Lookout, See

“My 6th grade teacher asked me to

Name the highest mountain in the world 

I didn’t even hesitate, ‘Lookout Mountain’”

—Ishmael Reed, “Chattanooga”

“& now Denver is lonesome for her heroes”

—Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

While finishing grad school, I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a small town hidden beneath Lookout Mountain. Inspired by the mountain’s proximity, I wrote short poems about it, allowing the solidity and strength of what I saw to take whatever form I needed for the day. I finished grad school, then moved to Denver, Colorado, on the promise of a teaching job. Feeling nostalgic one day, I Googled “Chattanooga” again and discovered another Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, Colorado, close to me still. This is a summary of all that transformation, of everything you have meant to me.  

Photograph from the top of a mountain, overlooking rolling hills with a lone pine tree in the center of the foreground and a pine branch sneaking in from the top of the frame.


I take things 

       too literally:

 Your heart flutters 

like birds, your

  notched spine, 

the many things I 

find  sketching your

 sullen, busy mind

Photograph of a building with slanted windows, a tree reaching across the facade and a car whizzing past.
Photograph of the side of a building with a patch of grass before it.


Rising out of fog,

  I see you now

    from far away—

You stand there,

  with luxurious,

    wooden top,

   rich and firm, 

  with me on the

   rocky ground

Photograph of a large rock in the middle of the woods that has a diagonal crack slicing down the middle.

Poem (Unknown)

You sit there,

      digital, lit up 

  by flashing lights—

    the world is dark, 

   but, inside, you

  are made of strange, 

      staggering rock,

 and there is no night

At a roadside lookout, three couples teeter on the edge of the abyss.


I’m thinking

  of you now,

but I’m thinking 

 of your scar—

along a path



the tourists march up

 to your stately heights,

  cutting into the forest

    which is your life.

The nose of a car peaks into the frame of a photograph shot from a gravel road, overlooking a yawning valley.
A person with a camera takes a photo of themselves in the mirror of a public restroom.


On the surface,

 I see your winding, 

    aimless streets, 

  your elegant style,

but I rediscover now 

   (or just now find)

     that you dig deep 

beneath the earth, 

   wrapped within  

      geologic time

(I remember once, as a child,

you welcomed me inside—

I saw your maroon, sparkling  

mind in awe, but could not touch)

At a roadside lookout, people lean over the railing, beyond which a foggy expanse stretches.
Photograph of a car, its door open, parked in a parking lot.


Dull Chattanooga noon

 with 36 hours, gone—

Standing this far away,

  with vision obscured in

        smoke, and fog, 

  I wonder again

if your strange, 

wet   heart truly


 like mine

An image of a sign in a field of grass that reads "Buffalo Bill's Grave."
Image of a man wearing a ball cap leaning against the railing of a lookout.


I speak too much 


  your soft spine,

 my scarred,

   disjointed mind.

Photograph of a tree, into the bark of which is carved "J+B."
Heath Creel is a photographer, poet, and teacher based out of Denver, CO. In August 2023, he self-published his 3rd photobook project, Idiot Wind: Minnesota/Florida, a book loosely following the path of the poet John Berryman, from his early life in Clearwater to his early death in Minneapolis. Inspired by travel and Whitman’s affirmation of the self, his work is largely made up of studies of place, rooted within the certain, unique experience of how he experiences the world. Explore Heath's work at https://www.heathcreelphoto.com/