Green Hills Literary Lantern

Dream Canoe


My Swedish grandmother feeds me

homemade apple pie

and tells me I am a good boy.

In her backyard at night

I climb an apple tree to the North Star.


We all fall

from the grace of childhood

and spend the rest of our lives trying

to regain our innocence.


I write poems in the sky

but the clouds turn them into snow

and they drift to earth.


Young boys dig a snow cave in their front yard

with an opening just big enough

to squeeze through.

They hide their dreams inside

under the Northern Lights.


I write poems in the snow

but the sun melts them into water

and carries them away.


On the athletic field behind concrete walls

a prisoner looks up

at the formation of Canadian geese

migrating south.

In his bunk at night

he dreams of flying.


I write poems in my dreams

but when I wake up

I no longer have them.

They are for another place

another time.


Like the footsteps of a homeless man

our days pass

one in front of the other

moving us from

what we do not know

to what we cannot remember.



Gordon Grilz was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. His family moved to Chandler, Arizona, in 1961when he was ten. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1972 with a B.S. in English and in 1973 with an M.A. in English. He taught English at the college level for seven years prior to his incarceration in 1981 for a capital crime. He had the privilege of participating in an in-prison writing workshop led by Dr. Richard Shelton, Regent’s Professor of English at the University of Arizona. He currently resides in the East Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Arizona, where he works as a GED tutor, preparing students for the essay portion of the GED examination. His poems have been published in Inner Voices, Walking Rain Review, Fortune News, Correction(s): A Literary Journal, the Mennonite, PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers, and Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century. Gordon Grilz was awarded first place for poetry in the 2003 PEN Prison Writing Awards for his poem “The Nature of Things.” He won the People’s Press 2003 Writing Competition for Poetry with “My Father’s War.”