Deborah Akers
partly fallen

The poems in Deborah Akers’ partly fallen reside quietly, yet not quite in peace. They summon a natural world that is unsentimental yet bound to the dearly flawed human arc. These spare lyrics reach for the essence of what we know as sensory beings, and perhaps what we can dream beyond the senses. Reading partly fallen, the reader walks a narrow yet deeply rendered path into the world’s broken heart.

Cover design: Beth Ford
Paperback: $15
Publication date: October 1, 2015

Deborah Akers is the author of a collection of poems, backward pilgrim (I-Beam Books 2013). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Beloit Poetry Review, Chicago Review, Yellow Silk, Hubbub, Voiceweavers, and Writers Almanac, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Deborah and her husband live in the green embrace of Portland Oregon. She makes her living as an educational editor and writer.


Praise for partly fallen

“In partly fallen, each poem is an act of divining—a deeply lyric dowsing for what is elemental. With taut and resonant metaphors, Deborah Akers calls us to see the world beneath surfaces, a world wherein a rainbow is a ‘spectral bruise,’ wherein a ‘ragged crow/ appears newly spat/ from an earth god’s maw.’ Richly and subtly musical, Akers’ work brings us compelling messages from our own depths. Each poem reveals the poet’s fierce willingness to delve. Each offers us the chance to accompany her as she plunges “into original substance.”
—Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

“Deborah Akers’ partly fallen is a superbly realized, significant book, a worthy addition to Airlie Press’s fine series. ‘entering the dense/family-silence of trees/my steps arouse/wings, which wake…’/ ‘the flock rises/pulsing like an organ gone/ adrift from its body…’ Again and again, partly fallen vividly evokes moments of experience in which discord prevails, and again and again the poems evoke a return to harmony. ‘all too soon you will breach/the ocean’s embrace/face your journey’s/blank horizon// but tonight you drift/in the black waves/fallen stars/ wrecked and drowsing/ lit with the soft remnants/of radiance’.”
Ralph Salisbury, Pulitzer nominee, C.E.S. Wood Award Recipient, Winner Riverteeth Book Prize, Rockefeller Bellagio Award, two time Oregon Book Award Finalist

“In Deborah Akers’ partly fallen, being open to the world is a constant prayer as she celebrates the persistence of nature in an imperfect world.  These poems will gently lead you to a quiet but inspired place where salmon live ‘a solitary life’ until they are called home, a murmuration of starlings rising above the Astoria bridge pulses like a giant heart, and even stale sunflower seeds tossed out to feed common sparrows signal intimations of Wordsworthian transcendence.”
—Barbara Drake, author of Morning Light, Peace at Heart, Driving One Hundred, and other works of prose and poetry


Excerpts from partly fallen


compost: a marriage

spent chard, carrot greens
all manner of peels
          failed fruit
daily coffee grounds
eggshells, grass

gathered with intent
set out to patiently
stink in the heat
reek in endless rain

a shovel turn reveals
hundreds of small worms
flipping in panic—this is a good sign
their deep hunger not to be

miracle, if you think
of the multitude
layers – dead fibers
formerly bitter, dense
          sweet, grainy
tasteless, all giving way

slowly wedded
slowly, into new-made
fragments of this black
and fragrant earth

this morning

frays and snarls, refusing
          the simplest weave

vivaldi lends a suggestion
the blinds request to be cleaned
recipes unfurl assurance
          in the sequence of things

the slow daily list¬–
tasks assembling until at last
a fabric emerges
adequate to dress
          dawn’s blister

though by now the day’s first wound
is long pierced
          pain worn

nearly threadbare
          ordinary as noon

about ripeness

            after Rilke

even the foolish can know ripeness–

          ballast of orange
          slight give of peach
          tight shine of apple peel
scent deep in the navel of melon

bodies, too, can reach a place
where heft of thigh
and unruly hip swell

a brief balance
between flesh and the rigors
          of imagination
joined in a moment of rest:

sky holding light, even
with the certainty
of rain clouds

the span coiled
between hawk’s
barbed call
          high in fir

and the waiting feast below
blind creatures rising
          to catch a breath
from the drenched soil

freighters list
on the night current
bows lifted or low-bellied
depending on their burden
it matters little
whether laden with noble goods
or frivolous trade —
          all must wait
 for the pilot ships

those nimble advocates
tasked with blazing
through the river’s bar
          its battering maze
all too soon you will breach
the ocean’s embrace
face your journey’s
          blank horizon
but tonight you drift
in the black waves
          fallen stars
 wrecked and drowsing

lit with soft remnants
          of radiance
                          ---for my dad


Limited-edition Broadside

In celebration of the publication of partly fallen, Airlie Press has commissioned a limited-edition letterpress broadside of one of Deborah Akers’s poems. Signed and numbered by the author.