2TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 10
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.
Full not him nor me, outstretch arm no speak no mind, love wind hair,
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
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
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.