth of a Summer
river, flowing like silk

over boulders into a swirling
that sings: follow me, go
your own way, be the leaf

that floats the current, eddies
round a map and
into the blue.

Saying Hello

Spearpoint through rock:
just another way of reaching,
of saying hello to myth.

Dazzle breath. Flexing

of the longest muscles, nostrils,
and blinking of the eyes,
twitch of brow: reflex

action rising now
like a disturbed hermit deep
in the throat.

James Bertolino’s poetry has been published internationally, and collected in ten volumes from such publishers as Copper Canyon Press, New Rivers Press, Carnegie Mellon University Press and the Quarterly Review of Literature Award Series. His most recent volume, Finding Water, Holding Stone, was published in 2009 by Cherry Grove Collections. His fellowship awards and residencies have come from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Djerassi Foundation and the Espy Foundation. He received his MFA at Cornell University, and has taught creative writing at Cornell, University of Cincinnati, Western Washington University and, for 2005-06, was Writer-in-Residence and Hallie Ford Chair of Creative Writing at Willamette University in Oregon. In 2007 he received the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State poets. He lives outside Bellingham, Washington in the shadow of Mt. Baker, where he has retired to full-time writing.

Anita K. Boyle’s poems have appeared in Indiana Review, StringTown, The Raven Chronicles, Spoon River Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Stories With Grace, Margin, and in the anthologies Red Sky Morning and Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Poetry Collaboration in America. She was a winner of Seattle’s 2004 Red Sky Poetry Theatre competition and, for the month of October, 2003, had an Espy Foundation writer’s residency near the Pacific Ocean in Oysterville, Washington. Her books include Bamboo Equals Loon and, in collaboration with James Bertolino, Bar Exams and Pub Proceedings from Egress Studio Press.

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