Two poems by M.R. Smith

The Night the Cuprum Barn Buckled and Fell

On the night the Cuprum barn buckled,
all day there had been nothing but mare’s tail clouds
and dead quiet across the Seven Devils.

There was the long stretch of hot until that dry
cold front came in the night and lit up Lick Creek
and the Sheep Rock.

There was the usual wind come through Hell’s Canyon
that pushed the big carp down off the river top.
At suppertime there was nothing and the forest felt

like the silence on death row, waiting for sounds
in the corridor. There was a dance that night at the old hall
and not a soul in town missed it.

No one left early and there was still dust in the air
in the morning. That old Johnson brought his fiddle
and the band got him up on stage to play.

Those young Council twins wore dirndl skirts. We all listened
to the dry wind come late and the lightning lent the hall
a kind of strobe light. We didn’t go outside in all that.

We took to stomping our boots on the wood floors
at the thunder. Oh, it was great fun. Somewhere in the night
we all heard the Cuprum barn buckle.

There are some who know it was the wind and lightning
that done it. Some say the Cuprum barn was long overdue
for that kind of fall.

Lick Creek Cow Camp

We find senior rights to good water here hard
against the late summer sluice of Lick Creek.

We drag our campers up past the O-X and over the good
wood bridge on the forest road to the far bank

and let the dog scatter the free range cows. They shade up
under the old growth firs and stare balefully

at their usual watering hole. There is some traffic
on the forest service roads from a few hunting scouts

riding ATVs or motorbikes, and a few more white pickups
like ours, but mostly we get the sound of the creek

over a shallow falls. There are two days until September,
and less than thirty until the understory has the red blush

of the knowledge of impending doom. There is not a single
cloud to cut the blue, and only the low of cows cut off.

About the author

Mark’s work is published in Camas, Cascadia Review, Red River Review, and elsewhere. He travels extensively in the Pacific Northwest and leaves soon for…

Read the full bio

Issue 16 · October 2012

Table of contents