Sierra Songs & Descants:
Poetry and Prose of the Sierra

Edited by Gail Rudd Entrekin
and Kathryn Napier Stull

ISBN #0-917658-32-9

Available for $21.00 from your local bookstore or

In this collection the editors collected the strongest voices which express the two essential qualities of Sierra writers: the quirky independence of spirit, and the deep identification with the broad vistas and ever rushing waters of the mountain landscape. The anthology includes poetry, short stories, and excerpts from novels and memoirs by some of the finest contemporary writers of the West. Many of them have read in Nevada City, California, at Listening to the Wild or Wordslingers, two annual events sponsored by the non-profit organization Literature Alive, to whom profits from the anthology will be donated.

Authors whose work appears in the anthology include:

Karla Arens
Will Baker
Anita Barrows
Dan Bellm
Jacqueline Bellon
Thekla Clemens
David A. Comstock
Gary Cooke
Judy Brackett Crowe
Doc Dachtler
Tony D’Arpino
Laressa Dickey
Ross Drago
Charles Entrekin
Demian Entrekin
Gail Rudd Entrekin
Molly Fisk
Karen Joy Fowler
Molly Giles
Oakley Hall
Sands Hall
Forrest Hamer
Donna Hanelin
Bruce Hawkins
Jane Hirshfield
James D. Houston]
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Christine Irving
Benjamin Jahn
Belden Johnson
Nate Johnson
Louis B. Jones
Jeff Kane
George Keithley
Thomas Kellar
Carol Wade Lundberg
Ed McClanahan
Katherine McCord
Linda Watanabe McFerrin
W. Scott McLean
Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Utah Phillips
Carlos Reyes
Marilee Richards
Sandra Rockman
Steve Sanfield
Gary Short
Claudette Mork Sigg
Gary Snyder
Kathryn Napier Stull
Daniel Williams
Steve Wilson
Gregg Wiltshire
Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

What Is the Wild Love That Leads Us?
by George Keithley

What is the wild love that leads us down
to the end of the flat canyon floor,
cluttered with leaves and branches blown
to earth and rotting in the rain,

urging us onto this trail,
tracking for mile after mile?
The rain holds behind us until
we stumble to find our footing where

we’ve waded into the iron cold snow
that all but covers a mountain meadow.
What is the wild love that leads us far
away from the long land below,

the hunt forgotten in the autumn air
full of flakes? By dark the storm
has died down and we see moonlight bloom
across the ridge.When we climb

beyond the prints of the small brown bear
and the last clean tracks of the deer
and fall into a circle by the fire,
what is the wild love that leads us here?

First Words
by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

The words came without their numbers.

For awhile it was two by two
like animals onto the ark.

      Tangerine came with hustle
      splendor with taboo.

Some of the first words came with a little
electrical ping when they touched the ground.

They hadn’t been uttered yet
and were all still shiny and intact.
Nothing had been broken by them yet.

Their colors, some stark, like the yellows,
were so bright no one (had anyone been present)
could look at them directly.
As if they’d just come from the sun.

“I would be ignorant as the dawn,” Yeats said.
Words like this kept falling from somewhere.

Not like rain, though it was raining,
      redundant retank
all these words came and wouldn’t stop coming,
      imbue, terrestrial, seed, soon,

in a rush
in wildest light
that first
wet morning.

      for Steve Sanfield

by Doc Dachtler

We stacked each other
with armloads of oak
like freshmen with new ideas.

They were light
the first five steps.

from Magdalena in the Doorway
by Kathryn Napier Stull

              Magdalena in the woods, sleeping.Magdalena at the gate, laughing. Magdalena in the bath. One huge eye, Magdalena’s, staring with characteristic fury. The canvases are propped at various heights before him.Reginald backs up until his heel hits the far wall of the studio and leans there, defeated. The late afternoon is thick with heat. There’s nothing to be done. He takes the thin path to the house, unbuttoning his blue shirt, letting it fly behind him in the breeze.

              Magdalena is talking to a friend on the phone. She cackles and throws back her mane of black hair, but when she hears Reginald clink the glasses in the kitchen cabinet for his wine, she lowers her voice and hangs up. She appears at the doorway between the sunroom and the kitchen and watches him drink a full glass standing up, then pour another and walk to the table with the bottle, where he sits, all without looking at her.She sweeps into the dining nook and stands above him, spreads both hands face down on the table very close to his glass, his arm.He doesn’t look up.

              “Shall we get drunk?” she says in her throaty sharp voice, never any softness, any indecision. She has taught him to speak this way, too. He finally lifts his head ? she won’t sit; he cranes back to meet her eyes. He looks for something in them, a smile perhaps, danger, pity. There are no secrets in her irises. She is flesh and hair and alarming beauty and open, obvious cruelty. He rises, gets another goblet, sits back down, and pours her a full glass. He pushes it across to her slowly, then raises his cup.

              “To beauty.”

              “To heartbreak.”