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Beth Paulson lives much of the year in a small mountain town in southwestern Colorado, but still calls Pasadena and Cal State Los Angeles home, where she formerly taught English for over 20 years. In Colorado she writes, teaches writing workshops, directs local poetry events, and is a columnist for the Ouray Plaindealer newspaper. 

In much of her work Beth takes her inspiration from the natural world, looking in it for the answers to our human questions. However, city experiences, memories, and the arts inspire her writing as well, and her poetry shows the complexity and interrelation of all these aspects of human life. 

Beth’s poems have been published in a number of small magazines, including The Climbing Art, Idaho Connections, Clark Street Review, Trestle Creek Review, Herb Network, Buffalo Bones, Mountain Gazette, Hard Row to Hoe, Sunstone, The Kerf, Welcome Home, Writing on the Edge, Tapestries, Mad Blood, Blueline, Shemom, and Blind Man’s Rainbow. 

In addition, her work appears in the recent anthology Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and will appear in Plains, Deserts, Canyons, Mountains: Women Write About the Southwest (University of Texas Press, 2006). 

Beth has two collections of poems, The Company of Trees (2004) and The Truth About Thunder (2001), both published by Ponderosa Press. She also produced a CD with Tone Mesa Studios, By Stone, By Water (2003). 

Beth has read and performed her poetry in several venues in Colorado and in Southern California.

Wild Raspberries

Beside the dusty road 
I first see them, red jewels
glittering in green brambles 

high up on a steep slope.
My gender’s patterned me
to forage like my sister Eve 

so I stop the truck and clamber up
to pick the glowing berries.
Who can deny the lure 

of wild fruit, sure attraction 
of what’s unowned and free? 
Stickers on bent branches warn me, 

but they taste so ripe and delicious;
a few, so delicate, break apart
before I put them in my mouth.

We thought they might be poisonous.
What are they? Can we eat them?
I smile as I call down to the young couple, 

Yes, yes, these are wild raspberries.
By now I can no longer tell
my blood from their sweet juice

as, guilty, I watch them succumb
on the sunny hill beneath me. 
two once perfect also strangers.


House of the Heart

Yellow pears 
in a red Italian bowl
rest in afternoon sun
near a window where outside
crows stitch across the valley sky;
below them cars on the highway
each with its purpose
speeds to cities one way 
small town the other:
all is motion or stillness.

Inside, where a clock ticks 
in place on the white wall,
pot simmers over low flame, 
heart waits, expecting
what she knows not 
only that the pears are golden now
lighting up a worn blue quilt
under the red bowl.

Except for Crows

I consider you common crow, 
beautiful black rag in the sky.
Some call you trash bird 
but I see you sleek,
slick in a silk suit, 
in the best seat of the cottonwood.

True, you are often the undertaker
bobbing along side the road, 
your voice perhaps too eager 
broadcasting in clamorous caws news
of what to eat that’s dead.

I, whose heavy feet find only earth,
envy your perspective of gravity
and that among other birds
of less proven intelligence.
you don’t even display smugness.

Some campers have tried 
tricking you with ropes into thinking
you were trapped inside a circle,
but you showed them 
(first with one foot, then the other) 
you know how to test boundaries. 

I especially admire your monogamy,
the way two of you travel 
through life’s blue air, 
seventy years or more, sometimes
resting on stretched wires or in trees
whose branches move slightly
with your dark weight.
And high inside rock clefts 
you raise your young
to ignore all the trash talk
and to believe in the beauty
of their own blackness.

“A heartwarming realist, Beth Paulson offers poetry that combines exquisite detail of the outer world and a deep human insight. These are poems of admiration and praise—a beautiful vehicle that allows us to re-enter the world with new eyes.”
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Director,
Telluride Writers Guild

 “Within the quiet and calm of this voice is an invitation for one to listen, the share the flames, fireweed, ashes, smoke, sorrow—the beautiful moths of a poet’s vision.”
Sandra Alcosser
author of Except by Nature

 "Beth’s poems connect keenly observed sensuality with deeply felt spirituality, connect what is wild and ancient with what is human and present. Greatly inspiring!”
Karen Chamberlain, Founding Director
Aspen Writers’ Foundations

© 2006 Beth Paulson

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