Scot Siegel Scot Siegel

Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Oregon. He serves on the board of trustees of the Friends of William Stafford. His books include Some Weather(Plain View Press, 2008), Untitled Country (Pudding House Publications, 2009), and SKELETON SAYS (Finishing Line Press, 2010). Salmon Poetry has accepted his second full-length collection, which will be out in early 2012. Siegel edits the online poetry journal Untitled Country Review. The following four poems appear here with his permission.


Under aluminum lamp-swing
the beginning and the end of
the early suffering began . . .

– inscribed on the back of an abandoned barn

Nearly evening. No friend
arranged a meeting. No rumor
No letter passed hand-to-hand––

Behind the grandstand, sweet
riffs off the San Joaquin Valley––
Oat grass, reeds and a young

Latina dances in a wind skirt
on the moon-swept pond…


Alone again with my thoughts
I lean against the split-rail fence
of my childhood in California––

Night air rippling off the Sierras,
wagon ruts meandering somewhere––
and Lyra’s constellation reemerges…


A sacred code was broken that night
I cannot explain. But she brought forth
everything I’d ever wanted

and that one thing, free
yet inescapable, still a part of me,
I would always need

[First published in The Enigmatist, and appears in SKELETON SAYS.]


I retrieve it from a dry, dark place
Pull it from a sleeve, some felt-like leather
With our name inscribed on a flimsy tag
I examine it for any trace of him –

This was a gift to my father from his true father
The one with spaniels and a hunting lodge
Not the one we could not speak of –
I take up the heft of it, and get the sense

I am looking down the long barrel of some
unknown history . . . He always told me:
Safety-on, until you’re absolutely ready
Watch your stance; hold steady.

I scan the room: No window. No door.
Just the gun like an iron dove in my hand. With love
I turn it over, brush my fingers over the stock
Find his initials in smooth silver ridges –

I turn it over again. And drink from a spring called
The pooling of history – A chalice of blood,
The Ukrainian forest at dusk; – I have his chin
When I lift & pump the muzzle; his shoulder

When I place it in the crook; his eyes
Pressing cold metal to my face; – then his voice
When something faint & terrible, in the shape of
my real name, burns through the cheek piece –

[Appears in Some Weather]


The glass is half-empty. The night fills it with sighs
We came for a good time, my wife and I––
Kids at summer camp––Even after twenty years,
Some things we still do on a whim…

It’s late. Packing now. Didn’t even stay the night.
The lodge and its rooms are dingy & warn
With the pall of those who lived and died here.
(A siren wails from the highway below)

Ten years ago the last resident left in protest;
The Grand is boutique hotel now. Micro beers and
A movie house. Tourists and young executives
Drink without a designated driver. Play truth or dare.
Watch foreign films, or screw, for a change…

Our room is hot and it smells like the old, my wife says
Though I think hospital… Poor Farm… Asylum…
I wonder how many died right here in this room
Where the walls feel dank. The sash window sticks

And the radiator sits silent as a minister
No hiss. No spit… Idle as a visitor slouched
in the corner, when I turn and close the door
behind us

[Appears in Untitled Country]


I am strung out at the end of Ward 3 in the midst
of a dream, flying over Havens Elementary

I am no longer old. My bones so light the sun
lifts me from the balcony of my decrepit body

And releases me into the atmosphere of your white frock
And I am grateful. For I have died

Five times already, since my wife’s elongated
stop––her slow surrender to Alzheimer’s––

And my daughters’ inevitable leaving, when they shed
my name like snakes shed skin in early morning sun

For men who take one look at me and see only an old
man: No inheritance. No plan. Only the slow drip,

Drip, drip… to keep him company. The piped-in oxygen,
cigarette grip on the channel changer––

This day is a gift, really. When you come, the round gears
of the sun and trees outmuscle the blinds, and release me

The sky and swifts make love again. And my disease
subsides, docile as a sweet little lapdog––

I am so lucky to have you here with me, listening; holding
my hand as if it were a living thing. Saying nothing

And everything I ever needed. Your eyes guiding me safely
over the tarmac of what my healers call

my advanced dementia

[First published in The Centrifugal Eye, November, 2009: “Battling Stereotypes” and appears in SKELETON SAYS.]