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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Reaping the Whirlwind



These are the days leading to your forty-fourth

b-day: spinning in an allergic spell. Elements of place

where your head about goes faint rapt in sky-

blazed filth cloud the color of jicama skin. This

is how your birth month roils with grains.

The deadly blendings turn you light-headed

and leave you breathing dust, gasping, yet

you’ve got a prescribed Epi-pen ready to needle.

Ragweed, juniper, mesquite, chile pepper farm

insecticides, creosote, borderlands

sand, forest-fire smoke from miles away,

and who knows what more soars

in this spring aridity: 2 % humidity. Whistling

in through the rattling window, dust seeps

and leaches its way through every old house. Out

the dog-slobbered glass you see trees

shaking at the street corner, a St. Vitus Dance

choreographed by gods of disorder. Glossy new

mulberry leaves sparkle in the bright light

like quivering peridot gemstones

offering some holy promise. One limb

snaps and somersaults and twists and

tics onto the sidewalk and into the street. The

humidifier blurps beneath your stuffy head

as you lie frozen on the sofa frozen

‘til the swelling subsides (you so pray)

staring at the apricot walls up to the light

fixture centered on the ceiling above

coiled in pretty brass leaves. Who could

believe you hear the neighbor’s weed-eater

in such windswept upheaval? Coming

and going like a gigantic fly at your ear,

weeds fly and ribbon in the anxious air

and your heart skips two beats. After clicking

the radio remote to the yoga healing station,

your pulse returns to normal

and you imagine yourself drifting

through tomorrow’s unadulterated clouds

floating to forever, a place dreamed but yet to be revealed.


                                                                                   -Wendy Gist



Upon Discovering Desert Canoeing



In an alcove of tuff rock

I sit in stillness

skin exfoliated by wind

and watch out a blue air arch.


So see what I see

is a light-flecked desert:

lamps of the lord yucca shining

among cow’s tongue cacti.


The flowerheads

ooze creamy petals

wilting atop slender bodies

like candlewax melting


where there are no

streams or lakes

not even an oasis

of which I know.


And I am mindful

of light sublime

as a sun-lathered nomad

slips into my mirage


waving a snake stick

like a magic trick.

And now roving down

the curving road


mansions on wheels too

high and wide and long

swallow the drifter

in currents of dirt.

Hummers follow


in rapids of dust

carrying clasped canoes

the color of poppies and white-gold

on polished roofs.


In a dark stone pocket

at my thumb, not a trace

of April showers.

In this ritual of stillness


I have never seen

such a splash among yuccas

and imagine the RV drivers

like children in sandboxes


wild with toys

wedged in shallows of grit:

under failing light

oars pummel dry earth


as if it were the water of life.


                             -Wendy Gist

Bosque Reclamation



And today, pastels

smudge the Bosque.

Early light

saddles distant mesas.

Native grasses

kink towards foothills,

in a clean breeze,

line the marbled waters:

peach, lilac, pink, green.


Naturalist Jill,

discovers feathers here

and there

and rabbit scat in sand, some

zygodactyl feet scrawling

sideways and back:

reclaimed country tells

the old story.


She steps

up to boardwalk,

leans over guardrail,

binocs hanging

from her

ostrich neck,

the water current weaving

like a loose braid




egret hunted

for vintage vanity

in 19th century:  

No more shaggy feathers

in the dear ladies’ caps,

whisper her lips  

on the clear wind.



of chill morning,

Jill faces mirror

of self,

in water,

hears duck dabble,

and song from folds

of shadow, shore birds

restored scientific.


She lifts looking glass

to eye a Canada goose,

slow motion swivel, optic zoom:

built-in wetland:

finds a visible bird

preening on a snag:

streaked breast inflated unnatural:

Cooper’s hawk.


Cottonwood branches

reach up and out,

trill leaves anew.

Deer move through

refuge fields

of indigo hues

to slake thirst

from Rio Grande.


Yet, a great blue heron,


eyes Jill near

the bank,

waits to spear a frog or fish:

windswept chest-plume tasseling


the bill that kills.


          -Wendy Gist