Pettway and Gularte

Alice Pettway is the author of Dawn Chorus (2023), Station Lights (2021), Moth (2019), and The Time of Hunger (2017). Her poetry has appeared in AGNI, Rattle, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and many other respected publications. She is a former Chulitna Artist Fellow and Art Omi: Writers resident. Currently, Pettway lives and writes near Seattle, Washington.

Summary of Dawn Chorus

Like the burgeoning sounds of morning from which Dawn Chorus takes its name, these poems emerge from the darkness of urban isolation into brilliant wilderness. More than half of the world’s humans now live in cities, waking to the rhythm of artificial light, lulled by the hum of machines. We sense that some important part of us has atrophied but cannot name it. Dawn Chorus is a warning and a celebration. Pettway’s lines remind us how deeply we harm ourselves when we turn away from nature and invite us to revel in the rediscovery of our wildest selves.

"The Alice Pettway of Dawn Chorus is an urban fabulist and pastoral realist—a modern-day Arcimboldo who rebuilds herself repeatedly in these poems, at the fulcrum between outworn civilization and fragile wilderness. Dawn Chorus is an escape from denial: it refuses to be cut off any longer. Even as the city shapes these poems, nature sings its way back to the foreground. Without merganser and yarrow, without a rebalancing, we’re undone." —William Pierce, Coeditor, AGNI


I have the hands my mother would have
if she hadn’t bitten her nails for fifty years.
The same gritty lines, the same awkwardness
under good jewelry.
I hated her
hands, her shortened nail beds, swollen knuckles,
bought crèmes and nail files like talismans
against becoming like her. But now,
when the rough skin of my fingertips
brushes against itself,
I think of her,
wonder if she treasures her calluses
and blisters as I now do mine, if she
despises my oval nails, beneath their dirt:
a remnant of struggle. Resentment,
like a flea in the sand
waits quietly
until bare skin presents itself, then burrows,
laying its eggs quietly, knowing conflict
eventually will hatch.
— first published in Homestead Review

Lara Gularte is El Dorado County Poet Laureate 2021-2023. Her book of poetry, Fourth World Woman, was recently published by “Finishing Line Press. Kissing the Bee, her book about her California pioneer ancestors was published by “The Bitter Oleander Press,” in 2018. Nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, find her work in national and international journals and anthologies. Her poetry depicting her Azorean heritage is included in The Gavel-Brown Book of Portuguese American Poetry. She is affiliated with the Cigarros Colloquium: Azoreans Diaspora Writers, at the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute (PBBI), California State University-Fresno. Gularte serves as a human rights commissioner for her county. She is a teaching artist of creative writing for the arts in corrections program at Mule Creek State Prison. Find some of her student’s work published in the Colossus Press, “Freedom issue,” and in “Journal X.”

After The End Times

The hour of darkness, dirt in her eyes, pulse distant, she travels earthen tunnels,
the sod roof of the mole who rests deep in his room.
Beneath the ground, an underworld where rocks and bones are equal.
Endless night turns under the mole—
ghosts of the gone time, memories sunken into long years of loss.
Inside a raccoon carcass, a dark wing.
Deep down, still breathing, she evolves her higher self—
waits for eruption, the earth's waste to spill,
reveal germinating seeds spurred into living above ground,
seed heads opening to light.

—first published in Bitter Oleander