June 2017

Wet Gravel

      by Fred Marchant

                       

Stone barrow on a point overlooking the sea,

a good place to take the last labored breath.

Quartz veins, shale, slate layers, the pressed

sandstone, thin lines we read the epochs in.

Rust and gray minerals down rivers in Zion.

A bit of brown miracle dirt from Chimayo.

The rock a boy threw at my head, the one

I pitched back at him. Mickeys we called them.

Cairns you see climbers build at the summit,

and mark the trail with on Kilauea caldera.

Glacial stones that migrate under the earth,

or sit as unmoved as the Buddha, hard enough

to break tines off a backhoe. Prayer-stones

we place with care and words atop the grave.

A white pebble at the bottom of Frost’s well.

O stone, wrote Nguyễn Duy, thinking of lives

lost hear Angkor. O bloodstones of Mycenae

that we sit on while we drink from our water.

The backyard stones a child will hammer open

to find the unequivocal silence inside of things.

Wet gravel paths we turn and face each other on.

 

"Wet Gravel" is from Said Not Said, Fred Marchant's new collection of poetry published by Graywolf Press in May 2017. It is used with permission of the publisher.

 

Fred Marchant is also the author of Tipping Point, Full Moon Boat, House on Water, House in Air, and The Looking House. He has co-translated (with Nguyen Ba Chung) From a Corner of My Yard, by Tran Dang Khoa, and Con Dau Prison Songs, by Vo Que, both published in Hanoi. He is the editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, also published by Graywolf Press. An Emeritus Professor of English, Fred Marchant is the founding director of the Suffolk University Poetry Center in Boston.

 

Fred Marchant will be reading in the First and Last Word Reading Series, Thursday June 20, 2017, Somerville Armory, 191 Highland Avenue, Somerville MA, 7 p.m. He will also read at the Grolier Poetry Bookshop on June 26, 6 Plympton Street, Cambridge, MA, 7 p.m. From June 26-June 30, he will be teaching and reading in the annual writers' conference sponsored by the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston. Link: https://www.umb.edu/joinerinstitute/writers_workshop/workshop_schedule. For more information about readings and workshops see Fred's website: Fredmarchant.com

May 2017

The Child in Wonder Falling on Grass

         by Donna Johnson

                       

Spring’s early heat turns you to dervish.

Your knees soiled green from tumbles,

with wild screams you protest mother’s firm grip.

Then, minutes later you sleep, curled in her lap.

Smells of coming rain, mud, and wild onion

surround you, while farther, only inches

in the great scheme, expands the black unbreathable,

which astronauts say smells like burning tungsten.

This year, the black drop of Venus will mar

the perfect sphere of our small dense star.

A middling yellow one among millions similar,

It warms your skin, the grass, the dirt below the grass,

as it absorbs the remnants of supernovas

bursting their whipped cores.

 

From Selvage by Donna Johnson (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon) 2013.

Donna Johnson is the author of Selvage published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her poems and reviews have been published in Birmingham Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Cafe Review, Green Mountains Review, Perihelion, and other journals. She won Cutbank magazine’s annual poetry contest and was a finalist for the Patricia Dobler Award.   

 

April 2017

Homage, Orby Head

         by Susan Edwards Richmond

                       

When I can go no farther, and the maps are all

blue, I count the birds at the end of the world:

swooped down from their russet watch-towers, long,

low lines of silhouette stoop to the waves,

piebald buoys bob in the lea of rocks,

plump-bellied gourds with red waders on troll

the bricky stone. Arms clasp over pulled up

knees, salted by the wet perimeter

of light. Gathering in the past, shapes stream by,

great auk, Labrador duck, and Eskimo

curlew in venerated waves, all plucked,

bloodied, and damned. Shingles crack in the tide’s

ruddy contusions. We have everything

to lose, and have again and again.  

 

after Seamus Heaney

 

“Homage, Orby Head” appears in Susan Edwards Richmond’s new book, Before We Were Birds, published by Adastra Press.

 

Susan will be reading from Before We Were Birds at the 6 Bridges Gallery, 77 Main Street, Maynard, on Thursday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. Come early and enjoy Gail Erwin’s show, Niche, Cyanotypes and Constructions, in the gallery, as well as the work of Jane McKinnon Johnstone. Hope to see you there!    

 

March 2017

The Snow Storm

     by Marie Howe

 

I walked down towards the river, and the deer had left tracks

deep as half my arm, that ended in a perfect hoof

and the shump shump sound my boots made walking made the silence loud.

 

And when I turned back towards the great house

I walked beside the deer tracks again.

And when I came near the feeder: little tracks of the birds on the surface

     of the snow I'd broken through.

 

Put your finger here, and see my hands, then bring your hand and put it in my side.

 

I put my hand down into the deer track

     and touched the bottom of an invisible hoof.

Then my finger in the little mark of the jay.

 

Reprinted from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe. Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Marie Howe will be in Acton this month to receive the 17th Annual Robert Creeley Award! She will read from her work at a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. at the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School auditorium, 36 Charter Road, Acton. Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio is a sponsor of this event.

Marie Howe is the author of three books of poetry: The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, The Good Thief, and What the Living Do. She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing From the AIDS Pandemic.  Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review, among others. Find a full bio of Marie Howe at www.robertcreeleyfoundation.org

February 2017

Butedale Rite

          by Karla Lynn Merrifield

 

When the ice thaws & the first floes
leave for their long passage down channel
all the ghost salmon return in a spring

ritual to the site where white water
falls into the cove & shadow of commerce
in the red flesh of their brethren falls

on their ghostly silver bodies, on all
the hollow memories of their lost species.
It is a celebration of demise—

not theirs—but that of the hungriest ones,
those alien creatures with machinery,
tin cans, solder, steam, a greedy streak,

a killing instinct, shamelessness.
The ghost salmon return to the shambles
& the silence, to the clean scents

of rotting wood & rusting steel,
the long, slow fade of human sanctimony.
The ghost salmon return & return & return

until a new tide turns, bringing
again their living kind from the sea
to this native place, their place on earth.

 

            —from Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing)

 

Karla Linn Merrifield, a National Park Artist-in-Residence, has 12 books to her credit; the newest is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada. She is assistant editor and book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Give her name a Google to read more and visit her at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com

 

January 2017

Alex Therien’s Chickadees

        by Charles Weld

 

Alek Therien said that they lit on his coat just like flies

when he stopped chopping wood to eat his lunch of cold potato

in the snow. One thing he had in common with his friend Thoreau—

at least, when describing chickadees—was penchant for hyperbole.

Talking large, my uncle called it in a letter he wrote that same decade.

After many, cold hours in the woods, during which Thoreau surveyed

the changes that a hard freeze had made, he wrote each chickadee

warmed him as a bright fire constantly burning. Thrice, not twice,

warmed would be his adage about wood’s heat. Chopping and

sawing heat first; burning, second; and, at times, these woodlot titmice

whose charity is unrehearsed. One advances, shies,

and advances again before picking a seed from my wife’s flat hand,

less bold than those that crossed Therien’s clearing to demand

supper from Thoreau as he cut across a neighbor’s cut-over land.

 

Charles Weld lives in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Pudding House published a chapbook of his poems, Country I Would Settle In in 2004. Kattywompus Press published a second chapbook, Who Cooks For You? in 2012. Charles Weld works as an administrator in a non-profit agency that supports youth with mental health needs.