Member Spotlight

Carter McKenzie

March 24, 2020



I am a poet and active in community work. My second full-length book of poetry Stem of Us was published in 2018 by Flowstone Press. I write slowly. I am about to turn 60 and I do not feel like an authority about anything, just one who will take the journey and learn as deeply as possible. I believe in the power of community to transform individual lives. And the power of individuals’ voices and actions to challenge and transform culture into stronger communities. Poetry is a saving grace, a way to breathe, and a way to feel, to be present in the world, alone and with others. 


Here are words from Terry Tempest Williams’ book When Women Were Birds: “What is time, sacred time, but the acceleration of consciousness? There are so many ways to change the sentences we have been given.” (p. 204) 


When we see an empty page, what does that mean? How can we be responsive to that page? Out of love? And willingness to listen?

Prayer for Heaven

May it hold the sounds
of the raw seams of our world,
our difficult heart, the borders
always at war.
May it hold mercy.
May it never be
above and beyond
May it gather the blossoms beyond
the dark wall, on every side
an opening.
May it discover new names.
May heaven be generous, may
its own burning
its seraphim of infinite
moons and suns,
include every loss, even
the loneliness of the bones of a dog
among the miracles of space
before the anonymous fall, the abandoned vessel’s fiery descent, everything
gone wrong, may it include even
the loneliness of the dog.
May it hold in its eye
the deep blue
dream we keep trying to tell—
how the light falls apart,
then is saved
no matter what happens,
again and again, may heaven
be the singing, and may we be

forever changed.

—Carter McKenzie, Dexter, Oregon

(poem previously printed in Canary,

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© 2020 by Lane Literary Guild, Lane County, Oregon.