Wayfarer ISSN 2169-3145
A Journal of Contemplative Literature
The Irish Kerouac
An Interview with Emmy-Winning Filmmaker Alan Cooke by L.M. Browning
The Wine and the Brine Walking Cape Cod with Thoreau by Eric D. Lehman
The Bones That Were Our People
An Essay by C. L. Prater
Feature Photographer Duncan George
Featuring the poetry of Martin Willitts Jr., Leah Shelleda, Aaron Cornett, Ysabel Schuld, Amber Koneval, Theodore Richards, Andrea Freeman, Jamie K. Reaser, Daniel Ari, Ryan Bayless, Julian Berengaut, William Akin and Thomas Zimmerman. With photography by Eleanor Leonne Bennett. Also featuring previews of Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity by L.M. Browning and Powers of Influence by Jordan Arey.
ÂŠ Duncan George
Wayfarer A Journal of Contemplative Literature VOL. 1 ISSUe. 1
The End of the Road by Duncan George
Wine and the Brine: Walking Cape Cod with Thoreau by Eric D. Lehman
The Poetry of Martin Willitts Jr. The Poetry of Leah Shelleda The Poetry of Aaron Cornett The Poetry of Ysabel Schuld The Poetry of Amber Koneval
12 13 14 15 15
Preview of Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity
The Wayfarer: A Journal Entry by Theodore Richards
The Bones that Were Our People An Essay by C.L. Prater
Deer of Lyme by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
Tea on the Mountain by Andrea Freeman
The Poetry of Jamie K. Reaser The Poetry of Daniel Ari The Poetry of Ryan Bayless
28 30 31
The Irish Kerouac: An Interview with Emmy Winning Filmmaker Alan Cooke by L.M. Browning
High Street by Duncan George
The Poetry of Julian Berengaut The Poetry of William Akin The Poetry of Thomas Zimmerman
38 38 39
Foxcrow Hill A Short Story by Grace Hertenstein
Preview of Powers of Influence
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. We currently publish both poetry and prose. In each issue we feature travel writing, short stories, interviews, original art and photography. We seek to explore the spiritual progression we are currently experiencing as individuals and a global community. We consider each piece we publish to be a milestone marker along the road to a fuller comprehension. We welcome everything from commentary articles, to well-developed essays to late-night scribbling, jotted down in moments of acute clarity. 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. So often in this age of commerce, entertainment supersedes growth; books of lesser integrity but higher marketability are chosen over those with much-needed truth but small audiences. Homebound focuses on the quality of the truth and insight present within an author’s writing before any other considerations. We seek books written by soul-oriented individuals putting forth their works in an effort to restore depth, highlight truth and improve the quality of living for their readers. © 2012 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.
TheWine and theBrine Walking Cape Cod with Thoreau
by Eric D. Lehman
fter days of planning and packing, I forgot the boots. My wife Amy and I had driven out to Cape Cod, in order to follow the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau. “Some locals suggested sneakers anyway,” I said dubiously, to comfort Amy and calm myself. Of course, Thoreau had no hiking boots, and wore low, slipperlike shoes, similar to modern sneakers. But he did often complain of the constant necessity of emptying sand from them, and his feet and mind were tough as old hemp rope. Thoreau had traveled to Cape Cod four times, in 1849, 1850, 1855, and 1857, walking the length and breadth of the peninsula, alone and with companions. Now, this small finger of the continent is a tourist paradise, where hurried people come to relax rather than explore. Not that tourists did not exist in Thoreau’s time, but he certainly did not seem one of them. Having long been a devotee of his theories on walking, I thought perhaps this difference had something to do with his mode of travel. Seeing things from a car, or perhaps even a bicycle, can blur and distort them. It can also deaden the explorer’s instinct that each human naturally possesses. When Thoreau finally stood on his own two feet by the outermost shore, he exclaimed: “It was not as on a map, or seen from the stage coach; but there I found it all out of doors, huge and real, Cape Cod! As it cannot be represented on a map, color it as you will.” Therefore I had convinced both my wife and myself that we had to get out into what wild remained and see things in a new way, get rid of the “stage coach views” that Thoreau despised. Unfortunately, as I planned this unusual summer vacation, I found walking the Cape not so easy. There is no camping on the National Seashore, nor are there motels or inns along the Atlantic beach. Unlike some mountainous regions of America, these beaches and dunelands have no marked, permanent trails. On the other hand, the booming tourist industry makes other sections unsuitable for anything but driving a car. Luckily, a few people had hiked sections of the Cape, if not the whole thing, and I was able to cobble together a long, zigzag trail. As I studied Thoreau’s Cape Cod, I wondered if anything remained that he would have recognized. Was true exploration impossible? We drove the long highway from home through a misty June rain. Heading off the larger road at Barnstable, we wound around the Old King’s Highway past ancient hickories and beeches. In the foggy harbors rain-suited fishermen puttered around in small boats. We stopped at the Parnassus Book Service, named for the Christopher Morley novel, and built into a nineteenth century general store. The old veteran who ran the place gave me a discount and said, “I’ll just overcharge the next person who looks like he voted conservative!” He had run this book store since
1960, including an outdoor book stall where patrons were encouraged to take books and leave money at any time of day or night. We left this unique shop and devoured cupcakes at Buckie’s Underground Bakery before reaching the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center to pick up a National Park map, still very much in tourist mode. The next morning we woke early and discovered a blinding nor’easter, swirling in from a cold front in the Atlantic. By the time we dressed and organized our two backpacks the rain had calmed somewhat. But the wind swept fiercely across the parking lot, and warnings of a high surf and dangerous tides thwarted our original route up Nauset Beach. Fourteen-foot storm surges the evening before had apparently destroyed many shorebird nesting sites and continued to hammer much of eastern Massachusetts. Thoreau himself had warned of walking these beaches, saying it was “dangerous walking under the bank, when there was a great tide, with an easterly wind, which caused the sand to cave.” That exactly described our dilemma. So, we picked up our walking sticks and took the Cape Cod “rail trail” on day one of our expedition, feeling very little like explorers. A path led from the back of the hotel into a sandy forest. After a wrong turn, Amy found the arrow path of the trail. Thoreau had never seen the train, which arrived two decades after his journeys. It helped turn the Cape into the tourist destination it is today. The straight and level path sometimes carved through dunes and sometimes leaped up on a causeway above ponds and marshes. A mix of pitch pine and oak species vied for dominance over a hoard of smaller plants. Many were covered with epiphytic moss, and as Thoreau mentioned, “a yellow lichenlike rust.” There were not so many trees in his day, though. He described these “plains of Nauset” as something similar to the “rolling prairies of Illinois,” treeless and inhospitable. Passing Bracket Road, I looked sadly at our proposed route, down to Nauset Light and along the empty sand to Marconi Beach. It was just too dangerous today, and I thought of poet Sylvia Plath, who nearly drowned in a rip current at that very beach. The whole project seemed doomed from day one. “We’ll have plenty of beach walking tomorrow,” Amy assured me. Only a few others braved the sodden trail. A small girl riding her bike furiously, on her way to work. A man with a Jack Russell terrier who laughed, “Nice weatha isn’t it?” I reminded Amy that Thoreau had also walked this area as it “blowed hard with mingled mist and rain,” using his umbrella liberally. Horseshoe prints in the wet sand took us back to an earlier time. My wife’s blue eyes questioned the world, surely attempting to see it as an explorer would. She encouraged me to stop and identify plants, even though 30-mph wind 7
and pelting rain urged us onward. Bearberry bushes, earth stars, and reindeer lichen covered the margin of the path, with an occasional blueberry bush or beach rose. Thoreau saw them all, except the beach roses, which migrated along the coast later. We spotted a kettle pond, scooped out of the earth by receding glaciers, and I mentioned that Walden Pond itself was just such a phenomenon. Robins and catbirds skittered across the path, leading us to the end of the day’s journey at Marconi Beach Road. A lunch of Wellfleet Seafood Stew warmed my soaked skin, and I hoped I wouldn’t get sick on the clams as Thoreau had. He had also eaten apple sauce and doughnuts, but unfortunately they were not on the menu. Amy and I spent the next several hours attempting to dry our clothes. We had not seen the Atlantic yet, and ignoring the weather report tried to look forward to the next day. The following morning we woke, packed, and dressed. A quick breakfast in the motel lobby and we lurched out into the mist. After a short walk past the old mile markers on the rail trail, we turned right into Lecount Hollow. Reaching the beach, we prepared our hearts. As Henry Beston, author of classic memoir The Outermost House said, “A first glimpse of the great outer beach of Cape Cod is one of the most memorable experiences in all America.” Instead, we drew back in disappointment. The incoming tide seemed unusually high. I pointed to where it lapped the edge of the dunes, with high tide still an hour away. Apparently, hectares of sand had been lost the previous two nights. We soldiered along the road for three more miles, seeing, or rather identifying, bayberry for the first time. But as Thoreau said, “the ocean was the grand fact there, which made us forget both bayberries and men.” Struggling up the long hills at the top of the dunes, we stopped at overlooks to scout the forsaken sands. A sudden squall drenched us, and we hid miserably under an oak until it passed. Finally, the road ended at the last beach in Wellfleet and we collapsed on plastic in the lee of a wall, eating dried fruit and reading. I checked the tide several times, but it splashed the clay cliffs regularly. “Well, you promised an adventure,” Amy told me wryly. Finally, seeing no hope of the raging waters receding in the near future, I discovered a seldom-used path along the grassy dunes and made a slow way through poison ivy and puddles. We labored to the beach beyond the treacherous narrows, and fancied that the enormous, encroaching waves had pulled back slightly. At last! The outer beach of Cape Cod was ours, and ours alone. Our only companions were some harried-looking gulls and terns. Driftwood, sea lettuce, and Irish moss littered the thin strip between smashing waves and towering dunes. 8
This was what I had come for and neither downpour nor zephyr could keep me from smiling. The wet sand slid backwards under our feet and we struggled to find the proper stride. We sang a song of Canadian voyageurs to keep away the cold. “En roulant, ma boule, roulant!” The wind pushed against us, throwing sea spray in our eyes. Then, a surprise – the timbered side of a ship. As I examined it, I realized it was a very old ship, with irregularly placed wooden pegs holding the curved beams together, a portion of the hull perhaps fifteen feet long and six wide. It was a few minutes before the epic nature of the find sunk in. “Homeric!” I exclaimed, smiling. “This is what the struggle is for. This is exploration.” Then I sobered up. What long-dead mariners sailed this ship to ruin, centuries ago? As Thoreau noted, “There are more consequences to a shipwreck than the underwriters notice. The Gulf Stream may return some to their native shores, or drop them in some out-of-the-way cave of Ocean, where time and the elements will write new riddles with their bones.” Mile followed mile and we reached an area of clay cliffs, gray and chocolate clays layered and exposed to the sea. Dangerous small avalanches of sand trembled down these hard deposits. Two hours earlier, this had been a death trap for any walkers. Now, we happened upon two reporters from the Cape Cod Times on their way to videotape the shipwreck. “Sebastian Junger called us this morning about it,” they told us, as if the writer of The Perfect Storm was the daily watchman of the Cape. They seemed daunted when we informed them that the piece we encountered waited an hour’s hard slog away. At the convergence of South and North Pamet Roads, we spotted our destination near where Thoreau found a “charity house.” A hundred yards up the road the managers of the Truro Youth Hostel greeted us warmly, and dry clothes and hot tea transformed us into tourists again. Still, Thoreau himself stayed in houses as he wandered, finding comfort and provisions amongst local fishing families. This communal inn would certainly seem familiar to him, and a friendlier one could not be found. Rain pelted the windows as darkness fell, but inside visitors from many nations cooked dinner, read books, and talked of sunnier days. Everyone asked us how far we had come and how far we had to go. Some had biked sections of the Cape, but seemed to think walking it a strange occupation. Certainly they shuddered at our tale of adventure, though any of them could have done it, perhaps more easily than we had. I wondered again at this disconnect. Stumbling upstairs from our bunks for pancakes and coffee, we rubbed our eyes at the hazy glow. Sun began to crack through the clouds and we dared to hope that de-
spite the weather report the day would be fine. Yellow warblers and swallows played in the yard. Far off we could see the crashing waves beyond a pond that sends water west to the Bay. The hostel manager explained that during Junger’s “perfect storm” the sea crashed over the dunes and filled the huge kettle pond with salt. Leaving his hospitality, we stepped up the road a few hundred yards and turned right onto an unmarked dirt road, the old King’s Highway. The morning shone and birdsong accompanied us over the sandy, forested hill. Thoreau had walked this road, I knew, since at one time it was the only north-south thruway other than the beaches. Deer tracks crossed the road into small hollows and dells. The sweet smell of flowering beach plums put us right with the world. Sadly leaving the dirt path for macadam, we saw two partridges and a red bird, either a finch or tanager. An old man we met told us it was too early for tanagers, but had no solution to its identity. “Seems like hard work,” he said when we mentioned our journey. After lunch at a roadside café, we tramped down Great Hollow Road to the other shore. From the heights of the last dune we could see the entire sweep of the Bay, which seemed unnaturally calm after the wild Atlantic. Suddenly, as if prompted by our arrival, the temperature rose at least ten degrees, the sun broke through completely, and Amy and I stripped down to shorts and t-shirts for the first time. A few families wandered around on the narrow strip of sand in a daze, confused by the sudden appearance of fine weather. A few yards north of the mouth of the hollow we stopped and I read from Thoreau. He had been here in 1855 and seen dozens of purposely beached “blackfish” being carved up for blubber. “They were a smooth, shining black, like India-rubber, and had remarkably simple and lumpish forms for animated creatures, with a blunt round snout or head, whale-like, and simple stiff-looking flip-
pers.” All we could see were some goldeneye ducks and cormorants, but we studied them contentedly nevertheless. We walked up the long arc of the beach, our destination in North Truro never seeming to grow closer. The steep dunes bloomed with daisies and beach roses. About a mile north of Great Hollow, the hard sand high up teemed with activity in the homes of bank swallows. Thoreau said, observing these small wonders, “I counted two hundred holes of the bank swallow within a space six rods long, and there were at least one thousand old birds within three times that distance, twittering over the surf. I have never associated them in my thoughts with the beach before.” Nor had we. Numerous species crossed our path that day, but it was impossible not to prefer the swallows’ aerial dance. Who cared that so many others had seen it before us? This was something new to us, and every time we made an observation along the path we felt a little more like pilgrims, or “holy land saunterers,” as Thoreau dubbed walkers. A fine mist enveloped the distant Provincetown and we prayed for the rain to hold off. Families on the beaches refused to leave despite the fog and a man in a small, rainbow-sailed boat tacked stubbornly in circles. At last, we turned off the smooth Bay beach and checked into the motel. My feet blossomed with raw blisters, the first in five years of difficult hikes in mountains and jungles. I thought back to the forgotten boots, hoping the mistake would not prevent me from enjoying the final and longest day, which would take us back east, to the turbulent ocean. We ate a quick breakfast and marched down the road by 9 a.m. A jealous fog continued to grip both land and sea. We walked north on 6A until a cross street allowed us to hop onto Route 6 and east on High Head Road. The flowering bushes and marsh reeds held the songs of innumerable birds. Red winged blackbirds and warblers zipped over the cordgrass and reeds. Two women, scientists of
“I explored up a steep path over the dune and there it stood, our first ‘dune shack,’ famous residence of artists and madmen. Folks like Jackson Pollock, e.e. cummings, and Jack Kerouac all stayed in these strange, barely human shelters at one time.”
some sort, examined the marsh from a canoe. Walking sticks swinging cheerfully, we turned left and left again as the road devolved into sand. This track led into the fantastic duneland Thoreau called “the desert.” It seemed an alien world, full of strange environmental contradictions. A mottled toad hopped across the path and watched us, seemingly fearless. The sand showed no evidence of weeks of rain, but water vapor practically dripped from the air. The white ramparts of fog held on until we reached the beach, when the sun began to thrust valiantly through the fortifications. A horseshoe crab lay on its back nearby, and when Amy prodded it, the legs motored vainly. She picked it up and carried it down to the surf, where it happily kicked and scuttled into the ocean. “You won’t be breakfast today,” she called after it. Another hundred yards and we spotted our first seal. Its small coffee head popped up and down in the surf, and its sleek back slid over the surface as it dove for fish. As we continued, another appeared, and another. Dozens of seals were frolicking in the growing sunlight. Many watched us curiously, perhaps wondering why we weren’t enjoying a swim. At last the vapor burned off, and the blue of the water startled us. Far off breakers appeared, and a boat or two prodded the fishing grounds, seeming to follow the seals’ advice on where the best eating was to be found. A strange illusion of perspective that Thoreau often spoke of made it impossible to know how far we’d come. Clamshells looked like boulders and high dunes looked like sandcastles. There were no landmarks until we passed a small shelter at the high tide line. I explored up a steep path over the dune and there it stood, our first “dune shack,” famous residence of artists and madmen. Folks like Jackson Pollock, e.e. cummings, and Jack Kerouac all stayed in these strange, barely human shelters at one time. Another shack tempted on the horizon, but our course was the beach, and we forged on, following the tracks of a lone coyote. Another mile and we encountered our first humans of the day. Two women from Savannah, Georgia, Angela and Adrienn, sunned themselves on a blanket, enjoying the odd yellow orb in the sky. They offered us orange slices and we chatted. After five years trying, they had won a lottery for their dune shack, Thalassa, and had nearly regretted it when the terrible nor’easter rocked and shook it to its foundations. They had recovered now and seemed happy, telling us that they had seen whales with their binoculars that morning. “Good luck.” They waved and turned back to watch a pod of seals. We pushed on for another long, sandy mile or two, spotting piping plovers and terns protecting their surviv10
ing offspring. One small plover peeped and skittered along the dunes, barely the size of a golf ball. Amy sighed with relief that something had lived through the tempest. It was a day to be in love with life, and neither blisters nor sore muscles could spoil it. During a lunch of dried fruit and energy bars on the beach, with high tide licking our tired feet, we discussed the idea of exploration. I supposed the sacrifices of comfort made some unwilling to attempt it, while Amy asserted that the careful planning needed prevented most from going beyond “tourism.” “That’s why even more adventurous types use guided tours.” I shrugged. All this patting ourselves on the back was fine, but had we discovered anything beyond our own capacities? After another mile or so I found a break in the dunes and explored it. One of the shacks stood just over the knoll, and I could see the Pilgrim Monument and the Provincelands Visitor Center. We said goodbye to our old friend, the ocean, and trekked back into the sundrenched desert. As we passed the dune shack, its occupant poked her head out and invited us inside. Laura Gajewsky was the artist-in-residence at “C-Scape” for three weeks. She was only five days into her tenure and had been somewhat intimidated by the epic storm of the previous days. The well outside only supplied iron-rich water, and all drinkables had to be packed in, so I actually offered her a drink instead. She laughed and declined, showing us the Spartan accommodations, the mouse traps, and her excellent drawings. “I’m not married yet and I don’t have kids. When will I have the chance to do this again?” she asked rhetorically. She also marveled at our “bravery” and we at hers. It is a rare breed who dares loneliness in order to “see” more clearly, and Thoreau himself would have found her a kindred spirit. As he said in Walden: “I never found a companion so companionable as solitude.” Laura had nature to keep her company, and was on her way to becoming a “seer” rather than “a reader, a student merely.” Reluctantly, we left our new friend and pressed on through the weird moonscape of the Provincelands. I used the compass to guide us toward the National Park center, navigating over steep ginger hills and through lakes of reindeer moss, following deer tracks. A coyote yelped at our approach somewhere in the dense thickets of scrub pines. These twisted pines eventually steered us west, and at last we stumbled onto the Race Point bike path. This took us up the dune to the Visitor Center, where we emptied sand from our sneakers before the last push down the last road. Refreshed, we clacked our sticks along under beeches and oaks, singing our marching song, heading for Provincetown. In Thoreau’s time this was a prosperous fishing village, assailed by the encroaching sands. “The houses, in
which a more modern and pretending style has at length prevailed over the fisherman’s hut, stand on the inner or plank side of the street, and the fish and store houses, with the picturesque-looking windmills of the Saltworks, on the other side… The outward aspect of the houses and shops frequently suggested a poverty which their interior comfort and even richness disproved.” Now, brightly-colored houses and bed and breakfasts ushered us into what had clearly become a tourist village. On Commercial Street, in Thoreau’s time a four-planked walkway over sand, we spotted the Somerset House. Our hosts Dan and Bob welcomed us and offered a glass of local Truro Vineyards wine. We toasted our triumph and looked forward to a celebratory lobster dinner. In truth, though, the celebration was over. We did not “think more of the wine than the brine” as Thoreau put it. Exploration not vacation had opened our eyes to more than the beach roses. Finding the shipwreck was a palpable discovery. But what about sharing the shore with none but seals? Watching the dance of the bank swallows? Each plant or shell we studied and identified, each moment in time spent along a path we chose. And best of all, we felt those moments in the bones of our feet. The hard work led to the reward…no, it was the reward. The opportunity to see extraordinary things in novel and surprising ways was only a bonus. The next morning at the bus station, the driver asked us why we were leaving just at the commencement of the annual Portuguese Festival. “We wanted to avoid the tourists,” I said. “But you are the tourists,” he said with a grin, ignoring our walking sticks and pointing to our freshly bought Cape Cod t-shirts. Our tale of heroic hikes through blinding storms did not convince him otherwise.
Eric D. Lehman is Director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport, and his essays, articles, reviews, and stories have been published by dozens of journals, newspapers, and magazines. He is the author of five books, including A History of Connecticut Food, A History of Connecticut Wine, and the Insiders’ Guide to Connecticut. He lives in Hamden, Connecticut with his wife, poet Amy Nawrocki, and their two cats. | Photo Credit Above: Eric D. Lehman Entitled: The Old Road Thoreau Walked
John William Coltrane
Music is a spiritual path, where notes are divine voices of deities. Listen, as deepness transcends you, into the robe of sky, raised, purified smoke from a soprano saxophone. Pious, is the person, whose language is repeated in refrains by mockingbirds, a song they carry in their heart calms troubled people in their presence. When gates of forgiveness open, a band strives forward with trumpet-praises.
You have forgotten my name. You no longer call out to me for help.
Martin Willitts Jr.
Witness is what they do—on street corners, plunking salvation melodies, seemingly out of desperation. What kind of inspiration does the world need that cannot be found? What recipe of combined ingredients is love and songs of praise? I could compose a melody of celestial air, with contrapuntal exclamation points of deliverance— but would you be lifted up out of your sorry state into a belief? Would you hear harmonic chords testifying to your release from despair? I know your anguish, as a corner we cannot seem to cross. Trust me—the feelings you hear, will tell you differently—there is a cadenza waiting for you, where your life is a soloist hitting all the high notes.
Martin Willitts Jr.
I cannot find your voice intensifying from the earth. I bury my sorrow into a seed as musical notes of despair. My son, my son, you toss white sheets of death over my name. I remove stones from my heart. There is no comfort in this kind of planting. There is no comfort in being tired afterwards, either. My son, you have forgotten my name. The ground is as torn up as I am.
I Have Lost My Way Martin Willitts Jr.
Things can get lost in snow, but not your love. In blinding whiteness, your voice calls me into comfort. In the avalanche of silence, you search for me. In frost-bitten words, I have nothing to say. O, my tracks disappear into falling snowstorm. Yet you are ready to cover me with blankets and rub my body into a conflagration of love. I am in snowfall, trying to find my way back in whiteout. Keep calling my name.
Martin Willitts Jr retired as a Senior Librarian in upstate New York. He is a visual artist of Victorian and Chinese paper cutouts. He was nominated for 5 Pushcart and 2 Best Of The Net awards. His new chapbooks include Why Women Are A Ribbon Around A Bomb, Secrets No One Wants To Talk About, How to Find Peace, Playing The Pauses In The Absence Of Stars, and No Special Favors.
But Never Like This
Did I expect the Upanishads the Tantras to open as an ordinary Indian day he and she reclining under a banyan asking and answering the riddles of being he reaching around to cup her breast she sliding her hand between his thighs postponing release till all the questions are answered
Temples palaces the Taj Mahal eulogies in white marble contemplative as glass towers are not or is it that skyscrapers speak a dead language Was it snowfall unspoiled white fields where I first felt the word ‘perfection’ finally fulfilled in these buildings that I must leave and never see again Perfection is deceiving it points to a world beyond suffering but I don’t rise above tears mine have already fallen on a gilded miniature a translucent pavilion a dying child Who knows what will make you cry out we were warned to be quiet but who could see sudden tigers and remain silent Who knows what will crack you open a guide whose smile is identical to the smile of the god he’s pointing to or your husband who has reached out to you for twenty two years but never like this
by Leah Shelleda
Did I expect a living Buddha in saffron toga holy mendicants performing yoga ancient practices tangible as cows in the crosswalks of snarled cities And the women had I imagined incarnate goddesses lethargic ladies in forced leisure
here in Rajasthan women in saris the color of parrots the color of bougainvillea rebuild roads balance a load of rock on their veiled heads
this journey is what it means to trade a scholar’s ornate dreams for the blessing of humility
Leah Shelleda is Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Philosophy at the College of Marin in California. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, A Flash of Angel, won the Blue Light Press prize, and her new book, After the Jug Was Broken, was published by Fisher King Press. She has edited an anthology, The Book of Now, which will be published by Fisher King Press autumn 2012.
by Leah Shelleda
Finding the Right God by Leah Shelleda
Enough of the sweet ones: Devoted Parvati Mama Lakshmi Saraswati with her lyre Who’s really in charge here ? My glasses our binoculars gone the world unfocused and dizzy cows and camels cartwheel past meanwhile fluids flee my husband’s body Has the world turned against us? and I ask like one of India’s own if the Dark One has taken over I choose (is it choice?) Durga the not-so-dark one her cave temple high up the mountain I carry marigolds up three hundred steps receive the priest’s thumb press of holy water slip under an overhanging rock ancient black lacquered head immense eyes billow of red cloth for a body hand resting on a lifesize tiger she who shines with the night it took decades till I was able to kneel and now I touch my forehead to the floor 13
The First Step
Stories We Tell
As I wake in this dark place all alone the days of future run through my mind. Here in this resting place, my beloved home I am left without the passions of my kind.
The sun rises, pulling from a fading morning And giving life to the sad places of the mind. A new start, a new beginning with a warning Here in this place, empty of our kind.
Now I turn my face towards the shining sea my soul bears an eternal fate I do not know. The winds hide my tears for those I have to leave and the road loves only those who gladly go.
Our children are blessed, awake from dreaming, No longer running from the shadows we form. They search for purpose, try to find meaning To a life thatâ€™s dying as soon as they are born.
My heart is always free but to never find its way without the strength to stand and courage to follow. I taste the salt of tears for the words I cannot say my spirit chained to the memory of faces I know.
They play in places where we lived in misery And sing a song about a love they now own. They look to the future, embrace what will be As time steals the life from blood and bone.
As I find my way towards the nameless eternity I sing a song of faded glory and shattered dreams. Destiny claims and takes all that embraces me And truth is always near but never what it seems.
Free of human wreckage, what will they say When our remains and memory are easy to sale? This is their freedom, their moment, their day And the world will listen to stories they tell.
by Aaron Cornett
by Aaron Cornett
Growing up in a military family Aaron Cornett had the pleasure to travel to many countries, engage in many cultures, and witness the miracle that is the world we live in. This experience helped give him a greater acceptance of the diversity in our world and a greater appreciation of the life I have been given. Cornettâ€™s writing comes from an active mind and lifestyle. He currently live in South Alabama. He is married to a beautiful woman, has a wonderful son, owns two smart dogs and a mean cat. Life is good. Above Image Credit: ÂŠ L.M. Browning
shining with wisdom filled with insight
Take your time you are young…
You are calling it You are chasing it You are one with it
by Ysabel Schuld
Keep it sublime you come unhung You bend… You kneel… You dive… You think you are made of steel… slicing through the sneaker wave you shatter you shave you carve your name into the water your inner sanctum destiny’s valediction it is written into the waves of light … of love
You roll with it in dreams in work in play along the Red Triangle, down east in Bali, down further in Killigari you are you you love … the scents the sweet hum the mystic silences you are the wave you are the crest you are the wind you are the sun you are the storm you are part of it its inner sanctum… you make it complete you have come full circle.
Ysabel San Pedro Schuld is a poet, activist, social reformer and volunteer. She graduated from St Scholastica 's College and with a preparatory unfinished master degree in Literature at Ateneo de Manila University under the Delgado Scholarship. She worked briefly as a journalist for Business Star in Manila, foreign correspondent for Asia Technology Magazine in HongKong, Philippine Daily Inquirer and wrote for several journals including Caracoa Literary Journal, Umanidat Literary Journal, Repertory Philippines, Chimera Journal, American Poetry Society among others. She is married with one daughter and presently residing in Portland Oregon. Amber Koneval is a young English and Religious Studies major at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She has been published in such literary magazines as Time of Singing, The Storyteller, Exterminating Angel, and MOLT, specializing in diary-like free verse poetry. Finding her inspiration in almost anything- from professors’ lectures, to homilies; from nature to night clubs- she believes that poetry is everywhere, if you take the time to find it.
Foreigners, You’re Welcome by Amber Koneval
Wageni mwakaribishwa in the name of the sugar cane the thick banana trees pregnant with hard work, watered with sweat and tears that fall from honey eyes the whites stung with yellow by the wasps of diseaseeyes that smile, nonetheless as the stroke of the machete fells years of sacrifice just to give us a taste of what they have that is worth fighting for Wageni mwakaribishwa in the name of the drying mud pounded by the feet of children who delight in the sight of our pale moon skin feet calloused to the rocks of the unpaved roads they run fleet as the gods of wind just to give us a taste of what they have that is worth running for Wageni mwakaribishwa in the name of the tasteless ugali dipped and rolled in the juices of a freshly slaughtered chicken the blood of a dignity that could rival ten thousand princes held in the thin necks and gnarled backs, warped with time and the indifference of spineless nations— at least they have the bones to hold them up, these simple village people with their simple village joys; and their bottomless hearts and their borderless dreams: these they show us just to give us a taste of what it's like to be worth dying for.
“This generation’s New England Transcendentalist.” — Frank L. Owen, Jr., creator of Bodhiyatra Poetry
preview of a forthcoming book from the author of ruminations at twilight and the nameless man
fleeting moments of fier ce
C l arit y
Journal of a New England Poet Fleeting moments of fierce clarity are had when the confusion clears and the gray numbness that hangs about our senses draws back, allowing us to see the world and ourselves with sharp relief. Follow author and New England native L.M. Browning in her wanderings across the Northeast, from the solitude of her home along the shore of Connecticut, to the rushing city streets of Boston, to the tall-pine landscape of Arcadia Park in Rhode Island to the quiet edges of Walden Pond.
com ing o ctober 28, 2012
his collection was gathered out of a desire to create a poetic journal chronicling my various journeys throughout New England. When assembling this book, there were times when I asked myself if my putting together the equivalent of a travel journal wasn’t a self-indulgent act. I mean, I am hardly a globetrotter. Born to limited means, my passport is as blank as it was the day it arrived in the mail. So, given this, what gives me the authority to compose a book boasting to be a travel journal? As readers, we live vicariously through the adventurers of our generation. We read the chronicles of those who left the comforts of home to strike out into the untamed and unknown, and through absorbing their experiences we are emboldened to heed our own yearnings for new landscapes. Society seems to have subconsciously adopted this notion that in leaving behind all that we have ever known, we will find ourselves—that there, at the ends of the earth, each of us can define the edges of ourself. I think this is an unrealistic ideal. Our imagination is sparked by those travelers who set off with reckless abandon. Yet for so many of us there is a reality gap between the life of those we follow on the page and the life we ourselves must lead. The 9-5 job hardly supports our basic survival let alone the heights of our dreams. We work from the time we rise to the time we go to sleep just to support the basic needs of our body, all the while having to neglect the needs of our soul. People speak of long pilgrimages as a rite of passage. The path through the Holy Land, the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Appalachian Trail and so on. I have never followed a map from one side of a country to another, but I have made my journey. Four pairs of leather boots worn through and 10,000 miles later, I have endured the long path. For the majority of my life I have been hard-pressed to keep food on the table, leaving the possibility of traveling abroad ever a dream. Not all of us are able to set foot upon the far-off lands that call to us. While the number of destinations I dream of one day going to number into the dozens, my bank statement does not support the breadth of my aspirations. Do not think I am using lack of money as an excuse to stay in my comfort zone; I am not. Rather I am facing a hard truth of circumstance: Not all of us have the means to pick up and travel to different countries while heeding that desire to find ourselves. In these hard financial times, the majority of us must find ourselves while sticking relatively close to home. Leading me to ask: Must we go to the ends of the earth to gather the strands of our identity? Unable to go outward, I went inward. The radius of my
physical world so limited by circumstance, I spent many years walking the internal landscapes. When at last I was able to “loosen the belt” a bit and stretch the legs of my stiffened dreams, I found myself exploring, not foreign countries, but the rich country of New England, of which I am a native daughter. No matter where I am situated on this Earth I think I will always be a bit of a homebody, and happily so. This is not to say I spend my days cooped up away from the sunlight; rather, that I appreciate my home as a sanctuary that I am able to create and enjoy. I find peace in simple things. Having endured periods of homelessness during my childhood, I have come to appreciate my small apartment along the Connecticut coastline more than anything. Of course, in spite of my contentment at home, I do indeed have times of restlessness. The wanderlust strikes and I feel the need to enter an inviting new surround. Working within my means, I cannot pick up and backpack through Europe when these feelings strike. For several years I felt denied life-defining experiences by my meager income. But like so many things in this life, it is all a matter of perspective. There is a difference between not being able to go on a fantastical, far-off trip to find one’s self and not needing to do so. We do not need to go to the edges of the Earth to learn who we are, only the edges of ourself. Nature aids us in turning within yet it need not be a foreign landscape. Travel freshens the senses. A feng shui of the horizon, when we leave behind the familiar our renewed curiosity widens our eyes and we take in all the little details of our new environment. We each seek change but there are times when our life does not allow us to see to our inner-wellbeing. In these times, when I cannot simply pick up and go, I make do with a walk about my hometown. When in the confines of our local community, we must work a little harder to feel that sense of wonder; for sadly, when we see a thing daily, its beauty fades into the background and become mundane. Nevertheless, rediscovering the beauty of what has become ordinary has its own sweetness. Seeing anew the beauty of what we have gazed upon each day, which has become tired to us—this is a revelation. After all, what was Walden Pond before Thoreau chose it as the place for his introspection? When he chose to go off on his own into the wild and reflect, he did what was within his means. He lived off a small plot of land owned by Emerson, along the banks of a pond just outside Concord— his hometown. — Excerpt from the Introduction of Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity ________________________________________ Preview continued on next page 17
Blue Mornings on the Concord River Concord, Massachusetts, November 2011
n late autumn of 2011, I had the great fortune to be invited on a trip to Concord, Massachusetts, arguably the epicenter of contemplative literature in New England. From the moment the trip was planned I felt as though I was making a literary pilgrimage. Concord was the birthplace of the Transcendentalist movement, home to Emerson, Alcott, Hawthorne, Fuller and Thoreau. I felt rightfully overwhelmed. When arriving in Concord I was struck by the history of the place. It was the little things at first: The old graves, the slate sidewalks, and the Colonial farms. Then, there was the first site of Orchard House, which called to my fond childhood memories of enjoying Little Women. The road signs pointing the way to Walden Pond, the Old Manse, Emersonâ€™s home and Minute Man National Historical Park, where the opening battle of the Revolutionary War was fought in April of 1775. Not at all surprising to those who know me, my first stop upon arriving in town was the public library. As I walked down the stone path I knew I was following in the footsteps of those New England minds I most respect. Opening the narrow double doors, I proceeded through the short mud room and into the main room where I was suddenly struck by the history of thought held within that small space. At times when I am hiking through the woods behind my Connecticut home, I will ruminate on the history of the ground beneath my feet. Wondering if perhaps some Mashantucket or Eastern Pequot village might not have resided nearby and if the paths I walk werenâ€™t once crossed by one among the tribe. I found myself asking the same such questions that morning while exploring Concord. As I walked the paths I felt Henry and Louisa brush past me in the crowd. As I grasped the old wrought doorknobs, I shook hands with the past. Using the window of their books, I had ever-been looking in on the lives of these kindred minds, but finally, on that day, I found myself invited in from my musings. Walking across the slanted floor of her room to sit at her small desk, I found Louisa. Roaming the hidden paths behind Orchard House, I found Nathan. Reading in the study of the Old Manse, I found Ralph Waldo. Sitting along the Concord River I found Margaret. And there, along the banks of Walden, I found Henry.
Blue Mornings on the Concord River Across the yard of the Old Manse Following the stone wall Down to the boathouse I come to the edge of the river
The world changed. In the fields Along the Concord River Violence beget a nation.
Its gray, still waters Mirror the marbled sky above.
A century later The passion continued to Pulse through the place As the minds in the Manse Spurred a revolution of intellect.
The bare trees Are stiff in the cold breeze. Thick, stout bushes are scratched Into the scene— Etched there by the pallet knife Of the great painter. Plump geese waddle along the rim, Sifting seeds and bugs From the muddy grass roots Passing through their black beaks. Just beyond—across the arc Of the wooden bridge There grows the meadow Of the Minutemen. Running through the draping grasses The farm boys fired their muskets. Son against son, As blue collided with red
How small am I to stand here Along the banks of a river That has seen so much. I who but scribble in the margins Of those classics penned On this ground. In the distance The sun is rising Above the treeline. The field is smoking As the morning fog rises. The rifles sound. The hearth of the Old Manse smokes. And the river rushes ever-on.
— An excerpt from Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity by L.M. Browning
“Thoreau, that great New England saunterer who serves as one of the inspirations for L. M. Browning’s new book, advised never to underestimate the value of a fact, for it one day might flower into a truth. Facts flowering into truths are what one finds on every page herein. Browning’s gift is to see the miraculous in the commonplace, and readers will leave her poems and journal entries the wiser and more human. This is no small gift.” — Philip F. Gura, author of American Transcendentalism: A History
for more information visit: www.lmbrowning.com or www.homeboundpublications.com 19
The Spiral Arms Selected Works Including As Stardust on Redwood, The Orchard: Sacred Prose and Other Writings
Todd Erick Pedersen forthcoming october 28, 2012 HOMEBOUND PUBLICATIONS
A Journal Entry by Theodore Richards
“We are all wayfarers. . . for there is no end to wayfaring.” — Ibn ‘Arabi
arrived in darkness. From one vast, empty, black infinity to another, I arrived. In the Pacific, like nowhere else in the world, the sea and the sky are mirrors. One emptiness reflecting the other, interrupted only by islands and stars, stars and islands so much the same. At night, the sameness and smallness is accentuated by the black emptiness of sea and sky. I arrived tearfully and alone, in a smallish, raucous plane of Samoans, I the only foreigner. It took exactly one day, one empty sea, one empty sky, for my bravery to abate. I was alone, afraid. Looking out the window, there was only blackness. Nothing. So I waited, watching the Samoans laugh and talk, happy to almost be home, back from a trip (to see relatives, probably) to the big city, Honolulu. We landed, finally. I had been traveling all day, from Chicago to Honolulu, Honolulu to Tutuila, one of the largest planets in the Samoan solar system, in the galaxy of the Pacific. The islands of the Pacific are so small, so seemingly insignificant, that for thousands of years people have looked up to the great mirror in the sky to find themselves. It was not with any consideration of ancient Polynesian navigators that I first looked upwards when I stepped off the plane; I was simply compelled to do so because I hadn’t been able to find this little island from the window of the plane. I felt like I was landing nowhere; it was too dark. I looked up, looking for light, looking for God. — Theodore Richards, Samoa 2000
© Duncan George
Theodore Richards is a poet, writer, and religious philosopher. He has traveled, worked and studied in 25 different countries. Richards has received degrees from the University of Chicago, The California Institute of Integral Studies, Wisdom University, and the New Seminary where he was ordained. He is the author of Handprints on the Womb, a collection of poetry. Theodore Richards is the founder and executive director of The Chicago Wisdom Project. He is the author of Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism, and the Birth of a New Myth and the novel, The Crucifixion. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife and daughter.
The Bones that Were Our People An Essay by C. L. Prater
e saw the signs, small bits of thin black cloth, shards of gnawed gold-brown wood, lying on top of the sandy clay soil just as the prairie dog had unearthed them. Their burrow entrances, scattered thinly amongst the cemeteryâ€™s headstones and wooden crosses, were not round and symmetrical like the mounds beyond the sagging fence, out in open prairie. The fence appeared to be the dividing line between what could be thought of as the active and passive uses of land. There was an irony in following through with that thought for it would be hard to prove which side really was being used in an active sense, the prairie or the cemetery. A nearby prairie dog poked his nose out of his shaded entrance just long enough to catch site of the large intruders. Producing a squeak of disgust, he quickly disappeared. This above-ground evidence of the prairie dogâ€™s natural or to some un-natural desecration will linger. In an area where vandalism is seen frequently in spray painted graffiti and plywood covered broken windows, the cemeteries on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in south 22
central South Dakota appear to be less affected. The handwritten note, under a heavy rock, ink washed by rain, is still there. The sun-faded silk flowers, rosary beads and teddy bear with its ribbon shredded by the wind, lie undisturbed on a loved oneâ€™s grave. Burial sites are holy places, sacred places in this land and they have been since the time of the scaffold when the Lakota people, placed their dead not in the earth, but on wooden biers high above the ground to aid them in their ascent to the spirit world. It is commonly known that the threat of disease and incoming religious convention eliminated this practice. The final act upon the dead, much changed in direction, has not diminished the sacredness of the place or the holiness of the ground. The sacredness is instinctive, a natural awareness of the existence of a spirit world. For some, this awareness may come from the stories, passed down from older to younger, of the spirits revealed in ways that can make the telling raise faint hairs on arms and legs, in the middle of the day. The ghost stories alone may serve as a deterrent from cemetery mischief yet they may embolden the few wanting to rebel
and challenge the local belief system so as to distance themselves from what they believe is a quaint cultural identity. We walk as carefully over a grave of a hundred years, the headstone of which is unreadable, the slightly depressed earth covered over with prairie, as we do the one which has no marker yet. The mounded earth is still high, the red carnations fragrant, and the leather leaf fern is uncurled. We are careful, out of reverence, not fear, knowing that these once living bodies deserve respect. For some, this respect after death is more than they received in life. I feel an interaction here though we are separated by time, physical space and earth. As the prairie dog slips into the opening of his burrow I am reminded that there is more than what can be seen above ground, more than just rows of simple stone monuments and weathering wood crosses. Earth envelops wood that houses cloth that drapes the bones that were our people, and still are. These people bore children, spoke sermons, and served drinks in bars. They raised our beef, corrected papers, went to war, and rode bikes with us. We linger over the graves of young friends and we speak aloud a few thoughts knowing that our memories have been blurred by time. These were the tragedies that thrust mortality at us like a gravel stone hitting a windshield. A friend and I rode bikes with Laura on the summer evening of her death. We stopped at the drive inn restaurant in Mission at the junction of highways 18 and 83 to talk and get something to drink before heading home. She left heading east and we headed west. I was leaning my bike against a tree in the dusk of our front yard when I heard the sirens. I sat outside until it was fully dark, anticipating something but not wholly expecting it. The call came. Laura had been struck by a car on her way home. I barely remember Craig. He was a friend of my older brother whose tiny shingle sided house was across the dirt street from ours. Craig’s older half brother was back to live, at least for a time, with he and his mother. My memories
as a six-year-old are of watching the red and blue flashing lights out the window and hearing the lazy screen door that usually closed in its own time being forcefully shut with a snap. The purposeful thud of the heavy wood door and the turn of the bolt were next. I no longer remember the words that were used to tell me the awful news, but whatever they were, they couldn’t have had any more impact than the unusual act of my strong wide-shouldered father shutting and locking doors in the dusk of a warm summer evening. Craig and his mother had been murdered with a knife from their kitchen and the brother was gone. We show respect by how we step and what we say. It doesn’t feel right to let our voices intrude too loudly upon this natural stillness. We can’t alter the sounds that aren’t ours, the rumbling tractor and its plume of diesel exhaust on the nearby road or the occasional scolding of the prairie dogs. We feel we need to walk within hearing distance to speak to each other in low tones instead of shouting across the stillness. Even the wind, which is a constant here, today, causes only a gentle bend in the firmly anchored silk flowers and a slight ripple in the unmowed native grasses. There are few tree branches for the wind to wail through except for a patchy cedar and plum brush windbreak and an occasional pine that looks misplaced, in this bare and ever so slight rise, miles from the canyons cut by the ancient flow of the Little White.
“We show respect by how we step
and what we say.
It doesn’t feel right to let our voices
intrude too loudly
upon this natural stillness.”
A large heavy locust rests on a flat stone. It is a blush-pink color that I have never seen. I point it out to my siblings and raise my foot to step on it, but my younger brother shakes his head and says gently, “Leave it be.” Despite its color and the fact that it is resting on someone’s stone like it is safe at home plate, to me it is still an insect that eats gardens. But I understand his unspoken reference for life in this place of death and let it alone. A prairie dog barks shrilly in the distance and appears to have come out to roll in the dust. It is said that we began as dust and to that form we will return. I am content with returning to dust. It seems quite natural to return to the ba23
sic elements that constitute life. Not long ago we buried our mother. Her shiny casket, the color of canned chokecherry juice, draped with a folded star quilt in plum and lilac colors was elegant and fitting for a woman growing up between the Keya Paha and the Niobrara rivers and raising her children on the Rosebud. When her casket was finally closed it looked like a fortress. A fortress for the newly lifeless, providing the finest in protection when supplemented with its sturdy vault. A prairie dog could never gain entrance. Mom would like that. I don’t believe her casket will ever be dust. It’s not meant too. Uncle Lee, my dad’s brother, took a totally opposite view. He would have been no more bothered by a prairie dog in his casket than he was with the raccoons and the occasional skunk who took up residence under his four room house southeast of the town of Rosebud. Our home town newspaper carried an article a few years ago about the destruction the rodent prairie dogs, carriers of disease and yet beloved pets caused. A grainy black and white photo in the paper, displayed as best it could the cloth and shards of wood the rodent’s unearthed. Donations were sought to eradicate the pests and fill the sunken depressions left from their burrows. Before the first snow of the season came that year, the prairie dogs were thought to have been defeated. Surveying the cemetery now, the prairie dogs are back in force chattering like they’ve read my thoughts. They won. They have more holes than ever. Gravel dust loosed by a fast moving pick-up wafts over us and I can’t help but breathe in the chalky air. My unvoiced thoughts return to the spiritual. In a family of four children raised in one household our thoughts on after-life issues are different, though mostly in subtle ways that we haven’t really discussed all that much. We all have expressed belief in the existence of a world beyond what we see, feel and know. I believe this is true of many, raised like we were, in such a spiritual place as the Rosebud. I personally believe that these lifeless bodies, separated from me only by a few feet of sandy earth have spirits that have flown to the creator and what is left from these bones and flesh will rise one day in perfection. I also know that my own body, through death, will join in some form with the earth and that the physical time I now try to grasp and hold on to will be no more. Through an opening in a small mound of earth between flowers and the stone of a woman who died long before I was born, lies the tunnel that leads to a prairie dog’s den. Maybe this den, a womb in the earth, deep beneath my feet, is a cozy home sided with soft decaying wood. Maybe the prairie dog’s babies have a nest in its corner of velvety aged cloth. To me the thought is not detestable. Instead, I am strangely comforted. The prairie dog has in its own way linked two worlds. It is a link, but even more so an interaction, if you will, between the living and the dead. _________________________________
© Duncan George
C. L. Prater was born on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington State and grew up on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation of South Dakota. She now lives in northeast Nebraska with her husband, children and grandchildren. She teaches very special children, writes, gardens and dreams of a straw bale house off the grid. | Photo Credit Pg. 24: C.L. Prater
The Deer of Lyme by Eleanor Leonne Bennett. Eleanor is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic,The World Photography Organisation, Natureâ€™s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles,Florida, Washington, Scotland,Wales, Ireland,Canada,Spain,Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010. 25
Initiated by fire and feats of endurance to noble stature you rose – benefactor of blessings dispensed as freely as morning dew aglitter upon each blade of grass. I wonder... Do you measure the passage of time by the soughing of the seasons blowing like incense through the boughs of the cedar and pine? Or by the flashes of lightning the pelting of hail the avalanches of snow the roaring of the wind, the sound of limestone cracking, frost wedging a cleft in rock where a spring now flows and Columbine blooms? Or is it by bears snoring in their dens and lumbering down green slopes to feast on berries when they awaken? Or is it by the rainbows at play where the water falls or the singing of streams through glade and glen? Or is it by the chorus of frogs the pulsing of crickets the flickering of fireflies the chattering of chickadees the screeching of owls the whistling of marmots the bellow of the moose? Or the silent meandering of mushrooms across soft carpets of moss and fern? Or the caches of chipmunks the tunnels of the muskrat the redds of the salmon
the rutting of the deer the first Iris of the spring or the last leaf of the Aspen to fall into reflection on the still pond before the silence of winter settles in? Or is it by the brush stroke of lichens painting mandalas upon your rocks? Or is it by the circling of vultures the soaring of the eagle the migration of the Monarchs and Ladybird beetles that cluster in your sheltered groves? Or is it by the howling of the wolves the footsteps of the fox the hopping of the brush rabbit the pushups of the lizard the steady gaze of the snow leopard before he blinks? Or is it by the dripping of stalactites Or steam curling through the calliope of your thermal vents? Or is it by the civilizations that rise to prominence and then crumble at your feet, or the bones of ancestors buried in your hallowed ground? Draped in the silver cloak of moonlight or naked in the rosy dawn you remain, ever vigilant, witnessing what the Soul sees, pondering the immensity that outlives time.” All these questions I posed to the Mountain. and patiently the Mountain answered, “Child, drink your tea; sit with me, quietly, and you’ll know.” And the Mountain smiled. Andrea Freeman Biography on Pg. 29 Photo Credit: © Duncan George 27
Port of Calling
Redwood cadaver lain long across spring gulch, today you are my foot path, my meditation perch, moss blanketed corpse nourishing young wood sorrel and fern. Trilium at your resting place. Who was here to give sermon? Memorial of life lived well. Was it flycatcher or warbler? Perhaps raven in his mourning cloak? Yes, I suppose.
Vast seas, oceanâ€™s expanse, time and space.
by Jamie K. Reaser
Nature's Beauty by Jamie K. Reaser
It doesnâ€™t matter how skinned the knee, how unshaven the leg, and sweaty under arm. Coffee down front of white knit sweater, crumbs nestled in the cables might as well be lace and jewels. Wind-blown hair, knotted in tangled locks could be days since washing, crusty too. When you travel alone a woman in the wilderness, men will call you pretty, guaranteed.
by Jamie K. Reaser
Drifting, blowing rudder and sail, tracing destiny lines. Gulls cackle, what thought loneliness the sky always has clouds always has stars somewhere. Tides, tango of sun and moon. Waves, messengers exchanging gifts between Mother Earth and Father Neptune forever. What to be, terra or mare, but for need of each other. And when the currents have you there at your port of calling you know You have found ataraxia in your soul.
Jamie K. Reaser has a deep fondness for the wild, intimate, and unnameable. Her writing explores themes related to Nature and human nature in this magical, yet challenging, time of the Great Turning. She is the editor of the Courting the Wild Series, as well as the author of Huntley Meadows: A Naturalistâ€™s Journal in Verse and Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out. Jamie is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers. Her latest poetry collection, Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life, was recently released by Hiraeth Press. She makes her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Above Photo Credit: Jamie K. Reaser
Andrea Freeman is a naturalist, writer, poet, artist, and teacher. She has a M.Sc. in Natural History and Environmental Studies. She teaches part-time at a community college and leads nature outings through the Point Reyes Field Institute and Awakening Wonder Edventures, a company she founded that is dedicated to celebrating the beauty of nature and deepening oneâ€™s awareness of our essential nature and interconnectedness with it all. Andrea recently produced a DVD, called H2Ode, which is a poetic and visual celebration of water and all the roles it plays on our beautiful blue planet. An allegorical creation myth poem, entitled The Infinite Song, written and illustrated by Andrea, is scheduled to be published as a book later this year. She lives in the hills of Woodacre where wildlife abounds and where coyotes often howl at night and she can be heard joining them under the light of the moon.
Spinal Adjustment by Daniel Ari
After last Sunday’s memorial ritual, only dance could synthesize the enzymes that turn grief into a citrusy meringue. Twelve hours after that trance, my muscles seize on the stillness of aftertimes, seize stalwart through pain’s harangue. So this creaky morning I flash back around 1997, fall, when in St. Louis my grandpa, Zeda Paul, lay supine, soles to my belly conversing in a physical language discovered mythic eras past—Breema, it’s called. My wife-to-be demonstrated the reclines and inclines of the technique. Zeda and I: a waterwheel in the Yangtze. For 80 years, no message befell Zeda Paul; but his body opened then, proving simplicity sublime. His form, the cello, and mine, the bow, sang.
Take Pen and Paper by Daniel Ari
Draw a horizontal line. Draw a small circle above the line. I wake on the beach. Amazing: the light is already so high. The sound of the mixing shore soothes me deeply. I could sleep more. Draw a triangle on the line so that its base rests there. I could sleep all day, but it gets too hot, so I get up and drink half the water I have. hard-boiled egg, heel of bread. I sit in the shrinking shade as the circle you draw increases its distance from the line.
Now with all those calendar grid lines fallen and rigor mortifying the tissues that grip my spine, Juliet’s dead mother and my Zeda meet in a tango, come down in the veil at dawn’s inkling of pall. Zeda bends to heal me, sighing a sign— and my vertebrae tap and rattle, tambourine. His presence tick-tocks craniosacral equilibrium back into my body asleep in timeless proximity to the living truth and its great ring.
Devoted to the practice of creative writing since the mid 1980s, Daniel Ari writes and publishes extensively and has found a satisfying career in copywriting. He organizes and leads writing workshops, jams and performances throughout the Pacific Northwest, including at his home in Richmond, California. Writer’s Digest, McSweeney’s, 42 Magazine, Pif Magazine, Ceramics Now and Conscious Dancer have recently published his work. | Top Photo Credit: © L.M. Browning
The Color of Rust
I can’t wake up early enough to feel cool anymore.
My heart yearns for travel. It is always this way in autumn.
It’s late summer, and my garden is barely hanging on.
I made my stand last spring. My home I found by summer.
The days so hot, there isn’t food left, only leaves
The days were long and warm, but still I felt a shiver.
still green, but greenness ain’t what it used to be.
Working in the city, I stumbled through September.
Stems bend, almost breaking down under the weight
The leaves are nearly gone now. I can hardly bear their parting.
of the sun, and the dryness drowns what roots remain.
Why does the color of rust remind me so much of leaving?
If I could go back to spring I’d put some seeds in my pocket
Today, the first snow, and already I am freezing.
and forget them, let them be something new a little longer.
If I were a stronger man, I would pack up my things and go.
by Ryan Bayless
by Ryan Bayless
Ryan Bayless lives in Austin, Texas and teaches English and Fine Arts at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. His work has appeared in Hawk & Whippoorwill, Alba, Willows Wept Review, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. 31
The Irish Kerouac An Interview with Emmy Winning Actor, Writer, and Filmmaker Alan Cooke by L.M. Browning
native son of Ireland, Alan Cooke is an Emmy Winning actor, writer, and filmmaker. He has acted on stages in Ireland and in New York for over fifteen years. In 2002 Cooke made his New York stage debut in a show about the events of 9/11. Producing and acting in this series of ten short monologues about victims of 9/11, which played to great acclaim in the Irish Arts Centre. After spending 5 years living in America, Cooke made a multi-award winning documentary about his journey as an immigrant in New York called Home featuring leading actors such as Liam Neeson, Mike Myers, Alfred Molina, Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez and the acclaimed Irish novelist Frank McCourt. Home was given a volume of praise and awards: Winner—Best Documentary Magners Boston Irish Film Festival, Official Selection Galway Film Fleadh, Official Selection San Francisco Irish Film Festival, and Official Selection Chicago Irish Film Festival. Finally, in 2009 Home was nominated for three Emmy’s including Best Documentary. Cooke went on to win an Emmy for Best Writing in a Documentary. Currently Cooke has two projects in the works: Naked
in New York chronicling his time in New York City and The Spirit of Ireland—a memoir following his time in his homeland. Cooke is also planning on turning The Spirit of Ireland into a documentary exploring all that is beautiful, sad, powerful, poetic and heroic about Ireland and its people. Returning to his native country, Alan wanders throughout the landscapes of Ireland seeking to capture the Irish identity. The film winds down intimate roads, through the lives of the well-known actors, writers, and poets, to unknown natives who are well-springs of extraordinary stories. Cooke shows the viewer Ireland as it is rarely seen—a place of beauty, wildness and dark secrets unveiled. This is a project that will lift the nation’s heart and renew its people with hope and a sense of poetry and pride in the country they call home. In early 2012 one of Cooke’s videos commenting on the state of Ireland went viral pushing him back into the spotlight without warning. Bewitched by his haunting voice and poetic tone, viewers have been clamoring for more from this prophetic artist, compelling Cooke to push up the release of his debut non -fiction memoir following his extraordinary odyssey in New York during the post 9/11 era, Naked in New York. As Cooke stands on the verge of a new chapter of his career, I recently sat down with him to discuss the path that led him to this point. Browning: Welcome Alan. Thank you for talking with me today. I understand you have been very busy of late, working to complete your new audio-book Naked in New York. How does it feel to be coming to the end of such a momentous project? Cooke: Hi Leslie. Yes, I have been finishing up the preparation for my book Naked in New York. I am about to launch it to the world as an audio download on my site www.wildirishpoet.com. It is the end of an extraordinary road. It is also the beginning of a I hope an abundant and transformative period of my life. Browning: Where did your love affair with the arts (written and visual) begin? When did the muse first call? Cooke: Well I have been a stage actor for ten years and I moved into writing seriously in 2001. I moved to New York then and began a very strange dark and luminous period of my life which change me forever. The arts , my creative heart have always laid deeply inside my very being. The touchstone of writing was being thrust into the river of the world in New York. Browning: Naked in New York follows your years spent in Photo Credit NYC: Wilhelm Joys Andersen
New York during the post 9/11 era. The feel of the city— the feel of the world for that matter—shifted as those towers collapsed. How did the events shift your life’s course? Cooke: It was a momentous time. Filled with beauty, decay, and the faces of millions. I had seen the towers fall in Ireland. But I still made my decision to go to New York regardless. It was a very odd and powerful calling within. I believe in the internal mythology of the human journey. I believe in our souls calling us to answer the coda and map of our life. To go against the grain of all that is familiar and that was what going to New York meant to me. Browning: Having worked late into the night the previous day, on the morning of 9/11 I was asleep during the first attack. I was woken by my mother who was frantic at the news of the terrorist attacks. At that time—early on in the morning—when we did not know the extent of the attack, I distinctly felt the divide that had occurred between how the world had been and how it would be now. During those early hours of uncertainty, like so many I spent the day fixated on live news feeds—the passing moments had a surreal quality—watching the image reel, mind afloat in the fear and unknown…. Where were you when the towers were struck? What are your recollections of that day? Cooke: I was in Ireland. And I watched this terrible wound open in the world. I watched the faces of those around me. I felt the tremor of a million broken hearts. It was very sad because the century began with a tragedy instead of a re birth. When I got to New York I then watched the wound burn. I felt the ash on my skin of the people lost . I felt the spirit and the humanity too. The flip side of darkness. The light that pours through during a tragedy and I heard many stories first hand. And I released that New York was bigger than any one wound.
Browning: In 2002 you made your New York City stage debut in a show about the events of 9/11, producing and acting in this series of ten short monologues about victims of 9/11. Tell us a little about that experience. Cooke: Yes that came together through fellow actors, New Yorkers who were hurt by the incident and wanted to express themselves through their art. It was a potent group of people. I had to perform a monologue about a man who was losing his mind because of the incident. I just let it happen and let the words transform me. I let the spirit of it transform me in that moment. It was dark and powerful and the audience were involved in that moment in deep cathartic ways. Browning: What change compelled you to leave New York and return to Ireland? Was it new prospects in your professional life or changes in your private life? Cooke: Well I had wandered , fought , been broken and torn apart, moved ten times... being run over by a van worked every conceivable job, I had been at the top and bottom professionally spiritually and emotionally in New York. It was like I was mirroring the shapes and transformations of the city itself. For I do believe that 10 million people in a place so dense and filled with so much human misery, power, dreaming and intention transforms the soul over and over. I had walked over 10,000 miles in New York. Every avenue and street , every corner and brick and tower I knew. All the faces , and languages I filled my soul with. And I left because I needed to empty again. As a wanderer I needed a new road. Browning: Do you miss New York? Do you ever see yourself returning or is your place in Ireland now?
I believe in our souls calling us “to answer the coda and map of our life. To go against the grain of all that is familiar and that was what going to New York meant to me.
Cooke: I miss the river of the world. Dipping my hand in. Drowning almost in all of the human carnival. I miss late nights on my fire escape in the summer heat, feeling the trembling of the masses. I miss the possibilities around every avenue. I do not miss the intense energy that can suck your soul. Or the lack of nature. It has it’s good and bad and it’s price and reward. I live by the edge of the Atlantic now. I live near wild horses and fields and mountains. I live with the astonishing spirit and myth of a place unlike anywhere on this earth. I have written two books here in my time. But I feel the itch again. Are we not all wanderers at heart? Browning: Very true. So, after the release of Naked in New York, I assume you will wander back to your other project and turn your attention back to your documentary. When will The Spirit of Ireland be released? Cooke: Actually it is a two-fold thing. I recently finished my second book, which is my return to Ireland called A Spirit of Ireland: An Odyssey Home. The journey back has been even more epic. The idea of change within the self and how I see this country and the world so differently now. That will be released in the fall. The film is an epic tribute called The Spirit of Ireland. I am trying to raise the funding for that. Browning: I see. People can make donates on the book’s homepage? Cooke: Yes. Anyone can donate through www.thespiritofirelandfilm.com Browning: You have a story for each shore you a lived upon. The tone of your work follows that of Kerouac or Cohen. In Naked in New York you tell us of your migration to the gritty streets of urban America. What is the intended message of The Spirit of Ireland: An Odyssey Home? Cooke: The message is an epic poem , a visual poem to the country. A work that elevates the heart of this nation. And also tries to give the keys to a cathartic experience that is so badly needed here. The film will feature well known Irish artists and also ordinary beautiful lives. It will be a symphonic tapestry of the nation and its wondrous depths. I had created a similar project called Home when I was in New York. It was a film of my journey and the journey of the city which went on to win an Emmy. Browning: While I realize that the film is still in the conceptual phase, who would you like to be featured in the film? Cooke: In my last film Home I got Woody Allen and Liam Neeson and Mike Myers and Frank McCourt. I was very lucky 34
and it was because they were happy to see a positive contribution to the city in a time of darkness. I am aiming to get the same caliber of people. But also to travel the entire nation and show the secrets and beauty that have never been shown here to the world. Browning: When your video “The Rising: A Speech for the Irish People and The World” went viral you became a voice for the Irish people overnight. How do you feel about these last whirlwind months? Cooke: Amazing. It ended up on the Rachel Maddow Show. They called it a speech for all of America. It was a dark time in my life. I was getting no where with my work and I sat in my room and wrote the speech from the heart. It touched a lot of people around the world. That’s all I want with my work to touch ordinary lives to make them know they are not alone. Browning: By your estimation, what is the current state of Ireland? What are the Irish people in need of? Cooke: Ireland lays broken like a clock. It is devastated financially and spiritually. But there is hope. Ireland has survived so much. I look at the empty ghosts estates and emigration again. But I was driving through a valley the other day and in the midst of a giant concrete path there was one single daffodil growing up through the stone and rock . Defiant and delicate and beautiful. And that is Ireland and maybe that is the world. We are souls are like that flower. Always striving to reach the light. It is such a dark time in the world but out my window I feed birds and they come in droves always flying and reaching and eating and being. There is always hope.... Browning: Great writers often take it upon themselves to chronicle the times in which they live. Do you view yourself as a poet speaking on behalf of the Irish people? Cooke: Well I feel I am humbled by my journey. I feel a commonality with the ordinary man. I try and write to move others. To lift them out of the darkness. This is a short life with pain and sorrow. But I believe there is a reason to it all. And I believe in making poetic moments from every ordinary moment possible. I write prose and use my voice but with I hope a poetic slant. If I can make someone feel the moment more and see something in themselves that elevates them beyond their woes then I have succeeded. Browning: The first time I heard your work I was listening to an audio excerpt from The Spirit of Ireland. Your voice was haunting—bewitching. You are that rare, perfect con-
vergence of artist, actor and poet. Have you given up the stage for the pen or do you plan to continue acting? Cooke: No, I have been off it for too long. It is my very being. I love my writing too. I love the word. It can transform millions. But i love the inner emotion of acting. The physical act of communing with an audience. I love all of the combination of voice word and the body. Browning: Any plans for a book tour? Cooke: Well this is an audio book release. And an e-book too. But who knows. If it takes off. I would love to get hard copies and tour. I want to meet and express my books in person. It would combine live performance and words and my voice. It would be wonderful. I am open to it.
Cooke: Well this has only begun. The audio book launch of Naked in New York is going to need a lot of PR to get it out there. Particularly to my own home crowd in New York. I believe I have created something that all people will love. I have poured my heart, my pain and my life into each word. And recording it was a transformative experience in itself. I am finishing off editing the Ireland book which I believe is even more person and more epic and is a next development in my writing. I feel all the doors are opening in my soul after such a long wander and know I am ready for my work to take me to the people of the world. Naked in New York is now available on www.wildirishpoet.com
Browning: Whatâ€™s next? Above Photo Credit: ÂŠ Duncan George
Two Sides of Palo Alto by Julian Berengaut
On this side Of El Camino Real You have Whole Foods; On that side Of El Camino Real You have Walmart On this side, The food is organic, On that side The food is cheap. On this side You pay with plastic, On that side, With cash. On this side Customers are tall And speak English On that side Customers are short And speak Spanish. On this side, There is no candy at checkout, And kids are in after-school activities.
Biographical Cartography by William Akin
some nights i sit and line up all of the street's i've ever lived on one after the other and stroll through them as the neighborhoods sleep beneath the flickering lamps of littered west side city streets along walnut and elm lined small town boulevards past the palm trees, the peter pan and googie motels i tour through courtyards and culs-de-sac crossing acres of park and oceans of asphalt hoping to see a familiar face someone else out strolling in their imagination or dreams someone else that remembers these places as i do, a familiar face and we will sit and talk, laugh and say "Do you remember the time..." but there is no one not even the barking dog that should be behind this picket fence the streets are all silent, unmoving save for the shadows of flickering TV light so i walk alone my footsteps echoing in my own head slowing to a trudge until at last i see the street outside my window the porch light atop the hill a beacon to a wayward and wounded sailor
On that side, The after-school activity Is helping carry rolls of toilet paper. On this side, A young sales clerk will ask, “Were you able to find everything you needed?” On that side, An elderly clerk will be patient when You count your money and have to leave stuff behind. She was there herself.
Julian Berengaut was born in Poland. He was educated at universities in Warsaw, Jerusalem, Waltham, Massachusetts and Madison, Wisconsin. He worked for many years as an international debt negotiator. He has written poetry, short stories, and a novel. A wayward Hoosier, William Akin abides in the Pacific Northwest, perched on the edge of an extinct cinder cone along with his wife, two daughters, and a very bad dog. He hasn’t a strong grasp on the differences between prose and poetry, nor myth and truth, often confusing them hopelessly.
In the Shadow of Vesuvius
The sonnet’s proposition: rubble-song. Remember the Acropolis? Our boots that scuffed the dusty-dreaming stones? The roots of green-speared cypress prodding Delphi’s throng of buried seers to rise from ash? A Coke in crowded gargoyle shade at Notre Dame? Gelato at the Pantheon? We came, we ate, we photographed: worm-eaten joke, guffaw among sarcophagi. “Go see the world before your hips or knees give out,” a graybeard told me once. A poem’s no place to die: I’ve heard that too. The aging face: smile-lines run deep, the brow’s well plowed by doubt. Let’s hope we’re living fast but dying slowly.
Lacryma Christi is the wine we drink: the tears of Christ we taste before we know the vines are grown in ash Vesuvius has sown. Those Pompeii Romans couldn’t think dull ash, thick smoke would kill them quicker than the ruby lava or the golden fire.
by Thomas Zimmerman
by Thomas Zimmerman
Oh, let this poem radiate beyond this page, beyond the purring tourist bus that took us to these ruins of the dead, beyond our surly guide’s Italianinflected facts; oh, let this poem, read aloud or silently, induce, inspire this vision of the dying and what dawned on them: the first word after death, Hello.
by Thomas Zimmerman Don’t worry: no one knows the way. The rain might change to snow tonight, but I’ve brought wine, so we can bend the time. Those Mahler, Coltrane, Dylan discs there on the shelf: they shine, ephemeral as storm-torn leaves, to soon be mixed and mashed with other matter’s flux. Our greyhound Scarlet romps this afternoon. So playful now in middle age, she shucks her collar, running naked, circling back . . . to cave, to chaos dark from which we came. I’m trotting just ahead of her, with snack in hand. Enlightenment and I: a game. Around we go. We yap and snap. I cry, “We’re merely recombined. We never die!”
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, MI. His poems have appeared recently in The Meadowland Review and Big River Poetry Review. His chapbook In Stereo is forthcoming from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog. 39
A Short Story by Grace Hertenstein
wake up to the sound of thunder, but it ain’t raining. The ground below me moves faster than my thoughts and I remember where I am. This train’s heading west and I haven’t had a good meal in over five days. Just been living off slices of pasteurized cheese slid between cold tortillas and handfuls of granola. I’m not alone, but these guys I’m travelin’ with don’t know me all too well. My friends, the ones who feel like family now, they’re hiking through the Appalachian Trail. They didn’t ask questions when I said I couldn’t go there with them. Guess they understand my quiet way by now. I told them I’d meet ‘em in Portland. I got a friend just outside of there with a farm; I was thinkin’ I might spend some time out there in the quiet while I wait. All I got is time these days. And when the ground gets too even to be interesting, and I’ve slept through the sunrise, all there is to do is watch those Midwestern plains slip on by and my thoughts start to wander. Most of the time they lead me back to you.
You never forget your first love. No matter how hard you try. And believe me, I have tried. I wrote you out of every love song I ever wrote, but it don’t matter. I got you tattooed on my mind, how you looked back then. With the sun kissing your shoulders, making your freckles stand out. You had long dark hair, Cherokee blood and a smile so sly, you could make snakes do your bidding. I get to thinkin’ about you and suddenly its summer again and I’m back at Foxcrow Hill. The breeze feels like butterfly wings, that’s what you always used to say. But then again, you had a thing for butterflies. I remember running. Back then I had no reason to run, but every reason to want to fly. Young boys, they’re never happy when they got their two feet on the ground. That’s probably why I climbed so many trees in my life. I could run faster than any boy in Jackson County, though there were times when you gave me a run for my money. Not that we ever really had money. Remember how we traded buttons and stones for nickels and dimes? You could sweet talk any old fool child into thinking that a shiny black button was worth two dirty nickels. But back to running. We was barefoot, but you said that only made us faster. You said your
grandfather never wore shoes when he was young; he was the fastest in the Qualla. We ran all over those woods. We were like birds, sometimes it felt damn near flying. I never really had a real good sense of family, you know that. Mama was always down at the store, working for money to support her habit of whiskey and ex-cons. She was never home and if she was then she wasn’t alone. That’s probably why I spent so much of my time at your house. I can’t barely remember what my own mama looked like, but when I hear the word ‘family’ I never think of her anyway. Your mama was always sharp and yet graceful, not unlike you. She’s always shown me right from wrong, even to this day. She taught me how to pick myself up when someone’s trampled my heart under their feet. And the only real man I ever knew was your grandfather; boy did I look up to him. He taught me how to fish and what it means to love one’s country. I think of him when I travel. I hear his voice in the wind’s whisper, is that crazy? Maybe I just think of him when I feel it blow, his hands moving as he tells us tales of great warriors past. Even though I didn’t have a drop of native inside of me, I took to those stories like they was my own. You remember his stories; I know you do, though every time I see him he asks me how you forgot. How did you forget the stories of your ancestors, girl? Did you ever wonder what they might think of you now? You do wonder, I know that, but you hold it all inside of you ‘cause you’re too proud to feel guilty. Those tales, tall or not, sit in the back of my mind and every once in awhile I pull one out and tell it over a campfire. Maybe sometimes I even sing it in a song. I play the mandolin now, I don’t know if I told you that. These folks I travel with, they love the stories when I tell ‘em, though I’m not as good as your grandfather. Those Cherokee words roll off my tongue like butter slipping off the edge of a hot knife and I feel I don’t do them justice. Tsula, koga, si da ne lv. I never talk about you though. This ragtag band of vagabonds I call my family now, man, I wish you could see ‘em. Each one is dirtier than the last and more free than I could ever believe. No cars, no cash, just one bag full of everything they own. Don’t wash their hair, don’t wash their selves. Their clothes are patched, sewn up with dental floss. They stretch their ears, tattoo their skin. It removes them from society, but makes them uniform to each other. We used to talk of getting secret tattoos, just me and you, but I got my first one last year and didn’t know how to reach you to talk about it. It’s on my wrist: an arrow, a line, three dots. All my friends have it; they said it represents the journey we’re all on. We Photo Credit Left: Bernt Rostad
may go different directions, but we’re heading to the same place. They say anyone can get the tattoo; they just have to get it from someone who already has one. That way the arrow and the story continue to travel. You’d love train hopping, the adventure of it all: jumping, running, hiding. Well, the girl you used to be would anyway, maybe not so much now. We wait next to the tracks for the freight train to come roaring past, then we start running and jump, reaching out for anything to hold. My friends say they never seen it come so easy to anyone before. They say I must’a been doing this all my life. If only they could have seen the way we used to run across logs suspended over river and rocks, then they’d see why. When people ask me where’s home I tell them, as of now, right where I’m standing. Just like family, home has always been an unclear term for me. What is home? Where you belong, I guess, and right now I belong to the earth. I belong to the wind and home is wherever I am. I can say that as much as I want, but I get that homesick feeling same as anyone. I just don’t know what exactly I’m homesick for. Sometimes I think it’s you, but that makes me feel all crazy because the reason I leave is you, but you’re the reason I keep coming back. Try explainin’ that, lord knows I can’t. I guess as good as home—or, rather, the place we grew up in—as good as that feels for about ten seconds, it feels better leaving it behind. I like knowing I don’t have to stay there anymore, but I also like to know it’s there when I need it. Like Foxcrow Hill. Do you remember that time we stole a pack of my mama’s cigarettes and took them up on the hill to smoke in secret? The first one we coughed the whole way through, the second we were so cool and the third made us sick to our stomachs. We listened to The Wind by Cat Stevens and that song felt more important than anything. I taught myself to play it on the mandolin, but somehow I still find that the way it played that day—crackling through headphones Scotch-taped to my walkman so I wouldn’t lose ‘em—the way it sounded then always seems better to me. Maybe that’s just because Cat Stevens was in one ear and you were in the other, whispering the names of the butterflies: Celastrina nigra, Nymphalis antiopa, Papilio appalachiensis. I don’t smoke so much anymore. Sometimes, when we’re waiting for a freight, the police come to chase us away. If they’re real ornery, they’ll take us in, but most times we just hide in the bushes ‘til they leave and we’re back out there again, waiting to jump. It can be dangerous though, train hopping, you got to have confidence and you got to have guts. You can’t look at them wheels eatin’ up the tracks and imagine yourself un41
just usually sit down next to it and watch the fish jump, der them. That sort of thing will make you lose your courbut I remember that night. age, if you ever had any to begin with. I seen people break It was your idea to go skinny-dipping. I was scared; their legs hopping trains. And if we got a girl with us I get bet you could see it all over my face. But I’d never taken off real nervous ‘cause most of the time these travelin’ girls act my clothes in front of a girl before and you never seemed tough, but when it comes down to it they never hopped a more like a girl to me than you did that night. I remember train before in their life. Not like you, you never have to trying to keep my distance, afraid of what would happen if act tough. I’d say, you’re just the opposite, sometimes you my bare skin touched yours. You were the one who moved act like just a pretty girl then you turn everyone’s head as in close, god I wish it had been me. But you knew what you you sign your life away. You’d jump alright. were doing, I didn’t have a clue. Now sitting at the foot of When I get tired of traveling and lonesome for our the hill without you, watching the glassy waters ripple and mountains, I hitch my way back home. I don’t see my smelling the whiskey on my mama anymore; she never left breath, I usually get to wonme her new address, and you dering why you ever kissed know that I don’t like to disme that night. You knew we turb nobody. But when your was going in different direcmama sees my tent set up in “You bleed America now, tions, even if I didn’t. the meadow way out behind Sometimes the people the school she comes on down but not the one I love. I meet when I travel tell me and marches me all the way they got special names they back to yours. She says, you Do you remember the way use, just for when they’re on can’t be home and not stop by the wind sang through the road: travelin’ names. to see the family. That makes I met guys called Cricket me feel all funny inside bethe trees in the woods and Time Traveler and even cause I know she means it. She a kid who was callin’ himsets me in front of a plate of or how the grass used to self the Train King. I never bean bread and rice and pats could have a travelin’ name, me on the head while I eat. tickle our cheeks as we it just wouldn’t suit. Nothing Your mama never looks a day sounds good on me but my older than the last time I saw rolled down Foxcrow Hill? own name. I’ve been thinkher, only thing changing is the ing of ones for you though, grey twisting through black in I do. For me, remembering even if I know you’ll never her hair. But it only makes her use them. I write ‘em down more beautiful, I’d say. Later, is saving this country enough.” in my notebook, next to my after dinner, I go sit on the song attempts, you’ll never porch with your grandfather. hear those. But I came up Most times we’ll sit in silence, with a good name for you, watching the smoke from Kamama. Isn’t that perfect? your grandfather’s pipe mix Maybe if you was here you could think of one for me. with the light of the fireflies as evening sets in. I watch him I can’t believe all the places I been, all the things I’ve out of the corner of my eye. He’s getting older, shrinking done since I last saw you. Wish I could share it with you, in his armchair now, his wrinkles look to be set in stone. I wish you could be my eyes. I used to get so mad, you Sometimes he asks about what I been gettin’ up to, but he know, about my glasses. You used to be jealous; at least don’t say nothin’ about you, so neither do I. that’s what you told me. You’d say, think about what your When I’m there I always go up to Foxcrow Hill, you glasses have seen. It seemed silly to me as a boy, but I think should see it now. Well I guess it mostly looks the same, about it all the time now, all the things these glasses have but it feels different. We only been there at night once, seen: free-roaming Mustangs with wild in their eyes, freebut that’s the only time I go now. I don’t run, but if I’m roaming punks with switchblades in their palms. I seen real drunk, and these days I can’t go to Foxcrow without this country turned inside out, indifferent to nature. But a drink, I’ll go down to the swimming hole. I don’t go in, 42
nature’s indifferent too. It seeps into the floorboards of this country, unwilling to halt for passing trends. It’s how I feel I should be. I used to feel like I was the only one who actually saw that. But meeting people from around this world has shown me different, it’s introduced me to a family of people who can see it and taste it and feel it. I used to think you belonged here with me, but these days I ain’t so sure. I also used to think no girl would ever hold a candle to you, and some days I still believe it, but I think things might be changin’. There’s a girl I met on a train somewhere in Montana: skinny, pale, long dark dreads to the end of her back and sharp brown eyes that held no fear. She was going one way, I was going the other. I almost changed my mind, or rather my direction, but she said no. She kicked off her shoe and on her foot was the travelin’ arrow tattoo. She pointed at my wrist, said she’d see me soon, and last I saw she was jumping off the train, tumblin’ into the brush on the side of the tracks. Something that struck me about that girl was the way she tied her dreads back with some old white string, the way she wore thick, wooden beads in her hair. So ancient, so organic. Reminded me of the time I told you I’d make you a headdress of Monarch wings. You didn’t speak to me for two whole days, but I never meant to even hypothetically hurt your precious butterflies. I just meant that, to me, you are just as precious. You may put on a mask, but tear it off and you’re just as fragile, like the wings. I remember when I first heard what you did. I never seen your grandfather more angry than he was that night. Before I knew what was going on, he had me by the scruff of my shirt asking if I had known. Near scared me to death. I wasn’t too surprised when he told me, though I felt like I might be sick. Should’ve known you’d leave me behind someday, I guess I just never thought it’d be that soon. Eighteen feels like the beginning of a new life, don’t it? It was the beginning of a new millennium and I remember thinking that the world owed it to me to be my oyster. I still don’t know why you did it, maybe you felt you owed it to the world. We talked all night about it, your grandfather and me. Well, he talked, I just listened quietly. I was so upset about it that I pulled out a cigarette, forgettin’ that your grandfather might slap me silly for smoking. But he didn’t, I guess that what you did was the worst thing anybody could have ever done. Four thousand Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears, you know this better than I do. The American government pushed your people, your family, out of their homes and forced them to march west so that white Americans could settle on their land. Your family was some of the few to
be spared because they helped the U.S. army hunt down some of their own and your grandfather said never again would his family be a part of that, never again. Until you joined the army. You broke his heart doing that. Confrontin’ you about it later, you tried to talk about protecting one’s country, but everything you said sounded like it was coming at me through water. Guess that’s when you changed for me or maybe it was later after my first postcard’s half-hearted reply or the second one that went unanswered. That was when I realized it wasn’t about protectin’ and servin’, it was about proving you belonged to this country. Girl, you always belonged here. Somehow I never knew that you felt so different, because, for me, I always felt that you and I were the same. Touching your bare skin under the Carolina stars of Foxcrow Hill, I couldn’t tell where you ended and I began. I haven’t seen you in awhile, three years at least, but it seems we’ve gone our separate ways and become two different people. Even though you look like her, you’re not the same girl who used to trade buttons for nickels, the one who knew the names of all the butterflies. Erynnis icelus. You bleed America now, but not the one I love. Do you remember the way the wind sang through the trees in the woods or how the grass used to tickle our cheeks as we rolled down Foxcrow Hill? I do. For me, remembering is saving this country enough. I been all over it and I can tell you, ain’t nothing more beautiful than the sun setting as you speed along the river. The wind’s whippin’ in your face and you know what, this country even smells beautiful. I’m thinking too much, I guess, but sometimes I wonder if there are butterflies where you are. Sometimes I wonder if you’re looking for them still. I wonder if you miss me and if you ever think about Foxcrow Hill. Do you think we’ll ever go back there together? I wish I could ask you all these questions, wish I could listen to The Wind with you again. But this train’s heading west and I’m trying to stay awake. ________________________
Grace Hertenstein is currently a student at the New School in New York City. She draws inspiration from such writers as as Junot Diaz, George Orwell, and Flannery O’Connor. Grace tends to write about secrets and dark corners, jealousy and humility, strange beginnings and bittersweet endings, and enjoys tackling her work from different angles and different points of view. She hopes someday to write from the rooftop of a houseboat somewhere in a moderate clime. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sleet Magazine, Midway Journal, Ozone Park, and in the anthology The Gothic Blue Book (the Haunted Issue). She is currently at work on a novel. 43
POWERS of INFLUENCE JORDAN AREY
A Novel Forthcoming November 25, 2012 “One part Divine Comedy; one part Chronicles of Narnia; one part Gospel of John; and withal a thoroughly good read… In Powers of Influence, Jordan Arey has not only crafted an incredibly suspenseful fable, he has also lent us a much-needed, indelible reminder, and a very prescient hint, about a long-lost but not-forgotten love, a mysterious promise, alive maybe, and awake inside an as yet unremembered world.” — Todd Erick Pedersen, author of The Sapphire Song and The Spiral Arms “Arey’s tale has all the elements of a good storytelling: opposition, mystery, intrigue, war, and my favorite—a touch of romance.” — Joan Soward, 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. “A sense of near panic started to well inside of me. I began to feel helpless in my motionless and speechless state and, if this wasn’t enough to cause desperation, the next realization was. Despite the two unfortunate facts that were presently causing such anxiety in my heart, there was an additional reality that struck me as far more unsettling. It was at that moment that I realized I had no idea where I was. Far worse than this was that I wasn’t even sure of my own name. I couldn’t picture in my mind any event except what I had just seen, and I soon came to find that I had no recollection of anything at all.” 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. About the Author: From his earliest years Jordan wanted to understand who he was, why he was, how things worked, and for what purpose. He passed through a childhood stage of eager questioning, riddling his parents with countless inquiries”. He can remember the repetition of a certain phrase from his father as a child: “Why all the questions? Are you writing a book?” he would ask. Well, he wasn’t then, but he can see now that all his questioning was preparing his mind to do so later. After high school, Jordan turned to further studies in his faith and attended an institute of religion from which he graduated. During this time, he practiced writing essays on varying subjects to establish his style and voice in the written word. A short time later, he left on a two year ecclesiastical mission that lent greater insight and understanding to the subjects of his work. After returning, he began his college studies, married his wonderful wife, and took to writing with more focus and determination than ever before, completing several short stories and his first novel Powers of Influence.
www.powersofinfluence.com | www.homeboundpublications.com 45
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. While there is no cash prize at this time, the winning author will be offered a generous 25% royalty contract and receives 10 free copies of the final book. To enter, submit a copy of a manuscript between 48-80 pages in length by June 1, 2013. The entry fee is $25. All entrants will be sent a free copy of the winning book upon its publication. The winning author/book will each receive a fea ture spread in Homebound Publication’s journal, The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature. All entries will be considered for publication. for entry guidelines go to: www.homeboundpublications.com
Wayfarer A Journal of Contemplative Literature
The Wayfarer is a biannual journal distributed by Homebound Publications that explores humanity’s ongoing introspective journey. 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. We currently publish both poetry and prose. In each issue we feature travel writing, short stories, interviews, original art and photography. We seek to explore the spiritual progression we are currently experiencing as individuals and a global community. We consider each piece we publish to be a milestone marker along the road to a fuller comprehension. We welcome everything from commentary articles, to well-developed essays to late-night scribbling, jotted down in moments of acute clarity. The Wayfarer is a biannual journal distributed by Homebound Publications that explores humanity’s ongoing introspective journey.
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 photographic style that errs toward the mysterious and melancholic. Duncanâ€™s images have appeared on book covers, in journals, on the website of the BBC, the Guardian, Popular Photo, Earth Shots, the Sussex Wildlife trust and others. He is a supplier to Getty images. One of his shots is short-listed for the prestigious 2012 UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. He is currently working on his first two shows, a collaboration with another artist stone balancer Adrian Gray, to launch autumn 2012. Following this his next major project will be to work on his first book Wild Devon with US publisher Homebound Publications scheduled for a 2014 release.
Independent Publisher of Contemplative Literature www.homeboundpublications.com