Shaun Griffin

Stephen Shu-Ning Liu

Few writers have come so far to wedge their voice into American poetry. Stephen Liu was born in 1930 in Fuling, China, near the Yangtze River—a town that is now underwater. Not long ago, Liu's daughter April filmed the small community before it was flooded and superimposed her father's poetry on the film, Requiem for a River.

Joanne de Longchamps

One can hardly return to Nevada letters of mid-century without reading Joanne de Longchamps (1923-1983). A student of two art forms, poetry and collage, she spent a lifetime piecing into them her love of Greece, animals, and the struggle between Eros and Thanatos—love and death. In her art were the dreams of those particulars, and she drew for the reader their multiple outlines. At times, her fascination with these themes became what sustained her, particularly late in life when she had so many health problems.

Gary Short

An itinerant poet at heart, Gary Short has surveyed the universe of Guatemala, Albania, Mexico and, most recently, Tasmania. Throughout all of these journeys, he has returned to the landscape that claims him: the Comstock. He thinks of this last place and Guatemala as his twin homes, his private domain that both welcome the itinerant one on his terms.

What They Cannot Say before Dark

There's lots to say that don't need words.
—Maxine Kumin

At the kiosk, thirteen women sit
their wheelchairs, trying to find a face.

The nursing station is empty, the light
blinks for assistance and the bell snickers

to no one. I walk in, cross their path
like a deer in the field of eyes but


for Hayden Carruth

Are there words
for what you cannot,
lying in this wilderness, express—
with her hands to love you

to the center of the bed,
the window with a cardinal
at the lopsided feeder, and
the weathercock that crows

in all weather
as you almost crow
to the harrowing horizon
and the day after when solace

Now I Sit the Saddle to Freedom

12:00 noon

Strangely wonderful it is
to bike this path
through eastern Arizona
without a belonging
to say my name.

5:30 p.m.

Crow at my back,
cattle in the creek meadow
and wildfire beyond the ridge—
is Snyder
in the lookout tower?

6:30 p.m.

My Sons Who Have No Opera to Console Them

Pavarotti lies in a hospital bed,
and my sons who have no opera

to console them, pulled from the driveway.

I held them in the garage without words—
poet who could say nothing—

and my hands, the empty tools of fatherhood—

chased their bikes from the greasy floor,
fished laundry from the pile,

and dressed the wild room for a guest.

Los Vendedores

Out of the sand they come
crowing like cocks in the morning sun

chanting their strange, melodious hymns to food:
TortilleroHeladoManí tostado,

and the children, burnished and thin
scurry to meet the musical men

and the women, smoked in their shawls
float on brooms behind them

and the beach is never still
with the halo of hunger overhead.

Hunting for Rain

Walking your dog, Cookie,
through the low curbs of Carson,
wondering who will cash your check

for misery, for rain, so that you
might escape the brick terrace
of rent, of living outside this land—

the rucksack piled in your sled
you drug up the snow of Wild Rose Creek
to meet me. I wonder too, Maria,

Anthem for a Burnished Land

[Anthem for a Burnished Land is the poem that poet Shaun Griffin wrote for Governor Sandoval's inauguration. He read the poem on January 3, 2011 and has kindly granted us permission to publish it on the ONE.]

The great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, said the end of art is peace. If a poem can do anything, it can help us to reflect on why we need the ritual of ceremony in our lives and in so doing take some peace from this moment.

This poem is a testimony to the desire of all who have chosen the hardscrabble landscape of Nevada as home.

Subscribe to Shaun Griffin