Monument Maker

Jeanne Julian

Kim Matthews Wheaton

         Clearing Up

Monument Maker


Colorado National Monument

Singlehanded he has opened this great playground to the world."—Walter Walker, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, April 1909


John Otto traced every unnamed 

vein of unclaimed canyon,

touched warm Precambrian pulse

echoing bighorn thunder, drank 

scarlet from claret cup cactus blossom,

paused in awe of red-tail hawk’s claws

clutching cottontail aloft, 

absorbed collared lizard’s gaze,

trod lichen crusts, dodged potholes,

scaled the so dominant

Colorado monolith, with boundless

sunlit sky as his own skull

clouded by two thoughts:

               Woolworth will build a tower twice as tall.



               What if this is lost.


As salve for love, Otto took

pick and shovel to cliff and mesa,

called his favorite summit

Independence, and into it  

drilled holes, hammered iron pipe,

chiseled steps high 

in desert sandstone bone.

“Feels like the heart

of the world to me,” 

he told his bride Beatrice,

who soon fled their tent at the foot

of her tamed red rock rival,

pursued by two thoughts:

            Is wilderness preserved still wild?


            What if he had not.

Jeanne Julian’s chapbook is Blossom and Loss (Longleaf Press). Prairie Wolf Press Review, Poetry Quarterly, Lascaux Prize 2016 Anthology, Kakalak, PacificReview, The Ravensperch, Wraparound South, and other journals have published her poetry, which also has won awards sponsored by The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, The North Carolina Poetry Society, and the Asheville Writers’ Workshop.