Turtle Island Quarterly 6
Katherine Soniat (3 poems), Ace Boggess (1 poem), B.Z. Niditch (1 poem), Jed Myers (1 poem)
THREE POEMS BY KATHERINE SONIAT
The following poems appear in her award winning chapbook The Goodbye Animals:
Winner of the 2014 Turtle Island Poetry Award.
THE BOOK OF HEALING
Saint Teresa appeared on Facebook, her words
for this spent holiday—on giving and humility,
and how nothing is too small. On the kindness
of gestures that arrived way before species
were tagged and counted.
Before, the void was
immeasurable. And there was no greater or less than.
Silence was with the stars. Without a plan, everything
had presence. The cave, those asleep in their animal skin.
But you are uncovered on the medicine bed, white bear nailed
to the wall. The fire voices roar beyond language. Tundra wind,
snow, and morning light whip across you—that scent you hold.
My held breath. We wait.
WE STAND FACE TO FACE: SINGING PILGRIM
IN SPARKLING BEARSKIN
Smell of night bear, dogs in the woods.
My body has a hole behind the heart
with a lock in front—and a measure
of animal-dampness breathes between.
Bear’s blue eyes hold me to dream—
that close, two paws on my shoulders.
Such weight means don’t move
but I do and bear grabs my hand
in its teeth. This part of me never
will be again—that line of thinking—
as its tongue relaxes to licking, and
fearlessly we get on in the dark. Restless-
ness spent, warm saliva might well be
my next home. Freshly skinned and
slick, I am all over again.
Shots, then the long heave through branches.
In my mother’s house there was no heart.
In my mother’s heart she was always looking
for a home. I threaded stories of her, ones neither
of us had ever heard. Soft ones with feathers at the bottom.
When my son had a daughter, she came into this blueness
knowing details with a past.
At night in bed playing puppets
with the covers, she whispered, You know, there’s so much
sadness in the world. She was three, and I almost couldn’t
It was dark in the bedroom, and inside her head. She didn’t hesitate
but thought in stride with nothing. Hem of the sheet humped up—
cave in a city on earth that soon would go away.
Katherine Soniat’s sixth collection of poetry is A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge by Dream Horse Press. Other collections include The Swing Girl, by Louisiana State University Press and A Shared Life, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. New work appears in recent issues of the Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Hotel Amerika, Image: Art, Faith, and Mystery, Tiferet, and Mid-American Review. She now teaches workshops in the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville. A chapbook, The Goodbye Animals, recently won Turtle Island Quarterly's Chapbook Competition and will be published by Foothills Press in 2014.
POEM BY ACE BOGGESS
SMOKING IN A THUNDERSTORM
you curl & shift to rescue the flame
without singeing your fingertips
no matter how urgent thunder menaces
you surrender nothing
you lean into the second breath
the hurt of it & hunger
this you own
a moment of displaced serenity
like a dream that holds within
the psyche of its own unraveling
how the wind embraces you
how the wind spits ashes in your face
Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He live in Charleston, West Virginia.
POEM BY B.Z. NIDITCH
JUST A MOMENT
With the copper sun
on our hammock
it did not take us
long to focus
on singing intervals
of sea grackle voices
turning our eyes
over my old kayak
by a reared up shore
of blue sashay waves
than water rings of fish,
making mirror moves
over our quiet crew
sizing up the Northeaster
cacophony of damages
from all our sail boats
now sinking in on us
yet we brush away
any churlish worries
by the coastal deck
as once flood waters
migrate on a Pacific ship
here hoping the save
the environmental home port
now with a summer wind
toward a cruise ship
we call Noah,
a wavering world
secluded on the Bay
by our own nostalgic
cover ups and secrets
of how to land
on coal-grey waters
over nearly drowned
tourist canvas bags
rods and tackles,
as we slowly pass by
a lobster boat
hooked in oarlock
as ocean shadows
by this home harbor,
a mendicant artist
who needed help
huddles on board
the leafless deck
keeping out of storms
in a soft blanket
crouches on first light
wishes me strength,
draws from his gift
of abstracts, portraits
and his stonework mobiles
suspended in currents
of beach air,
asks this poet for titles
for his latest abstracts,
or dazzling sculpture
as if were a surf cutter
of treasured rock,
I'm handing out to him
of illumined verses
for he translates
in ancient tongues
then captures them
in a sunset flair,
keeps a vigil
over the creative sand
by shivering reefs
off the Cape.
B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines, including:
Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art; The Literary Review; Denver Quarterly; Hawaii Review; Le Guepard (France); Kadmos (France); Prism International; Jejune (Czech Republic); Leopold Bloom (Budapest); Antioch Review; and Prairie Schooner,
among others. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
POEM BY JED MYERS
ALL AT ONCE
The dogwood petals, spread. Sudden,
it seems. Shadow-ribbed fragile quartets
that scallop-shell pink of blood-tinged shallow
where hook’s ripped from trout-gullet. Sudden,
I think, but I hadn’t looked, as the plumping
buds hovered on spring-lit branch-tips
for weeks, slow as a cutthroat nibbling
bugs on its upstream pilgrimage.
And, so, the fine feeding work
the roots have carried on under the light—
years prying the dirt with a need
that won’t quit. What’s the word
for this? For what surprises, after
seasons of imminence, like our first
child’s birth, that tiny new purple
body pinking up quick with a gasp
and cry as the cord’s unkinked and cut,
instinct’s suck on the blossom-pink nipple
that brings forth the milk, sudden,
where duct architecture’s hidden in breast-bud
since before the birth of the mother.
I think of the future shooting star
hurtling in now past Jupiter—
ancient stone that will flame to vapor,
flash in a few human eyes—it won’t even
register till it’s died. Or the crash
the middle-aged drunk’s been driving at since
his magna cum laude failed to anaesthetize
even his father’s most modest slaps
in the face. It hits us and what
can we call it? Sudden and not—
final stop of the chain-smoker’s heart,
the rush together of two longing seas
in the confluence of new lovers’ one pink
oval of lips, the immediate
wakefulness after a lifetime asleep
once through the wreck or the loss or the late
diagnosis you take your death in your teeth.
Sudden—as who can keep constant
vigil?—the dusty-pink dusk-streaked
dogwood petals, pointing
in all directions, all at once, one
morning in April, for some days at least.
Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. Two of his poetry collections, The Nameless (Finishing Line Press) and Watching the Perseids (winner of the 2013 Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), are to be released in 2014. He won the 2012 Mary C. Mohr Editors’ Award offered by Southern Indiana Review, and received the 2013 Literal Latte Poetry Award. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Sanskrit, Atlanta Review, Crab Creek Review, The Tusculum Review, and elsewhere.