Samuel Green’s poem, Grandmother, Cleaning Rabbits, inspired a certain elemental gravity from a handful of our contributors: Tim Barnes with his Writing a Knife; Joe Bisicchia’s See beyond the Missing Leaves; Amy Miller’s The Vegetarian Dismembers the Chicken; Doug Stone’s Another Battlefield; and Elijah Welter’s In the Winter of Separation. Death, loss, the knife, and/or the Fall/Winter season are recurring themes with which the reader will likely resonate.
Another handful of poets responded to the prompt to address an author or character that had stayed with them long after the reading. Marilyn Johnston addressed Olive Kittredge; Brigitte Goetze spoke to James Joyce; Ben Sloan, Eva Braun; and Cristina White called up Georges Simenon and Oscar Wilde. Would your conversation be the same? Or have you been sifting through your responses, words still unspoken? Sometimes cultural history deserves the direct address as these poets demonstrate. See what you think.
It is our good fortune to read within these pages a number of established poets in addition to Samuel Green: Tim Barnes, Amy Miller, George Perrault, and Erica Goss among others. There are several Oregonian poets you will likely recognize as well as names new to the reader. I hope you will enjoy the exploration as I have.
For your visual pleasure, we honor the labors of potters in this issue, especially those who stoked the fires of the East Creek Anagama kiln in Willamina. Alice Martin-Kunkle shares pictures of her wood-fired wares as well as of the kiln’s firing (Back Page). Betty Turbo invites us into her Green Series with two paintings on wood. Brady Chambers celebrates the opening of his Independent Print Works with one of his handmade screen prints.
Happy Autumnal Equinox! May the art and poems on these pages prepare us to turn inward with the season and celebrate the riches we find there.
Write a poem about a town [person] that haunts you
but instead of his or her name identify the place
as a pot of scalding water being thrown in your face
then write this poem [person] a letter but in the letter
mention a few facts about how the summer moonlight
saw every [fucking] fist then ask the poem [town]
whom is still not in Hell if it ever visits the dogdead
pines where this poem lays and ask the poem [my mother]
where the Sig Sauer is buried, make a grocery list of all
the animals it’s [you’ve] killed but not until I find
the photo [bullets] of the boy sitting with his chicken
on my porch both [burning] pale and starched like a stuffed priest.
Yvonne Amey is a poet with an MFA from the University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in The Florida Review, 50 Gs, Vine Leaves Journal, and elsewhere.
Waiting for Hot Water
It’s a lap swimming ritual
at the end of the swim
to stand in the showers naked
with the guys, waiting for hot water
to find its way to the end of the pipe.
Hands held in the cold stream–
sometimes we turn on two shower heads
thinking that will hurry the process.
We stand like ancient aborigines around a fire,
and soap up when heat arrives.
Frank Babcock, poet, is a retired middle school teacher and owner of Marys Peak Bamboo. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon. He has maintained an interest in poetry all of his adult life and writes poetry because it feels wonderful to do so; he likes sharing what goes on in his silly mind. He is married, the father of many, and currently enjoys twelve grandchildren.
The Poet Shops For A Used Sportscar
“Not red,” I tell the salesman. “Not black.” He
hesitates, mumbles. My best defense, certainty.
“White.” No overtones of middle-age regrets or false
illusions. They almost always come
sheathed in a dark gloss of power
or glowing crimson, candy apple,
fire. The one before us molten lava,
scarcely still, though standing here
inside the lines on asphalt.
For experience, I circle the radiant hulk,
eyes critical and hard, bend to examine
a scratch low on the front. This is not the place
for dreamers, no space here
for metaphor. Following advice
of men who know a thing or two about combustion,
crank shafts, timing belts, I stoop to look for leaks
and rust. I run my fingers over tires
to probe for misalignment, until I stop at something
soft and feathered, a great moth clinging
to black tread, grey ghost waiting for the night.
I scoop him up. Wings spread, a flash
of rosey stripes. The waiting salesman
taps his polished shoe and waves me
to the driver’s seat. I turn my back and kneel
to brush my hand under the bumper
of a nearby truck where my rescue climbs
to fold its crimson once again
into a silvered sliver and rests there
in the shadows
plain and tight as prayer.
Quetico in the Moonlight
The roof of the tent is almost stained-glass,
a diffusion of shadows, ghosts
of pines beyond the netted window
standing their black watch
against the western crescent’s
silvery spread and stars’
bright net above. Silence,
punctuated by a soft lap of lake
on rocks and a flat plunk–
something slapping water. Close.
Then, far off, wails, calls
like the voices of lost lovers, roll
across the surface of everything. You
could believe it a dream conjured
in the half-light of your city apartment
to be tossed away into the dawn
were it not for the hum of tiny wings
beating against the screen beside your face,
or the small sting on your neck.
A buzz, while off in the dark another slap
resounds as beaver go about pushing
logs to the stream. A breeze
brushes soft branches
into a rush of whispers,
and the loons’ distant moans and yodels
echo on, as you know they will,
long after you return home.
Louise Barden is a prize-winning poet, recognized this summer by Calyx Press for the Lois Cranston Memorial Prize for Poetry. She previously won the North Carolina Writers’ Network chapbook contest (for Tea Leaves), and the Southwest Review’s 2017 Marr Prize (finalist). Her poems have been published in Chattahoochee Review, Timberline, and elsewhere. She has recently been lured from North Carolina to Oregon by grandchildren.
Alice Martin-Kunkle was one of several potters who gathered to load, cut wood, and then stoke the anagama kiln in Willamina. (See Back Page for more details.) She is a prize-winning northwest clay artist and photographer whose work is currently represented in the ISEA (experimental art) now showing at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Alice Martin Clay Studio (FB), ETSY, and For ArtSake Gallery in Newport are a few of the places where you might find more of her work.