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Linda Scheller is the author of the poetry collection Fierce Light (FutureCycle Press) and a chapbook, Halcyon. A widely published poet, playwright, and book reviewer, she is a founding board member of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center and a member of the National League of American Pen Women. Honors include the Catherine Cushman Leach Poetry Award, first place prizes in the California Federation of Chaparral Poets Contest, finalist for the Washington Prize and Quercus Review Book Prize, and a Best of the Net nomination.
Elegance in social poetics best describes Linda Scheller’s second collection of poetry, Wind and Children. Like an expert composer, the language is revealed not in overwhelming tones, but in the measured verses of humanistic imagery. Wind and Children is not always anchored to the classroom. Scheller brings the focus of her lens to the world, showcasing a lifetime of literary lessons, poetic remembrances, and artistic manifestations. This volume is a beautiful addition to her work. ~Indigo Moor, Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something
Linda Scheller’s Wind and Children is a tragic and beautiful exposition of a teacher’s heart. Tinged with the uncertain fates of her children, California climate chaos, and bright birdsong, these poems sing as a poignant “flute for the wind” in a broken “system that fosters indifference.” Through exquisite metaphor and gripping imagery, this “mother of thousands” pens 36 years of service with grace and wonder, regret and hope. And like a true teacher—with love. ~Kai Coggin, educator and author of Mining for Stardust
In Linda Scheller’s Wind and Children, fifth graders sit “hunched and silent/like a cloud of butterflies/forced to earth.” We worry over them, their parents, their homes, the violence that surrounds them. Scheller refuses to turn away from difficult realities, yet seeks understanding, looking to the natural world. Reader, you’ll travel far before you’ll find a more thoughtful guide than the one you meet and learn to love in the pages of this moving, care-filled book. ~Christopher Citro, author of If We Had a Lemon We’d Throw Itand Call That the Sun
carries a rifle
beside his flowering pride
slight shoulders squared over thin hips
swinging his weaponry before him
one of my ex-students
gone out to kill
birds and cats
replace the unseen enemy
that holds him down
twisted corpses litter the highways
and molder in the alleys
the slate blue eye
writhe and taunt him
mercedes and silent women
while guitars and drums
burn his blood
the children admire
the shallow grave
where a sixteen-year-old
and her lover
buried her battered son
he is free
of the closet
the silence and blows
it’s nightmare on olivero road
all the time
sitting on the sofa
beside her son
was shot dead
by her boyfriend
satan told him to do it
satan is always right
amy slept in a box
outside the trailer
driven there by the fumes
of methamphetamine production
hell always looks better
obscured by haze
peach crate houses
in narrow decrepit streets
broken toys and falling fences
barking pit bulls
crowing and strutting
jumpstart the dented sedan
and drive to the mall
for a vacation
surrounded by the best
life has to offer
the men drink
and drive past the orchards
their children enter my classroom
with bright dirty faces
and excited stories
of guns and pregnancy
funerals and jail
they leave reluctantly
for the mud and clamor of home
a raw throat
They arrive in the fog before dawn
in unmarked yellow buses
and stuttering sedans filled beyond capacity.
Men and women with dark hair
beneath tight-fitting caps
huddle around the fire
at the edge of the fields.
The heavy sky is a shawl of poison,
and they work wrapped in its embrace
nurturing the wealth of their conquerors.
Bent over the earth—the home
they care for but do not own—
icy fingers and aching arms
reach and gather the harvest
while their dreams ride their backs
like children on horses.
The leaves whisper ancient stories,
the benediction of family
and the seasons of birth and childhood,
work and death. Beneath their toil
the earth smells sweet
like sheets washed in the river and dried in the sun—
the bed that waits, already made, for those who gaze at it every day and those who look away.
Into the light
we project our hopes.
Listen to the words
beneath the music,
beyond the walls.
a bolt of feathers
flung above the orchards,
all cracked angles
and fluttering proclivities.
To My Addiction
I loved the violet red weight of your hands
on my shoulders, the quick winks you threw
to my smile. You were that shearing friend
who followed me to California, to Maine,
to nowhere. You were my sidecar, my costume,
my portal to a new, insouciant personality.
How I loved the way you made me laugh
and dance and dive off second story balconies
into the turquoise pool at night, the gasp
of cold water and shocked strangers.
We showed them, didn’t we? Of course,
I didn’t love the way you made me feel
the next morning, leaden-headed, bilious,
thin with thirst. Still, I had to love you.
You lent me confidence.
You took it back.
And yes, I knew you were lying to me.
I knew you would kill me eventually,
but everyone dies, right? We were so close
I couldn’t fall asleep without you
whispering and stroking my hair
as I knelt on the bathroom floor.
A hard day—and they were all hard,
now that I think about it—meant you
were waiting for me, my acid reward
softening the sharp edges and pillowing
the little voices that always, always said
I should’ve done better. I loved you
the way a crow loves stealing keys,
the way the topsoil loves the wind.