I appreciate the bounty of submissions we have received for this issue, many of them diving into the melding of art and poetry–from Eleanor Berry‘s anvil-shaped stanzas, so specific in their imagery that we can’t help but walk into the painting by Jim Shull which she almost leaves behind to Debby Bacharach‘s surreal response to Keiko Hara‘s installation, Topophilia. Diana Pinkney conjures the interior landscapes of the figures in the paintings of Edward Hopper. David Felix shares his mastery of visual poetry. Linda Cheryl Bryant collaborates in a broadside with artist Zsanan in an ambitious blend of artistry, imagery, and technology. Please take notice, too, of the delicate painting/poems of Lorelle Otis (cover art and back page) who successfully combines digital art and lettering with her watercolor images. There are several more equally effective “hybrids” in which the word and image combine to create something greater, a third communication, if you will, which is my test for a successful ekphrastic poem–these I leave you to discover as you read.
There is a handful of other poems that stand out for me, personally: Joy McDowell‘s Aristotle’s Lantern (–did you know that is the name of a sea urchin’s mouth?). She is one of a handful of poets in this issue who leans into science as she writes. See also, Amelia Diaz Ettinger and Brigitte Goetze, for intance. Doug Stone‘s At the River’s Edge, M. Johnsen‘s Mother, and Linda Chery Bryant‘s Summer County Hospice share a common theme. Jerri Otto‘s Vixen, Darren Demaree‘s The Best Wounds…Now really, I’m listing every poet. Better you just take your time and scroll through each page at your own pace. I promise you will find treasures.
In addition to many submissions, many strong submissions, we found remarkable geographic diversity in our contributors. We heard from Denmark, South Africa, Australia, Bogota, Sicily, India, Canada, the Pacific Northwest, California, Ohio, Nashville, and Massachusetts, among others. We also received pieces from emerging as well as established artists and writers. Word is out; the williwaw of poetry is gusting through our global community and right onto the page.
Thank you for reading what we have gathered. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, on this, the longest night of the year, please share what you like with your friends.
Going Out to Gather
Sunlight doesn’t reach the ground.
The foliage folds around me,
and I am going out to gather.
There are animals and birds here,
the tiny flowers of bindweed and wild radish.
Cones the size of my fingertip.
I am walking out in all of this,
I am going out alone.
I pull my coat close.
It’s waterless, but the evergreens
Maples are green going gold,
gold going red, red burning to rust.
Moss and lichen revise bark and limb.
A crow cruises and watches as I watch her.
She drops a feather.
My fingers curl over my pocketed key.
I am going out to gather.
I am walking out in all of this.
Small animals crush quietly
the leaves and twigs in dark underbrush.
A breeze hushes the tops of the trees.
Sedge flows with the wind.
In a clearing is a swath of unfamiliar light.
The ground is ash, charcoal splinters.
Tree trunks and launches of skeletal berry vines
are charred ghosts.
Someone has been here before me.
The air is acrid with smoke memory.
I release a breath.
Nothing will be kept but the crow feather,
the cone, the moss.
I am going out to gather.
I am walking out alone.
The Random Notes of Autumn
These are the random notes of autumn.
The lostness of birds left behind
when migration ends.
A late honeybee’s wandering stitches.
Persistent crickets in secret leaves.
The miracle of a single acorn falling,
its small wood
still remembering its tree.
Carolyn Adams‘ poetry and art have been widely published. She has authored four chapbooks, and was nominated for a Pushcart prize, as well as for Best of the Net 2017. She was a finalist for 2013 Houston Poet Laureate. Recently relocated from Houston, TX, she now resides in Beaverton, OR.
We meet in a stairway of moments,
fighting against forces or giving in.
On the landings, we are free
to do as we like, resting
or hitching up a stocking. Though we say
we’re weary of geometry,
none of us climb to the upper stories
clinging to brick;
Stooping between inhales, we peer
between riser and tread,
fishing out lost things: someone’s button
an earring, a quarter for bus fare.
We arrange them and have a poem,
a narrative arc, rising and falling.
(after Doisneau’s La diagonale des marches Paris, 1953)
Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She is a poetry editor for Minute Magazine and has seven chapbooks and one full-length collection out or forthcoming. Her individual poems can be found in Cordite, taplit mag, Menacing Hedge, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Stillwater Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Rattle, and more.
Ride a Horse on the Blue Wind
We stroke our bosom fur. You don’t have
Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). A two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Blue Mesa Review, Calyx, and Dunes among many others. For more information go to DeborahBacharach.com.
Keiko Hara moved to the USA from Japan to pursue her career as an artist and earned an MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1976. In 1983 she was granted United States permanent resident status as an artist. Her work is exhibited world-wide. Hara lives and works in Walla Walla, Washington, where she is Professor of Art Emeritus at Whitman College.
Artist Statement (excerpt): Topophilia is the term I use for grasping the beauty and sadness of life’s passing moments. I use Topophilia as a title because it conveys a sense of that place within each of us where an exceptional inner power exists….As an artist, I strive to transform this topophilia into art. It has been an ongoing theme in my work..
Word and Thing
–Wind II, oil on masonite, by Jim Shull
The painting, a coastal landscape, is titled
“Wind,” but the word I think, gazing
up at it on the living-room wall,
is anvil—definite shape
of the dune that thrusts
clear across the view.
I’ve never seen an anvil, save
in a living museum, with staff
in period dress—how is it then
that any instance of its distinctive shape
calls up its name, as if a blacksmith
hammered iron across the street?
The thing long gone
from daily life, the word
has stayed and spread,
attaching to whatever shares
the shape of a flattened tusk,
from thunderclouds to a tiny bone
in the middle ear. But worrying the word,
I get mere silhouette, this black text
on a white page. I’ve left behind
the painted scene—
the scrubby shore pine,
roots exposed, trunk
warped horizontal by the seawind,
bending its full length down across
the wind-carved body of the dune.
I’ve lost the ocean mist that has coated
all the bristling needles of the pine,
the shadow clinging underneath
the near dune’s jut,
the lion’s-pelt yellow
of sand without shade,
failed to tell how the paint creates
at once a flat design—still dance
of hue and tone—and a world
of dune and pine, palpably round.
Eleanor Berry lives in rural western Oregon. She has two full-length poetry collections, Green November (Traprock Books, 2007) and No Constant Hues (Turnstone Books of Oregon, 2015). A former college teacher of English, she is a past president of the Oregon Poetry Association and of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.