TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 8
Darryl Lorenzo Wellington (1 poem), Charles Thielman (1 poem),
Yoko Tori (1 poem), Jacqueline Markowski (1 poem)
POEM BY DARRYL LORENZO WELLINGTON
The Falling Man
for Eric Garner
I can’t breathe.
I can’t see.
My body like a broken
cops pick at me
for a chew
Cops finger me like an idle
Parliament. An off-duty
spent then discarded.
Tobacco still smooth –
all smokes considered.
A life still Camel Unfiltered
still usable. Boots
steel-toed and prescriptive
snipe at the edges
of a Marlboro Man –
Light me up.
Throw me down
like a flat-tired
Lucky Strike. Like a sparkle
Long time now.
Long time gone. No
news on the horizon --
since ‘fore I was born,
‘fore I struck light
men have been falling
the preachers the politicians
falling man falling
like past-due checks
the preachers the prideful
the banksters the big
pockets the bigger they are
the harder they. Noses
bloodied bones brittle
Pull me loose
like the least of the
cards in the house –
falling any red card flashes
in royal pinstripes or
scarlet pantaloons, baby,
baby, least don’t say
however frankly I’ve come a long way.
Pall Malls consumed. Tossed.
I can’t breathe. I maybe still burn.
A short life a passable smoke
embering. Less than a matchstick
or a last Lucky Strike.
Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, living in Santa Fe, NM, is a journalist as well as a poet. His poetry as appeared in Boston Review, Pedestal, Manner Poetry Monthly, The Voices Project, and other places. He is also a syndicated columnist who frequently writes on race, class, and poverty issues for The Progressive Media Project. His articles on race relations, civil rights history, Katrina and rebuilding New Orleans, grassroots movements and local activism, health, and nuclear energy have appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, Dissent, The Washington Post, New Politics, and Crisis (the official publication of the NAACP)
POEM BY CHARLES THIELMAN
Writing Upright Outside the Lost & Found
Perhaps truth is twine-bound and you deliver it
walking sideways like a crab. Or, truth is a ravine
thick with chokeberries, with chameleons standing
at mid-depth, watching the sun set via shadow creep.
No, it's the pregnant mouse rope-dangling in salt fumes
as it climbs, climbs onto your ship, soon to populate
your cargo as your clerks fixate on commerce.
Perhaps, truth will be in your fingers as you fill your lungs,
to blow past saxophone reed that sole, long and low, note
as the curtain drops and you haven't the time to process.
Truth was in the bartender's glance as he wiped ashes
from Formica grain while you stood near the exit
trying to chat up the tired waitress, your stanzas
running on and on, unpunctuated, breathless.
Or, perhaps, truth is in the birch saplings planted
up the riverbank days after the spill clean-up
started and before I drove to this lake
flickering in a theater of stillness.
One set of truths frames a shimmering mirage,
wishbones snapped short litter moist loam.
Another is a handful of stones ready
to be tumbled into greater beauty,
each one large and heavy enough
to hold a door open for any wind.
This day turns on a bed of nails,
goddess songs becoming
night winds through spruce.
Charles F. Thielman was born and raised in Charleston, S.C., moved to Chicago, educated at red-bricked universities and on city streets, I have enjoyed working as a social worker, truck driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore clerk. Married on a Kauai beach in 2011, a loving Grandfather for five free spirits, my work as Poet, Artiste and shareholder in an independent Bookstore’s collective continues! His paintings and drawings have hued the walls of galleries, cafes and a bookstore. All that he perceives becomes driftwood fed to the kiln of his creativity. His poems have been accepted by literary journals, such as The Pedestal, Pif Magazine, SLAB, The Commonline, Gargoyle, Poetry365, The Criterion [India], Poetry Salzburg [Austria], Gangway, and others.
POEM BY YOKO TORI
(36 years old, 1988 in Bellingham, WA)
My husband snatches the mirin bottle from my hand,
squints at the tiny letters on its label.
“Sugar, salt, sake,” he reads. “I told you!
No sugar, no salt, no alcohol in this household!”
I say, “But Japanese cooking needs mirin.”
He strides out to the deck of our mobile home and
slams the bottle against the stair rail.
Shattered pieces scatter in every direction,
mirin liquid spatters the ground.
The sound of glass breaking brings me back to
a day when I was eight.
My father slapping my face.
Slap left cheek. Slap right.
I totter backward,
my head collides with the window.
Large glass shatters with sharp sound,
shards fly from the second floor.
My upper body leans back out the window.
He pulls me inside by the arm.
Suddenly the world turns black.
My husband says with a stern look,
“We use only pepper and herbs. Nothing else!”
His hand clutches the jagged bottleneck,
the liquid dripping onto the stairs.
He tosses it, steps inside, slams the door.
Alone outside in the chill of twilight
I gaze at the broken bottle pieces, wondering
who swept away that shattered glass
28 years ago.
Yoko Tori was born and raised in Saitama, Japan. She left to escape the radioactive fallout following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, moving with her daughter to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she now lives with her dog and cat. This is her first published poem in English.
POEM BY JACQUELINE MARKOWSKI
Roots Are Paths Are Ligaments
Newborn bones are held together by scar
tissue. The open moon of wince blanches
a boy’s face. His body will be removed
in the coming days, unceremoniously,
like a bag of feed. A girl in her wheelchair
is left to witness the attack, her escort
stopped cold by an angry rocket
of misunderstanding. She forgets,
for a stolen breath, the spilling panic
of her missing mother. History
and this moment are dark sisters, tethered
by placenta, unconsumed and wasted.
They are the earth, breathing, mourning
while it gobbles its own like rain water.
Jacqueline Markowski’s work has most recently appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Bird’s Thumb, Rust+Moth, Emerge Literary Journal and is forthcoming in S/tick, The Knicknackery and Barely South Review. A two-time Pushcart nominee, she won first place at The Sandhills Writer’s Conference and was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. She is currently working on a collection of poetry. You can see more of her work at www.jacquelinemarkowski.com.