top of page

two poems

by Claudia Putnam


In my lifetime, in this decade,

summer was wildflowers, high

elevation hikes, travertine lakes,

kayaks, fish. During heat waves,

worse each year, still refuge

in the high country, fresh cool

air, marmots, hawks, moose.

You sweat up there now, the air

a cluster of smut. Birds never

seen before flocking to the tarns,

gulping, splashing, frantic,

before dying, all of them, from

what they’ve been flying through.

5 Earthquake

This age, these men doomed

to destruction via plate tectonics,

lateral glides



By the ancients it was said:

a doom inevitable, it could

only be delayed:

the ultimate sacrifice:

your heart burnt, my skin


Wisdom from a land

riddled by quakes,

ridden by volcanoes—

already jaguars,


fire, and flood

had destroyed

the ancestors, whatever

walked the earth before.

Just the other night, a small

earthquake woke us, the dog.

Low-level, remarkable only

because they don’t happen here.

Our foam mattress floating

above the mantle, reclining

on intestines stretching,

rumbling to be fed.


Claudia Putnam lives in western Colorado. Her poems appear in Iron Horse, South Dakota Review, EcoTheo Collective, Rattle, and elsewhere. Her debut collection, The Land of Stone and River, won the Moon City Poetry prize and was recently reviewed by Good River Review. A short memoir, Double Negative, won the Split/Lip Press CNF chapbook prize and made the 2022 CLMP nonfiction roundup. The George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy is among her residency awards.


bottom of page