TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 16

Winter/2019

 

Chapter four:

 

 

 

 

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TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 16

Winter/2019

 

Chapter three:

2 poems by Kirtland Snyder, poem by Janet McCann,

poem by Pepper Trail, poem by Paul Willis,  and a poem by Martin Willitts Jr

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 poems by Kirtland Snyder

 

 

CONFUSION OF INFLUENCES

 

Here in our new home we must be

On a flyway, judging from the herds

Of birds making the trek to Florida,

East Texas by way of our backyard.

 

Today, a mild day in mid-October,

I sat in early sun and read Selected

Poems of James Tate instead

Of earning a living but what the hell.

 

Because it was a mild day my

Thoughts were also on the Bronk book

By that name in which it is written:

“It’s time to move bemused in the mild day.”

 

Bemused is about as good as it gets

I was thinking when all at once

A dark cloud accompanied by a dark

Beating of wings scudded above me,

 

Caught in the tops of lindens, aspens,

Arbor vitae, apple trees, white pines,

While some flew down to lawn

To have a go at worms and grubs.

 

They made a terrible racket against which

The poems were no contest so I listened

Instead to their voices which grated on me,

Shocked me, really, they were so

 

Harsh and loud and irritable. And then

I knew without doubt they were grackles,

Knowing the poem “The Voice

Of the Grackle” in which Marge Piercy

 

Describes a rasp, a screech, a creaking,

A cracking voice making off-color comments.

 

Just to be certain, to get the scientific proof,

I grabbed my Audubon Handbook and sure

Enough, grackles they were, black and shiny

In their cheap suits, their most common call,

 

It said, a clack.

 

THE SQUIRREL SUICIDES

 

You know summer’s over when squirrels

Begin throwing themselves

Under the wheels of passing cars.

 

You see them all along the roads,

Flattened and bloodied, skulls crushed,

Plumed tails scraped into gray pavement,

 

Or lying on their backs, their tiny paws

Clawing the sky, rigor mortis twisting

Their snouts into un-squirrel-like grimaces.

 

Some seem to do it for the sport—

Testing their speed and timing by darting

Through the briefest of intervals.

 

Others seem to be testing us—

Who has heart enough to hit the brakes

As they scurry across?

 

Maybe they’ve simply had enough

Of this nutty world, and fall appears to be their last

Best hope for self-immolation.

 

Watch out! There’s one now, a gray pelt on hind legs

In the pale grass by the edge of the lane,

Daring you to slow down and give way—or else.

 

 

 

Kirtland Snyder has published 3 chapbooks, won the Stanley Kunitz Award for Excellence in Poetry, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and had the distinct pleasure and honor of reading with Galway Kinnell at the University of Massachusetts some years ago. His Holocaust poetry is among the work of American and British poets examined in Professor Susan Gubar’s book, Poetry After Auschwitz (Indiana University Press, 2003).  He has also published in Ms., Midstream, Stuff (The Boston Phoenix), Exquisite Corpse, notus/new writing, Modern Haiku, Longhouse, Poet Lore, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Café Review, Shirim, The Adirondack Review, Flumes, New Works Review, Sanctuary, The Hartford Courant, Paramour, aspen leaves, The Boston Monthly, The Ardis Anthology of New American Poetry, Blood To Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, and Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women.

 

 

 

 

 

Poem by Janet McCann

 

 

 

SLEEPING IN A COLD ROOM

 

amid blankets and dozy dogs

griefs fade the politics blank

air fills with invisible snow

 

body sinks into the bed

exhales the day and all its threats and burdens

cold air replaces passion

 

moon shines in on humped up pillows

sounds of triple breaths

the white darkness almost solid

 

she will wake at dawn

with a cold nose

a clear head

inhabiting herself again

 

 

Journals publishing Janet McCann’s work include KANSAS QUARTERLY, PARNASSUS, NIMROD, SOU'WESTER, AMERICA,  CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, NEW YORK QUARTERLY, TENDRIL, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she taught at Texas A & M University from 1969-2016, is now Professor Emerita. She has co-edited anthologies with David Craig, ODD ANGLES OF HEAVEN (Shaw, 1994), PLACE OF PASSAGE (Story Line, 2000), and POEMS OF FRANCIS AND CLARE (St. Anthony Messenger, 2004). Most recent poetry collection: THE CRONE AT THE CASINO (Lamar University Press,  2014).

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Pepper Trail

 

 

 

The Trout Quintet Beside the River

 

 

Alone in the forest, on a bluff above the river

October – gray sky, maples red and orange

beneath the green black conifers

all silent but for the constant river

the scolding jay, the occasional raven

I thought of Schubert, his Trout Quintet, its perfection –

and there it was, in my pocket, on my phone

and so I set it free, and it flowed around me

like water around a stone, this conversation

joining the others, the cello and the raven

the strings and the wind in the bright leaves

the piano and the river

and I thought of my life

began to make metaphors of everything

the autumn leaves my dwindling days

the beloved birds my uncaptured words

the bluff the moraine of memory, leaning into collapse

the river time itself, ceaseless, beautiful, indifferent

but then a rippling run of the piano pulled me back

carried these banalities away around the downstream bend

returned me to this earthen seat

my head full only of music

seeing nothing but the beauty before my eyes

 

 

 

 

 

Pepper Trail's poems have appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Borderlands, Ascent and other publications, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards. His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.  He lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Paul Willis

 

 

Aeolus

 

 

Morning wind in the live oak trees,

    moving them in bosomy ways,

        one part pulsing, then another.

 

The breeze blows in

    from Cold Spring Saddle,

        thence from north of Point Conception,

 

the open sea, gathering freshness

    from whales, olives, ceanothus,

        billowing the breasted branches,

 

scattering the hooked green acorns,

    planting them with warm, full breaths,

        with little sighs.

 

Paul Willis’s recent collection, Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), was a finalist in this year's book awards at the Banff Centre for the Arts.  Forthcoming in 2019 from White Violet Press is Little Rhymes for Lowly Plants.  Individual poems have appeared in Poetry, Ascent, and Los Angeles Review.

 

 

poem by Martin Willitts Jr

 

The Grasshopper’s Song

 

A grasshopper was bringing music,

but I wasn’t listening.

 

Instead, I heard the lament of someone

in anguish, almost begging to be understood,

insisting, You never loved me. It chirruped,

Love is such an antique desire.

 

This is the one song the grasshopper wanted to tell,

to fill to overflowing, but also, it wanted me to empty.

Since I had ignored both messages, the grasshopper

whizzed around me, scolding, Listen, listen, listen!

 

Light was snapping, so I listened

to that exquisite green music.

The song was like smashing pots,

but also like mending them.

 

I had to know and understand the difference.

I had to listen closely if I ever expected to learn.

The earth and sky were bearing down on me

all the time, and I never noticed. I wasn’t hearing

what they were singing.

 

They were chanting, Love me, Love me.

 

Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including “The Uncertain Lover” (Dos Madres Press, 2018)  and “Home Coming Celebration” (FutureCycle Press, 2019). He is an editor for Comstock Review. 

 

 

 

 

 

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TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 16

Winter/2019

 

chapter two:

 

poem by Mike Lewis-Beck, poem by Sara Backer,

poem by Changming Yuan, and poem by Gerard Sarnat

 

 

poem by Mike Lewis-Beck

 

 

 

LORCA AS TURTLE

 

A las cinco de la tarde,

at five in the afternoon

a turtle crosses the road

 

lumbering to the far side

to bajar al pozo, to reach the well.

 

A Vermonter stops her car

to ask de dónde vienes, amor,

from where do you come, love?

 

Me he perdido muchas veces por el mar,

I have lost myself many times by the sea.

 

But where do you come from, love?

Mi corazón reposa junto a la fuente fría,

my heart rests next to the cold fountain.

 

Alas, as Lorca, I left Lake Adam long ago

cuando la luna negra salío, when the black moon rose

 

y voces de muerte sonaron,

and voices of death sounded out.

I gave a cry.

 

What did you do then, love?

Que yo me la llevé al río,

then I took myself to the river.

 

Verde que te quiero verde,

green how I love the green

of the meadow I must reach over there.

 

Ay! qué trabajo me cuesta,

Oh! what work it’s taking

to cross this road before that bus.

 

 

 

Mike Lewis-Beck writes and works in Iowa City.  He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Big Windows Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review, Pure Slush, Pilgrimage, Iowa Review, Rootstalk, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Writers’ Café and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues.  His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” received a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015.  His essay, “My Cherry Orchard in Iowa,” received recognition as one of the ‘Notable Essays’ in Best American Essays of 2011.  His poetry book manuscript, Wry Encounters, was a Finalist for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Sara Backer

 

Pencil Leaf

 

Leaves drawn with plastic pencils

look like wallpaper.

Wood pencils lead the lead into the woods

where leaves become leaves.

 

One summer, she says she wants to do nothing

but draw the veins of leaves.

She doesn’t.

She irons red maple leaves between waxed paper.

 

Leaf ignores pencil.

Pencil calls leaf Mother.

 

 

 

 

Bio:

 

Sara Backer, an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts, has published two chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press, 2018) and Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork) which won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award. Her writing has been honored with eight Pushcart nominations and residency fellowships from the Norton Island and Djerassi programs. For more information and links, visit sarabacker.com

 

 

 

 

poem by Changming Yuan

 

Towards Dataism

 

1/ The End of a Beginning

 

Given   each organism  as a biochemical  algorithm

Your life               is a programed process proving

Your consciousness         is actually far      less

Valuable              than a fucking         Frankenstein’s AI

 

2/ The Beginning of an End

 

Through               human-computer interface

My mind has become     part of     a robot

While the robot                part of me

 

As     data exchanges with     my consciousness

Or flow                 between each other      on their own

Where                  can I find my true self?

 

 

 

 

Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen  Qing Yuan; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, the 2018 Naji Naaman's Literary Prize, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline and  others. 

 

 

 

 

 

BANGLADESH [3]

    

i. Oy 1.0

 

While

My son,

Otherwise

Known as

The Bug Boy

 

Conscientiously collaborates

With colleagues toying at Japan’s

             fab Okinawa Institute of Science/

             Technology (OIST) -- not to make

             Mountains out of a cut-open anthill

 

             But below is Bangladesh where men,

             Not euscocial insects, flatten high terrain

             So some Muslim Rohingya refugees fled from

             Buddhist Burma can avoid drowning soon in a race

             Against monsoon rains made worse by Homo sapiens.

 

 

ii. Oy 2.0

 

 

Rain

Gullies

Creeks

Ponds

Lakes

Rivers

Oceans

Overflow

Shores

 

Though

Buddha’s

Intention

Signaled

Compassion’s

Rainbows

Consider

-- Organize

Anti-Global

Warming

Coalitions.

 

 

 

iii. OyOy

 

While

My son,

Otherwise

Known as

The Bug Boy

 

Conscientiously collaborates

With colleagues toying at Japan’s

             fab Okinawa Institute of Science/

             Technology (OIST) -- not to make

             Mountains out of a cut-open anthill

 

             But below is Bangladesh* where men,

             Not euscocial insects, flatten high terrain

             So some Muslim Rohingya refugees fled from

             Buddhist Burma can avoid drowning soon in a race

             Against monsoon rains made worse by Homo sapiens.

 

 

 

Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards, and authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published beyond medical in academic journals such as Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins and in Gargoyle, American Journal of Poetry (Margie), Main Street Rag, MiPOesias, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Magazine, Voices Israel, Muse-Pie Press, Blue Mountain Review, Canary Eco, Military Experience and the Arts, Tishman Review, Suisun Valley Review, Fiction Southeast, Junto, Lowestoft, Heartwood, Tiferet, Flash and Cinder, Foliate Oak, Parhelion, Bonsai plus featured in New Verse News, Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords, Floor Plan, Good-Man-Project, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Poetry Circle, Fiction Southeast, Walt Whitman Tribute Anthology and Tipton Review. “Amber of Memory” was the single poem chosen for my 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day 2017 as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. For Huffington Post/other reviews, readings, publications, interviews; visit GerardSarnat.com. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO and Stanford Med professor. Married for a half century, Gerry has three kids/ four grandkids so far.

 

gerardsarnat.com

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