TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 11
poem by Richard Fein, poem Hillary Kobernick,
2 poems by Ken Letko, prose poem by Sam Orndorff,
poem by Eleanor Kedney
POEM BY RICHARD FEIN
COEXISTING WITH FROGS
The frog suffers from myopia.
Its bulging eyes peer out of a swamp
with only a six inch radius of clear vision
with a blurry dark world lying beyond.
The frog's eyes can catch only motion in the present tense,
the beat of a butterfly's wing, the leg twitch of another frog,
the dive of a hungry hawk but six inches too late.
The distant and motionless are unseen.
Yet our own vision is just as finite,
our sight being smaller than a nanometer
along the earth's lifeline of four billion years.
We can neither recall the infinity before birth
nor foresee the eternity after death.
as the hectic here and now flashes by in piddling years.
And so with our distant amphibian cousins
we share this claustrophobic present.
Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition
A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He has been published in many web and print journals such as Cordite, Cortland Review,
Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Green Silk Journal, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic, Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak, Morpo Review, Ken*Again Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review, Constellations, The Kentucky Review, Muddy River , And Many Others.
POEM BY HILLARY KOBERNICK
Someone stacked an inukshuk
on the West side of the train tracks
teetering rock-man, or woman,
seawall signpost, holding up
all the ocean I can see
through the window. Welcome home.
It calls to someones on the train
all going to their somewheres.
I imagine the someone
who stacked inuksuit in each pocket
and jumped into the ocean.
Called it home. Love note
pockets, directions, maps.
And if not the bottom of the ocean
we will find our death somewhere
that someone knew this better
that someone knew our lives
are littered with inuksuit, on roads, in pockets.
Signs to remember where we came from.
The train rattling down the coastline
a raw tour of the landmarks someone else left.
These rock people with their wide open arms
that means so many things:
Sleep here. Stay awhile.
Look out for God.
There’s no reason to die
Hillary Kobernick is a three-time member of the Art Amok! Poetry Slam Team and has represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam. She holds a Master's of Divinity from Emory University and currently pastors outside Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines in the U.S. and Canada, including FreezeRay, Cider Press Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and decomP.
TWO POEMS BY KEN LETKO
support the river
collects in a pillow
even though the ocean
tide reverses the river
our breathing produces
the bright cloud we
become on the other side
beneath the surface
loose rocks continue
their muted rattle
while the river otter
on a sandbar entrance
to the cave of in and out
the river authorizes
the poem pulls
the drowning poet
from the current
and the ocean
breathes us all
is the power
of the hillside
in my lungs
the cougar purrs
leap the energy
of stars. Is this
sunrise or sunset?
of the journey
is in front of me?
Ken Letko's poems have appeared in five chapbooks and a number of small-press journals and anthologies, including Bloodroot, Earth's Daughters, Natural Bridge, Rattle and Steam Ticket. Both the North American Review and Poetry South have nominated his poems for the Pushcart Prize. He has spent part of last summer as a fire lookout on Red Mountain in the Siskiyou Range of northern California. He teaches at College of the Redwoods.
PROSE POEM BY SAM ORNDORFF
Why do we love what is wrong?
Big devil told us to sing along
And like a lovin flock we obey
Except for him he went his own way
"What a Wonderful Man"
by My Morning Jacket
The entrance to hell lies in Appalachia. There the cedars smell too sweet not to be venomous. I always felt the soft black Appalachian mud under my boots would be able to support demon possession. When The Ohio Territory became a state in 1803, Anglo-Americans crashed in and the mud did.
My people colonized the foothills, prairies, and plains as our own. We don’t take care of our own.
Early settler journals mention how clean the river water- so crystalline they could see all the bottoms. Now mountaintop removal mining and industrial avarice have displaced Nature, Natives, workers, and fish. Major rivers in the Midwest have a perpetual post-flood foggy look to them. Except some in Appalachia, like Clear Creek.
When I was very young my parents told me that this water used to be potable and I’ve never stopped being outraged at that.
My journal slides down in the muck as I type on my plastic keyboard, coal, cobalt and cadmium run dry across the Americas. The watersheds relapse into a morphing industrial revolution.
Perhaps none of us will end up surviving the New World. There’s never been an empire like ours to know if so. Laidback in the face of complexity, full of promise, and filled with abandoned mines. Empty coal shafts that powered a whole generation of gamers and dreamers.
The water that hasn’t been diverted from clear creeks won’t have time to tell us.
Sam Orndorff writes prose, poems and sometimes polemics. He teaches English and studies Spanish. Look for his work in riverSedge, Gravel, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Sunset Liminal Press, and Crab Fat.
POEM BY ELEANOR KEDNEY
A Jar With a Lid
Glass unto itself is true. Formed
from heat, risen from sand.
Though its nature changed, its spirit
follows. A tall cylinder
etched with diamond shapes lures light—
splints of soft blue and yellow.
Its neck spun with more of itself couples
with a lid—white plastic, not for processing.
Put sunflower butter in it; it will last five
(maybe seven) days. Or seashells. Or Pennies.
Its flat bottom rests anywhere.
How can a jar seem so content?
The air inside once was the wind
following the world’s whispers, brushing
over peaks, hiding low in a valley, teasing fields.
Some say the air is only quiet for the moment.
Some say the empty jar is already full.
Eleanor Kedney is the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of U.S. and international periodicals, including Connecticut River Review, Cumberland River Review, Many Mountains Moving, Miramar Poetry Journal, Mudfish, Mslexia, NY Quarterly, San Pedro River Review, The Maynard, and several other journals and anthologies. She is the founder of The Writers Studio Tucson and served as the director and the advanced workshop teacher for ten years. She lives with her husband, Peter, their dog, Charlie, and their cat, Ivy, in Tucson, Arizona and Stonington, Connecticut. To learn more, visit: www.eleanorkedney.com