Trees Tell Our Future by Wren Tuatha

dead tree wall crop
The bark beetle blight burns
across Nimshew Ridge
and every other slope

on the coast. Nimshew,
little water in the language
of the people who are gone

from here. The drought weakens.
The Roundup weakens.
Three acres behind my cabin

become a Union battlefield
in the time of Trump.
the fallen stacked, crisscrossed,

fifty score. Open blasting blue.
Exposure, some lid lifted.
This place will not be woods

again in our time. Ponderosas
are prognosticators. Township
to cul de sac, people will fall

to the blight they brought.
They bought it at the mall,
stacking containers and dust

collectors, widgets to plug
in that blink or smell.
Trappings made in Turkey

for holidays of distraction.
Let us be thankful.

 

First published in The Bees Are Dead.

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 editor of Califragile. Her chapbook Thistle and Brilliant was a semi-finalist in the 2018 New Women’s Voices Contest and is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Photograph by Wren Tuatha. 

Califragile Editor Wren Tuatha Interviewed on Wombwell

Wren discusses her poetry beginnings at her childhood community center: “I… wrote something with words I could spell, like sky, trees, grass. I remember feeling transdimensional, as if I had healed all diseases by extolling the beauty of sky, trees and grass.”

She discusses her influences, from Robert Duncan to “Yoko Ono. Not her writing but her performance art. She taught me that the audience is the canvas. This has informed everything I do in art and education.”

What advice does she offer other emerging poets? Read her thoughts about matching your goals to your poetic activities. “Here’s a morsel I learned in the editing trenches: Don’t put Best of the Net nominations in your bio. This causes an editor eye-roll like you would not believe. When you win, put it in.”

Read the full interview here.

Wren doing Q&A at launch party cropped

#Mountains: Mimosas and Mine Ponies (A Sense of Place) by Wren Tuatha

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1. The Fenceline

The mimosa of my childhood
grew through the fenceline,
a swelling possession,
as if it were Columbus, claiming
us and our neighbors.
I would ignore the teetering swing set
and pluck middle sections out of the leaves
to make lanky birds, phoenixes
that could clear the fence but chose to stay
in my mind garden,
flapping and bobbing
at the end of my arms
like carnival airplane rides.

Matchbox cars pulled up to mimosa root houses,
Borrowers and Hobbits.
I made fences out of kindling.
The matchbox cars would arrive home and drive away,
mapping a sense of place.

2. Mine Pony Farm

Her dad left her an Appalachian
slope, Mine Pony Farm, she called it,
after the sturdy servants who made it profitable once.
Now she rolled downhill with
the water, dogs and copperheads,
keeping ahead of mining company
snipers who shot to scare
her off, even as crews dug the mountain out
from under her.

“You and I,” she said, “we carry a sense of place.”

3. Seven River Crossings, Three Ways In

Seven trips, seven friends carried each others’ loads,
plywood and board feed, pillows and rice,
down into the deep Ozark valley.

They had park permission.
They would stake their claim
miles off any pavement, in a fold within
a fold of the state land.

There were three ways in:
A two hour road, seven river crossings, drivable
a couple of months of the year;
A two hour climb down one mountain;
A five hour hike down the other.

Each built a house. Hippie blends of old
and new, found logs, barn windows, satellite dishes.
Some stayed year round, some would come and go,
keeping jobs and family ties.

As years circled like buzzards, as kids, once dirty-kneed, turned
away to college, the friends faded off or left in some huff.
Listening, circling decisions, had always been tough.

A woman and a man she’d recently met had Brigadoon
to themselves. They were bent and knotted from planting,
dragging and climbing.

They would stop and allow my visit, for the magazine article.

 

These poems, first published in Belle Reve Journal, are part of an upcoming book length cycle, Mimosas and Mine Ponies (A Sense of Place).

 

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Pirene’s Fountain, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. Her chapbook, Thistle and Brilliant, is upcoming from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Califragile Editor Wren Tuatha to Be Published by Finishing Line Press

Wren in light sequins cr

Our thanks to Finishing Line Press editor Leah Maines and all her staff. Our editor Wren Tuatha‘s manuscript, Thistle and Brilliant, is a semi-finalist in FLP’s 2018 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. The book will be published by FLP.

Thistle and Brilliant is a collection of Wren’s poems poking at and chewing on attraction, requited and not, from a bi perspective, more the nervous movements, rather than the still-portrait-smile of love. Stay tuned for reading dates and ordering information!

#MeToo: A Wolf Girl Enters the World by Wren Tuatha

Monstorium Historia

A wolf girl enters the world
through a slice in the air
that catches eyes all around.
Is her name ordinary, Maria,
or pedestaled, Dulcinea?

The air in the village square
tells the story of the pie
she carries. Younger wolf sister
stays close, dropping mental
breadcrumbs through
the forest of eyes.

To be a wolf girl and to be
a girl are redundant. Everyone
is entitled to look at will,
on the sly or not.

At court, brocade
flowers on her gown
fit in, but she will always
be queer.

Her Italian language is
baroque with syllables,
civilized. She has written
a poem. It feels natural
to choose the attention
of others.

She will recite her poem
now.

 

First published in Danse Macabre.

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Pirene’s Fountain, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at JUMP, International Journal of Modern Poetry.  Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

#MeToo: The Memory of Snow by Wren Tuatha

Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale

Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale, used by permission. 

The souls of women float just above the ground
as if walking on the memory of snow.
Ready to be air if struck, water if kicked,
stone if belittled, fire if ignored.

The souls of women laugh lightly in most moments,
beaming pinpoints through the skin. It makes you
want to touch. Priestesses and party dresses.

So you touch. Shocked to find flesh, you
notice a bad memory. Soon each woman is the
same woman and her soul is bitter lamplight,
bitter, insatiable lamplight.

The souls of women reel and swoon with
art and moon and business meetings. They
encircle bitter sisters and float just above the ground
as if walking on the memory of snow.

 

First published in Lavender Review.

 

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Pirene’s Fountain, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

 

Painting Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale, used by permission. 

Four Poems for Christmas Sharing

Pressed Pansies by Victoria Crawford

A mother’s gift to make for Christmas day
in the book, Pressed Flowers, from a thrift store.
A Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

My pansies were blooming in bright array.
Cardboard and string press pansies galore,
a mother’s gift to make for Christmas day.

I made backing and frame from an old tray,
gilded for flower picture Mom would adore
a Eureka! savings for teacher’s pay.

Pressed pansies, picture framed, artful bouquet,
glossy glitter made it cleverly shine more
for mother’s gift handmade for Christmas day.

December, the present and I on our way
hit potholes before we reached Mom’s front door
and that Eureka! moment for teacher’s pay?

Bumps, glue, and gravity ruined the display:
ruined pansies and glitter weren’t much, for
a mother’s gift made for Christmas day
or Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

 

 

Winter by Martin Willitts, Jr.

silence and cold expectations
speak thinly
translating
with deep pain
into new fallen snow
through the determined
darkness
among blue hazed trees

wind moves slowly
wearing snowshoes

 

 

Andy Williams by Kenneth Pobo

Aunt Gwen plays his albums while
pushing a splintery mop
over crabby kitchen tiles. Andy
sings that he hears the music
from across the way. Gwen thinks
maybe she hears it too—only oak
leaves against a screen. She wishes

that just once Tree would have taken her
to see him at the Moon River Theater
in Branson. Last Christmas
he promised, but his job got busy
and Delia Anne came home broke.

As Gwen pours gray water down the sink,
Andy sings “Moon River”–
We’re after the same rainbow’s end,
the album turning in endless circles, Gwen

stopping suddenly when a tuxedo’d man
leaps out from worn grooves
to offer her one red rose.

 

 

The Captive Fire by Wren Tuatha

She tosses the yarn
and the kittens roll with it,
hitting the wall at the
propane heater,
its grill a cage for
the captive fire within.

She lets out a smile
but it swings back to her,
on a pendulum,
like a good smile,
contained in quiet play.

In the span of a sigh
the kittens will leave, cats,
echoes of the children
who fell, men and women,
from her breast.
She would give a breast
to be needed
that way again.

She snatches the yarn
and the kittens
settle for her shoelace
as she finishes the fringe
on her fourth grandson’s afghan.
Muted shades of
red, orange and yellow.

 

 

Victoria Crawford. From Monterey, California, Victoria is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review, Eastlit, Penwood Review, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.

Martin Willitts, Jr. is a retired Librarian. He is the winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award and Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June, 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over twenty chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus eleven full-length collections including Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017) and Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: The Queer South anthology, Caesura, Colorado Review, Mudfish, and elsewhere.

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at JUMP, the International Journal of Modern Poetry. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

 

 

Painting: Night on the eve of Ivan Kupala (1892) by Henryk Slemiradzki (1843-1902).