Sleep Harbored by Wren Tuatha

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(after The Accidental Tourist)

You think there’s a traffic rule, if you see a sign
for an airport you have to pull in and get on a plane.
It isn’t on my way and I don’t have the fare.

I sit in my driveway and read your articles from Lima,
Belfast, Shanghai. Weather and lights. Unexpected place
settings and traffic patterns.

I picture your skill at packing a suitcase, adjusting
to time differences with pills and naps, cafe
conversations.

If you are to birth a new beginning you must be judicious
as to the articles you pack, only versatile, lightweight things.
Belongings you won’t miss if lost.

But even lost things chance upon new lives with random
finders. The umbrella, the apple core. A quarter. The picture
of her you pack.

A plane flies over my garden near the airport
as I bury what you discarded in the cover crop and leaf litter,
compost.

If you travel here, will you push away vines and mushrooms
to recognize what grows where you left me standing?
Will you profile it as a point of interest?

Sleep harbored.
Random finders can claim you, too.

 

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.

 

Painting, What We Leave Behind, by Jenn Zed

The Rose by Patricia Nelson

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—After Dante: Paradiso

i.
How, but by forgetting, can I leave
the yellow brightness of the center,
the white rose raveling beauty?

I who grew brighter even in its shadow
must turn earthward now,
cooling like a cloud.

That white, lost flower rests in my skin
like a shape on the distorted, moving water,
which the water does not see.

ii.
The shape and noise of the world returns:
the calls, the changes like a thudding of stairs.
After radiant stars, the eloquent hardness of a wall.

I touch it with blank, soft hands,
the sounds in the underlying wood
like a creaking of bridges.

The night lifts its black and crooked sigh.
The old confusion is above me, close as a clamor of beaks,
its meanness striving like a windmill.

iii.
What used to comfort with its distance, its lack of odor
or a shadow, its yaw of unkempt stories—
now is real. More real after my nearness to the light.

The light of the earth is to the left and small
as I go forward, and I must
love that cold which reaches out to me.

Though I am colder here, and dimmer,
I will stand, a beast with the moon around him
hitting the ground like bird strikes, with a dead light.

I will tell them the symmetrical story
with stinging and struggle, a beauty with noise
and falling. And I will love them as I tell it.

 

 

Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who now volunteers with an environmental organization. She worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Artwork, Isolated, by Jenn Zed.

Everyone knows a poem about sex is also a poem about death, by Shannon Phillips

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after BH

Every hour begs to be inhabited,
known, not recorded. What if every
particle in an hourglass were a consonant,
a vowel in a poem written above
and unwritten down the center, made
and unmade, like love, like a bed,
like the shapes she makes
under his hands.

Remember that song and how it
curled around the moment,
a tongue unfurled, letting go
of words so to taste the sweetness
of what is fleeting. Exquisite pleasure
is wedded to pain.

Remember that time even if
no picture exists; no poem, no picture
could convince death to be gentle,
but a good kiss just might.

 

 

Shannon Phillips is the founding editor of Picture Show Press. Her most recent chapbook, Body Parts, was published by dancing girl press in 2017. After teaching ESL for 3 years, she decided to study Arabic and hopes to one day work in the field of translation.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed

The Emigrant’s Address To America. By Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

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All hail to thee, noble and generous Land!
With thy prairies boundless and wide,
Thy mountains that tower like sentinels grand,
Thy lakes and thy rivers of pride!

Thy forests that hide in their dim haunted shades
New flowers of loveliness rare –
Thy fairy like dells and thy bright golden glades,
Thy warm skies as Italy’s fair.

Here Plenty has lovingly smiled on the soil,
And ‘neath her sweet, merciful reign
The brave and long suff’ring children of toil
Need labor no longer in vain.

I ask of thee shelter from lawless harm,
Food – raiment – and promise thee now,
In return, the toil of a stalwart arm,
And the sweat of an honest brow.

But think not, I pray, that this heart is bereft
Of fond recollections of home;
That I e’er can forget the dear land I have left
In the new one to which I have come.

Oh no! far away in my own sunny isle
Is a spot my affection worth,
And though dear are the scenes that around me now smile,
More dear is the place of my birth!

There hedges of hawthorn scent the sweet air,
And, thick as the stars of the night,
The daisy and primrose, with flow’rets as fair,
Gem that soil of soft verdurous light.

And there points the spire of my own village church,
That long has braved time’s iron power,
With its bright glitt’ring cross and ivy wreathed porch –
Sure refuge in sorrow’s dark hour!

Whilst memory lasts think not e’er from this breast
Can pass the fond thoughts of my home:
No! I ne’er can forget the land I have left
In the new one to which I have come!

 

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon, 1829-1879.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed

Little Brown Brother By Nick Carbó

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I’ve always wanted to play the part
of that puckish pubescent Filipino boy

in those John Wayne Pacific-War movies.
Pepe, Jose, or Juanito would be smiling,

bare-chested and eager to please
for most of the steamy jungle scenes.

I’d be the one who would cross
the Japanese lines and ask for tanks,

air support, or more men. I’d miraculously
make it back to the town where John Wayne

is holding his position against the enemy
with his Thompson machine-gun. As a reward,

he’d rub that big white hand on my head
and he’d promise to let me clean

his Tommy gun by the end of the night. But
then, a Betty Grable look-a-like love

interest would divert him by sobbing
into his shoulder, saying how awfully scared

she is about what the “Japs” would do
to her if she were captured. In one swift

motion, John Wayne would sweep her off
her feet to calm her fears inside his private quarters.

Because of my Hollywood ability
to be anywhere, I’d be under the bed

watching the woman roll down her stockings
as my American hero unbuckles his belt

I’d feel the bottom of the bed bounce off my chest
as small-arms fire explodes outside the walls.

 

First published in El Grupo McDonald’s (Tia Chucha, 1995). Reprinted by permission on Nick Carbó.

 

 

Nick Carbó has edited two anthologies of Filipino literature, Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry (1995) and Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers (2000), and coedited the anthology Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon (2002) with Denise Duhamel. His honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Le Château de Lavigny. His collections of poetry include El Grupo McDonald’s (1995); Secret Asian Man (2000), which won an Asian American Literary Award; and Andalusian Dawn (2004). Carbó’s work can be humorous, even satirical, in his examinations of American pop culture and its influence on Asian countries such as the Philippines. He told National Public Radio, “By writing about these influences, it’s my way of kicking back.”

Quincy, California by Tony Gloeggler

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The kind of town we stopped
for gas and asked directions
to that hillside inn ten years ago
When it rained and rained
and we stayed in bed, lost count
of the times we came and came

Kind of town you now live in
with your second husband, split
level home, road side mail box

Town you called from late last night
to tell me about the sharp pains
the red shredded things
that dropped into the water
as you sat on the toilet stool
forty years old, wanting your first child

 

First published in Mudfish.

 

 

Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City, having managed group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn for over 35 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, Raleigh Review, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Spillway, Moon City Review, and Juked. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015). His next book will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.

 

Photograph by Tom Spross.

Arroyo Speaks by Paul Mairet

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The water in this land is scarce and cursed.
It ripped through earth and ran, gave birth to me,
a sun-dried orphaned cradle, orphaned thirst,
a bed in which a band of scorpions speak

in clicks on shadowed rocks. You’ll never hear
such talk because your ears aren’t made of earth.
You only hear his clicking tongue; your fear
has tied you to the gun he aims at her.

She only hears the fairies in the hut
she built beneath the pinyon like a grave.
She doesn’t know a year before your love
gave birth to her, the strychnine killer gave

a poisoned hot dog to your trusting hound,
smiling as he watched her wolf it down.

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Paul Mairet is a poet and educator who currently teaches in Michigan Tech’s English Language Institute. He also works as an assistant to poet and writer David Mura and is ever grateful to him, Wang Ping, and Kristin Naca for their mentorship.

 

Painting, Dry Arroyo, California, by D. Howard Hitchcock.

Original photograph by idoterna.