#Mountains: Women Are Mountains Scattered by Wren Tuatha

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Red pill/green pocket/squire, asks then takes anyway,
can you see me or the planet from a crag in Arkansas?
Gynic peaks pull the moon in you by a string.

What do you orbit? How do you know when to alight if land
and women are mountains scattered, grounded but shifting
unfinished? You and Mohammed, playing pipes at mountains.

Two peaks, one in Africa, the other Appalachia, pour
water that makes the moonbow, marrying light and vapor.
Only two places on Earth does the moon lay this lyric.

Mountains in Nepal listen to gunfire. In Kentucky they
lay down for clean coal, rebranded. Lung forests in Sierras
truck downhill. Peaks in Switzerland take the breath away,

rare oxygen. Do you see me on the planet from Alps, Everest
or Kilimanjaro? Rice terraces and the perfect elevation
for quinoa. Who are you feeding? Who comes to the table?

Not women. When restless we erupt, rebranding, renewing.
We sway slow on our plates. My skin has regrown after lavas.
Sit down. Your babbling is corrosive, a tune in smoke while women

chisel, turn spokes. Narcissus drowning and other irrelevant kings.
No matter your heights, a king convinced of his wings and his view
brought us to this ledge.

 

First published in Thistle and Brilliant, Finishing Line Press. 

 

 

Califragile founding editor Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and others. She’s pursuing her MFA at Goddard College.  Her chapbooks, Thistle and Brilliant and the forthcoming Skeptical Goats, are from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Butler, herd rescue goats in the Camp Fire burn zone of California.

#Mountains: The Mammogram Technician Asked if I Wanted to Take a Look by Andrea Potos

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Profile of a motherland–
sloping hill and veins bold
with blood ore,
rivers of light criss-
crossing and coursing
from view, I prayed
my eyes were true–
I saw no errant stone.

 

Previously published in Arrows of Light, Iris Press.

 

Andrea Potos is the author of eight poetry collections, including the forthcoming A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), Arrows of Light (Iris Press), An Ink Like Early Twilight (Salmon Poetry), We Lit the Lamps Ourselves (Salmon Poetry) and Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press). The latter three books received Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry from Rosebud Magazine, and the Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review.

 

Original photograph by Rhonda Baer, courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. 

#Mountains: The Path by Stella Pierides

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At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.
This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.
That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

 

 

Stella Pierides is a poet and writer born in Athens, Greece, now living in Neusaess, Germany and London, UK. She is the author of three poetry books: Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) and In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), both of which received a Haiku Society of America merit award; Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. Currently she manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for the Haiku Foundation.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

Tamalpais by Nicole Michaels

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I am keeping your secrets
as if I wrote the legend,

crashed the planes,
abandoned the cars,

set the plaque
for Sitting Bull.

Your peeling manzanitas
are safe with me,

your rock,
your fire roads.

I have nothing to offer
except myself as I was,

gilded like a trout
downstream of your sleeping figure,

bronzed below your witch-guarded peak.

 

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Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.

 

Top photograph by Brent Peters/Derangedtoco; Bottom photograph by Jerrye and Roy Klotz. 

Grandfather’s Simple Request by Trish Saunders

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My ohana, I must leave you soon.
Bury me with koa leaves and shells,
place pikake flowers around my neck,
red dirt between my toes.

Once, I wanted to rest beneath the Pali cliffs
where I could hear the ocean
and receive its calm.

I live in the desert now, a place no less beautiful
but far from the temple grasses
of our ancestors.

Do not grieve for me.
Watch for my lantern in the night sky
guiding boats into the harbor.

 

 

Trish Saunders writes poems from Seattle and Honolulu (and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon). She’s been widely published in print and digital poetry journals; some favorites are Right Hand Pointing, Blast Furnace Press, Eunoia, Califragile.

 

Photograph of Koolau Mountains by Debra Jean.

#Mountains: When the Future Weighs Too Much on Me by Andrea Potos

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I think back to the week I travelled
to my grandfather’s village, carved deep
in Greece, two hours from the Oracle.
Nearly a century after he’d left, I found
evidence of his gentleness
and beauty everywhere, gradations
of silver-green, distances of peaks
and forests and, nearby, an ancient platanos tree
arching its limbs across the rickety table where
I sat all afternoon. I sipped my Greek coffee, stared
at the clay-tiled houses that reside
that much closer to heaven
than I had ever been.

First published in A Stone to Carry Home, Salmon Poetry.

 

Andrea Potos is the author of eight poetry collections, including the forthcoming A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), Arrows of Light (Iris Press), An Ink Like Early Twilight (Salmon Poetry), We Lit the Lamps Ourselves (Salmon Poetry) and Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press). The latter three books received Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry from Rosebud Magazine, and the Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review.

#Mountains: Mountain Storm by Michael H. Brownstein

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It’s a rock day full of song erosion and then it rains,
the wind noise crisscrossed, cross-stitched,
glacier waters bleeding off course, bumps and pebbles,
stone and flesh, branch and burp. How easily bones
flush from the mountain after a storm, white washed
like albino skin, the broken facade of stucco, the last
snow melting, and sometimes the singing is a Siren.
Great walls open and collide, stale and crusty. A tree
breaks at its waist and everyone hears it. In a rock day,
and yes, you can hear the sound of one hand clapping.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

 

Photograph by Greg Tally.