Summer/Autumn 2015 Volume 9 Issue 3
The Centrifugal Eye Staff: Editor-in-Chief & Art Director: Eve Anthony Hanninen Contacts Editor & Review Columnist: Karla Linn Merrifield Assistant Editors: Maureen Kingston, Jenne Knight, Mark Melton, David-Glen Smith, M. R. Smith Art Assistants: D. J. Bryant, Stephanie Curtis, Tyler Smith Staff Readers’ Circle: Anonymous Reviewers
“Orchid” “Barbados Plantation Slave’s Shell Art”
By Karla Linn Merrifield Karla Linn Merrifield’s photography has appeared in Outdoor, Sea Stories, The Centrifugal Eye, among many magazines and publications. In fall 2008, High Falls Gallery in Rochester, NY, featured her bird photography in a one-woman show, Dawn of Migration and Other Audubon Dreams, and the Everglades National Park Coe Visitor Center presented a dozen of her photographs in its December 2011 exhibition of works by the park’s artists-in-residence. She illustrated William Heyen's limited-edition 2012 The Green Bookcase with 50+ photographs. 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.
Fonts Used: Headline — Sybil Green; Display — Shangri La NF & Shangri La NF Smallcaps family; BernhardFashion BT Body Copy — Albertus MT
Copyright 2015 The Centrifugal Eye *Collected Works*
Spot Illustrations/In-house Stock Photos by TCE Staff Notes & Book Stack by Jackson, Creative Commons
Exotique Contents: 4
“Unfamiliar Territory” by Eve Anthony Hanninen
Featured Interview Poet: Leslie Philibert
Narrae Poetrytales (Each in 3 Chapters): 18 20 21 22 24 25 26 28 31 32 33 34 38 40 44 46 48 50 52
Leslie Philibert James B. Nicola Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Donna M. Davis Colin Dodds D. S. Martin Gail Eisenhart Catherine McGuire Bredt Bredthauer Shadwell Smith Scott T. Starbuck Karen Greenbaum-Maya John Laue George Moore Jeanine Stevens Karla Linn Merrifield Wilda Morris Ian C. Smith John Szabo
Review Column: Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry on William Heyen’s Crazy Horse & the Custers: The River of Electricity, by Karla Linn Merrifield 70
66 The Centrifugal Eye Contributors, Autumn 2015: Bionotes Literal Insights & Spirited Specifications: The Latest News & Guides
Philibert’s Essay: “Considering the Poet’s Universal Obligations”
Unfamiliar Territory By Eve Anthony Hanninen
“I’m sure, Watson, a week in the country will be invaluable to you,” he remarked. “It is very pleasant to see the first green shoots upon the hedges and the catkins on the hazels once again. With a spud, a tin box, and an elementary book on botany, there are instructive days to be spent.”
Obviously, the territory Holmes describes fondly to his partner-in-crime-solving is far from unfamiliar to either of them. Whereas the English countryside may commonly be represented by hedges, catkins, and hazels, these spring heralds are far from expected by a Pacific Northwest North American such as me. I’d be more likely to call out the candelabra-buds of the lipstick-red camellia, the rhododendrons’ waxy starbursts brimming with lavender tips, and the elegant, side-armed wicks of yellow forsythia where the juncos flit in anticipation of bloom. Lyrical writers often rely on the language of regional references to show settings. While this practice serves readily to describe their familiar or favored places, it has the added benefit of establishing both attractive and unusual attributes of “foreign” settings, too. For one man’s homeport is another’s exotic harbor. I’ve never been to Europe. Not to Spain, not Italy, not France. Not even England. The idea of hedgerows along the open spaces outside London is an appealing image to me, although mundane to the locals, most likely. While it’s true I haven’t been to Spain, I’ve been studying Spanish off and on over the years since first grade; I kid myself that I will at least feel acquainted with many of the cultural features of Madrid and Barcelona if I ever get there to see for myself. You’d think that as a native speaker of English that I might have more affinity for things English, but I never have learned any of the British accents. And I’ve only in the last few months begun to learn a little French. Now there’s a language foreign to my hapless tongue. My husband, who is French Canadian, likes to joke about my “French with Spanish accents.” He says I can always feign to be a Spanish tourist if we get to France someday. French seems far more exotic to me than the Russian I studied for over a decade. It’s the French vowels that require the illogical twisting of my tongue that upsets me most. I can handle a few silent consonants and nasal intonations. Now, if only I could relax the triple trills ingrained into my “R”s from el español.
~Sherlock Holmes, in His Last Bow
Fortunately, my biggest frustrations with trying to speak French are finally beginning to ease with practice. What started out as an uncomfortable adventure in the unfamiliar — like learning a new skill often is — is now rewarding me with pleasant signs of the “instructive days” ahead “to be spent” in the invaluable country of another foreign language. Especially one that I find so exotique.
“Washington Rhododendron” by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
So, which languages sound exotic to you? Which places in our wide world seem alluring with their strange sights, sounds and smells? The poets in this issue of The Centrifugal Eye have attempted to explore the places, subjects, and ideas that are unusual and unfamiliar to them; some have visited these locales and have brought their impressions back to share with readers; others have visited only in their imaginations. Among our 19 contributing poets is our Featured Interview Poet, Leslie Philibert, who lives and works in Germany, after studying in Ireland and previously in England, where he was born. Leslie brings us his insights into universal experiences, even within foreign situations. Enjoy your poetic journey through TCE’s adventurous Exotique issue. Maybe some of the places and experiences will be familiar to you, but remember, every one of the terrains presented here is someone’s unfamiliar territory.
Eve Anthony Hanninen is an American poet, editor, and illustrator currently living in New Westminster, BC. Previously, she ranged the Saskatchewan prairies, and splashed about Kaien Island, mainland to the Haida Gwaii. Her poems have appeared in About Place Journal, Karla Linn Merrifield & Friends (mgv2>publishing), Eye Socket Journal, Switched-on Gutenberg, Sea Stories, and many other fine journals. She is anthologized in The Centrifugal Eye’s 5 -Anniversary Anthology, Crazed by the Sun, and Trim: A Mannequin Envy Anthology. Eve edits and publishes The Centrifugal Eye poetry journal and is currently at work on 2 collections and a limited-edition, altered-book imprint called Sylvanshine Editions. Contact Eve: email@example.com
Exotiqe: Unfamiliar Territory Featured Interview Poet: Leslie Philibert plus Featured Essay: “Considering the Poet’s Universal Obligations”
37 Poems from 19 of Today’s Narrative Lyric Poets
Poetry-Review on William Heyen
“Church in Füssen, Bavaria” by D. J. Bryant, 2015.
Featured Poet Interview:
Featured Interview TCE Editor-in-Chief Eve Anthony Hanninen & Poet Leslie Philibert talk about how writers put the exotic in the otherwise familiar, and other practices for entertaining unaccustomed ideas.
EAH: Thanks for joining me in this conversation, Leslie. Tell us, what brought a London boy to school in Ireland, and then later, on to university in Landshut, Upper Bavaria? LP: A friend of mine from London, who later became a serious academic of Middle English, convinced me to study in Ireland. I needed fresh air, after a childhood in London, and the incredibly hard landscapes of Derry and Donegal; anybody who knows the work of Seamus Heaney will understand how a reduced landscape can be the birthplace of creative language. Later, I felt I needed a cultural embedding in Europe; in particular, the history and energy of Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany.
LP: I need the input of poets who have reached a level I will never acquire, at the same time to inspire creativity, and as a reminder of my own limitations. Both Burnside from Scotland and Heaney from Ireland show me how important cultural roots are. Culturally, my voice is a mixed one, and thus both a hindrance and, paradoxically, something valuable in the sense of a shift of perspective.
EAH: So, you are intrigued by harsh environments and the resulting influences on their inhabitants. Youâ€™ve no doubt read certain poets quite deeply. Do you believe itâ€™s possible to develop your own literary voice while at the same time being strongly influenced by celebrated poets, such as John Burnside or Heaney?
EAH: After your time in Ireland, were there later poetic influences on you from the German/Austrian cultures? LP: I love the work of Rainer Maria Rilke and even made some clumsy attempts to translate some of his poems in my own way. I stopped when I understood that the intense, dense texts can only be really understood in the original. I think Günter Grass is underrated as a poet. And of course, Herta Müller is fantastic. EAH: Ah, Rilke. A poet I’ve also read and enjoyed, especially in the earliest years of my studies. As poets, many of us belong to a philosophical “school” that claims writers must read a lot of works by other authors to become better poets and writers. While we do this, we often incorporate what we’ve read into our practicing styles, either consciously or unconsciously. In your opinion, can we avoid sounding like all the others who’ve gone before us? LP: I am, to put it badly, a working poet. I am no Sylvia Plath, who seldom changed any of her poems. I don`t have instinctive talent. I have to collect lines and phrases, then try to create a context. My poems lead me; I don`t start with a final poetic intent. I need both my own vision and poetic guidance from those who are technically much better writers. EAH: I’m not sure I completely believe in instinctive talent. It’s a rare poet who shouldn’t — at least occasionally — be open to revising his or her work. There have certainly been “movements” in the course of poetic history where “free writing” rather akin to “free love” has been encouraged by thin-skinned creative types. But perhaps the clinging to one’s own “way” of writing, without even self-editing, has developed some of the more well-known voices in the past. I don’t know. Do you believe that only writing voices deemed “unique” may become “immortalized”?
EAH: Leslie, you’re a modest man. Working poet though you may be, The Centrifugal Eye’s readers have responded quite favorably to the dreamy, intuitive “voice” you bring to many of your poems. It’s not always technical prowess that solidifies a poet’s place with his or her audience. Style can surely go a long way towards speaking for its author. But let’s talk a little bit about what else you do and how that may be playing a part in your developing voice. Besides a poet, you’re also a social worker. To North Americans — a majority of our readers — the image of a social worker is colored by media portrayals of the jaded, urban woman or man in a dark, featureless, government office, whose caseload is ridiculously stacked “to the ceiling” and filled with poor, angry, and often ungrateful clients. Yet here you are, a European caseworker situated along the Alps and the border between Munich and Salzburg. How does your own
LP: Yes. From the introspective drama of Plath to Hughes’ unique look at nature, to the political poems of Grass, to the unique perspective of Tranströmer; all speak for themselves.
perspective of being a caseworker in your region differ from the Hollywood stereotypes as described? LP: I work in a training center for young people with behavioral problems, and also do some work now for refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, and Nigeria. From such an experience, you get incredible feedback; it is a learning process. For instance, I have learned from Africans the value of spontaneity, of energy, and the therapeutic value of laughter. I have learned to go beyond superficial, political, snap judgements to a rediscovery of the binding nature of all human experience. EAH: Are you ever inspired in your writing by the people you meet in your job? LP: I am inspired by everything, from both the banal and the serious; from fragments of German that I translate into English in a literal sense that often damages the original meaning, but is often strangely interesting in a poetical sense. And yes, I’m inspired by all the clever and funny people I work with, like the Polish lady who tells me that Chopin should be pronounced like “shopping,” and not in fancy French. I’m even inspired by the view out of my office window of an old Bavarian church. EAH: It’s good to hear that your job is the cause of many positive inspirations. It would perhaps bring you a heavy heart if the work was only ever about people’s problems. However, in fiction, and sometimes in narrative poetry, it is very often the behavioral problems and conflicts of a character or subject that create interest. Do you find this to also be true about people in real life? Do you think it’s because art imitates life, or that in some cases, rather, life strives to imitate art? LP: Shakespeare created the best art because he understood that tragedy is a complex process that often goes beyond simple moral values. Conflicts are often created in an intrapersonal level from often the finest of motives. All parents “love” their children, even those who abuse their children. This ambiguity, I think, is the basis of all good artistic work, beyond the monochrome, good/bad visuality of Hollywood. EAH: Which sort of conflicts do you think readers thrill to more — problems that are similar to the ones they are facing at any given time, or those that seem more unusual and unlike their own?
EAH: You like to work with small images where you can. Do you consider your writing process to be dissimilar to most other poets? Do you have any unusual techniques you enjoy using to inspire your poems?
LP: I think readers are emotionally moved when they identify with a person in a predicament that they understand. Tragedy can be the smallest of situations, even just a picture, such as a small, drowned child on a beach in Greece. More complex demands of emotionality, like Macbeth`s fall into a hopeless fate, require more depiction, but are richer in an artistic sense.
LP: I work in a very erratic, non-academic way; phrases impress me and I save them (often literally translated from German) to try to put them into a thematic frame. I try to see truth in things; I use objects that say something about situations and emotions. I stay away from poetry that has only a stripped-down basis in the visual. I am not a strict Imagist, for example. I want to comment on the human condition, but I need visuality to transport that. As in my “A Funeral in January”:
Early darkness; as oil we drip Through the heart`s engine. In black: lemon-faced we shadow the next.
EAH: That last line of yours leaves me with all sorts of questions; is it the next day, the next funeral, or even the next relationship — perhaps all of these — that’s been foreshadowed by grief? LP: The last line is open. I try here to evoke poetic ambiguity and push the picture back to the reader. The next loss, the next funeral, the next relationship. At the moment this line is temporally placed, this will decide the early darkness. EAH: One of the reasons that TCE’s readers, staff, and I are drawn to your sometimes deceptively simple poems is that they are loaded with “human condition.” Wherever their settings, there’s a universal appeal. This echoes your comment earlier about people identifying with familiar emotional situations. One of my favorite types of poetry to both read and write explores the psychology of human experience as it is affected by environment and interactive landscapes, both familiar and out of the ordinary. What about you? Do you enjoy reading about unfamiliar places and subjects? Do any writers come to mind when I say, “exotic locales”? LP: The unfamiliar places and subjects are within myself. It is a question of perception, not movement. Unlike Graham Greene, I don`t need the background. I need to try to stop and learn to look at things and decide; how is this picture relevant to me? How can I use it to transport emotions?
LP: I read a lot of poetry that simply uses emotions, and sadly, works on a shallow level. When my father died, I wrote a poem about how my family drank a cup of tea and talked about how we couldn`t find his dressing gown. The sadness was too big; we had to reduce
EAH: What do you think does transport emotions?
it to a level that helped us in the situation. That is emotion. Nothing to do with broken hearts. EAH: This is a big lesson for a lot of beginning writers and poets to absorb. Many who are new to writing poetry often try to tell readers what to think or feel — including actually mentioning their broken hearts. As you’ve expressed eloquently, a poem is better served when it relies on images of objects, actions, and places to guide readers into recognizing situations they might identify with emotionally. The translation of emotion into image, if you will. To take a small step away from reading and writing poetry, you’ve also been involved in script translating of German for theater. Did you get to use your poetic toolkit during that process, or did the job depend on direct translation of the original author? LP: A South German theater group needed an English translation of a play for a group of Swedes visiting Bavaria. I had to keep it pretty close to the original, but managed to sneak in some good pieces of poetic language that went beyond the original artistic intent. As far as German goes, I took a pragmatic position; I just worked on it until I felt I had got it right. Not the way a good translation is made, I know, but the way I managed to get it done. EAH: I’d say that’s a definite mark of the poet: sneaking graceful language into any piece of prose or script, whenever possible. I hope you’ll continue your “sneaky” journey on through the lands of poetics. So, before we say, Auf Wiedersehen — If you were invited to visit any exotic place in the world (or galaxy, if so inclined), where would that place be? LP: The most exotic place? Perhaps the human heart, and its tangled motives.
Read three of Leslie’s poems on pages 18-19.
“Am’ker #23” by kerry rawlinson, 2015.
Featured Essay A Poepolitical Essay By Leslie Philibert
Considering the Poetâ€™s Universal Obligations For Alan Kurdi, Notes on Compassion
of an international community ill with its own self-importance, greed, and xenophobia.
Allow me to be melodramatic: let this child live on as an icon against the indifference
Alan Kurdi was a three-year-old boy who drowned during September (2015) after fleeing the civil war in Syria, along with his parents and older brother. Alanâ€™s brother and mother perished at sea, as well, as the family attempted to reach Greece. When innocents are lost, every poet and writer should be angry. In my opinion, all those who hide behind their artistic freedom generate lyricism as lost and drowned as this child, Alan, with his red t-shirt and wasted future. As lost as the many other refugees killed before him.
The English poet, William Wordsworth, is often now referred to as a cliché of a poet. In reality, his is a strong and powerful voice, delighting in the innocence and beauty of childhood. Would he be afraid today to speak about political issues in his poems? Alan Sillitoe, author of the short story and collection, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1959), who was part of a group of playwrights and writers in England in the 1950s labeled by critics as “The Angry Young Men,” would see Alan Kurdi rightly as another victim of failed political systems. Sillitoe’s brilliant story is a perfect metaphor for a family looking or running to a supposedly better future, as the Kurdi family was said to be. Allow me to provoke; should poetry be political?
We do not have to write entire poems or articles about this small boy’s tragedy, but I do think that what we have to do is both internalize and externalize anger and sadness, which should be present, whether it is hidden or takes an artistic position in every line or paragraph. Many writers will reject this notion. Poets who write like the “less-is-more” Imagists (movement 1908-1917) may reject this idea as a too-obvious position. Others will wish to flee a reality that (for some) cannot be tolerated by the poet`s pen. My position is this: even the slightest didactic hint or moral positioning is an answer to all those people now indifferent, over time and distance, to this image of a dead child on a foreign beach. Alan Kurdi’s misfortune is an important reminder of senseless heartbreak, and will remain so. His is a picture that belongs over every writer`s desk; his loss should live important lines in every poet`s notebook. In these ways, he will make us stronger, compassionate beings.
I have no right, of course, to shape with my own hands the form of all individual artistic impression. But poets and writers live in this — our only, much failed — world. Instead of attempting to escape it, why not portray it? Writing needs substance; it needs visual input. Why not write about what’s real? What more terribly real imagery could there be than a dead child on a Turkish beach? It would be both churlish and arrogant of me to dictate others’ creative content. But what I allow myself is an expectation of a moral standard that goes beyond left- or rightwing positions. It is about that under-experienced word: compassion. Showing compassion is a necessary, yet old-fashioned, almost-Victorian statement about universal human values. I think compassion should bind the writing community into a powerful, collective voice that speaks out against cruelty. And if this statement sounds banal, then it is a banality we should be proud of. Will speaking out change anything? Will this bring Alan Kurdi back to life? Sadly no, but speaking through the terrible symbology of his death — of his five-year-old brother’s death, of any child’s — we can rediscover and confirm our mutual humanity.
“Bee 2B” by kerry rawlinson, 2015
Exotique: les PoĂ¨mes
Lyric Observations of the Unfamiliar from 19 of Todayâ€™s Contemporary Poets:
Scott T. Starbuck Karen Greenbaum-Maya John Laue George Moore Jeannine Stevens Karla Linn Merrifield Wilda Morris Ian C. Smith John Szabo
Leslie Philibert James B. Nicola Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Donna M. Davis Colin Dodds D. S. Martin Gail Eisenhart Catherine McGuire Bredt Bredthauer Shadwell Smith
Let me be an old man in Anatolia Resting on a white plastic chair Saintly in a white starched shirt Drinking tea from a glass That has curves like a woman; watching Children and traffic, nodding at shadows, A friend of dust and thin cats, Weightless as a moth on flowing water, Silent with the grace of years.
â€œWater Milfoilâ€? by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
Saint-Malo, France A tall blonde, white-plaited with salt, all elbows and knees, a new menhir on a guilded stage of tidewash and wind, crouched under a sky of ovens and red brick, serious and wide-eyed before a sand-ring that loses its smile as the sun drowns and the sea turns to black.
She swings her hips and waves with the back of her hand and doesn`t look back, gets lost in the crowd . . . Ciao.
The Italian Way to Say Goodbye
James B. Nicola
The Piazza senza banco Buona sera clack clack clack clack clack clack
Buona sera click click click click click click
Buona sera click clack click clack click clack
Buona sera clip clop clip clop clip CLINGGG
Grazie clop clock clock clock clock clock clock
Buona sera blick black blick black CLINGGG
Grazie blick black clack clack clack clack clack clack Rome, Italy, 1984. None of the Italian pedestrians wore sneakers, so I could hear their soles hit the flagstones of the square, even before seeing them. I will not take credit for being one who “clinggged”— but I won’t say I wasn’t, either. Europeans wear sneakers more frequently today, of course. And I, at last, own Italian shoes. Senza banco, by the way, means “without a bench,” buona sera means “good evening,” and grazie, if you didn't know already, means “thank you.”
Buona sera . . .
Foot Massage (Lhasa, Tibet) The blind masseur travels my feet like an early explorer, mapping out rivers, tributaries, valleys and hills, discerning the territory of my body, half an hour per foot. He moves with meticulous precision while I, surrendered, lie on the satin-covered couch and receive his ministrations. We are quiet together, separated by a gulf of language yet united by need and expertise. My feet are tired and sore from trekking; his hands are strong, his touch firm. Connected by an intricate design of sensory stimuli, each responds to the other in silent encounter.
I catch my breath in the tender spot under the arch of my right foot, the bridge between heel and toe. The masseur stills his hand, listens. In that suspended moment, my foot bears the burden of my entire body and then releases it into the tender vision of his hands.
Donna M. Davis
Lola Montez An errant bellboy, I hid behind silk curtains in her hotel room hoping to glimpse a torrid Spanish dancer with a beaded felt sombrero, not a red-faced Irish girl wearing a nightgown stained in ochre.
Franz Liszt was fleeing the boudoir. He threw on his topcoat and raced out the door to escape her insatiable lust.
“White Camellia” by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
She hurled lamps and set fire to the furniture, crumpled a sheet of Liszt’s music and flung it into the fireplace. I spied no white camellias in her hair. The sultry aura of her name had dried and yellowed like a singed photograph.
Franz Liszt’s piano erupted in flame. The imagined flamenco accompaniment died away.
Into the Lightning Venus haunts the summer before I marry A bright, untwinkling speck in the empty city sky Afternoons of library books and liquor bleed into nights of drunkenness and dreams Despite the jetties, the beach has rearranged into new crescent inlets and bulging prosceniums from which we act out the dreams of the ocean The ocean cannot understand and so must forgive the naked men standing idly on the beach at sunset, awaiting a rendezvous, or just wagging their dicks at the horizon
With Coney Island fireworks at my back, clouds flashing over Nassau County to my left and a gibbous moon before me, I charge into the glimmering sky and rushing surf and cast my line into the lightning
Night empties the beach My sandy fingers dig through fishguts for more bait, for an excuse to stay on the beach another hour
D. S. Martin
On Mission in Belize The trickle of perspiration before work's even begun & the dust & the mask on my mouth like a workhorse feedbag a surgeon's guard against airborne disease the neckerchief of a bandito riding down the desert holding in heat & sweat & damp breath all tell of my inadequacies for what I've taken on
I strip off my blackened mask & damp dusty clothes step into the trickle-splash of cold water from a pipe splattering on dirty concrete no showerhead no heat complete satisfaction washing grit from hair grime from pores After a meal of rice & beans I lay my body down on a hard mahogany pew beneath a slowly revolving fan thankful
The walls exhale dust as I scrape the concrete with concrete sweep dust from the dust From glassless cavities in the cinderblock wall clouds roll out like when the horror of an enemy's approaching cavalry rises above the road & yet these same cement frames continuously let in along with the light & sluggish air more dust
A Trailblazer’s Chronicle of Castles ~Lisbon, Portugal
Ronald’s head swivels. Strolling Rua Augusta he watches vendors hawk used books, plastic castles and crude charcoal drawings. He wanders through Praça do Comércio Square, rebuilt after the quake of 1755 leveled most of Lisbon. On the corner a guy with slicked-back hair peddles hash. A polícia twenty feet away yawns. Decay and graffiti thrive. An equestrian statue of Dom José hovers; horse and rider lower their heads. The Praça is now a parking lot for yellow buses. Submerged in thought, he inhales the odor of orange trees, salt air, freshly baked croissants, and Pastéis de Belém . . . then catches a fashionably dressed woman with his camera. Ready to click the shutter, he halts, feeling like a stalker.
Moving on, he enters Rossio, principal square of the Baixa. Crowds cluster near fountains at either end. Stalls overflow with lavender and carnations. He tries to capture the ambience in photos but finds his lens, like a sponge, has limited capacity.
Weary now, he boards a streetcar to the top of a steep hill to Castelo de São Jorge. Revved up, he walks the ramparts, scans the old city and imagines boiling oil poured on Moors attacking the walls. He shivers. It’s wicked, but pretty cool. A local woman soon approaches him, hustling medieval art reproductions. She urges him to buy a piece for his wife. He hates to haggle. He counts his Euros, and then caves when she says she’ll keep the money in motion on eBay.
Bolder now, he suggests she pose for a photo and jokes that he wants to establish provenance. She cackles at his idea of history, tells him provenance is boo-shit and hurries to hide his money in her pocket.
Eating at the Poorhouse Chipped red brick behemoth on a hill above the freeway
Would you like to start with a drink? I recommend the chardonnay Rolling fields cover-cropped with malls U-Store-Its black-topped lots
An appetizer? The stuffed portobellos are succulent Nineteenth-century project self-respect with hard work
to help the poor maintain
Our special tonight is pork tenderloin grilled with asparagus and caramelized onions Broad porch workhouse reclaimed
bleached bentwood rockers renovated
Inmate dorm rooms a hundred bucks a night here for tennis courts
now rented to lovers spa rose gardens
With chicken, you have a choice of garlic mashed potatoes or saffron pilaf
Julienne of green beans Caramel oak floors soft groans How many died?
creak old voices, soaked in
A green salad with raspberry vinaigrette Overseer’s notebook page poster-sized on the wall The Herculean scrawl: “146 men, 89 women, 48 not able to work due to disability”
Fresh pepper or a bit of parmesan? Other walls muralled rich colors obscuring pragmatic Victorian plaster and molding
Is that cooked to your liking? Deep booths stained like old oak Ceiling lamps’ squat glass mushroom authenticity Weighty amber pints recall dinners of the inner circle
Our Ruby Stout goes well with that steak cigars and port while inmates cleared swept washed working off their bread and small beer
Young staff cropped hair gel pens tucked behind ears unhaunted by ancestral servitude
We have a scrumptious dessert tray — cheesecake tiramisu, mousse
Sweet Home Museum An old church, stuffed with the shed skin of pioneer days, of the village it once was. Arched windows fan light over long glass cases, silk-draped beds where a town’s history has come to rest. Hair combs, strop razors, garters, even dentures, cracked but surviving the mouth they rested in. Armistice poppies made of three-cent stamps, propped in a shaving mug. The chancel features an old miner’s shack, with a dust-cloaked leather jacket, empty sluicing pan, pick with splintered handle, tin hip flask, and rosary beads.
The eyes of cameras, blank and empty, stare across at photos of someone’s aunt and child; some solemn family spirited from their parlor to this sacred reliquary of St. Memento. Falling, as do most of us, into the gap between priceless and worthless, these bits and tokens will never rise to stardom. They gather here, as their owners once did, finding strength in numbers.
Silence spills onto the nave’s display of blue enamelware, spindle crib, and chair doilies intricate as snowflakes.
On Visiting Madame Tussaud In the gift shop of your waxworks museum, I feel like a mannish Marianne Moore in a garden where each toad is built by machines, then hidden between toy figurines and bricks of freeze-dried ice cream. I, too, dislike it.
“Lost Wax India Toad” by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
It’s morning and the cockcrow has broken, while a weary, teenage clerk sings — all cards a dollar — your adagio.
Drunk on the Moon Downtown loup garou, reborn in the moonshine of another Mardi Gras. Raise your vagus mane and dance the Creole blues down Decatur. Stalk the Quarter past those sugarcane facades in your zoot and spats, chewing a cigar beneath the Panama that belonged to a cat on an old city roof.
“Midnight Violets” by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
He’s got a couple gals in the back of a ’74 Chevy. Their petals shake against his copperclotted mouth. And when he’s got what he can get, the accordions of Acadia will play him home to the green slackwater; back to where the violets and the wild magnolias grow.
Scott T. Starbuck
The Radical Surgery of Now In the dream, aliens go from spaceprobe to spaceprobe looking for chocolate and discarding everything else. They've seen jewel planets in so many spiral galaxies The Louvre is an outhouse to them except somehow for Boy George who is a kind of Mozart in their history where pilots sing "Karma Chameleon"
same as they did on Earth though most everyone here has been forgotten.
in bubble language in weather-camouflaged ships living personal dramas of cause and effect
Dayenu/Genug Forgive me, Bubbe. I couldnâ€™t learn French fast enough. When the department kicked me out I marched over and majored in German. Took my junior year in Munich, learned how Germans play tennis, how they make their beds without top sheets.
I saw Cabaret dubbed into German, heard them say Tomorrow Belongs to Me. I ate Sacher torte Wienerschnitzel blood oranges. I ate sausages of pork from Nuremberg.
Forgive me, Bubbe. They spoke my language in Germany, everything that spoke to me, Truth through Art, Dichtung und Wahrheit, Apollo on plundered Greek vases. I looked up every new word, Bubbe. I slept heavy, twelve hours a night, working so hard to learn German. Even in my dreams I tried to speak German. Even in my dreams I couldnâ€™t find the words.
My roommate was a dental student. From soap she carved models, teeth big as my head. We picnicked in the German Black Forest, picked wild raspberries, Himbeeren, heavenly berries so ready we tickled them into our hands, ate them up right there. In December I hitchhiked to Salzburg to hear Mozart in his cold white church. I lined up in Berlin to hear St. Matthewâ€™s Passion and Tristan und Isolde, so many hours, transported, Bubbe, by Jesus and opera. Somehow I learned the German rules. God help me, Bubbe, I even passed for German. That should have been enough. My German was inspired, begeistert. I was there to learn to speak like a native, and like a native did I speak, even with a charming little Bavarian accent, just enough to sound suppressed, and German.
She is judged! She is saved! Oh stay a while, thou art so fair. Winter Solstice, he kissed me. You would have seen it coming, Bubbe,
German guys saw me dancing, put up with my vocabulary from Goethe. Their fathers had all been stationed at the Russian front. Like you, Bubbe, they found me pretty.
wouldn’t you? Forgive me. We both spoke German. There is only so much I can tell you, Bubbe. A doctor smiled, prescribed me the Pill. No one else had asked if I was Jewish. Munich: what a place to try to call home. Not even thirty years after Shoah, I hoped chamber music and courtly love, good bread, perfect accent, would enliven me, enlighten me, change me, supply my missing piece, bleach out my central stain, which was nothing to do with being Jewish, and everything to do with my mother’s tongue. In May, I swam in a lake fed by glacier melt, clean and chilly, so cold my ears roared get out, get out. Heraus, heraus. I turned dizzy, I nearly went under, almost passed out in four scant feet of green water.
“Dayenu” was first published in Sow's Ear Poetry Review in 2014.
But Bubbe! if you could have seen those forest clearings from the Brothers Grimm, those spot-lit tenors and altos, those cathedrals, Bubbe, houses of light and shadow, city grime outside, but within, a ceiling of midnight blue and golden stars so perfected, so unattainable, so Deutsch. You’d forgive me, Bubbe.
The Art of Coin Fishing The pockets of his blazer sag with books. Ronsard’s Amours. Cervantes. La Fontaine. His thread-the-needle scarf, his cigarette somehow suspended at his lip, unlit, mark him as Latin Quarter retiree, still a man of letters, philosophe. He fishes from the fountain, casts a glance at me between his casts; he reels his line, inspects his catch, suppresses a smile. In this Paris pocket park, I’m hooked. The fountain yields to him Euros, francs and kronen, Dutch and Danish, Queen Margarethe in bright profile. The pool’s distorting waters make the coins seem near the surface.
You can profit from this sport, madame. The line, wound round his hand, drags at a little dust pan, and entices other tourists’ wishes.
The pennies are but minnows. Best catch them and release, madame. If you’re patient they’ll grow up into Euros. Really, madame, no one cares for pennies.
European Highkus* Munich, Germany. It rains angelic phrases. I set out a net. In Berlin I sit on a rose. Thorns pierce my fog. I stand corrected. A leaf-hidden path in a wild German garden. A blue plastic chair. A white-haired woman whizzes by on a skateboardâ€” huge German airport.
French English bookstore. Stein, Fitzgerald, Hemingway climbed these narrow stairs.
The slow train to Nice through bright mustard fieldsâ€” riding on sunlight.
In belle Sainte-Chapelle, that ten-story jewel box: stained glass vertigo. High hotel window. Jellyfish umbrellas float on Paris sidewalks.
Long tunnel darkness on the Swedish rail journey. Sudden noon blindness. Danish street surprise: black stockings, high heeled pumps on a bicycle. Rain-wet chestnut leaves caress our bus’s window. Danish sex district.
*A selection of “highkus,” so named by Poet John Laue after the 5-7-5 syllable pattern similar to but not exactly like traditional Japanese haikus, from his chapbooks, Word Gains (2013) and Head Lines and High Lights (2008).
Ten white urinals. A female model poses. The men’s room closes.
You're about to enter one of the most blindingly colourful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth. ~ Lonely Planet
This is Shivaâ€™s city, the city of the dead. The ghats along the Gangesâ€™ banks are steep, and tiered down to the river, where pyres burn night and day. The dead are everywhere,
To find where rivers meet, Varanasi, its ancient name, I cross Uttar Pradesh by slow trains, days switching gauges on milk-runs, families hanging from the tops and sides of carriages as old as Liberation. I see the plain unfold into a thousand faces. My feet meet earth in the dirt of fruit stalls, Brahma bulls eat unmolested, and flies of giant, unknown species, descend on lotus and lime.
and a haze of incense, ash, and smoke sweetens the air. Even the best, crippled or maimed, drag themselves dying to heavenâ€™s gate, and itâ€™s said are carried across the cycles of life and death that others will face. So many watch, weep, or swim and bathe a few hundred feet downstream.
The dead are pitched, bone-charred and flaking, into the polluted, holy river, where turtles, unaware of the rituals of death, devour them. I wait the days out for my passage back, a host of children beg for paise by rattling their cups, and the others, like me, stand gazing into heaven at the core of the sun, who know no doorways to anything so simple, so pure.
The Eleven Gates of Rhodes Rhodes, Greece, May 2010
Eleven gates to defend, five by the sea, the moat so deep the bay would fill it from its tides, but now it fills with air, and greenery, and I walk there in the evening. A park can be an interruption, an intrigue, stealing space from a bludgeoning city, but here the runners, dog walkers, and children distract from Byzantine walls, and caves of the Roman city. You must choose your gate carefully, clamber over narrow bridges, or climb up from the bay. The eleven gates once barricaded against the Ottomans, were later, by the Seljuk Turks, held against the Christians.
In the failing light, wall edges bright above, against the deeper silences down where I walk, thereâ€™s nobody, and itâ€™s almost as it was between the follies of spears and catapulted stones.
The moat in ruin is just as formidable. The first gods knew life in praise of heights, space in simple terms of islands and the seas that surround them. But more, they saw the world across the water as all the world, Constantinople to Troy, Athens to Alexandria. A thousand islands and a single fortress town for the last of the Crusaders to keep, if only to defend their honor, after being driven out of Cyprus.
Who determined Rhodes to be the perfect place? Who watched the water rise, and thought themselves invincible? Tonight, I wander the battlements and the city sleeps, but the dead walk the walls of my dreams.
Mythology Today we visit Troy. Some call it sparse, boring, gone to ruin. But I look forward to placing my feet where Helen strode, then fled (so the story goes). I walk amidst rubble, follow the visitor’s path along rickety wood handrails. Rain begins on a slant. I duck under the archeologist’s tarp shaped like one huge Phoenician sail. The wind billows, inflates. I’m drawn back to The Iliad and Hector’s words: “Honor the Gods, Love your Woman. Defend your Country.” The information plaque states “Ten or more layers of antiquity discovered.” The rain stops. I walk on, wonder about my own sketchy mythology. Perhaps I will find a hidden well, waters still sweetened by remnants of ancient tulips. I let my imaginary bucket down like a game of chance at the neighborhood carnival, hope for a precious relic and there . . .
~ a contemporary haibun
“White Violet” by E. A. Hanninen, 2015.
Ivory bulbs thrust from archaic humus, rise eight inches, flesh-tone and wet.
“Am’ker #9” by kerry rawlinson, 2015.
Sky clears blue. I want to stay but must hurry on to reach the Dardanelles by dusk.
Karla Linn Merrifield
Room with Views I wake to hot metallic tang of smog, thick, brownish and two-beat bleat of vehicles, constant even at sunrise. Not impatience but habit of avenues clogged by traffic mounting to meet day’s call to work.
I wait for the pyramids at Giza to take iconic shape on the dim horizon. I wait for the heat of Cairo in October.
Mosque domes and twin minarets emerge from the haze to broadcast a coarse recording over loudspeakers summoning the city’s Islamic denizens to first of many prayers. A lone felucca raises sail, drifts listlessly downstream, pulse of the Nile lazy as egrets’ white stirring above the municipal zoo.
Walking on Eigg Doing what the moon says, I pinch mint to flavor the mist. I ruffle eider feathers to soften lava islets in the cove. I slip vivid lichen over skin to color morning orange. I purl the wool of mystery for sages among the sheep. I grasp the bole of rowan magic to depart this Isle of Eigg, its verdant peace.
~with a line from Ian Hamilton Finley’s “Orkney Interior”
With Tom in Chester: A Four-Footed Sonnet
We walk the fabled walls that ring old Chester and with great delight behold the ornate timbering on ancient buildings plastered white, and stone tower where a broken king once watched his army lose its fight, left Chester to starvation’s sting, mounted his horse, fled into night. At St. Werburgh’s the misericords depict such ordinary life whispered in carvings, not in words the stolen goose and nagging wife. And thus we learn that little things beguile us more than walls and kings.
“Chester Cathedral” by kerry rawlinson, 2015.
Timbuktu Was it a promise or threat when Grandmother said she’d send me to Timbuktu? I imagined going by train, the rhythmic clack of wheels echoing the snappy syllables. Grandmother didn’t tell me where Timbuktu was. She didn’t describe the ancient mosque made of mud, or tell me when salt was as valuable as gold, Timbuktu was a center of learning, twenty-five thousand students studying Arabic texts from handwritten books learning logic, theology, law and geometry in the heart of Africa. When Grandmother said,
I’ll send you to Timbuktu, I didn’t know it was once a great center of trade, books worth their weight in salt or gold, with a mighty king in gilded palace.
Now Grandmother is dead, but I hunger to go. Who will send me to Timbuktu?
Ian C. Smith
Towards Alaska He keeps hammering on about a shack, his hideaway in these Canadian backwoods. Language-poor, he badly wants us there instead of where he had agreed to drop us. I sense my wifeâ€™s concern, that sudden shadow darkening the lifetime we thought we had left. She would try to save us by texting but her phone waits to be invented, like her boys waiting to be born, who will reach the age of ten, then more in what will seem to her a rush of years.
Only stuntmen hurl themselves from cars, and what about packs, money, passports, future smartphones, boys growing into men, so few other vehicles, just conifers?
His ten-year-old accompanies him up front, a boy with an old look, a knowing expression, I think, wondering what his role could be in a foul crime. Stuffed in the back, we crane forward repeating reason and goodwill politely, always grateful to drivers who stop, but his clumsy insistence jangles harmony.
I picture graves in a valley carpeted with snow. Wind swirls the drifts into a shroud, seen and heard only by crows and coyotes. Familiar movie and book scenes travel these lonely miles of road with us.
Particles of Me Blake discovered the world in a grain of sand, and I am now among those grains, tossed from a blossoming, pale, sweaty palm into the darkening surf; my last wishes.
Particles of me follow the rhythm of the tides, taking me on a journey into the deep green and blue ocean currents, leaving behind the beach of my youth; hoisted high atop my father’s shoulders before being catapulted into the oncoming waves, time after time, until my fear turns into giddy anticipation.
I am dissolved within the seaweed and misty, salted air, deep within a child’s sandcastle eroded by the high tide; particles of me mixed with coconut oil rubbed into the brown skin of a Brazilian beauty, more of me still at the bottom of a black Labrador’s joyous day of digging.
â€œThe real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.â€? Page 53
“Paris 2011, 2+2” by Karen Greenbaum-Maya, 2015
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry Review Column by Karla Linn Merrifield “In these poems, dreams carry the same weight as does the Western notion of reality. Sometimes dreams are even more real, as the dream is in ‘The Two Worlds,’ the poem in which river turns into the verb ‘rivered.’ The poem moves from a plains mirage of ‘herds returned to infinite prairies forever’ to a thunderous concluding statement: ‘Now, at last, we’ll believe / this dream dreaming us, & graze on Time.’ We are not dreamers; dreams dream us.”
~Karla Linn Merrifield (On William Heyen)
Illustrated by DeLoss McGraw, Stock Photo
Crazy Horse & Custer Cover,
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry Reading By Karla Linn Merrifield
Crazy Horse & the Custers: The River of Electricity By William Heyen with paintings by DeLoss McGraw Nine Point Publishing, 2015 http://www.ninepointpublishing.com/crazyhorse.html
The first time it happened was in June 1973. I was a carefree coed in Europe to study abroad, just beginning the adventure with a morning at the British Museum. Mummies, the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and then, haphazardly, I meandered into the Manuscript Room. I bellied up to a glass display case and its array of old pages and books in calligraphy. I looked down into the far left corner where I gripped the case. I looked down upon a page of Beowulf. Ohmygod, it’s not just something they make us read in Brit Lit. It’s for real. I stood immobilized for a long, long time. I cried in awe. The Word survived.
“gasp of fearful pleasure”
167 Pages / $39.95
Years passed. By October 1987 I was for a second time a bride on honeymoon, one hell-bent on getting to the library at Trinity College. Once again I bellied up to a glass display case, this one housing a single volume, the magnificently illuminated Book of Kells, believed to date to 561 CE. I cried in wonder. The Word lives. I arrive in the present day, stretch out on the bed at my third husband’s and my rental casita. I pull a book out of a plastic protective envelope, and hold in my hands William Heyen’s Crazy Horse & the Custers: The River of Electricity, just out from Nine Point Publishing. I begin to leaf through it; I pause often to read a poem. I am arrested by several of the accompanying paintings by DeLoss McGraw. I raise the book to my lips; I kiss it as Jews do a holy book. And I cry. In joy. The Word is alive. Or as Bill would have it: we were, weren’t we, here, in this before before words were . . .
“at the center of the history
& the poetry of North America”
McGraw’s work is usually inspired by stories or poetry, and the imagery is dream-like: fantastical, brightly colored and idiosyncratic. The style is naive and folk-artsy with stiff, simple figures and flat areas of color. A sophisticated palette dominated by acid hues”
I retype the above quotation as a means to introduce you properly to this important book. It’s drawn from the preface by one Edwina Seaver from Cheyenne, WY. She pretty much nails it. She also tidily defines Bill’s latest achievement. Crazy Horse & the Custers: River of Electricity is an “evocation of revelatory essences”; it is “empoemment” . . . “of the primal.” My hope is to give you, my readers, a sense of why it’s the locus “of the history & the poetry of North America.” And how Bill Heyen evokes those essences, and how he empoems … the primal. But (a word Bill taught me holds great power) first a few essential details, a little backstory. Crazy Horse & the Custers: River of Electricity (CH&tC:RoE) is a diptych. In one half are 142 poems Bill culled from the 500 some in Crazy Horse in Stillness, published by BOA Editions in 1996. The second half (128 poems) shares the book’s title. CH&tC is an illuminated manuscript for the 21st century. Interspersed with the poems are DeLoss McGraw’s 33 vibrant gouache paintings. The Los Angeles Times deftly described his style:
Many paintings are palimpsests; you first read a poem in black ink on a white field, then perceive lines from it lurking in DeLoss’ painting, behind a field of Union Army blue gouache in “Translation,” for example. Sometimes a painting interrupts a poem so that readers must pass through the art to leap from one stanza to the next, or within a single-stanza poem à la “Crazy Horse & Custer in Cottonwood Spring.” In it we move from line 6 on page 77, into and past the 2-page painting, “The Romance — Custer and Elizabeth,” to obtain lines 7-21 of the poem. The artist and his work are integral to the book. DeLoss and Bill go way back. Bill first learned of DeLoss’s work through poet/editor/ publisher Al Poulin, Jr., sometime around the late 1980s. “I heard about this artist who loved poetry and painted it,” Bill said at the time. DeLoss’ “Emily Holding on to Her Yellow Room” graced the cover of Bill’s 1998 Pig Notes & Dumb Music (BOA) [see cover on page 64 of this issue*]. In April 2000, an unusual exhibition opened at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. It was DeLoss’ “Custer, Crazy Horse and The River of Electricity: A Painter’s Response to Poetry,” 22 paintings in response to what were then some of Bill’s unpublished works you’ll find in CH&tC. Now, back to the present. I thrill to the magnificent love child of this astonishing poet-artist union. Bill and I also go way back. He was my teacher, mentor, and thesis advisor in the mid-to-late 1990s when I was pursuing my master’s degree at SUNY Brockport. He was still serving on the faculty (and today retains the title, college professor of English and poet-in-residence). I’d read and annotated Pig Notes & Dumb Music, and was among the seven servants of poetry named in the book’s dedication. I did a year-long study of what was then Bill’s latest book of poetry, Crazy Horse in Stillness.” It resulted in a 30-page paper and symposium lecture, “The Perpetual Reality of Now: Primal Time in William Heyen’s Crazy Horse in Stillness.” We also share the word friend. (I won’t pretend I’m not biased.) Now writing this review, I know that CH&tC is the closest I come to a religious experience. Reading these poems I follow Bill’s stations of exotica that take me again from the Plains Indian Museum to ghostly Little Big Horn in Wyoming; they have me again climb the Lakota’s sacred Bear Butte in South Dakota; again arrive in deafening, blinding Las Vegas where “The Christ child’s eyes are coins / winking in desert sun.” (“Sunday”) Again. Déjà vu. I’ve been there before, been to all those places. The geography of Crazy Horse & the Custers is in my body. In short, CH&tC is a diptych of the marriage of poet and artist. And this review becomes a communion of kindred spirits.
Beowulf, the Book of Kells, and CH&tC— history books, ergo chronological (hence my review’s gambit). Bill grounds us readers in Western man’s linear time (more on that below) using milestones and dates in titles. So we have the poems, “The Birth of Crazy Horse,” “The American Civil War,” “Custer Receives His Name, 1968,” and “Resolve, 1876,” in tidy order. You sit up and take notice on the few occasions a poem falls out of the march-of-time sequence. A poem may slip out of proper time because time is slippery. We learn a lesson in history. Like those two far, far older historical texts, Beowulf and Book of Kells, CH&tC chronicles significant events. “His Song” recalls “September 3, 1855,” the year Whitman’s transcendental bible,
“the approaching wagons of the whites”
Leaves of Grass, was published. That was also the day “General Harvey’s soldiers bayoneted pubic hair” in a Brule village in Nebraska. We witness Custer’s death at Little Big Horn, and Crazy Horse’s at Fort Robinson, along with “History,” a poem that cites 4 sources — 4 variations — of Crazy Horse’s last words as another lesson in how history works. Which source to believe? Historically, the book is of such scope that it even alludes to the Viet Nam war, in poems such as “Defoliant” and “My Lai,” so that Custer’s war against the Lakota transmogrifies into a more recent war in which soldiers were commanded to “kill all the gooks.” Thus: “Calley fired when Custer charged.”
“from time to Time” Whether featuring an epic hero or a mythic savior or the ghosts of slaughter, always there are stories within the histories. Once upon a time . . . Very early in these pages the reader discovers that the poet and the poems grapple with two distinctly different concepts of time. There is Western time, which is linear and familiar to all of us from an early age when we learn to tell time. And there is primal time, or the perpetual now of Native American time. Bill again in CH&tC draws heavily on Jamake Highwater’s The Primal Mind: Vision and Reality in Indian America. The book contains a lengthy chapter called “Time,” in which the Native American writer explains the difference between the two times. But Jamake’s book isn’t required reading in order to grasp this concept. Bill quite ably teaches us about time through more than 25 poems. This lesson begins with “Time” (on page 26). We’re introduced to primal time with this notion: “the present future.” Say what? Keep reading; it becomes clearer. In “Forces,” we see Crazy Horse riding with Custer. “This happened in a warp of starlight / too long ago in the future to predict.” In “Calf Amber,” Custer and his wife Libbie ponder the nature of time, just as the reader might as she grapples with primal time: “Where did time go? he wondered / from wherever he was; where / does time go? she wondered also.” In a second poem titled “Time,” soldiers fresh from battle wonder, “When is this, anyway, before or after?” And in “The Stare,” Crazy Horse recalls seeing one of George Catlin’s paintings of a dead warrior, whose eyes would stay open “until Time’s end, / which would never end.” And so on, to time’s non-ending end. Still don’t get it? Not to worry. Many poems illustrate primal time. Borrowing the word from Bill’s “Timewarp” (“he understands nothing / forward or back to the beginning”) and “MFA TQM” (“he woke from this timewarp back to his wickiup”), I call the poems I’ve cited “timewarp poems.” For me they represent the genius of CH&tC. They make me “tremble / with motes of timeless origin.” (“The Westerner”) One last example: “My Lai.” In primal time, it’s perfectly possible for Lieutenant Calley to fire and for Custer to be Calley in Viet Nam, ready to charge his cavalry into the jungle. “The Tooth” is an all-time favorite of mine (since 1996 in Western time). In it, Custer’s tooth becomes a TV set the Lakota watched, “tuned to the news, & a white man in a white suit was already / stepping down onto the moon.” In “Justice in the Vernacular” we enter the timewarp in which “Crazy Horse got runned over by a drunk Chevy.” And in “Dramatic Irony” Custer watches TV, worshipping “goddess Electricity” as he follows Errol Flynn on the set.
Beowulf, the Book of Kells, and CH&tC— storybooks, too, timeless.
Ah, so. That’s how primal time works.
“scriptures of thunder” History. Story. Time. What more could a reader want? Nature. In abundance. I believe the word River in this book’s title signals that nature will indeed be a significant element in the poems (and DeLoss’ paintings). If you’ve read Bill’s opus, then you know how significant nature is to this poet. I’m thinking of his acclaimed Depth of Field, and the first book I read of his in 1991, Pteradactyl Rose: Poems of Ecology. Really, though, nature imbues and informs all this work. So, it is no surprise to encounter nature in CH&tC:RoE. As you’d expect, there is Bison bison. You can’t read a book concerning the aboriginal peoples of the Plains and not meet up with buffalo. They range the pages of this book from first poem to the penultimate, easily a couple dozen of them, probably more. “A buffalo cow licks its newborn calf” is the opening line in the book’s first poem: “The Calves.” The scene is set “before the first human being / first heard the herd from a distance,” but the narrator has to ask: “Will it never / not be before?” Already we glimpse the demise of this magnificent species. After all, “Nothing is eternal” // if not these calves that seem always.” To me, the most arresting bison specimen appears in “Buffalo Dusk.” He’s a bull buffalo frozen in marble, untouched by wolves, magnificent in power, black horns polished to black gleam, ice-shagged head a revelation . . .
Although Bill plays favorites with bison as is befitting a beast essential to the livelihood of native peoples, he does by no means ignore the bison’s cohorts in nature. On the plains, bison dwelled in an ecosystem with owls as in “Dread: December 31, 1866” where Crazy Horse “kept sensing owls”; with sparrows as in “Today”: “Crazy Horse watches sparrows swoop up the river”; with swallows as in “Incompletion”: “Crazy Horse followed a swallow along the river.” We meet “a mantis caught in amber” — a metaphor for Custer — in “Prayer Posture Amber River,” and discover “grasshoppers, grasshoppers” in “The Now That Has Become.” And the best of all on this theme?
In high-grass prairie growing high, & higher, grasshoppers jump into their own eyes.
“in the river of the Great Mystery” But no part of nature is more central to this book than the river. There is hail, snow, rain, much rain, in these poems. There are ponds and pondwaters and “anachronistic pond creatures.” (“Evolution”) There are streams and the willows and cottonwoods along them. There are lakes and the fish in them. It is, however, the River that rules this book, the river archetypal, the river electric. Bill’s river has many incarnations. It is “a river of flowers” in “Teacher, 1890.” It is “the endless stinking river of animals” in “Dewclaws.” It is “the river of blood” in “News That Stays News.” It is “a river of buffalo” in “Closure.” It is “the black river” of Libbie Custer’s dreams. And, although my spellcheck says it ain’t so, river is a verb, at least it is in “The Two Worlds”: “When mirage rivered above him, could he not believe? / In that sky, waterways coursed, herds returned.” In CH&tC, Crazy Horse may “cross the river where the bank was steep”; then he “rode down along the river.” (“Chief Flying Hawk in 1928, Translated by Thunder Bull, Transcribed by J. I. McCreight, Rendered by William Heyen in 1966”) In “Raven,” Custer is “in a reconnaissance balloon / over a river.” In “The Release,” Crazy Horse finds “ice on the river at last letting loose its finger.” And in “Resolve, 1876,” “blocks of ice unclog the river.” River water, river water everywhere. A force of nature. Bill put it succinctly, exotically, in “Where the Herds Are Born”: all is “riversource, a story.”
“the Great Mystery revisions the plains”
When he closed his eyes the ground seemed to shudder in answer: no men lived here at that time . . . except for him . . . Teeth in a dream
I have to admit it. This is the dreamiest book. Yes, I’m speaking like a moony teenager with a mega crush — on a book! I’m also alluding to an important leitmotif in CH&tC; that is, it is full of dreams, deep dreams, mystical dreams, humorous dreams. Dreams range the book like the buffalo do. In these poems, dreams carry the same weight as does the Western notion of reality. Sometimes dreams are even more real, as the dream is in “The Two Worlds,” the poem in which river turns into the verb “rivered.” The poem moves from a plains mirage of “herds returned to infinite prairies forever” to a thunderous concluding statement: “Now, at last, we’ll believe / this dream dreaming us, & graze on Time.” We are not dreamers; dreams dream us. As you might imagine, Crazy Horse, a Lakota warrior who is acquainted with the Great Mystery, the divine, what his people call Wakan Tanka, is a great dreamer, a man of visions. In “Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wyoming,” we find the warrior resting near fossil bones of “a fearsome animal.” He subsequently dreams of the beast and that former world of a geologic time period you would think he’d have had no idea existed, but such is Crazy Horse’s dream power:
Crazy Horse is endowed with powerful dreams and visions; through them he can see the future. Here are the first 3 lines of “Future History”: Crazy Horse considered the European Holocaust, c. 1933-1945. As he did, a storm intensified over Paha Sapa.
Not incidentally, “Paha Sapa,” the Lakota holy mountain of prayer, we renamed to the prosaic, soulless “Bear Butte.” Crazy Horse/Bill employs the word “European” to remind us it was a White Man’s Holocaust. Crazy Horse envisions what is happening to his people will happen again. Custer, being only human, dreams, too. And Libbie dreams. While Custer channel surfs in “Dramatic Irony,” Libbie sleeps, and “would soon awaken / from such an ineffable dream,” ineffable because it plays the same movie that Custer watches of “his 7th; himself in this illusory simulacrum” where Errol Flynn performs a celluloid Custer. On the same page, Libbie has another dream in “In Her Dream.” This time, “Elizabeth saw an angel unlike any other, / she was sure, anyone else had ever seen.” And poet Bill Heyen dreams, perhaps most emphatically in his poem “Judgment: Bhagavad Gita Preface Transcendental.” Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson inhabit this dream along with Custer. Here’s the opening tercet: In 1855 Walt Whitman rhapsodized that the great poet is judgment. He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun falling around a helpless thing.
Emerson gets his citation in Stanza 3: “‘from a sufficient perspective,’ / said Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘everything pleases’.” And following their lead, Bill the Poet leaps from 5th tercet to final tercet; he is judgment itself, with sufficient perspective to please himself, his conscious, us, with the power of visionary knowledge: This moon
A dream or two provide a lighter moment in the book far from the bloody history of the Plains. One such moment occurs in “UFO,” where Crazy Horse dreams of aliens who appear to him like creatures out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (Remember: We’re in primal time now; Crazy Horse could easily have seen the movie.) Thus:
& sun fall on murderers as around helpless things. All becomes known, all comes to eventual judgment, does it, as aftersoul envelops all helpless things.
These in Crazy Horse’s dream were earless, their big heads hairless, their eyes open but asleep, hungry. Their alien language was not made of animals & plants. O, dreamy, dreamy text. Downright mystical at times.
now each spring fills its leaves with the sounds of feelings that contain & reveal the future of everything. from “Crazy Horse & Custer in Cottonwood Spring”
“what unriddles us at last”
“let us press palms & heads” Bill Heyen is a fearless poet. He ensures the Word will survive. We knew that already from his Holocaust poems, his Hiroshima poems, and Crazy Horse in Stillness. But I’ll go so far as to say
There is joy in this book above and beyond its histories, stories, universal themes, and sense of timelessness. The poems are exquisitely wrought, a stylist’s wet dream in a book of dreams. Return to some of the lines I cited. That puissant enjambment in poem “Judgment: Bhagavad Gita Preface Transcendental.” Let your eyes follow the trail of ampersands, the most agile and intimate of typographical abbreviations. Breathe the long pause of Bill’s use of the ellipsis: space-dot-dot-dotspace, a treatment that makes the punctuation mark all the more ineffable. Feel how the em dashes jolt. Not only do they work hard, they beguile with a refreshing exotic eccentricity. Those readers passionate about poetic forms will delight in discovering the several contemporary sonnets. Check out “Iodine Twilight,” where Bill the Poet as speaker writes that his poem is “an annex / to Crazy Horse in Stillness.” And that reminds me. If you, too, were weaned intellectually on structuralism and semiotics, you’ll derive much pleasure, frequently, by the metapoesis of CH&tC, such as the poem that’s “an annex” in line 1 of “Iodine Twilight.” Bill reminds us we are dealing with words, poems are so many words, he teaches, and sometimes “words are like fur / shed in prairie spring 10,000 years before.” The self-referential poem “Exeunt” boasts its “tercets of prairie.” “Exeunt” invites us to “ride these lines from ash to fire.” And don’t forget the new verbs we learned: “rivered,” “unriddles.” To heck with legends in Old English and calligraphied gospels.
he is the fearless poet of our times. He calls for fearless readers who are unafraid to enter his primal dreams. Trust this man, “our century’s poet of memory and conscience,” (so said Leslie Marmon Silko), a “remarkable poet” who writes “with the wild, radiant audacity of the visionary, to quote Joyce Carol Oates. Hold this beautiful, beautifully important book in your hands, cry over it, kiss it, and travel with Bill on the “Morphine Travois”: now all stillness again she holds him to a scaffold the tree leafs with something above them the stars villages of black lights an afterworld & if they are dead then let it be so . . .
Read Karla Linn Merrifield’s poems on pages 46-47.
*Illustrated by DeLoss McGraw
A National Park Artist-in-Residence, TCE Staff Columnist and Editor Karla Linn Merrifield has had over 500 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has eleven books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Her poem “See: Love” was a finalist for the 2015 Pangaea Prize. She is a member of the board of directors of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, the Florida State Poetry Society, and TallGrass Writers Guild.
Visit Karla’s blog, Vagabond Poet: http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.
“Kosher Pizza” by Karen Greenbaum-Maya, 2015
The Centrifugal Eye Contributors
Summer/Autumn 2015 In Order of Appearance:
Leslie Philibert is a writer living in Germany. After studying English Literature at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, he now works as a social worker and has translated for South German theater groups. He’s married, with two children. Leslie is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye, and is this issue’s Featured Interview Poet. James B. Nicola, widely published both stateside and abroad, has several poetry awards and nominations to his credit. His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Writer’s Choice Award. His first poetry collection, Manhattan Plaza (2014), is available on his website. His second collection, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, is to appear in June 2016. A Yale grad and also a stage director, composer, lyricist, and playwright, his children’s musical, Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville, premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska, where Santa Claus was in attendance on opening night. https://sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola/ Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s poetry, essays and fiction have been published in Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire (forthcoming), Cede Poetry, Crux, Room, Qarrtsiluni, Saint Katherine Review, Other Voices, and in the anthologies, Writing in the Cegeps and Taproot, as well as Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99% and Best Canadian Essays 2015 (forthcoming). Tanya is mother to four children, an MFA student at UBC, and a professor in the English Department at Champlain Regional College in Lennoxville, Quebec. Current writing projects include a novel for young adults and a creative non-fiction collection set in the Middle East, for which she was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2014, Tanya was nominated for a National Magazine Award and a Western Magazine Award for her story “The Twelfth Year.” Tanya is a longtime contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Donna M. Davis lives in Central New York. Her poetry has been published in Red River Review,
Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. His poetry has appeared in more than 150 publications. The poet and songwriter, David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air), said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Dodds is also the author of several novels, including Windfall and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Screenwriting Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. http://thecolindodds.com/
Illya’s Honey, Halcyon Magazine, Oddball Magazine, The Milo Review, The Comstock Review, Poetpourri, Latitudes, Gingerbread House, and Poecology, among others. She was a special merit winner and finalist in several of The Comstock Review’s national awards contests. This is Donna’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
D. S. Martin's latest poetry book is Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis. (Wipf and Stock). He is the series editor for the Poiema Poetry Series. Blog: http://kingdompoets.blogspot.ca/ Website: http://dsmartin.ca/ Gail Eisenhart’s poems have appeared previously in The Quotable, Alive Now, Postcard Press, and several anthologies. A retired Executive Assistant, she continues to work part time at the Belleville (IL) Public Library and travels as time permits. Gail is a longtime contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Catherine McGuire, a retired therapist, won the 2012 Seven CirclePress Poetry Prize, has more than 300 poems published, three self-published chapbooks, and one chapbook, Palimpsests, published by Uttered Chaos. This is Catherine’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. http://www.cathymcguire.com/ Bredt Bredthauer is a poet, touring cyclist, and professor of English. He earned a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA from the University of North Texas, and an MFA from the University of Florida. After completing his MFA in 2012, Bredthauer embarked on a two-year, solo, bicycle tour around the world. He crossed over thirty countries and three continents while living in a tent and relying entirely on the kindness of strangers. Currently, Bredt is living and working in Saudi Arabia. Shadwell Smith is a school teacher who lives in a small town called Dunstable, about thirty miles to the north of London, England. His poems have appeared in a number online magazines and he sometimes appears in pubs, clubs, and coffee shops reading them. The Hollywood actor, Gary Cooper, used to live in Dunstable, attending the local grammar school, from 1910 to 1913. In 2014, Scott T. Starbuck said that The National Poetry Series accepting support from Exxon was like God asking Satan if he could spare some change for the cause. Bill McKibben wrote about Starbuck’s “Industrial Oz [as] . . . rousing, needling, haunting.” Thomas Rain Crowe added, “Industrial Oz may just be the most cogent and sustained collection of quality eco-activist poetry ever written in this culture, this country.” Scott was a 2013 Artsmith Fellow on Orcas Island, a 2014 Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the "Speak Truth to Power" Fellowship of Recognition Seabeck Conference, and writer-in-residence at The Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Industrial Oz: http://goo.gl/hUHyje Blog: http://riverseek.blogspot.ca/
John Laue, a former teacher, editor of Transfer, and Associate Editor of San Francisco Review, has six published books of poetry to his credit, plus one of prose, The Columns of Joel Mobius, a guide for people with psychiatric diagnoses. Besides editing the Monterey Poetry Review, an online journal, and coordinating a long-running reading series for The Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium, he has served as co-chair of the Santa Cruz County Mental Health Advisory Board.
Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, and occasional photographer, no longer lives for Art, but still thinks about it a lot. Poems have appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, B O D Y, and The Prose-Poem Project. "Real Poem" received an Honorable Mention in Comstock Review's Muriel Craft Bailey Contest, 2013. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song (2013), a collection of prose poems, and Eggs Satori (2014). She also co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Karen is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. http://www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.ca/
George Moore's poetry collection, Saint Agnes Outside the Walls will be published with FutureCycle Press in 2016. His recent collections include Children's Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and The Hermits of Dingle (FutureCycle 2013). Poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, The Fiddlehead, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Colorado Review. He has recently moved with his wife, Poet Tammy Armstrong, from Colorado to the south shore of Nova Scotia. George is a longtime contributor to The Centrifugal Eye, and previously one of our Featured Interview Poets. Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis and has an MA in Anthropology. She is the author of Sailing on Milkweed (Cherry Grove Collections). Her latest chapbook is Needle in the Sea (Tiger's Eye Press). Her work has been published in The Evansville Review, Earth's Daughters, Pearl, Poet Lore, among others. She has also illustrated her poetry with personal photos and collage. Jeanine is a longtime contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Karla Linn Merrifield, TCE Staff Columnist and Editor, and a National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had over 500 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has eleven books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Her poem “See: Love” was a finalist for the 2015 Pangaea Prize. She is a member of the board of directors of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, the Florida State Poetry Society, and TallGrass Writers Guild. http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Wilda Morris, the Workshop Chair for Poets & Patrons of Chicago, and a past president of the Illinois State Poetry Society, is widely published in print and on the Internet. She has had the good fortune of traveling in Europe Asia, the mid-east and Latin America — but not nearly as much as she would like. Her book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant, was published by RWG Press. She resides in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. Wilda’s blog (http://wildamorris.blogspot.com/) provides a monthly contest for other poets. Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, New Contrast, Poetry Salzburg Review, Rabbit, Two Thirds North, The Weekend Australian Magazine, and Westerly. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia. This is Ian’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
John Szabo earned a BA from UC Irvine, which included courses in fiction writing and poetry, and an MA at Indiana University in Journalism, where he took graduate-level courses in fiction writing and poetry. His artwork has appeared in some of the finest art galleries, including Bergamot Station. http://www.bergamotstation.com/
“L’Idéal” by Karen Greenbaum-Maya, 2015
The Centrifugal Eye’s Literal Insights & Spirited Specifications: The Latest News & Guides
Press Releases TCE Assistant Editor and contributor David-Glen Smith’s first collection, Variations on a Theme of Desire (Saint Julian Press, 2015), is available through Amazon. http://www.saintjulianpress.com/david-glen-smith.html James B. Nicola, who appears in this issue of TCE, also has a first collection: Manhattan Plaza is available through WordPoetryPress (2014). http://www.wordpoetrybooks.com/nicola.html Contributor Glen Sorestad’s new collection, Hazards of Eden: Poems from the Southwest (2015, Lamar University Press: http://www.lamaruniversitypress.org/poetry.php) is available through both Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Kathleen Dale, one of our TCE Featured Interview Poets, has a collection, The Beautiful Unnamed (Zarigueya Press 2015), on Amazon.com. http://tinyurl.com/BeautifulUnnamed Contributor Keith Moul’s The Future as a Picnic Lunch (September 2015) is available from Finishing Line Press. https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=2398
TCE contributor Gary Beck has both a new poetry collection and another new novel available. His collection, Conditioned Response, is published by Nazar Look (Romania) and
TCE Contacts Editor and contributor Karla Linn Merrifield’s latest book, Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, is now available. Email her for a signed copy; or obtain one from publisher FootHills Publishing. http://foothillspublishing.com/
can be purchased through Amazon.com. http://tinyurl.com/ConditionedResponse. The novel, Flawed Connections, is out from Black Rose Writing (June 2015). http://www.blackrosewriting.com/action/adventure/flawed-connections?rq=Beck
Back Issues The Centrifugal Eye has been around for more than 10 years. Much of the work published during that time is still available for view on Issuu.com, and a representative selection of the first 5 years has been collected into an anthology (see http://tinyurl.com/TCE5YRAnthol for details). During the past 7 years, all but one of our issues have also been made available as print-on-demand editions through Lulu.com. If you’d like to pick up print copies, please visit our TCE Storefront sponsored by Lulu Press: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/centrifugaleye
Submissions If you are a poet, essayist, reviewer, or artist, and you think that your work may be a match for us, please visit our guidelines page on TCE ’s website or see below.
Submission Guidelines http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepoetryjournal/id5.html We’re reading now until December 31st, 2015, for our 10th-Anniversary issue (Volume X, Issue II). The theme is “A Toast to 10 Years of Poetry.” Please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org with the
below theme in mind: On August 5th, 2015, The Centrifugal Eye reached its 10th-year marker! To celebrate that grand feat, the next issue we’re reading new submissions for will commemorate this anniversary by remembering the effects our most beloved poets have on us. We’ll sing the praises of any published poet, alive or dead, whom you admire, or even emulate, through the showcase of your own poetry. Please send us 3-4 of your unpublished poems that are written either in the manner of, inspired by, and/or dedicated to your favorite published poets (a trail of previously published works allows our readers to research and study the writers you think so highly of). We especially would like to receive poems written after the fashion (style, format, subject matter) of poets with recognizable voices. Sharply crafted free verse and form poems equally welcome.
Back Cover Art: “Tinted Malachite” by Karla Linn Merrifield
Please note the name of the poet who is associated with each poem you submit, labeling with one or more of these attributes: “in the manner of,” “inspired by,” and/or “dedicated to.”
The Centrifugal Eye Summer/Autumn 2015 - Exotique. An online poetry journal of literary force to experience: poetry, essays, interviews, bo...
Published on Nov 6, 2015
The Centrifugal Eye Summer/Autumn 2015 - Exotique. An online poetry journal of literary force to experience: poetry, essays, interviews, bo...