TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 15
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
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
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
wears the snake medallion
of the totem
in the center of the village
they say this gives them
the favor of their god
Examination of the pole
makes it possible to believe
the snake's body
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.