Wayfarer ISSN 2169-3145
A Journal of Contemplative Literature
A Short Story by Tom Gumbert
Feature Photographer Duncan George
Loneliest Beach In The Megalopolis by David K. Leff
An Interview with Michael Longley by Emmett Gilles
Featuring the Poetry of Kevin Heaton, J.P. Christiansen, Claire Hermann, James Hannon, Jamie K.Reaser, Colin Dodds, Rachel Adams, J.K. McDowell, Amy Nawrocki, J.B. Mulligan, J.H. Martin, Mark Mitchell, Matthew Haughton, Mark Goad, Gerald Solomon and Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert. With a Preview of Afoot in Connecticut by Eric D. Lehman, an interview with memoirist Karen Levy and the short story A Different Homecoming by Armel Dagorn.
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
Without Foundation by Duncan George
Big Country by Duncan George
Wayfarer A Journal of Contemplative Literature
Loneliest Beach In The Megalopolis by David K. Leff
The Poetry of Gerald Solomon
The Poetry of Kevin Heaton
The Poetry of Mark J. Mitchell
The Poetry of Claire Hermann
The Poetry of J.P. Christansen
The Poetry of Jamie K. Reaser
Back Street by Duncan George
A Different Homecoming by Armel Dagorn
The Poetry of Colin Dodds
The Poetry of Rachel Adams
The Poetry of James Hannon
Versions of Kabir by J.K. McDowell
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage by Duncan George
Preview of Afoot in Connecticut
The Poetry of Amy Nawrocki
View from Hill by Duncan George
Interview With Michael Longley by Emmett Gilles
The Poetry of J.B. Mulligan
The Poetry of Stephen Witty
The Waystation by Tom Gumbert
Out of Gas by Duncan George
The Poetry of Mark Goad
The Poetry of Dawnell Harrison
The Poetry of Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert
Feature Photographer 38 The Poetry of J.H. Martin
The Poetry of Matthew Haughton
Author Profile: Karen Levy
Vol. 2 Issue. 1
Founding Editor L.M. Browning Associate Editor Mathew Devitt A wayfarer is one who chooses to take up a long journey on foot. The journey we chronicle within the journal is that of our path across the inner-landscape of our own being, as we reach for answers to the central questions of our existence. Spirituality is the culmination of the individual’s desire to understand the deeper meaning in life. The works found within The Wayfarer are those small truths we gather while traversing the breadth of our days; shared in a belief that through an exchange of insights we help one another move forward. The Wayfarer is released twice a year, on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The Wayfarer is a biannual journal distributed by Homebound Publications that explores humanity’s ongoing introspective journey. About Homebound Publications It is the intention of those at Homebound to revive contemplative storytelling. The stories humanity lives by give both context and perspective to our lives. Some old stories, while well-known to the generations, no longer resonate with the heart of the modern man or address the dilemmas we currently face as individuals and as a global village. Homebound chooses titles that balance a reverence for the old wisdom; while at the same time presenting new perspectives by which to live. © 2013 Homebound Publications All Rights Reserved. All rights to all original artwork, photography and written works belongs to the respective owners as stated in the attributions. All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and publisher. Except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 3
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
Photo © Jacquie Roecker
Loneliest Beach In The Megalopolis Walking And Dreaming On A City’s Wild Shore
by David K. Leff
t’s a breezy, cloud studded summer day on Connecticut’s longest undeveloped and unprotected barrier beach less than an hour’s drive from Manhattan. Smells of salt and desiccating seaweed are strong. From a cramped parking lot at the east end of Long Beach West in Stratford, I follow a sandy path over dunes toward Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach along the slender handle of this garden spadeshaped peninsula with its wide blade aimed at the harbor of Connecticut’s largest city. Long Island Sound sparkles on the south with wrinkle after wrinkle of wind driven waves. To the north, tidal flats edge a narrow inlet known as Lewis Gut where great egrets are wading. Beyond is the bright green marsh of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, a place known for clapper rails and busy with saltmarsh sparrows during migration. The same glance holds houses, boxy industrial buildings and fuel storage tanks that stretch along the mainland toward the rectangular geometry of Bridgeport’s skyline. Situated opposite the state’s densely settled coastline, the two-mile-long, eighty acre beach once boasted a lively summer community and an amusement park luring tens of thou-
sands of visitors on warm weekends. Now it’s an isolated, quiet stretch of shore, home to threatened piping plovers and least terns. Horseshoe crabs and diamond back terrapins nest in its sands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service once eyed the land for the refuge, while a nearby urban community has long sought swimming and active recreation. From the crest of thickly vegetated dunes I spot families enjoying the beach while a few sunbathers, suits optional, lay barely visible among the sandy hillocks. Invasive spotted knapweed thrives and Rosa rugosa grows in low pink-eyed flower thickets. Mullein stalks stand like candles at the trail’s edge and American oyster catchers sail overhead. String fences mark tern and plover nest sites. Intoxicated with spicy sea smell and rhythmic surf, I reach a stretch of cracked, weed wracked pavement. Until a couple years ago, it ran between forty or so abandoned cottages that some called Connecticut’s largest ghost town. When I grew up nearby in the 1960s, this was a vibrant blue collar getaway busy with bicycling children and fragrantly barbecuing fish caught in the surf. But built on municipal property rented for decades at a bargain, leases weren’t renewed after emergency response and public use
concerns were raised in the 1990s following a protracted and rancorous debate. When I was last there a few years ago, the derelict cottages were still standing. Not a sheet of glass remained intact and the street sparkled with prismatic fragments. Names and obscenities were spray painted across shingles and clapboards, and furniture, clothing, mattresses, and magazines were strewn about as if tossed by a hurricane. Several cottages had burned and metal pipe and wire, rusted bright orange with salt air, seemed to glow among the ashes and charred remains. Today there is little evidence of these homes following demolition and beach restoration funded by a federal grant. A couple orioles flit past me and I hear the sharp calls of catbirds and mockingbirds above the surf. Clumps of fleshy prickly pear cactus, a Connecticut special concern species, grow at the macadam’s broken edge. Soon I pass a rusting fence and enter Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach in an area of grasses, wildflowers and broken pavement where about 500 cars once parked during amusement park days. Now it’s an osprey paradise with several nesting pairs, often on abandoned utility poles. One of the large black and white raptors flies low over the water as I walk toward the graceful twin truss towers of WICC radio where yet another nest is wedged in the metal fretwork. Poking the sky like ersatz Eiffels, the transmitters remain the last active human presence here. Carefully stepping on buckled macadam along a broken stone wall at the edge of Lewis Gut and looking out at a grassland dotted with beach plum, I watch downy wood-
peckers, mourning doves, a flicker and a lone hummingbird. A hundred species can be spotted here on a September day says Patrick Comins, Audubon Connecticut’s Director of Bird Conservation. Collapsed debris from the bumper car building sits vacant beside clustered trees. Further distant stands a mound of ruins that was the carousel building featuring a finialtopped circus-tent-style roof. Years ago the amusement park’s beating musical heart, it’s a mere hulk, a desolate pile of shingles, fractured and weathered lumber, wire and pipe. Beyond it lurks the rounded concrete block shell of Polka Dot Playhouse, once an amateur theater where my mother performed. Soon I come to the dilapidated wooden bridge that used to connect Pleasure Beach to the crowded streets of Bridgeport’s East End, little more than a baseball’s throw away. The planks are littered with gull dropped oyster shells and the metal truss swing section in the middle is locked in the open position. About 150 feet of missing deck, burned in a 1996 fire, reveals charred timbers beneath. The blaze left the already decrepit bridge unusable, stranding scores of people and over 150 cars that were ferried to the mainland, including Polka Dot’s cast for Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.” With access now only by boat or the long walk I’d just taken from Stratford, Pleasure Beach fell into a deep isolation while remaining tantalizingly close to thousands. Containing 20% of Connecticut’s undeveloped barrier beach, this sandy, windswept land seems deceptively pristine with dunes, tidal wetlands, and sand flats. An Audubon “Important Bird Area,” it not only hosts threatened plovers
“The breeze picks up and I feel like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby
staring over the rippled waters of Long Island Sound
to Daisy’s dock with an unfulfilled dream that
‘must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.’”
and terns, but offers wintering habitat for waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors, and a critical stopover for thousands of migratory birds, according to Audubon Connecticut executive director Tom Baptist. “With so much wildness so close to so many people,” Baptist muses wistfully, “the area is a conservationists dream.” Pleasure Beach has always been the stuff of dreams. Rumored to harbor Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, in 1892 it was transformed into an amusement park with a carousel, restaurant, theater and ball fields. By 1905, advertisements boasted 100 attractions including a ballroom with 2,500 incandescent lights. A few years later the park’s owners erected a $65,000 bridge so patrons could “come and go without any delay.” Bridgeport purchased Pleasure Beach in 1919. It was popular for decades, especially among factory workers in a city described by the 1937 WPA guide to Connecticut as having “more diversified industries” than any other in the country. At its height in the mid twentieth century, the park featured a covered midway including a shooting gallery, funhouse, penny arcade, photo studio, and guess-your-age game. There was an open air arena, convention hall, swimming pool, miniature golf course, and a ballroom with high arching beams, a polished hardwood floor, and revolving crystal lights. Big bands like Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Glenn Miller attracted gleeful dancers. Besides the carousel, rides included a large wooden roller coaster, speed boats, a mini railroad, flying scooters, and the old mill with its momentary darkness for lovers. The park was alive with colored lights, schmaltzy music, the scent of frying foods, the patter of barkers, and children laughing. By the 1960s, years of financial woes, devastating fires, and political infighting took their toll. The amusement park closed, many rides were dismantled, and the area was left to picnickers, beachcombers, and Polka Dot Playhouse ticket holders. I remember wandering the abandoned midway in those years while my mother rehearsed, finding my way into the carousel building where the strangely still horses swam in shafts of light alive with dust motes. Trying various mounts, I’d dream of joining John Wayne’s posse or of riding in a royal fox hunt. I was not alone in my Pleasure Beach dreams. The park’s closure induced visions for a hotel and conference center, a Disney “regional entertainment” venue, a Donald Trump world-class theme park, luxury condos, a maritime “Amazement Park,” a casino, an aquarium with a night club and shops, and a nudist camp. All became mirages because Pleasure Beach dreamers always awaken to the hard reality 8
of a replacement bridge costing $20 to $30 million. The issue has proven as difficult as crossing the damaged structure. The bridge has always cast a spell. Those who once traveled its rough planks have indelible recollections of a bumpy, clickety-clack ride. It’s the first boyhood Pleasure Beach memory of Bridgeport State Representative Don Clemons who recalls getting halfway across the span and also hearing the upward clicking of the roller coaster, a brief silence, and then the screams of riders as they plunged downward. A former firefighter, he was on duty at a nearby station during the fateful blaze. Clemons knows that fond memories aside, deciding Pleasure Beach’s future will require sturdy metaphorical bridges among many stakeholders. From the bridge, I walk toward the beach with a view west across the slate gray water of Bridgeport harbor with its boxy power plant and tall stacks. Soon, I come to a broad, modern paved road leading from a desolate and vandalized concession stand of decorative concrete block known as the Harbor Hut to a spacious parking lot fronting on a long, low bathhouse pavilion of the same material which stands forsaken at the edge of the dunes. Built shortly before the bridge burned, I imagine it as a giant tombstone marking the last grand dream of public access for ordinary people. I walk through the structure’s high central arch and down a broken boardwalk to where waves are pounding the sand. The wrack line and water’s edge are littered with seaweed, oyster, quahog, razor clam and muscle shells, horseshoe crab carapaces and lobster parts along with some chunks of lumber, rope, plastic shards and bottles. Feeling waves pound in my chest and gulping the briny air, it seems a minor miracle that on a warm, sun washed day I could walk over a mile without seeing a soul on a beach in one of the most thickly settled places in America. Finding nature resurgent in an area long subject to intense development and redevelopment was heartening. But the ghostly Pavilion behind me was a reminder of the sweating thousands living along Bridgeport’s densely packed streets eager for a day in the sun and sand. Feeling conflicted, I sought out some of the many people who care deeply about this place, but found their opinions as strong and polarizing as the tides. Not long ago, I remember the late George “Doc” Gunther, a retired naturopath who served a record four decades as Stratford’s state senator, recalling the gloss and glitter of the midway and ballroom, summer dreams of
the “greatest generation.” An early conservationist, in 1964 he helped plant beach grass on the dunes, but also advocated rebuilding the bridge. Gunther ran a hand through his trademark flattop haircut while imagining a future with swimming, fishing, picnicking, a concession stand, an environmental education center, and perhaps a fine restaurant. Sympathetic to the plight of plovers and terns, he worried that the birds’ revival might restrict access to the state’s “finest bathing beach.” “It’s a big beach,” says the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Andrew French, and he doubts endangered birds could ever prevent public uses. While agreeing that swimming, fishing, walking and similar activities can be compatible, he’s concerned that basketball courts, concession stands, ball fields and the like might not be the fragile barrier beach’s best use. Easy access to Pleasure Beach is the rightful heritage of Bridgeport’s East End according to many in this densely urban minority community served by one small park. On a hot, humid August day a couple years ago, I visited East End Community Council members in the group’s crowded storefront office a few blocks from Pleasure Beach’s cooling, unreachable breezes. Despite consensus that the park was big enough for both people and birds, those gathered left no doubt that people came first, and a few in the room echoed man’s biblical grant of dominion over animals. “Our kids should be able to walk the shore, pick up shells and experience nature,” asserted the Council’s Ted Meekins, a retired Bridgeport policeman. Water taxis might serve temporarily, but the group believed a bridge would provide the most convenient, year around access. Conservation efforts began in earnest when the cottage leases were not renewed following burning of the bridge and rocketed forward when The Trust for Public Land, a private non-profit land preservation group, and the town of Stratford signed a complex option agreement in 2008 to ultimately sell Long Beach West to the Fish and Wildlife Service. But the deal collapsed in a tangle of appraisals, fundraising, and thorny politics. Although the cottages are now gone, the long term fate of Stratford’s portion of the area remains uncertain. A municipal task force proposed a boardwalk, bathrooms and other amenities not long ago, but with increasingly damaging storms and difficult funding and permitting issues, such dreams, like many before it, may remain unrequited. Walking back to the bridge with a freshened breeze in my face, I wonder about the fate of Bridgeport’s 2012 Pleasure Beach Master Plan, the latest vision for this place
where plans are as protean as the constantly shifting barrier beach landscape. It’s reassuring to at last have a vision seeking a balance that “will allow visitors to the park and endangered and special plant and wildlife species to co-exist.” The colorful, well written document ultimately calls for trails, a playground, a nature center, community gardens, soccer and softball fields, tennis and basketball courts, as well as surfside fishing, swimming and other uses and improvements. Access by water taxi is anticipated by late 2013 and work on rebuilding the pier, harbor hut and pavilion is expected to begin by then. Given the history of this land which still seems to maintain an air of amusement park illusion, it’s hard not to be agnostic on the outcome. Audubon Connecticut is trying to ensure that the right balance is found between humans and nature by developing a corps of “wildlife guards,” trained high school students who will monitor the site and educate visitors. Standing on the photogenic, but desolate umbilical bridge and gazing across the waves at the city’s huddled houses and large industrial structures, I mull over the various proposals. The breeze picks up and I feel like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby staring over the rippled waters of Long Island Sound to Daisy’s dock with an unfulfilled dream that “must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” Certainly, without building bridges among people, dreams for Pleasure Beach will continue just beyond reach and its isolation will remain both a blessing and a conundrum. In the short term, at least, time and tide are on the side of the birds and those seeking a solitary seaside walk in the heart of sprawl. David K. Leff, author of numerous essays, columns, and stories for the Hartford Courant, Appalachia and other publications, is a former Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. He is the author of three nonfiction books and two volumes of poetry, David has read his work, given book talks, and lectured on literary and environmental topics throughout Connecticut and beyond. He is on the board of Directors of the Riverwood Poetry Series. Visit his website at www.davidkleff. com (photo by) Jacquie Roecker moved to southwest Florida in November 2009. After leaving all my friends and family in search of new horizons she picked up photography as way to fill her time and to honor her passion and curiosity about nature. Florida, as she often referred to it, was like living on the moon. Everything was new to her and was such a wondrous landscape with new discoveries around every corner! She is hoping to turn my obsession into a full time occupation. Her website: jacquieroecker.com will be up and running by June 1. 9
On The Beach
Rackety Amsterdam, a market stall, old disused books, two guys at chess. Heedless of rain and passers by, making and working their puzzle. Leaning head to head, nothing said.
That crazy storm we had last week broke roofs, broke our tree, took two young boys out to sea. Now needing to be sensible, some say all kinds of help are free.
Rain shower, green awnings, wet canvas!
Thinking. Divining divinity. Could we have got it more wrong? Invention, mother of necessity. Truth, Houdini of meaning, questionable, if not answerable…
Every raindrop a bright sky loosening from rims, becoming nothing. Two men, a pastime of white and black, plastic knights to parley and destroy. Crowds, cars, vans, all in a mass cram forward, push on, while two men old enough to know a slow game’s best for here and now, a lifetime to comprehend the puzzle. Computers crunch numbers, grand masters turn down their kings. Tangles of meaning—talking, to get to the right end, one loses the end. Words, keys to brass locks of words. That rage for order beyond order! One, though, (since nothing means nothing,) one… number of strangeness, awe, beginning of nothing beginning… Beginning the end of the matter.
Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as sales assistant at a bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four children, and lives in Manhattan. 10
Our Italian fresco last summer: a lion limps in Sinai to the hermit’s cell. The saint at work—you saw his ink-pot. His Latin crib speaks once and for all… (Echos from rocks, visions from the sands). Another, dusty and in sweat of battle, wanders off to lean on a borrowed spear, take his fix on the true, the sufficient. (Ideas ride high as the noonday star in full career o’er Parthenon and myth.) So much for that. Escape to the present (present breeding true, knocked up by the past). Wouldn’t you agree that beyond reason and trust, for us left on the beach it would be best not needing the universe to be good?
Kevin Heaton was born and raised in Kansas, and writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Raleigh Review, Mason’s Road, Foundling Review, Victorian Violet Press, and Amarillo Bay. His fourth chapbook of poetry, Chronicles, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012 . He is a Pushcart, and Best of the Net nominee.
A Life Review
Poem Beginning With A Line From Rilke
Alone at my end, on the fog-sky island of an absentee mountain, mourning
Music: breathing of statues— The flame wavers at a gust from the door—she enters.
in my teeth; weathering in a bulwark of balding dolmen and thirsty sermons. Alone, where lichen-labeled whorls of time assume interred positions, and sacrilegious pilgrimages to self-revelation come full circle. Many were the roots shed styling this I am: this trillium with it’s swollen sepal, this cloven palm-chalice of low-hanging fruit parted from it’s slake. More fit for source, than nearer the divine.
Entreaty for Faith Kevin Heaton
The moon’s sluice gate is a phosphorescent tide pool of ambient radiance— the piecemeal illuminator of neophyte stars behind the night sky-pillow. I look to the firmament beyond a marshy parade ground of negligible bones. A question— a bass drone of belly heat about hexagonal portals of light. What source the static interplay in great rift fissures, lightning is scarcely older than oceans, dating only prior to the slug. An entreaty for faith beyond a caldron of notions, in a perfect storm of revelatory vespers—essence of sweet bay laurel—catharsis in the clouds.
Slowly, a taper trembling, her hand reaches and another candle is offered to the virgin. It is a windy night; rain beats against a glass Christ. She imagines saints and martyrs. She sees heroes marching to crusades long past, and breathes a small prayer. And her lover comes to mind: between Sebastian and Stephen, he looms, dark as a shadowed Joseph or a red faced savior. She clutches the taper, burnt, blackened, without a flame, and brings it to her breast. Three times: Through my fault, through my fault, through my fault. One glance backwards and she is at the door. One more tiny prayer and she is on the street asking the rain to wash tears from her face.
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz. His work has appeared in many periodicals as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors is available from Negative Capability Press. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian Joan Juster. 11
Train to Little Siberia, 1999 Claire Hermann
The trains split in the middle of the night one half traveling down one track, one down another. The cars’ destinations are written in white paint on the windows in Cyrillic, an alphabet you cannot read. It is snowing, a dark, windy Christmas weekend. All the shops closed, and the inns. There are no phones. You have no reservation at your next stop, only a schedule for busses that aren’t running. You have a backpack, a coat, a packet of dry soup mix, a paperback copy of Crime and Punishment that you bought at a newsstand four countries ago. A woman in a blue uniform says something that must be “ticket, please,” and you hand her yours. I’d expect your story to end in tragedy, kidnapped, lost, never heard from again – or at least in adversity, no room, no meal, snow, wind, and empty streets painted stark Soviet grey. But you are about to learn a lesson in unearned grace. You will pick the right car. When you get off, a stranger will give you a ride. The hostel will open one room. You will eat dinner with the hostel-keepers family, and walk with them through pine-decked white streets while church bells ring. The brother of a friend from home will find you. He will invite you to his house, serve fondue and white wine. The radio will sing carols in Dutch and German as you dip your bread into the common pot. At night you will go sledding down a hill called “The Lonesome Death,” and laughing young men will set candles in the snow under a sky grown brilliant with stars. 12
We Walk Together J.P. Christiansen
We are pilgrims and strangers traveling this beautiful Earth our home for just a little while coming to seek our place where lonesome rivers meet. We are pilgrims and strangers like our brothers and sisters who came this way, like us traversing deserts, unforgiving, into lands of woods and hill where paths lead us home to the ones awaiting there in knowing who we really are. Our words were born from this, of years, many the a thousand into age in realizing we are one. We are pilgrims and strangers coming to know that we are not as together we walk from here.
Claire Hermann’s poetry has been published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Earth’s Daughters, EarthSpeak, Caesura, and dirtcakes, and is forthcoming in Southern Women’s Review, Lines + Stars, and Prime Number. She was a finalist for the 2012 North Carolina Poet Laureate’s award. She writes on her back porch in the woods in Pittsboro, NC. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, J.P. Christiansen settled in the United States some years ago, and he’s been a restless soul ever since, traveling this great country to live and work in various states. He’s completed pilgrimages into his past, through Europe and Scandinavia, and use poetry to ‘settle the score’.
It is Through You by Jamie K. Reaser
You are not apart from Her, but a part of Her. It is through your eyes that Her beauty gains form and story, and too that heart-wrenching lament that initiates boys into authentic manhood. It is through your ears that Her song finds the drum and rhythm, and too that ancient requiem of longing that Sees the wild yearning to be seen in the woman who has not fully forgotten what a humming child knows of liberation. Through your calloused hands, She touches her own body. Through your bare and wanting feet, She can travel to places of Herself in the way that none of us can go alone. So, this I must say: Take no part in your tale of unworthiness. Make short banter with all language of doubt.
Let there be no more epic sagas in which the hero falls silently upon the very sword that She has forged for him of Her very own smelted heart. No Sir. As a part of Her myself and upon Her behalf in the manner that serves all kin baring close resemblance to the Breath of Life, I ask of you this with a polite yet rabid fierceness, because anything else would be too small an effort in lieu of what is most important, Do this: Upon every tender inspiration, Upon every harrowed vulnerability, let your tongue drip with languid bliss and humor the wisest of trembling pearls – all the while knowing, you speak, with the Mother’s tongue.
Jamie K. Reaser is a practitioner and teacher of eco-psychology, nature-based spirituality, and various approaches to expanding human consciousness, as well as a conservation biologist, poet, writer, artist, and homesteader-in-progress. Jamie has a passion for bringing people into their hearts, inspiring the heartbeat of community, and, ultimately, empowering people to live with a heart-felt dedication to Mother Earth. Her writing explores themes related to Nature and human nature in this magical, yet chal lenging, time of the Great Turning. She is the editor of the Courting the Wild Series, as well as the author of Huntley Meadows: A Naturalist’s Journal in Verse, Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out and Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life. Jamie is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers. She makes her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. 13
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
A Different Homecoming
by Armel Dagorn
e’re in t-shirts, and although the days are getting shorter it’s still bright and warm. It’s probably my last dinner al fresco for a while, and I smile. We’re silent for a minute when we sit down at the table, not out of shyness, but to let the peaceful happiness soak in. We admire the view, the vines that start a few feet from the table and run in green stripes down the slope as far as you can see, then fade into a blur. Beyond, the skyline of Nantes reminds us civilization is just there. It reminds us it’s not here, too. We congratulate Xavier on the view, on the house standing behind us. Or sitting, rather, for this is not a city house, nor a northern one. It’s a lazy, elongated bungalow with a thick roof of orange tiles, much different from the dark slates of my birthplace. I guess it’s true what they say, the south starts on the Loire’s southern bank. Somewhere, down in the blur, starts the south.
Le Louroux-Bottereau, France
time between jobs, I knew what I had to do. I must roam further than usual, slot myself for once into old friends’ busy schedules like they oftentimes do in mine. That’s how I came to Louroux-Bottereau. I hadn’t seen Xavier, or Romain and Rémi, in years. We’d tried having a reunion a few times before but had never managed to. We haven’t changed much, which is a relief. We still laugh at the same stupid jokes, although we got chubbier since our school days, and we all have girlfriends we live with. In rented houses, granted, but houses all the same. Rémi talks passionately about work, Xav tells me he’ll have to give me a tour of his studio. Romain, like me, is between jobs. Now and then I look up from my plate or away from my friends’ faces and look over the infinite vines. I feel like I’m in a Joe Dassin song, dripping nostalgia for gone hobo days, and tenderness for the slow settling down that follows. Xavier says we’ll go to Jousselière tomorrow, try some nice white, put our noses to different cépages and leave with a few boxes of wine. Chon, he says, is a jolly fellow who claims his three glasses a day got him to ninety. The postcard France we tout tourists seems to exist, extraordinarily, in that moment, and despite the training of years of self-deception I realize it’s not only my friends and family I miss—that bloody country I love too.
“ I feel like I’m in a Joe Dassin song, dripping nostalgia
for gone hobo days,
and tenderness for the slow
settling down that follows. ”
The expat’s fate is to see his country get ever smaller. Every trip to France is the same pilgrimage : my hometown and parents, then Brittany and the rest of my family. My diehard friends I see in slots, whenever possible, within the tight space-time window my trip home is. I can’t afford the troops of friends I used to have. When I got three weeks off, an exceptional expanse of
Armel Dagorn is a 27-year-old French man who has been living in Cork, Ireland for a few years. His writing appears in magazine such as Southword, The Penny Dreadful and 34th Parallel. You can find more at http://armeldagorn.wordpress.com 15
Bach Meditation Colin Dodds
Dig the needle harder into the record, let’s hear what it really sounds like. The sound is a high, fine whine that shines through the sky’s impedimenta, walks through the high-ceilinged forests with God and rolls in so close that I can’t help but award my body of damp cardboard a radiant heart this time. The music strands me where the newspaper is the anomaly. But a man who wrote music for an organ as big as a dinosaur never promised common ground.
Cooper River, Midwinter Rachel Adams
Over the seawall, past the shining line where the ocean begins, two cargo ships are moving like driftwood clumps toward the shore, their motors growling, sending a dull hum underneath the docks, the tourists' feet, the cannons that roll the sound of flat gray water inside their hollows, the narrow cobbled streets that spread out like a star. Walking the pier, we can feel the press of woolen uniforms against skin, anachronistic in the summer heat; skirt-spheres hovering along the slanted floor of a pastel-hued keep, now moldering; cellars soaked with the scent of drying fish and meat; the river flooding in to swell the spaces between the bricks; time running and standing.
Rachel Adams is a Baltimore native and longtime resident of Washington, DC; the editor of several publications at a nonprofit advocacy association; the founder and editor of Lines + Stars; and a freelance writer. Her poetry has previously been published in Blueline, Arsenic Lobster, Town Creek Poetry, Four and Twenty, Ophelia Street, Grasslimb, Urbanite Baltimore, Melusine, Memoir, Free State Review, Crack the Spine, and The Conium Review and is forthcoming in The North American Review. Her piece “What You Bring Along” was nominated in early 2013 for a Pushcart Prize. She received her BA in English from the Catholic University of America and her MA in writing from the Johns Hopkins University. Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment– A Tragedy, was named a semi-finalist in 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poems have appeared in scores of publications, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. 16
Versions of Kabir — XCI J.K. McDowell
At the River
James Hannon In that desert space they finally met upon the banks, still soaking wet— then days of grace they’d not forget in the days of torture coming yet. What talks they had by the riverbed, those two who knew that to be led to lead, to bleed, to lose one’s head is the only way to raise the dead. It takes hope to cherish humankind when many lag so far behind, to kin and strangers so unkind, but they could not leave them helpless, blind. For those who have turned away from lies there is no need for long goodbyes, no tears to shed, no desperate sighs. The way is clear in each other’s eyes.
James Hannon is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts where he accompanies adolescents and adults who are recovering from disappointments, illusions, and addictions. His poems have appeared in Chantarelle’s Notebook, Cold Mountain Review, Soundings East, Victorian Violet Press and others, and are forthcoming in Assisi and Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets (Sundress Publications).
I can read and write the ancient languages. My fans petition for a proclamation of greatness or At least an honorary degree. But what is the use of all this? Afloat. Thirsty. Burning. This is not living! Pride and vanity are useless baggage. Kabir says: “The Divine is swift. Leave that luggage in the sand. Call out and chase your Lord.”
Versions of Kabir — IX J.K. McDowell
There is a secret word That cannot be spoken or written. Some say the Divine is this, not that, Others say that, not this. I cannot say. If I say the Divine is just inside me, Creation is diminished. If I say the Divine is just outside me, I lie. The Divine is inside the outer, outside the inner. Confused yet? It stands on the solid ground of the unconscious. It soars on the wings of the conscious. Not manifest, not hidden. Not revealed nor unrevealed. The Divine is beyond words, But poets keep trying.
J. K. McDowell is an artist, poet and mystic, an Ohioan expat living in Cajun country. In the last decade a deepened study of poetry and shamanism and nature has inspired a regular practice of writing poetry that blossomed into the works presented in this collection. McDowell lives twenty miles north of the Gulf Coast with his soul mate who also happens to be his wife and their two beautiful companion parrots. He is the author of Night, Mystery & Light. 17
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
Journeys in Natural History 20
A Preview of a Forthcoming Book by Eric D. Lehman The author of Insiders’ Guide to Connecticut and A History of Connecticut Wine
Afoot in Connecticut is a love letter to this often overlooked region of America, an inspirational story that will have you taking to the trails and the greenways, along the beaches and mountaintops, and into a land full of transformation, of beauty, and of strength. It is a memoir about erasing the tracks of the past and starting a new life, and it is an investigation of local ecology, geography, and natural history. It is both a call for preservation and a moving love story. It proposes that the answer to the question who am I cannot be answered without asking where am I?
n a quiet summer day I parked under the white pines at Sleeping Giant State Park and shouldered a heavy pack full of love letters. Heading down the rocky path, I paused at the Mill River, watched a fisherman cast for trout, and then headed up the trail to the old quarry. A happy couple frolicked below on the grassy meadow, and I looked away, gripping my walking stick up the steep, barren ridge, past a twisted tree, up and up into the sky. Breathing heavily, crushed under the weight of the load, I struggled my way up the edge of the quarry, and beyond it to the flat forehead of the Giant, where I rested on a large boulder. Instead of continuing on the trail to the cliffs that formed the monstrous chin, I turned left into the sparse forest and yellow grasses, heading down again past the falcon nests, carefully placing feet on the steep, pathless slope. Finally, in a small vertical meadow I set the pack down and tested the earth with my walking stick. Finding an appropriate spot, I took out my small primus stove and boiled water, letting the wind blow my hair from my face. When the brew had finished, I sipped the steaming tea, idly sifting through the box of letters, reading a line here and there. Then, putting the empty mug away, I pulled a shovel from the heavy pack and began to dig. When I first moved to Connecticut, my explorations of the Nutmeg state began with my car. I drove through nearly every town, on every road, following the gray lines of my topographic maps. I found villages and lakes that existed in no guide book. I traveled on weekends and weekdays, stopping for coffee at diners and for pizza at delis. I put forty thousand miles on my car in this way. Much of that time I was driving
to trailheads, or searching for them, because the best way to know a country is on foot. All the great explorers and writers will tell you this. And so, I took them literally, and began to give up my car in favor of my own two legs. I wanted to explore every inch of path in the state that had become my home. Connecticut is often the most overlooked of the New England states. Other states have higher mountains, grander beaches, more famous cities. Other states in the area have become famous, while we seem to linger in relative obscurity, caught between the city-pinchers of Boston and New York. But it is that very obscurity which leaves our state so precious for the walker. Instead of giant parks or famous resorts, we have quiet country lanes and villages. We also have more walking space per acre than many other states. Where I grew up, southeast Pennsylvania, trails are few and far between. There are a few long greenways, but no real trail networks and a scattering of state parks, spread out over an area the size of our own modest state. Here there seemed to be endless possibilities. I steadily checked off each walk in the various hiking guides. I clocked miles on the Blue Trail system, paging through the famed Connecticut Walk Book. And with my Atlas of Connecticut Topographical Maps, I found other paths and trails, old roads that led nowhere, and hidden hills that no trail led to. All this time I was creating memories—Letting tired feet dangle in the lovely cascade at Southford Falls. Running on the boardwalk above the swamp at Dinosaur State Park, the state’s premier paleontological site. Watching the 21
crashing winter Sound through the frame of the railroad tunnel at Rocky Neck. Writing a poem while perching on a stream-boulder in Twin Brooks Park in Trumbull and reading Stephen Graham’s The Gentle Art of Tramping on a cool bed of damp moss by the Natchaug River. Smelling the salt air while watching white sailboats and gray fishing boats from the old lighthouse at Stonington Point. And lying in a high meadow of long grass on the ridge of Osborndale State Park, at one with the magnificent, cloud-blue sky. Though I have lived in Connecticut for less than two decades, I have hiked so often that the memories blur and darken already. I know that the first wild place I walked was Sleeping Giant, and I vaguely remember the first time I visited, reading the tangled trail map and ambitiously decided on a circumnavigation of the park. But I remember absolutely nothing of the actual hike. It has been overwritten by dozens of other rambles over the Giant’s limbs. All told, I have wandered here over a hundred times, with dozens of friends and students, all of them overlapping in memory like crowds of ghosts. But those hikes were still in the future that summer day when I perched on the empty side of the Giant’s head, burying a box of love letters in the rocky earth. Those letters, or the woman who sent them to me, were the only reason I had come to Connecticut, and now she had left me. Multi-colored letters declaring love and longing had no place in a world without her, or indeed without any human presence. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw them away. I wanted to let them dissolve there, to give the earthworms some good roughage. Perhaps I was littering, I don’t know. At any rate, I finished digging, and placed the box deep in the earth. Dirt and rocks followed. Then I stood quietly there on that seldomseen spot, down the steep tilting slope between the cliffs. Barely a minute passed before a doe and newborn fawn stepped carefully by, not twenty yards away. I stood absolutely still and they looked directly at me and either did not see or did not care. The mother and child seemed to bless my enterprise, and as I buried my past, I felt the newness and awkwardness of my next life beginning, a walking life on the brownstone paths of Connecticut. But on that day I had no clue how extraordinary my journeys would become: that I would explore hidden caves, track countless wild animals, and attempt hikes clear across the state. I had no idea how this land of gentle mountains and little rivers would change me. But I could see the first step ahead. Shading my eyes and turning north, I could see across the state, to a hundred other special places like this one, and then the map of our entire state was before my eyes, blue trails and greenways spread out like the arteries of a larger giant, one that only waits for us to wake it with the tapping of a thousand tiny walking sticks. My pack was light as I walked away from the tomb of love letters. It was a fine place to start again.
—”Chapter One: A Land of Sleeping Giants”, Afoot in Connecticut
Photo taken by Amy Nawrocki
“Afoot in Connecticut is a gift of knowledge and love to those who have traveled or would travel Connecticut’s trails and waterways, mountains and shores.” — Dick Allen, Connecticut State Poet Laureate
Eric D. Lehman is a historian and travel writer, and the Director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport. His essays, stories, and reviews have been published in dozens of journals, newspapers, and magazines, from Rackelhanen Fly Fishing to Wilderness House Literary Review. He is the author of numerous books about his adopted state, including the Insiders’ Guide to Connecticut, A History of Connecticut Food, and A History of Connecticut Wine. He lives in Hamden with his wife, the poet Amy Nawrocki, and their two cats.
West Woods Cemetery
How to Say Goodbye
Sharing the ground with the low stones of an old wall, a thickly scarred maple, perhaps not even a sapling when names
Badges of mica shimmer in the sun-bathing rocks and the thirsty earth sends
by Amy Nawrocki
were etched in granite, spreads its limbs to shade a patch of club moss. In a hollow high on the trunk, a family of raccoons wakes in the midday sun. Tiny, patched heads peek with sleepy eyes from the tear-shaped opening; a cautious mother tries to shield her suckling kits from those who might steal them. A striped tail slipping through the crease of wood or an outstretched leg is reprimanded back into protection of the den. Too small to venture down the tree, the babies have not yet tested the dexterity of their hands, never pressed an acorn or frog between them, nor tunneled beneath the fixed stakes of a fence. Chattering like birds, they don’t sense the luck of birth, sequestered above grassy hummocks half-empty with nearly forgotten tombs. Soon they will learn the secrets of the mask, how to face a moonless night and scavenge the dull nocturne of suburbia. However crafty and industrious the newborns become, it will be hard to pass up the easy traverse across a paved road, and scurry fast enough to miss the black tumult of oncoming tires; flies will swarm in silent thunder around gnarled grey fur stuck in unburied rigor, outstretched paws clawing at a thin gray sky.
by Amy Nawrocki
missionaries—brown mosses crunching underfoot; leaves absorbing the prism, reflecting the short, electromagnetic waves we have come to call green, and grasses turning now, slightly away as if to say, enough, spreading chlorophyll cylinders to catch a dreamed of rain drop. Even crickets sing with parched voices; their constancy interrupted by an intermittent hiccup; small bow legs pause to rest and then return to syncopation. It’s too hot for human flesh: our scales have fallen off, and our naked, unprotected cells do not photosynthesize. We are sticks fallen from hardy oaks, vulnerable to the breakage of heat. But there are promises, too here in this parched world: of shelter, protection, the sip of a cool night, the awe of witnessing the burden of change; promises of relief if only we hang on until our reddest moment, after we’ve turned everything to sugar and can let go knowing winter’s white can hold us.
Amy Nawrocki lives in Hamden, CT and teaches at the University of Bridgeport. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently Lune de Miel, published by Finishing Line Press. She is the co-author, along with her husband Eric D. Lehman, of two prose works: A History of Connecticut Wine and A History of Connecticut Food.
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
Interview With Michael Longley
by Emmett Gilles
hen I first saw Michael Longley, I knew immediately it was him. The bright white beard was telltale, but it was his manner that revealed the character of the man. I watched him from the other side of the street, slowly making his way toward me, with a green reusable shopping bag and a tall red umbrella under his arm. He seemed to be lost in a reverie, yet keenly attentive to the particularities of the world around him. As he shuffled along in his high waisted trousers, off-balanced by the awkwardness of the umbrella, he would look up, notice some flower or object in a shop window, and then, with a funny little bob of his head, pay his respects and trundle along. He saw me as he reached the curb, and his face crinkled up in a curious combination of a smile and a squint. “Are you Emm-mett?” he asked, enunciating the syllables of my name carefully. His eyes were beady, birdlike. He winked often and seemingly unconsciously, giving the impression of a keen but friendly intelligence behind his gentle demeanor. I told him I was, and shook his extended hand, noticing how small, scabby, and somewhat tired it was. He stooped over his umbrella like a cane, back hunched, somewhat smaller than I’d imagined him. Longley’s physical was a palpable reminder to me that the poet had aged even as his poetry remains young. He is 72 now, and in a month he will be 73. He said he is “perhaps too much in love with his granddaughter,” but he indignantly protested one critic’s suggestion that his recent poems dedicated to his grandsons are “sentimental.” Longley hadn’t come empty-handed (even after setting down his umbrella and reusable bag). “If you have one of these already, give this to a friend,” he said. It was a limited print copy of his early translations, entitled Wavelengths. “It’s more Latin than Greek,” he apologized. The thin volume was
beautifully bound and stenciled with wood engravings done by one of Longley’s friends. I was speechless. What inspired such generosity towards me in this gentle, marvelous man? I asked him how he could be so kind to me when there were tons of students who’d love to sit down to chat with him. “Oh, really?” he said quietly, “are there?....I guess I wouldn’t really have a sense for that kind of thing. I thought I was rather anonymous.” His humility faded into a more personal note: “You know, the reason I decided to talk…to have lunch with you,” he said warmly, “is because I liked your letters. I liked the way you wrote to me.” Longley was referring to the miniature letter campaign I’d launched to secure our meeting. After a number of exchanges with his US publisher at Wake Forest, I’d succeeded in obtaining an e-mail address. I knew this was my chance to convince Longley to meet me. I told him of my interest in him, and my senior thesis, describing myself as “a fellow Homer-haunted soul, a student and a great admirer of yours.” I thought that would grab his attention, but I couldn’t resist adding one final hook: “In a different sense than you may have originally meant the words, I’ll mention a quote of yours which has especially inspired me: ‘If I knew where poems come from, I’d go there.’ For me, the imperative within that statement was clear, and so I’ve come to Ireland to find the poetry I love.” A few hours later, Longley responded with a brief e-mail inviting me to “have lunch or something like that” in Belfast. “It pleases me a great deal that you enjoy my versions,” he wrote at the bottom. He was lonely, in a way, I realized as we talked over lunch. Not that he didn’t have friends- his correspondences with Mahon and Heaney are legendary, and he struck up con-
The author, Emmett Gilles is a senior Classics and Comparative Literature major at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. For his senior thesis on “Homer in the Poetry of Michael Longley”, he traveled to Ireland this summer to interview Michael Longley. Michael Longley is a contemporary poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Educated in the Classics at Trinity College Dublin, where he published his first poems in the journal Icarus, Longley returned to Belfast in the sixties to continue writing and publishing poetry, even as sectarian violence drove poets like Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon out of Northern Ireland. Longley’s later collections return to Homer in lyrical, freestanding versions that comment obliquely on personal grief and political violence in the poet’s community. Most famous among these is the sonnet “Ceasefire,” which reflects upon the provisional IRA ceasefire of 1994 through the reconciliation scene between Priam and Achilles in Book XXIV of the Iliad.
versation easily with the other diners. But someone to talk Homer with—I think he was almost as excited as I was for that. “So you love Homer, do you?” Longley asked me. “Yes,” I said, smiling. “I do, too” he said, and that seemed to seal our initial liking for one another into a more concrete alliance. The first thing Longley wanted to know was whether I wrote poetry. I laughed and told him I only write the occasional romantic poem. He grinned knowingly. “Work, don’t they?” he applauded. “Why do you think the girls believe all that?” I laughed. “Because it’s beautiful,” I said. “Oh,” he said. “Yes, it can be.” “So what have you been reading now,” he wanted to know. “Most scholarship I find a little boring,” he whispered, leaning in conspiratorially. “You say that like it’s a secret,” I said. He leaned back his head and guffawed. “Oh, that’s a good one,” he said. “That’s very good.” I asked Longley about his time as a classics student at Trinity. He spoke fondly of his old teacher, Stanford, who was a “beautiful man, within and without.” Greek class with Stanford, however, could be very “stiff ” and “old school.” As an undergraduate, Longley confessed to being rather lackadaisical about attending Stanford’s mandatory lectures. Once, after he had missed several weeks in a row, Stanford confronted him rather sternly: “Where were you at the lecture yesterday, Longley?” Longley chuckled as
he recounted his response: “I overslept, Prof. Stanford, and couldn’t make it over in time.” Stanford: “The lecture was at 11…Where do you live, Longley?” Turns out Longley slept in a dorm hall on campus, five minutes from the lecture. Stanford instructed Longley to see him at Stanford’s office early in the next week. As Longley remembers, he spent the weekend dreading the meeting, expecting to be set back a year in his studies for failing to attend the lecture. That weekend, however, one of his poems was published in Icarus, Trinity’s poetry journal. Next week he came in to Stanford’s office, expecting the worst. Stanford’s demeanor was severe. He dressed Longley down sternly, explaining that attendance was mandatory and that Longley’s truancy was grounds for failing him. “And do you expect me to let you get away with that, just because you’re a poet?” he concluded. “Certainly not, sir,” Longley returned. “Well, I’m going to,” said the inveterate Stanford, “because I like your poems.” Longley told another Stanford story, this one with a trace of pride. The class had been reading Aristotle’s Poetics, and Longley had been (once again) lax in completing his reading. Called upon in class to say something insightful about poetry and prose, he burst out, “Well sir, if prose is a river, poetry’s a fountain.” Years later, Longley told me, he returned to Trinity for a class reunion and Stanford approached him from across the room, “If I could do it all over again,” said the now-elderly Stanford, “I’d be a poet rather than a schol-
Poetry is like a flick of the wrist,” Longley told me before lunch was over, making the motion with his hand. “You have to be insouciant. It’s like anything else. Have you ever made a group of people laugh? Writing a good poem is like that. It’s better than food, than drink, than sex even. And that’s saying something!
ar.” Longley gave me a long look. “I wish I’d attended more of his lectures,” he said. I wanted to ask Longley about Homer more directly, so I took the next chance to ask him about his return to the classics after nearly three decades. From 1969 until 1991, Homer had almost completely disappeared from Longley’s work. Then, in Gorse Fires, he launched a set of seven Homeric poems. I asked Longley about the two explanations he has given in the past for this sudden emergence. One was that events in his own life led him to seek resonance in Homer, who “let me write belated lamentation for my mother and father.” Another was that Homer empowered him to comment obliquely on political violence in Ireland. So I asked him if he thought these two themes were only coincidentally related, or if there was a connection that brought both of them out in his Homeric versions. “I hate those binaries,” he said. “Critics love them, but they’re always too simple.” “Poetry is like a flick of the wrist,” Longley told me before lunch was over, making the motion with his hand. “You
have to be insouciant. It’s like anything else. Have you ever made a group of people laugh? Writing a good poem is like that. It’s better than food, than drink, than sex even. And that’s saying something!” Talking about the poets he’s read and studied over the course of his life, Longley said offhand, “People sort of blast your soul sometimes; they don’t know they’re doing it.” Did he know what he was doing? Suddenly tired, he stood to go, and gathered his things about him. Outside, he opened his umbrella with the delight of a child. “I got it in France,” he said. “It’s a poppy, see?” He was already drifting back into his dream world of flowers, birds, and snatches of ancient poetry. “We will be in touch,” he said. “It was a great pleasure to talk with you.” I watched him as he shuffled off, his sleepy movements like dance steps to music only the dancer could hear. —Emmett Gilles June 29, 2012 - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Photo Above: Author and Michael Longley © Scott Rodd | Photo on Page 32: War Poets Association website. © Patrick Redmond 29
The Occasional Error J.B. Mulligan
I preen demurely, puffed with modest pride, while the god in which I believe I believe, to which all the other gods all pray, is there beside those gods, kneeling without knees, and singing without voice. I keep learning to try and avoid this and sometimes do, and sometimes slip again into my shallowness, floundering and thrashing on foam and tangled seaweed, while whales undulate and flute through shadows and currents deeper than my sky.
A Death Of God
The Snake in My Head Stephen Witty
Devours Well-disposed cells Sucks out Reason and sense This loathsome reptile Demon Single-minded, ravenous Extruding ash
This artisan self Burns blue
The mask became so vivid, there could not be a face or space hidden behind it.
Instinct and desire Rendered flesh
The song died on the page from ceremonies of smoke and loose ecstatic usage, the image and expression smoothed like wax, the startling heartlight gone, the wick extinct. The loss was denied by some, who saw in the battered wall a face,
Holy serpent Mother of grace Passion and lust Muscle, sinew Bone and blood Tracing circles It stop, slithers Coilsâ€”and strikes!
while others angrily ripped antique pages of water, unable to drink except from a man-shaped cup. Stephen Witty lives on a small ranch in southern Colorado, just under the Collegiate Peaks range and near the small town of Salida. He practices psychology and Jungian analysis locally and in Colorado Springs. He has previously published short fiction and poetry in The Roanoke Review, The Maryland Review, and Psychological Perspectives, and also directed a couple of documentary films about Jungian psychology. J.B. Mulligan has had poems and stories in several hundred magazines, including recently, Angle, The Kerf, Loch Raven Review, Turbulence, and Shot Glass Journal, has had two chapbooks published: The Stations of the Cross and This Way To The Egress, and has appeared in multiple volumes of the anthology, Reflections on a Blue Planet as well as the anthology, Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets. 30
he houses of the small town stretched across two big hills like old, white bones and that fall the lives of their inhabitants went on as always, day in day out, behind the thick stone walls and dark narrow streets. Here everyone seemed to share a common pallor. Even the children playing outside were not blessed with rosy cheeks; instead their shiny feverish eyes glowed on their drawn, yellow little faces. Their cries were weak and their games were quiet and at any given moment their worried parents might check on them from behind closed blinds. Here, spring was feared for bringing anemia and dizziness, summer was the season for powerful colic, diarrhea and rashes, the fall meant massive hair loss and depression, and the winter brought endless colds, influenza and emphysema. Sickness seemed the only god in these parts, covering the town like a dome and always providing the municipal hospital with an ample supply of believers…. … One morning around eleven a stranger checked in at the Belleview Hotel, prepared to stay the night. — Excerpt from “Belleview Hotel” from Gray Areas
“Behind it all, Carmen gives us a wink and a nod, leaving us feeling as if we’d seen something of ourselves, our humanity, and the beauty and magic of our own mortal existence. She makes us stop and realize that there is always something extraordinary going on behind the sometimes dull rhythms of ordinary life. Gray Areas is a stunning collection.” — Alan Cooke, Emmy Winning Author and Filmmaker
Carmen Burcea-Haber earned a degree in Engineering from the University of Bucharest, and has worked as a model for Romanian and Italian fashion, an actress starring in a movie with Timothy Leary, as a costume designer for numerous films and TV shows in Rome, L.A. and Prague; she wrote and hosted the documentary feature “Last Bus to Baghdad”, has written dozens of short stories, four children’s books, is currently writing a novel and blogs for the Huffington Post.
c o m i n g ju n e 8 , 2 0 1 3
Ho mebou nd publications
Independent Publisher of Contemplative Titles
Photo © Lisa Edmonds
the waystation the waystation the waystation
A Short Story By Tom Gumbert
offee,” he told the girl with the trainee lapel pin in a flat voice. “The strongest, blackest you’ve got.” He stared at her, his look daring her to ask if he needed room for cream. “Would you care for something to eat? Perhaps a scone or a fat free muffin?” He scowled. “What pies do you have?” “I’m afraid we don’t have pie,” she said in a voice that begged for mercy. “Bear claws?” he growled. She shook her head, her face betraying her anxiety, her voice temporarily lost.
Looking at the ceiling disgustedly he was about to tell her only the coffee when she found enough of her voice to eek out, “Apple Fritter?” He paid cash, an obscene amount in his opinion for coffee and a pastry and refused to drop a tip into the clearly marked container for doing so. Some nerve. Hell, they don’t even bring it to your table. Most of the small tables were full as well as all of the leather chairs that looked incredibly comfortable. He sighed. Meandering between the tables he spotted an open one in a far corner and headed for it. No more than two feet from the table, she slid into the chair facing him, stopping him in his tracks. Where the hell had she come from? He
“Death Cab For Cutie.” shook his head and turned to leave. He hadn’t been aware of the music. Had someone just “Please, have a seat.” turned it on? He listened for a few seconds before answer“What?” he asked, not sure if he heard her correctly. ing. “Yeah, I like this. It’s mellow. Comforting.” She held an open palm toward the seat across from Smiling she said, “Perfect on a day like this,” and turned her and smiled radiantly. “It’s the only open chair,” she to look out the window. said, “unless you’d not prefer my company.” He followed her gaze to the storefront window and the Her voice sounded wounded, in sharp contrast to torrent of rain beyond. When did that start? He looked at his her invitation, and it affected him. “Thank you, you’re overcoat which he was inexvery kind.” He set the coffee plicably still wearing and saw and apple fritter on the table, that there was not one drop pulled out the chair and sat upon it. Turning his head to across from her. Avoiding her view the other patrons he saw eyes he looked around the “Quite often in the past no one wet, nor any with umplace. Emblazoned in gold brellas. She seemed oblivious lettering on the blue wall was to this and he started to menThe Waystation. he would be able to determine tion it when she looked at him “I’ve never been here beand smiled and the thought fore,” he muttered. “You?” that the person or event vanished. “I used to come here of“Do you know what you ten but it’s my first time,” she are doing today?” she asked. hesitated, “in quite awhile.” that felt strangely familiar “Well I”—he hesitated, Something in her voice certain that he had plans but seemed sad and he was sure was actually similar to someone unable to recall them. His face that she ended that declarareddened as he shrugged. tion differently than she had or something he had “It’s okay,” she said and her originally intended. eyes seemed to twinkle. She She was looking directly took a sip of her coffee before at him and it unnerved him previously experienced. nodding at his plate and aska bit, though he wasn’t sure ing, “Is that good?” why. She couldn’t have been It was perfectly logical though He looked down at the older than twenty and he, half eaten apple fritter. Had he well, he was very old. Steeling done that? He tried in vain to himself he returned her gaze often disappointing in that fact.” recall the taste. Gently pushand immediately was mesing the plate toward her he merized. Her brown hair fell said, “I’m no longer hungry, just past her shoulders, styled would you like to finish it?” in a way that said, I care but She picked up her fork and I’m not obsessed, her pale chuckling said, “I shouldn’t skin luminescent. Her smile but it looks so tempting.” was genuine, displaying imperfect teeth that he found Breaking a piece off with her fork she raised it to her somehow reassuring but what most captivated him were lips. She chewed slowly and her face conveyed an absolute her eyes. Green hazel with a yellow sunburst encircling the joy that gave a lift to his spirits. She wore no makeup, and pupils, so hypnotic he considered whether she was some needed none. Her face, radiant in the simple pleasure of an type of enchantress. apple fritter, needed no improvement, no concealment. “Do you like Death Cab?” Watching her as she ate he felt a sense of déjà vu. His “Excuse me?” he asked, trying to break the spell and mind attempted to explore that. Quite often in the past he focus on her question. “The music,” her eyes looked up and around them, 33
would be able to determine that the person or event that felt strangely familiar was actually similar to someone or something he had previously experienced. It was perfectly logical though often disappointing in that fact. She raised her eyebrows in an expression of joy that simultaneously brought him amusement and heartbreaking sadness. That expression, by this stranger had felt so familiar, as if he had seen it a thousand times, and invoked an intense pang of loss. “Are you alright?” she asked, her features now unmistakably concerned. He was suddenly aware that his vision was blurred and felt wetness on his cheek. Pulling a handkerchief from his overcoat he dabbed at his eyes. “Yes, yes, just my allergies acting up. Sorry about that.” “It’s okay,” she said softly. She reached out patted the top of his hand with hers, smiling reassuringly. He looked away, unable to meet her eyes and noticed several empty tables. He hadn’t noticed anyone moving about. When did they leave? She was singing now, her voice sweet and light. The words, “Truckin’ down on Bourbon Street,” were familiar. A smile came to him as he remembered. “The Grateful Dead,” he proclaimed. She nodded smiling as she continued to sing. That’s a strange name for band. Would anyone really be grateful to be dead? “Would you like a refill?” she asked, standing now with her hand on his empty cup. “Okay,” he muttered, not recalling drinking from it. He looked around for a clock but could find none. Checking his wristwatch, a classic gold timepiece that had been passed down from his father years ago, he was dismayed to discover that it had stopped. He tapped the face a few times with his forefinger with no result. “Damn.” “Something wrong?” She was standing beside him, coffee in hand and when he didn’t reach for it, she placed it on the table in front of him. “My watch stopped. It’s never stopped before.” “It’s okay. I’ll let you know when it’s time.” He stared at her. What did she mean by that? “Maybe I should go,” he said struggling to move his chair back so he could stand. She placed her hand firmly on his shoulder. “It’s not time,” she said softly before adding, “but it won’t be long.” As she returned to her seat he looked around uneasily. 34
The place was almost empty now and still he couldn’t recall the movement of a single person. He felt dizzy. “You spin me right round, baby, right round,” she sang. “Wwhat?” he stammered. “Dead or Alive,” she said with a smile. Dead or alive? The thought occurred to him. Did he know? Could he tell the difference? Maybe he should go. But where? Both his mind and heart were racing. He tried to remain calm but his hands were shaking and he could feel tears in his eyes. She stopped singing, her brow knitted in concern. “It’s okay. Everything is okay. It won’t be long now and soon you’ll be home.” Unable to control himself he sobbed, the tears dropping onto his necktie. She came to his side and held him, whispering, “Please don’t cry. You’ll be happy soon, I promise.” After a few moments he managed to get himself under control, and grabbed napkins from the table to wipe his face. When his eyes were clear he looked into hers and smiled. “Okay Angel, I’m ready.” She helped him to his feet and looping her arm in his started toward the door. A bus. What else? I’m terrified of planes and have never been on a train, nor would I care to. A bus makes sense. “Is it a long trip?” “It depends on your perspective sir, but just relax and enjoy the ride through God’s country,” the driver said with a smile. She watched as the bus pulled away before taking out her cell phone. “Grandpa’s on his way back to Appleton.” She listened before replying, “Yeah, it was sad,” her voice caught and she took time to compose herself. I’m not sure he understands he’s coming home. I’m not sure he even recognized me though he did call me Angel, like he did when I was a little girl, so maybe…” She listened again, nodding her head as she wiped away a tear. “Yeah, the beginning stages dementia sucks.” Tom Gumbert is an Operations Manager and full time dreamer. He lives in a log home near Cincinnati, OH with his wife Andrea, and their cats Selina, Bagheera and Ringo. When not working or writing, Tom enjoys reading, watching movies and spending too much time staring at the Ohio River. His publishing credits include short stories published in Write This, Black Heart Magazine, Down in the Dirt, See Spot Run, The Vehicle, Inwood, Indiana’s Harvest Time and Milk Sugar. His anthology Nine Lives will be published by All Things That Matter Press and he is currently submitting his novel.
Photo ÂŠ Duncan George
There is not Nothing in the Widower’s Bed
A Different Land
Metaphysic’s first question according to Heidegger: Why is there something and not nothing?
Your eyes used to be a fixed mark on my soul but now
I made my home in that question until this morning when I realized that no one has ever experienced nothing. Nothing is an abstraction like Schrödinger’s cat, a useful place-keeper in a long line of complicated thoughts which may or may not have value beyond the mind’s need to square the circle. The only nothing we know is absence, as for example: There is not nothing in the widower’s bed. No one weeps for nothing. Nothing would be too little for our grief.
Mark Goad It is more daring to lie fallow (I have discovered) than to write ten thousand lines of insolent verse. Anyone can write. Few know how to be still. See how my words betray me.
Mark Goad is a poet now living in the Boston metro area. Born in Ohio, he has lived and studied in Chicago, Geneva, Switzerland and Boston (with sojourns in Connecticut and rural Nebraska). Undergraduate and graduate studies have been completed in English Lit., German language, theology and philosophy. His work has been published previously in Assisi, BAPQ, epiphany, Bluepepper, Decanto, Extracts, Crannóg and other literary journals. 36
I strain against the hours of a love gone sideways. My tears slide from my heart I cry a river to your door for free. No matter. You are sailing on another boat now in a different time, a different land.
The Milky Skies Dawnell Harrison
Under the milky skies You undo me button by Button, heart-bone by Heart-bone. I feel no pull from you At my side. You are reaching towards Another planet, another Moon where I do not reside. The bone ivory moon blinks And does not shine on me. I wither under the branches Of your contrived tree. Dawnell Harrison has been published in over 70 magazines and journals including The Endicott Review, Fowl Feathered Review, Vox Poetica, Abbey, Iconoclast, Puckerbrush Review, Nerve Cowboy, Mobius, Absinthe: A Journal of Poetry, and many others. She is the author of Voyager, The Maverick Posse, and The Fire Behind My Eyes.
There are the Words; and There are the Spaces Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert I. There are the words, and there are the spaces. I live in the spaces. I dwell in the dimension, where letters face each other like wooden soldiers; Over a seemingly empty chasm of paper. But the chasm is not empty. Life exists in the spaces; In the places between, that appear to be blank.
They cannot be given form— Unless letters are gathered together, and these ideas encased within, and words created. (And how beautiful these words can be! How lofty the ideals they embody! But something is lost in translation… Dreams can’t retain their essence, when ladled from that bubbling cauldron Of possibility; Can’t be as they were when enclosed in the tailored suits and slacks; Jackets and ties that are the letters— The letters that make the words, which need the spaces.)
I live in these spaces— (Neither black, nor white) where creed—where logic— Have no influence.
III. It is chaos here—granted…
Life exists in these places.
But the spaces between the words have their own rules; Are governed by their very design.
II. Creed cannot reach here; logic does not take root. Both are confined to the spread of the letters, contained by the letters— I live in these spaces. There are other beings, too. Here exists the ‘other’ that wears no labels; Here lay the thoughts that should be law, but can’t be quantified with words. Here lives the swirling, fertile, potential— The morass of ideas cast aside; and those becoming. But they will not be given form.
A controlled chaos.
And without those spaces, the letters would have no form. Without these places, there would be no beginnings; And endings would have no meaning. Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes science fiction, dark fantasy, and speculative poems from her little corner of Massachusetts. Her poetry has been published in Tales of the Zombie War, Strong Verse, Pagan Edge and Eternal Haunted Summer. Her first published short story, Essie appeared in Luna Station Quarterly, and her short story/ poem Interview with the Faerie (Part I) is available. Suzanne is blessed with a tolerant husband, two mischievous black cats, and two amazing kids. She has degrees in communication and sociology, and is a lifelong science fiction fan and science geek. Find her online: http://suzannereynoldsalpert.blogspot.com. 37
Feature Photographer Devon born photographer Duncan George has had a passion for photography from an early age. Shooting in both colour and black and white his work encompasses landscape, city, street, architectural and industrial genres. His insatiable curiosity and alert eye lead him across fog bound moors and deserted night-time city streets with a style that errs towards the mysterious and melancholic. His work has appeared extensively in print and online. 2012 saw Duncanâ€™s first two exhibitions, both in Singapore, at fine art gallery Art Trove and the Leica Gallery. 2013 has seen him published in the most recent issue of the prestigious online magazine On Landscape. His next major project is to work on his first book, Wild Devon, with US publisher Homebound Publications, scheduled for a 2014 release. www.duncangeorge.com
To Live Near Cornfields Matthew Haughton
J.H. Martin All through the night I sit alone in a forsaken place disturbed by only memories. An endless flux of opposites, which appear only to disappear when the world collides with my opened eyes. Is the plum ripe? I think not, because I think. The past cannot be considered just as the future cannot be seen. If I understand anything then I do not understand. The truth will only become apparent when I stop clinging to this empty moment.
J. H. Martin is from London, England but has no fixed abode. His prose and poetry have appeared in a number of places in Asia, Australia, the UK and the USA. For more information, please visit: http://acoatforamonkey.wordpress. com
To understand yourself is to study resistance. You, student have made your time only with the surface of things. To keep yourself there. All too aware of days shed of their shucks, counted out to each lasted kernel, shed from a steady crop. This is what it means to hold all the spring, to be an admirer of corn fields stretched out along the pasture, and the busy road up ahead, taking you away further and further. Stricken, you yearn for the pierced whistle of each corn stalk, scraping like a bow to the wind.
Matthew Haughton is the author of Stand in the Stillness of Woods (WordTech Editions). His chapbook, Bee-coursing Box (Accents Publications) was nominated for the Weatherford. Award for Appalachian Poetry Book of the Year. His poems have appeared in many journals including Appalachian Journal, Now & Then, Still, Border Crossing, and The Louisville Review. Haughton works as a public school teacher in his native Kentucky.
A Brief Conversation with Karen Levy, Author of the Memoir of My Father’s Gardens
In your memoir, My Father’s Gardens, you chronicle your life in-between the shores of America and Israel and in-between the traditions of both cultures. What made you want to write your story? This particular writing was born of a need to understand where I belonged, and what better way to figure this out than to think it through in writing. Since “inbetween” was the way I lived, it became progressively more important for me to figure out what I represented, where I was accepted, to whom or what I owed my allegiance. Setting my ideas in writing allowed me to explore my two worlds and how I fit into them. Families usually like their tribulations kept private. Has your decision to put down your story caused any backlash among your relations? Like other forms of writing, memoir too, it seems, is open to interpretation. While my father read with an open mind and an appreciation for my honesty, my mother was none too pleased with my account of our life, and in fact, stopped attending my public readings and has nothing to do with the birth of this book . Her version of the truth is clearly different from my own. Yet once I discovered my voice, my written self, and how liberating it feels to have gained enough power in language to make that voice heard, there was little chance I was going to silence it for fear that it might displease certain individuals. Very little would be created if we stopped ourselves each time someone disagreed with our ideas. I think it is accurate to say that your intention in telling your story was to show a coming to terms with what you are and what people would have wished you to be. The story is, at its heart, a journey of self-definition, wherein you try to make a place for yourself while straddling two worlds. Would you say this is true?
I would agree with the idea that this writing is a way of establishing my place in the world, a way of defining myself through language. The frequency with which my family moved between my two shores made it difficult to define who I am and what kind of voice I should have, and the written word allowed me to work through the dilemma of choosing a self that would be comfortable to wear so to speak. I tried for quite some time to be someone I was not, to be American enough or Israeli enough, to behave in ways expected of a “good” girl from a proper home, in other words, to play the part expected of me. In the end one has to be able to recognize oneself in the mirror and actually like what they see regardless of what others think. What do you hope readers will take away from your story? Despite being an account of my personal experiences, I hope that I captured them in a meaningful enough way for an audience to enjoy and perhaps even relate on certain levels. After all, so many of us have dreams and heartbreak and hopes and secrets and a need to belong that regardless of my unique circumstances the story is at its heart, universal. We all want to understand and to be understood.
My Father’s Gardens will be released April 6, 2013 from Homebound Publications. It will be available in paperback and ebook. 41
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Nominated for the 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominated for the 2013 Whitney Award Coming in Audio Book to iTunes, Amazon and Audible.com Summer 2013! “Arey’s tale has all the elements of a good storytelling: opposition, mystery, intrigue, war, and my favorite—a touch of romance.” — Joan Sowards, author of The Star Prophecy
hen John wakes on the shores of Caprecia, he realizes that something is terribly wrong. Having been discovered and awoken by kind and caring strangers, he comes to find that not only is he nearly paralyzed and unable to talk, but his memory has failed him as well. Eventually overcoming the phenomenon that left him physically impaired, John learns from those who take him in that he isn’t alone in his strange circumstances. Confronted with the truth that everyone around him is as lost as he is, John strives to regain his identity and the connection he has to the face of a woman seen in his dreams. However, finding himself in a colony of supposed shipwrecks fraught with the danger of impending war makes his search no small task. “In Powers of Influence, Jordan Arey’s stunningly beautiful debut novel, we’re immediately set adrift on the shores of a land where it seems even dreams go to die. The fun, of course, is finding our way back home. It’s a poignant and poetic story of lost love, new friendship, and finding answers even when we don’t know how to ask the right questions. If you liked The Alchemist, you’ll love Powers of Influence.” — Tommy Zurhellen, author of Nazareth, North Dakota
Like most kids, Jordan Arey passed through that childhood stage of eager questioning where he can remember being answered many times by his father: “Why all the questions? Are you writing a book?” Though he had no plans at the time of ever doing so, Jordan’s continued interest in finding and articulating timeless truths never waned. Over the years, his contemplations on life’s mysteries inspired him to pursue writing, and by the time he had married the woman of his dreams, he had taken to the art with increased focus, eventually producing his novel on life itself, Powers of Influence. www.homeboundpublications.com www.jordanarey.com
Independent Publisher of Contemplative Titles w w w. h o m e b o u n d p u b l i c a t i o n s . c o m
Homebound P u bl icat io ns
Announcing the Homebound Publications Poetry Prize! The period for entries is September 1, 2012 - June 1, 2013. The winning manuscript will be published by Homebound Publications. The winning author will be offered a generous 25% royalty contract and receive 10 free copies of the book to help further their promotional efforts. To enter, submit a manuscript between 48-80 pages in length by June 1, 2013. The entry fee is $25. All entrants will receive a free copy of the winning book. The winning author will receive a feature spread in Homebound Publications’ journal, The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature. Entry Guidelines & Eligibility The col lec tion must be previously unpub lished. (No anthologies). The author must hold full rights to their work. International entries are welcome; however manuscripts must be in English. A limited number of individual poems may have appeared in print or online but the poet must hold sole rights to the work. Multiple entries by a single author are welcome but a separate entry forms and fees must be paid for each entry. Deadline for entries is June 1, 2013. The winner will be notified June 15, 2013. Winner will be publicly announced August 1, 2013 and release September 1, 2013. All entries will be considered for publication. for complete entry guidelines go to: www.homeboundpublications.com
Published on Mar 18, 2013
The spring issue will feature an interview with the award-winning poet Michael Longley by Emmett Gilles. A preview of Afoot in Connecticut b...