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Alan Weltzien

Rembrandt in the Stairwell

Rembrandt in the Stairwell begins in the wild land of the Northwest, then navigates the complex interior of memory as it is woven into the present. Alan Weltzien imagines rooms where images of ancestors and the “ghosts” of grown children linger even as he contemplates “the day’s traffic and the world.” These poems are often elegiac, sometimes ironic or celebratory, and a pleasure to read.

—Tami Haaland, former Montana poet laureate.   

From the book:

Bighorn Medicine Wheel

Steep approach, higher and higher

one-and-a-half miles dirt-gravel

off 14-A, one-and-a-half miles

by foot below Medicine Mountain’s

summit, rise then fall

then rise to that open shoulder

9600’, hard wheel girded

by a wood fence festooned with

prayer flags, cloth scraps,

wind-frayed textures.

This sunny Sunday, no photos

or words, a native woman

inside kneels, bows her head low,

jet hair brown skin offset

orange-red blankets;

she hovers in rocky recess

for hours as white visitors

circumambulate, withdraw.

We slow round the rim,

pause our circular progress

my eyes flick from distant air,

wheels upon wheels

myriad miles out and down

back to her recumbent form.

My fingertips touch smoothed wood

as her prayers lift along stone spokes,

fly out and up in trembling

warm air as they have circled

for centuries.

O. Alan Weltzien, longtime English professor at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana, has published dozens of articles and eight books. His most recent book is "Exceptional Mountains: A Cultural History of the Pacific Northwest Volcanoes" (Univ. Nebraska Press, 2016). He has published poems recently in "The Owen Wister Review" and "The Sewanee Review."  "Rembrandt in the Stairwell" is his third book of poetry. Weltzien still skis in winter and scrambles peaks in summer.

Rembrandt in the Stairwell

is a 96 page hand-sewn paperbook with spine. $16.00

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Rembrandt in the Stairwell




Rembrandt in the Stairwell




Click here to view Alan Weltzien’s

2014 FootHills book, The Snowpeaks