Category Archives: Ethel Mortenson Davis

Ethel Mortenson Davis Book Named Among Outstanding Poetry Collections for 2018

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) gives out yearly awards for outstanding books published each year. This year Ethel Mortenson Davis’s book, Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy has just been recognized as one of seven outstanding books of poetry by Wisconsin poets.

The announcement by the WLA is below:

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What Kind of People are We?

By Ethel Mortenson Davis

Many people are hired
to view disturbing pictures
on Facebook in order
to take them off.

The video is so disturbing
that the people viewing these
cannot continue in their jobs
because they take home
these images in their heads,
and ghosts haunt them
throughout the night.

These are pictures
of rapes of men, women, and children,
and the killings and torture
of women and children and men
along with animals.

People viewing the images
have to leave their jobs with PTSD.

What kind of people are we?
What kind of people do we want to become?

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The Hope of Trees

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Our president shakes
the hand of the Brazilian leader,
congratulating him on
destroying the Amazon Rain Forest —
faster now than we can imagine.

The Hope of Trees

In the heavy rain
this morning
I waited for you,
but you did not come.
No walkers came at all;

so the dog and I
headed into the deep forest
in pouring rain.

As we walked deeper
into the trees
the rain lessened
until it nearly stopped,
except for a few large drops
that pinged down
from the canopy above.

See, you should have come.

You missed an unforgettable silence
and a white mist
that rose from the bottom
of the forest floor.

It looked so eerie!

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In the Land of Flaming Green Lights

To the Sami people, Jon Henrick Fjallgren

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

My ears are pointed
towards your song,
O Northern son.
It is the call
of the wild arctic wolf,
the sound of icy rivers
rushing over rock,
the kiss of hummingbird wings.
It is a siren call
that has captured me
and now brings me home
to the land of flaming green lights.

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Snowy Egret

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Swallow

pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Companion Poems by Standing Feather and Ethel Mortenson Davis

Standing Feather, who, along with John Looker over in Great Britain, is one of the greatest of contemporary poets, sent a special email to Ethel Mortenson Davis the other day. He sent a poem, “Mariposa,” which is, in effect, a companion poem to Ethel’s poem, “Circles,” which was published in her book, White Ermine Across Her Shoulders” in 2011. They are both magnificent works of art. Standing Feather’s new poem is presented first, followed by Ethel’s older work:

Mariposa

New Mexico is full of dirt roads
that snake around sandstone mesas
and then straighten into vast expanses
before reaching any stop signs or pavement.
From the mesa tops you can see old trucks
rambling along the valley floor,
making dust that blows sideways
across stretching generations of rocks and people.

There is nothing like riding passenger
in an old truck, and as a child
I set the pace of my life
by Uncle Pink’s ‘66 Ford.
I knew the inner workings of the beast
from my years jockeying on the cracked leather seat.
The power of the vibrations climbed my spine
and rolled from my crown in great waves.

Youth’s wine-filled days are gone.
Today I stopped along a dirt road
to accept an invitation from the mariposa lilies.
Their power to stay rooted while waving in the spring wind
is like old trucks. Both offer rugged simplicity
to compliment the density of the rocks above.
I must be moving on. Remembering Aunt Ethel,
I crank my windows down to listen for the song of the meadowlarks.

Standing Feather 4-19

Circles

When I drive
through the desert,
I keep the windows rolled down
and usually hear a few notes
from the meadow lark.
New Mexico is full of bird life.

This morning, after last night’s shower,
I heard the clicks
of the Rufus hummingbird
through my car’s open window-
a metallic pinging sound-
like electric highline wires make
when you stand under them.

The hummingbird kisses
the delicate circuits
of the eco-systems.

In the north
the snowmobiles run
the gray wolf to exhaustion.
Once the gray wolf
was chased with dog sleds
or snow-shoes
and had a chance
to escape.

The wolf bites at his body
where the bullet enters,
shattering his flesh and bone,
shattering the delicate circles of life.

Ethel Mortenson Davis 2011

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