2TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 10

Winter-Spring/2016

 

Chapter Four:

3 poems by Neila Mezynski, poem by Martin Willitts Jr.,

prose by Jesse Maloney, 2 poems by Jerry Smaldone

 

 

 

 

3 poems by Neila Mezynski

 

 

 

 

Tree , We, Us



Leaves same size me green. Tree



See her me do tree leaf brown no green before she go. They. Are.



Tree we see them me shade. Hide.


 

 

Tree, Me

 

Full not him nor me, outstretch arm no speak no mind, love wind hair,
me.



 

 

Tree, Me, II

 

Tree me arm wide open head blow wave leaf drop, me.

 

 

 

 

One time dancer/choreographer turned abstract painter/writer, Neila Mezynski is author of Glimpses and A Story (2013) from Scrambler Books; pamphlets from Greying Ghost Press; echapbooks from Radioactive Moat Press and Patasola Press; chapbooks from Folded Word Press, Nap, Deadly Chaps Press, Mondo Bummer, Mud Luscious Press. Her work  has appeared in Word Riot, Mpnkey Bicycle, Foundling Review, and apt, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

poem by Martin Willitts, Jr.

 

 

 

The Wire Fence Holding Back the World

“I place my feet/with care in such a world” — The Well Rising, by William Stafford

 

Light ripples at sunrise

against large dark chunks of breaking night

and the moon folds behind blistered skies

lit by coat-ember light.

 

Light is wavering

asking to withdraw from hovering this world.

Light drinks from sharp rocks

in purple shadows. Birds crash through sunbreak.

 

What have I achieved matching this?

I hear pleading long after their flight

curled over the hills, measuring all

who do not listen.

 

            *

 

Here is where I dig in —

spade breaking soil in intermittent rain

and sun, between gasp and fear,

before this world goes all the way to forgetfulness.

 

Before harvest and seed fails,

I want this house where trails begin and end,

where light is crystals

and promises are rewarded. Here light comes —

 

down the hills, touching every leaf

making them hum. My face feels sun

as the ground deepens brown, finds tree stumps,

and voles slinking in wet, uncut grass.

 

I grip hard on this world. I won’t let go —

although, a faraway voice calls to me,

I make the hard decision to stay. Here

light shocks. I cut a barbed wire fence.

 

 

 

 

Martin Willitts Jr is a retired libarian. His poems have appeared in Turtle Island Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review, Centrifugal Eye, Kentucky Review, Stone Canoe, and others. He has over 20 chapbooks, plus 9 full-length collections including recently “Irises, the Lightning Conductor For Van Gogh's Illness” (Aldrich Press, 2014), and “God Is Not Amused with What You Are Doing in Her Name” (Aldrich Press, 2015). Martin Willitts Jr forthcoming poetry books include “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press, 2016), and “Dylan Thomas and the Writer’s Shed” (FutureCycle Press, 2017). 

 

 

 

 

 

prose by Jesse Maloney

 

 

 

Desert Weed

 

Not enough rain is bad news for seed germination.  It creates an unpleasant climate.  Too much rain, the seed risks being washed away completely.  It’ll never get the chance to bloom.  And if the rain comes too early or too late in the season then the whole opportunity to grow in the first place is missed.  A flower’s a twenty something year old floozy on a barstool.  Space the drinks with care.  What’s this evening’s weather forecast?   Pleasantly plastered with a 70 percent chance of fucking.  A flower’s a floozy.  A weed’s a rapist.

 

Bull thorns, bull thorns, bull thorns stuck to my boots and tracked in the house.

            The wife neighs “My foot!  My Foot!”

            The wife neighs “What are these, thumbtacks?”

            The wife neighs “My retarded husband!”

            The wife neighs “Weed killer and the yellow hatchet!”

            The wife neighs “Not later, now!”

 

I relace my boots, search for gloves and prepare for battle.  Yard work’s a talent that’s skipped my generation.  Pulling, chopping and collecting plants in black Hefty bags seems unnatural.  If they grow and survive the elements, who’s to say they don’t belong in our yard?

            The wife neighs “Now!”

 

You’re competitive, persistent, pernicious, insistent on reaching that water well below the surface.  And you don’t even reach it.  You just reach for it.  The result is blister after blister from the handle of my pick axe.  A bed of desert weeds like the city of Prague at midnight is three times as big underground.  The techno music isn’t coming from the bar above, it’s from the dance club located below.  And below that dance club is another dance club.  Five stories all below the earth Aryan DJ’s spin different records at different times creating a muffled rhythm-less sound like five pieces of assorted colored bubblegum chewed until their sweetness is gone and all that’s left is a big bland blob of gray.  The desert weed like an unbearable synthesized beat pounding from somewhere, I dig foot after foot never finding its source.  Hole after hole, I create a proper burial ground for pets.  I could throw road kill in each one and call it a day.  But the weeds would pierce the carcasses like they did our driveway.

 

A well-manicured lawn is a symbol of wealth and pride in American culture.  Obesity’s a symbol of wealth and pride in the Hawaiian culture.  And beauty.  I put away the rake and axe.  Accept natural laws of the barren land.  What I call noise, others might call music.  When the wife sees a weed I’ll tell her the Navajos think of them as flowers.  They don’t.  But I’ll say it anyway.

 

 

 

Jesse Maloney  is originally from Waianae HI where he loves to boogie-board.  He teaches English on the Navajo Reservation in Tuba City AZ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 poems by Jerry Smaldone

 

 

 

 

There is nothing left

 

 

There is nothing left

Between me and nature

 

No leaf greener than

A ransom of gold

 

No wish deeper than this

Boulder strewn river hole

 

No heart so dark and brooding

It can’t be lifted

 

No time lost in borderlands

on a feather of prayer

 

drifted.

 

 

 

 

Our Place

 

 

Sometimes it’s a private insanity

Unapproachable noise at work

Metal wheels and brutal machinery

Nonstop traffic, constant TV, a voice

Sharp and rebuking

 

The quiet speaks clearly

Says open the door, to miraculous garden,

thousands of hours of tinkering on a palette

pleasing to her eye, where the wild flood

 

of birds rages in the brisk spring air,

celebrating their brief life with intense

Cattail meadow bombast.

 

Outside, I realize the time has come

To declare myself soul dimension

Protector of this low wetland

 

Of the fox and sparrow, rustling reeds

And baby elms, redwing diving at gray

hawk, woodpecker in the old willow,

 

The inseparable pair of doves that will

Always denote marriage, the wandering cats

And gathering squirrels, grackles and robins

 

And bright breasted finches, the gentle

Slope of runoff, ever downward to feed

The soft, wet heart of earth and the ancient

 

Lady apple tree, the remains of the tangled bobwire

fence, posts smoothed by age, that divide us from 

Field and pond, here in the middle of ‘60’s suburbia.

 

From the deck, Buffalo Mountain signifies

The wilderness we run from, and beyond,

Pikes Peak, smothered in smog,

 

is just a dream.

 

 

 

 

Denver native Jerry Smaldone has been writing from the fair Queen City since 1969. A retired postal worker and current library page,  he gavels the Skinny Chicken writer's group as sergeant at arms. His latest book, Fatto a Mano is available on Amazon. 

 

 

 

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