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Mark Thalman


This country church 
with its one room and steeple, 
boards bleached to bone, 
endures by the dirt road. 

For miles around, 
stalks of ripe wheat bow their heads. 

Anyone is welcome here. 
The last minister had the doors unhinged 
and carted away. 

Now, white pigeons roost in the belfry. 
When the spirit moves, they burst like shot: 
a choir of wings, afternoon thunder, angels 
into the blue again.

This poem first appeared in Seems and The Oregonian.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Mark Thalman lives in Forest Grove, Oregon, where he has taught 7th grade English for almost thirty years.  His poetry has been widely published in small presses, college reviews, anthologies, and e-zines for the last three decades. His book, Catching the Limit, was published by Bedbug Press - Fairweather Books as part of their Northwest Poetry Series. Mark has served as a Poet-in-the-Schools for the Oregon Arts Commission, Assistant Poetry Editor for the Northwest Review, and board member of the Portland Poetry Festival. He is also an artist who enjoys painting wildlife scenes with acrylics. His two Golden Retrievers, pictured above, are named Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. To learn more about Mark, visit To purchase Catching the Limit, click on the book cover and contact Mark via his email address.



Post New Comment:
Ginny C.:
Nice piece, very skillfully rendered, every word essential. The church opens to every blessed thing and the spirit of the reader opens upon reading this poem.
Posted 07/15/2011 11:16 AM
they burst like shot. who can speak of such things, except The Poet (in all of us).
Posted 07/15/2011 10:47 AM
Thank you for this fine poem.
Posted 07/15/2011 09:15 AM
Linda Lee (Konichek):
Wonderful images and thoughtful message. Thanks, Mark-nice way to start the day.
Posted 07/15/2011 07:57 AM
"Boards bleached to bone," with its minimal alliteration. Minimalism . . . saying so much with so little, allowing the reader write his or her own poem between the lines. Fine work.
Posted 07/15/2011 07:47 AM
Now there's a church I'd like to join :) Love the detail about the minister unhinging the doors and having them "carted away."
Posted 07/15/2011 06:40 AM
Donal Mahoney:
Such a fine poem by a poet whose work I have encountered before and hope I will encounter again.
Posted 07/15/2011 04:11 AM

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