from Local Words

Christopher Arigo


when I look out my

frost-rimmed window

I don’t see my neighbors’ houses


I see high prairie

not there


dead voices straining

to speak, to translate

past to present


be aware:

I stay indoors

too much these days


always the ghosts

always the forgotten languages


I worry too

I watch

I am not nearly enraged enough




wildflowers emerge

less than a mile

from the highway—

traffic noise almost

washed out by rapid

putters of poplar leaves

shimmying in a breeze

carrying the smell

of a world on an edge




finally beyond the city’s

anemic glow

beyond an age

of violation and variegated

asphalt and oil pools

through the stunted dogwoods

and tangles of poison ivy






Christopher Arigo’s first poetry collection Lit interim won the 2001-2002 Transcontinental Poetry Prize (selected by David Bromige) and was published by Pavement Saw Press (2003). His second collection In the archives (2007) was released by Omnidawn Publishing. His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines including Colorado Review, New American Writing, Barrow Street, and many others. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University.