TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 15

Summer/2018

 

Chapter two:

poems by Tim Mayo, Jennifer D. Michael,

Sarah Henry, and Donna Pucciano

 

poem by Tim Mayo

Revocable Beauty

 

 

the blue heron tilting its way

 

away from us into the tawny,

clustered stilts of reeds,

 

finally, the reeds, themselves,

their purple flowers blonding

 

in the autumn sun.

 

All this reflection

in a looking-glass calm.

 

We die . . . we die . . .

nothing new there.

 

What we want, however,

 

is to re-envision the wilting flower

perking back to full bloom,

 

luminous in its vased stillness,

 

the rabbit and the pheasant

sucking in their entrails

 

as they unhook themselves

from the hunter’s door,

 

each shuddering its way back

to the quick in a hop or a flap.

 

But what we get, instead,

 

is the circumspect, blue heron

reappearing in leggy defiance,

 

the reeds now fully arranged

behind it like a chorus,

 

as it fearlessly steps toward us

in its slow, ungainly cakewalk,

 

the erratic dip and ess of its neck posing

the same question again and again.

 

Tim Mayo is the author of two full length collections of poetry: The Kingdom of Possibilities (Mayapple Press, 2009) and Thesaurus of Separation (Phoenicia Publishing, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Montaigne Medal and a 2017 poetry category finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Among the many places his poems and reviews have appeared are Avatar Review, Barrow Street, Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Web Del Sol Review of Books, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He is a six time Pushcart Prize Nominee, a finalist for Paumanok Award, and the recipient of two Vermont Writers Fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center.  He lives in Brattleboro, VT, where he was a founding member of the Brattleboro Literary Festival.

 

 

 

 

poem by Jennifer D. Michael

 

 

 

 

In Shakerag Hollow

 

It’s not a jar in Tennessee,

just a fragment of white porcelain:

maybe a plate, a coffee cup.

It glistens through the palimpsest

of years of leafmold, time’s dark script.

 

To get here, we’ve veered off the path

that leads us safely through near-wilderness,

past silent deer and bustling squirrel.

Once off that well-signposted track

we stumble over remnants of stone wall,

black locust fence rails, even a rusted sink.

What is this rubble doing in our woods?

 

We like to think of wilderness untouched:

a place we visit Sunday afternoons,

not someone’s homestead eighty years ago,

abandoned soon, through death or poverty.

Even the name bespeaks a human act:

a carved-out place among the towering trees,

the shaken rag the sign of fresh moonshine,

treasure distilled from stony soil.

We go into the woods to lose ourselves.

Instead, we’re shocked to find ourselves again.

 

 

Jennifer Davis Michael is professor and chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, specializing in British Romanticism. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Poetry Review, Cumberland River Review, Literary Mama, Amethyst Review, and Mezzo Cammin, among others. She has also published a book of criticism, Blake and the City (Bucknell, 2006).

 

 

 

 

poem by Sarah Henry

 

 

 

 

Visions of a Musher                                                                           

in the Iditarod                                                                                                  

                                                                                                 

 

It’s a long stretch                                                                    

through the Yukon.                                                                 

The route is slow

and predictable

but the visions

aren’t.

My sled creaks.

The dogs bark

at something

up ahead.                    

It’s an Indian man

crossing the road

and dissolving.

Where did he go?

The dogs prance

like horses,

my little horses.

They carry me to Nome

in this sweet chariot,

in no man’s land.

The birds fly

toward me.

There are birds,

so many birds

rising up

and vanishing,

birds with wings,

cutting through

the brutal air,

coming toward me.

Look, at the last

moment, I put

my glove on my face.

They are taking

aim at my eyes,

taking aim.

I want to rise

above the pack.

The dogs have hooves

like horses or pigs.

Listen to the dogs--

huff, huff  they say.

Snow lives everywhere.

It grows beneath

my boots like grass.

It flourishes                                                                           

like despair.                                                                                                                                                                                         

The sky is a borealis.                                                            

When I sleep,                                                                       

I lie down with dogs.                                                            

Later, it’s worse.

 

 

 

Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia.  Today, she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Farther afield, Sarah's work has been included in Soundings East, The Hollins Critic, Plum Tree Tavern, What Rough Beast and many other journals, as well as seven anthologies and three chapbooks.

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Donna Pucciani

 

 

 

The Arno by Night

 

A small flat, five flights up,

offered a cheap view of apartments

tumbling into each other,

 

just a block away from

the Ponte Vecchio, the tilting bridge

of pastel shops, bicycles and tourists.

 

Below, the river Arno

hid its reflected secrets

in a slow tide of smiles.

 

That first night, in love

with the Florentine darkness,

we flung open the shutters

 

and bedded down in fresh air

and crisp mounded linens.

Hours later, mosquitoes

 

happily hatched in April’s

stealthy river. They woke us

with their famished hum,

 

the water’s deceit biting

our pale sleepy faces

with leprous hunger, leaving

 

red unholy souvenirs,

relics of a betrayal

lapping the shore below.

 

 

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry on four continents. Her work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Italian and German. Her awards include those from National Federation of State Poetry Societies and the Illinois Arts Council. Her most recent book of poems is Edges. More at: donnapuccianipoet.wordpress.com.

 

 

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