Shann Ray

I wonder if suicides aren’t in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life. Václav Havel


Are there any real questions
to be asked anymore?

Like the one you asked
when we walked

among blue spruce mountains
and saw a yellow butterfly

stumbling over the cattails
along the river.

Why does water sometimes pause
and seem to run against itself before going on?

Lord knows, we need
the light in these loyal mountains.

I won’t forget the night
you placed your hands on the back of my head.

I had my face in my arms but
I heard the absolute heaven
saying do not be afraid.



Shann Ray is a poet and prose writer whose work has appeared in Best New Poets, McSweeney’s, and Poetry International. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, he is the winner of the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize, the Subterrain Poetry Prize, and the Crab Creek Review Fiction Award. He is the author of American Masculine (Graywolf), and Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity (Rowman & Littlefield). He lives with his wife and three daughters in Spokane where he teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University.