TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 11

Fall/Winter 2016

 

Chapter Two:

poem by Patricia Bollin, poem by Judith Arcana,

poem by Doug Holder, 2 poems by Alan Catlin

 

 

POEM BY PATRICIA BOLLIN

 

DRAWING BLANK

A white sky obscures time and seasons - it’s

a palate of guess, append, pretend zen.

Her disease, a white sky. A blind distance.

An open, cotton country without shape.

 

Each diagnosis - her own white sky. Now

daily days teach her to live with reckless

 

blur.  So she refuses the radiation. 

Rolls the cigarettes. Reads of corporate greed. 

 

Maps a future in chalk on a white sky 

while I stop for blackness - a local crow 

 

struts bundled feathers awkwardly past 

my car.  Why not fly, crow? If I had wings 

 

I’d toss my body up at every chance 

I got. Arrow straight, black into the white

 

sky. But it’s fall - rain and the furnace.  Leaves 

ready to remove their green coats, blink true 

colors before they crumple.  Before wind 

comes, shakes them shattered, into the white sky.

Patricia Bollin’s poetry has appeared in print and online publications including:  The Clackamas Review, The Fourth River, Tulane Review , Mezzo Cammin and is forthcoming in Soundings Review  Her book reviews appeared in CALYX and NW Writers. She serves on the board of Soapstone, a non-profit in Oregon that promotes women’s writing.

POEM BY JUDITH ARCANA

The sorceress speaks through smoke:

freezing above a sheer crevice in thin sun

while north wind slams my roughcut shield:

stone walls cold air taut face rock skull

 

south wind laughing inside my April earth

new leaves pushing out to sun outside:

light blue pale gold bright green spring

 

silverwhite through darkling waves

loose hair streaming across the sun:

west wind blowing inside my mind

 

sunset burns my fragrant caravan

crossing fiery outlands under clouds:

calling down that wild east wind

 

Born and raised in the Great Lakes region, Judith Arcana lives now in the Pacific Northwest.  She writes poems, stories, essays and books - including Grace Paley’s Life Stories, A Literary Biography, and the poetry collection What if your mother.  Judith's poetry and fiction recently received chapbook publication awards: Here From Somewhere Else (2015 Turtle Island Editor’s Choice) + Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture (2014).  Also recent are a set of three lyric broadsides, The Water Portfolio (2014); a fiction zine, Keesha and Joanie and JANE (2013); and a poetry chapbook, The Parachute Jump Effect (2012).  Judith hosts a monthly poetry show on KBOO community radio in Oregon (listen online anywhere/anytime).  Her newest collection of poems Announcements from the Planetarium will be published early 2017 by Flowstone Press. For more info: http://www.juditharcana.com

 

POEM BY DOUG HOLDER

My Mother Prepares Me For Death


She wants me to stay in a hotel
she hides in her home
like an old house cat
before her costume
a pasted on
public face.

At night
the murmur of the dead
hover around her bed.

She can't understand
what ails her.
Is the pain
in for a permanent
stay?

And the doctors croon,
"Take one of these dear
you will feel
better soon."

We face each other
in a dark corner
of a
plastic suburban cafe.

We know what lies in
our receding gums
the tip of our coffee-
stained lips,
the fantasy of our
flesh.

In silence
we have said it all--
more or
less.

And
at night
the murmurs
of the dead
hover
around
her bed.

 

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His work has been published widely in the small press. His latest collection of poems is "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur" (Big Table Books).

 

TWO POEMS BY ALAN CATLIN

Self-Portrait with Hired Hand

Dust bowl hardened, skin

baked dark as callous, as dark

as the insides of ash cans

rummaged, trash barrels rifled

for comestibles, for cinders to

cook within hobo villages in

front of dwellings made from

road signs and chicken crates,

cardboard boxes and daily news,

Want Ads cut out or circled in

coal dust, leads that take you

nowhere, add no food to an empty

larder, even slop buckets made

from discarded coffee cans have

nothing inside.  Once you’ve gone

this far past hungry what is human

inside is replaced by feral urges,

instincts of the pack; separate one

from the others and you can have a man

such as this one dressed in overalls

so filthy and torn not even the rag

man will have them: no shoes, no hat,

no shirt to protect against the elements,

against the sun his hand cannot adequately

shield, the heat and the light passing

through the skin as if the hand was

not there at all.

 

                                               

 

Self-Portrait as the Artist in a Jar

 

Pressed against the cold transparency,

fingers flush against the solid frame,

smearing the surface, palms flat and scarred,

ringed with sweat that beads inside

the glass containing light in the form

of sunflowers in full bloom, arched

against the hard clamping ceiling

the artist cannot see, his eyes sewn

shut, painted brushes like thin stalks

these towering artificial flowers grow

from, cramping the space of torn sketches,

discards that grow as new leaves where

the older works, now gone, once were

as stains that shadows left behind,

still visible in the thin veins that remain

in leaves leaking precious fluids, paint

into blood streams that no longer have

a source, that larger body, once fecund

and whole, long ago dried out, barren.

 

                                                                               

 

Alan Catlin has been publishing stuff for five decades. His latest full length poetry books are Last Man Standing from Lummox Press and American Odyssey from Future Cycle Press. he is poetry editor of the online journal misfit magazine.