The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Collaborative Poetry: Owyhee

Owyhee is a collaborative manuscript written between Idaho, Hawai'i, and Mexico over the course of one year; the title is taken from the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho, which are said to be named from an alternate spelling of Hawai‘i.  Poems from Owyhee have also appeared online at Country Music, Horse Less Review, Hawai‘i Review, and Alice Blue Review.

Karena Youtz is a poet living in Boise, Idaho.  She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, The Transfer Tree (1913 Press, 2013). 

Scott Abels is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Rambo Goes to Idaho (BlazeVOX, 2011), and a chapbook, Nebraska Fantastic (Beard of Bees, 2012).  After having spent three years living and teaching in Zipolite, Oaxaca, he now lives in Honolulu, Hawai‘i where he edits the online journal of poetry Country Music.



Karena, it’s come to my attention

that the word I’ve been using for “wild”

is an awkward translation.


I spent the morning planting cantaloupe.

I discovered an entire new generation of ants to hate

in our water tank.


Yesterday, everyone’s tongue was out, Karena.

No act of god could keep us safe,

as they say,


but we still,

far as we know,

we are completely safe.


I sort of think that’s good clean Rock and Roll.

In all the world’s darkness, in every little fear,

I saw my doctor


use a Jesus hologram

as a straightedge

to underline my name on a form.


Rock Stars do tend to have better health care.

It’s true, I admit, I’m a little self

righteous about getting paid in pesos here.


Karena, the singer

for Iron Maiden

is a licensed  pilot.


Iron Maiden, thank you

for the dirty night.

An entire quiver


of fancy-ass shirts

has been discredited.









Today Ben Gave Me a Stone of Magic Protection


Dear Scott,  I think one can safely

go with tragedy as tragic.


A fascist movement

to grin at ants and cast

atrocities as lessons makes me vomit.  I hope the seeds sprout, grow, blossom, and

produce cantaloupe


Werner Herzog: "The poet must not avert [her] eyes."


When rock stars do not have health care

they do not care     Possibly I could stop being neurotic


my needs are that basic


To live as a hologram physician

and first,

first be harmless

is my wish


today is my 39th birthday

underlined with sunlight

closer to earth than ever






















Karena, in an ESL classroom

the standard lesson line is


why might that be funny?


Karena, many happy birthdays.

There really is nothing like fluency


and a strategy for effective telephoning.

I hope what was a small birthday


loosened into a bigger birthday,

and now


tomorrow you will know why when you triumph.

Why might that be funny from now on.


Remember, imagination.

Allow time to measure


the size of the problem of the riddle.

A ball rolls


into a street in Boise.

What happens next?






















After Swine Fever


The next

second after eternity

Scott Abels teaches an entire ESL class

timing     Students will need
enough beats

for the moment

it might not

be funny




we watch

a ball stop

in the street


Influenza dreams:

peaceful beautiful fun

Pheasant and sturgeon

Wilderness just years

til full return 


Bunch of kids in a field

near the mountains, "Lady, do you

want to be young?"  of course





















Karena, In Owyhee County

(no one calls it Owyhee County)

this is an old trick.

So I have a personal knife sharpener


that I put in a poem.

Oh, bitterness, I lost my father.

Lines from Virgil

pressed into neatness.


Karena, every little thing is in threes. Hawaiians 

building a railroad or digging gold in Idaho

had said they thought the mountains

looked like the ones they have in Hawaii.


It’s like calling the name of a disobedient dog

and when he doesn’t come

that’s how you know it’s him.

No one actually ever said Owyhee. Now listen,


this sucks ships

and that

will be the site

for your city.























Welcome to the Whirlpool Ball


Could Virgil press Owyhee as

a prospectors' gold city, unengineered


of potential?  Or does verse have to be history?  Google Fallen Troy, Aeneas

totes his father to safety

on his shoulders.  Between us, Scott, we might listen to forget our tricks.  


With no founders the site mishears

islands; a story where you lived 


Boise.  At the same time we misspell the name.


Escaping, Aeneas

takes his son by the hand---Virgil knew

the city   had to 

in the style of civilization   go from being---Annually, Owyhee hosts

a necessary misunderstanding


How could either of us

be bitter?  Our parents were removed

and we were given

blue flowers.  At night every ridge of these mountains

becomes the carrier of the moon


Scott, your mother's

wellbeing and yours

are vital.