It Empowers Us to Contribute to the Sonic Environment, and to Act Towards Sweetening It

The cows trudge,
    eating up the silver grass,
    and a calf angles its tail to piss
    in the manner of a happy drunk. 
    …intermittent calls 
    of the scissor-tail as it cuts
    back and forth on currents, 
    fulfills its name, nearly soundless,
    but not, it being a citizen of the empire
    of the air, a quiet kingdom that rejects
    much of the American idea, only asks
    of its people that they listen
    with an ear bent toward the noises
    from the slate-grey shadows of the
    saddle-back mountain.
    We will be here for some time, feeling separate
    as thirty thousand feet is, connected as the many
    stomachs of these sows are to their tongues
    when they touch them to the ground or let
    them waggle in the breeze.








The Well-Nigh Illimitable Nature of the Theme

A mare lived alone in a one-acre corral across the highway from an open sweet-grass pasture, with a flatland creek through the northwest corner. We stood on our side of the fence, noted
her swollen neck and easy-swishing tail — in her body, grace composed its home. This was in April, the sky heavy with the load of hail and rain. She galloped to us, pushed her head into our hands, chestnut body quaking, her breath chaotic with the bare branches of grief. It’s okay, we told her, We do it too, terrified of different outpourings, ones we seemed capable of bringing on, though ours came in a similar grey, inescapable as glory and immediate light.




Guffy Bergman is a poet and translator. His work has appeared in Gravel and the story collection What Doesn’t Kill You. You can reach him at


Acknowledgements: The title for “It Empowers Us to Contribute to the Sonic Environment, and to Act Towards Sweetening It” comes in part from “Listening to the City: Community Research and Action through Sound and Story.” The title for “The Well-Nigh Illimitable Nature of the Theme” comes from writing by A.S. Forrest.