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Peter Ludwin

Peter Ludwin

Read "Sprit Mound" at North American Review

Interview with Peter Ludwin

Peter Ludwin is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship from Artist Trust and the W.D. Snodgrass Award for Endeavor and Excellence in Poetry. His first book, A Guest in All Your Houses, was published in 2009 by Word Walker Press. His second collection is Rumors of Fallible Gods, a two-time finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award that was published in 2013 by Presa Press.

Gone to Gold Mountain in its original smaller chapbook form was a semi-finalist for both the 2010 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award and the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award.

His work has appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, The Bitter Oleander, The Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod, North American Review and Prairie Schooner.

An avid traveler who has journeyed by canoe to visit remote Indian families in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador, hiked in the Peruvian Andes, thumbed for rides in Greece and bargained for goods in the markets of Marrakech and Istanbul, he spent nearly a month in 2011 visiting China and Tibet.

He lives in Kent, Washington, where he works for the Parks Department.

Gone To Gold Mountain

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Poem from Gone To Gold Mountain

Letter from a Chinese Miner in the Snake River Country, 1880s

Wife, the words I write
   from this rough
mining camp are too poor
   an offering for one

who still fires my gnarled, aching body.
   Forgive this fool’s gold
an old man sends you. Years
   among barbarians

have stripped from me the hope
   I will feel again
your face between my hands,
   or see our son grow

to marry. Tell me, do you yet
   tend the mulberry trees?
Boil silkworm cocoons to spin
   your delicate threads?

Tonight, at rest by a nameless
   creek, I contemplate
the familiar fields of our village,
   see with the moon’s

unerring eye the mat where you sleep.
   Despised by gweilo
who once sought our labor,
   we linger like dogs

on the edge of camp, desperate
   for a scrap. Scrape
from stream, from wretched
   gravel a bare, crab-

knuckled existence. Even the air
   we breathe seems metallic.
Each morning when I wake it flares
   my nostrils like the long

cold barrel of a gun. Pray for me,
   wife. Pray to our
Taoist gods that I may prosper
   so you will not starve.

Nor open your door to find
   a friend returned
from Gum Shan, my crumbling
   bones his message.