top of page



CLICK HERE to go back to TIQ13 chapter selections


Chapter Three:

poem by Pepper Trail, poem by Al Ortolani, poem by Aden Thomas,

poem by Mark Thalman. and poem by James Dott

Poem by Pepper Trail

To an Apple Maggot

Here is the world made flesh

Begin beneath the skin, thin atmosphere

Voyage through the white

Everything edible, your own

Grow and write the story of your happiness

Fatten until the fall, and then

In the grass, remember

Beyond this world, there is another

And there, when the time is ripe

You will be given sleep, and forgetfulness

And wings

Pepper Trail is a writer and naturalist in Ashland, Oregon.  His environmental essays appear regularly in High Country News, and his poetry has appeared in Spillway, Cascadia Review, Borderlands, Kyoto Journal, Atlanta Review, and other journals. He is the author of two poetry books. His book, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award. He works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.



Poem by Al Ortolani


Good Friday


The rain began as I left the house,

a calming drizzle

like a Xanax and coffee latte.

Now, at work, a newscast seeps

through an adjoining wall.

Nothing intelligible, only the crackle

of my inner Syria, temporarily,

a distant thunder. The rain falls,

drums the window, soothes

my need to engage. It returns

throughout the morning

as a mantra, in lamb’s blood,

as a Jewish woman filling

her palms with myrrh.


Al Ortolani’s prose and poetry has appeared in Rattle, New Letters, the New York Quarterly, The Midwest Quarterly, The English Journal, The Quarterly, The Laurel Review, Prairie Schooner, Word Riot, Camroc Press Review, and others. He is the author of one chapbook, Slow Stirring Spoon, High/CooPress, two collections of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, both published by Woodley Press at Washburn University. His third book of poetry, Wren’s House, a collection of haiku, published by Coal City Press in Lawrence, Kansas. Book four, Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead, was published by Aldrich Press, CA. His fifth book,Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released from New York Quarterly Books, New York, New York. His sixth collection, Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb's Bar came out in February 2015 from Spartan Press in Kansas City, Missouri. Soon to be released will be Paper Birds Don't Fly, New York Quarterly Books, and Ghost Sign with J.T. Knoll, Adam Jameson, and Melissa Fite Johnson from Spartan Press in Kansas City, White Buffalo Poets.

Poem by Aden Thomas

Girls with Tattoos

You see them, and always

your eyes fall

for a moment

to the pictures on their skin.

They are the mysteries you cannot know,

ellipses on the bodies of strangers.


A single rose

any color, but often red,

starts at her ankle,

just a stem,

             then swirls up

                            and around

her bare calf muscles.


Or a flock of blackbirds

              flying west

to meet the sun

               across the soft

horizon of her neck

               and tan shoulder.


There are hearts and daggers,

treble clefs and stars,

moons and bible verses,

dream catchers and kisses,

pin-up girls and clouds,

zombies and feather quills,

dragons and floral patterns,

a wolf or a cross or an owl.


Then there are the images

inked into the body

of the woman that you love.

Alone and naked in the faint light

you stare at them.


Suddenly you’re wandering

with torches

deep into that mountain cave.

There, painted on the walls of granite,

her story, an old story,

a story untold

coming to life in the shadows of the flames.



Aden Thomas grew up in Central Wyoming near the Wind River Indian Reservation.  He has worked as a laborer, dishwasher, retail clerk, economic developer, and public agency executive.  His work has been featured, in addition to Turtle Island,  Rust + Moth and The Inflectionist Review. His recent book of poems, What Those Light Years Carry, is available through Amazon and Kelsay Books. Find more of his work at



Poem by Mark Thalman

Cascade Summit

Every evening a south bound freight

rumbles across the lake and dissipates . . .

While inside the cabin,

I stoke the fire that licks the logs

making fir pitch sizzle.

In a cast iron skillet,

Grandmother cooks the kokanee

caught this afternoon. 

We tune the radio to Ira Blue,

live from the Hungry Eye

in San Francisco. 


Sometimes he interviews movie stars

or discuses the Vietnam War,

where Jim, our lifelong friend,

was shot by a sniper,

and Craig, only 19,

killed in a firefight

while on patrol.  


The fire glows low.

A crescent moon,

slender as a fish hook,

catches cloud after cloud.


A steady wind reels them in,

until the boat of night

sails over the horizon

Mark Thalman is the author of Catching the Limit, Fairweather Books (2009). His poetry has been widely published for four decades.  His work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, CutBank, Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily among others.  He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and has been teaching English in the public schools for 34 years.  Thalman is the editor of  He lives in Forest Grove, Oregon.  For more information please visit

 poem by James Dott

    Cape Cod, 1620

No Middle Passage, a chosen voyage,
only one death,
yet no small test of faith,
the crowded stench
unbathed bodies, their wastes,
lice, weevils, fouled water, the sailors’ taunting curses,
it was one of them who died
as you sow so shall you reap,
the pitch and wallow in weeks of heaving storm swell

A moonless night,
scattered stars, frost on rigging, the cry, land,
a lighter band above the darker sea
distant hiss of waves on sand
a prayer for this the promised shore

With morning they rowed to shore
younger children ran the beach
she walked the dune ridge
to an ice-rimmed pond
white swans took flight,
she stopped,
turned seaward, slid down,
dug a bowl in the sand
water welled up
she dipped a finger
fresh not salt
then the voice
from behind her left shoulder
"I am your source, your spring
grasp me, I will slip away
immerse in me, I will float you
I will be the stream that delivers you
to your final ocean
drink of me"

She cupped her hands,
they filled, she lifted them
she drank

James (Jim) Dott. taught elementary elementary school for over thirty years and now writes, hikes, and gardens.  Jim’s work has appeared in Written River, Green Linden, and Turtle Island Quarterly.  He has a chapbook, A Glossary of Memory.  His website is  Jim lives with his family in Astoria, Oregon.

CLICK HERE to go back to TIQ13 chapter selections

bottom of page