Erika Moss Gordon: Unlearning through poetry

Erika Moss

Erika, 2014, in the aspenThis poetry embraces the world, unites spirit and matter, illuminates the ordinary, and takes root in the human condition to celebrate it.

Erika Moss Gordon lives in the mountains of southwest Colorado with her two beautiful children, where she writes poetry, works for a film festival, and teaches yoga.  Liquid Light Press published her poetry collection, Of Eyes and Iris, in 2013.  Erika’s writing has appeared in Mountain Gazette Magazine, Telluride Watch, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Telluride Magazine, the poetry collection, 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, and at her site: Unlearning Through Poetry.

No Other Way

Grace falls
like water
from highlands

to the hollows,
past the whetting
stones and wild

roots that seek
into the dark,
ripe soil

where life
decays and new
life grows.

The Point

We are
smaller than
a tiny
dot in
a great
novel, but
that doesn’t
mean that
we still
shouldn’t do
everything we
can to
make this
story more


What did you forget
about the forest floor? Where
it has rained for a thousand years

or more.  Maybe allWhite Mountains in Quebec White Mountains in Quebec
of the answers
are lying there

in the wet black earth,
where already there is
new life growing,

and the old life dying,
and a patch of mushrooms
that you bend to collect,

the last of the season,
and you fill
your sack

with questions,
each one


Oftentimes Flowers

In winter,
bury seeds

of doubt
and water each

and wait
for spring.

The Way

Something about loss
found me deep
inside these woods
between sunlight
and the shadows,
under the cold white summit
that breaks bread
only with the wind.

I took her ashes to the top last summer, Beech Forests in the Spessart Mountains Buchenwaelder im Spessart
but this is not
about my grandmother –
not even about my father not yet
laid to rest – it is about the way
this life moves through us. It is
the once familiar path,
now changed.

It is these skis
that push through newly fallen
snow and the tracks of deer.

It is what remains.

It is breaking
trail high on a Rocky Mountain mesa
because the signposts
have been buried
and maybe this is exactly
what we were born to do.


throats hurt
fish dies
door shuts
crow flies
snow melts
park walk
swings swing
kick rocks
mud slings
shoes stink
doll drops
in sink
bags pack
kids cry
kids laugh
say goodbye
car drives
no shoes
phone rings
good news
down dog
upside down
play songs
small town
cold beer
warm head
write this
go to bed.

Delicate Dance

Geese on Ice, Wings over Alma blog

Have you seen the geese,
how they stammer and sway
two by two on
the frozen pond? They are
like us,

these birds,
these lovers
swaggering, posturing,
slipping and sliding
on thin spring ice –

so thin, I think,
that a passerby might
see dark water move beneath,
or perhaps the heads
of fishes.

October Wish

I want to love

like this snow
falling in bushels,
great white
barrel-fuls, wet
and certain
and tender
enough to quench
the roots
of Autumn grass –

I want a love
so big
it will cover
so that
we are able,
to grow


I cannot wait to
go with you
to the mountaintop
where night clouds
already whisper
their white secrets –
to the high places
where we speak
only truth
or nothing
at all.

Blue Dress Tanka

In the picture
we are dancing
and that blue dress –
the one I’ll wear
to say goodbye

The Artists I Love Haiku

Behold the beauty
makers, blessed conduits
for all things holy.


Perhaps Love

Perhaps love
is the art
of moving

to each other
and closer

to ourselves
at the same

Bouquet Haiku

Have you noticed how
the yeses bloom, one right
after the other?



This is your magnum opus –
not poem, nor script,
nor perfect photograph.

There is no road,
no denouement.  You will not
know more

than you once did,
nor less.  Lift your wide eyes.
See the electric sky

in all of its broken
blueness. Watch
the hanging leaves

turn green to yellow
to brown.  See your reflection  Boreal Forest in Alberta
in still water,

and observe the candle
burn to nothing.  Smell
fresh basil

and peaches.  Feel
your bare feet press
into wet earth.  Breathe

morning deep
into your nose.
Taste the air.  Touch

the dirt.  Lie down
in the grass.  Love.

Love some more.
This is
our magnum opus.



Five rustling riders
whoop down a mountainside.
Purple finds them

on their wheeled horses,
their bare shoulders whipping
against the tall summertime

lupin.   They reel in
high alpine passes like great,
colorful fish, laying the groundwork

for next week’s euphoric recall –
even as their weary legs burn
like fire, and spokes fly

like rusted wire – they give themselves
over to drowning
in yet another flaming hillside,

so bright with electric pigment
it is certain to bring a grown human
to her knees

in the wild yellow sunflowers,
amid these ever blossoming

simultaneously brand new
and ancient, like the holy
Rocky Mountains.


Swing Me

You swing me,
swing me open
like a door you might be
fixin to walk through,
your pressed white sleeves
all loose
and fresh and smelling
of clean laundry
and guitar strumming
from a Sunday afternoon.

You swing me
like that big old branch
still dangling
from the cottonwood.
Just barely hanging on,
but dancing for certain,
along the thirsty water tips,
as we see it from the rock
that the river
placed for kissin.

You swing me
like this sunshine music
scorching down on
all the happy dancers
in their summer honey dresses
and their pearl snap button-downs,
scorching like that long look
you give me on the dusty
walk home just before
the sweet, wet rain.


This water,
it can steal your breath away,
and the thirsty air

could take your life.
Perhaps you are willing
to risk everything you have ever known

to the red labyrinth
of canyon walls, and bathe
along the icy waters

to wash away the old life,
where a thousand years ago
a man and a woman walked

to talk about endings,
(or was it beginnings?),
and where a million years ago,

lava boiled in crimson falls
to greet the river
with great white columns

of blinding steam
rising into a moonlit sky.
That same full moonlight

through which you row
your shanty vessel
like a pirate jamboree

past the rocks and weathered stones,
and into the black night
as if it were your last,

whispering your deepest secrets
to the stars,
or to a fellow traveler,

which is to say
that down here, you are finally able
to say what you mean,

and you realize that this
is the only definition
of freedom,

and that no matter
where the river leads you after,
it is now your responsibility

to follow the canyon back out
into the world and share
your wet, wild light.

Do You?Maizy & Madden, 2014

On an afternoon drive,
there is nothing to say except,

It was I
who ate the cookies,
and filled the stockings, I

who left a trail of half eaten
carrots on the lawn.
And furthermore,

twas I
who left the bill
and took the tooth,

but do you see the road ahead?
A mirage!  See how it
reflects the passing cars!

So tell me,
do you still believe
in magic?

Give Thanks

The men, they tap
their feet so fast
like a battery of bullets
against the boards
against the pavement
so the people clap
and give their dollars
and sense
the woman
with her too big
sweater and pajama pants
and the tan of a thousand
summers.  She comes so close
to join the dance
for a moment before
she remembers
about not belonging
anywhere and the child
asks, Mommy did she ever
have a mother?


Photo Credits:

Mountain Rainbow: Erika Moss Gordon
Mushroom and lichen: M. Mauthe, Greenpeace
Forest light: Michael Kunkel, Greenpeace
Geese on Ice: Wings over Alma blog
Autumn forest, Jiri Rezac, Greenpeace
Children: Kaye Moss