S P E C I A L H O L I DAY D OU B L E I S S UE
Vol.2 Issue. 4
Wayfarer ISSN 2169-3145
A Journal of Contemplative Literature
by Theodore Richards
Foragings by William Searle
I lost my “I” in Iraq by Tiana Tozer
Versions of Kabir
Translated by J.K. McDowell
L.B. Aaron Reeder IV and Bri Bruce
Vermont’s Sacred Acre by Kathryn Bonnez
Featuring the poetry of Michael Knowles, christopher M. suda, rebecca ricks, rev. daniel Klawitter, Kari Wergeland, Ariana d. den Bleyker, chad Hanson, david crews, Bri Bruce, Lawrence Eby , roy Bentley, donna collins, cindy rinne, Wally swist, Ariane Elizabeth, and Valerie Westmark. Perle Besserman gives us her thoughts on her latest release, Yeshiva Girl Stories. Finally, in the book spotlight we have Vagabonds and Sundries by award-winning author L.M. Browning.
A Journal of Contemplative Literature Vol. 2 Issue. 4
Vermont’s Sacred Acre by Kathryn Bonnez
Feature Poet Bri Bruce
Foragings by William Searle
The Poetry of Lawrence Eby
Feature Poet L.B. Aaron Reeder IV
The Poetry of Michael Knowles
The Poetry of Christopher M. Suda
The Poetry of David Crews
The Poetry of Rev. Daniel Klawitter
I Lost My “I” in Iraq by Tiana Tozer
The Poetry of Kari Wergeland
The Poetry of Ariana D. Den Bleyker
THe Poetry of Chad Hanson
Death Bed by Theodore Richards
The Poetry of Donna Collins
The Poetry of Valerie Westmark
The Poetry of Cindy Rinne
The Poetry of Rebecca Ricks
The Poetry of Wally Swist
The Poetry of Roy Bentley
The Poetry of Ariane Elizabeth
Versions of Kabir by J.K. McDowell
Founding Editor L.M. Browning Associate Editor Mathew Devitt A wayfarer is one who chooses to take up a long journey on foot. The journey we chronicle within the journal is that of our path across the innerlandscape 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 a quarterly 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.
Perle Besserman Reflects on Her New Book
© 2013 Homebound Publications All Rights Reserved. All rights to all original artwork, photography and written works belongs to the respective owners as stated in the attributions. All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and publisher. Except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Book Spotlight: Vagabonds and Sundries
Photo Credit (left) © Roberto Ventre (CC) Flickr | Photo Credit (Back cover) Horia Varlan
Vermontâ€™s Sacred Acre
Contemplation Welcome by Kathryn Bonnez
Just as Vermont was their new beginning, it has marked a new chapter of my own in the last few years. At this stage of my life—with my children grown and moved away and old friends scattered around the world—a new kind of existence has opened to me. My life is now more about the choices I make on my own behalf. So much before was about my husband’s and children’s lives. I saw myself, as so many women do, as the glue that holds the family together, the one to buoy everyone else’s dreams and manage the details of their busy lives so that they could be free to develop their own potential. Now it’s my turn. Time to pick up the remnants of old dreams put on hold in order to raise a family and work. I return to my first loves of writing, traveling, and exploring.
cross the avenue from the inn, the Old First Church and its adjacent burying ground sit on the hill that dominates the original village above present-day downtown Bennington to the east. Built in 1806, the church is considered one of the most beautiful in the state. For all those entering Vermont along Route 9 in Bennington, it rises suddenly into view from the very heart of the old village and is clearly its main jewel. Today the pristine white of its threetiered wedding-cake steeple dazzles amid the fiery maples surrounding it. Along the front of the cemetery, a white wooden swag fence follows the uneven terrain of the hill, rising and dipping like a hung garland. At regularly spaced intervals, its posts are crowned with urn-shaped finials. A sidewalk of large marble slabs parallels the length of the fence, tiny specks of the smooth stone sparkling in the late afternoon light. Again, just as when viewing the village and battle monument, the notion of sublime “rightness” of the scene takes hold. As if divinely ordained, it couldn’t possibly be arranged any other way. Today I enter the cemetery just as I have on many other stops in Bennington over the years. For most tourists, the main pull to this spot is Robert Frost’s grave. The poet has been claimed by many places, but Vermont was his home for a long time, and he chose Bennington as his final resting place. Just a little deeper exploration of Frost’s eternal neighbors will yield even richer insights into the state’s unique history and people. Cemeteries, along with antique shops, are my favorite places to visit. In both, slowness and reflection are welcomed and respected. You’re invited to peel back the layers of time to uncover lost worlds and lives. They’re contemplative, intimate spaces. Genuine interest and patient investigation are rewarded by an individual’s story revealed in its own time and place. History becomes vibrant, relevant, and personal. Over the many years of coming to southern Vermont, I’ve spent a lot of time in its cemeteries, including this one, “Vermont’s sacred acre.” I guess I really started paying attention to the particulars of graveyards after visiting the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Scores of the well-known are buried there, including Balzac, Colette, Proust, Moliere, Chopin, and Edith Piaf as well as Americans Gertrude Stein, Richard Wright, and of course, the very visited lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison. Other than in France, my non-New England graveyard explorations were largely limited to paying my respects to family members at a massive twen-
tieth-century cemetery in Houston whose grave markers consist only of brass plates on the vast manicured lawn. Bennington’s Old Burying Ground has been home to some of its residents for over 250 years. The inscriptions on the oldest headstones are barely legible, eaten away by time and the elements. Just a casual reading of the decipherable names immediately transports you back a couple of centuries: Mindwell Hopkins, Ebenezer Robinson, Phebe Safford, Silas Weybridge, Phineas Robinson. How exquisite they are in their archaic New England resonance! The folk art carved by the stonecutter’s tools on the marble and granite headstones is as fascinating as the works in any museum I’ve ever toured in France. Even a cursory look reveals a firm belief in the afterlife: a carved hand, index finger pointing to the sky above; round-faced, almond-eyed angels; a pair of wings. Something triggers a memory of what I once read about the Massachusetts soldier who first settled Bennington. Never having learned his name, I know only that after camping on this hill while returning home from the French and Indian War, he came back a few years later in 1761 leading the first group of families who founded the town. Just as Vermont was their new beginning, it has marked a new chapter of my own in the last few years. At this stage of my life—with my children grown and moved away and old friends scattered around the world—a new kind of existence has opened to me. My life is now more about the choices I make on my own behalf. So much before was about my husband’s and children’s lives. I saw myself, as so many women do, as the glue that holds the family together, the one to buoy everyone else’s dreams and manage the details of their busy lives so that they could be free to develop their own potential. Now it’s my turn. Time to pick up the remnants of old dreams put on hold in order to raise a family and work. I return to my first loves of writing, traveling, and exploring. Now in my fifty-eighth year, I wholeheartedly welcome these changes. I feel so lucky to be in this special place and in the twenty-first century, where I have opportunities never dreamed of by the women resting here in this burying ground. Most of their time on this earth was spent in constant selflessness to their families, often dying before enjoying a hint of the freedom I now have before me. Following the paths between headstones, I’m keenly aware of and grateful for this open door to re-create my life according to what my nature whispers is right, genuine, and important. In this place steeped in history, how can I not be in awe of the courage it took, especially for women,
to face life in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America? Simply reading the dates and circumstances of their deaths underscores the sad frequency of infant, childhood, and maternal mortality. How can I not be moved on discovering the four arched tombstones cut from a single block of stone and arranged in descending height marking the ages of the Hatheway siblings: one teenager and three infants? How to think about the many other tiny headstones jutting up out of the earth like emerging baby teeth, reminders of these children’s earthly existence of only a few months or years? How can I begin to understand the grief of their parents who enjoyed them so briefly? Notwithstanding the premature loss of women and children, Vermonters’ attitudes about death two centuries ago contrast sharply with those of contemporary Americans. There’s a pervasive denial of death in this country today whereas early Vermonters—and I’m sure other early American settlers elsewhere—repeatedly acknowledged its inevitability. They were surrounded by constant warnings and reminders of what lay ahead. Witness this version of a popular epitaph of the day: “You travelers now stop and spy As you are now, so once was I As I am now, so you must be Prepare yourselves to follow me” And on Jacob Manning’s headstone: “Momento Mori” (remember that you must die) and Mrs. Mary Fassett, consort of John Fassett, Esq. who died Sept. 22, 1780 in the 62nd year of her age “Our lives is ever on the wing And Death is ever nigh The moment when our lives begin We all begin to die” It’s clear to me that early Vermonters had a much deeper understanding of the brevity and preciousness of life. After all, there were more frequent occasions to die back then: getting attacked by wild animals, contracting diseases for which there were no cures or medicines, and simply by giving birth. Did living in greater realization of death’s unpredictable moment but frequent occurrence render these
people wiser than we are today? More appreciative and less demanding of the time they did have? Thinking about such things, for me, makes a visit to an old cemetery worthwhile. Anything that reminds me of the fragility of life is valuable. Through openly acknowledging the inevitability of my own death, I can live with more awareness and intention. Finally, I follow a path where a tiny wooden sign points the way to the resting place of Vermont’s beloved Robert Frost. I discover this almost by accident—in typical Vermont understatement—as if his fellow Vermonters wished, even after his death, to protect his stubborn privacy. His simple grave is marked, not by a vertical headstone, but by an earthbound marble slab with the simple inscription: Robert Lee Frost March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963 “I HAD A LOVER’S QUARREL WITH THE WORLD” Pennies are scattered on the tombstone and all around the grave, his admiring visitors’ way of expressing some kind of spiritual connection with the poet—a belief in the power of his words as strong as any child’s tossing of coins in a well to make a wish. My time here has been reflective, as usual, and a reminder that in addition to a poet laureate of the United States, this burying ground holds eloquent remembrances of ordinary brave settlers, many of Vermont’s founders, five governors of the state, Revolutionary War soldiers, and veterans on both sides of the Battle of Bennington. A small party of visitors from Connecticut precedes me out of the cemetery. A woman’s corduroy slacks make a swishing sound, her thighs rubbing together, echoing the rustle of dead leaves underfoot. It’s almost dark, and I’m ready to find an inn for the night. Intrigued by what other discoveries may lay ahead, I coast down the hill to rejoin the twenty-first century. Kathryn Bonnez is a retired English as a Second Language/French teacher and incurable explorer whose first book, A Lone Star in the Green Mountains, allowed her to combine three of her passions: history, traveling, and writing. Exploration of place parallels that of self in this memoir, which touches on the themes of change, potential, nurturing the spirit, and making mindful choices. Since retiring and finding the nest empty of her two grown children, Kathryn has made the choice to rekindle and pursue the practice of writing. Originally from Texas, she has lived mostly in the northeastern United States as well as many years in France. | Photo on page 4-5 by © Forest Service: Northern Region CC (Flickr) 7
F eature P oet B ri B ruce Climbing North Mountain In Spring by Bri Bruce Sonata of the mockingbirds from the high limbs of the poplar, the curtains shift; petals are loosened from the tangle of bougainvillea vine, are pulled to the earth in a brilliant snow of tangerine and magenta. I go north, the noise too unsettling, climb small Sugarloaf Mountain wander through redwoods, the east valley hidden in mist. For now, only the quiet words of the wind, hum of cicadas; thoughts of you like mountain streams, unending.
To Watch The Angry Sea by Bri Bruce
Crossing Alma Bridge by Bri Bruce I see that spring has faded from the dogwood trees. Hemlock and foxglove bend to meet the earth in the heat, beginning again from seed. You draw closer not because I call to you, but in the smell of freesia, the taste of salt. I think about loving you: frightened child in a thunderstorm. Below, the swift creek meanders around the Manzanita. Swallows nesting beneath the bridge take to the air at my advance, dip at the surface of the narrow stream, stilling their wings to glide so effortlessly beyond the bend.
A black-shouldered kite rises quickly out of the thistle, startled. Beneath a crescent moon in the dust-colored sky of dawn, we watch the anger of the sea after the storm. Your gaze wanders south, trips along the shoreline: a pair of oystercatchers in the out-tide, harem of sea lions in the tangle of driftwood. I draw nearer, but know I’ll never reach you, not even in dream. In my wanting I am ugly, wishing us fused as blood and water. Over the hiss of waves, the gray tumult of the surf, terns dance above the sea, the gray gulls laugh.
Bri Bruce studied post-modern literature and creative writing at the University of California at Santa Cruz, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. Bruce is currently an Editor and Product Development Manager at a book publishing and distribution company located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. Her work reflects a life of living amongst her native California backdrop of towering redwoods and evocative Pacific shoreline. Both her poetry and her photography have appeared in The Sun Magazine, Tattoo Highway, Ampersand, Red Fez Entertainment, The Cossack, The Avocet Review, Atom Magazine, The Soundings Review, Third Wednesday, and Northwind Magazine. She was nominated for the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize in 2009 as a student of Santa Cruz’s first poet laureate, Gary Young. Bruce lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains. | Photo Credit Right © Glenn Scofield Williams CC (Flickr). 8
Foragings A Journal of Woodland Contemplation
by William Searle
6th Oct 13
1st Oct 13
very morning I humbly and quietly re-introduce myself to the earth. Walking the sloping lane towards the sun kindling at the ragged heart of the wood, beneath an onward rolling blue sky, I breathe deeply enough to feel at peace with what I am and where I am in this very moment. 2nd Oct 13
he contribution I make to Being is perfectly minimal, and what I gain is also perfectly minimal. I am simply here. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Or so I would like to think. Bearing no gifts other than this vaguely definable presence that I am, the earth, through grass-blade, falling autumn leaf, cloud and sky and flicking air, remembers me. Or so I would like to think
love the trees, the shades and depths of light the trees create and conjure, the careless litter of crab-apples, the steaming warmth of bogged-down bracken piles in the cool mists of, what seems like, a premature morning. I love the shades of water, the whole music of hapless gushing and lapping, the touch of coarse sand beneath the arched foot that curves like an ear pressed down upon secret, enormous melodies. I love it all. I am happiest when I love the earth and not afraid to use such an overblown verb. A butterfly upon a dying flower is as awesome as the mountain that no butterfly may every alight upon. Amidst all this passion, the golden maxim surfaces: love of life depends upon the premise of accepting things as they are. One cannot love life if one cannot accept things as they are. Passion must be worked out, without it shrinking into calculation.
I am happiest when I love the earth and not afraid to use such an overblown verb 4th Oct 13
his local beam of earth transfigured into an autumn wood is a numinous realisation of itself through me, and every other thing in that wood. The holy, the ineffable, the nameless hush of light that is the supporting spine of all things earthly, grubby and rough-edged, - not God, no appellations, - is registered, first of all, on the bristling skin, upon the rounded globe of a single goose bump swelling in the coaxing breeze, upon the tonguetip, the lip and watery eye and voluptuous lung, - those bone-encased, twin homes of blood and oxygen. Continuity between THAT what cannot be named and THIS what lends itself to be named is safeguarded by this body that I am.
9th Oct 13
utumn. Thereâ€™s a lilting breeze to that word, a sinking and drifting cadence. Deer walk as quietly as leaves fall, their feet tapping away into the distance. Soft brilliance of the sun upon strong green leaves, the last bundle of them, as everywhere and elsewhere the red and orange showers, the blushed carmines and yellow crimsons. From the darkness, with its golden glow of a spread hand, my heart,â€”or an organ near to my heart - is roused into equanimity. Trying to hold onto this buoyancy of calm only nudges it further away. Let it come, let it go, my will obedient to that ebb and flow. Walked on passed elm and holly and squat oaks tangled amidst oaks, branches washed by Autumn
rain, the dead leaves of my being go to the ground to be restored whilst I am more exposed to myself, to something other. I see the deer more clearly because of my breakdown into bareness, straight passed the congestion of my own self into deer and the world sharing itself between us. 10th Oct 13
s Wallace Stevens puts it: ‘to exist in the world and yet outside any conceptions of it.’ Evasion, then, on my part, of concepts is supported by the conspiracy of things. Is it not imperative in keeping with the above strategy to be eccentric to explanations, yet central, integral to participation? 11th Oct 13
ky surrounding me, my feet embracing the mud, my lungs replete with cold autumn air, the sweetness of it making my mind laugh, - how can I not be content? Pain, yes, comes my way in no short measure but dissolves into this blessed solution of bodyworld rapport. There is liberation to be found in knowing that here is the only place I can ever be. Elsewhere is imprisonment. Fresh russet sunrise, ragged cloud-rims gilt mercury and boldly embossed with watery lines. Two tacking and jolting herons flew high above and over the road at home in the wayward, boisterous infinity that tussles everywhere. And a rainbow in the slight film of passing rain! Sense of grounded and elated calm; the whole day remaining to muse upon this hour. One more heron—dark spectre in darker dusk— floated above the wood. Veering away she spied me then glided toward the exploded oak that was jostling in the wind. 12th Oct 13
orning breezes, between-branch cast, leaf-wide and long as the alleyway that stretched between trunks replenished by the winds blustering down from dispersed canopies above, caressed my bare arms as I held them out in front and traipsed down the warm lane through four, no, five horses tearing stubbed grass. Exhilarating to see the sky, monumental blue, at the same time that acorns and raindrops and crab-
apples thudded in off-time with each step. Ethereal sounds. Walking on solid air. Clear clean notes of a wren in a hideaway. A mere hour’s walk, the same round I repeat so often and find, not dullness, in the short distance and time a length and breadth of experience I have rarely encountered in other domains of the holy, the visceral hush, the barking silence. Such expansion is such autumnal minutiae. What is this delight or joy I feel is mere existence, and the sadness or frustrated confusion that comes when I am not, by some interruption, permitted to be simply as I am, as I be. In what ways am I broken? Towards what vision shall I re-make myself, and in re-making myself what will happen to the world I have come to know? A discrete effervescence trembles within each thing eager to be sipped by lips eager to purse the shape of silence. 13th Oct 13
ithout this one leaf, I am not. At what point shall the restoration of myself, and thus the renewal of the sacred undergo? It begins closer than the eye, than one’s breath. Move a tittle of thought and I miss it by aeons. There seems to be no end to how closely I can come into contact with things. This point of re-birth is non-other than the space in which all things from star to grass-blade tip tipsy in the frozen pulse of dew, are one and intensely different. I feel that I am nearing, through simply paying attention beyond myself into the collapsing labyrinth of this autumn wood, the source, the boundless circle of light. 14th Oct 13
he thinning of autumn. The incipient fullness of spirit. A kingfisher, chip of sapphire jewel, sky-droplet, rattled a foot or so above the ground, zipping like a dragonfly bloated on its own beauty toward darkness of the wood and the darkness of the sluggish, zinc-tinted stream. Flying from lightness to darkness, itself a torch of itself, being nothing but its self, at what slim stage, how far from the darkness of the wood does the dear bird’s pupils begin to dilate?
Like a thief, stealing the treasure of its self along, it is quiet with accomplished escape, not wanting to be seen by a being like I who cannot be a torch unto itself. But how easy it is to see the kingfisher! It cannot hide, its beauty is its flaw, an attraction that does not wish to attract whilst it hunts. What does seeing, looking, bending-eye towards, that shockingly beautiful bird do to me? What effect does it have on I, a kingfisher-witness, have on the little world of the one glugging stream and autumn branch bereft of dangling leaves, those sun spades shovelling in the goodness? The mystery of things as they are is gaining in clarity but really has nothing to do with sight as I have been reared up to think of it. I see it, the mystery more mysteriously urgent because of its
—is an attempt I must repeat as often as I grind the bone of my jaw. I love that I have found this other side to life, but I have done nothing outrageous to receive such a perspective. I have certainly not been ‘chosen’ in any sense of that term. How can such a low-key extravagance of spirit visit me in this small, inconsequential world of one garden, some trees, and lane? At times a coldness blows through me, horsebone grey and damp, a dying thing, a blind badger lost from its sett. Like the after-life of a forgotten dream insisting to be remembered it haunts me but does not abide, does not persuade to be settled. Dejected, it goes its own way torn at the sides. That is ‘I,’ the purblind martyr, wailing, mouthing into the wheel of disarray. Being hums.
I love that I have found this other side to life, but I have done nothing outrageous to receive such a perspective. I have certainly not been ‘chosen’ in any sense of that term. How can such a low-key extravagance of spirit visit me in this small, inconsequential world of one garden, some trees, and lane? clarity, feel it pervading the supple netted network of nerve and bone hitched to the creaking joint of things lubricated by light, the blood of God. I am seized by a hunger to know all things for that hunger to be satisfied by not knowing, knowing here known in a radically wayward sense to the acquisition of knowledge it terms of its freight and potential to applied, used, debased. No, here in this round hope of woodland is a knowledge so simple that it could easily be mistaken for a frivolous encumbrance of the real matter of the world, a shimmering strap of tinsel around the broad neck of buff ‘truth.’ I do not know what it is but I know how it is in its generosity. It is a non-light light, a non-presence presence, but not an absence. To attempt to submit myself to it—the wonderfully inexplicable, 14
15th Oct 13
awing crows spiralled out of the lane-side oak in a single black ribbon or like pan-big black leaves caught in an updraft, unlocked and loosened from their perch-snags by the rattling keys of the wind. What will bud in their place, a dark trace or a sign? What is the scent of an autumn crow? Are its wings as fragrant as the dying sweetness of this heady air? What is the perfume of flight, this lightness I feel in my limbs when I watch them elevate in the element that knows them well? Their spiralling disbands into an across-field scattering and the lane is sombre with the memory of their song. All around me as I walk, my feet dripping, and
look and listen and touch and taste, through this autumn vector of wood the motion of everything returning to itself for the preservation of essences by winter’s tough care, is that of a teemingly inevitable wheel turning and beating like an archetypal heart that births forth the inseparable bloom of space and time.
the foray of the incomprehensible: the bluest sky, the greenest field, the calmest heart, the fullness of world and non-I surging in waves, in darkness, rallying towards the Source. No arrival but an exasperating constant delivery towards God or the nameless body of mystery that animates every thing into a perfect safekeeping of light.
16th Oct 13
18th Oct 13
ivid fresh clean day. Consciousness a ripening blue fruit of the sky. Having located the door to autumn and walked straight (with a few detours) through, the imperative to let myself to be cast, to surrender, moulded into a pliant receptacle by autumn’s graft for the arrival of the holy, has become as pressing and as certain as the impending horizon of winter. I stand and wait and obey in the weakening folds of light. 17th Oct 13
ain. Light leaves falling amongst heavy rain, slow motion amidst hurry and velocity. No wind but every clinging leaf struck and swaying in the windwide rain. I feared that nothing would come of my walk today due to the rain and absence of actual light. Entering the broad bridleway overarched with beech and ash and birch and oak then re-entering the clumped wood proper toward home I was overcome—on no conscious part of my own—by the exhilarating emergency of need, desire, eros, to dive ever more profoundly into the sensations of a moment. Tears almost swelled to my eyes as I breathed, breathed, in the autumn air and felt the continual dragonfly clipping of rain upon my upturned face. I stopped. I lifted my sodden arms out either side of body and turned my hand this way and that. The joy! The bliss of plunging ever more deeply into that bliss! The contact! What faculty is it that registers and responds to that bliss? Surprising how much one can undergo on a supposedly uneventful walk in woods seen over and over again. By noon, rain ceased and quickly blue sky resumed the waterlogged hush. Late afternoon up Manor Farm lane, strong wind from nowhere turbulent in the over-road leaning oak. Small sun descending over wet fields. Pleasure to stand and lean upon a crooked gate and look out over radiant fields. Compulsion, then, to follow every nerve-racking sense to its extremist point, its deepest most furthest end where I will be hurled, vertiginously, into 16
sit alone in the darkness upon a log. Three tealights quiver upon three upturned flowerpots. Brown spiders work on their webs in the corner above a bird-nest. The shriek of an owl echoes, - the ghost of its voice gone into time’s spectrebreached canyons. My own breathing is strange to me; the air is not mine. Stars bud bare branches. I close my eyes slowly and earnestly in the shelter and sit hunched over with my forearms resting lightly upon the insides of my knees. It is not cold. It is not warm. I blow out the little flames, cancelling the shadows. All is darkness. The wood encloses me in its cacoon, its autumn womb. I am erased. How old am I here in this darkness and quiet? Who is it that presses these feet upon the moist leaves? What is this rocking element wherein I become estranged from myself and yet in the same movement (though I am still, so still) I am united with something that knows me more that I know myself? Why is there comfort in this solitude? Returning to the beginning that will never end, only be beginning always, the first sign of life, is a real enchantment I have woken up to in this withdrawn space with my eyes closed, enfolded in darkness, the music of rustling night-leaves, all closed in and all opened out. I look forward to the evenings when I can sit alone in the shelter that teaches me nothing. 20th Oct 13
oday I looked deeply into the incomprehensible. For the first time the darkness was iridescent with a light that was no light, - a vivid husk, - that I have known and yet it was not alien or remote. It was near like the darkness itself, at first a vague, scattered shimmering like a haunting squall of indefinite stars searching for one another to compact itself into fixity, constellation. The longer I looked the more I did not understand. The darkness rejoiced with light that was beamdirect and impartially enveloping, not harsh but
forgiving, knowing, wise. Because of this virtue of darkness I now no longer yearn for light outright. I yearn for the dark in which the light abides, becomes. Am I on the right track? Is my spirit colour-blind? The leaves fall, whispering to one another the stories that will be told about them years hence from now. And to think that two leaves from distant trees collide in the wind and twirl down in a spread helix of fitful meeting, eroding into the very soil that fed them. Think of it. The undulating, intersecting cycles continue even for ‘I’ as I loop down into a vital darkness, the ‘I’ dissolved, eaten away into disintegration, for the forest of light to sprout, flourish and groan amidst the autumn wood that acts as a blue-print for the numinous architecture to heed. Think of it. 21st Oct 13
o plant the seed of the nothing that I am. Dig out the soil with the shovel of hands in prayer. Step aside. Let the light stream in through the wasting canopy of the mind. Surrender to the wind and rain that whips one bare. In bareness begins the blossoming, the summoning of God to itself through me—autumn’s medium. 22nd Oct 13
he wind surging through the trees makes me think and feel the sweep of waves across seething shingle that bright day when we walked together, Mother and I, - along the beach. I wanted to hold her hand, to hold her close to me. Did she want to hold mine? I remember gulls silently wheeling around and through the southwest wind as we drifted off toward one another in the vast circumference of blue, and gold, and white nativity. 24th Oct 13
idling from dense oak-crowds and burly beeches into skeletal, silver-birch groves is a subdued, eerie experience, spooky and beguiling. In them birdsong seems far away even though the birds are so close I can see their beaks gleam with the rime of song. The world disbands, something less substantial contracts in its place, a something reliant on sound to find its way through from wherever it lingered or strayed. Tall, tatty, thin and gaunt, the highest leaves rustle but are too high to see trembling. Touch and sight turns obsolete, the ear becomes paramount. The sparse grove harbours in its weakness a presence that is a trace, an incomplete sketch of itself
that flees but ends up as a nowhere, a grey fatigue. The trees are question marks curling over under their own weight. The only answers are the winds that are scraps of yesterdays air trying to catch up with today’s. Is it the wisp-cloud covered moonlight colour of the peeling bark, slashed with black rot that envelops each silver birch with a puckered skin of mystery? It is a cemetery alive with the unborn. Whisperings, stuttered secrets, frail poltergeists, and anaemic spirits slouch amongst the branches. Anorexia of time: enlargement of, not eternity, but a non-time still persisting in time, in materiality, inhabiting a space between eternity and time, lingering where they cross, a breath floating in purgatory speaking words that have never existed. Autumn, hearse of haze, makes of the grove a mistiness, an atmosphere of ill, like the sense of self in a dream in which one acts and withdraws simultaneously. Being all body I ease through the silver birches; a realm of lapse in the clamouring scheme of things. A cool element disturbed by its owness ushers, ferries me through back into the hardened world of oak. Touch and sight returns as natural as reflex at the knock of the real. I thank the ear for being the guide between worlds within worlds within worlds. 25th Oct 13
eeing the tender ferns that have yet to rust into crisp bones of bracken, and hearing the brisk power of the stag as it thuds away into the distance, its antlers clicking against the antlered branches, transports me back to an autumn of my school days in these very same woods. I cannot recall what the purpose of the trip was but I remember feeling joy in the woods. In pairs we built shelters. Ours mainly consisted of moss brickwork, a roof and dehorned branches stuff with insulation of moss, moss and more moss. The musty fragrance of it stitched itself into my ivory skin hands. After constructing a shelter we were let loose, or so it seemed like to me, into a region of the forest still visible to the teacher’s eye. A tea-brown stream rushed over golden-brown pebbles. Across from the stream over a green clearing a fallen oak, gnarled root-base protruding, caught my eye and I went running. Knee-deep in what seems now like luminous pool green fern that had splashed up around the trunk, I tip toed along the round rough plank of the beast of bark and up to 17
the very top, the top down to earth, and stood there quite amazed at the top of the oak yet no higher than my child-self from the soil. A wicked stench injected body rot into air drained of its freshness, and I peered over into the sea of fern to spot the foul cause. A dead stag, newly dead, drowned in the green. Ferns crushed beneath its bulk, the twisted shape of him impressed there. Hopping down I first inspected the crooked swords of his antlers. His open black eyes were beyond vacancy. A red-butter gash of a wound wended its way from back-leg along centre belly to foreleg. Ants and maggots erratically ploughed the blood furrow. In a deliberate privation of hesitancy I grabbed the longest antler-prong and hauled the sack of him through the fern that obediently parted either side of my determined path. I felt strong, brave and courageous. Slinging his floppy head down into the clearing all the other children flocked to see the hunter and his hunted. Some gasped in disgust, some fled to snitch on my misdemeanour. They should’ve knelt before the Child-Lord of Stags, or so I daydreamed as I swayed there buzzing with excitement and triumph that was soon deflated into shame and embarrassment when the teacher came huffing along pointing her brazen and enormous finger. 26th Oct 13
herever I walked this morning I broke spider webs, silver strings glinting and floating in the windless air, so light they seemed moved by light and moved, too, to an inaudible exertion of music. Did not Coleridge, in a moment of lucidity, proclaim ‘A light in sound, a sound-like power in light’? Are not lightness and grounded step the measureless qualities of the soul? Is not walking, looking, all modes of participation, an integral dance with, what Coleridge also said, ‘The one Life within us and abroad?’ I have found in these woods that contemplation is an act of re-aligning the basic rhythms of one’s life with the Life of the universe, leading on into the wild flow of the one Life that is the wholesome shape of God. 28th Oct 13
asy buzzard crying out in the chill space of the sky, drifting in liquid thermals upward and over the skittish trees. Buzzard’s eye view of these woods, the barer the better for she to see the vulnerable. The brink of winter brings her consolations, the agreement be18
tween the tail-end of autumn and the mouth of the ice snake that is winter unfurling, uncurling on the horizon of seasons. She cries again, this note plaintive, mournful. Her idiolect is one of the wood’s dialect and vice versa. Her song trills my nerves, particularly the nerves in my neck, the arms, and legs. The idea of flight is the colour of gladness. I wait with a blank mind for her next pitch. The expectancy is almost unbearable. The wood-world turns into a tuning fork. Tensions bristle. Her song is an alarm of fulfilment for my patience, my devotion to a life beyond my capacity to know. Whether she sings or not I will be forever on the edge of my seat, of my being, so to speak. ‘The meaning is in the waiting,’ announced R.S.Thomas. Her song fills these woods of the sky even when no song is heard. I figure that prayer is the vigilance of being arced towards an absence that valorises prayer into communion. Do these woods, of which I am a part, tingle like the hairs upon an arm brushed by the presence of God, by the melody of the buzzards song? What is awareness when there is no being, no I, a nothing, to be aware? There is emptiness, the sky in every seed. There is enrichment, continuity. The buzzard’s song is a vision of the spiritual truth that in stillness, waiting, a sense of God, these woods are a sense(s), are registered more certain than stone. These woods have been good to me. 30th Oct 13
eing here is enough. I am a being who does not pause to think and if I pause it is only not to think. I am a being who does not desire build up objects based on the fantasies of my desire. The richness of desire is its emptiness. Essentially, nowhere needs changing course. I am a being for whom the Lord is the flexing energy in the supple tendon of the stag as it bounds across a moonlight clearing panicked by an unfamiliar snap in the dark. My Lord is the quietus of adrenalin that surges and sparkles through every being. I am a being who is where he is, who does not hold onto where he is but who, stepping aside, gives where he is the room to be. Grave and sunken coming winter sucks the autumn dregs from November-away into its hoarse and ancient mouth. Leaves fall, light streams in, shadows vie for shadows. My chest rises. I am quite, quite content. Everything is here. I happily do not know what anything is except I know where everything is because a light shines upon it. The woods are without bounds.
31st Oct 13
locks go back. Old Man winter has his eye on the wood. The frail marauders of frost will soon resume the land. I bury my head into the burrow darkness of my shelter and think, intuit, upon what winter may bring. Repetition is the golden norm, the daily rituals of identification. Go bare foot in the cold. Try your hand upon the harps of ice. What else is there for me to do but re-enact the day to day regime of every morning humbly and quietly reintroducing myself to the earth, walk the sloping lane towards the colder sun kindling at the ragged heart of the wood, beneath an onward rolling blue sky, and breathe deeply enough to feel at peace with what I am and where I am in this very moment.
William Searle, born 1987 in Dorset, UK. Currently divides his time between Snowdonia and New Forest. He is a visiting lecturer in poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London and completed his PhD in environmental philosophy and poetry. His journal, Mountain Thoughts: A philosophical exploration of Snowdonia in Journal Form, will appear in the next issue of The Trumpeter. | Photo Credito page 8-9 © Miguel Vieira (CC) Flickr | Photo Credit page 13 © Gisle Hannemyr (CC) Flickr | Photo Credit (Below) © Dominic Alves (CC) Flickr
from Machinist in the Snow by Lawrence Eby The fire dwindles. I throw another log. The cold creeps in from below me, the moon galloping with the stars. They are small like I am small. I trace them with my fingers, I stand to rearrange them. The trees shake loose their white coats and examine me while I do this. Me examining the sky, the trees examining me, this is the constant teetering the page. I note this. I diagram. I imagine myself as fire and combust in their cores. The wind breaks off the mountain and catalogues my body. The trees unalign and cascade into themselves. I am gravity. I am sea. I am all that glows in between. The generator chugs its rabid hum. Come with me—let’s move across this plane together. The forest begins expansion. The overpasses succumb to vines, the roots bury themselves in the smooth, etched pillars. The whole city gives into the shadows of the earth and I— we —rebellion of time, dry dirt in a plastic zip-lock, our bolts are undone. We grow like foxtails deep in the asphalts rugged grip.
from Machinist in the Snow by Lawrence Eby Above me the clouds ingest themselves the whole forest wet with wings. I crawl into a rotting log. Grubs glow a neon green, the moss rubbing against itself. I hear the rain chisel this hovel’s roof, myself breathing, my body beating against the solid wood. I spark a match and set this whole cavern alight. The walls are mirrors tinted skin. I shed my coat. This underground river takes hold, this river I’ve built and continue to build this river in my veins that breaks loose at the sign of weather. I am here and there is no doubt this is true. But now, even the shadows cannot bind to the walls and I sit, crouched and searching for a gold watch that no longer exists. I’ve grown a winter coat so thick this mountain is trying to engulf me. I am the creature. I am the snow and not the rain before it. This mountain teases its cleave and when it does I will bolt and dive. I will find myself home.
Lawrence Eby writes from Southern California and is currently an MFA student at CSUSB. His first book, Flight of August, won the 2013 Louise Bogan Award and is forthcoming from Trio House Press in the Spring 2014. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, Arroyo Literary Review, the Superstition Review, as well as others. He is the founder of Orange Monkey Publishing, a small poetry press, and has served as Poetry Editor for Ghost Town. He volunteers time on the Inlandia Board of Publications and is a founding member of PoetrIE, a writing collective in California’s Inland Empire. | Photo Credit (left) © Evonne (CC) Flickr 21
F eature P oet L . B . A aron R eeder I V
After Yesterday by L.B. Aaron Reeder IV sitting at the center of intersecting streets depressed from crowds that sleep under the fear of falling buildings your tongue slides the cracked beads of an abacus into the spaces of sun sets yesterday after the alarm wires inside us were cut the spaces between the beads were an old friend inhaling the ash of his children being so still under a desk
dreaming in music by L.B. Aaron Reeder IV from the concrete foundation left to whisper in the wind’s ear I need more holes in me. I’m tired of remaining. a quake centers the sand of a vacant lot and rattles out a piano beneath the lid a boy stands up braces and I as scurrying elephant decide there is no better music played until the balls of his feet land on the ivory and I’ve never been more aware of the quake until tomorrow it’ll be a violin a flute handed down and yesterday I saw a bucket to stand on it as song for fathers to follow the bodies of their sons and daughters that lie with their skin pulling away from the cold it trying to keep warm fills the ruts in an oak table I’ve now forgotten how to cover their eyes I must pull away from what happens between the music
L.B. Aaron Reeder IV writes from and lives in Redlands, California. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Wire Literary Magazine, The Pacific Review, Sand Canyon Review, Tin Cannon, Wilderness House Literary Review, Inlandia, 13 Magazine, and Camel Saloon. In the spring of 2013 he collaborated on a limited release of a hand bound chapbook titled A Kind Collection of Flies in Amber, and another one in the Summer titled Machinist in the Snow, Bathing in Antlers. He studies Creative Writing at California State University—San Bernardino, is an active member of the organization PoetrIE, and is an associate editor for Orange Monkey Publishing. 22
A Beatific Vision by Michael Knowles I. Becket in a storm, your flaxen hair Invites my troth against tempestuous tide. “This thing of darkness mine,” prosperity’s prayer, And auricomous woman’s torch my guide, I dredge the finite furrows of my mind. Your mercy maiming my myopic pride By light vouchsafing eyesight to the blind, Blasphemers call my telling overwrought, Their disbelief the sorrow of mankind. My stave against despair: my fear for naught, A lithe and sturdy shining golden rope, By which my newborn virtue is begot. II.
Because dimples cradle me in hope, As baby for his milk, I seek your simper. And wondering if it’s gilt or gold I stope Among the ore till swiftly, even simpler, Halt for light—a beatific vision— I gain for fatal fears of bang and whimper Grit to shun despair and frore perdition. So noble and so honest, so I sigh, My spirit, bursting forth by intuition, Toward the stars: baruch atah Adonai! When reason lacks, I tell in scattered verse The good news in the divots of your smile.
Beckoning, your bosom bids me nurse The fruit of friendship, love, to have my fill: Your charity, a kindness uncoerced; Your sacrifice, a tribute to free will. Your ceaseless heat—my cheeks are set aflame, Engulfing me and burning hotter still: A salve to heal the sick, the blind, the lame, My gracious cure, deservedly to thole. Sun sets on this familiar goodly frame, And rises in the spire of my soul.
Michael Knowles is a Manhattan-based actor, writer, and recent graduate of Yale University, where he earned the Seymour L. Lustman Prize for Outstanding Artistic Contribution. His most recently produced work, a firstever translation for the English stage of Machiavelli’s The Girl From Andros, debuted in 2012 and received critical acclaim as “a watershed event for the English-speaking world.” Find him online at michaeljknowles.com.
Sunday, and Lampposts are Frozen by Christopher M. Suda While the future’s black whiskers sweep our necks, a shy creep of fog trips into each nest of flood grass, and down the pike rust blooms against the soil’s iron spine. Cave swallows footstep gusts above us, if only to stretch grass over the tarmac between their wings like the foiled image of misfolded robes— my boyhood began lapping me again. At sixteen I was telling God to give me back my wallet. I Breathed steam into the grass—brother told me to come inside, and the ruin-fields fell quiet; bruises in the sky healed and the land caught fire as the evening sulked in. The next morning, watermarked stone beneath the rippled lines of marsh water lent my reflection back to me; the relief of the land rising and drowning behind me. Did the cave swallow notice me fall to knees in careful if not perfect knots? Where I am now is where I was then— budding with the ruins.
Chris’ poetry has been published in blaze VOX, Poetry Super Highway, Drunk Monkeys, The Aura, Dance Macabre, and Rufous City Review. Chris is currently a twenty-four year old undergraduate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a musician involved in three current music projects: Philos Moore (singer-songwriter) In Snow (Instrumental), and Loveislight (Experimental Hip-Hop). Photo Credit © Charles Hoffman (CC) Flickr
You don’t remember a hike, you said unless something burns you challenges the soul. I remember humidity and sweat, plodding our way through an evergreen forest with trees so tall we felt like fairies of an other world and the last three tenths of a mile up Big Slide’s slide with ladders and a hand over hand climb that pulls you closer and closer to those things you thought you knew. Look, the Wolfjaws. There’s Gothics. It’s a bit like an old friend you say, and it’s not crazy to talk to the mountain, tell it what you’re feeling where you’re hurting. And though I’m almost sure my buddy’s head contains its own unique bedrock, something tells me his instincts prove ancient and the forest echoes voices, some lifting above falling mountain streams.
“What was the region northward still?” the white men asked the Indians. It was the Cough-sa-gra-ga. Four hundred years ago when Hudson and Champlain traveled up these rivers into the heart of this untamed wilderness, the Mohican and the Iroquois and the Algonquin had no way of reaching India. And after the Indian savage were driven backward, deeper, into the dark hinterland, the High Peaks were decimated by logging and the rise of the big business tycoons that would later become this country. Only seven miles from the car though far behind a ridgeline that holds Panther and Santanoni and walls high above, the herdpath feels wild and untamed and for a moment, that time of no time comes back to me. A time before logging trucks and highways, before gas stations and billboards. Wachshu in Mohican means mountain. Imagine all the mountains had one name.
by David Crews
by David Crews
DAVID CREWS (davidcrewspoetry.com) has poems published or forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, The Southeast Review, Paterson Literary Review, Wisconsin Review, The Carolina Quarterly, 5AM, and others. Essays found in Adanna Literary Journal and SPECTRUM. Most recently, he was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. He both teaches and lives in northwest New Jersey. | Photo Credit © Storm Farm (CC) flickr) Note: The first three lines that begin “The Santanonis” from Verplanck Colvin’s The Adirondack Survey (Adirondack Explorations: Nature Writings of Verplanck Colvin, Syracuse University Press, 2000). A Mohican Dictionary compiled by Lion G. Miles can be found at mohican-nsn.gov.
Santa Fe, New Mexico by Rev. Daniel Klawitter
I will meet you there beneath the turquoise sky where honey is drizzled on a fresh sopapilla and the days drip by so slow and gold and wise. The sun so near it is Godâ€™s own ancient eye and the heavens are a warm, blue tortilla. I will meet you there, beneath that turquoise sky. Where the coyote sings his old, high cry while the Indians on the plaza (Viva La Raza!) walk by so slow and gold and wise. At sunset the horizon spreads her purple thighs; the air scented with pinyon and juniper. We breathe it out in sighs, beneath a turquoise sky.
Among other things, Daniel has been an actor, a singer/lyricist for the indie folk-rock band Mining for Rain, and a union organizer for mental health care workers. His poems have been published in numerous respectable literary journals and magazines both in the United States and in England, including: The Atonal Poetry Review, Focus, The Journal of South Texas English Studies, QuietMountain: New Feminist Essays, and Shot Glass Journal. A member of the Colorado Poets Center, he has also published two poetry chapbooks, Runaway Muse and An Epistemology of Flesh, available on Amazon.com. To learn more, please visit his page at: http://about.me/dklawitter
Here in the high desert where the air is oven-dry, beauty becomes my artful executioner and I die (like Georgia Oâ€™Keefe): slow, gold and wise. But each morning after sleep is yet another surprise. Enchanted once again as your troubadour when we greet each other beneath that bold, turquoise sky. And I meet you with holy faith: in days slow, gold and wise.
Winner of the 2013 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize
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To have the deep love of a friend is to have the shelter in which to embody more and more of the essence that we each are. In her book Gunilla Norris shows how in holding each other with trust and compassion our shells fall away and we emerge into the world as freer beings. Participating in a true friendship is profound and holy work. This book is a gift for the journey. www.homeboundpublications.com 29
I Lost My “I” in Iraq by Tiana Tozer
leaned over the Scrabble board and placed the letter “N” at the end of the unimpressive word “turn,” just as Jasper yelled “GET DOWN!” Wow! Competitive! But I was kicking his ass even with my last, lame word. He reached over the board with his short, muscled arm. His knee upended it; and a hail of letters rained down on the bed as he grabbed the side of my head and shoved me to the floor. We lay in the narrow space between the bed and dresser in the trailer that served as my room on the Basra military base in South Iraq, our noses five inches apart. I held his dark gaze as he counted off the mortars. He tapped his right hand as each mortar hit. One . . . two . . . three. Then silence. A wry smile crossed my New Zealand friend’s dark features. The slight upward slant to his eyes made me think he had tribal roots. We waited, our stomachs pressed against the floor for the all-clear signal. Our chins rested on our hands. My hip bones scraped against the hard floor. I hadn’t heard the warning but I knew that once the first blast sounds you have four seconds to get to a bunker. If no bunker is readily available your best bet is to drop to the ground wherever you are. My flak jacket and helmet sat just out of reach, leaned up against the wall. The first time I heard the alarm, a week after my arrival, I ran in my pa jamas from my trailer to the nearest bunker; it was dark and filled wall-towall with Iraqi males. I decided to take my chances outside and ran to the next bunker, occupied by my colleague Roland, a middle-aged man from Texas clad only in his boxers and T-shirt. After twenty minutes of face-to-face time with Jasper, a hired gun providing private security for another humanitarian organization, who I’d met at the compound gym, we scraped ourselves off the floor and started picking up the tiles. “You want to play again?” I asked. “No. We’re headed into Basra early tomorrow.” “Okay. See you at the gym.” I started to sort all the letters to assess the damage. The “I” was MIA. Two years later in March 2011, I arrived in Southern Kordofan, Sudan as the new state director. I carried with me a large bag and my one comfort item, a pillow I’d had since I was a kid, one that cradled my head with the perfect amount of flatness. The pillowcase was smattered with yellow-bellied frogs. I sat in the airport, waiting for our ride while clutching my pillow. You brought your pillow to Sudan?” Jack, the operations manager asked. “Don’t mock the sacred frog pillow,” I warned, as my colleagues, all males, laughed. I took a lot of ribbing about my pillow, and the housekeeper and I were in a constant battle over it. I was forever looking for the pillow or pillowcase
and re-appropriating them to my room after laundry day. It was March, three months until the country would split in two. Southern Kordofan was a border area characterized by large populations that identified with the Arab north and large populations that considered themselves African and part of the south. The province government was controlled by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, the South. Elections were scheduled for May. At a guesthouse run by an eccentric codger, I pulled out my Scrabble board for the expatriate game I had organized with my fellow humanitarians. “Hi, Baba Joe,” I said, greeting him with a kiss on the cheek. He had the best food in town, not that there was much competition, but he also had whiskey and sub-par beer difficult to obtain in Sudan. I set out the board and tiles. “I lost my ‘I’ in Iraq,” I explained as I put a small stone on the table that would replace the first “I” played. Nell, from the UK, scrutinized my face. “No, no. Not my eye. My Scrabble ‘I’. The letter,” I said. Laughter rang out as we broke into teams. Kenya and Afghanistan won that night; and UK had a pitiful loss, considering we were playing in English. The U.S. took second, and Indonesia and Burma took third. Three months later, the entire Scrabble board and the rest of the game letters joined the “I,” looted by the Northern army, when I left them behind as I fled the civil war that had broken out over contested election results. More than a year later, the war rages on. It’s not the loss of Scrabble or even the sacred frog pillow that causes me to toss and turn at night, but thoughts of the people that worked with me, cared for me and saw to my safety. The twenty Sudanese staff I left behind.
Tiana’s essays and articles have been published in The Wittenburg Door, the Idaho Statesman and Sports n’ Spokes. She was the subject of a documentary, The Tiana Tozer Story and her work on behalf of women and people with disabilities in Iraq was profiled on NBC Nightly News and NPR’s Here and Now. A former Paralympian and humanitarian she currently makes her living as a public speaker and has spoken to hundreds of groups nationwide. In 2010 she was named University of Oregon’s Outstanding Young Alumni and in 2012 she was recognized by the University of Illinois with the Harold Scharper Humanitarian Award. For more information visit, www. TianaTozer.com. | Photo Credit © Janet Galore CC Flickr 31
by Kari Wergeland Rain dampens the deck. I open up the tap and steaming water pours into the rusty claw-foot tub. Rain in my hair and on my naked arms. Inside, coals lay dying in the iron stove. As the water around me grows cold, my thoughts dissolve in the dark.
by Kari Wergeland Following an old direction goes against the grain even if runs in a block of smooth woodâ€” a fallen tree clacking in the zendo
Kari Wergeland has received recent acceptances from The Chaffin Journal, Homestead Review, and Prick of the Spindle. She works as a librarian for Cuyamaca College in El Ca jon, CA, and lives part-time on the Oregon Coast. For more information, please visit kariwergeland.wordpress.com. Photo credit ÂŠ Alex Ristea (CC) Flickr
After Taking Art History by Ariana D. Den Bleyker
And so, I thought, I would like to collect paintings of the sea alone, cover the walls in them, ceiling to floor, butting up to each other in the irreverent way of waves, and pitching slightly forward from their nails, undulating across the plane of the wall. I would hang them in a windowless room, each a verb in present tense, each capable of more here than where I stand even now, four walls of open sea and twenty times that in horizons with fog rising from your absence. Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native that currently resides in Upstate New York. She is the author of several chapbooks and collections and the founder of ELJ Publications, LLC and editor-in-chief of Emerge Literary Journal and scissors & spackle. She can be found at www.arianaddenbleyker.com
Where is My Heart? by Chad Hanson
When she felt something, she moved her right hand up toward her heart. Her palm rested on bone and her fingers spread out on top of her breast. Two days after she turned fifty it dawned on her that she could not recall the last time she did that. She traced her condition to the day she said goodbye to Florida. She booked a flight to Orlando. Then she rented a room in Cocoa Beach. In the morning, she walked to the water. She sat her pa jamas onto the khaki sand. When the sun began to rise over the Atlantic, she felt her hand moving toward her chest. Chad Hanson serves as Chairman of the Department of Sociology & Social Work at Casper College. His creative nonfiction titles include Swimming with Trout and Trout Streams of the Heart. His manuscript Patches of Light won the 2013 David Martinsonâ€”Meadowhawk Prize in Poetry, and is forthcoming from Red Dragonfly Press. | Photo Credit ÂŠ David Sim (CC) Flickr
Death Bed by Theodore Richards
e were talking about sports when the doorbell rang. My brother’s wife got it. She always got it. “We’ve got a bed here,” said the man at the door. “Oh,” she said, “we thought you were coming at six. They told us six.” “Six? Wonder why they said that?” The man paused, kindly, to allow for the woman in front of him to recognize that he understood the significance of the bed. He’d done this before. “Sorry about the mix up, but, well, we’ve got the bed. Can we come in?” “Yes, yes. Of course.” We had to stop talking about sports. The bed and all it represented had insinuated itself. The two men carried parts and explained things about the bed, its assembly and operation, to anyone who would listen. They made an uncomfortable amount of eye contact with me while my brother, dying and emaciated, waited. They put it together in front of us, as my brother seemed to be falling apart, held together with blankets, tubes and drugs. “Can we put it right here?” They asked, still looking at me. It would be in front of the TV, in front of the football game we’d been discussing. I –the only one in the room who did not live there, who was not clearly dying or married to a dying man—said nothing. “That’s fine,” said my wife’s brother. Bed between TV and us, there was now only the subject of death. Its various humiliations became the topic of discussion. The only topic possible. They began to explain the bed’s attributes to my brother and me. I tried to not to look rudely indifferent while conveying that my brother should be the one to whom they were speaking, He’s not gone yet. I wanted to say. He still exists and still can control a fucking bed. But they continued to explain it all to me. Finally they came to the rails on the side. I remembered the bed my brother had had as a child, after he’d outgrown his crib but there was still concern he’d fall out in his sleep. These railings could be adjusted, the man explained, through some process I didn’t follow.
“Can we just take them off?” said my brother. He wanted to say, but could not, that he was not going to roll out of his bed. He was a dying man, not a child. “Yeah, sure,” said the man. He was not unkind. He must hate coming into this kind of home, I thought, the kind where the dying man is young and the pitter-patter of his children’s feet rather than the dull drone of the home shopping network provide the background for his work. I felt a moment of compassion and admiration for his job: the deliverer of deathbeds. Mercifully, he left. My brother’s youngest son came in and looked uncomprehendingly at the bed. “What’s this?” he asked. “It’s a new bed for daddy,” said my brother with a smile. “It will help me sleep better. So my back won’t hurt.” The euphemisms, so long practiced, slid of his tongue so easily that they—unburdened with the agony of the truth—had become themselves something like truth, true in the strange bubble that had become their home, the home of a dying man. “Why is it here?” he asked. Four-year-olds are more honest. More direct. “We should move it,” said my brother. “It’s really in the way.” And the little boy nodded, walking thoughtfully away.
Theodore Richards is a poet, writer, and religious philosopher. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies, but has learned just as much from practicing the martial art of Bagua; from traveling, working or studying all over the world; and from the youth he has worked with on the South Side of Chicago, Harlem, the South Bronx, and Oakland. He is the author of Handprints on the Womb, a collection of poetry; Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism, and the Birth of a New Myth, recipient of the Independent Publisher Awards Gold Medal in religion and the Nautilus Book Awards Gold Medal; the novel The Crucifixion, recipient of the Independent Publisher Awards bronze medal; and Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto, which radically re-imagines education. Theodore Richards is the founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project and teaches world religions at The New Seminary. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters. Photo Credit © Roco Julie (CC) Flickr
November on Michigan Street by Donna Collins
I stepped onto the porch at night and saw black grass, bare limbs of trees, and mud. Rain had fallen for days, the sky perpetual clouds, the air damp. Searching pockets for matches, I faced the yard and exhaled smoke into the grave air, which must have seeped through a door I forgot to close somewhere in me; a kind of completeness of gloom. It seemed that the world had succumbed to lowness and lack of manners telling the same dark story over and over and if ever knowing summer, it had forgotten, sadly waiting for news the wind would bring, if any. Increasing stillness in the yard startled me, and as I looked up fluffy bits of white snow had begun to fall above the streetlight, onto the trees and all around my face. The yard transformed before my eyes into an illuminated, silent dream. It was, you could say, enlightenment that came from without, a strange reversal, a show of shows, a transformation of the stage so well done that it deserved a large audience and robust applause. There was no one there to witness it but you and me; an extravagance so you.
by Donna Collins You carry it close to the heart, a thing so much a part of you that it is almost forgotten until the weight of it reminds you. You carry it close to the heart like a locket bequeathed at birth with a picture that looks like something on the edge of memory. It has no worth to anyone else; it canâ€™t be hocked for rent money or change the appearance of your life. And yet it lies there near the heart like something you would die to keep if it came to that. It makes you want to weep for what lies ahead, for what seems almost too good to wish for yet somehow promised, like a story that wounds with its wholeness.
Donna Collins grew up as the youngest of five children in Detroit, Michigan. Donna recently returned to school as a non-traditional student and graduated with a bachelorâ€™s degree in English from the University of Michigan. As a girl, she collected rocks and minerals and is reminded that like poems and persons, each have a history of forces and pressures that make them what they are. | Photo Credit ÂŠ Lindsey Turner CC Flickr 39
That Low Droning Horn of Buddhist by Valerie Westmark Incensed with foreign myth, tendrils of breath, whispering as monks chant mantras, a tangible moaning in smoke-thick hostels. Chai running the trail of a Sherpa’s beard, clinging to the mug held against my father, ceremonious in an Everest cold. The call of morning, a sigh to the mountainous, to the statues, stupas, wizened by years of sleeping in that same low droning, the one my father makes with hollowed lips and rounded hands, murmurous pleas to distant monasteries, to the memory of himself, young and homeless trekking winter, fleeing into deep hum of Buddhist horn, a liturgy.
Beneath the Elm by Valerie Westmark When I watch the oxbow slip starry echoes into a light-limb lulling, I want to climb the attic chambers of the alpine and hold silence in close chested. I want to lay spread in the rye grass, hushed by the shallow call of the gorse, the whispering dusk. I want to become the heart of the root-stock, the voice of sky, the new. I want to be part tulip of beauty, which wakes.
Like Sand Exposed by Valerie Westmark Do you think of yourself as gigantic? I mean, vast. I only do, momentarily. As last night we danced soft circles in the black.
Valerie Westmark graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor’s in English and a concentration in creative writing. She has been published in Samford University’s Sojourn and Wide Angle, the Wilderness House Literary Review, the Southern Voice and Sleet Magazine. She also was awarded the Top Literary Rating for the Fall 2010 issue of Sojourn. She currently resides in Pensacola, FL. | Photo Credit © McKay Savage CC Flickr
A Leaf Prayer by Cindy Rinne Shooting stars, meteors, eclipse direct Mai Ly’s steps in the moonlight heaviness. Rivers, ocean, streams, grant her safety as your lips breathe. As Lac Long Quan, prince from the sea and Au Co, princess of the mountains Joined in union beginning the lineage of the Vietnamese, may the mountains loom in protection over her. Jade Emperor, guide Mai Ly in all directions— five cardinal points (center, east, west, north and south). Ancestors, inspire her to perceive the five natural elements (earth, metal, water, fire, wood). A leaf fell off the peach branch in Mai Ly’s altar on the river’s edge floating.
himalayan salt by Cindy Rinne chinese wind chimes vibrate through my bones kheura salt mines you sing a siren coaxing me black and gray feathers disperse in my front yard as ash smoothes my hands touching brine lungs expand I feel the energy while the orange spider builds a web only to rip it each night before the pink sun languishes
Cindy Rinne creates art and writes in San Bernardino, CA. Cindy won an Honorable Mention in The Rattling Wall Poetry Contest. Cindy is a Guest Author for Saint Julian Press. She is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community. Her work appeared or is forthcoming in The Wayfarer, Twelve Winters Press, The Lake, Revolution House, Soundings Review, East Jasmine Review, Linden Ave. Literary Journal, The Gap Toothed Madness, A Narrow Fellow, shuf poetry, Poetry Quarterly, The Prose-Poem Project. www.fiberverse.com. | Photo Credit © Kenny Louie (CC) Flickr
Bouquet by Wally Swist There are layers of loveliness to all of this— this is what the many-petaled roses know— imagine that fragrance, the unfurling of that which is within their petals in their opening to the world; but then again the fragrance of that is what this is, which also fills us with the sweet abundance in ourselves, as we open and reopen with the distillation of that bouquet further clarifying each other, as if we were spiraling upward toward the light, through the lattice work of a trellis,
On Quilting by Rebecca Ricks You talk today of centers and circles and sutures. Every moment has already been performed, such that the sacralization of icons is a serial murder. And yet you still perform a long arm feat, stitching across the tattered quilt that is your life. You say I am the suture. You say I am the thread, smoothing over the cancerous lesions that run up each arm and metastasize. Keep it bouncing, you add carelessly. You cannot restore the truth beneath the performance. The performance is the truth.
or reaching through the mirrors reflecting us, as fluid as water, for each other’s hands.
Rebecca Ricks is a writer of poetry and nonfiction living in Provo, Utah. Raised a New Yorker, she is interested in the nexus between visual and literary cultures in the American landscape. She currently works as a freelance illustrator. Wally Swist’s has published several books of poetry, including Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, co-winner in the 2011 Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Competition, which was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2012. Wally Swist: Selected Poems is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in March 2014. His new poems appear in Appalachia, Commonweal, Mudfish, and North American Review. 44
It’s a Wonderful Life by Roy Bentley Inside a nursing home in Newark, Ohio, a holiday movie is being screened for residents. Caregivers take turns pushing a red wheeled cart. My mother is offered and accepts a bag of popcorn. We nibble kernels—rather, I feed her and we talk. Between bites, she wants to tell me who I’m not. I’m definitely not my uncle Bill. Not my father. She broods about life and, by extension, death. Then broods about the popcorn, having to eat. An angry man across from us wants his iPhone. Says he’s being kept against his will, which he is. She looks up and into the face of Jimmy Stewart, just saved from drowning by an agreeable angel. I lie, “The popcorn here is pretty good, isn’t it?” Here means where she is that I’m not staying. My father arrives carrying his usual freight of laundered blouses. He kisses my mother. Watching them, the angry man grows quiet, drifts off to imagine an afternoon of shouting and the elfin loading of a very brightly-lit sleigh. I’m recalling a morning straddling the seat-front of my father’s Harley, squinting in Ohio sunlight, my clown-mouth rictus of a kid-smile blossoming. I’m seven, he and my mother twenty-somethings. They seem happy about my first motorcycle ride. They talk, the two of them. The engine bah-rooms. Some days your life is like waking up with the wind like fingers in your hair and the backdrop blue sky bearing, as bright echo, the All right a mother speaks holding closed the front of a robe in the driveway. Some days it takes an agreeable angel to keep us. Some days the angels are busy and we drown.
Roy Bentley’s work has been recognized with fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama, 1986), Any One Man (Bottom Dog, 1992) and The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine, 2006). Starlight Taxi, his latest, won the 2012 Blue Lynx Prize in Poetry and has just been published by Lynx House Press.
Photo Credit (Right) ÂŠ Rosino
Mint by Ariane Elizabeth
The Women Of Morocco by Ariane Elizabeth are not altogether lost to me though they did not dance barefoot in the square nor sing passing through medina streets I still remember them seated there on the stone floor of the hammam pouring warm water over their bodies, offering up a prayer
Atlas Mountains, the smell of mint mixing with sugar. a gas station with café, two bistro tables outdoors where we sit and sip mint tea ~ at the tannery, a sprig of mint to hold beneath the nose the shirtless men with pant legs rolled wading through pools of dye arms stained to the elbow their golden skin— a tapestry of crimson and coffee ~ Abdul’s rooftop, fes-al-bali, the lights dot along the houses, the old palace walls— a dark snake
Ariane Elizabeth is named after a Led Zeppelin song her parents misheard. When she is not traveling, she lives in Chicago, Illinois with her graphic designer husband. She is a poetry and non-fiction reader for the literary magazine Gigantic Sequins. Currently at work on her novel, you can find her online at: www.arianelizabeth.com | Photo Credit (Right) © Rosino (CC) Flickr
Abdul rattles up the ladder with a silver teapot and three painted tea glasses as he pours us each a glass, the steam rises towards the sky—a vast spread of stars—we each give thanks, alhamdulillah a faint blow of a train whistle from the gare, the click of the mules carrying goods to the souks, and the three of our breaths the loudest beneath the dark African sky 47
Versions of Kabir
Versions of Kabir – LXXXIX Is there a wise man that will listen quietly to the heavens? That One knows the Source As unceasing music, As vessels filled to the brim, As the time for rest ever-present. Those nosey and noisy others. The grabbers and the clumsy, Scattering the world, Unsatisfied and fatigued. Please pause, take rest. Listen for the music. A song fusing Love and Renunciation into One. Kabir says: “Brother, This is the Song of Eternity I sing for You.”
Versions of Kabir – XCVI Oh my Heart, my Friend, Where is your sense? If you love true, why do you sleep? If you have found the Beloved, Then surrender in the presence— Utterly and completely. How can you lose the Beloved time after time? If you are truly tired, then rest. I see you in some sleepless trance, Making the bed and arranging the pillows, Over and over. Kabir says: “These are the ways of love: The blade is sharp and swift. No tear is shed when we Fall to the ground.” 48
Versions of Kabir – XCII Parted from her lover, The woman spins thread at her wheel. In this craft, the city of the body rises in grandeur And the palace of the mind gleams Within these city walls. The Wheel of Love spins in the sky And beneath a seat is made From the jewels of knowledge. The craft is subtle as well as beautiful. Love and remembrance exquisitely entwined! Kabir says: “I am this woman weaving the garland of night and day. When the Lover returns I will wash His feet with tears of joy.”
J. K. McDowell is the author of the poetry collection Night, Mystery & Light. An Ohioan expat living in Ca jun country, McDowell lives twenty miles north of the Gulf Coast with his soul mate who also happens to be his wife and their two beautiful companion parrots. McDowell recently contributed the Foreword to the revised expanded edition of L. M. Browning’s Ruminations at Twilight published by Homebound Publications. | Photo Credit (Right) © Ed Schipul (CC) Flickr
Perle Besserman Reflects on Her New Book
n November 15th, Perle Besserman released her latest offering, Yeshiva Girl Stories. A collection of linked stories, Yeshiva Girl explores the little-known world of American Orthodox Judaism from a young girl’s perspective. A feminist coming-of-age story paralleling the experiences of Chaim Potok’s yeshiva boys, Besserman’s collection depicts the limited intellectual and social expectations, and stunted future promise, of precocious girl-children like Pnina, who, from her earliest days in a strictly orthodox, allgirl yeshiva (Jewish parochial school) finds herself first questioning, and gradually rebelling against, family constraints as she seeks to forge a new identity in the secular (gentile) world outside her community before ultimately coming to terms with her own. Perle Besserman’s books have been translated into over ten languages. Her most recent books of creative non-fiction are A New Zen for Women and Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers, coauthored with Manfred Steger. Perle holds a doctorate in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She currently divides her time between Honolulu, Hawaii and Melbourne, Australia. When asked what inspired her forthcoming work, Yeshiva Girl Stories Perle reflects: I’ve been writing and publishing Yeshiva Girl Stories over the years but didn’t think of collecting them into book form until recently. The immediate stimulus was a piece I read in the NY Times about the Taliban-like assault on an eight-year-old orthodox Jewish yeshiva girl on her way to school by a gang of ultra-Orthodox men on a Jerusalem street. Although she was dressed according to orthodox standards: long sleeves, long skirt, no bare skin showing, these guardians of female Jewish “modesty” took it upon themselves to enforce their own stricter version of the female apparel code by beating and 50
spitting on the child. Something visceral stirred in me on reading this piece, something I’d long set aside (or so I thought) or creatively worked out of my system through my writing. Though based on my own experiences growing up in a “modern orthodox” home, Yeshiva Girl is not a memoir but a picture of what life was like for so many of the girls and young women I went to school with: burdened with shame and guilt merely for being born female, yet at the same time obliged to fulfill the schizoid standards of a patriarchal religion demanding that God’s damaged female creation achieve an oddly Jewish form of sainthood by negating herself for Eve’s sin. Not that there are any saints in Judaism, but something of the Christian penchant for martyrdom—especially of women—must have seeped through the cracks in the doors of their Jewish neighbors. After all, blossoming from the same root, living so closely for centuries on the same contested turf, how could it have been otherwise? The eponymous narrator of these linked stories, sometimes called Pnina, sometimes Penny, sometimes Annie, is actually a compilation of traits and experiences set mostly in post-World War II Brooklyn but varying in places, times, and settings that reflect the girl’s fluidly changing identities. Anachronisms abound from story to story; the same characters appear in different guises, only to die or disappear and reappear on the stage of a drama perpetually under construction in the mind of a girl prone to “overdramatizing everything,” as her childhood best friend sees it. And truly, in this world of heightened tension, overseen by a volatile God perpetually poised to punish the slightest infraction of His Law, can this girl child be blamed for doing so? Look for Yeshiva Girl Stories whever books are sold. Including Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and ot HomeboundPublications.com
Book Spotlight The Sum of the Parts I once called myself A Christian, then a Jew, Then a Buddhist, then a Muslim, But that was in the beginning When I regarded my search for God As a portion of my life Rather than life itself.
n November 15th, Homebound Publications released Vagabonds and Sundries: Poetic Remnants of Lives Past, the muchanticipated new poetry collection by L.M. Browning, award-winning author of Oak Wise: Poetry Exploring an Ecological Faith, Ruminations at Twilight: Poetry Exploring the Sacred, and Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity: Journal of a New England Poet. In this new collection, Browning bring us a poetical coming to terms, as she touches on topics such as emotional trauma, spiritual disillusionment, and lost love. It is a dirge of grief and empowerment, highlighting both sorrow as well as the spirit that remains even after all else has left us. â€œDown Along the River Styxâ€?, a selection of Vagabonds and Sundries was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. www.homeboundpublications.com www.lmbrowning.com
Down Along the River Styx Wrapped in your straightjacket of self-involvement We plow ahead into the dark horizon Conjured by your ill-yearnings. You built this faulty ship With its warped compass and missing keel, With its brittle bones and gutted sails. You set the course to that forsaken place And hold to it each day no matter my pleas And the omens warning you away. Why must I make the journey unto ruin with you? You do not value my companionship. You simply want company in your misery. You do not care how many years I lose, Never taking into account what I might have wanted. The only need you have of me is as a nursemaid When at last this boat runs aground And the vulturous society you keep comes to eat you alive. ...And you curse me for jumping ship.
Homebound Publications Make the journey with us www.homeboundpublications.com
Feature Articles of this issue are: Foragings by William Searle, I Lost my “I” in Iraq by Tiana Tozer, Vermont’s Sacred Acreby Kathryn Bonne...