Poetry from Bonnie Larson Staiger

Every now and then we have the privilege of sharing good news from one our authors and this is one of those nows and thens. We are excited to congratulate Bonnie Larson Staiger on the publication of her latest volume of poetry, In Plains Sight, by our friends in Fargo at North Dakota State University Press.

To celebrate this poem, we’re featuring two of Bonnie’s poems on the blog this week. The first one, “hummingbird in my hollyhocks” is from NDQ 88.3/4 and is in conversation with Ross Gay’s “ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt” which you can read at the link. The second poem, “Face in Her Phone,” is from In Plains Sight and is an acrostic poem that asks us to reflect on what we seem to see and what we seem to miss “in plain sight.” Both poems reflect on the tensions between our human world and natures proximate presence and neither offer pat resolutions to these tensions or easy moral judgements.


hummingbird in my hollyhocks

after Ross Gay’s “ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt

no one pays much attention
to how she commutes
a thousand times a day
across the yard
from bee balm
to daylilies
siphoning nectar
for hungry nestlings
cradled in her woven cup
the size of a demitasse
constructed of stolen silk
from her neighbor
a spider
who spins and hitches
a thousand ropes a day
from downspout
to cedar siding

she doesn’t know
her flight plan
is a hundred miles
from the pipeline
that funnels
a million barrels a day
of sweet crude’s
bitter legacy
to slurping consumers
a thousand miles away
her ruby throat flares
from crystal light of dawn
until candled light of dusk
wings beating
a thousand flaps per minute
and no one has told her
she cannot walk


Face in Her Phone

White tails, ears perked, they stand watching
Her amble down a northern Minnesota road
In a hoodie up against the damp – she’s unaware
Three does are a mere twenty feet away.
Engrossed in her walking head down,

They don’t seem bothered or move to safety –
A thicket of shoulder-high brush nearby.
Instead they follow her with synchronized eyes,
Like supporting cast in a silent movie.

Dappled beside the curtained backdrop –
Elegantly choreographed, yet she misses this
Early morning wonder – lost to her own
Rambling texts about a meet-up at Starbucks.


Bonnie Larson Staiger is a North Dakota Associate Poet Laureate, the recipient of the ‘Poetry of the Plains and Prairies Prize (NDSU Press, 2018) and the ‘Independent Press Award: Distinguished Favorite’ (2019) for her collection, Destiny Manifested. Her second book In Plains Sight, is also published by NDSU Press (2021).

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