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                        Turtle Island Quarterly 6

                               Fall 2014


                                                   CHAPTER THREE             


       Ted Jean (3 poems),  Polly Brown (1 poem), Kyle Laws (1 poem), Robert Gibbons (1 poem)












Sonnet recited in one long breath



Who, for Chrissake, would chuck

a big quince branch

pregnant with incipient bloom

over the fence onto my frosty lawn

except as a kind of anonymous gift

that if undiscovered a week

would be withered and wasted

and now stands

instead quite fortuitously


coral and white and bloody red

in a big blue vase

on the mahogany piano

by the window green with rain?







Amaranthus viridis



Pigweed is not
the nephrite neon spark
of the arc between
the mineral third rail
of the A-train aquifer
rumbling in the gut

of the earth, electric,

and the sun digit
god-dangled from
the suddenly opening

spattered sash of the

rain tattered ion sky.

It is but pigweed,

and enough.







Retaining Wall



The slope above their patio being weedy

and undifferentiated, he proposed a wall,

to impose order and an asymmetric Zen balance.


Forty miles into the Coast Range he found

a redneck who sold broken basalt, and gave

him the run of the yard, to hand pick each stone.


He loaded alone, no backhoe, even

several blocks twice his weight, by tumbling

and sliding up a rubble ramp to the truck bed.


He dug and filled a stable gravel footing,

then knitted each rock to its neighbors, finding

cold chisel and hammer less useful than hunch.


Finished wall, he judges with wine, is beyond

his guessed capacity for craft.  Lyn left him yesterday.




Ted Jean writes, paints, plays tennis with lovely Amy Lee.  His work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, PANK, DIAGRAM, Juked, Other Poetry (UK), Gargoyle, and many other publications.














He figures something might change

once his image of a tree

includes the roots.


The Charter Oak

on a Connecticut quarter

rises with only a gnarled foot-note


to its life below the ground—

but his daughter, by telephone,

agrees: most likely the roots


reached as wide

as the branches, and deep.

“But remember?” she says—


and in the college woods he revisits

that hemlock felled years ago

in a downburst:


roots a vast shallow saucer,

underside knitted to fit

around boulders,


those hollows upended in air

like phantom pains

hugging close to the form


of what used to be theirs.

He drives back across town.

As usual, news on the radio


spells trouble: we’ve landed

in Germany’s early thirties;

his generation failed.


The mail’s no better.

He sets out with the dog for a walk;

nods to roots now sealed


under the slab of Parking Lot 12—

no longer connected in any way

to the sky—


then succumbs, at last, to the comfort

of Mandy’s feathery tail,

her pee soaking into the subterranean


secrets of a plane tree

down the block, one that has broken

the sidewalk, heaved it up,


like some vegetable San Andreas.

His wife could have painted

this: an umber tangle


emblazoned with worms

like curlicues, silver-brown fur

on a woodchuck


whose breath rises

through a root-wound burrow.

Something will change.




Polly Brown lives on a hillside in central Massachusetts, author of a blog about progressive education,, and has two poetry chapbooks in print: Blue Heron Stone, (Every Other Thursday Press), and Each Thing Torn From Any of Us (Finishing Line Press). Recent poems have appeared in Appalachia, with mp3’s at, and in an online chapbook, Turning Again to the Well, on themes of preservation, place, and sustainability, linked with a recent sculpture show on the same themes.














               The levee along the Arkansas River through Pueblo, CO,

               built for flood control, contains the longest mural in the world.

               The top layer will soon come off for repairs and the height

               will be shortened. All the paintings will be lost.            



Murals stretch up in the afternoon sun

and what’s reflected back into the river

are primary colors painted on the levee

by those who dangled by ropes from the top:

reds, yellows, and blues.


And as the river flows east the blend of primary

becomes secondary: red and yellow become orange,

yellow and blue become green. This is the function

of levee—creation of color as river moves over stones.


Where the river eddies, in the swirl where kayaks

hope not to tangle, are remnants of last night’s party:

barbecued pork rinds mingled with burnt twigs.


Underfoot is a crush of rock that is trail. My boots,

thick-soled, can scale the opposite bank. I can pull

myself up by saplings that know there is water,

that have roots enough to get me to a place


where I can see the murals, not in reflection,

but as if atop the horse Lady Godiva strides

that’s next to the rendition of Joan of Arc.


Even with the smell of algae, I want to drink

of the river, submerge myself hidden in a cluster

of trees, know that as I arch my back to rinse hair

of debris, green will trickle into my mouth.


I stumble down the wooded bank, take off boots

and orange-ringed socks, watch paintings for what

could be the last time while feet whiten cold and

stiff in the river from a slip of rock that extends

into the Arkansas on its way to Kansas.





Kyle Laws poems and essays have appeared in Abbey, Anglican Theological Review, Chiron Review, Cities (U.K.), Delmarva Review, here/there: poetry (U.K.) IthacaLit, Journey to Crone (U.K.), Living Apart Together: A New Possibility for Loving Couples (Canada), LUMMOX, The Main Street Rag, Malpaís Review, The Más Tequila Review, Mead: The Magazine of Literature & Libations, Misfitmagazine, The Nervous Breakdown, Pearl, Philadelphia Poets, Pilgrimage, r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal, and St. Sebastian Review.  She’s received four Pushcart Prize nominations.  Her collections include Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014); My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (dancing girl press, 2013); George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2013 award); Storm Inside the Walls (little books press, 2012); Going into Exile (Abbey Chapbooks, 2012); and Tango (Kings Estate Press).  She is editor of Casa de Cinco Hermanas












at the feet of Lincoln

(for Henry Waldo Coe)


it was just steps away

from my California impressionism

his feet large

as an Oregon white oak

the choking haze of Mt. Hood

local boys congregate near

maybe to hear the sounds

of the transcontinental railroad

the trees spread

like the homestead act

its Lincoln and Teddy

rough and rider

am held up

on this great train robbery

N. C. Wyeth paints

a hobo gathers his belongings

in this big sky of salmon rushes

the land amplifies

searching for fool’s gold





Robert Gibbons moved to New York City in the summer of 2007 in search of his muse—Langston Hughes. Robert has featured in many venues around New York City as well as in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Florida. He most recently has offered his poetic performances in such places as Cornelia Street Café, the Church of the Village, the Saturn Series, Perch Café, Barnes and Noble, Stark Performances, Otto’s Shrunken Head, Poets on White, Nomad’s Choir, Taza de Café and many others. Robert has been published in Uphook Press, Three Rooms Press, Stain Sheets, Brownstone Poets Anthology, Dinner with the Muse, Cartier Street Review, Nomad’s Choir and the Palm Beach Post.  Robert just released his first collection of poetry, Close to the Tree,  published by Three Rooms Press.






Click here for Chapter Four






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