Hello Salem and thank you Vere! I am honored to be the next overseer of the ‘WORDS’ column for the Salem Weekly. It is a journey I’m very much looking forward to. For this issue, I want to begin by extending an invitation to all writers who love words and might wish to contribute to this column. Each one of us is a universe, unique and wonderfully different to each other universe. Only you see a certain perspective on life, only you know that story.

I invite each of you to consider your ‘unique’ way of looking at things as ‘valuable’ and to submit some of your universal words to this column to the email at the start of this column. After living in Oregon for three years (I am Melbourne born) I have observed a plethora of artists in this state—from the coast to the mountains. There are so many artists I wonder why Oregon isn’t called ‘The State of the Arts’! One such artist is the poet Clemens Starck who I had the pleasure of listening to as he read his poems at the Salem Poetry Project last month. Clem, as he is known, is a widely published Oregonian poet who writes as a worker with firsthand knowledge of how one gets blisters on their hands. He has worked as a merchant seaman, a reporter on Wall Street, a ranch hand and a construction foreman; his poems are straight from life, carefully crafted, humorous and thought provoking. I would like to share one of them with you.

 

WHY WE ARE AFRAID

My family is bored. We have everything.

There’s nothing left for us to have,

except maybe a space shuttle

or an automatic ice-cube maker.

Verily, merchandise breeds merchandise.

Every day new catalogs arrive.

But it’s no use. Whatever they’re selling

we’ve already got.

My country, too is bored. Even more so, because

it has the space shuttle

and it can make ice cubes at a prodigious rate.

And that is why we’re so afraid,

and why we need

bombers that can fly through the eye of a needle,

bullets that travel backwards and forwards,

crossbows

and harquebuses

to protect us from our enemies.

What I say, is: Enemies when you arrive

you can have it all! I’ll leave

instructions for the microwave

next to the sink in the bottom drawer.

 

Clem’s forthcoming collection, Cathedrals & Parking Lots: Collected Poems, is scheduled for publication this November. It will contain all the poems from his previous six books, including “Why We Are Afraid” from Journeyman’s Wages.

 

Contact Jade Rosina McCutcheon @ wordsjade@gmail.com