Danyen Powell


Danyen Powell was born in Sacramento, California in 1952. He was raised by his father and mother along with four brothers. He attended local schools, graduated, and went to San Diego State College, then to Sacramento State College. In 1977, he started a construction business with his father. He now runs that business with his son, Joel.

Danyen’s poetry has been included in a variety of publications, such as Brevities, The Poets’ Guild, Poetry Depth Quarterly, Chrysanthemum and Rattlesnake Review. He was also the featured poet in Pudding Magazine, Issue 38, in 1998.

In 2000, Danyen won the Ad Schuster Annual Citation for outstanding poetic excellence at the 74th Annual Poets Dinner for his poem, “Pantoum of the Oncology Ward”. His work has also been included in The Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems, which was developed as part of the Sacramento Poet Laureate Program in 2001. Rattlesnake Press published Anvil, a collection of his poems, in April, 2004.


Danyen has also been the facilitator of the Sacramento Poetry Center’s weekly poetry workshop for the past several years. He currently resides with his wife, Betsy, in Davis, California and can be reached at danyen@att.net.

Danyen Powell builds a secret garden by words, which is the labyrinth of unknown human darkness.  He tries to find the way out with great passion, but meanwhile he indulges in details of the darkness leading him to be lost. We will explore complexity in his almost minimized forms. 
    - Bei Dao


Danyen Powell Poems


inside day is burning

in the gaps in the barn wall

dust motes spin

like whole worlds

hours pass

and the page

of a scorching narrative

begins to erase


                   Carquinez Strait, CA

Stars slosh in your rib cage,

My hand
cleats the halyard,
a full spinnaker...

I raise a toast
to that cheap red wine—
to that moonlit, glass sliver

by the known
and the unknown sea.



the encapsulated-self
a beginning an end
a population of plagues
how we long to be
more than dust—holes
in a plank
of a measuring stick
a lost harmonic
brittle wind...
we ate and ate—wormwood
like recorded history
layer upon layer crisscross
and overlap—
the earth compresses
and compresses—
our very molecules become
our manmade lives—some
like cathedrals
graves clawed by hand



boats scattered
broken now vessels for weeds
a dock on stilts
walks out over the sand
sand mounded by an hourglass again and again
as the wind plays a halyard
frayed and pulled by the earth at one end at the other end sky
where a black palm tree leans against the sun




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