TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 8

Spring/2015

 

Chapter 3

 

 

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

cigarette

 

crushed fallow

busted loose

cops pick at me

for a chew

   

Cops finger me like an idle

Parliament.  An off-duty

throwaway smoke

spent then discarded.

 

Tobacco still smooth –

soothing, breathable,

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

 

soon forgotten.

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

crackling clattering

 

like castanets.

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

 

 

 

 

Shattered Glass

 (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.

 

         Slap.  Slap.

         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.

 

 

 

 

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