A selection from the 2014 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize The Uncallused Hand by Walker Abel. Recently named a Finalist in the Foreword Review Book of the Year Awards.




Once a woman who came to feel like a lake
when the first drops of rain are just reaching it
turned down a trail
and walked out of the light that she knew
into a different light. It seemed

more full of greens perhaps
certainly more full of space
and time she thought later
wrapped through like a snake
such that she could not tell
whether she was inside or out.

There were grasses
moving tops in some kind of wind
and even to the periphery
flashes of bird flight
yet it seemed like sky in its distance
had let fall something
that encased her and the land around her

such that she could not distinguish
what was time and what was light—
and so there was no movement really
she stood there or walked there or sang there
or all of them at once she did not know
for some duration
that was independent of beginning and end.

She felt for her face
which was wet on the cheeks
and she said that was the first piece to wash up
each a puzzle initially but one by one she held them
the taste of strawberries for instance or her husband’s lips
a certain doorway, a wood pile
and weightless they fell into her
as though she had no bottom or top
just a depth that henceforth
all her days would neither fill nor empty.



Walker Abel_smAbout the Author: Walker Abel lives in a remote home in the Yolla Bolly Mountains of northern California. As an undergraduate at University of California, Santa Cruz, in the mid-70’s, he participated in an environmental studies field program called Sierra Institute. Twelve years later, after completing a graduate program with ecopsychology pioneer Robert Greenway, he came back to teach for Sierra Institute, which he has done now for 26 years, while also taking on the role of director since 2003. Most of his poetry has been written in field journals while out on these academic programs, which are 9 weeks long and are entirely taught during a series of backpacking trips. It has not been unusual for Walker to teach three programs a year, amounting to a total of up to 6 months in the backcountry. One of his greatest joys is watching each new group of students open over time to the transformative influence of wilderness immersion. Walker has a 33 year old son (Stuart), who is also an ecopsychologist, backpacker, and nature-connection educator.




The Uncallused Hand 

Poems by Walker Abel

Winner of the 2014 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize!

Release Date: September 29, 2014

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About the Book: This is poetry kindled by weeks in wilderness. Its muse is nature, which encompasses both the wild beauty of earth and the mystery of self and its sometimes erotic, sometimes mystical, relationship with the other. The poems are lyrical, tonal, evocative–enamored in a sensual way of being, but also drawn at times toward the counterpart of non-being. The palpable world of natural detail is brought forth, yet the poems also echo with nuance, innuendo, archetype, and both meditative as well as enraptured levels of realization.