Issue Number 10, Fall 2010

Contents

Archives: by Issue | by Author Name



Spleen

by Ann Fisher-Wirth

Ann lives in the North Mississippi hill country, about sixty miles east of the Delta and the Mississippi River, in the Tallahatchie River watershed.

               Ole Miss, late August

But I don't despise the cheerleaders
at practice in the Grove,
who leap and balance
on their partners' upturned palms,
calf muscles trembling, lifting up,
up, on tiptoe. Nor the kids
driving by, I like how they signal hi,
one finger lifted from the steering wheels
of gas-guzzlers loaded
with the summer's boxes.
Nor the girls on Sorority Row
running from one of the houses,
waving their arms like Bacchantes
in a badly acted play&ndash
they jump and scream
and clap their hands in a big
orchestrated semicircle,
because aunts and mothers and teachers,
grandmas and nanas and preachers
told them this
is what happiness looks like.

This summer, unannounced,
the Army Corps of Engineers
drained and paved
the bayou at the end of College Hill,
expanding the airport for football weekends.
They lost the herons, destroyed the places
where turtles could slither
down cool, piney banks
past crayfish towers and cypress stobs
into a murky lake where in spring
their babies would sit on fallen branches
like capgun caps,
nubbins nearly invisible
until pop pop pop pop pop
slow then faster they hit the lake
as they hear you coming.

Oh yeah? Bummer, I hear these students say.

As I pass the crowd of girls
I look for one
who knows she's faking it,
who's counting the days
till she quits.
She already longs
for the vanishing places
where, speckled with light, she can wait,
alive in every cell to solitude,
completely attentive to the water.


Previously published in Tales from the Blue Moon Cafe IV, ed. Sonny Brewer and Joe Formichella
(Macadams/Cage, 2005).



Blue Mountains in Rain

by Patricia Fargnoli

Patricia lives in a small village of white houses near the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, in the Connecticut River watershed where Cold River runs into the larger river and Fall Mountain hovers in the near distance.

We hide in our houses and listen at the windows
  so many of us listening alone
to the ticking on the trees,
      so many watching
the shawl drop down over the hills,
  hiding the hills that circle around us
surrendering to the rain
      the clouds that fall apart over them--

the unbreaking fall-apart clouds
  that parachute down into the trees,
falling into the forests,
  sweeping over the bodies of sleeping animals--

for thousands of years the rain.
For thousands of years we've been standing like this,
      almost in dream, watching
the blue shawl of rain float down over the circle of hills.




Evening Panorama

by David Chorlton

David lives close to the Sonoran Desert in central Phoenix in the Lower Salt Watershed, at an elevation of 1,124 feet with an average annual rainfall of 7.7 inches.

Across land that rolls and buckles through
a life zone before it becomes desert
changing colour from darkened ochre
to deep shadow and away
into a lighter blue where it ends
in a jagged rocky line against
the Mexican sky the view flows and tumbles
down from the point nightfall enters
the canyon and roosts
on an old battered sycamore
where vultures fold up their bones
having stared from the thermals all day
at the earth that spun beneath them slowly
ever slowly to the day's last
carrion shred left drying on a sun bleached stone.




Gone

by Tom Mahony

Tom lives near where the San Lorenzo River meets the Pacific Ocean.

        There are places in the Coast Ranges still in essentially primeval condition. The creeks run clean and the forest is complex and the wildlife abundant.

        You can bushwhack into the mountains and sit by a creek and think and wonder and experience what humans did thousands of years ago. Or what animals did before there were any humans at all. Maybe the closest thing to time travel you can find. Feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, the wilderness stretching forever, not a hint of human disturbance in any direction.

        But examine an aerial photo and you'll see the place is just an island surrounded by an advancing sea of concrete, the wild core shrinking with each passing day. Stuff that's never coming back.

        Going. Going.

        Gone.


Previously published in Camroc Press Review



Gulls

by Linda Benninghoff

Linda lives in the Northern Long Island Watershed in back of Caumsett State Park and less than a mile from the Long Island Sound.

In that moment
when the fires of the stars die
before the next fire comes,
the gulls rise,
filling the sky like numberless dreams,
pale and careless, floating on air.
And I think how hard it has been
to say a word
when I know I will hear it echo
from one galaxy to the next,
and even to stoop, lift someone
softly out of pain,
takes patience
and a heart like stone to bear
the incompleteness of that action.

Their wings hang like hands,
their motions reassure me.
Peace
before the light.




My Daughter Calls Me On Global Warming

by Philip Timpane

Phil lives on the graveled banks of Alford Brook just east of its confluence with the Green River, a mile or two north of where it joins the Housatonic River, in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, formed when Africa collided with North America.

Because she doesn't first have to hammer the horses' turds
to dislodge them from the frozen ground
she says she thinks it's getting warmer
though I've warned her of the forecast hardened
on a dozen frigid nights but shifting
her grip to the fork and the phone to her shoulder
she insists that she is right

And who am I to argue at the other end of the line
from a weathered way of life mucking the paddock
under the light pressure of receding stars
reflecting on the crescent moon's waxing story
the polar opposite really of receding ice
oceans rising as we speak
on our lithium powered cordless phones

The effects of a single degree loosening its grip
softening voices that predict
how soon the herd will shed their shaggy coats
how long we have
to settle for cold comfort
calling each other in the darkness
warmed by the steam of mammals huddled together
and the working of our own pawing hearts




Skull

by Julie L. Moore

Julie lives in the Little Miami Watershed in southwestern Ohio.

This maple like a skull
split open stands strangely
symmetrical—east and west
branches verdant and voluminous—
yet straight north
nothing but telephone cables
lancing the center of its cranium.
How practical.
                          They strung the wires
without cutting down the trees
so all along Ohio roads, on the edges
of fields and front yards, these strange heads
emerge.
                I'd like to know whose pragmatic
brainchild this one was,
whose scalpel did the lobotomy,
and who forgot
first, do no harm.


First appeared in Confluence, then in Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions).



Something Coming

by Gail Rudd Entrekin

Gail lives in a small valley on an even smaller wooded hill amid the Coastal Range east of San Francisco Bay in the San Pablo Bay watershed just above San Pablo Creek.

We are beginning to understand something
of what is coming, to go beyond sensing a shadow
in the woods watching us, and to see it take shape,
see it coming toward us across a field, zigzagging
as it does, now standing idle and watching the sky,
now heading directly for us at a trot. And realizing
that we are seen, that it will find us no matter
what we do, we are slowing down.
                                                                We are
standing very still hoping to blend with the waving
greens of this raw springtime, to stay upwind
of it as warmer breezes pick up and buffet the leaves,
the grasses, tossing everything in a moving salad
of life; we sway on our legs, trying to move with the air
that surrounds us, and we stop thinking of what is around
the next bend in the path, stop planning our next
escape route, and begin to merge with the moment;
we have slipped into a painting by Van Gogh;
something is coming again across the fields and we
are open as sunflowers in full bloom
to these last moments on the earth.




Still Water Covenant

by Tom Sheehan

Tom lives in a house built in 1742 about 200 feet from the Saugus River in the Saugus River Watershed bounding 900 acres of the Rumney Salt Marsh and 450 acres of a wetland, Reedy Meadows.

Bowed out before me, slack green
where ripples wash each other
in slow torment, air too long foul
and fish bellied up against the sun
in my savage memory, Rapid Tucker's
Pond sleeps where the canoe plies on.
I am bare movement in the stillness,
a slow energy across swift despair
of water feeding only twisted roots
of pines, scorched alders, reeded haven
for a lone pair of red-winged blackbirds.

Death rattles all about me, canned bones
shaking as if worn lowly on the gunnels,
disease as memorialized as statuary,
illness captured like a held breath.
The vile green liquid carpet staggers
outward from brighter reflections,
the old ripples of a once-tossed stone
moving momentary photographs to mind;
spiking the pond with vibrant trout
silver and red and stone-crushed blue
all along their speckled undersides,
watching the aerial elegance of frogs
where bass bombs burst in weeds,
lazy pickerel flotillas idling shallows
with the sun announcing further shadows
on the sand, then midnight ice caught
as darkness inside of diamond stones.

No sicker than I, this pond, torn
and ripped on my insides, lament
riding its frail blessings in harsh song,
memory stabbing with the other days
relentless as forgotten gunfire,
cursing acid rains and dark clouds,
upland spillage secretive and sly
as armed infiltrators, underwater pipes
neighbors bury after dark, beavers'
departure, April morning silences.

All this death draws promises, half oaths
about this once-hallowed place, Earth-pond,
my Earth though too soon mated with it,
too long interred where long dowsers reach,
Earth that is the substance of my body,
where the unseen mold plays its waiting game.

The slayer moves among us, prowling,
claiming land and sea and air channels,
touching with his dread hand the least of us
and rough edges of the tumbling Atlantic.
Rapid Tucker's Pond dies, then Lake Erie,
and the Pacific sits fattest of targets.
In this morning's silence, even birds abed,
I swear I will not yield easily, or first.




The Luscious Dead

by Elizabeth Schultz

Elizabeth lives on the limestone ridge in northeast Kansas called Mt. Oread, rising between the Wakarusa watershed to the south and the Kansas River and its floodplain to the north.

The bees' whining signified
alarm, fire or some great hurt,
stirring the forest's shadows.

We heard them before we saw
the crumpled oak, bleeding dark
honey, and the bees hovering.

In the late afternoon's light,
their wings whirred, iridescent
and desperate. Mesmerized,

we witnessed their frenzy above
the ooze, the honeycomb settlement
spilling perfect hexagonals of home.

We felt their grieving, all that sweetness
seeping over the tree's bark, into the earth,
always overflowing with the luscious dead.




Wambaw Creek

by Krikor Der Hohannesian

Krikor lives next to the Mystic Lakes section of the Charles River watershed which empties into Boston Harbor - now relatively cleansed of pollutants.

draped over the knobby knee
of a majestic cypress,
a cotton-mouth dozes
beneath a blanket
of April sunshine

astride the far bank a young doe
hesitates, eyeing us warily, spindly
legs on tremulous alert, nostrils flared,
before bounding off apace
through the swamp grove

we, the intruders,
paddle ahead quietly
feathering oars with great care
to mask the ripples
of our trespass




We Are the Environment

by Barbara Joan Tiger Bass

Barbara Joan lives near the Hayward fault line and the Sausal Creek Watershed in Oakland, California.

the doorway to elsewhere
stays ajar and Caren
appears having crossed
my mind two years ago

eventually it links
to water, embryonic
that 80% we ignore as if
this mass of flesh

is not illusion
we deny oceanic ripple
aqueous cell structure
and our buoyancy

which keeps us supple
the river we think won't dry




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