Page 1


high desert journal

non-fiction The Day Evel Knievel Died


Sean Prentiss

A Mother’s Guide to Birds and Boys


Annie Lampman

The Second Time I Almost Died in the West


Jonathan Rovner

A Poet’s Guide to Huckleberry Picking


Kate Lebo

Here Come the Buffalo


Mary Kay Knief

Discontinuous Traits


Jon Davenport

Desert Mirage


Stephen Cloud


fiction 7

Reservation Cadillac



Laura Jean Schneider Kathi Shannon

art Everything On The Outside The Keys To My Parents House, LADIES, ROMANCE layover, The Land Piranhas, Hope and Prey


Brad Adkins

6, 24, 41

Brad Adkins

3, 12

Convent Street, Spain, April, Moontower 10, 11

Vanessa Renwick Marc Baseman

Evel Knievel, Continental Pit, view from inside

14, 16

Marcy James

Surface Tension, Cyanobacteria

36, 37

Deborah Ford

review When The Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchard



Jamie Houghton

Brad Adkins, Everything On The Outside, 2005, paint, can 8.5x8x8 inches

top left

Vanessa Renwick, layover (video still), 2014, 6 minutes

bottom left

Vanessa Renwick, The Land Piranha (video still), work in progress high desert journal



As readers of High Desert Journal, you know that over the past 10 years it has established itself as the high-water mark for art and literature in the interior West. No other magazine shines a brighter, more beautiful, more truthful light on the region—and there’s a reason for this. Two reasons, actually. Ten years ago Elizabeth Quinn founded this magazine. Her vision was to create a platform for the artists and writers of the interior West, a place to showcase their talents, and by doing so bring to a wider audience the art and stories that come from the place they call home. The interior West has stories to tell, unique stories, and early on Elizabeth realized that too often not just these stories and the region itself, but the art and literature of the interior West was overlooked, thought to be sub-par, the product of lesser talents. But not anymore. With its first 18 issues, High Desert Journal has proven that the art and literature coming out of the washes, valleys, playas, cities, states, and small towns of the interior West is as good, if not better, than any you can find anywhere. For this—readers, writers, and artists alike—we owe Elizabeth a desert sky-sized thanks. The second reason is Thomas Osborne, who designed each and every one of the first 18 issues. There is not a better looking, classier, more visually engaging literary magazine on the stands today. Period. Thomas put a look to Elizabeth’s vision, and between the two they created one of the most respected journals in the country. So it is with a heavy heart, I announce it is time for the torch to be passed. Elizabeth and Thomas are stepping down. They are not going far, but they are leaving the dayto-day grind of the journal behind. Both will stay on in advisory roles, and no doubt all of us here will lean on them heavily. To both of them I want to extend my personal thanks, say that I will miss them, and that I wish them the very best. I know, of course, with Elizabeth and Thomas leaving that High Desert journal can’t help but change, evolve as all endeavors such as this do, but I’d like to take this opportunity to say what it will not do is cease to be the visual and artistic voice Elizabeth and Thomas foresaw, a journal built to be a witness to the West. Which brings me to the more joyous part of these notes. To help me carry on Elizabeth and Thomas’ vision, I’ve enlisted the help of some of the high desert’s best talent. Joining us is Sheryl Noethe, the previous poet laureate of Montana, and Joe Wilkins, award-winning author of The Mountains and the Fathers. We also welcome Kerri Rosenstein, Portland /Missoula artist and curator, as our art editor, and L.A. novelist and playwright, Jane Carpenter, as our fiction editor. High Desert Journal also has a new design team, Benjamin Kinzer and Chloe Frommer, and as you flip through this issue you’ll see exactly why I choose them. Please take the time to visit our website and read about these talented and dedicated people, all of whom are intimately entwined with the interior West. Finally, over the years, Elizabeth has often referred to High Desert Journal as “her baby”. To Elizabeth and to all of you dedicated readers, rest assured it always will be, and as High Desert Journal’s new “adoptive parent,” I will do my best to raise and nurture it well. Charles Finn, editor


high desert journal


Charles Finn art editor

Kerri Rosenstein poetry editor

Sheryl Noethe fiction editor

Jane Carpenter non-fiction editor

John Wilkins book reviewer

Jamie Houghton d e si g n

Benjamin Kinzer Chloé Frommer interns

Andrea Snyder Austin Anderson Irene Cooper Micheal Cooper Laura Winberry b o ard o f d i re c t o rs

Kris Balliet Greg Druian John Keys ad v i s o ry b o ard

Elizabeth Quinn Sandy Brooke Elizabeth Grossman William Kittredge Judith H. Montgomery Laura Pritchett Jarold Ramsey Robert Stubblefield Margot Voorhies Thompson Rich Wandschneider Terry Tempest Williams

High Desert Journal is published biannually in Bend, Oregon. Subscriptions are $16.00 a year (2 issues) and $30.00 for two years. Single copies are available for $10.00. Subscription and single-copy orders may be sent with a check to High Desert Journal, P.O. Box 8554 Missoula, MT 59807. For more information, please visit www.highdesertjournal.com. All donations and gifts to High Desert Journal are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. High Desert Journal is a 501 (c) 3 organization. High Desert Journal accepts unsolicited submissions of art, poetry, fiction, nonfiction and interviews. For submission guidelines, please visit www.highdesertjournal.com. Submissions are accepted electronically through submittable.com. High Desert Journal accepts no liability for submitted writing and artwork. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of High Desert Journal. Copyright 2014, High Desert Journal. Copyrights to texts, poems and artwork in this issue are held by the individual creators. No material may be reprinted without the permission of the magazine or artists. issn 1555-7251


Brad Adkins was born in 1973 and raised in Kalispell, Montana. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Marc Baseman is an artist who lives and works in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. His most recent exhibition was for Dickinson Roundell Gallery in New York. Stephen Cloud lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he’s fixing up an old adobe, working on poems, and pondering the official New Mexico state question: “Red or green?” Recent publications include work in Valparaiso Poetry Review and New Madrid. Jon Davenport was born in Porterville, California and moved to Montana 14 years ago. Over his career he has worked for the Forest Service as a surveyor, fire fighter, and archaeologist, as well as being a Jobs Corps teacher. He has also worked for the Park Service as a maintenance person, water plant operator, orchadist, boatman, and on various trail crews. He has a degree in anthropology and secondary teaching at Northern Arizona University. “Discontinuous Traits” is his first published poem.   Deborah Ford has been a photographer and was fulltime faculty at Prescott College for the last 19 years. She has exhibited widely and recent publications include B/W Magazine (#82), Arid Journal and Orion. She recently moved to Oregon from Arizona to become the Executive Director of PLAYA, an Artist in Residence program. www. deborahspringsteadford.com Marcy James is a multimedia, photographically-based artist. She currently teaches for Rocky Mountain School of Photography and lives in Missoula, Montana. Mary Kay Knief grew up in western Kansas and now lives with her husband in Fort Collins, Colorado. Having lived for many years in Austin, she is a fan of Willie Nelson’s poetry as well as that of Mark Cohn. If she’s not writing poetry, painting, or shooting photos, she can be found wandering art museums or attending dance and music performances of all kinds. Annie Lampman lives in Moscow, Idaho with her husband, three teenaged sons, and a bevy of hens. She has an MFA from the University of Idaho where she currently teaches writing. Her fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction have been published in various journals and magazines, including  Talking River Review,  the meadow,  IDAHO magazine, Copper Nickel: Women Writing the West,  word river,  and  Dunes Review.  Her work  has been  awarded a Pushcart Prize special mention and an Idaho Commission on the Arts writing grant. Her first novel is currently under consideration. 

Kate Lebo is the author of A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press) and Pie School, a cookbook forthcoming from Sasquatch Books in the fall of 2014. Her poems and prose have appeared in Best New Poets, The Rumpus, Gastronomica, and Poetry Northwest among others. A graduate of the University of Washington’s MFA program, she’s taught creative writing at UW, the Pantry at Delancey, and Richard Hugo House. In 2012 she founded her roaming pastry academy, Pie School. For more information, visit katelebo.com. Thomas Osborne is a graphic designer. He designed the first 18 issues of the High Desert Journal. He lives in Terrebonne, Oregon. When Sean Prentiss is not a living in northern Vermont and teaching at Norwich University, he spends his days staring up into the sun, searching within that sundog for any glimpse of Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel, or any glimpse of the last wildness of America. He is the co-editor of the anthology of creative nonfiction, The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre. Vanessa Renwick is a Film/Video/Installation artist. She works in experimental and poetic documentary forms,  and her work reflects an interest in place, relationships between bodies and landscapes, and borders of all sorts. Chances are, if she is not walking on cement, she is very happy. www.odoka.org Jon Rovner learned to write in Mrs. Ito’s first grade class at Walnut Hills Elementary in Centennial, Colorado. His work has recently appeared in the Indiana Review, Wag’s Revue, and Brevity. The landscape of Eastern Washington, from the shrub steppe to the Cascades, influences the writing of Kathi Rivers Shannon. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in numerous publications, including, Crosscurrents, Mirror Northwest, Washington Magazine, and The Good Life. She won first place for her nonfiction from the “Write on the River” competition, earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop, and teaches English at Wenatchee Valley College. Laura Jean Schneider has traveled all around the United States but prefers big, wide open spaces. She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband Sam, seven horses, four dogs, a Jersey cow, and a cat. She has a BA from Smith College and is currently pursuing her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  

high desert journal



high desert journal

Chuck shoved two fish sandwiches into his son’s hands, fingers tacky from the greasy waxed paper. “Accelerator sticks,” he said, “sometimes. Watch it on the dirt roads.” His back hunched against the bitter November wind. His son looked down at him and nodded. Serious for the first time since he’d arrived on the rez. “Yeah,” Rio nodded. “Sure.” Chuck still marveled at the creature before him. He couldn’t quite believe this lanky man-child in a stocking cap shared his DNA.


The McDonald’s parking lot was crowded. Booths of roundcheeked people stared blankly through the streaky windows. In the PlayPlace, kids plunged off of plastic platforms into a sea of colorful balls. Chuck wanted some privacy with his son but he sensed this was as intimate as it was going to get. Rio shifted in his oversized clothes. He was all angles, skinny, and a head taller than his father. His second week here he’d met the niece of one of Chuck’s friends and they’d hit it off. Then some guy groped Rachel at a party and Rio had responded with an unexpected strength and speed. He didn’t look like much, Chuck thought, but he was tough. Rio had navigated his world like a natural, held his own, minded his business: most newcomers didn’t make out quite as well.


Laura Jean Schneider

Chuck’s own people had been skeptical when he moved back, wary of his new ideas, his degree. They made fun of his books. It probably made things worse for him, but in a tight spot, he always fell back on his academic career. “I’m a writer, not a fighter,” he’d try to joke. Mostly, he simply steered clear of the more questionable areas of the reservation. He had a few friends here now. They were an odd lot. Everyone pretty much left them alone, which was fine by Chuck.


Brad Adkins, Keys To My Parents’ House, 2005, keys, 0.5x1.5x3 inches high desert journal


Transformation of these bones in dry valleys, interrupted.


John Davenport

Their melt and merge with the earth, halted. I pick up the round skulls. The good ones, their heft in my hands a dull moon. The bad ones, fragile, friable, pitted. Cellular like rye krisp. These are delicate and pop apart, crumble. Teeth are loose in dry sockets and rattle in broken leering grins. Sutures shell-stitched across empty vaults. I scan skulls for metopism, wormian bones, pterion pattern, palatine and mandibular torus, tympanic dehiscence. I measure sightless orbs; width and length of fleshless cavities, chart teeth on a grid. I note their condition and absence. It is the teeth bezeled in bone that I inspect closely. The same ivoried ridge through which I bite the world. Cavities with sheets of cartilage as thin as butterfly wings where once buffeted the smell of rain, wet earth, Juniper smoke and sage. These mouths once ate the sweet corn, the wild meat. They talked, they laughed, they whispered in those desert nights. The old jaws have most teeth missing. The tissue shrunken, reabsorbed.

Nubs of molars ground by stone grit.

Perfect holes from weeping abscess.

The children’s small faces hide molars below the thin surface of gum sheet.

Death and the suck of the desert drying the membrane.

Unveiling perfect crowns incisely cusped just below the surface.

Recessed and shadow-boxed.

Small round succulents still waiting to emerge.

At home I shake the papers out and an ocean of fragments:

Skull, enamel, and sand fall on the table like a shrouded whisper

While the tip of my tongue darts and probes the broken Worried gap in my own jaw.


high desert journal


Profile for High Desert Journal

High Desert Journal - Issue 19  

High Desert Journal - Issue 19