TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 15

Summer/2018

 

Chapter three:

2 poems by Jane Yolen, a poem by Kelly R. Samuels,

a poem by John Grey, and a poem by Robert Beveridge

 

 

 

2 poems by Jane Yolen

 

 

 

Egg Note

 

I have been thinking about

that plover in its finely-tuned hysteria,

that weave of nest, couched in the grass,

that light of the morning as translucent

as the inside of a broken conch,

that darkly speckled egg.

All of nature in a handful of shell,

not metaphor at all,

still warm to the touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing the Name of a Bird

 

 

“You can know the name of a bird in all

the languages of the world, but when you're

finished, you'll know absolutely nothing

whatever about the bird.”--Richard Feynman

 

The name is not the soft flight feathers,

Nor the blue color of the neck, or the red breast.

It is not the dinosaur feet, crooked and yellow,

Or the talons with nails as hard as an old man’s.

 

The name is not the whistle of its breath

Or the warbling curves of its songs.

Not the wings carving the air, the water,

Nor display of its tail when in full court.

 

The name tells you little about the build of nest,

Or how wide, or where it lays.

Not how many eggs and how many days

Before the egg hatches, or the chick.

 

All it can tell you is what the scientists call it,

Or the birdwatchers with their dozen field glasses,

Or the local  hedgewitch, or the child in its pram,

Though the bird will never answer to its name.

 

Only its song.

 

 

 

Jane Yolen is the author of over 360  published books, NY Times  bestseller,  award-winning  children’s  book writer, short fiction has won Nebulas, 8 books of adult  poetry, poems in  many journals, have won Green Earth Book Award among other  Nature-centered  awards, author  of Caldecott  winning  OWL  MOON, 6 colleges and universities have given honorary  doctorates.

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Kelly R. Samuels

 

 

 

 

Something of the Sockeye Salmon. Or: Desire

 

Flush and swagger mark your readiness,

though you claim you do not swagger,

have never swaggered, will never. You do.

Your cheeks take on that red, and your eye so bright,

and we suddenly long as we didn’t earlier, thinking:

beauty. Thinking: ripeness and harvest.

 

No work in this, really. No two-year stay

and then two-month journey with its crest and vault

and no slumber.

 

Others do that while also transforming,

the sharpened blade of tooth and thickened skin prep

for the fervid act we once mistook for battle.

 

You. You just do the time, sometimes marking

the days on the calendar. Sometimes not. And then

walk into the room, or down the long hall. He says,

I could stand at the bar for days and not get served, but her…

And it’s true. And what of the steady gaze or laughter

while leaning in the doorway? The hand placed there?

 

Out there in the ocean, they’re blue and black,

their white bellies shining white, like a sliver of eye.

And they’re working towards it.

 

This metamorphosis. This flare of color.

This preliminary to rutting.

And the long stillness that follows. 

 

 

Kelly R. Samuels lives and works as an adjunct English instructor in the upper Midwest. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The Summerset Review, Kestrel, The Carolina Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Construction, Sweet Tree Review, Salt Hill, and RHINO.

 

 

 

 

 

poem by John Grey

 

 

 

 

THE LYNX

 

 

This forest was all rustle

and fantasizing. Haunted.

The air was as still and old

as the dank of a cobwebbed hall

in an abandoned mansion.

 

Now a shadow grows

grizzly gray, dons baggy coat,

feet with stretched claws,

white beard, black stubble,

a green-eyed stare in stun mode.

 

From a thicket edge, a lynx                                                                                      

quickly assesses me:

not snowshoe hare,

not vole, not mole, not ptarmigan,

not something worth scavenging,

darts back into the woods.

 

It’s there then gone,

exceeds fleeting by a breath.

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly. 

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Robert Beveridge

 

 

 

Snake Totem

Each tribesman

wears the snake medallion

the likeness

of the totem

in the center of the village

they say this gives them

the favor of their god

in battle

 

Examination of the pole

makes it possible to believe

the snake's body

continues downwards

pierces the rest

of the totem animals

roots in the earth

 

its eyes may follow you

 

 

Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pulsar, Tessellate, and Scarlet Leaf Review, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

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