Once again we have an issue of several distinct voices from the Pacific Northwest, the Mid-West, the East Coast, South Africa, Wales, India, and Australia, with ten poets specifically from Oregon.
From Gail Peck’s ekphrastic poem, “The Damaged Child,” to Jude Brigley’s “ At My Mother’s House,” Sherri Levine’s “A Kind of Disaster,” Megan Munson’s “Marathon,” Gargi Mehra’s “In the Bowels of Her Birkin,” Judy Shepps Battle’s “Frozen Tears,” and Linda Wimberly’s “When,” we are taken through a variety of trauma including poverty, abuse, anorexia, oppression, grief, and mental illness. These are stories that need to be shared. These are voices that need to be heard.
Another cluster of poets situate the reader between human and nature, not as separate as we sometimes assume, as in Elizabeth Cohen’s “When I Was a Bird,” Katherine Edgren’s “Little Brown Beauty,” and Laura DiNovis’ “The Crab.”
We received some lovely watery poems in response to Petersen’s “A Municipal Servant Serenades at the Pier”—Marjorie Power’s “It’s Pronouned Yah-Hots,” Lauren Scharhag’s “Montego Bay,” and Sheila Sondik’s “Bodega Bay.”
One of my personal favorites is the piece by Karen Jones, “We’ll Be Coming,” a rollicking poem which so magically brings to life her story behind a song so many of us shared as children. No spoilers! Just take a read.
My thanks to the grown-up voices of Sue Fagalde Lick and Penelope Scambly Schott and to the several other poets on these pages who make me happy to be an editor. Salud!
In addition to some fine art submissions by Jim Zola and Frances Van Wert, I want to offer special thanks to Terri Thomas (poet) and the Benton County Historical Museum’s exhibit, Beyond Words, which is where I found works by Leslie Green, Judith Sander, and Kathy Jederlinich–they knock my socks off!
At my mother’s house
At the corner of my mind, my bike
is still propped
in the stairwell
but the nail
where I hung my coat
is just a hole in the sanded wood.
And the kitchen, where she never cooks now,
is heavy with sizzling and splashing,
here, where the dead jostle for my attention.
Though I glance up at the
blue volumes of Dickens
I am not surprised to see
cups and saucers on the top shelving.
And yet I duck
before a fire that has long
Jude Brigley is Welsh. She has been a teacher, an editor, a coach and a performance poet. She is now writing more for the page.
I’m preparing for the end of the world
again, which is to say I am making
goulash, which is to say I am mixing
up everything leftover from the week
and slapping it with a fancy Hungarian
name, which is to say I am tired
I am planning to feed my daughter
and her three or maybe four friends
this concoction because I have convinced
myself it is better than peanut butter toast
which is to say I am cleaning out the refrigerator again
which is to say I like to see them eat
I add in a few wands of asparagus, the last
of the noodles, and cheese, always cheese
because everyone knows children love cheese
and I love children eating cheese, their small mouths
opening and closing over and over so predictably
the way every day becomes a night, eventually
I think of the insides of them, making sense of beets
and pasta, of chicken strands, and slips of onion
the way each one of them will make sense someday
of snow caked walkways, of books left out in rain
and heartbreak which is to say I like the way they chew
Someday, they will encounter bullies
they will feed their own parents soup,
and possibly hold someone’s hand as they die
They will have paper cuts
which is to say they will bleed
but for today, they will eat my goulash
which is what I call this stir fried everything
I like to think I am feeding them a few ways
to prepare for the end of the world here
which is necessary these days
which I have to say makes me tired somehow
which is to say they will need more
than all their beauty to get by
When I Was a Bird
I had the smallest bones
I could breaststroke on the smooth back of evening
I had no particular anger
Sometimes I made a meal of rain’s leftover wheat
I found certain beetles enticing
I loved fish
There was a time when I sang
to a smaller bird
There was a time when
I pierced the skin of a lake
and left mud tracks
I’ve let my shadow follow other shadows
into the quicksand of night
I’ve slept among sandflies
and fallen down on the miracles
of road-killed mice
After, I evolved into a mongoose
the smallest springbok of a large herd
a wildebeest, a Talaud flying fox
but I never forgot my ancestry
of feather and flock
It was my best life of all, and my
I was married to air
and my hatchlings followed me
everywhere, until one day
they left to marry the wind
themselves and became tree frogs
and pink fairy armadillos
and little girls
in India, with parasols
Elizabeth Cohen is an associate professor of creative writing at SUNY Plattsburgh and the editor of Saranac Review. Her poems have been published by Yale Review, Northwest Review, River Styx, Calyx and Exquisite Corpse. Her book of poems, Bird Light, was a co-winner as best poetry book by Adirondack Center for Writing in 2017.
Jim Zola is a poet and photographer living in North Carolina.
What a wonder is the crab:
She molts when her skeleton becomes a cell
and lets seaweed abandon it on cemetery sands.
Then, soft with freedom, she mates.
Her lover projecting himself inside her
while she is still capricious
before reality locks her back
into the shell of self protection.
Laura DiNovis is student to a craft she will never fully understand. She will also never fully understand how to write bios.
Little Brown Beauty
–-after Valery Mann
Why rush the kitchen window every morning|
to bang your tender head upon the glass,
like a yoyo on an invisible string?
Experts declare: “protecting territory.”
That interloper in the glass has got to go,
and you’re just the soldier to do it,
a troop of one, your life’s quixotic business.
I’ve plastered the window with green post-it notes,
tried closing the shade, but you simply choose
I admire your persistence,
wonder at futility
see how you’re like me.
One day, I find your body beneath the window,
neck broken, twitching forever stilled,
subdued enough for a watercolorist.
Wrapped in plain, brown stripes,
from a family too abundant to be rare.
One of a long, undistinguished series
showing what can happen when you chase away
the one who looks like you, charging forward
instead of stepping back,
the fallibility of instinct.
Along with your mussed, lumpy chest, your
cunning beak, and your already desiccating carcass,
your feet are what will stick with me:
curved, wiry, offered to the morning sky.
Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, (Finishing Line Press), is now available. She also has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Birmingham Poetry Review and Barbaric Yawp. She is a retired social worker, living in Dexter, Michigan.
“The Journey of Time”
Judith Sander‘s “The Journey of Time” was inspired by a poem “What Journey Now” by Terri Thomas. Mixed media collage using papers, oil pastels, pencil and acrylic paint. 18”H x 24”W. The collection of objects from her travels manages to fill the room with emotions.
Go on, then.
Seek that which remains
rhetorical, without retort,
by narrow-eyed prophet,
self-fulfill, produce tomes
chockfull of minced word,
wield fountain tip as daggered
butterfly meant for jugular
and bleed out. With regards,
make your mark, feign high art
in gaudy formation of book,
a loud sigil of floweriness.
Trick about, then vanish
into smoke screen- nothing
to see here. Schooled gentleman,
yes, manchild hanger-on,
coin flip today’s: To be.
Lock eye with dusked muse
to be forgotten when the birds
whisper in trees you will never
know the names of.
thatched hat sensibility-
ebbs abject horror,
eludes doomed femme
saves embattled horse
who’d taken arrows
on some scorched field.
The mirror’s intervention,
you’ve seen better days.