The Centrifugal Eye ~1~
Nose Like a Cherry
Scents & Sense Memories
The Centrifugal Eye Staff:
Editor-in-Chief & Art Director:
Eve Anthony Hanninen
Contacts Editor & Review Columnist: Karla Linn Merrifield Assistant Editors: Sherry O’Keefe, David-Glen Smith Editorial Assistants & Proofreaders: D. J. Bryant, K. R. Copeland Art Assistants: D. J. Bryant, Sharon Auberle, Stephanie Curtis Casual Reviewers & Essayists: Danielle Blasko, Bryan Owens, Erik Richardson Staff Readers’ Circle:
Dallas J. Bryant is a freelance graphic designer and reviewer who lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife and 2 kids. He’s contributed poetry, art, essays, and reviews off and on over the years as a casual staff member for The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Dallas
Copyright 2012 The Centrifugal Eye * Collected Works *
Contents Sensory Relationships/Editorial
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“If a Man Has Two Pennies . . .”
Featured Round-Robin Interview
Eve Anthony Hanninen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nose Like a Cherry Poets
A Pleasant Assault on the Senses
Keynotes/Emotional Sensory Triggers .
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Smoking Gun/Physical Sensory Triggers
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Iain Macdonald, Kevin Heaton, J. S. Watts
Kitty Jospé, Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt, Michelle Barker, Ellaraine Lockie
Chestnuts from Bygone Days/ Sensory memory & Nostalgia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Essence of Existence/Redolent Reverie
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Aromatic Nature/Fragrance of Reverie
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Jill Klein, Kitty Jospé, Ellaraine Lockie
M. P. Jones IV, Bryan Owens, Michelle Barker
By Any Other Name/Tribute through Sense
M. J. Iuppa, Gram Davies
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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Laura Carter, Christine Reilly, Vincent Renstrom, Danielle Blasko, Fern G. Z. Carr
On the Scent of Sensorial Place/ An Essay & a Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Venn-Diagram of the Senses
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry: Forgotten Smell
Bryan Owens Karla Linn Merrifield: on Tim Peeler
Continuation of Round-Robin Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
Lingering Specifics .
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“If a Man Has Two Pennies . . .”
Editorial by Eve Anthony Hanninen
If memory serves me, and it doesn’t always, it was my middle-school journalism teacher, Mrs. Lasisi, who first introduced me to the concept of sense memories. It was somewhere amidst conversations about Animal Farm, Silas Marner, Brave New World, and a whole list of sense categories, subcategories, and associative descriptions. “This from a journalism teacher?” you ask doubtfully. Well, yes, it may have been a creative writing/journalism course, for all I remember, but you have to understand this teacher was passionate in her beliefs that whether you were going to write the next bestseller or a 3 rd-page newspaper article, it was still important to record your key observations. This, she insisted, was done by being a sensory sleuth. Look for evidence of every sense in your subject and its
environment. Assign an evocative word to every sense. If you have trouble describing a scent or sound or texture, then build your vocabulary to include words that are more than just technically functional. These weren’t her words, but these are ideas she imparted to me. Of course, those of us also in charge of the class newspaper had to additionally apply a journalist’s stock formula to the articles we wrote for her: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? But a little less sensory detail, please. Back to Animal Farm. Or Silas Marner. Wherever they came from, there were lemons and stories of lemons, and Mrs. Lasisi taught us that taste wasn’t a simple sense, but a complex one that involved different parts of the tongue. The tongue’s different taste receptors, beyond the obvious buds, could help us identify sour, bitter, salty, or sweet. And scent. The nose. Now here was the big Aha! that took me from the classroom to home and beyond for years after: among the many passages we studied in class, there was one about orange blossoms — the full-blown, heady thickness of sweet orange that arose from nowhere and clung in the air about the character we were reading about. Yet it wasn’t so much the fragrance that mattered, but rather that it was a particular memory in the character’s mind that coaxed that scent into being. Or was it the other way around? Did the mysterious appearance of scent carry with it a strong memory? A few years later, nearly an adult, I had my own such experience, a scent out of nowhere. Couldn’t identify its source nor location, and later wondered if I’d imagined it. While I inhaled it, tasted it, hoping to unlock the fragrance’s name, a shift of awareness occurred in my body that left me feeling half-present. Before me I saw a wide, long road in a town emptied by its summer heat. I was there. And then I was back on the couch with my feet tucked under my thighs. Not a trace of the aroma anywhere. Clearly, it isn’t only characters in novels who get to experience such things, though puppets of device they may be. Humans get to smell and be smelled, and be engaged by sensory rhapsody, too. And as poets and authors (and maybe creative journalists), we have multitudinous opportunities to explore not only sensory details and the sensations themselves, but how they affect us and others.
~5~ The Centrifugal Eye’s contributors to the Nose Like a Cherry issue have done exactly that: most often delving into the sense of smell, our poets and authors have doused us with sensation and corresponding experiences. The other senses come into play, too — of course — for often enough, the senses integrate to produce atmosphere or characteristics that may not clearly be described independently. Nose Like a Cherry’s first feature, our Round-Robin Interview, is a provocative attempt to make our audience laugh. Apparently, this olfactory business can be funny stuff. Most of the 17 poets appearing in this issue were able to participate in the interview, and of those who did, they’ve given readers scintillating insights into themselves, each as author-as-personality. Perhaps think of the resulting verbal potpourri as literary aromatherapy. After the interview, or in-between, whiff and sniff your way through both fragrant and smelly poems. Immerse yourself in sensation. Be shifted out of place or time. Be charmed by our essay, which may answer a few questions you have about the balance of sensory impressions. Follow our review columnist, Karla Linn Merrifield, as she facilitates a shifting journey through place and leads you to an aromatic destination. And that lingering delight that smells suspiciously like orange blossoms as you work your way through each page of surprises is definitely the “cherry on top.” *** “If a man has two pennies, with one he should by a loaf of bread to sustain himself. With the other he should buy a flower, to give him a reason to live.” ~Chinese Proverb
But wait— what about Mrs. Lasisi? Would you say she’s responsible for my choosing this theme for the 2012 Winter/Holiday issue of TCE? I suppose she is. And so maybe that makes this offering a sensory tribute to her teaching methods and ideas. A tardy “thank you” for her belief in me as a writer and copy editor. For the Best Journalist and Best Editor awards she meant to surprise me with at 8th-grade graduation and for which I didn’t show up because I didn’t think anyone would notice I wasn’t there. The above proverb was part of the award, a gift on parchment that Mrs. Lasisi personally delivered to me at home. In my yearbook, this caring woman wrote, “Eve, A very fine writer whom I hope to see in print one day.” I doubt she’s ever had a chance to read my poetry, articles, or even editorials, but on the chance she’s still alive and reading The Centrifugal Eye, this one’s for you, Monica Lasisi.
Eve Anthony Hanninen — an American poet and illustrator on the Canadian prairies — has poems in Switched-on Gutenberg, Sea Stories, Magnolia: A Florida Journal of Literary & Fine Arts, Long Story Short (interview, 2009), from east to west: bicoastal verse, Sein und Werden (print and online), and many other fine journals. She’s anthologized in Crazed by the Sun and Trim: The Mannequin Envy Anthology. Eve edits and publishes The Centrifugal Eye poetry journal and is currently at work on a TCE anthology, as well as on 2 collections of her own.
The Centrifugal Eye’s Round-Robin Interview:
Nose Like a Cherry Poets
Eve Anthony Hanninen, TCE’s Editor-in-chief, asked the contributors to the Nose Like a Cherry issue for some tantalizing answers to some particularly aromatic questions. Follows is a mixed sample of delightful responses. Be prepared to chuckle, laugh outright, and get a whiff or dozen of something odoriferous. What’s the most pervasive scent or odor in your daily life?
Kevin Heaton: The sewage-like smell of wood-pulp factories wafting across “Phinizy Swamp” near Augusta, Georgia, as I drive to work. Bryan Owens: I teach at a public high school, and it seems the most pervasive odor of modern academia presents itself in dense clouds of AXE, which hang lazy like storms in the alleys of lockers. Nearby, the smell of freshly scrubbed bathrooms sneaks the halls in silent padded slippers. It’s these nuances I’ve come to associate with the assurance that I really do make a difference. M. P. Jones IV: Dirt. As a trail-runner, cyclist and gardener, I spend a lot of time outdoors in the mud.
Fern G. Z. Carr: Happily, the most pervasive scent or odor in my daily life is the smell of fresh air. Christine Reilly: My boyfriend — he always smells like toaster strudel mixed with Yves Saint Laurent bodywash. Michelle Barker: We heat our house mostly with wood, so I think the smell of wood smoke is the most prevalent. I'm so used to it, I don't smell it in the house unless I leave and come back again. But when I do, I'm always surprised by how strong it is. Strangers must think I live at a campground. Gram Davies: It is tempting to say coffee, but this is perhaps a little obvious, despite its silky tendrils teasing my nostrils every single morning for the last couple of decades. Perhaps it is the more subtle scent behind the ears of my border collie when we greet one another. Not the rank odor of wet fur, but a sweet, musky oil, bestial-butfamiliar. Yet, just now, it might be simple lavender dripped into bathwater, present in soap, the purple washing-up liquid beside the kitchen sink, my limited-edition cologne from LUSH cosmetics emporium.
Ellaraine Lockie: Diva by Emanuel Ungaro. I wear it every day and have since Dana stopped ~7~ making the original Ambush, which I began wearing exclusively when I was 15. I've never been able to find Diva in the US, so for years been packing it back by the suitcase-full from Europe. ted to sit with it in the waiting room, hold had to consider scheduling. On the day we Just now, however, I checked online, and there it is all over the place! And for less money than its hand, see where it leads us. were to film the scene, we had several what I pay inmEurope. I've just become an online shopper. pupa to maturity in just two or Tanyathree Bellehumeur-Allatt: The sharp smell of cold in my bedroom at night: an awareness of the weeks, so we really breath, its cool texture as it enters the nostrils, how they have to expand to accommodate it; its warmth as it exits. On winter mornings, outside, I can see my breath: the invisible given shape and substance. Jill Klein: Coffee — starting with the sharp 7-a.m. heaviness of freshly brewed, degrading into the burnt acid of afternoon. Hanninen: Have you ever had a smell remind you of another person, place or event? Or the reverse: a person, place or event that conjured up a scent in memory? Has an aroma triggered a déjà vu episode? Heaton: The smell of popcorn, or roasting ear corn take me back to the Tulsa State Fair in Indian summer. Owens: The smell of Sun-In hair lightener reminds me of Fred, a French guy my high school sweetheart met on vacation in the Bahamas. He came to visit America with the sole purpose of stealing my girlfriend. In a snooty French accent, he would say, “Bryan, I am going to steal your girlfriend.” Beneath our Texas sun, he seared his French complexion to resemble a blonde lobster. I hated him, and I was his only friend when it came time for him to go back to France. Carr: The dentist’s office always seems to have a strange smell associated with it. I wondered why this was always vaguely disconcerting. A quick Internet search came up with the answer. Apparently, the smell comes from Formocresol, Metacrescylacetate, Eugenol, and the odor of drilled teeth. This combination triggers the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for emotion. Bottom line — I think that at the conclusion of every dental visit, adults, not just children, should be entitled to a prize from the treasure chest. Reilly: The smell of ice cream always makes me cry. I was very sensitive in high school, and once I was having one of those bad days where I felt like crying, but was holding it all back. At lunch, the janitor told me that somebody, as a prank, had unplugged the ice-cream machine and all the ice cream melted. I started crying because I felt bad for the ice cream. Really, I was just feeling bad for myself. Barker: Recently I was doing a writing exercise for one of my classes (I'm doing my MFA) and I found myself being led to the many years I took piano lessons at an old building in downtown Vancouver. I was overtaken by the memory of scent. Somehow what has stuck with me more strongly than anything is the smell of that building: sort of dusty and closed-in, but also with a scent of polish (they must have cleaned the pianos with something). Once I caught that scent, everything else came back to me in a rush. Vincent Renstrom: This is not quite what you’re looking for, but when I was a younger man, in my late 20s or so, I was seeing a woman in a semi-serious way. It was a fairly new relationship. Everything was going along well, I thought. Then one evening, I met up with her and I smelled, first, some kind of strong cheese smell (bleu or Gorgonzola). Just a week or so earlier, this woman and I had been discussing cheeses, and she told me how much she hated smelly cheeses. So, then, of course, I smelled another familiar smell, the smell of sex, and I knew, thanks to my nose, that this woman had just cheated on me, with her old boyfriend it turned out. He really loved Gorgonzola cheese.
~8~ Lockie: I have a collection of several hundred miniature perfume bottles, one or two of which I try to sniff every day, just for the nostalgic experience. I keep them in the living room in antique-oak printer trays. Many are very old fragrances, no longer made, as I began collecting as a child, and I also inherited an aunt's collection that was started in 1906. My favorite vintage scent is Blue Waltz, which came in little heart-shaped bottles with blue caps. Any money I came by was saved for these, which I bought at the dime store for 19 cents. I still have several and often put a dab on a wrist before bed. Bellehumeur-Allatt: Once, during a worship meeting in Toronto, I smelled a heady perfume of musk and oriental spices. It was a heavy scent, like an essential oil; neither male nor female; intoxicating in its depth; the perfume of royalty. I was in a large auditorium, sitting near the right aisle. I studied the people on either side of me, those in the seats in front and behind. My husband stared ahead. He could not smell anything. The scent faded and then returned again a few moments later, stronger than before. I turned to look at the people walking by, but the scent lingered, all around me, before it lifted. Everything in me strained after the scent. I needed to know where it came from. I asked my husband about it, but he shrugged, still couldn’t smell anything. Later on, at lunch, I started to tell my friend Celia about it. “A fragrance,” I said, “a kind of heady perfume . . .” “Like anointing oil,” she said, jumping in. “A royal scent, spicy . . .” I stared. She had been sitting on the other side of the conference room. “It was Jesus,” she said, and I believed her. Hanninen:
What one person do you associate most with a particularly distinct scent?
Heaton: My first-grade Sunday-school teacher, Rebecca. She smelled like mothballs and old pine. Jones VI: The woodsmoke from my wood-burning stove always reminds me of my father. He was an arborist and, at one time, the owner of a barbecue restaurant. He taught me how to cut, split and cure wood, and how to build a fire. Coming home from school in the wintertime, I could smell chimney smoke welcoming me from a block away. Carr: A friend of mind has a tendency to douse herself in perfume. Ordinarily this isn’t really an issue, however in the confines of a car, a gas mask could come in very handy. Reilly: Not a person, but my cat (R. I. P. Frishka Ginger Reilly) used to always smell like macaroni and cheese. She was an omnivore. Lockie: A deceptively evil woman who irreparably harmed my family. My family and I have moved on, but I still can't stand to walk through the department-store section that holds the perfume she wore (way too much of). Bellehumeur-Allatt: My daughter, Emma, is always the first one up the steps and into the house after we’ve been away visiting relatives. “It’s the smell of home,” she says, leaning her weight on the wooden bench in the front hall and breathing deeply.
I’ll give you a subject.
You tell me what scent/odor you associate with it—
The most recent holiday?
Kitty Jospé: Bayberry candles; cinnamon; plum. Heaton: Nutmeg. Owens: The playful flirtation of citrus and oak. A stout, homemade Old Fashioned is what I associate with this past Christmas. And then, after that, another Old Fashioned. Jones IV: Cedar; my parents use a cedar tree in lieu of a more traditional fur or pine; the smell is quite distinct. Carr: For New Year’s Eve, I bought a bottle of wine in conjunction with a fundraiser for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The wine was called “Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush,” but it had a delicate, citrus, herbal aroma contrary to what its name would suggest. Reilly: I spent Christmas in Puerto Rico, so I associate the holiday now with the smell of bioluminescent algae, rum, and SPF-50 sunscreen (I'm very fair-skinned). Danielle Blasko: Pizza. J. S. Watts: The thick scent of heavy red wine. Davies: Sheep's wool, damply snagged on barbed wire on the mountainside. Lockie: Popcorn on New Year's Eve.
The last thing you opened, unlocked, or unwrapped?
Jospé: Coffee! Heaton: The smell of new running shoes. Owens: My locker at 24-Hour Fitness. The scent is chlorine. I’ve started changing in the unisex bathroom because of the 60-year-old man who stares at me while executing lewd stretches at the edge of the pool as I swim laps. He wears a Speedo® and turbans a towel around his head. Jones IV: Dust; it was an old book of Mary Oliver poems. What a wonderful gift! Carr: My husband accidentally left his car on after taking groceries into the house from our attached garage. (The engine is very quiet.) Seven hours later and half a tank of gas less, I opened the garage door to the smell of car exhaust. Reilly: I unlocked my password-protected novel on Google Docs and smelled secrets. Watts: Sweet, rich, strawberry. Davies: Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter! I'm such a big girl (with dry fingers). Lockie: My house and the pine scent my housecleaner uses.
Your favorite place to write?
Jospé: Dog: my beagle catches smells from outside: Heaton: Car fumes.
an animal-earthy smell.
~ 10 ~ Owens: I’m a middle-class white guy under 30. I’m pretty sure I’m not even allowed to write anywhere but in the corner of a non-corporate coffee house. Sure, the smell of coffee and all that, but the real turn-on for my creative libido is the inaudible buzz that warms the casings of all those MacBooks, the balmy aroma of hot plastic. Jones IV: The uncontrollable smells of coffee and tea radiate throughout my cabin, especially around my desk. Carr: My favorite place to write is in my office with my dog at my side. When it’s not too cold, I’ll open the window and have a fresh breeze drift into the room. Reilly: I love writing outside if the weather is nice. Often I smell nectar, half the moon, my own heart. Blasko: Outside of a coffee shop or in a city far, far away (e.g. Montpellier, France, or San Miguel de Allende, Mexico). Watts: Warm soil and clean, cut grass. Davies: Old leather, hops, and pine polish. Lockie: Coffee beans at my local Starbucks®. d.
The last poem you remember reading?
Jospé: (“Personality,” by Carl Sandburg) Smell of gingerbread heavy on molasses is evoked. Heaton: Fish smell. Owens: This may come across as shameless flattery to Eve and recent contributor to The Centrifugal Eye, Ron Yazinski, but I was reading the most recent issue and got caught in that delightful loop of being walled in by a poem and the small adventure of finding a way out. In his poem, “A Drive Around,” I associate the manufactured odor of sterility. The brackish smell of a nursing home is meant to disturb us, hopefully to the point we go out into the world, get a little dirty. Jones IV: Right now, I’m reading “The Shadow of Sirius,” by W.S. Merwin; the whole thing reeks of Autumn river-water, an absolute delight. Carr: I read Marianne Moore’s syllabic verse poem, “The Fish.” Although it should have conjured up smells of the briny deep, it didn’t have that effect. I was taken instead by its visual imagery, in particular her description of “submerged shafts of the sun, split like spun glass.” Reilly: I was reading about Harlan and Toland, by Kim Gek Lin Short, and smelled Colorado, stars, yarn, and little wooden dolls. Blasko: "To His Coy Mistress," by Andrew Marvell. Watts: Woodsmoke and thatch. Davies: Summer air, pollen in the evening, and the sickly ripe, blood odor of butchers' shops. Lockie: My own poems in preparation for a reading, with the smell of coffee beans wafting, in Starbucks®, of course. Hanninen:
Name a favorite poet.
What scent would you assign that poet?
~ 11 ~ Owens: Mark Doty. He probably smells like the pleasant musky edge of library books, a reputable men’s moisturizer, a tasteful citrus-based cologne on special occasions. Why do I think this? Gay men know how to age without acquiring that old-man smell. What is that, anyway, that smells like egg sandwich? Jones IV: Pablo Neruda reminds me of cherry blossoms and sweat, like in “Every Day You Play” when he says, “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” That is my favorite line of poetry. Carr: Wordsworth — definitely daffodils. Interestingly enough, in his poem, “Daffodils,” he makes no reference to their scent. He focuses more on the visual, particularly the image of daffodils dancing. Reilly: E.E. Cummings would smell like a mixture of cornflakes and forest. I just get that from his writing. Barker: One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. I would assign her the scent of spring mud, the earth awakening after its long winter sleep. A mud that sucks and swirls with life, and smells like thaw and the promise of renewal and growth. Her poems always make me believe anything is possible, and the smell of fresh earth has the same effect on me. Blasko: W. S. Merwin. Pine. Not just because he so often takes us into the thick of nature, but because I see the Pine Tree as a metaphor for Merwin, whose poetry is ever richer with wisdom grounded in the natural world. He breathes life into poetry. Watts: The UK poet, Alice Oswald. Warm soil and the mixed earthy scent of woodland, because of her work as a gardener and her sublime collection, Woods etc. Plus, of course, the wonderful etchings-combined-with-poems book, Weeds and Wild Flowers. Bellehumeur-Allatt: Mary Oliver’s work smells clean with the odors of outside: beach grass, mud flats, salt from the sea. Hanninen: If you could turn any three words in the English language into a perfume, what would you concoct? Jospé:
Ingredients: 1) Grape Hyacinth (overtones of Concord grape; bells, which are cousin to lilies of the valley). Hyacinth also contains the mythic undertones of the Greek hero, and symbol of death and ressurrection. Grape, for me, has positive childhood memories, a puckery sweet juice we would make from our vines. 2) Wind (suggestive and changeable: from subtle waft to gusty push: hints of lime and black walnut). 3) Passion (p like pizzicatto — sharp, tangy; the double-S shhhh: everything hidden pushed out and birthed in a gush of vitality; passion fruit, or a ripe mango, or the smell of a citrus flower that is both sweet and sour). All three words contain tensions, flux: tangy/puckery/slightly sour-bitter laced with nuances of sweet. The resulting scent? The feel of the way wind brings first seed, to
~ 12 ~ flower that fruits. I’d want a perfume which combines the innocence of beginnings; the sensuality of ripe fruit; the hint of bitter one cannot quite describe. Owens: 3 words I would put into a perfume: Acumen, Scissors, Jack Bauer (from the series 24). I would concoct an all-in-one deodorant/fragrance and sell it at a price more affordable than bloody AXE. After applying it, my students would nurture an incurable love of language . . . scissors . . . g-dangit, what a great word. My students would also develop an altruistic acumen to rage against modus operandi and kick some good-old fashioned ass for the overall good that a short-sighted government can’t see because of all the red-tape of policy and protocol. I don’t know what the fragrance would smell like, but I can guarantee it would be more pleasant than Electric-Candied-Arctic-Watermelon or whatever crap it is they put in AXE. Jones IV: Abhorrent, odious odor, a new fragrance by Britney Spears. Carr: I would concoct “Essence of Skunk.” I’m not a fan of perfume and I think a name like that would pose a real marketing challenge. It would be interesting to see whether anyone would buy such a product. I believe they would. Reilly: Planetarium in Abstentia. Watts: Sunshine-fresh cat fur (ok, maybe technically it's four words, but sunshine-fresh is a hyphenated concept). I'd also have Wind-blown cat fur as a contrasting scent, followed by a whole range of scents including Daisy-grass and Soil-kissed cat fur. I just love the scent of my cat when he's been out in the fields. Davies: Top Note: Cortex. Mid Note: Woofer. Base Note: Scandal. Lockie: Essence of Prairie — actually, the poet in me would make it Prairie Essence. Klein: Cardamom ~ rose ~ (warm) cat. Hanninen:
What odor turns you off the most?
Heaton: Cigar smoke at the slot machine next to mine. Jones IV: I absolutely cannot stand the smell of plastic. Anything prefixed by poly is a no-go. Carr: I recently bought some salon shampoo, which when mixed with water, smelled like men’s deodorant. The scent was tenacious — it lasted for days. I literally felt like a walking armpit. Reilly: I HATE — hate hate hate — the smell of kitsch (which smells to me like old crusty laundry). Barker: Anything related to goats, but especially goat cheese. It can spoil any meal. Renstrom: I dislike the smell of perfumes and colognes and think they should be outlawed. They say one thing to me: “I smell bad, I’m insecure about it, and I’m trying to hide it.” Blasko: Anything musky. Watts: Cat excrement (I'd say cat shit, but I'm being polite). Davies: Patchouli — it really does smell like moldy cloth. Lockie: Vinegar. Klein: Tie among unflushed toilets, unbrushed teeth, and unwashed feet.
~ 13 ~ Hanninen: When you’re writing a poem, do you tend to include all the sensory detail in the first draft, or do you add it in on subsequent drafts? What’s the hardest sense to capture in your writing? Jospé: It depends on the poem but in general, colors and sounds, textures come easily to mind. Taste is harder, but if broken down into sweet, sour, bitter, salty, can be managed (I love the sound and connotation of “umami”). Smell is really difficult. I admire my beagle for all she can detect with her nose! I can only smell extremes. In the nasty category: Vomit, bad breath, urine, anything that smacks of burnt. In the pleasant category: savories cooking; flowers; fruits. Musty can be nasty or pleasant depending on the circumstance, but certainly not an “inbetween” smell. Smell is a survival sense and a good reminder that survival includes taking time to sniff what pleases us. For me, smell is also the most short-lived sense followed by taste. I can keep memories of texture, sound, sight much more easily. Owens: When I write a poem, I tend to include very bad metaphors and images that range from puny, to clichéd, to overwrought. It is through revision that I usually meditate on the sensory experience I’m attempting to harness and try to build towers of language in which to house them. The most difficult senses for me to capture would definitely be smell and sound. When I read someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Annie Dillard, both so poetic in their prose, who can arrest your senses temporarily and make you see, hear,
smell the words in their books . . . that kind of writing can make you realize our senses are not as well-behaved and trustworthy as we thought; they can betray us. What an exciting friendship takes shape after a revelation like this. Carr: While I try to include all sensory detail in my first draft, I often will supplement it in subsequent drafts. Personally, the hardest sense to capture is the olfactory. I don’t tend to possess the world’s greatest sense of smell (which can be a blessing at times), so I generally don’t tend to focus too much on that in my writing. When I do, I have to ensure that it doesn’t appear to be contrived. Reilly: Usually a combination, but most of my good writing comes with subsequent edits. For some reason, the hardest sense to capture for me is touch, probably because there are so many clichés that have been associated with it. Barker: I think it depends on the poem. Often, sensory detail is what sets me off. But sometimes I write a poem and realize upon rereading that I have neglected sensory details, so I slip them in after the fact, if I can. It is definitely easier for these details to arise on their own than for me to go back and actively seek them. I'm stymied by which is the hardest sense to capture. I think what's hard is remembering to use them to their full potential. Sensory detail brings a scene or poem to life in a way that imprints it in the reader's memory. For a writer, it's the best way I know of to immerse myself completely in the world I'm trying to create. Interview continues on pages 59-62.
~ 14 ~
Emotional Sensory Triggers
“Scarlet Roses” by Stephanie Curtis, 2012
~ 15 ~ Macdonald Iain Macdonald Iain Macdonald Iain Macdonald Iain Macdonald Iain Macdonald Iain
Compensation Electroplating fumes inhaled while working a dead-end job burned the septum from his nose, so that now, rimed with sweat after another factory shift, he cannot smell the odor rising from his own tired body.
He oversalts the food he cannot smell, and she scolds him, routinely, for ruining the meal she made. Afterward, he washes dishes while she dries, then goes outdoors to tend the meager roses struggling to thrive in a patch of clay-encrusted soil. She is folding laundry when he steps inside to hand her the fresh-cut bloom: an Ena Harkness impossibly scarlet and alive. She closes her eyes, savoring the potency of its perfume; he watches her face, his chest rising as she breathes.
Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Iain Macdonald has earned his bread and beer in a variety of ways, from factory hand to merchant marine officer. He currently lives in Arcata, California, where he works as a high school English teacher. His chapbooks, Plotting the Course and Transit Report, are available from March Street Press. Contact Iain (email@example.com)
She, who can detect the sourness in milk before it even starts to turn, lays out washcloth and soap with which he bathes before sitting down to eat.
~ 16 ~ Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin Heaton Kevin
An Unconventional Union
Kevin Heaton writes in South Carolina. His fourth chapbook, Chronicles, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in early 2012. His work is widely published, and he is a listed poet at KansasPoets.com. Contact Kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org) Website (http://kansaspoets.com/ks_poets/heaton_kevin.htm)
â€œCherry Heartâ€? by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
I bought you roses, you drowned them in my koi pond. I wooed you in a cracked-mud buffalo wallow. Vultures circled our vows then fleshed us to a tumbleweed. We honeymooned beside bastard coyote pups who night-soiled wild plum pits on prairie-dog mounds, and flamed-out like a nova over the plains. You gave birth beneath a seedless sunflower. Our ruts begat depressions.
~ 17 ~
Wilted Flowers Your flowers are wilting on my bookcase. An image so trite I should blush to write it down, But trite does not mean it isn't true. Your flowers are wilting on my bookcase. I had hoped you could have replaced them Before they slumped with the weight of being And gave up the ghost on my living room floor, but Your flowers are wilting on my bookcase. Draw your own analogies, professional pride forbids. I shall simply remember when Their arrival gave me so much pleasure I forgot they were not everlasting flowers. By rights I should tell you that your flowers are wilting, But what would be the point? There are so many buts around you these days It would only bring forth a dozen more. A vase full of buts; Enough to kill a lifetime of roses. Your flowers are wilting on my bookcase.
J. S. Watts lives and writes in the flatlands of East Anglia in the U.K. Her poetry, short fiction, and reviews appear in a variety of magazines and publications in Britain, Canada, Australia, and the States, including: Acumen, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Brittle Star, Envoi, The Journal, and Orbis, and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. Her first poetry collection, Cats and Other Myths, is published by Lapwing Publications. Contact J. S. (email@example.com) Website (www.jswatts.co.uk)
â€œWiltâ€? by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S. Watts J. S.
~ 18 ~
Smoking Gun /
Physical Sensory Triggers
“First Snow” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 19 ~ Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty
Somewhat After Machado The summer afternoon casts shadows not ready to move to evening. Wind tosses the sumac, flounces the hawthorn, exposes that bare casualty of cornfield, ripped and barren among shoulder-high stalks. Do you grieve this gash on Earth’s skin? What if hurt could be wrapped by insides of clouds soft as zero, silent as air caught in an upside-down cup? A dragonfly helicopters by, stirring the mint of Malva neglecta. The painted lady has left her eggs there and you sense her caterpillars becoming your fingers, at the very edge of being. Just then a great idea unshadows, tumbles into the gap in the cloud spill, jet-sounds slicing the heat and drumroll Kitty Jospé (MA French Literature, of thru-way hum. MFA Poetry) is a teacher, with a This is when one sneaks out of alone passion for languages and the like the heady scent of summer lilies arts, and enjoys lecturing on remembered in winter. When end elements of craft and composition in music, painting, and poetry. dusts its feet in what has been tended, She resides in Rochester, NY, with shadowed. her husband, but is often flying children and family.
appearance in The Centrifugal Eye. Contact Kitty Kitty’s 2
about the world to be with her
Read more of Kitty’s poetry on page 27.
~ 20 ~ Bellehumeur-Allatt Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Tanya
First Fire First fire of fall— after summer’s languid sleep the smoke pushes forward, out of the fireplace and into the house— as though the chimney needs to remember how to inhale that first hot breath.
The smoke is exacting in its fierce possession, demands attention, immediate action. Open doors. Swing wide windows. Work the ceiling fan. Submit to the alarm’s infernal whine.
“Smoke” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
The house fills with a thick gray smoke, which curls itself around everything, chokes into hair, afghan, pillows, sofas, clothing, even skin and the soft tissues inside the mouth.
As frost descends, the body remembers winter unwillingly— its sterility, the post-harvest snow, a daunting northern reality hardly worth resisting. Still, it requires effort, a mental girding up, what the ancients called fortitude.
There’s a strength in the seasons, their predictable steadfastness: summer’s lovingkindness, the longsuffering of winter. This side of the Great Lakes, first frost and that first smoky fire exact a sharp intake of breath, the requisite preparation for tunneling through snow.
Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s poetry, essays and fiction have been published in Crux, Room,
The Centrifugal Eye, Qarrtsiluni, The Saint Katherine Review and in the anthologies Writing in the Cegeps and Taproot II, III and IV as well as Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%, to be released in January 2012. She has four school-age children, teaches classes in embodied prayer and is a professor in the English Department at Champlain Regional College in Lennoxville, Quebec. Tanya is a director at the Quebec House of Prayer (QHOP) and is currently working on a novel for young adults. This is Tanya’s 2nd appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
“Cherry” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 21 ~
~ 22 ~ Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle
Fear A dog can smell it — fear as present as that man who followed you into Tim Horton’s and sat at a table nearby watching you his eyes burned the back of your neck leaving when you left and then mercifully gone as you slipped into London Drugs to buy clothes hangers until later when you went back to your car there he was waiting legs outstretched his black cowboy boots with the pointed steel toes resting out the open window of his car as if he had all the time in the world and was saving it for you the dog can see that man’s smile and how quickly you got into your car how you drove with one eye fixed on the rearview mirror never quite sure if he was following how you wondered for days if he had found out where you lived and if one day he would be waiting outside your house and this time you wouldn’t be so lucky the memory of him smells like rust and sticks to you like damp cobwebs in a darkened basement no bottom no edges just the flat space between heartbeats when all you can do is run and pray no one is chasing you
“Hercules Captures Cerberus” by Hans Sebald Beham, 1545
like a hound on a scent.
~ 23 ~
Angel and the Burnt Man On Wednesday nights when I work at the concession in the hockey arena selling popcorn and hot chocolate, the burnt man walks his dog. Her name is Angel and she loves hot dogs. Also she loves the burnt man and follows him everywhere. The burnt man walks Angel round and round the arena concourse. When he stops at the concession, I come out to sit with him, and we talk about dogs, and about Angel who’d been abandoned. We found each other, the burnt man says. Angel does not stare at the burnt man’s face, does not notice half his nose is missing and what remains looks pressed and plastic. She does not ask
Michelle Barker’s poetry appears in The
Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011
anthology, and also has been published in a variety of literary reviews in North America, the UK, and Australia. In 2012 Leaf Press will publish a chapbook of her Queen Charlotte Island poems called, Old Growth, Clear Cut. She has published creative non-fiction in Event, which won a gold National Magazine Award (2002), and in Grain, with work forthcoming in the Saint Katherine Review. She has also published non-fiction in The Globe and
Mail, The Vancouver Sun, Cruising World Magazine, and Reader’s Digest (Canada). Her short fiction has been published in
Grain, WORDS literary journal, YARN, A World of Words anthology, and Taproot II. Michelle also works as an editor and a leader of creative writing workshops. She has just begun her master’s degree in creative writing at UBC’s optional-residency program. Michelle is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Website (www.michellebarker.ca)
why he loves the smell of ice and the feel of the cold arena air upon his skin. When the burnt man leaves, he fastens Angel’s leash around his waist and lets her guide him back into the world. She will not linger near fear. For awhile, he has forgotten the story of fire.
about the fire, doesn’t worry about the burnt man’s loneliness or why his pants hang so loose around his skinny body. She doesn’t wonder
Read more of Michelle’s poetry on page 34.
~ 24 ~ Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine
Torna a Surriento Shredded edges on the stack of drafts speak the age of the poem they portray Coffee stains marble the top sheets The smell is as alive as the tourists who droned Piazza's statue in Tasso Square As potent as the magnetic pull of our hands as we strolled
That burn throbs like a heartbeat now I file the drafts and call upon the coffee god's gift of olfactory amnesia How the beans are breathed in perfumeries to replace the previous scent
Tinkles from inlaid music boxes stirred the air with the earthâ€™s essence of handcrafted leather and Costa D'Amalfi lemon scent in store soaps and limoncello On the day you spilled Italian roast at Il Fauno My shriek competing with the tenor singing Caruso The burn on my arm abated by your hand on my thigh
Read more of Ellaraineâ€™s poetry and bio on pages 28-29.
~ 25 ~
Chestnuts from Bygone Days /
Sensory Memory & Nostalgia
â€œCross-Processed Chestnuts on an Open Fireâ€? by D. J. Bryant, 2012
~ 26 ~ Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill Klein Jill
An Ode to Memory
Jill Klein has been raising teenagers and volunteering for social justice causes for the past several years, after an earlier career as a corporate banker. She grew up in Kansas, then the Pacific Northwest, then moved to California to go to Stanford University (sight unseen). As often happens, she stayed, and loves her engineering husband and adopted home in the heart of Silicon Valley. She has poems published, or forthcoming, in
I can taste a kiwi anytime, feel the fur on my tongue, grit of the seeds, slurp disks of lime-green flesh. But I’ll never smell again the boy-nap-sweat of my small son in his blue bed, the sour snap of cherry pie San Pedro River Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Rose & Thorn in Nana’s Kansas kitchen, Journal, and qarrtsiluni. the burning sugar incense of a dozen homemade altars on my honeymoon in Bali. I can drive to the Eastern Sierras for the high-country breeze that’s a touch, a sound, and a scent — some compound sense: a pat of breath, swirl of heat, whistle, whiff of dry pine. But I won’t feel again that first male caress or his chest, my breast draining into my last baby’s mouth, tiny hand resting almost imperceptibly, the lake-cool fingers and soft knuckles of my toddler daughter before her hands began to harden, or the perfect touch of my fingers to keys during First Arabesque by Debussy. No aperture can capture what yards of supple skin can feel, open nostrils smell. And the ground that could hold me when I was young, massage me with stones and broken-off roots, rolled-up sweatshirt for pillow? — a field of cold and bony shoulders.
~ 27 ~ Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty Jospé Kitty
What Remains In the sunrise light, sparked air of sultry summer, a green sea of corn rises behind an old man. He is weeding by a scurry of deer prints— dashed serifs on shards of earth. He twists seeded spikelets, waspish claws of crabgrass, yanking clean a river of parched dirt. Between him and the corn, broken sumac root angles into lusty vines of wild grape— stretching towards the end of summer. A man and his moot act of wrenching
“Wild Grapes” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
in his mind, to make order, to clear out what doesn’t belong in a lone sense of decision. His rawboned face speaks of survival paid by the price of great losses. He once returned from a war, to an emptied life, no wife, no friends, and someone else working his job. He bends, pulls, decides what seeds, what leaves, senseless acts of wricking, while the sun catches the dew on the corn like so many mirrors.
Read more of Kitty’s poetry and her bio on page 19.
~ 28 ~ Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine Lockie Ellaraine
Evening in Paris It came in cobalt blue bottles The epitome of Paris Displayed on bureaus and dressing tables as far away as Montana Where my favorite aunt exuded its extracts of oak and florals
The inherited bottle I hold is full The dime store screw-top sealed with wax But my mother’s words
Too good for every day
leak out over the eau de cologne label I light one long wooden match A half-minute of flame liquefies the wax barrier And I breathe in a ten-year old’s crayons candy cigarettes and Kool-Aid® powder Along with my aunt’s complete attention and gift of my own cobalt blue bottle
“Evening in Paris” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
In the fifties when farm women spent forty-nine cents for an affordable bottle at Woolworth’s And city women would wear the same scent from department stores Where it sold in costly Baccarat bottles with crystal stoppers
~ 29 ~
The second whiff comes from a pubescent girl sipping Cherry Coke®s in a soda fountain Selecting Frankie Avalon songs on a booth jukebox And watching boys from Box Elder cruise the main drag in cars without mufflers
Ellaraine Lockie's 7th chapbook,
Stroking David's Leg, was awarded Best Individual Collection for 2010 from Purple
Patch Poetry magazine in England, and her 8th chapbook,
Subsequent sniffs bring the crash of bowling pins among cliques of girls Smoke from real cigarettes in parked pick-up trucks with boys Hands on breasts and the brewed yeast smell of beer combined with cobalt blue bouquet
Red for the Funeral, won the 2010 San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest.
chapbook, Wild as in Familiar, was a finalist in the Finishing Line Press
2011 contest and
was recently released from FLP. Ellaraine teaches both poetry
But Evening in Paris persisted for ten more years writing women’s memoirs with its perfumed pen Before it evaporated from the inventory of French imported products And passed its universal vocabulary on to other instruments of attar
Evening in Paris first appeared in Bellowing Ark in 2009.
and papermaking workshops, and serves as poetry editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. Ellaraine is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
The scented saga stops here Could continue only with a bright pink bottle of Ambush Fragrance from my big brother’s fiancée Soon accepted at sixteen as my own cologne
Read more of Ellaraine’s poetry on page 24.
~ 30 ~
Essence of Existence /
â€œMidnight Grassâ€? by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 31 ~ Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P. Jones IV M. P.
Ragweed the roadside fields are all aflame with roughage of hispid stems a blood red sea — tossing breezes to my momentary glimpse as sunlight fails in the slash pines a lake of fire, still loud with bees I cannot help but pause, dip my glass, and drink— bitter ambrosial fire sinking light casts its veil across curling grass— curved shadowy blade, cold steel pall of night a crawling earth, at odds with the hungry ground
but sadness too is a redemption like deep pools of shoreless dark crashing endlessly against itself
M.P. Jones IV is a recent graduate of the University of Montevallo, editor of Kudzu Review, and a working writer living in Alabama. He hopes to pursue graduate study in environmental literature next fall. Some of his scholarly work is forthcoming in the recent edition of ISLE, fiction in Sleet Magazine, and poetry in A Few Lines Magazine. Contact M. P. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
covetous dirt, mournful call to my solitary flesh
~ 32 ~ Owens Bryan Owens Bryan Owens Bryan Owens Bryan Owens Bryan Owens Bryan Owens Bryan
The 3-Minute Vintage: A Tasting A good wine must be chewed like a blood clot in the mouth— the muscular lick of the expert can unravel the most sacred of varietals. Not as much can be said of the disciples, those hillbillies, who must have salooned it back putting out the fire of their disbelief. They should have noticed the legs that might have receded reminiscent of the water whence it came, or syruped down the bowl sap-thick. And what was on the nose? Sun-dried cranberry, orange zest, starving flame of clove, and that flame extinguished, the ghost of its smoky afterness, a bird’s fluttering of sawdust from a cedar table He’d made earlier that day, a snicker of yeast. Not overwrought, as you’d expect, no bouquet of menstrual rinse, nor the aspirin bite of iron from gravel-cut feet.
“Grapelight” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 33 ~
You’d do well to swirl it against the light, to see it was dark as words— knowingly nonchalant like the eyes of Venus, silky as the sheets on which she lay. Most expressive if paired with a wafer peeled like a callous from His thumb, crisp at first before it breaks like water in the mouth— salty from the many cheeks he allegedly wiped. Now focus on the body. It would not surprise me to find it light and more fleeting than the legs of a beetle, that after swishing to every region of the mouth,
And Jesus standing with his hands on the counter, smiling slightly like the world’s calmest blackjack dealer, waiting for you to say something.
Bryan Owens (b. 1983) teaches senior English at a charter school for international studies where he urges his students to pursue much nobler careers, and for the love of God, never to become writers. Heedlessly, they all take up their pens. Kids today. His work has appeared in NANO Fiction, amphibi.us, and especially the printer tray at his parents’ house. Contact Bryan (email@example.com)
would roil and become full like heavy cream— and feel the instinctual surge of ocean toward the back of the palate, smelling it in the mouth before you spit.
Read Bryan’s essay on pages 50-51. .
~ 34 ~ Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle Barker Michelle
In the Sunlight at the Window “The key is in the sunlight at the window.” From a letter by Allen Ginsberg’s mother, written to her son just before she died.
She meant, when at all possible, choose to stand in the part of a room that admits the light, draw near always to warmth, remember that the universe sings hymns at a different frequency than you might expect and that sunlight is one way to hear them. Do not make more darkness for yourself, nor lose yourself in the mad rush of time.
She meant stay open, like a flower, like a hand. She meant remember the way the sunlight smells on a summer morning — dusty yellow, how it moves like a cat, how it lifts your heart, reminds you to speak gently, to seek peace. She meant that even though everything casts a shadow, we can only know darkness by virtue of the light.
There is no virtue in hurrying, for it closes off the part of you that remembers light and you do not want the flickering existence of ever-shrinking windows, the shutting, boarding heavy drapery of the mind.
Read more of Michelle’s poetry and her bio on pages 22-23.
~ 35 ~
Aromatic Nature /
Fragrance of Reverie
â€œJanineâ€? by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 36 ~ Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J. Iuppa M. J.
A Clearing Watch how winter’s blue shadows pull the woods close, stealing their way to a clearing ringed by white pines whose needles have fallen for a long time, making a bed of fragrance that reclaims sleep without worry— without willful clouds obscuring the wafer-thin moon. See how Ontario’s wind lifts the pine boughs’ translucent sound, rinsing the air of its impurity— the rasp of voices scratched in a riddle we know by heart— so we can lie down and dream, darling, dream of continents untouched— places where we discover human understanding.
“Pine Dreams” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
“Cones” by Stephanie Curtis, 2012
~ 37 ~
Not Sleeping When hours no longer count, rain does. Against the window, a geometry of spheres hold their perfect shape— and you, watching what cannot bear to be touched, draw lines between water and light, dragging twilight’s shroud as if it were a shawl pulled tight across your shoulders— welcoming the sight of the shoreline when it emerges
M. J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Recent publications are her second full-length collection, Within Reach, from Cherry Grove Collections, and her chapbook, As the Crow Flies, from FootHills Publishing. She is writer-in-residence and director of the Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY. M. J. is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
with its distinctive winter markings. By sunrise, another breath, and another . . .
~ 38 ~ Davies Gram Davies Gram Davies Gram Davies Gram Davies Gram Davies Gram Davies Gram
A Funk of Weather Turns She chews a problem stub, thumbs her thunderhead, jotter open, when the patchouli stench of mould blows off the kitchen curtain. Netting parts, to unmask cloudbanks lit like mustard, at last light. She shifts to the other elbow, palm crooked. A pressure cooker
and strewn utensils. She twists, aslant, to the knotted shelf where she kept one clenched fir cone, hung bunches of crackled bladderwrack — savors graphite in her mouth as she sums her workings out:
“Bladderwrack I” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
on the hob hisses mist; the worktop is crisscrossed with onion skins
“Bladderwrack II” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 39 ~
The rainfall is a pitter-patter of mathematics. Cutlery spins barometric readings; strewn skins become tables of logarithms; vapor is raised to the power of thunder. Net curtain displays calculator numbers as a knife-and-fork flash-cuts mustard clouds to ribbons. Bladderwrack slackens.
rockets off the cooker. Convinced, she slams down her pencil — rough as chewed cob. The air prickles with ozone and throbs with a funk of stewed lentils she spits out the last splinter of stub.
Gram Davies is from Somerset in the UK, where he works in a pharmacy for some of the time but fills the rest of his days walking in the countryside, taking photos of toadstools and insects, or writing in cafés and bars over pots of tea and mugs of real ale. He likes hot water, bleepy music, homemade cake and sciency-sounding stuff. Gram is a regular contributor to
The Centrifugal Eye.
She smells accelerating tires as the pinecone pops. The valve
~ 40 ~
By Any Other Name /
Tribute through Sense
“Full Glory” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
~ 41 ~ Carter Laura Carter Laura Carter Laura Carter Laura Carter Laura Carter Laura Carter Laura
Second Self ~for D.
Set into stone: a small sieve of knives & awareness of cup at the affair of a day. I wake up in italics & break on the moon with an aperture lit toward your eye. The story isnâ€™t free; a tuche smells of blouson, my hand waving near the garden. Everything that could be contained
Laura Carter lives in Atlanta, where she is working on a PhD in literary studies. Her poems have appeared in TYPO 9 and are forthcoming in Hambone.
was boxed in a filigree smoking jacket as I pressed the fire down.
~ 42 ~ Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine
Names It’s true I often write poems just to use certain words. It’s true I dream of babies just for their names. I have twenty-six journals cradling sleeping names. My L book revealing: Luther, Lux, Lucille, Lou. The twenty-seventh book is an index. Silly names: Snoopy, Coda, Turtle, Iris. Theme names: Helvetica, Garamond. My old nicknames: Sleepyhead, Stinky. I smile despite the deprecation — they’ve already wedged a sweet association in the cavities of my brain. Rich, supple, elastic. Lucille, I want to yell into space. Claudio. Mathilde. I wrote a book just so two characters with first-class names could fall in love. I am one of those people who repeats your name and looks you in the eye. I do it at least ten times an hour. A name in another’s mouth, like a mute boy’s kiss, makes a person feel like a person. I love to hear, Christine, Christine. A name is a gesture that goes to sleep and wears a cotton hat. When I meet another Christine, I relax slightly. My name, unlike myself, wears a form of permanence.
~ 43 ~
like a sleepy boy with a cotton hat sitting down with his entire shirt unbuttoned and his hand to his bottom lip touching it as though something inside of it could pop.
Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine
â€œPeppermintâ€? by D. J. Bryant, 2012
There is no such thing as a terrible name. There is no such thing as a ruined name, always an unborn baby waits to redeem it. There is no such thing as a secret name. I want to enter forests, beaches, cities, christen every rock and plant and piece of candy, name them all after names waiting to redeem themselves like Jezebel or signs for the deaf,
~ 44 ~ Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine Reilly Christine
After My Friend Is Killed In a Motorcycle Accident: I Tell Everybody I Want a Harley
Its wheels will be like two shiny eyes, or pearls. I’d do everything on my Harley. Get married, eat only the frosting off the wedding cake. Then I’d brush my teeth and floss on my bike. I want my husband to be a real man with big arms who believes in the right to bear them. He’d carry me in those huge guns and borrow the driver’s seat. I’d feel comfortable sleeping in the back, my submissive nerves in the fetal position. In the morning, he’d leave the handlebars warm. I want the music of the engine, the telltale vroom-vroom hum pulsing against me like a shudder. I’d only wear leather on my Harley. Leather from head to foot, with a giant leather crown for accessory. My leather boots would make crunching sounds on the pedals.
“Greasy Tools” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
~ 45 ~
I would not help but snack on the bike, my one bad habit, chewed cracker pieces getting lodged in the hubcaps. The problem is your heart, the repair-shop guy would tell me with grease on his arms and a smell that reminds me of my grandpa. It’s become too mechanical. And I’d tear up his bill and toss it while I’m cruising down the road, a self-made ticker-tape parade.
Christine Reilly lives in New York City. She is getting her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College and won full scholarships to the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Seminar and Bucknell University Seminar for Younger Poets. Her poems will be featured in The Clearing: Forty Years with Toni Morrison. She has been published in 36 journals. She was named Breadcrumb Scabs' Editor's Pick. She has just finished her first novel. She teaches poetry to teenagers on the Lower East Side. Contact Christine (firstname.lastname@example.org) Website
The best part (www.christinejessicamargaretreilly.com) about my Harley would be that I’ll always be sitting on it. I’ll be like the girl in all the AC/DC and Def Leppard videos, sitting down on my cowhide American thighs, making grown men cry. The best part about constantly sitting is that I will always be prepared to hear bad news.
~ 46 ~ Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent Renstrom Vincent
Vincent Renstrom lives with his wife and two children in Middletown, Ohio.
He received his Ph.D. in Hispanic
Literature from Indiana University. His poems have appeared in MARGIE as well as in the online journals
Alba, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, Red Lightbulbs, Silenced Press, Slow Trains, and Tertulia Magazine. Vincent is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
“Cherry on Top” by D. J. Bryant, 2012
The frothy layer of melted whipped cream, left over from last night’s dessert, sweetened today’s first sip of coffee. Sometimes my taste buds remember better than the rest of my head: There she was. I could see her and heard her ask, Would you like another cup, love? And I could feel the evanescence of that long-ago speckled morning with the sun just peeking above the trees and me, in a hurry as usual, off on my ten-speed, legs pumping at first, then coasting downhill no-handed, and we waved and she mouthed something I couldn’t hear but understood anyway, because it’s what she always said: Be careful!
~ 47 ~ Blasko Danielle Blasko Danielle Blasko Danielle Blasko Danielle Blasko Danielle Blasko Danielle
Because You Yearned for Snow in Atlanta
Danielle Blasko is a Detroit native pleased to be living and working in her hometown. Her poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Etchings, Gutter Eloquence Magazine (print edition), Halfway Down the Stairs, and Red Ink Magazine. She is editor of The Feline Muse, and resides with three such: Max, Nubi, and Hawk. Danielle is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Website (http://www.danielleblasko.com)
We sent it via video: three bundled friends flavoring snow cones with food-coloring in small plastic cups for girls with small hands. We spit rainbows onto the porch when we discovered our concoctions were not the frozen treats we ate at Barnum & Bailey® circus shows. After viewing the tape, you called me and said you had nearly shredded the envelope, eager to get it open, when you saw my name in the handwriting you taught me to use when we were both small girls. You knew snow cones were made with sugary syrup. Or else my memory fails me, and I never sent the tape at all. But because later you still yearned for winter — Michigan winter — you came home, to Detroit. We never made anything out of snow together after that. I grieve today as if you were still in Atlanta.
~ 48 ~ Carr Fern G. Z. Carr Fern G. Z. Carr Fern G. Z. Carr Fern G. Z. Carr Fern G. Z. Carr Fern G. Z.
Scents and Scentsibility with apologies to Jane Austen
Scentsitivity to the scentsibilities of those suffering from scent allergies is basic common scents;
and serve as scentinels to stave off this nonscentsical scentsless descent into a cesspool of perfumes, inscents and scented candles – their scentsual aromas inflicted on scentsitive noses without their acquiescents or conscent and regardless of their discention – an abscents of choice. How indescent of society to be so inscentsive; instead, wouldn’t it be scentsational for people to have the inscentive to ascent one hundred perscent and free these scentsory slaves from their scentsory scentence. We muscent be complascent – a message needs to be scent but these are just my scentiments so I hope you don’t rescent my putting in my two scents’ worth.
Fern G. Z. Carr is a lawyer, teacher, and past president of the local branch of the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A member of The League of Canadian Poets and former poet-in-residence, Carr composes and translates poetry in five languages. A winner of national and international poetry contests, she has had her poetry set to music by a Juno-nominated musician. Carr has been published extensively worldwide, including countries as far abroad as Finland, Thailand, Israel, South Africa, New Zealand and India where she has been cited as a contributor to the Prakalpana Literary Movement. Carr was also honored to have had the Parliamentary Poet Laureate choose her poem, “I Am,” as Poem of the Month for Canada. Website (www.ferngzcarr.com)
Fern G. Z.
as scentient beings we should have the prescents of mind to accscentuate the scentsible
~ 49 ~
On the Scent of Sensorial Place /
An Essay & A Book Review
“Sniff Test” by Gram Davies, 2012
~ 50 ~
A Venn-Diagram of the Senses
An Essay by Bryan Owens
My twin brother believes he has resolved the mystery of déjà vu. Though he has not wasted any time researching theories into the explanation of the phenomenon, he is an artist who deeply considers perception; he theorizes it to be none other than a blip in the senses. One eye, he suggests, takes in the information of the event in question, while the other eye stops off for a quick cappuccino or slips and must gather its footing on the ocular tightrope. The first eye sends the experience to the brain, no doubt smugly, while the other eye catches up, slightly out of breath, swallowing the scene whole. The tardiness of the second eye is what tricks our brains into thinking we are having an identical experience all over again, though the feeling defies logic. We just know it’s happening. When my brother offered up this elucidation, I responded like a child who discards a toy, placing my whole head into the box in which it came. It intrigued and horrified me that our senses, our only means for interpreting the world, could at times be careless, let us down, send us the wrong information, confuse us to the point that we must coexist with unanswerable phenomena such as déjà vu. I’m being melodramatic; how exciting, really, the idea that a mechanical faux pas in our biological design leads us to coil mysteries into existence, spring them from our fingers, watch them dance across mundanity (strange how déjà vu mostly occurs during the plainest of experiences), that our senses, justifiably bored by the dependability of our daily lives, occasionally throw a wrench into the gears of our perception, shake things up. Science writer Donald E. Carr, author of The Forgotten Senses, speculates that sense impressions of single-celled organisms are not compartmentalized nor edited for the brain. The implication: that the five senses of humans divide up perception so that we see only fragments of the universe. According to Carr, “this is philosophically interesting in a rather mournful way, since it means that only the simplest animals perceive the universe as it is.” And I get what he’s saying. Until I think — most likely out of self-preserving denial — how egotistical and defeatist this thought is. We too often think our minds make us superior to practically all other life. But think, what a delightfully mind-altering mystery déjà vu can be, that its very nature pulls us out of the certainty of our perception, makes us examine an otherwise ordinary event from a different plane. It is the faintest insertion of mind, like a pin pushed through an electrical cord, when we say, or at least think, “I’m having déjà vu,” that our intellect zaps us out of this derangement of the senses. The déjà vu is dissipated, we are certain again of what is in front of us; our minds will not let us be present to that moment, even when the moment is giving us another chance. As a poet, this pseudo-intellectual quandary presents me with interesting problems and challenges. I can hardly think of a more mindful act than writing. And if we adhere to what Plato says of the poet, that “there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him,” then I quickly become discouraged in the act of writing, because I can’t turn my freakin’ mind off.
~ 51 ~
Read Bryan’s poetry on pages 32-33. .
“Cherries Block Print” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
I recently spent a Saturday with my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Tyler, visiting Houston’s free art galleries. In Rothko’s chapel, the unspoken implication is that you must turn your mind off and be present to the art, the chapel itself, even. Everyone else, I was certain, sitting on meditation mats, could do this, make themselves so present as to feel Rothko’s arm hair brush by their ears in the moment he composed these paintings. Meanwhile, I stared at the solid monochromatic canvases and thought, ooh, there’s an eye, a mouth gouged in pain, and there’s a cross, and I assembled some flimsy meaning behind the piece. And it wasn’t until Tyler leaned close to me, as though in his present-ness could sense my befuddled attempts to understand the art, whispered, “Just think, what does this piece sound like?” I heard silence. I heard shadows. And I thought, how lovely. So like any self-respecting devourer of words, I went to see what Rothko had to say on this matter of inspiration and the senses. And what I found was a highly qualified debunking of Plato’s aforementioned assessment of the poet. Rothko suggests that many men adhere to the myth of compensation, that one sense must be diluted in order for the other senses to be heightened; we believe in this myth because of such cases as Beethoven’s deafness, the blindness of Homer and Milton. Rothko also exposed our irrational belief about inspiration in that it favors the innocence of children and the derangement of madmen, and eludes those of us seemingly banished to normalcy. Rothko praised the ordinary miracle of our senses and the simultaneity with which they stroll us through the world, affirming that the space where they overlap is most likely where inspiration lies. I’m not sure if I can answer the question of why I write. I’m not sure if anyone is asking. But I have found fresh assurance in how I write, that the confused, impossible attempt to see the world, to hear it, smell, feel, taste it, all while my mind buzzes around me — the same fly tapping Emily Dickinson’s windowpane for an exit — that this is inspiration, and it is severely overrated. And because of this, I can now be friends with it.
~ 52 ~
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry By Karla Linn Merrifield
Checking Out by Tim Peeler Hub City Press Paper/90 Pages/$12.95
“back to dirt roads, hot trailers, / dangerous alcoholic stepfathers” Miami. Seattle. A Chinese restaurant. A Left-Bank bistro. The Appalachians. The Canadian Rockies. A kiva. A zendo. Yosemite. Wall Street. The Oval Office. A cheap motel. Places. Places. Places! Any or all of which might emerge from the lines of a poem created in what we’ve come to call “poetry of place.” Poetry of place? You know. Like Robert Frost’s poetry of New England with its birches, mending walls, and earthy tang of mud. Or John Haines’ white-shadowed Fairbanks,
pungent spruce forests. Or David Lee’s Utah red-rock canyons. Or Mary Oliver’s sea-salted Cape Cod of herons and owls. The possibilities are as myriad as our planet’s diversity. “Poetry of place,” which has become a buzz-phrase, describes a meaningful — and necessary — kind of poetry for our times. Universities teach courses about what it is and what it means. Dickinson College (PA) offers a seminar, “Poetry of Place and Identity,” which “examine[s] how many modern poets create a sense of place and negotiate their relationship to literary history.” Mmm, already I’m conjuring the sticky sweetness of Ferlinghetti’s “The Pennycandystore beyond the El.” Anyone up for UC-San Diego’s non-credit “Poetry of Place” course that invites you to “travel via your mind to far-away places and times, or nearby groves and shores?” (You’ll get to read Oliver, Collins, Bashō and Whitman! Enroll now!) Workshops hum with discussions about the importance of place in poetry.
~ 53 ~
At PoemWorks (http://www.poemworks.com/), Director Barbara Helfgott Hyett, for example, offers poetry-of-place workshops on Cape Cod, and in New Hampshire and Nova Scotia “for poets who desire to get out of their everyday environment to generate new writing in idyllic surroundings.” If that sounds like poetry-of-place-as-escapism, so be it. We need a break sometimes from the world’s grim realities. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln holds an annual Poetry of Place Celebration as part of its Nebraska Writing Project, the purpose of which “is to encourage Nebraska students to write poetry about place and to make their poetry more visible.” And, of course, serious scholarly tomes explore poetry of place, employing copious footnotes citing obscure sources. Anyone interested in Louisa MacKenzie’s 2011 The Poetry of Place: Lyric, Landscape, and Ideology in Renaissance France? Ah, yes, the Pléiade poets of 16thcentury France! Ah, Ronsard! Ah, Du Bellay! How I’ve missed you since my grad-school days. And there are poet-scholars who muse much more accessibly on the topic, as did Ray Gonzalez in the University of Minnesota’s CLA Today in a 2006 essay, “The Poetry of Place.” How refreshing to reread his incisive, concise prose in which he reflects on “my desert homeland” from the moist, wooded north, concluding that “all poets carry their homeland experience with them, no matter where they go.” There are, as you might expect, anthologies of poetry of place. Lots of them. I may have to order The Geography of Home: California’s Poetry of Place. I can get a used copy of the 1999 book for $0.04 and see how editors Christopher Buckley and Gary Young deliver on their promise: “California's unique and complex geography is examined, questioned, and ultimately celebrated.” That purchase still leaves room in my budget for another, more recent (2010) California anthology, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, edited by Murray Silverstein, who admires the “stubbornness of voice” in many of the book’s poems— “stubborn in the face of forces that are destroying language and place, transforming unique places into more homogenized and ecologically lifeless places.” As I was contemplating this review, trying to get a fix on the book’s location on the map of poetry of place, I revisited a few journals of poetry of place as well. There’s Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka (http://atlaspoetica.org/), a periodical that editor M. Kei launched on the heels of his successful anthology, Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka. (“Thousands of poems were submitted,” says he.) Explore editor Simmon Buntin’s diamondrich Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments (http://www.terrain.org/about/); it includes poetry of place in each issue. As does Ecotone, Reimaging Place (http://www.ecotonejournal.com/) out of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. And here’s another one I’ve read and admired for some time, Windfall: A Journal of Poetry and Place (http://www.hevanet.com/windfall/index.html). Editors Bill Siverly and Michael McDowell may take a Pacific Northwest orientation for the place of the poems they publish, but their vision is a universal one that clearly defines why poetry of place is so important. Here. Now. It’s worth quoting them:
Against the current tide of globalization, we posit its opposite, ‘localization.’ As Wendell Berry points out in The Unsettling of America, our culture and our literature valorize moving on, lighting out for the territory ahead of the rest, as opposed to staying in one place and knowing it well. However, our identity is tied to place: We don't know who we are unless we know where we are.
~ 54 ~ All this brings me back to one small, seemingly insignificant place: that cheap motel. I can smell it again now. This is localization at its best.
“Friday night at a cheap motel” Checking Out, by North Carolina poet Tim Peeler, comes to these pages recommended for review by TCE contributor Scott Owens, who calls all of Peeler’s work “tight and refreshing.” It is. And it is poetry of place with unflinching specificity. We are in the Deep South. The clock has been set back 25 years to a time when the poet “was out of college, married, / working as a desk clerk at / a small town motor lodge (“XXIX”). This is a place in a time before “the highway widened” (“II”). The poet has the power to evoke mold and mildew. I turn another page and my sinuses begin to plug. I sniff dried blood and semen. I inhale the fumes of Old Crow bourbon. With deft strokes Peeler captures the essence of this microcosm, this seedy place in the past. Here’s this from “III:”
Long, hot summer weekends, the desk clerks rented to locals and prayed for their shift to end before the shit broke loose, for the agnostic moon to shoot like a cannon ball across the narcotic sky, for the sex and the whisky to be enough for once. for the curse of the valley to slither instead
A cheap motel in the mid-’80s is a redolent place; “XXIII” opens:
In the summer there was nothing like a beautiful girl at the pool. The salesmen entered the lobby, sleeves rolled, ties loosened,
the reader can’t escape it.
~ 55 ~ peering sideways at the gray-decked scene, sniffing the hot pavement, the heavy chlorine, squinting at the bright flashes of sun on water.
Hot pavement. Chlorine. And, even though he doesn’t mention it, it’s implied: the beautiful girls’ Coppertone® suntan lotion. Aren’t you there?!
“I became the poet laureate for the post-office whores” Often poetry of place is also poetry of the people inhabiting that place. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Checking Out is Peeler’s ability to bring back to life the denizens of that erstwhile motel. The poet-desk clerk may have forgotten what they smelled like as he avers in “XLVIII,” but he sees them again in his mind’s eye with a remarkable clarity that translates to the page. In a few deft strokes, the Ghosts of Motel Past emerge from the book and assemble in their tawdry circle, pressing in on the reader. Peeler’s is an unforgettable cast of characters that include:
“Black women cleaned rooms / they weren’t allowed to rent” (“IX”) “Myrna had cleaned the same eighteen rooms / six days a week for thirty years” (“ XI”) “The hooker was a hollow-eyed junkie” (“XVII”) “the pool area / was a spectacular mess / of scary tattooed guys, / half-drunken pregnant / girlfriends in black bikinis” (“XXVII”) “A local good ole boy rents a room, gets stoned while he waits for / his sweetheart” (“LI”)
Of all those people who came and went, the poet has picked a favorite, what is perhaps the oddest father figure in literature that I can recall. Peeler devotes 1 of the 8 sections of the book to “The Old Clerk.” The poet admits, “The old clerk / was too much story for one book” (“XLI”), but is able to embody the man in 8 poems so fully that we would recognize him if we met him on the street:
Once a big powerful man, leaning against the pickup truck that hauled them all to Georgia or Bluefield, to the farm or to the hardware.
~ 56 ~ He was the loneliest man I had ever seen. (“XVI”)
A few quick lines and the old clerk takes on more flesh before our eyes: “The auditor // coughed and wheezed and puffed / on his pipe; he lied about playing / second base.” (“XLIII”) Can’t you just see him? Smell him? Above all, the old clerk is a storyteller — and perhaps an inspiration and a mentor to the young clerk who would become in later years “the poet laureate” of a heartbreak hotel. Here are the closing lines of “XLV:”
The old clerk said, I tried to tell you, and he thought of the Arizona,* the timber rattlers in Oregon where he trained, the son he didn’t see till he was five, the wounds that vodka and bourbon could never mend, the tarnished man.
The tarnished man. Oh my, how that image lingers. Tim Peeler not only displays a gift for one- or two-line characterizations in Checking Out, he often concocts vivid, memorable images that linger on the tongue and in the mind. Here are a few of my favorites. In “XII,” he sees his cheap motel as “an unforgiving broken beast.” Yeah! And in “XXXVIII,” he’s listening to “the vowels that ooze from the moon.” Double yeah! And this, from “XXVIII,” where he imagines the motel as a kind of funky afterlife, he envisions his night-clerk self at the end of the shift “waiting for the sun’s / heavenly pink, mean arrival.” Pink. Mean. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
*The USS Arizona, of Pearl-Harbor fame.
“our existential future” In the end, perhaps what surprised me most about this book is its historicity. Here is poetry as time travel. Peeler takes us back 25 years to a lost America before “the highway widened.” He’s writing about a time before BlueRay and cable television, when he stayed awake “watching a twelve-inch TV,” as in “XXVIII.” It was a
~ 57 ~ time when “We were movie buffs” who “argued Pacino or De Niro / Walken or Hopper, Streep or / Keaton” (“XXXII”). But it was also a time of legalized discrimination — remember those black maids who cleaned rooms they couldn’t rent? — when “the races split, knew their places” as he describes the era in “XLVI.” It was a time of poverty after “the desperation of the Reagan economy” he observes in “XXXVII.” According to “XLVII,” it was a time that witnessed “a mall, announcing the death of the downtown.” Like the poet, we become “trapped in a substance called time” (“XLIX”) and learn that nostalgia is a fool’s pursuit. We don’t really want to rerun Reagan’s “fourth / State of the Union Address” (“XXIV”), do we?
“a man’s smell is forgotten” If I have a quibble with Mr. Peeler, it’s this: I hate his title strategy. The use of Roman numerals is a cop-out. I didn’t find this approach effective when I read the great Wendell Berry’s 2010 collection of poems, Leavings. And I don’t find it so now in Peeler’s book. Titling a poem “XVII’ or “XXXVIII” simply doesn’t serve the poem that follows. It’s laziness. It’s a lost opportunity to entice the reader into the body of the poem. And it sure makes it difficult for readers to remember the most memorable poems in the book. Was that sock-it-to-me image “hollow-eyed junkie” in “XVI” or “XVII?” Dunno. Sigh. I thought this all along as I was reading Checking Out, thinking ahead to this review. How boring it was going to be to cite lines and attribute them to “IX” or “XI.” And today as I write, I’m even more annoyed because “XXX” (which has nothing to do with its poem being triple-X-rated, of course) stands in juxtaposition to “Romeo Reads Himself,” and “L” in contrast to “The Gods Explain a Failed Universe,” the latter examples being two wildly evocative and intriguing titles from TCE contributor Chris Crittenden’s chapbook, Rebellion, which I read as I was writing this review. Perhaps the numbing numeral-titles were meant to convey the repetitive sameness of nights Peeler spent as a desk clerk. “XXII” and “XXXII” — what’s the diff, right? Sorry. I don’t buy it. Let’s hope the poet returns to his usual title modus operandi and readers are invited in to sit a spell as they are in “Drive-In” (deuce coupe, October 2011; http://deucecoupe.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/two-poems-by-tim-peeler/) and to listen up as they are in “The Music That Forgives” (Rockzillaworld; www.dixiechicks.com/rockzill/peeler2.html). Clearly, Peeler can do decent titles when he wants to. A man’s smell is forgotten, just as Peeler says. And so, too, are these poem titles forgotten. But not the poems nor the people who populate them, nor Peeler, the night clerk, whose poetry of place invites us into the dank lobby of his memory.
~ 58 ~ Column Editor’s Note: What’s your story behind a poetry book that you’ve read and desire others to read? What path led you to that book? Tell me. Just complete our online Reader Survey. From your stories I’ll select the books and I’ll review them for all our readers in future issues of The Centrifugal Eye. Give me something new to rave about! (http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepo etryjournal/id366.html)
Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has seven books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her recent chapbooks, The Urn and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica, both from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, from Salmon Poetry. She also co-edited Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%, released in January 2012 from FootHills Publishing. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs on her blog. Karla is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Blog (http://karlalinn.blogspot.com)
~ 59 ~ Round-Robin Interview continued from page 13.
Renstrom: Unless the sensory detail is intricate to the initial development of the poem, and ends up being a theme of the poem, it can be added in a subsequent draft of the poem. I tend to spice up the text using sensory detail in subsequent drafts in my prose more than in my poetry, which, I find, might not allow for such additions and still maintain its original thematic/structural integrity. Blasko: I tend to add many of the sensory details in subsequent drafts. Touch is the hardest sense to capture in writing. Watts: The detail tends to arrive together and at the same time. The hardest sense to capture is that of time as it is passing. Lockie: In my first drafts, I try to quickly get main points down on paper so I can determine if there's a poem there somewhere. Details come after I see that there is a poem. However, there are instances in which one sensory detail, even one word, can birth an entire poem almost immediately. For example, Eve's word "scent" used as a theme for this issue produced for me one of the poems therein, “Torna a Surriento.” The sense I least use in writing is taste. I don't know why, since I love to eat and drink and am very good at both! Bellehumeur-Allatt: For me, a poem is sensory by definition. A good poem is subtle; it makes quiet suggestions. The evocation of the senses is essential; a non-negotiable. It’s usually what gets me thinking, what gives me the seed of an idea that eventually
becomes a poem. I might wrestle with an image, revise punctuation, debate line endings, but the senses are sure, they remain; a kind of scaffolding. I reach for them all: smell, touch, taste. It’s about seeing with the eyes of my heart. Having ears to hear. Hanninen: What other sense, besides smell, do you rely on most for evoking detail in your writing? Jospé: Sensory details of textures provided by eyes, ears, touch. Heaton: Sight. The mental pictures from my many excursions through woodlands and streams. Jones IV: Sight plays a big role in my poetry, probably from my love of the Imagist poets, but I strive to move from sight to touch in my work; it seems to yield the most authentic emotion. Carr: Because I don’t possess a keen sense of smell, I would have to say that I tend to rely equally upon my visual and auditory senses. I wonder if that is analogous to a blind person for example, who has developed a keener sense of hearing as compensation. Reilly: The sixth sense — intuition. Renstrom: Well, there’s taste, which prompted my poem in this issue, “Swallowed Memory.” I think the other senses don’t get noticed as much in poetry as smell and taste do, because, of course, we see, hear, and/or feel things, without even realizing we’re using one of our senses. Blasko: Both sight (image) and sound (dialogue) have played key roles in my poetry. I would like to rely more on taste in my writing.
~ 60 ~ Watts: Sight. I find visual images can be very evocative, especially those involving strong color and the conjoined input of other senses. Davies: Texture, perhaps. Which is a sub-category of touch, but also has a visual component. Texture holds a key to the state of matter, it affects feeling, image, even reverberated sound. Lockie: Sight, since it is usually the sense that precedes what I hear, feel and taste. Klein: Touch — whether of me or others, or of object on object. Hanninen: Many smells are hard to identify without other cues. Aromas can be even harder to describe to other people without resorting to cliché. Choose an unusual word or short phrase to describe the scent of each of the following: a.
Jospé: Acrid mixed with nutmeg, disguised by cinnamon. Owens: Nutmeg and clove-infused mustache wax. Carr: A cornucopia of spice. Reilly: Simmering fruit. Watts: Sweet, hot, fruit with a pastry crunch. Davies: Hair dryer. Lockie: Hunger for home. Klein: Wet cinnamon. b.
Jospé: Black licorice and stars of anise too enticing to resist, but disagreeably sticky when touched. Owens: You mean that shallow-rooted slut that crushes the short season of jasmine underfoot? Jones IV: Heartburn. Pine needles are an antacid alternative I encounter often on backpacking trips, something about gorp. Carr: Bracing. Reilly: Sticky tightropes. Watts: The wake-up call of Christmas. Davies: Sparkplug. Lockie: Menthol. Klein: Sticky green tar. c.
Jospé: A suspended stripe of skunk. Owens: In Texas, herbalizing your lemonade with rosemary makes it smell a little less like summer.
~ 61 ~ Carr: Anesthetized nostrils. Reilly: Speckled tributary. Watts: The quick, chill death of Autumn and the woodsmoke of its funeral pyre. Davies: Pumpernickel. Lockie: Disinfectant. Klein: Dry pepper snaps and soft butter drops. Hanninen: When you hear the word “lemon,” what’s the first associative memory that comes up? Describe in 2-6 sentences. Jospé: Hurray for the return of summer and fresh lemons for lemonade and picnics with slices, wedges, wheels, slivers of lemon for salads and fish. Lemon skin, sometimes pockmarked, sometimes smooth, sometimes filled with zest, sometimes withered and wrinkled. The inside of a lemon may be easy to squeeze, with plentiful juice, or stingy, as recalcitrant as the pucker they provoke! Heaton: My mother’s lemon pies. I hate lemon pie, but everyone in town loved hers, and were forevermore in pursuit of her good graces in hopes of getting one. Carr: Without a millisecond’s hesitation, the first thing that comes to mind is lemon meringue pie, she wrote with a snicker. My mother and aunt are positively Pavlovian over it. Like Roman gladiators, they’d probably engage in a “fight-to-the finish” for the last piece. (OK, I’ll admit that is hyperbole. My mother and aunt are very polite, sweet people, but they do love their lemon pie.) Reilly: I think of lemon Ricola® lozenges, and of being sick. I think of the little man on the mountain who says "Riiiii-cola." I think of popping them like candy because I can't swallow anything else. I think of biting them and being scared that I'm ruining my teeth. I think of sleeping for fourteen hours, then waking up and feeling better. I think of going downstairs and lying on the couch and everything in the room looking a little bit older. Barker: Lemon makes me think of wood, polished to a gleam. My husband and I spent many years on a sailboat. We even lived aboard for a few. There was a lot of wood in the interior, which we polished with lemon oil. It always made the world smell like sunlight. Renstrom: Thinking about a “lemon” makes my mouth water immediately. I also associate it with cleanliness because so many household cleaners are lemon-scented. I buy only lemon-scented dishwashing liquid. Blasko: Hearing "lemon" conjures up a memory of writing a three-line prompted poem about lemons without using the words "lemon, yellow, round, fruit, citrus, tart, juicy, peel, and sour." Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary had recently passed away. I wrote the following: “’Ode to a Fruit That Shall Remain Unnamed’ // Peter, Paul & Mary sang of your lovely tree but what / they sang of you was of your poorness and impossibility. / So what does that say about you? Not much. Not much at all." Watts: French horns playing on a chill, crisp, dry winter's day. A pale wintry landscape like a fresh gin and tonic.
~ 62 ~
“Lemon Tree” by E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Davies: Instantly think of grilled fish served in its own crispy skin, head and tail, mouth a surprised gape and eye up, incredulous. There is the cold trickle over the fingertips as the juice is squeezed, the urge to squint in case of unpredictable squirts, just an imagined sound of sizzling as the bitter acid touches the hot flesh. Lockie: A peppermint candy stick plunged into the skin of a lemon and then sucked on to extract the lemon juice, both smells wafting upward. This was when I was a child. Now I have a lemon tree in my backyard, and I give this experience to children who visit when lemons are in season. Bellehumeur-Allatt: I see my son Jacob drinking the juice straight from the fruit, head thrown back, squeezing the thick yellow skin, catching the last drops on his tongue. I’m told my maternal grandmother did the same thing, had a hankering for the tightwire taste of lemons in the middle of winter. Klein: I planted our first Meyer lemon tree by our front door after Nana died. The fruit is an enigma. Packed with salt in tall Mason jars, it softens into an addictive, slippery, puckery delight. Juiced with sugar syrup, it becomes nectar, to be sucked over ice cubes or frozen into granita.
~ 63 ~
The Centrifugal Eye’s Lingering Specifics: The Scintillating & The Sensory
Back Issues The Centrifugal Eye has been around for over 6 years and much of the work published during that time is still available in our online archives, or is currently being collected into an anthology. During the past 3 years, all but one of the issues has also been made available as a printon-demand edition through Lulu.com. If you’d like to peruse our archives or pick up print copies, please visit these sites: Archives http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifugaleye/index.html
Centrifuge/Special Projects http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifuge/
Press Releases Coming soon from Leaf Press is Michelle Barker’s chapbook of poems about Queen Charlotte Island, titled Old Growth, Clear Cut. http://www.leafpress.ca/
Ann Taylor’s new book, The River Within, is now available from Ravenna Press, of which Parkman Howe, poetry editor of Appalachia, says: “The poems of an: observer, thinker, and lover of the things of this world, current and past, recording her surprise at the natural world and her own surprising responses to nature's enduring harmonies.” http://www.ravennapress.com/books/
Just out from FootHills Publishing is Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology:
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. Submission Guidelines http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepo etryjournal/id5.html
99 Poets among the 99%,
which Karla Linn Merrifield edited along with activist-poet Dwain Wilder. The 128-pg volume includes poems from many of The Centrifugal Eye’s contributing poets. Also now out is Merrifield’s book, The Ice
Decides: Poems of Antarctica.
(Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com) http://www.foothillspublishing.com
For your auditory pleasure, now online, David Francis has 33 songs and 18 poems. Individual tracks off all 4 of his albums (“Anthem for Green England” proceeds go to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) are available for download and radio/podcast play. http://www.davidfrancismusic.com/future_links.html
~ 64 ~
“Mount of Olives” by Kate LaDew, 2012