Dry September, by Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 6

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

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As rescue workers reverently combed through the rubble to provide closure to families, the nation grieved with them. We wept together as stories emerged of loss and sacrifice. And we listened with dread to the crescendo of rattling sabers.

Dry September

by Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk

Weld, Maine, 2002

It has been not raining
all day; drought refuses forecast.
Maples by the road rattle paper leaves
and ferns fade my memory of green,
turning to skeleton
gauze undercover.
We live by a tide-out lake.
When at dawn the moose come to drink,
spots of land arise
like raised footprints of ancients.
When the wind blows,
waves move toward shore
not like water,
breaking in glory,
but sand-sifted, sand,
thirsty for sand.
I drink a cup of water
from a still-giving well,
weep dry
for the tallest pines and old white birch.
Our leaders tell us
we must pour out the water
from our shoes. We must buy
gasoline; we must brush our teeth.
We must understand
that we do not understand.
We must go to war.


“Dry September” was published earlier in the Beloit Poetry Journal (Spring 2004), and in the Poets Against the War Collection.

Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk, Writing for Peace Guest Poet

About Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk

Based in Vermont, Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk is a writer, educator, and frequent traveler of Peru and the Bolivian Andean areas. She gives talks and presentations about Inca history and art. Her book of fiction, “Behind the Stones of Machu Picchu: Stories and Folktales of Inca Life” illustrated by the Peruvian (Inca) folk artist, Angel Callañaupa, will be released later this year. Visit her website, Descendants of the Incas, here.


Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Contest deadline is March 1st, 2013. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!



Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

1 thought on “Dry September, by Elizabeth Conrad Vanbuskirk

  1. Henry Braun


    Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. Pascal
    Happening, nowadays, feels
    different, everyone
    watching how our shoulders bend
    inward as if preparing for a doorway
    narrower than most,
    how memory with legs
    and arms and fingertips for touching well
    into oncoming days
    reaches out from our past,
    though, sometimes,
    darkening white clouds cotton to the blue.

    The days with their easts and wests
    are lit by variable sunshine
    moving suddenly across the field
    where the old hit places of granite
    wait to shine and shine
    until the sun’s strange courtesy defers
    to passing cloud.

    Journalists honing the cheeks of their knives
    up/down on the NEW,
    the sky daily threatening to fall,
    BEFORE and AFTER wrestling
    with their index fingers–
    everywhere, in such a time, is hearth.

    Like chassid rabbis we’ll dance
    unseen in our own towns
    between the towns of others,
    accessing the information of roses,
    the countless pixels of the human face. .

    The obvious needed years to find me
    and now it wanders in
    disguised as an afterthought:
    To have a second chance,
    that grown joy,
    lose the first and learn
    the art of falling by waysides
    from the ALL
    which is not enough.
    The days, each one once
    with its morning and its night—
    for us thinking reeds asway,
    means NOW.


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