Two Poems by Amy Ratto Parks

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3rd Annual Contest Finalist

Song for Pink Bloom and Passerine

This is burning season. A waxwing flies over hibiscus and peony, over sludge pit/cow shit/latrine, over barbed wire and slash pile. You should ignite the green wreckage, the overgrown promise (seed head/cabbage flowers). Burn it now before the season comes on, before you fall asleep to dreams of lightning flash fires: whip finish for the pasture that always runs toward some golden, tragic sanctuary. (Even in sleep you throw your arms out before you—in defense? Protection? It looks the same.) All that spring green gone brown and released by the blaze to black black black. What can you burn now to stave off the sudden brush fire?

Birdsong rises up from the sage field and something hovers far above, silent before the buckling, sharp descent. Melancholy rapture. Finch, swallow, martin: a tight meal of driftwood bones and bright feathers. The lung’s last breath, the long held bone-air releases through the salvia bloom, settles in the lupine.

The rest will ashen: hold it close. This is bohemian light, sweet passerine. With crow heart, with raven eye, enter the bright wreckage. Steal away the small lockets and thin bow-strings of pleasure. Give me your hand.



Song of Collision, Escape

The machine of the plain dissembles sage bush by rabbit, brush fire by buffalo 

and the rusted frame of a thing we might drive has become habitat—a livable space where
something stretches as it wakes. 

Throats rise in call and there is more more here than less. 

(Less the ground a place to stand. More a mouth about to open.) 

Confessions fill up like cavities or curb signs or traffic patterns—electric yellow tape against
electric blue fracture of sky and the buffalo pass like currency:  

Axiom of what is left. 	      Fall the burning barn before you leave.




Amy Ratto Parks is the author of Bread and Water Body, the winner of the Merriam Frontier Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Mississippi Review, Court Green, The South Dakota Review, and Barrow Street, among others. A former editor of Writer’s Digest, Fiction Writer magazine, and Cutbank literary magazine, she teaches writing at the University of Montana. Catch up with her at

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