TURTLE ISLAND QUARTERLY 9

Summer/2015

 

Chapter 4

 

 

 

Mathew V. Spano (1 poem), Michael Lauchlan (1 poem),

Jared Smith (1 poem), Megan E. Freeman (1 poem), Jim Dott (1 poem)

 

POEM BY MATHEW V. SPANO

 

 

 

 

Salamander Brandy

 

 

Catch three live ones, clever theft

of red efts, steaming beneath the dead leaf heap,

drop them into a barrel of burning blackberries

until they secrete their secret spell

and the magic tragic poison potion

goes down warm and smooth in the autumn glow.

Golden dewdrops tap eyelids open

to a garden humming with mushrooms,

Devil's Urns, spewing a spore-cloud

from which suddenly darts a giant garter,

toxin taster; he gathers you in by inches,

pulling relentlessly into his serpent's black belly.

You learn to live by candlelight and playing cards,

which you ignite to send smoke signals

to a waiting army of gnomes who swarm

the glutted giant, surgically slicing

the reptile gut with tiny swords,

resurrection via c-section--all except

hands and wrists, left as payment

to the great snake.

 

Let another sip slither past your parted lips

and sprout a thousand new limbs--

arms fanning in a halo of hands,

each palming a single eye peering deep

into the roots of diseased trees,

trunk hollows twisted in silent screams.

Until the shrews show up nosing a meal,

nipping with needle teeth to bleed a dream,

but you let drop a thousand tails that writhe and scurry

luring the malevolent moles

who hurry after down dark holes filled with black pitch.

 

Now you are free--finally free

to crawl through funeral fires into the sunrise

to be baptized by the Emperor of India. 

 

 

 

Mathew V. Spano has published poetry, short stories, and essays over the last twenty years.  His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies.  When he isn't fly-fishing or enjoying graphic novels, he teaches English Composition and Mythology in Literature as a full-time professor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POEM BY MICHAEL LAUCHLAN

 


 

 

From an Old Doorway


 

we watch for signs of changes in the yard.

From another country we prowl

for word of a bombing, a massacre,

 

then sign petitions and go to dinner.

What crisis will, for us, suffice?

Greenland is calving into the sea.

 

Our bodies fail us bit by bit

as bodies always have, but now

stats approach like digital thugs.

 

This year’s flood came early and late,

water piled up from two days’

downpour into an irate Rouge;

 

pines suffer whatever toxins

the railroad dumped on its brush;

blights proliferate, multiply, migrate.


 

Summer boils and winter’s weird.

So fin de siecle, we chat

in doorways about gardens and kids.

 

 

 

Michael Lauchlan’s collection, Trumbull Ave., is available from WSU Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POEM BY JARED SMITH

 

 

 

 

In The Heart of Town

 

 

They are in the heart of Town even now,

the deer trails that led from forest to streambed

that became the paths that predators knew so well

and then the moist earth trails of the first Americans

following the natural rolling contours of Earth

and then the dusty roads of wagon trains setting out

from Town into all those things that grow beyond.

 

They are the side-streets that cut across the grid,

the common paths that follow no plat lines but

follow instead into the hidden lives, bisecting highways

that have become the nation's  paved neural network.

They are the birthplace of everything that is innocent

and everything that cries out in despair in the night,

and they are still the purveyors of what makes every town

its own time and place, its own music, its own laughter.

 

 

 

Jared Smith is the author of eleven volumes of poetry; multimedia productions in New York and Chicago; two CDs; and numerous publications in the applied sciences. His poems, essays, and literary commentary have appeared in hundreds of publications in the U.S., Europe, and China. He is a Board Member of The New York Quarterly Literary Foundation and is Poetry Editor of Turtle Island Quarterly. He has also served on the Editorial Boards of The New York Quarterly; Home Planet News; The Pedestal; and Trail & Timberline. He is listed in Poets & Writers, The Colorado Poets Center, Who’s Who In America, and other major reference sources.

Jared travels extensively for readings, lectures, and workshops. He holds a Masters degree in Poetry from New York University and studied under The Great Books Program at St. John’s College. He has taught at New York University and La Guardia Community College (CCNY); and worked as a Director of Education and Research at GTI, as an Adviser to several White House Commissions under President Clinton, and as Special Appointee to Argonne National Laboratory. He lives in the foothills of The Rockies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POEM BY MEGAN E. FREEMAN

 

 

 

 

 

Fraser, Colorado    7:48 p.m.

 

so much to lose in a sunset

the fading colors of the western mountain sky

dusting the golden meadows with shades of rose

and falling streaks of gray

divided sharply by twin contrails

slicing blades of light across the darkening clouds

 

below in the twilight

trains stretch the length of the valley

as far as the eye can see in both directions

pulling with all their might

the fuel that keeps the country warm

 

what happened to cabooses? 

tugged along at the rear

the exclamation points at the ends of steel sentences

traversing the pages of highways

through the darkest side of midnight

 

Megan E. Freeman is a writer and teacher with over twenty years of classroom experience, Megan has taught multiple subjects across the humanities and the arts to students K-16. She studied theater and dramatic literature for many years, earning degrees from Occidental College and the Ohio State University. Her work has been published in a variety of publications and anthologies, and her chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, will be published in 2015 by Liquid Light Press.

 

Megan is a member of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, a fellow with the Colorado State University Writing Project, a Fund for Teachers fellow, and a member of the Colorado Poets Center. She used to live in northeast Los Angeles, central Ohio, northern Norway, and on Caribbean cruise ships. Now she lives near Boulder, Colorado.  www.meganefreeman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

POEM BY JAMES DOTT

 

 

 

 

ROOTS

theirs is not
the world of light
they go below
probe soil’s night
branch
work around stones
fret at bedrock cracks
branch
drink and twine together
store the sap
branch
spread deeper farther
from the center
the seed squirrels missed
always the allure of gravity

thick as torsos then thighs
forearms fingers
narrowing to net strands
fine as spiders’ silk
where root tip ends
and soil begins
only an atom’s breadth

step carefully
when they breach
entwine the trail
re-submerge
their world
brought to light
only when wind-thrown
undercut by road work
flooded up whole
when the river crests

they are the anchor
they are the well
the way down
that leads back
the river the road
to light

 


James (Jim) Dott is a retired elementary teacher who taught in Oregon and overseas. He lives in Astoria, Oregon near the mouth of the Columbia River.  He has been a programmer and producer at the local community radio station, and co-host of a monthly spoken word open mic.  He tends his garden, writes, and walks the trails around Astoria. His book, A Glossary of Memory, was released in May by Blind Slough Books. His poetry has appeared in Turtle Island Quarterly, Squid, Southern Poetry Review, and Written River.

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