-- for Ryan Ingebritsen
So that was the summer
I stood on the park’s idea
of a minimalist bridge--
seven slabs in the river--
and listened to wet syllables
in an aria of falling and going around--
lyrics of riffle, inflected with watercress
punctuated by striders.
The song was repetitive, mostly about longing
for dissolution. There was a distant lover
in some estuary; she smelled of mud and salt.
To get to her, the singer ran headlong
into the earth--scouring and scouring
fat volumes of limestone
until at last he looked up
at the brows of cliffs--
he had dug an amphitheater
on every curve, his bright voice
rang to a shadow audience.
Under green drops, he deployed
an orchestra of birds.
That was the summer I climbed 500 steps
to the top of the bluff,
past cedar and sumac,
leaned over the fragrant balcony
and added my voice to the evening--
my echo returned, sounding like someone
lost and concerned, far off, perhaps a bit panicked--
the tone the voice finds in distance.
* * * *James Armstrong
met sound artist Ryan Ingebritsen
in 2010, when Ingebritsen was an artist-in-residence at the Banning and Whitewater State Parks in Minnesota. Armstrong wrote "Song Path" after going on a hike led by Ingebritsen -- on World Listening Day 2010
. Click here
to find out more. You can listen to "Gooseberry Falls Song Path," recorded by Ingebritsen, below --
James Armstrong is a Midwestern native: he grew up on the sand plains of southern Michigan and went to Northwestern University as an undergraduate. He has an M.F.A. from Western Michigan University and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Boston University. Armstrong's scholarly essay on John James Audubon appeared in Animal Acts: Configuring the Human in Western History (Routledge 1997). Armstrong has taught creative writing and American literature at Northwestern University and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Writing Program.
He has published poems and essays in TriQuarterly, RHINO, Porcupine, Gulf Coast, Orion, Poetry East and other journals. Armstrong received the PEN-New England Discovery Prize for poetry in 1996, and he has been awarded both an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in poetry and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in poetry. He was an artist in residence at Isle Royale in 1994 and on Grand Island National Recreation Area in 2004. His first book of poems, Monument in a Summer Hat, was published in the fall of 1999 (New Issues Press). His latest book, Blue Lash, came out in April, 2006, from Milkweed Editions.
His poem, “The Wreck,” was anthologized in Where One Voice Ends, Another Begins, a collection of Minnesota poetry published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press (2007). In October of 2007, he was appointed Poet Laureate of the City of Winona. Armstrong lives in downtown Winona with his wife, Laura, and their two daughters, Dot and Pippa.
Nights, when I can't sleep, I listen to the sea lions
barking from the rocks off the lighthouse.
I look out the black window into the black night
and think about fish stirring the oceans.
Muscular tuna, their lunge and thrash
churning the water, whipping up a squall,
storm of hunger. Herring cruising,
river of silver in the sea, wide as a lit city.
And all the small breaths: pulse
of frilled jellyfish, thrust of squid,
frenzy of krill, transparent skin glowing
green with the glass shells of diatoms.
Billions swarming up the water column each night,
gliding down at dawn. They're the greased motor
that powers the world. Shipping heat
to the Arctic, hauling cold to the tropics,
currents unspooling around the globe.
My room is so still, the bureau lifeless,
and on it, inert, the paraphernalia of humans:
keys, coins, shells that once rocked in the tides--
opalescent abalone, pearl earrings.
Only the clock's sea green numerals
register their little changes. And shadows
the moon casts—fan of maple branches--
tick across the room. But beyond the cliffs
a blue whale sounds and surfaces, cosmic
ladle scooping the icy depths. An artery so wide,
I could swim through into its thousand-pound heart.
* * * *
Ellen Bass's poetry books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press) and Mules of Love (BOA Editions). Among her awards are the Lambda Literary Award, New Letters Poetry Prize, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the Pablo Neruda Prize fromNimrod. She teaches in the MFA poetry program at Pacific University.
on the bottom
of our rainboots,
on the backs
of our slickers
drizzling down the red tulips,
making a march on the Flexpart,
the stores of seaweed
like gnarled hands,
the amber bottles of Iodine
lifting their monked hoods
from shelves of the pharmacy,
the empty rows
of Vibrant Greens
announcing their absence
at Shop N' Kart,
while the grass grows ever longer
undeterred, and the weeds denser,
on the invisible cut of the loom.
* * * *
Julie Weber is the author of The Cantor Set (Love's Body, 2012) and Resin (Love's Body, 2012). She was the winner of the 2011 Dana Award for Poetry. Julie was a Lambda Literary Fellow for the year 2010, and has been a finalist/semi-finalist in the Tupelo Snowbound, Oscar Wilde, Chroma, Orlando, Joy Harjo, Alligator Juniper and Lexi Rudnitsky competitions. Poems appear or have appeared on the Oregon Poetic Voices site and in Alligator Juniper, OCHO #22 and Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, among others.
Bad Chemistry with a Half-Life
If I do not mutate
from his radioactive toxins,
I will swim the lake home. Not a Pretty Picture
Call them the purloiners of good rain,
the ushers of ulcerous sprawl;
call them the Torquemadas
of the Everglades;
call them the South Florida Water
Management District because
the Devil has to have a name.
With Him, we have made a Hades
of this young 15,000-year-old place,
a place spanning a scant 9-million-square acres
that ladles its 40-mile-wide River of Grass
slowly into the cradle of the sea.
Florida Bay now receives
but 1/10th of its historic flow.
Paddle into Satan’s Dead Zone
in the bay through 100 square miles
of moribund sea sponges.
Motor over 100,000 acres
of dying sea grass, manna of sea turtles.
Smell the reek of the dead.
Every accursèd day 600 people
adopt Florida as their home.
In the last 60 years, we’ve lost
¼ of our forests, ⅔rds of our wetlands;
and, at the end of the peninsula,
117 species risk extinction.
We count the iniquities:
1,074 miles of canals
720 miles of levees
250 primary control devices
18 major pumping stations
and the wanton creation
of pathogenic levels
of mercury, nitrogen,
phosphorous, and pesticides.
The landscape hungers and thirsts. A rant for Campbell McGrath Precipitating “The End”
The diminutive soul of a mid-winter
raindrop in the Everglades
can be induced to confess her
pitiful story of a long journey
to the face of your windshield,
to the eye of your telephoto lens.
It was a silvery piccolo voice
such as that willowy woman might
have had, had I stopped to visit
the nonagenarian hippie from New York
zipped into her one-person pup tent
at Long Pine Key. Instead,
the small wet bead murmured: By all rights I shouldn’t be here, this is February, height of the dry season. This system’s all messed up, all messed up these days in this region. I wasn’t due to depart Lake Okeechobee until April, bound for a resurrection fern on a cypress up by Pah-hay-o-kee. Sure, I’d like to blame it on the current South Florida Water Management District, but I’m old, like that hardwood hammock over at Royal Palm, first cycled through what’s now the national park when old Nap Broward was in the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee following the dreams of industrialists the likes of Hammy Disston, two cottonmouths spitting drainage & dredging venom wherever they slithered across the Sunshine State. The hydroperiod hasn‘t been the same since.
Morning sunlight slipped through a stand
of misted slash pines, an abrupt end to the shower
& my elderly neighbor, still abed, dreamed
this improbable dream I had as I strained
to listen, drained my mug of campground coffee –
no time to lose attention, to stray from the gist of things. So much has changed in the past century: widespread muck, fresh saltwater intrusion in ancient sweet aquifers, fewer than one thousand snail kites left, pond apples just about gone &, a number of years ago, one of fifty-some remaining panthers was discovered dead, from mercury concentrations in his liver, etc. Trees are merely timber, animals are game & the earth is only so much subsiding soil for those rapacious sugar barons with such deep pockets. Truth be told, I’m afraid I won’t be back. Don’t count on seeing me again. I’m all washed up,
all washed up….
* * *
A seven-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had nearly 300 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has eight books to her credit, the newest of which are The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica
(Finishing Line Press) and Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%,
which she co-edited for FootHills Publishing. Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North.
Her Godwit: Poems of Canada
(FootHills) received the 2009 Eiseman Award for Poetry and she recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber - The Contemporary West
in 2012. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com
). Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet
, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com
she said ‑ "like dry ice
this weather feels like dry ice
cold but not cold
an eerie chill"
& it is February in NY & well
into the 50's & it's been this way
for over a month
& i heard a whisper extend
his cheeks & blow a vacuum of air
into the room & a screamer did the
same & the globe became a bit
more fried & the sea a bit higher
& the globe became a bit more tired & the
air a wee bit crueler
the post man delivered the letter of death
& announced thru his mask ‑
“you cannot beat the toxic drum
you cannot eat the crutch ‑
throw away the new made holes
& smother the seasons”
“dry” she muttered annoyingly thru her cracked mouth ‑ “dry ice”
the world is collapsing like a musical scale
& was always collapsing ‑
there are no corners to hide things in –-
no words to compensate & deeds will never
there is only the humble heart to apologize &
beg forgiveness for his brothers for the madman
thrashing the brutal lamplit nite ‑ for the park torn
up to prevent the homeless from resting for the forests
filth & the hole in the sky for hatred for the damaged metal drums
bleeding into all our backyards ‑ for the
poet's feeble attempt at apologies & false awareness
for the very root of modern extinction for...you know
the list goes on & on
but apologize to
whom? to what? to the
brutal nite? to the dry ice chill?
to the warming globe?
to the profile in the mirror?
to the final smile?
the sad & sorry
sax o phonist?
like a malevich
square we are here
& defined & flat
& simple & unbound
* * * *
steve dalachinsky was born in 1946, Brooklyn, New York right after the last big war and has managed to survive lots of little wars. His work has appeared extensively in journals on & off line including; Big Bridge, Milk, Tribes, Unlikely Stories, Ratapallax, Evergreen Review, Long Shot, Alpha Beat Soup, Xtant, Blue Beat Jacket, The Brooklyn Review,. He is included in such anthologies as Beat Indeed, The Haiku Moment, Up is Up But So is Down: NYU Downtown Literary Anthology, the Unbearables anthologies: Help Yourself, The Worse Book I Ever Read and The Big Book of Sex (of which he is a co-editor) and the esteemed Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. He has written liner notes for the CDs of many artists including Anthony Braxton, Charles Gayle, James "Blood" Ulmer, Rashied Ali, Roy Campbell, Matthew Shipp and Roscoe Mitchell. His 1999 CD, Incomplete Direction (Knitting Factory Records), a collection of his poetry read in collaboration with various musicians, has garnered much praise. His chapbooks include Musicology (Editions Pioche, Paris 2005), Trial and Error in Paris (Loudmouth Collective 2003), Lautreamont's Laments (Furniture Press 2005), In Glorious Black and White (Ugly Duckling Presse 2005), Dream Book (Avantcular Press 2005), Christ Amongst the Fishes (A book of collages, Oilcan Press 2009), Insomnia Poems (Propaganda Press 2009), Invasion of the Animal People (Propaganda Press 2010), The Mantis: collected poems for Cecil Taylor 1966-2009 (Iniquity Press 2011), Trustfund Babies (Unlikely Stories Press The Veiled Doorway & St. Lucie (Unarmed Press 20012) and Long Play E.P. (Corrupt Press, 2012). His book The Final Nite (complete notes from a Charles Gayle Notebook, Ugly Duckling Presse 2006) won the 2007 Josephine Miles PEN National Book Award His most recent books are Logos and Language, a collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp (Rogueart Press 2007), Reaching into the Unknown, a collaborative project with French photographer Jacques Bisceglia, RogueArt 2009). His latest CD is Phenomena of Interference, a collaboration with pianist Matthew Shipp (Hopscotch Records 2005). He has read throughout the N.Y. area, the U.S., Japan and Europe, including France and Germany. He is a contributing writer to the Brooklyn Rail. His book A Superintendent's Eyes (Hozomeen Press 2000) is being reissued by Autonomedia/Unbearables in an expanded/revised edition in late fall 2012. His latest cds are collaborations with saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Joelle Leandre and an experimental French rock Group the Snobs.
A response to the photographs of Laurie Tümer
The child, relaxed, languishes in the star
of her mother’s arms. Take one step. Everyone shifts into stars.
Oh Holy Mother, your sideways glance
as if you can’t bear the child who is the moment’s star.
Mother of Progress, Father of Casualties, turning your arms
into altars of commerce, your face its falling star.
The prophets spoke. Nobody listened in the Fifties, Rachel.
The air downwind. My garden. My babies. Three wishing stars.
Once your family dumped milk in the Fifties.
The cow’s four stomachs chewing stars.
Stamp an expiration date on my hand.
Make it be August please, under catastrophic stars.
Farm worker, back float in gas mask and goggles.
What wonder among the sacrificed stars?
Masked but not carnival, small ghosts of fear.
Hands offering and receiving disorganized stars.
Orion, Big Dipper, Pleiades, constellations I know.
This dye traces new frightened stars.
In poisonous moments of the mind, the heart escalates.
My grandson begs for blue Legos of The Death Star.
Joanie says, Laurie, thanks and no thanks. I barely bear this
minor key. Sing Earth, Holy Earth, more fragrant than stars.
* * * *
Joan Logghe has served as poet laureate for Santa Fe, NM
2010-2012. Her most recent books are Rice
(Tres Chicas Books), Love & Death: Greatest Hits,
with Renée Gregorio and Miriam Sagan, wonnder of a New Mexico, and The Singing Bowl
, finalist in New Mexico Book award, Bennington University Milt Kessler Poetry Award, and WILLA Award. She has lived in La Puebla, New Mexico since the early 1970's.
As a high school student she was interested in biology and very aware of the burden on pesticides. As a grandmother, organic gardener for decades, she is even more concerned.
Saint Rachel, pray for us.
Forgive us, though we know
what we do.
Here on the edge
of small-town America
in the heart of “God’s Country”
on the outskirts of the one universe
we claim to know
women drop used diapers
in the Wal-Mart parking lot,
wanna-be fishermen leave beer cans,
plastic bottles and Styrofoam worm boxes
on riverbanks. Here, neighbors
put plastic bags of trash on the edge
of the lawn where every stray dog and cat
scatters the contents up and down the streets.
Here on the edge
of small-town America
in the heart of “God’s Country”
on the outskirts of the one universe
we claim to know
a man wearing lime-striped tennis shoes,
a yellow shirt and clashing off-yellow hat
spends Sunday mornings wielding
his home-made stick-with-a-nail-in-the-end-of-it
picking up our trash.
Saint Rachel, pray for us.
Can you forgive us, since we know
what we must –
and what we must not do?
Another message to the lost in America
The breath of Wishekuanwe wrestles
and tumbles and tears at the matrix
pulls and chews tearing at the
imagery the activation of my first
memory one of the oldest
ceremonies of homeland of history
Rattles eagle bone whistles
dancers and drummers keep the rhythm of
history in the inner circle of
women singing when
first men painted color onto stone
The wind wrestles to strip me of
all the weaknesses gathered by
vain attempts to be a human being
longing to live inside the color red
a southwest red that streaks the
canyons collects as dust and
whirlwinds into pinnacles of red stone
Unlike movies my life began in
color before i discovered america
an old film in black white and gray
To achieve color it needs
our native attachment for
homeland from where the oldest
legends pull us from holes in the
earth or from the sea the sky or
from cracks in stone
Reality as we know it imitation
love produces the phrase suggests
problem love having to fake your
identity your orgasms
Colonial truth has no
color of its own born to thievery
and murder It will take your
breath and leave you without
relatives of truth and honor and
erase the color of your homeland if
you let it The ancestors sculpted
stone into elegant shapes obsidian
edges to cut flesh and shave wood
We are all supposed to be assimilated
by now so we will not be
recognizable we will look like
theives and no longer be as
suspicious people wondering if
we still really exist until the
fantasy of heathen blood flows
through all of america and the
guilt is redeemed
We re all Indians now afterall
What was that struggle all about
We act like we re not grateful
Well some of us
Some of us are still burned by
the imagery of holocaust
(with little finger pointing at all
the Jews and Catholics aboard
the ships of
Columbus the new gangsters of
the new world)
american holocaust white on
red red into stripmined earth
white on the backs of blacks
Yeah it bothers me if you claim
my history and you run from the
truth of your own to claim my
own thinned blood then make up
your own fantastic rules about God
and ceremonies All our ancestors
were once children too and ran
with imaginary friends
cowboys and Indians
Red Ryder and Little Beaver
colonial pederasty in full color
You do know that
Hawkeye and Uncas really had a
thing for each other No really
and was Tonto always on top of
a masked white man and what
was Dr. Quinn doing with that guy in
the factory tanned bucksins and
when our histories actually blended
Tom Jeffords and Cochise now
what was that all about
Did General Crook really have a
crush on Geronimo and did
OO Howard pursue Chief Joesph
longing to smell his butt What was
with Johnson and Osceola in
the steaming of the everglades
Tecumseh and Rebecca Galloway
“Mr Tecumtha sir”
Andrew Jackson and William Weatherford
a Horseshoe Bend rendezvous in
the Danielle Steele bookcover tradition
Colonel Custer and Monaseetah the
little vixen of the plains
Alfred Kroeber kept Ishi desolate and
stunned the last of his kind posing and
demonstrating technique but what did
Ishi know about porno about the
history you claim
You know the TRUTH yes
you do and now that america
is falling apart you come to
find safety to find answers that
have been spoken and ignored
all along still ignored Now the
water comes and swallows New
Orleans your politicians steal your
dreams of safe lands in the west
Lady Liberty forging
ahead of western ho the wagons
big flag in hand to the promised
The landscape of america is on fire
and other peoples with whom
colonialism tampers blow up sacred
icons and sacrifice their own lives to
keep the colonists out
the sun is not shining right
the earth shakes and animals take
headphoned heads and
jogging asses out people who
play in the wild as if they know it
and are entitled Centuries of
disrespect come to a head and
when you have to sneak through
the door to claim a place in the
veins of first blood you dishonor
the truth that longs to be in your
blood anyway without disguises
without excuses without
need to control or change The
truth you come to find is not about
race anyway Afterall respect is
a ceremony in which each step is
an honor for the combination the
confirmation that we are not
alone that we are grateful to
our own languages and to
read the languages that in the
beginning were painted onto stone.
* * * *
Barney Bush was born in Southern Illinois and near Karbers Ridge, home of the Vinyard (Shawnee) Indian Settlement
. After completing high school, Bush hitchhiked across the United States for several years. He graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in 1972 with degrees in Art and History. He became involved in the American Indian Movement, and helped to establish the Institute of the Southern Plains, a Cheyenne Indian School in Oklahoma. In 1980 he earned a Master’s degree in English and Fine Arts from the University of Idaho. He is a poet and author, and also performs and records his own music, and has taught creative writing at the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"Our Creator makes available to us all that we need. It is an honor to go out and gather it. We must remember to say ‘Thank You.’ It is honorable to give away, to show our gratitude… and to let the children see this.” -- Barney Bush, SHAWNEE
fifty years after Silent Spring...
one president (not the one
Oprah said is the one)
that depends on what the meaning of the word is
is, and this comes to mind when
I am reminded that the one
only Chinese friends of a certain age say now was
the one is there on the back cover of the pocket paperback
edition of Silent Spring that has been on my shelf
for four decades saying this
decade (that is to say the seventies)
must be. it is
he says some years before 9 august 1974,
when i remember yet another president
lying about military necessity. there is
nothing new under the sun. and what better proof could there be
that it is all connected? a specter is
haunting us, has been
a long time. man can
hardly even recognize
the devils of his own creation,
and the devil you know, you know...
time is, but there is no.
to endure gives us the right to no.
i have been trying to tell myself that
the man who brought organo
phosphates into the everyday
bellum omnium contra omnes
must not be related because
of the a, no
o with an umlaut
and i wash my hands
of him. it was
the fragility of the shells
that touched me as a child
when i thought i saw through glass
darkly. and it comes to mind as
i watch a young man spray
Roundup on an expanse of grass
behind Hillel House. what was
it Hillel said before that other
thrust into the
spotlight? if i am not
for myself who will be?
and if i am for myself alone...?
Rachel, they say,
was a prophet
there comes a time
when silence is
the time is
there comes a time
when mountain flowers are in wild bloom
she giggles in all the color
and every morning
first bird sings the world
as though the world depended on it.
so primitive a science has armed itself
with the most modern and terrible
weapons, and in turning
we are we
are we are we are
the other people we have
met the enemy
and we is
turning and turning and turning
toward bethlehem to be born
The season for shrimps
A sign chalked on blackboard
'shrimps second cottage on right’
the names of trees in
I used to know them
I used to know these things.
The name of Bill Stables’ dog
that trotted behind him
as he rode his bike to Baycliff
to catch the tide
the sight of Gillam
padding barefoot round
his grocery shop in town.
I used to know the feel of a
lapwing chick in my hand
taste of wild strawberries
taste of a new laid egg
my dad had found in the hedge
on his way home from his shift
at Glaxo. I used to know
the feel of wind on bare skin
when I ran through bracken
smell of mud its soursalt tang
sound of the buzzer at Vickers
sight of thousands of men pouring
out through the yard’s iron gates
on foot, on bikes, in cars – but
back then mainly on foot or bikes.
Sight of the first primrose
hidden among gorse
on the railway embankment
Nethertown, just by the bungalow
and always a kestrel hanging
on the wind above the clifftop
always the sound of the Irish Sea
always that taste
sweet as a nut
of freshly peeled shrimps
loaded onto tractors, driven
over mudflats across the Bay.
I used to know.
* * * *
Geraldine writes, "What struck me about Rachel Carson, and her work 'Silent Spring' when I first encountered it in the early seventies, was her courage in speaking out about the harmfulness of insecticides on the natural world. Not only did she follow her path studying and writing in response to natural history, she also passionately shared her wonder at the natural world which chemicals were - and are still - destroying. She reminded us that we, as animals, are also part of nature, part of the wonder we live and breathe each moment, and if 'nature' is harmed then so, too, are we." Bio:
UK poet Dr. Geraldine Green is a writer, freelance creative writing tutor and mentor and visiting lecturer at The University of Cumbria.
She has had four collections published. The Skin
Flarestack Pubications, Poems of a Mole Catcher’s Daughter
under the pseudonym of Katie A Coyle by Palores Publications. Her latest collection, The Other Side of the Bridge
by Indigo Dreams
, formed part of her PhD in Creative Writing: “An Exploration of Identity and Environment through Poetry.” Geraldine was a contributor to a book on therapeutic writing - Writing Works.
Her next collection Salt Road
will be published summer 2013, also by Indigo Dreams.
Geraldine’s poetry has been widely anthologised in the UK, US and Italy and translated into German and Romanian. She has recently given a talk at the Lawrence Durrell Centenary Celebrations in Corfu and presented a Paper on the works of John Clare and Aldo Leopold at The South West Texas Conference, Albuquerque. Geraldine, who frequently performs her poetry in the US, read at WoodyFest
, on an extended poetry trip to Oklahoma and Kansas, July 2012.
You can listen to her reading on www.kpfa.org/archive/id/81889
She is an Associate Editor of Poetry Bay
. Geraldine lives in South Cumbria, on the shores of Morecambe Bay, where she grew up. Her twin passions are nature study and poetry.