Poems by Lisa Wujnovich

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Cider Pressing Party

by Lisa Wujnovich

From Canary Fall 2012

Lisa lives, farms, and writes poetry at Mountain Dell Farm on the New York side of the Delaware River Basin.

Drive the creaking truck up, past graveyard
cars, dirt ruts, speckled cows and trees
in muted rust and yolk. Walk up to view
worn out Appalachians, the river hugging
swirled highway and eyesore factory closed.

In the valley, the village, or what’s left of it—
the old Agway smokestack, a last whale bone
juts out its rib, lost to fire,
like Johnson’s Tavern,
Moonbeams Gift Shop,
Panda Restaurant,
Village Video,
Country Bake Shop,
all burnt down, one at a time. For now,
admire the flattened foothills in the distance.
In your hands, balance a metal bowl—
salad greens just picked from the fields.

Weave through slimy cow plops, shiny trucks:
on the summit, Frank McElroy’s Fortieth
Cider Pressing Party, though apples are scarce.
Early frost in the spring chomped the first bite,
but we’ll squeeze sweetness out of what’s left.
The party’s breathing between bluegrass bands,
drinking beer, whiskey, margaritas, wine,
homemade and store-bought both.

Frank’s resting before clogging with his new girl
on the giant wooden spindle, keeping time
with the fiddle and spoons. Checkered tables
dance with crockpots of chili, sausage and peppers,
venison stew. Outside, pies are going fast,
one piece left of elderberry apple.

Don’t imagine another vista:
gas pumps, concrete slabs, water trucks
lined up by football fields, toxic sludge ponds,
river thinned, creeks poisoned.
Judy and the Horse Flies struggle,
fiddle and banjo cry against slamming gas drills.


by Lisa Wujnovich

From Canary Fall 2016

Catbird angry in the rosehips,
we cocktail in cypress chairs,
edged on the equinox pond,
dimpled leaves: each a closed mouth.

Giant deciduous capillaries pinned
and dissected to a blue papered sky.
Autumn floats, rounding the corner;
death I see as when, no longer how.

The next thing I know friends leave,
and alone, I follow thoughts, stalking
car lengths behind, turn and head home.

I suppose you get used to anything:
behind pine needles, highway drone,
throbbed ache, evergreens trembling.


by Lisa Wujnovich

From Canary Spring 2012

It’s warm inside
the dried-blood painted barn.
Danny trowels
the sweet manure soup,
scrapes the concrete.
I stand back from the slurry
splashing from the hind-end;
watch him wipe the teats,
attach the flopping pump hose,
talk about weather and gas drilling.

We move to the next cow—Careful.
This one kicks just like her mother.
Veined udders let down spray.
Twenty two years I’ve come for milk,
watched him dump the foaming white.

Cynthia had her chemo yesterday,
today she limps, chilled in coveralls,
hauling five gallon buckets of feed.
Outside, a silver milk truck
blows smoke, siphons pasture
to New York bellies—11 cents a pound.
Farmers all gone broke.

White wisps, like thoughts, hover
over pregnant countryside.

I try not to blame my good neighbors
for signing the gas lease.
Try not to imagine the slam-dunk-bam-
pistol-whip waterboarded earth
pissing herself, vomiting
slick secret ipecac gas frack juice,
poisoning our children’s children.

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