The Poetry of Ana Maria Spagna

Congratulations to Ana Maria Spagna for being nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem “California Gold” which appeared in NDQ 87.1/2. Pushcart Prizes recognize the best writing from small presses and little magazines like North Dakota Quarterly. And a nomination is an honor we greedily share with our authors. 

You can read “California Gold” below and check out the other two poems Ana Maria published in the same issue (and the rest of issue 88.1/2) here. And check out her website here.

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.  

California Gold

This we conjured from afar:
The dust-filtered sun on tile.
The pre-dinner lull, drenched
Thirst on TV, California Gold. Huell
Howser on the coastal bluff
Near Crystal Cove.

These, closer, we touched late:
Winter wheat autumn dry
I rode a bike through
Bent horizons. I texted you photos.
You can’t touch the edge.
You meld your small self with
Straw. The gold stubs brush
Cellophane over my heart, racing.
So, it’s not the same sun. That’s a
Relief, actually.

We pictured space without grey
Inversion, lake-bred. Shiny
Gold days gleaned in alchemy.
Gold like coins. A city, streets
Shimmed with shards, a plane
Banking through doubt
In descent. A motorbike that
Weaves freeway lanes, spurns
Rush-hour traffic, turns shiny as
Wildfire fringe after dark, sparking
Embers, carbon loosed into
The night sky.

Once they trekked loose
Scree over the Blues to sluice the
Stars, soft metal, wedged in a flicker’s
Hole with a folded note:
More than the lake
Level dropped to golden
Reeds or the soaked seat of an old
Pickup, where the sun-roof leaked.
More than cracked concrete or
Wrinkled currants stuck to your sole, it was—
Is now, the clean edge of sky,

Picture this, then:
That it’s barren in the dense
Woods. That all the leaves
Burn black to free
The wind’s stream. To free
Time. Even were I still
Bent low enough to short stump
Snags, come night I’d beg you to
Lie in the sheets, a decent
Thread count and gold as
Cider on ice.


Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several books including Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going, After fifteen years working on backcountry trail crews, she turned to teaching and is currently on faculty of MFA programs at Antioch and Western Colorado University. She lives in Stehekin, Washington.

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