Spring Quarterly – Mountain (May 2013 / 13.10)
Artist, Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 320 national and international online and print journals. He has work forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Bricolage: University of Washington’s Literary Arts Journal, and many others. View more of his work at yessy.com/budicegenius.
At the bend where the James meets the Tye,
I summoned you to skyline above
two rivers. Better that we’re impossible
like this, spaces between us wider than geography.
I thought of you, your legs lifted me
the last four miles. You won’t know this.
Better we’re impossible, not even close.
Miles above the swirl where rivers embrace,
you’ll never know that your legs
lifted me over tangled miles of scrub, cold wind
swirled my hair, briars bit my jacket.
You would have made it to the summit.
Better that we’re impossible, miles above
the tryst of the James and the Tye.
Marilyn Kallet is the author of 15 books; her new volume of poetry, The Love That Moves Me, will be published by Black Widow Press in April, 2013. She is Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, where she directs the Creative Writing Program. Every summer she teaches poetry workshops for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France.
green their dead eyes
An oratory crumbled to ruin sits in the shade of the mountain. Once, monks prayed hard into the rain and gathered honey from the thrumming hive. Now, blood-glutted bees skim the furze and enter the ancestral blooms. Away on the mountaintop the dead fester under a clouded morning. Their hearts have stopped, their mouths have ceased to breathe, and a storm approaches over the Atlantic.
Three wooden crosses staked in the ground, the rocky, dry soil of Ben Bulben’s plateau. The crucified: an island-man from Achill who’d stolen bread from a window ledge to feed his twelve motherless children, a cooper from Drumlish who “borrowed” a lamb from an isolated field, and a schoolteacher, who refused to say morning prayers. Cold skin, heavy limbs, too large a price for their crimes. The sheen of the distant ocean greened their dead eyes.
Corncrake, curlew, fieldfare—birds of witness, birds of mourning, swing down and around the crossed trio. Rain in sheets blows east across the mountain, the shingles on ramshackle whiskey stills rattle in the nowhere. On the sandy shore tarred hulls face the sky like dead beetles, their ebony surfaces slick from salted water. The witnesses are down off the mountain now, safe and dry at home.
James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA. His short fiction collection, blood a cold blue, will be published this fall by Press 53.
Nevado de Toluca
The Laguna del Sol shines
like an uncut beryl
in the new-spring sun
Scree slides streak
the dormant sides of this
ancient volcano crater
I gather red rock
shedding my bag & jacket
& on the far shore I write
The wind-rippled surface of the lake
now & again is pierced
by a leaping fish
Its concentric circles fade
above the schools swimming
through the icy water
Upon the heights
a ghostly dust devil
against the blue sky
Lorraine Caputo’s poems and travel narratives appear in over 70 journals, eight chapbooks and five audio recordings in Canada, the US, and Latin America. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to Patagonia. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her as poet of the month. Ms. Caputo continues journeying south of the Equator.
Rwanda Suite: Camionette
An umusazi, a crazy man, ate a beer bottle at a camionette stop in Rwanda. I saw it myself; I was there.
Rwandans pile thirty, forty people, sometimes more, onto those caminonettes, those little Japanese pickups fixed with steel racks over their cargo beds.
Everyone rides them, students and farmers and bankers. Passengers hang on at 80 kilometers per hour over slick mudpack, over potholes, on mountain bends, up and down and round the collines and mountains… Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Camionette fare is cheap, and if you’re a 25 year old Peace Corps volunteer, you might take one out to visit friends on the gorilla projects. You might ride with the people, risk the camionette. I was that volunteer, and now I was on my way home from the volcanos.
Rain had dampened Ruhengeri Way, but afterwards the weather was cool and clear, and we riders dried quickly. The wet had settled the dust, and the Blue Gum smelled of mint and cat pee. Halfway to Kigali, we’d stopped for nature and a snack.
I took a leak among those eucalyptus, and when I retuned to the camionette, a swarm of children crying camionette! camionette! had mobbed the riders with little bananas, goat brochettes, Fanta, and Cocoa for sale. No one noticed Umusazi when he first appeared.
He wore tattered shorts and a dirty wife beater full of holes. His skin was gray and dry, very ashy… even his deeply creased face. He scratched his wild nappy head with the horny yellow nails of his left hand and carried a broken Primus bottle in his right.
Umusazi looked skyward mostly, not by showing his face to the heavens, but by rolling his eyeballs far up into their socketts. He drooled and spit blood as he ate the glass.
A passenger my age, a banker he told me, warned me to pay the madman no heed. Watching would only encourage him. Nothing could change it. He was insane, a fou, umusazi. Voilà.
But even if we could have ignored his broken white teeth and bleeding gums, we could not have ignored the sickening scratches of glass breaking and grinding on his molars before he swallowed.
Then Umusazi began his rounds. Having wiped his mouth with his fingers, he approached each of us, offered a handshake, spoke something in tongues (according to the banker), nibbled a little glass, and moved on.
When he got to me, my new friend reminded me, ne rien faire, bouge pas, but I could stand no more. I held out a couple one hundred franc notes and commanded, allez, foutre le camp, go the fuck away. He did not take the money, although he did disappear a few minutes.
Then, when we’d reloaded the camionette and were pulling away, he was back, buck naked, this time lifting a concrete encrusted wheelbarrow with his mouth, biting the wheelbarrow tray lip hard, the wheelbarrow handles over either of his shoulders.
And until we rounded a bend and could see him no more, we watched him, hands clasped behind his back, carrying the wheelbarrow forward in his mouth,waggling it left and right, chasing us down the wet mud road, chasing our camionette.
Steven Gowin produces corporate video in San Francisco. His fiction has appeared in Untoward Magazine, Dark Sky, The Fiddleback, Emprise Review and others. Gowin holds an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. You can find more at his blog, The Bay View.
Loneliness in a Desperate Place
He looks for something larger than a shotgun shell–
a sign somebody hasn’t blown apart with a double-gauge.
Four walls of a shack with no roof. Razor wire
tears the air. His own voice wants to assemble
what he can’t see in the haze over the Marl Mountains.
But he knows it’s America, the inside of something
about to be pulled out, discarded, as the poet
walks over the hills searching for it.