by Ben Gunsberg Issue: Fall 2017 Special Issue on Extinction

The world's largest organism is dying.

Some say new growth could save this silver-green
rootstalk topped by quaking, shield-shape leaves—
gust struck, they drop and plate the slope. Skin
soft enough to carve with a dull key
or pocket knife as JOHNNY ’12 has done
near other bark-scarred names. Google it:
you’ll learn the aspen share a knotted heart.
The Latin translates as “I spread.” Scroll down.
You’ll notice Pando makes poor firewood but fine
paper, first-rate saunas, where JOHNNY ’12
can sweat near KYLE ’01—strangers loined
by small, white towels at a luxury hotel.
Cracks along the grain, disease. TRUMP
engraved on rotten trunks. Also, TRUMP.

Ben Gunsberg

Ben Gunsberg’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Sugar House Review, CutBank, and DIAGRAM. The author of the chapbook Rhapsodies with Portraits, his awards include honors from the Utah Arts Council and University of Michigan’s Hopwood Award for Poetry. He lives in Logan, Utah, where he teaches creative writing at Utah State University. He can be found online at