Walloon Writers Review is an independent collection of original creative writing and nature photography inspired by Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Founded in Petoskey, Michigan in 2013, Walloon Writers Review offers reflection and celebration of the natural beauty and unique experience found in this region. We are honored to have our Associate Editor Glen Young serve as Editor for this “edition 6”-our first “e” edition of Walloon Writers Review. Glen’s poetry has appeared in Walloon Writers Review, Beneath the Lilacs and Thoreau at Mackinac and his literary reviews appear in The Petoskey News-Review and Split Rock Review. He is a fellow with the National Writing Project, as well as co-director of the Tip of the Mitt Writing Project. Glen splits time between Petoskey and Mackinac Island.
Walloon Writers Review P.O. Box 2460 Petoskey, Michigan 49770 www.walloonwriters.com Founder/Editor: Jennifer Huder edition 6 Editor/Associate Editor: Glen Young Cover Photo: Elizabeth J. Bates Produced by: Mitchell Graphics for Walloon Writers Review ©Walloon Writers Review edition 6 2020 Petoskey, Michigan Walloon Writers Review (ISSN 2572-9683) Digital Flip book design by: Mitchell Graphics, Petoskey, MI
CONTENTS Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising, MI #3, Elizabeth J. Bates ������������������ COVER Solstice Litany, Jim Harrison ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������5 Introduction by edition 6 editor, Glen Young ������������������������������������������������������6 Meditation near Cross Village, Deda Kavanagh ��������������������������������������������������8 Autumnal (A trio of tricube poems), Ellen Lord ��������������������������������������������������9 In the gloaming, Buff Whitman-Bradley �������������������������������������������������������������10 Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising, MI #1, Elizabeth J. Bates ����������������������������12 Autumn On The Bay, John Lennon ��������������������������������������������������������������������13 Brockly Lake Marquette County, Lisa Fosmo ����������������������������������������������������14 Antler Crowns, Glen Young ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������15 And Still…, Glen Young ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������15 Turning (Outside Fishtown), CJ Giroux ������������������������������������������������������������16 IN CAMP, Edd Tury ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������18 Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising MI #2, Elizabeth J. Bates ����������������������������22 Pigeon Dreams, Thomas Ford Conlan ����������������������������������������������������������������23 Along the North Country, John Lennon ������������������������������������������������������������24 What is the Wind, Katherine Roth ����������������������������������������������������������������������25 Water is the Most Powerful Element, Nancy Cook ��������������������������������������������26 Dominion of Hope, Grace Giroux ����������������������������������������������������������������������28 Fire vs. Water: A Bilinguacultural Poem, Yuan Changming ������������������������������30 The melodius silence of woods, Buff Whitman-Bradley �������������������������������������31 Cover Letter, Phillip D. Sterling ��������������������������������������������������������������������������32 Selfie, Melissa Seitz ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������34 December 19, 1996 Herman, MI, Kenneth Pobo ����������������������������������������������36 Snow Country, Karen Walker ������������������������������������������������������������������������������37 Snow Dance, Allen M. Weber ������������������������������������������������������������������������������38 To A Birch, Nancy Cook ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������39 On the Feast of St. Joseph, CJ Giroux ����������������������������������������������������������������40 Pancake Ice on Lake Michigan sunrise in early November, Lisa Fosmo ����������42 Spring on Lake Michigan, Lisa Fosmo ��������������������������������������������������������������44 Another Spring, Michael S. Walker ��������������������������������������������������������������������45
Bluebells, Karen Walker ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������46 Wildflowers, John Lennon ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������47 Strawberry Moon, Chris Lucka ��������������������������������������������������������������������������48 Tributaries, Allen M. Weber ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������49 Hawk, Melissa Seitz ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������50 This Nameless Field, Raymond Luczak ��������������������������������������������������������������52 Tree of Life, Kelly Kazmierski ������������������������������������������������������������������������������54 What I know About Fishing, Priscilla Atkins ����������������������������������������������������55 Forgotten Fields Remembered, Thomas Ford Conlan ����������������������������������������56 The Laundromat, Jim Bolone ����������������������������������������������������������������������������57 Homecoming, Kelly Kazmierski ��������������������������������������������������������������������������58 Heading Down the Barnes Road Hill in Antrim County, Shelley B. Smithson ������ 60 The Gaggle, Bev Steckert ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������61 The Moss Crusted Tree Trunk, James J. Bogan, Jr. ��������������������������������������������62 The Northern Lights, James J. Bogan, Jr. ������������������������������������������������������������63 Into The Light, Grace Giroux ����������������������������������������������������������������������������64 Artemis Knows (for all the daughters), Kacey Riley ������������������������������������������66 FOG, 8 July 2020, James P. Lenfestey ������������������������������������������������������������������68 Herd of Waves, James P. Lenfestey ������������������������������������������������������������������������69 Waves, James P. Lenfestey ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������70 Shower Over Wilderness Bay, Jonathan Jordan ��������������������������������������������������71 Strait Storm, Jonathan Jordan ����������������������������������������������������������������������������72 September 26 Brockly Lake Marquette County, Lisa Fosmo ����������������������������77 an untitled haiku, Art Curtis ������������������������������������������������������������������������������78 18th Annual Crooked Tree Arts Center Juried Young Writers Exposition ������������79 Biographies of our edition 6 Contributors ����������������������������������������������������������95
SOLSTICE LITANY By Jim Harrison
5 Solstice at the cabin deep in the forest. The full moon shines in the river, there are pale green northern lights. A huge thunderstorm comes slowly from the west. Lightning strikes a nearby tamarack bursting into flame. I go into the cabin feeling unworthy. At dawn the tree is still smoldering in this place the gods touched earth.
Credit: Jim Harrison, “Solstice Litany: Part 5” from Dead Man’s Float. Copyright © 2016 by Jim Harrison. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. Walloon Writers Review would like to thank Copper Canyon Press for allowing us to share this perfect poetry by a writer who captured the essence of Michigan.
The stories here are true. So too are the poems, the photographs, and all the collected content in this edition 6 of Walloon Writers Review. These stories, poems, photographs and more are the truth, both of where we have been and where we might—hope or harm—go again. This past year challenged us, certainly, in ways subtle as well as substantial. Hunkering in quarantine, or emerging into the uncertain, we yearned still for the communal pleasure of the words we hunger for always. We long to share, and through the tumult our appetite for words was never more sharp. It is sharp still. Truth and sharing of course requires thanks, which go out foremost to Jennifer Huder, for perennially providing sustenance; to the assembled writers and photographers who again share such wonderful work; and to you, dear reader, for making this enterprise worth the effort. Please enjoy and come back often. ~ Glen Young Associate Editor
WALLOON WRITERS REVIEW edition 6
M E D I TAT I O N n e ar CRO SS VILL AGE Deda Kavanagh A conscious inhalation, any length. Hold it for three, feel strength in mathematics, how brave you are to count, and know you count. Deep exhale for as long as is necessary to say, Soft soft soft to connect to jaw, to sacrum then coccyx to hips and on to cheek and throat. to swallow. And back again. To take in–– Bloodroot Trout lily and pretty-in-Pink Ladyslipper snowy Nodding Trillium to listen–– how silent, a boy passes, smooth on a bike, how the Quaking Aspen hushes all the others to its psalm, how House Finch to finch chirp, Tsk and tsk to catch a whiff–– of coffee on the stove, percolating, Muskmelon, new and insistent on the counter. Deep inhale now hold and count for just a taste of His hand on your shoulders, telling you, Go soft . . .
AU T U M N A L (A tri o of tri c u b e p o ems) Ellen Lord I green to gold two ripe pears swell with sweet succulent orbs of flesh fruition transient bountiful the harvest II October leaves past peak hues of rust unfurling memories cold seeps in thoughts darken in bruised sky a rainbow III naked limbs silhouette a Rorschach departing as shadows morph to mist Hunter’s moon crescent glow wanes goodbye
I N T H E G LOAMING Buff Whitman-Bradley The sun is sinking below the hills But we can still see its light On the tall trees across the way Like a departing lover in an old movie Waving a handkerchief From the last car on the train. We know That she won’t stay away for good That after the film is over She and her sweetheart Will find each other again And realizing how foolish they’d been To think they did not belong together. They will remain inseparable For sixty years And then they will die sweetly Hours apart. The sunlight keeps climbing the trees As a gentle darkness Spreads below Throughout the neighborhood Blessing the roofs of houses And garden sheds Whispering goodnight To parked cars and back yards And loyal old mailboxes. And now we are immersed In the gloaming The tenderly melancholy hour When we find ourselves able To regard the errors and failures Of the past With more sadness than blame With more empathy than accusation With more forgiveness Of ourselves and others Than sometimes seems possible In the unrelenting glare of noon Or the snarling insomnia of midnight.
Constellations begin to appear In their usual places Lights come on in houses Up and down the street The air grows cooler Crickets plead more and more urgently For love And everyone we have ever been Comes home to sit quietly with us On twilight’s front porch.
©ELIZABETH J. BATES
Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising MI #1 ©ELIZABETH J. BATES
AU T U M N O N THE BAY John Lennon There’s something seductive About a harbor town In early September. The wind and waves make love As they roll over the breakwall. The town, quietly beautiful, No longer brags of its Sultry summer days And its curb appeal. Yes, I will take The weekday harvests, Mundane but misinterpreted, Leaving time for daydreams Of lovers I’ve yet to meet. So shed that summer tan Down to smoke white skin, I long to see her pressed against The amber of an early sunset. Steeped in gin and deep conversation, We would lay cradled in dry grass And flannel blankets with Slightly-chapped lips and open hearts. This is the love I want, What I wait all year for: Not the one night stands And long walks home Of summer, Not the empty beds And harsh phone calls Of winter, But the star soaked mornings And incandescent trees Of autumn. Calm and reposed.
Brockly Lake Marquette County ©LISA FOSMO
A N T L E R C ROWNS Glen Young I sometimes creep down the stairs, the way I might move still in the morning autumn woods, discovering again these angled antler crowns, remembering each fallen prince and king, these daylight-nervous bucks. Here in the quiet of my books, now, I recall each anxious wait-and-see, the slowed breathing at first light or the evenings certain gloaming. I can almost feel the rifle’s weight, nearly hear again the heavy click at the chamber’s closing ahead of that final clap, knees buckled, head down. There is always snow in the memory of that final silence.
A N D S T I L L ... Glen Young And still… the starlings on the hunt in the matted lawn and the waxwings calling from atop the cedars, while the woodpecker jackhammers yet in the near wood, the dogs off-leash through the winter-dull field. Later, against a sky more black than any before, the North Star hangs aslant on the nail of the night.
TU RN I N G ( O U TSID E F ISHTOWN) CJ Giroux With his flannel sleeve rolled past the elbow, my grandfather moves his submerged arm like a pendulum to push water through gills. Too small, too small, he says. He teaches me to remove the hook, throw him back. I bungle the job: tear the cheek, drop the fish. It swims towards the river’s brown-green depths, and my grandfather chuckles, yep, sometimes that’s the way it goes. Now, I picture the steel j jutting from its mouth—a greaser with a cigarette tilted between his lips. I imagine drops of blood sinking in the water like rubies unstrung, turning as they fall but then… My grandfather’s knife catches me, the late afternoon light as it keens through air, flesh, fluids. He works outside the tin shed on the small rise that marks the end of their plot. A good haul, he smiles. Thinking of dinner, we debate frying vs. baking, as eggs ooze from the biggest salmon, a little early for the season. He talks of the saltiness of caviar, but these, he points, will be buried, like the burnt remains of a religious offering, in the empty beds that held neon lights of July chard, the bleached tassels of peaches and cream corn in August. He teaches of bone, the softness of cartilage and silt, the hungry soil. I retreat to my grandmother’s side, the flowerbeds that guard the house. Her alto voice rings clean and clear: ’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free….
Kneeling to begin the fall chores, she drives the rusting bulb planter down, twists the circular blade, shakes free the earthen plug. I ask about the feelings, dreams of animals, flowers. Silence fills the space between us. Tilting her head, turning to study the neighbor’s rowed beehives, my grandmother begins with a sigh; she remembers their three-legged Irish setter who ran in his sleep, the feral calico with the ragged ear, the purple clematis struggling to climb the drainspout. As I place in each hole the beginnings of daffodils, she reminds me of fates, cause and effect, and to point each tip up; she claims the fall sun, coming cold are spindles, that love comes with pain, that we must do our share. She then covers these sleeping beauties with soil; she offers them, me a smile, pat, prayer. Burning leaves fill the air, so too the bitterness of mums, the last of the French marigolds when she brushes a gloved hand over their ruffled heads. My grandfather joins us, spade in hand, to turn over this dark earth, lift their prize dahlias, white, maroon, ‘til by turning, turning, he sings in his deep tenor, we come round right. This, too, he says, is the way it goes.
IN CAMP Edd Tury Charles M. Rollen finished raking the tent floor and reached next to his sleeping bag, fumbling for what was left of the scotch. It was 10 o’clock in the morning. The sun shone through the spruce tops, barely illuminating the inside of the dirty canvas tent. CM got his glass and went out for some icicles. He snapped several off the tent fly and broke them into his glass. He poured two fingers of the whiskey over the ice, took a long sip and looked back into the open tent flap. The tent always looked better after the floor was raked. CM sipped more scotch and studied the bottle. It wouldn’t last the day. A trip to town was in order; he hoped his brother Ned would be up for it after his day in the woods. The lack of camp whiskey was usually good motivation. He drained his glass and sloshed the remaining ice at the firepit. Chickadees flew into the small spruce tops, peeping their displeasure at being chased from the tent floor detritus CM had raked to the pit. CM walked over to where his buck hung from the buck pole. For the hundredth time that week he pounded its frozen chest and admired the great antlers. It was a big deer; the largest buck any of them had killed. He shot it three mornings ago on the river ridge east of camp. He was lucky. There were few deer in these woods and the good bucks almost never make the mistake this one had made: It walked past CM in good shooting light. The camp celebration lasted long into the night. Most of the camp whiskey was gone that evening. Lucky his brother didn’t like scotch all that well. One bottle survived intact. He admired the camp. It was an old-fashioned, rough tent camp. He liked that. He liked being part of an old time deer camp. He, his dad, and his brother were quite comfortable. Not like the first couple of years when they didn’t know what they were doing. They were warm at night, ate well, and hunted hard all day in the big woods. They saw few other hunters and liked it that way. CM went into the tent. The trash box was full again. He inspected the trash carefully before he dumped it into the woodstove and cracked the front air hole. He took his time. Yesterday, after he emptied the trash into the stove, he was outside the tent straightening up the campsite when he heard a loud bang from inside the tent. Startled, CM turned to see a large puff of smoke and ash burp out of the stovepipe. Three more explosions in quick succession, silence, then one more. He went back into the tent knowing that all five of his brother’s lost cartridges had exploded in the stove. Ned had looked for his leather cartridge holder that morning. It was the type worn on a belt and it must have slipped off Ned’s belt into the trash box when Ned took off his woolen hunting pants the night before. CM checked the stove for holes, but there were none. When the fire died down he scraped the ashes out the front cleanout into the camp shovel. He carried the shovel of ash into the good light and sifted through it finding the exploded cartridges. Instead of propelling the unconfined bullet the burning gunpowder blew the bullet casings open at their necks, releasing the energy quite harmlessly. CM thought back
to all the old cowboy movies and TV shows he saw as a kid where the hero threw pistol ammo into a campfire or fireplace. The exploding movie ammo usually sent a bullet through the bad guy’s heart. What a bunch of crap, CM realized. At least it was some excitement the previous day. CM turned on the portable radio and tuned it to the local station, a 5000 watter out of Iron River. The surrounding ridges made for poor reception. CM caught snatches of the broadcast as he bumped around the camp. If the weather was right he could pick up the Thanksgiving football game. He didn’t care about the football game but the radio was some company. But he soon tired of the noise and shut it off. He poured more scotch. It was noon. The sun was just high enough to clear the treetops on the ridge overlooking the tent. The day was mild – mid thirties – and CM was comfortable walking around camp in just his woolen shirt. He scratched his two week old beard and ran his fingers through his matted hair. If they went to town he planned on buying a shower at the Iron River Hotel. In the swamp below the tent, snow was melting in the sunny patches. Warming air crept up the slope from the forest floor carrying odors as complex as the texture of the swamp. Decomposition, hard water, moss and lichen combined with the smell of the muddy red earth. Trees, in every state of being, formed most of the confusion that was the river bottom. Home to a myriad of organisms, it all seemed quite benign today. But it was a different place when shadows lengthened and cooling air eased back to the low ground. In the evening deer would get up and begin their search for food. Coyotes, owls, and a few wolves would do the same. Poachers came out at night, too. Headlights and spotlights freezing the deer for an easy kill. Illegal, because it was so effective. The big tent was pitched in the middle of an old logging road. It was 15 feet wide and covered the road from drainage ditch to drainage ditch. Forty yards behind the tent the road disappeared into the vast Paint River swamp. County maps still showed this road hitting the river and crossing at a bridge. If that was the case, it must have been fifty years ago. There were no traces of the road going all the way to the river; no signs of a bridge survived. CM walked up to the buck pole again, a beer in one hand, the scotch in the other. He wished he had another deer tag. He could still be hunting. He wondered if he could resist shooting a buck if it showed up near the campsite. His dad would tag it. He kept his rifle loaded, leaning on the woodpile under the tent fly. The down side of scoring early was not being able to hunt any more. While he considered his response to the unlikely occurrence of a buck walking into camp he heard the low rumble of a truck, a sound quite distinct from the forest noise. He looked up the two-track to where it disappeared around the first bend into the pines. The black pick-up truck popped out like a ground spider from its funnel and rolled to a stop twenty yards from the tent. For a moment CM thought there was no one in it. The sun glare and dark side windows blocked any view into the cab. The rattle and clap of the idling diesel reinforced the feeling of being visited by an unmanned machine.
He hesitated, then approached the truck. A slight feeling of unease slowed his steps. Country music and cigarette smoke poured from the cab as the tinted glass window slid into the door. “What the hell you doing camped in the middle of the road?” the driver asked. He wasn’t smiling as he stuck his head out of the window to survey the camp. “We’re trying to get across the river.” “Well, this is as far as you can get, with or without our tent here. The road ends right behind it.” CM said. He watched the second man try to read a map. “You guys want a beer?” “No thanks. Just opened one.” The driver opened his door and got out. An empty Old Style rolled out onto the ground. “That your buck?” the driver asked, walking over to where the buck was hanging. “Yes sir. Got it three days ago.” CM followed the driver to the buck pole. The second man joined them. A cigarette dangled from his mouth, which he only removed when he took a drink of his beer. “It’s a good one,” the driver said. “We used to get bucks like this up in Baraga. You should haul him into town. The paper’s having a contest. You might win something.” CM didn’t answer; the thought of these guys being interested in a local buck contest struck him as funny. He looked back to where the truck sat idling. The driver’s door was open. A rifle leaned against the front bench seat. Loaded no doubt. Just some road hunters. “Probably stop in town on the way out of camp,” CM said finally. “My dad and brother won’t mind.” The driver hit his partner on the shoulder and pointed down the road behind the tent. He could see the swamp from where they were standing. “Looks like he’s right. Can’t go no further from the looks of it.” His partner grunted and took a long pull from his beer can, still staring at the buck. The driver walked to the front of the tent and stuck his head through the tent flap. “You guys camp around here last year?” “First time on this spot. We were on the Forest Service road last year.” CM got two beers and offered them to the driver. “Have one on me.” “Thanks.” The driver took them one at a time and put them in his side pockets. His other hand held a beer and cigarette. He moved toward the truck and his silent partner pulled himself away from the buck pole and joined him. They climbed into the pick-up and proceeded to crab it back and forth on the narrow road until it pointed back up the way it came. “Nice buck. Thanks for the beers.” The driver finally smiled and then they were
gone. Diesel exhaust hung in the air. CM was relieved they were gone. He finished his beer in several large gulps and the scotch with one more. Last year someone entered their tent when they were in the woods. The intruder took their meat and whiskey, ignoring an expensive rifle and other gear. CM and his partners felt violated. A code was broken. Whoever was responsible just wanted them to know they were not welcome in the area. Nothing else happened, but they moved the camp deeper into the woods this year. CM was glad he was in camp to greet the road hunters. *** CM hadn’t heard a rifleshot all day. There were never many during the second week of the season. Yesterday he heard his brother’s rifle at dark. He hoped for a buck, but his brother had shot the head off a partridge while walking in on the eastwest road. It went for stew. All that was left to do was get dinner started and drive the truck to the pickup point at dark. There he would wait for his brother and his dad to haul in out of the woods. The truck saved them a mile of walking. It meant a lot at the end of the day. CM wished he were in the woods. He had filled his tag early. And with the buck of a lifetime. He didn’t mind taking care of camp and his hunting partners. He was happy in camp. But still he wished he were hunting. He would hunt again next season. CM pulled a chair out of the tent and made another drink with extra icicles and all the rest of the scotch. He sat in front of the tent facing the buck-pole. He sipped the scotch and waited for the evening.
©ELIZABETH J. BATES
Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising MI #2 ©ELIZABETH J. BATES
PI G E O N D R E AM S Thomas Ford Conlan Time has passed such that I cannot recall whether I fished the Pigeon River in my waking life or in a specific dream. Clearly, I stand in the river after dusk. High water nearly overcomes the top of my waders. I pull the draw string tight about my chest. A foul smell permeates from deep greenery too thick for my eyes to penetrate. I fear a black bear stalks from the bank. How did I get to the river’s center? How shall I plan my retreat? Where can I find a protruding root, a foot step? Rushing upstream, rubber legs struggle against strong current. My feet search for solid gravel beneath the continual flow. Hurry, hurry, the bear chases. A breeze floats into my bedroom window. A mourning dove coos. An oriole whistles me awake.
A LO N G T H E NO RTH CO U NTRY John Lennon A deer grazed Along the North Country, His eyes reflecting All of life’s languages—
Loud yet hushed, Muted by the leaves, The brighter colors of the world, Lost to those not listening.
Pleading to remain Among juniper and pine, Sequestered away from The drawn out note Of human toil.
W H AT I S T HE WIND Katherine Roth I mean the one outside the window now blowing the beach grass dressing the grey water in lace A squall or a gale the distance the empty cup blows hair whips before my eyes Fountains of hot air rise like you from your quilted bed ready to claim your gift of place Or sink into heavy sand the thought that this day too will end without apology How does anything begin like the earth spinning equatorial air currents stir the poles Like my cold feet under your warm thigh summer storm
WAT E R I S THE M O ST P OWE R F UL EL EMENT Nancy Cook it will overwhelm the earth, defy the wind, expunge fire. Superior will mock your stamina, magnify the sun, crush your limbs, deprive you of your voice. It’s easy to forget, standing back to the land, the grass, the trees, the cedar-planked house on high ground: ahead only the hypnotic rhythm of green and gray and blue of green and gray and blue like psalms being sung in church imparting the illusion of serenity ahead, only the horizon, steady, straight, and on that other shore - have faith a harbor. The tide subsides and surges, subsides and surges, and draws into itself idle imaginations. The rowboat, freshly painted, is tied up to the dock and bobbing on the current. Gentle now, the surf, but clouds are suiting up in gray, mustering, and beginning their boast. The danger is real, my dreams are not, and the boat is so small. I fear drowning, yet ankles awash, grip on the hull, I am aware only of temptations and such possibilities.
©ELIZABETH J. BATES
Sand Point Marsh Trail Munising MI #3 ©ELIZABETH J. BATES
Dominion of Hope ©GRACE GIROUX
FI R E (火 ) V S WATE R ( 水 ): A BI L I N GUACU LTU R AL P O E M Yuan Changming Fire-Setting 灶 /zao/: an oven is built by setting a fire beside a pile of earth 灿 /can/: splendid is the view of a fire sweeping over a mountain 烟 /yan/: smoke originates as a cause flickering like a spark 烦 /fan/: frustration occurs when a fire burns a page 烧 /shao/: to burn something is to set a fire high on it 炒 /chao/: to fry is to use little fire 烙 /lao/: to iron is to burn each and every spot 炉 /lu/: a stove is the fire burning in a household 炮 /pao/: a cannon is a fire wrapped tight Water-Filled 沙 /sha/: sand is something holding little water 河 /he/: a river has water allowing everything possible 洗 /xi/: to wash is to put something into water first 波 /bo/: waves surge when water flows like skin 注 /zhu/: to focus is to be the master of water 源 /yuan/: a wellspring is the original water 泪 /lei/: tears are water seeping from the eyes 洒 /sa/: to spread is to throw water into the west 演 /yan/: a performance is a show in respect for water 酒 /jiu/: wine is water fully matured
Th e m el o d i ou s s i le n c e of wood s Buff Whitman-Bradley In the melodious silence of woods We listen for nothing at all For the absence of snarling machinery And the siren’s strident call For the sacred space where telephones Are sweetly completely away Where audio-video chatter Does not invade the day Where sylvan communal unquiet Replaces the headlong rush Where the calls of sparrows and scrub jays Amplify the hush Where a kingfisher’s vivid screech And the crack! of an oak’s old bone Welcome us to the hubbub Of the silence that is our home
COV E R L E T TE R Phillip D. Sterling Dear Editors: Please consider the attached essay, “Pet-O-Sega,” for possible publication. I submit it in absence of common sense. “Common sense” being the deer mouse I once put in the woodstove, where it burned to death. “Common” as in “natural.” In the essay, a cluster of Petoskey stones tell in their own words about the day two million years ago when the waters of the Great Lakes parted and they made their way onto Michigan beaches. If you don’t know, Petoskey stones are considered native to Michigan. Michiganders claim they are geologically rare. They are marketed and sold like gems. They are actually fossils. I call it an essay because it is based on facts—history, if you will—a retelling of the legend of stones as written by the Devonian Age. Consider this: How else could the stones have gotten across a Great Lake except under their own power? The stove was a Jøtul 400, with a glass door. Imported from Norway. The mouse was one of several that had taken up residence in the box of books I’d been storing under the stairs. At night I could hear the scritching of their tiny paws, the gnawing of their rodent teeth. Here’s irony for ya: They’d chewed half the pages of The Mouse and the Motorcycle—a favorite book from my childhood—and used the shredding for their nest. (Along with insulation they’d looted from the attic.) Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I bought a trap—a live trap. I’d intended to capture the nasty little beasts and let them go in the neighbor’s field. Until I saw what they did to The Mouse and the Motorcycle. They’d ignored the Bible I was given in Sunday school at the end of my thirdgrade year; they left My First Dictionary intact. Still. The stones tell an unbelievable story—of hardship and adventure, of friendship and hardscrabble, of hard work and survival. There’s even romance for those readers who are so inclined. It’s sure to be a best seller. Or at least a classic. Alternate title: “Exodus of the Stones.” I call the leading character “Mousy”—a loose paraphrase, if you will, of the stone’s actual name, as linguistic anthropologists have yet to decipher it. S/he is modeled on a Moses-like Biblical character, in case you haven’t guessed. (I didn’t want it obvious; I was going for allusive, not illusive, if you know what I mean.) It’s the same reason why I didn’t use the microwave. Surely that would have been over-the-top, morally speaking—inhumane, even murderous. Field mice do not
encounter GE appliances as part of their natural habitat. The wood stove, however, is more Deist, like a forest fire ignited by lightning. There is plenty of comic relief, too. Like the “pebble-party,” when the young stones become drunk in the Fermenting Forest. (LOL!) “Pet-O-Sega” is, of course, based on fact. Fact: Petoskey stones consist of “six-sided corallites, which are the skeletons of the once-living coral polyps.” Fact: The Petoskey was named Michigan’s “official” stone in June 1965. Fact: Pet-O-Sega was the birth name of the son of a French trader and his Indian wife. It means “Rays of the Rising Sun” in the Ottawa language. Pet-O-Sega grew up to be a respected landowner and businessman (despite his role as an Ottawa chief, some would say) and so, in 1873, a settlement on Bear River was named “Petoskey” in his honor. Fact: Petoskey stones are as numerous as field mice in Northwest Lower Michigan. Fact: The white-tailed deer, not the field mouse, is the official animal of the State of Michigan. Field mice—AKA deer mice—are considered pests. A single deer mouse can produce 50-100 young per year. Fact: Petoskey stones are considered recreational “treasure.” Gift stores in Northwest Lower Michigan sell polished Petoskey stones at ridiculous prices. Fact: A Petoskey stone has a considerably longer life span than a field mouse. “Pet-O-Sega” is a timeless story, one that has never before been told from the stones’ point of view. Members of my reading group found it “Mesmerizing,” “Utterly Unbelievable,” “a Stonehenge of a Story.” My nephew, a licensed gemologist, told me that after reading “Pet-O-Sega” he’d never “look at a Petoskey stone in the same way again.” For these reasons alone you should be interested. See attached! Enjoy!
Selfie ©MELISSA SEITZ
D E C E M B E R 19, 1996 HE R M AN, MI Kenneth Pobo Thirty inches of snow are a fastmoving train. You hear the engine and think maybe a plane will land on your roof. No plane could land there, your roof close to caving in, snow pressing on shingles. And the furnace. What if it goes out? Speaking of going out, how will you after the storm ends? You used to crave a white Christmas, you, Bing, a navel orange for breakfast, a tree with fragile ornaments. Now each flake is a guard and you’re in its jail. No one can get you out.
Snow Country ©KAREN WALKER
SN OW D A N CE Allen M. Weber As twilight fell, the wind began to blow. Half-frozen neighbor kids have gone inside. Nimbostratus churn—expectant and low— above one boy. He leaps and pirouettes. His face upturned to greet the pregnant sky, he flops onto his back, a panting X. “Come, eat, before you catch your death of cold,” I guess a proper parent would protest. But then he’d beg to stay; he’s eight years old and not at all concerned about a cough or runny nose. His toes are turning blue; his stomach rumbles; still, he’s tough enough to spurn the warmth of beef and barley stew. Look! He’s up again, hopping toe to toe— a bit off-kilter as he’s dropped one shoe. Flakes come to feather our kitchen window. He nailed the rite, I recognized the moves. As I once could, my son has summoned snow.
TO A BI RC H Nancy Cook New year’s child, first born, I love you best. When January snows glaze fallow fields and rabbits rest, and crocii are yet in the womb, your roots run in freight-train tracks below ground, your vibrant sap thrums beneath my boots. And as the sky gives up its black mood, yields minutes, then hours to the sun, upward you shoot to pierce the earth’s damp vulnerability, and upward you climb, always upward, not inclined, like so many of your kin, to detour into heavy, leafed-out branches. When June’s Beltane fires burn and primrose are strewn, you, long-limbed pale-fleshed child, are grown. Beneath the solstice sun your skin is dry tissue, every leaf lighter than the air. And as the others play catch-up, you twirl with every sudden rise of wind, bend and sway, lift waifish arms and blithely wave. You teach me, child, how to reach, how to defy limits, not by climbing, by gazing up, up, through the open windows of your strong and delicate hide, toward skies ocean-water deep and blue, and clouds that slowly melt like long-ago January winter snows.
O N T H E F E A ST O F ST. JO SE PH CJ Giroux The skin of her sleeping grandfather looks like paper dampened, smoothed, dried. He remains tethered by tubing: yellow fluid draining from his side, the slow drip of saline. She watches behind glass. No aides come in this twilight time, no sounds of nursing life, but somewhere, elsewhere, gurneys rattle on bleached tiles; she recalls two-car trains on the crumbling bridge spanning the narrows of her youth. In the parking lot, the engine rattles, the heater struggles against the evening’s low, windchill. Under the yellow tint of the worm moon trembling, haloed, she reads a former colleague’s Facebook lines about lake life in the little finger— ice cracking, groaning, and then heaving words, water, wind through circles of open water; She thinks of these dark pools as wounds, hears them speak and then silence: moments of consciousness gained, gone, frozen. She breathes in, holds, exhales, remembers other night skies and more: her grandfather’s graveled instructions— cut bait on the diagonal, feel for the tug— escaping from his tobacco-stained beard. Shadows were a dark blue and the cold perfumed with cherry tobacco. His ice-fishing buddies, dressed in layers of camouflage, drilled with precision. They prayed for perch, walleye; the fish, they laughed, were like women: caught, released, good for a meal, ones that got away.
The heater still struggles, the car fills with the scent of sulfur. Blades still glisten red in sterile rooms and tarped shanties rattle in the wind, but closing her eyes, she finds summer’s hues, herbs— sand, sage, feverfew, yarrow— along shorelines, the freed light shining like quicksilver, sun on the lake’s surface. She waits.
Pancake Ice on Lake Michigan Sunrise in early November Escanaba, Michigan ©LISA FOSMO
SP R I N G O N L AKE M ICH IG AN Lisa Fosmo I would like to say to you, dear bringer of new. The one holding a pinecone in the cold early newness of spring. There bundled in awkwardness from the corner of the earths room. Though I never told you, you are my favorite season. My favorite smell as I breathe in the birth of new. listen to birds arriving,shooting like stars across the night sky, on a feathered whim. The ice seems to be riding a floor jack, rising till it will break. There must be a crack somewhere. Where the rivers thaw has entered spilling beneath the crust like a secret. Waiting to break out onto hurried waters, but I can see no breaks. Only in the night I hear the war of winter losing its battle to spring. The sound like gunfire. The loud thunder of ice popping. And I’m taking sides. I’m routing for spring. Praying this new ruler won’t turn. praying she won’t spill waters in her hurry. praying she heeds her time. knowing, no one has loved her better or more. Until winter comes again, with all the elegance of a new bride. And we will love her all the more all over again. But as for today I wait for that moment, where once again; I will hear the roar of rushing waters into the thaw of waves crashing. The very sound that rattles heaven door. 3/2019 ©Lisa Fosmo
A N OT H E R SP R ING Michael S. Walker Laundry on a line The feel of wooden clothes pins I put down Texting on my phone Go outside To bring that in Meditate over it Like some Zen Koan. It is a time of sickness Of darkness But still Robins forage in the bare yard And the bridal wreath Beyond the fence Telegraphs An immaculate Almost crass Denial…
Bluebells ©KAREN WALKER
W I L DF LOW E R S John Lennon Give to me wildflowers, and I’ll show you the colors Of midsummer love. Blooms of tourmaline and white Press their lips towards Coniferous emerald, Burnt orange monarchs Pay compliment to Scarlet and saffron hued petals, And I am here with you. Speak to me forest sounds, And I will play you songs Of soft summer romance. A distant thrush sings Along woodland accompaniment Serenading the splendor of breeze, Water lines trickle like tender hands Caressing the stones and silt Washing over them with warm regard, And I am here with you.
ST RAW BE R RY M O O N Chris Lucka The strawberry moonlight splashes through the blinds, over the sofa-sleeper, spills onto the carpet, seeps silently through the room. As I look out on the moonlit night I think back to the Algonquin who named this amber moon, hanging low over their wigwams. Now was the time to harvest the tiny wild strawberries, a treat from winter meat. They looked up at this same orb, looking through their teepee smoke hole, on a forest trail or from a birch bark canoe. Do the heavens help us now? Give us clues like the Hunger moon, when hunting food was hard, or the Pink moon when flowers show their faces. I pad quietly to bed; let the light be my guide, blanket me with moon glow, as I drift into moon dreams.
TR I B U TA R IE S Allen M. Weber Talked to your mama at the grocery store— tried to slip by me in the canned soup aisle. She said you’d married. Sold the horses. Moved north, where hardwoods line the Escanaba. Back home, an orange X dooms our maple. Wrapped in an Indian blanket—still damp with the syrupy scent of your mare—we made silly promises beneath its canopy. My father, laid off from the GM plant, sold the back thirty to a logging firm. They’ve dozed an earthen bridge—a portage for harvesters, a dead end for salmon. Remember that forty-pounder pulled from Pine River—a male, hens followed, fat with roe. We ran for the mist of the rapids, urging their last whitewater leaps toward home. Snowmelt gorged our secret creek. River-wide, it split the old growth woods; the shallows churned so red with Chinook, we’d a notion to trip bank to bank across their shining backs.
Hawk ©MELISSA SEITZ
TH I S N A M E LE SS F IE LD Raymond Luczak Among the strident goldenrods, we kids knew exactly where to find clusters of barely pink strawberries and avoid the thorny roses, abandoned when its owner arrived to find his old house burning one spring afternoon. We watched the firefighters from our porch. The owner didn’t rebuild. He left, the winds brushing the ashes away, tumbling across roof shingles spun about like frisbees. They became patches waiting to be sown right onto the unkempt quilt of grass and goldenrod. We dared not approach the charred remains, just like the cave-ins that hadn’t then swollen with water. They were mammoth holes sloped with young trees trying to stand upright. We didn’t understand how this nameless field could be hived with ghosts invisible, their memories of the Old World still fresh with ache in their bones, their exhilaration of pulleying carts of iron ore up from the pits, their horror when a tunnel buckled under. Sometimes nothing more could be done after extricating the dead from the rubble and tearing down the headframe. Yet the more they dug nearby, the more Ironwood would get emptied and buried in their glory days of war overseas. We were all Americans, weren’t we?
Nearby a thin row of birch saplings stood. We didn’t know how quickly they’d grow tall into a muscular wall that would’ve blocked our view of St. Michael’s spire had it not been razed for a parking lot. Who knew our church would fall too? Then came another summer when we came unexpectedly across those roof shingles, having already forgotten the burnt house, the man who’d owned it, and the roses too. We lifted each tar-hot shingle to find tiny snakes electric-shocked by the sun writing across the white-yellow grass. We gathered up their squiggly forms in our hands. We squealed at them trying to wrestle free of us. We giggled at their desperation, not knowing that souls, like ours, bound to this field are forever excavated under our footprints. We didn’t know we’d become caretakers.
Tree of Life ©KELLY KAZMIERSKI
W H AT I K NOW ABO U T F ISHING Priscilla Atkins Y’comin? my cousin Mark asks, walking ahead along the darkening crick. Four years older, he teaches me about the woods: if you get lost, follow the water. The trick, Mark says, is to look for dark spots, where it’s deep and drop your hook. Trout are smart: we shouldn’t stand right next to each other. I’ll go up there, he points. Remember: in woods night falls fast. He never wanders far without Y’comin? This time, he lets me carry the pouch: three orange-specked trout, slips of white bellies. All the way out to my uncle’s truck: something up my sleeve. Shivers.
FO RGOT T E N F IE LD S R E ME M BERED Thomas Ford Conlan Once on a forgotten field remembered a rejuvenated farmer mowed flowered weeds. Rows upon rows of volunteer grasses shorn of color and hue, mowed down, deep down to healthy, green stalks. Gone the purple thistle and thorn. Away dearest Queen Anne’s lace. Wild mustard cut and slashed. He watched as tiny yellow butterflies flew by, fluttering, as grasshoppers sprung about in play. The farmer mowed carefully, with no abandon. He saw leaves rising true. He saw the milkweed home of a reluctant ruler. Round these plants, these unlikely mansions, his rows uneven though he cared not for order. A chance, just one chance to save the palace free. His toil completed, he moved along to another field, discovering another minor world. Perchance, there floated the king, the monarch black and orange. A reluctant ruler passed briefly by, blessed the farmer with a twinkling of wings.
TH E L AU N D RO MAT Jim Bolone We used to summer in the Upper Peninsula. Manistique. The only laundromat was just north of town, and its where we’d do our laundry. There are no parking spots at the laundromat today, so I park across the street, outside the Food Mart. As soon as I climb out of my car, a woman approaches me. She can’t be more than thirty. Her hair is matted, her arms are marked with sores. She says she has three kids and no job. I hand her three bucks. She takes the money and walks away. Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach give life to the humidity inside. A hand-written sign on the wall reads “This facility monitored by camera.” The dollar-bill-changer looks old, but works; I realize my last three bucks are gone. “ATM’s down the street,” an old man says. Later, I wait and listen while washers hum and dryers click and clack. And I dwell on the time Linnie made coffee and didn’t turn around. “Making coffee?” I said. Jazz played on her phone speaker. She stopped. “Yep.” It’s the way she said it, too fast. The music was discordant. She poured water into the machine. My face warmed at the sight of her long lash. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Her nostrils flared wide; she breathed in long, held it, then exhaled, slow. “You have to go. Today.” The laundromat up here keeps it close. My clothes are warm from the dryer as they settle in my duffel. When I push open the door to exit, the rules sign hanging on the wall reflects backward in the glass, and I wonder if I will return.
Homecoming ©KELLY KAZMIERSKI
H E A D I N G D OWN THE BAR NE S ROAD HIL L I N A N T R I M CO U NT Y Shelley B. Smithson The car climbs up the sandy dirt road Making its way to the crest of the hill On an August evening that spills golden filtered light Through every pore of the summer heat. In the rear view mirror, a reflection of Lapis blue streaked with innocent clouds is seen Behind me, casting me into A moment of suspension in a celestial well of peace. Then through the windshield in front of me The verdant vista comes into view, earth rejoining sky Lush tones of green.
The forest green of the tamaracks, The hushed green of the blue spruce, The yellow green of the blowing grasses in fields
Undulating with a quiet hope you can feel when you hear the colors Whistling in the wind. The large hill descends into smaller hills cascading towards Grand Traverse Bay. The sun sears a path of light on the water as the shoreline draws near Leading to the purple and mauve and orange and rose Of a western sky ignited with promise that tomorrow is coming, Perhaps even before the end of today.
TH E G AG GLE Bev Steckert Sigh of leaves rustling in the soft breeze Sweet sounds of songbirds in the trees Hoarse caw of the raven soaring above In the distance a faint sound hardly distinguishable Sounding a little like Canadian geese, but no Not at this time of year Closer and closer the sounds come More and more sounding like geese But slowly the honking of geese begins to separate Into voices and conversations And suddenly a gaggle of bikers speed by Pedaling furiously and talking all at once The sound starts to recede and finally Returns to the honking of a gaggle of geese
TH E M O S S CRU STE D TR E E TRUNK James J. Bogan, Jr. probably a maple has for 25 years been turning itself into Earth One day it towered amongst towering trees and the next it was knocked over twisted flattened and pinned by a tornado that lumbered through on a tight path of decimation
TH E N O RT HE R N LIG HTS James J. Bogan, Jr. lit up the night skies of the 70’s as I remember it these days the illusion pushes us around Over there maybe a wide shaft of light Now visible Now gone But there are still nights of no moon When the heavens glow and shower Curving curtains of Green light palpable I don’t expect to see the like of night Sometime in the seventies When for an hour witnessed By a multitude of six A hurricane eye Empty of all but stars At the zenith But all round the cosmic rim Molten rivers of light Poured over the seeming edge Of the star filled crown Green blue white Silver torrents Of light From a perfect circle cascading into space that was the night open into fitful reflection and the power to remember what is best to forget
Into The Light ©GRACE GIROUX
Artemis Knows (for all the daughters) Kacey Riley The only place to explore anymore is the forest. Even your youngest senses this when she asks you in the pink dust of an early dawn, if you will watch her climb trees bordering your neighbor’s property. The one with silver hair who stubbornly baits deer, despite skulls you stumble on spring after spring. She rushes first toward sociable Hemlocks before spotting tall, spindly trunks—ripe and willing for a child’s wild hands. Hands that have always preferred the feeling of dirt and bark over the expectation of pink or sophistication of pearls. Then, she eventually grabs a lone Beech, for its sturdy roots and ancient ways, as she ascends higher and higher in her unabashed efforts to reach the smell of snow melt hovering in the clouds. Meanwhile your oldest daughter, who claims she’s on the cusp of 13, inhabits a different sort of skin. One that is fond of fashion and the magnetism of mirrors, as they draw her in, whispering myths. Just yesterday, you turned the hallway corner to see her standing there transfixed — bemoaning the frizzy thickness of her untamed hair. Yet instead of pulling her away to proselytize the lure of perfection, you slipped ever so slightly, behind her dark chestnut eyes, remembering those years when you too stood paralyzed—and (admittedly) still do.
You hear the sudden snap of twig, and notice her image much further now, standing alone under a canopy of towering trees. She squints at a chorus of birds chirping, trying to determine their cacophonous kind, and although you know it’s a banditry of chickadees who have an affinity for this specific spot, you trust that she’ll identify the flock soon enough without the noise of your harried interruption. Just like your nine year old daughter, climbing down now, from the danger of an unsteady tree. How all we’ve ever really wanted is to protect them fiercely but the woods gently tell us — let go.
FO G, 8 JU LY 2020 James P. Lenfestey Giant ships are out there, we can hear them. Loud as morning crows. A few grackles pick at the empty road. Beyond the fence, a plain of emptiness. The ships pass without collision. We hear their voices fade east and west. Stillness almost oppressive, not one lilac leaf shudders, not one honeysuckle trembles. Suddenly, a flock of warblers enlivens the cedar, filling emptiness with hunger. I hope they find the worms that they desire. In my chair at dawn, I sit with my desire, ancient Chinese poems, food for two thousand years. How full and young I am!
H E RD O F WAVE S ( JU LY 22, 2020) James P. Lenfestey Storm clouds clock round east toward danger, night already pummeled by twisted bolts and screws and blunder, garbage soaring like gulls in contradictory wind. As soaked dawn lifts it’s clumsy scrim on wildness—herds of white gap-toothed waves gallop from the east, terrifying, mean, devouring uninterrupted sea, a hundred miles of open rage. Seated on civilization’s high and haughty rock, we watch, crumbling and helpless as waves stampede, trample remnants of our old lives, once clean and pure, artifacts and stories for the dawdling young. Roads, walls, ambition, history, our family names, old lighthouse cut off at the hips, confidence shot, struggling to swim, Chicago and Milwaukee surged, dunes gored. And yet… 1000-foot, 8000 long-tonne loads of taconite from the gutted shore of Lake Superior sail through, no one asleep on that deck, unless laid up in fear round St. Mary’s curve until the swirling mad disturbance passes, if it does.
WAV E S James P. Lenfestey Are they teeth, then, these white bursts surging through the throat of the Straits? The confusion of island wind whips them to froth out of the lake’s gray body. Rain lashes them with themselves. As the wet and sorry garbagemen pull by, two Belgians head down harnessed with a hundred pounds of tack, men and offal cart behind. Nor horse nor wave nor man be free, all tethered to the scope of wind, as the dying light reveals, lift and surge on muscle memory alone. Pull and go. Pull and go. Until at limestone shore, lips curl, slate, azure, teal, now tipped immaculate white, rampaging hunger revealed, ravenous to die with a mouthful of shell and bone in their maw left by ancient hot and humid seas, crumbling foundation of all we think we know. As the waves roar. As a falcon races by. As gulls soar. As the wind shifts. as the tips of cedars wave and wave through the broken open door.
Shower Over Wilderness Bay ©JONATHAN JORDAN
ST RA I T S TOR M Jonathan Jordan During the early afternoon, high above northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, a clash of atmospheric proportions is about to take place. A dividing line between a hot and muggy air to the south and drier, cooler air to the north has developed. An updraft of that hot soupy air bursts through the layer of coolness giving birth to a thunderstorm. It’s not an unlikely event during the month of July around these parts by any means, but all is now set in place for that simple garden variety thunderstorm to evolve into a summertime monster known as a derecho. The term derecho is Spanish for “straight” and over the next several hours the storm will proceed straight along that meteorological dividing line using it kind of like a mapping device, gaining size, speed, strength, moisture, wind, and producing lightning at increasingly prolific rates. On this day in early July, that atmospheric dividing line, invisible to the naked eye, heads off to the east and south a bit, right smack dab through the Straits of Mackinac. Not long after its inception and its downdraft gusts have already leveled swaths of pines across the northernmost woodlands of Minnesota, the towering thunderhead splits into multiple cells of regenerating nastiness. The close-knit family of storms moves powerfully out over Lake Superior just south of Thunder Bay, Canada. It storms on, growing ever more potent, widespread and dangerous, whipping up ferocious and mountainous waves on the great sprawling open lake. Making landfall, now, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Ontonagon and cutting across the Keweenaw Peninsula without delay, the congealing line of storms takes on the shape of a bow and has swollen to more than fifty miles across at its leading edge which has darkened to an inky blue and developed a menacing snowplow-like shelf cloud across its low-hanging front. Behind the shelf cloud the storm’s innards glow an otherworldly pale, almost-neon, green. The narrow peninsula stabbing up into Lake Superior was nothing more than a speed bump. By late afternoon, it skirts the southern reaches of Lake Superior once more and then blows ashore at Grand Marais. Wind driven rain and hail lash against the cliffs along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The leading edge of the storm now stretches from Whitefish Bay down over northern Lake Michigan just off of Naubinway. It’s regeneration and intensification continues. At Cedar Haven cottage on Marquette Island which is along the northern shores of the Straits of Mackinac, the evening has an odd feel to it. For one thing, the sunset was more than an hour earlier than usual after another gloriously sunny midsummer afternoon. And, actually, there really wasn’t a sunset. Instead of the usual glowing golden-orange-pink evening treat, things just suddenly seemed to darken over the sunset end of the bay. The evening retreat of gulls, herons and other water foul out to their Goose Island rookery for the night has taken place uncustomarily early. The birds seemed to have a hurry to their winging, unlike most evenings when they seem to lollygag along in the waning light.
Then there was the quiet anchoring of two seemingly unaffiliated sailboats near the protected area we like to call Kurtz’s Cove over on the eastern end of Long Island. Their sailors appear to have settled in for the evening. One overnight mooring of a sailboat in that quiet and peaceful cove is not unusual, but two makes one wonder what the captains and their crews know that we don’t. The usual fresh and crisp Wilderness Bay is hazy and the air heavy. Looking out beyond the end of the bay, one can see a mountain range of clouds that wasn’t there earlier in the day. With the sun now behind it, the new mountain range appears dark and foreboding and may even be slowly growing before our very eyes. More to the norm, beach toys, rafts and swim floats lay strewn along the sandy beach, attesting to the fun that was had during the warmth of the afternoon. Boats float in silence at their respective dock posts. Clouds of gnats hover motionless above the tamaracks. A traditional wiener roast picnic has all but wrapped up with brownies and ice cream serving as a delicious final touch. Most of the post-dessert chatting is now taking place inside the bug-less comfortable confines of Cedar Haven. Two fishermen from The Pines cottage next door made a bee-line in the boat for Long Island right after dessert to do some trolling for northern pike in hopes of landing a big one on the last night before they head back to Ohio. Without fanfare or even notice, darkness settles in across the bay. The air is still and the water glassy smooth, mirroring the swelling embankment of ever-darkening clouds across the entire width of the far end of the bay. A star or two begin to wink on the still water by the dock. The reeds behind the sandbars stand perfectly at rest except for the occasional bump by a clumsy carp. Across the bay, far inland, a hazy diffuse faintly pink flash of heat lightning is the first real inkling that a storm is in the offing. Over the next several minutes, those flashes begin to turn eerily pale hues of hazy pink, yellow and sometimes almost orange as they speckle the horizon from Cube Point south down beyond Autumn Bay and behind the length of Long Island, apparently out of view of the fishermen. There is no thunder yet. All is quiet. The curious heat lightning has caught the attention of the few who’ve remained at the shore and braved the bugs. It’s decided the peculiar conditions should be checked into. The post wiener roast lull is broken. Cottage doors begin opening and closing as flashlights maneuver through the woodsy paths between. Reports coming in on the weather radio have raised alert to the coming maelstrom. In the gathering darkness, it becomes obvious that even binoculars will not help in spotting the fishermen at Long Island. Besides taking a boat out, there is no way to contact or warn them. Their last-minute fishing trip must be paying off, but surely they’ve noticed the odd and now dangerous sounding weather setting in. The mast lights of the two moored sailboats at Kurtz’s Cove can be seen glowing steadily, but there is no sign of the fisherman just down from them. It’s not unusual for pleasure boaters and their crews to take refuge among the innumerable quiet coves and protected shorelines throughout the chain of islands during dangerous
weather. And in all actuality, another look towards Kurtz’s Cove reveals that there are now three mast lights glowing. Another has sought safe harbor from the impending weather. The fact that they are all three moored in the eastern lee of Long Island makes it seem obvious that whatever they are bracing for is coming from the west, straight across our bay from Cedar Haven, with nothing to hinder or slow its arrival. With a sense of urgency, the remaining boats are covered and buttoned up if they have covers. Dock lines are checked, tightened and secured. Anchors are deployed for extra stabilization. Some smaller boats are pulled up on the beach out of the water altogether. Beach toys are collected to what is believed to be a safe spot on the sand. The lightning across the bay becomes whiter and more frequent and more vivid. Along the quiet sandbars of the eastern shore of Wilderness Bay, the air still hangs motionless. The tamaracks and cedars that line the sandy beach stand complacently silent. Stars are becoming hazed over by the high-altitude thin anvil cloud blowing off ahead of the storm. A barely audible low rumble rolls around the rim of the bay. In an odd way, it seems more felt than heard. During the lightshow across the bay, a horizontal band of the palest pastel purple imaginable forms below the black boiling gust front. This band becomes larger and larger as the leading edge of the looming and ever advancing storm now begins to scour over the waters of our very bay. Continual hot-white, jagged, prodding bolts of lightning now pound the mainland and even seem to be jabbing at the water’s surface at the other side of the bay. The blinding flashes are relentless. The ensuing thunder has morphed into a constant distant rumble punctuated regularly by louder percussions that already are slightly rattling the large single pane cottage dining room window that looks out over the bay. All souls except for the fishermen who remain unaccounted for are now inside one cottage or another. The storm advances. Every thick white bolt of lightning is now accompanied by an almost instantaneous bombardment of ear-splitting thunder. Their sound waves blast down the bay across the smooth water unimpeded until they forcefully connect with the cedars and pines and the cottages themselves, causing them to shake and rumble mercilessly. The thin walls and lack of winter insulation do little to filter the pounding sound. In the strobe-light lightning, a blurry ragged line is seen creeping toward our shore on the surface of the water. Behind the line, everything above the water appears fuzzy and demented, the water’s surface is dark, gray and extremely agitated. The blockhouse at the farthest tip of Long Island from the cottage is no longer visible through the wall of wind and rain. With each flash, the line gets menacingly closer. Through the veil, a dim bouncing light becomes visible. It’s a boat. A small outboard like the one the fishermen took to Long Island, and its coming in as fast as its little engine can manage. In the safety of Cedar Haven, pressed against the large window, onlookers munch on a second round of brownies as if it where popcorn and they were at the movies. The tiny boat breaks though the curtain of rain and using binoculars it becomes obvious that it is the two fishermen from The Pines.
The captain is twisting the throttle so hard its handle is about to twist right off. Both are hunkered down with only their tightly hooded heads barely visible above the bow. Both are intensely fixated on the shore ahead as bolts of lightning chase them homeward. It appears they’re afraid to look behind them. As well they should be as the storm stalks them across the water. They sail across the calm water now past the old rock pile by the drop off and beach the little boat. Without missing a step, and with the speed and agility of a whitetail deer, they both are out of the boat and up into The Pines to safety. If a big one was caught, it has been left behind in the boat to fend for itself. They were still wearing their life jackets all the way into the cottage. The glassy surface between the beach and the curtain-like line shrinks and shrinks until the line crosses the drop-off. Then in no-time flat the cottage is slammed with powerful thunderstorm wind gusts that cause it to groan and shift ever so slightly on the solid foundation posts below its pine flooring. Cold dead remnant ashes puff out of the fireplace and softly settle nearby on the rug with the finest particles left hanging in the air. In the flashes, pines and cedars bend and whip incessantly. Out on the bay, perfectly straight rollers with vibrant-white foamy wind-whipped crests roll into the shallows and slosh over the sandbars and even the beach. Beach toys fly until snared into safety by low pine shrubs. Swimming rafts are airborne and wrap around the trunks of tamaracks by the beach like colorful bowties. Boats yank at their lines, bucking and rolling like bulls. A wave of solid rain suddenly causes the cottage window view to blur to complete obscurity. The deluge of rainwater pastes birch leaves and cedar boughs to the bowing and quivering glass. The bucking boats and beach disappear. Dripping water announces itself on the front porch. Impatiently, it taps in an increasingly rapid pace on the aged linoleum flooring. Old chamber pots are deployed to catch the invading rain. Now instead of the tapping, a rapid and increasingly loud metal pinging sound fills the front porch and spills into the rest of the small cottage. The piercing pings contrast greatly with the steady roar of the hard rain on the roof above. The storm is doing it’s best to infiltrate our dry and relatively safe cocoon with its wind, rain and lightning. So far, all three have been held at bay, for the most part. There’s another blazing flash, this one seeming to emanate directly over the chimney accompanied by an immediate knee-buckling crash of thunder. Then, the lights go out. Somewhere out over northern Lake Huron the demarcation line in the atmosphere that the storm had been following begins to break apart. Starting at about Bois Blanc Island, the air gradually became more mixed. The warm, moist air that fueled the engine of this storm system was no longer available out over the chilly northern reaches of the lake. Now all the water it had kept suspended with powerful updrafts within its towering column has nowhere to go but back down to earth, similar to a juggler suddenly allowing all its balls to fall to the ground. The once impressive storm’s life drains mercilessly down on Drummond Island and across the open Lake Huron toward the Canadian side of the lake.
It turns out it was a big Northern Pike that caused the fishermen’s frantic and just-in-the-nick-of-time arrival. They had stayed and fished up to the last second which is a very normal thing to do on one’s last night and that’s when the big one hit causing a fight with the fish that ate up many precious minutes. With lightning already flashing, they finally landed the fish, marveled at its size regrettably for only an instant, then immediately flopped it back overboard and high-tailed it back to the dock. It’s assumed the big Northern then found safety on the sandy bottom protected by a multitude of reeds as it watched the flashing and turmoil on the surface above. Inside Cedar Haven cottage, the old chamber pots are pinging slower and candles are burning lower. Aged kerosene lanterns are brought out of retirement casting a yellowish tint on everything within its pine paneled walls. A monotonous tender rain fills the cottage attic with its soothing sound. Only faint flashes make it through the canopy of trees now and thunder rolls gently through the pines, birches and aspen from behind the cottage. An occasional heavier thump is all that is left of the larger claps of thunder that originate out over the open lake to the southeast. Everyone is accounted for and safe. The tamaracks and cedars that line the sandy beach drip but stand at rest once again. The brownies are gone. There will be a lot of boat bailing to do before anyone can go fishing in the morning.
September 26 Brockly Lake Marquette County ©LISA FOSMO
an un ti tl ed h ai k u Art Curtis
Walked ancient lake shores Nipissing, Algonquin sands. Marked COVID epoch.
Walloon Writers Review is pleased to share the poetry and prose winners for the 18th Annual Crooked Tree Arts Center Juried Young Writers Exposition. This exciting event is sponsored by Bob Schulze Literary Award, Little Traverse Literary Guild, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, the PetoskeyHarbor Springs Area Community Foundation, The Petoskey News-Review and Walloon Writers Review. This year, Little Traverse Literary Guild sponsored the first Hannah-Renkes/ Jan Smith Literary Award to “Best In Show” in both prose and poetry. We hope you will enjoy their talented writing.
First Place Prose, Elementary School
MISTY AND I Madeline McDiarmid, 5th Grade The wolf went up to the mountain top and stared intently at the moon. I wondered if she would howl, but no, she laid down and fell into a deep sleep. Observing the wolf, I noticed that she had silky gray fur, one blue eye and one hazel eye. She had a black nose and very big paws. She woke up and I was sitting next to her, at first, she was scared and my heart stopped then… she laid her head on my foot and went back to sleep. I started breathing again got my food out of my bag. She awoke at the smell of the food and ate it right out of my hand. I realized that she was hungry and I pulled some rabbit meat out of my bag, she ate cautiously, but finally swallowed it. I was winning her trust. I was proud but then she stood up and started running. There was no way a teenage girl like me could catch her. I tried anyway, not realizing she was running from me. I continued all the way down the mountain, until we reached the forest. She ran right in like she was home and I stopped like when you pull the brake that stops the front wheel of your bike and you go flying. I knew where I was. I was standing at the edge of the Forest of Darkness. The wolf knew her way inside, but I wouldn’t survive, I would get lost and starve to death if I followed her. I knew I couldn’t go in, so I stayed and hoped that she would come back but she didn’t. I headed back to my cabin and thought of names for her, I decided on Misty because of how she disappears into the darkness. The next morning, I felt like I was being watched, I opened my cabin door to get some fresh air and saw Misty. She ran into my cabin next to my basket of food, I couldn’t deny a hungry wolf. I gave her some berries. Misty wasn’t happy with me but I had nothing else to share, I realized I loved her and wanted her to stay. I needed to get more food and decided that I would have to hunt. I left the cabin and she cautiously followed me. It was late afternoon and my deer camp was one hour away by snowmobile and I would have to strap her into my sled and pull her. I tried to get Misty in the sled, she wouldn’t cooperate and backed away. I figured I am her only friend if she lost her pack and that she would follow me I started up my snowmobile and rode about a mile and stopped. I waited five, then ten minutes, no Misty. I waited five more minutes and saw Misty come out from behind an evergreen tree. She sat next to the sled and cocked her head at me. I said, “Let’s get you hooked in the sled!” I clipped a harness from one of my old sled dogs on her so that she would be safe and I hopped on going slowly at first while checking on Misty who was sitting calmly in the sled. I pushed and she wobbled but adjusted so I increased to a steady pace and she got a little scared but put up with it because she was hungry. We were halfway there when we saw a female black bear, knowing that there must be cubs nearby, I slowed and looked at Misty who was extremely scared. We had to get to the site soon. I moved slowly around the edge of the clearing
and saw the bear running toward us, I sped up hoping to save our lives. The bear stopped chasing once we left the protective mother’s territory. Misty and I were off to the races again, I reached top speed and Misty looked like a dog hanging out the window, happy as can be. When we finally made it God must have been smiling down on me because we saw a herd of six deer walking through the woods. Misty spotted them and was agitated that I hadn’t unclipped her yet. She saw my bow and arrow and knew she was hunting with me, not for me. When she calmed down, I told her that she couldn’t get one without her pack and she would just chase them away. I said “I know you want to hunt but we need food, so I’ll make a deal. I will shoot one and you can retrieve it. Deal?” I could tell that she was disappointed but I was hungry and knew that I wouldn’t miss. I got lined up and could tell Misty was skeptical. To show my skill I let go with my eyes closed. A second later I heard Misty lunge off of the snowy ground and opened my eyes to see her entering the woods to catch our 200-pound buck. I screamed, “Yeah Misty!” She ran back dragging it behind her proudly with her broad shoulders held high. Having field dressed the buck I made it back to my cabin past dark. I cooked up a nice deer kidney for myself and gave Misty the other. After eating I was exhausted and got ready for bed. I wondered what Misty was planning on doing. I still had my huts for my sled dogs and set one on my porch for her in case she decided to stay. She rejected it and laid down in the field next to my cabin to sleep. I was so tired that I fell asleep getting into bed. When I awoke in the morning Misty was sitting staring at the sunrise and I smiled a humongous smile brighter than the northern lights. I will always call her Misty of the Mountain. Thinking to myself, maybe this time you’ll stay.
First Place Poetry, Elementary School
M U S I C O F TH E NIG H T Madeline McDiarmid, 5th Grade When you hear the buzzing noise of the beetles in the grass, and when you listen to the crickets chirping and see the fireflies glow you are listening to the music of the night. If you listen very hard you may hear the wind whistle of the flutter of wings, the wings of a golden moth searching for some food. That is the music of the night. You may also hear the scampering of a bright orange fox scavenging for a snack. When you notice the flapping wings of a dark brown bat hiding in the shadows that is the music of the night. When you listen to the rushing stream and the trees creaking in the breeze, you are hearing the music of the night. When you listen to your fireplace crackle while watching the tangerine and crimson colored flames fly, you call the music of the night your lullaby, as you finally drift off to sleep. In the morning when you awake and smell the fresh dew, secretly wishing that could still hear the music of the night.
First Place Prose, Middle School
B E N E AT H TH E CH E R RY BLO SSOM Eva Sharapova, 6th Grade The bare moon drew over the sky like a dove made of pure light, ready to swoop through the trees and bring the totality of darkness before the gentle light of dawn. Thick driven fir trees sloped across the landscape blanketing the forest floor with fir cones. A singular cherry blossom tree sat in a clearing in the woods. It was unusual to have a cherry tree in a conifer forest. Near impossible. Yet this tree didn’t seem to care. As it sat in the moss-covered clearing, a singular petal floated down to land on the tree’s roots. Something stirred near its trunk, like a ripple of movement. A vixen slipped out of the brush, her amber-furred head bristled with fine fur and her green eyes happy. The fox trotted a couple of paw-steps before stopping to tip its head back towards the bracken from which it had ascended. An old woman hobbled out. Her eyes were a milky hazel and she held a cane. Her silver hair was braided with care, yet a few stray hairs framed her wizened face. She panted and hobbled along to the great roots, sitting down with an aged sigh. The amber vixen followed her with ease and as she began to sit the fox guided her muzzle against her cane as if to help her sit down against the cherry blossom tree’s roots. The old woman closed her eyes for a moment, moving only to slightly pet the fox’s bristle-furred russet-amber back. As she sat, a clearer view of the tree seemed to form. Beneath its pink-flowered boughs, a bundle of purple-speckled lavender plants rested, their gentle sweet scent mixing with the cherry blossom’s own. Once the older woman had sat down, the fox darted to her side to rest its head on her leg. She smiled softly and called out in her warm, cracked, gentle voice. “I’ll tell you a story, zorro rojo.” She spoke in Spanish, for she had learned the language when she had been young from her father who was Mexican. The young vixen raised its head from her lap in its own elegant way and flicked an ear curiously towards her. “In the early spring times when cherry blossoms like this were blooming, I came here with my father and my family, to this very same conifer forest.” The vixen tipped its head imploringly and nosed her cane-hand to continue. “We came here because this fir tree forest had stood since my grandmother’s father had come. On his way with his family to search for land, he came to this wood. They trekked through the wood, searching for a place in the forest to camp that wasn’t as densely packed with trees. After hours they came upon this clearing deep in the woods. They called it ‘refuge dans le noir’ refuge in the dark. When they awoke in the morning, they discovered a spring and traveled on to find a plot of land of their own. They knew without this clearing they most likely wouldn’t survive with limited water and no shelter. So, they began the tradition of visiting every spring time.” She went on, “Every year we came to this very spot and my brothers and sisters and I would play in the stream that lies just beyond that rise.” She motioned to the rise of earth. “Of course this cherry blossom tree wasn’t there yet but I remember…” she trailed off. The red fox nudged her again and she nodded, “The spring was warm and fresh, I remember it like yesterday. Of course this very same conifer forest was much bigger but that was before they began to cut it down…” her face fell slightly at the mention of the deed. “That day we had just
laid out our picnic when my father almost sat on this very same cherry tree sprout!” She paused, lost in a cascade of memories she once more was quiet and the small vixen nosed her hand gently, almost bidding her to go on. She shook herself, clearing her mind. “Yes… he yelled like no tomorrow; he was so surprised. Of course he wouldn’t hurt a fly so he had us redo our picnic on the other side of the clearing. It was odd enough to find this tree and everyone had their own thoughts on how it had ended up there but none exactly fit until my father gave his bid.” The fox blinked softly, seemingly wondering about the story. “He said, ‘It’s a cherry blossom, that’s what it is. It means that we are sure to have a full springtime by God. I haven’t seen one of` these since I was just a child. I remember my own father telling me it was a sign that even though it is hard to see, someone’s watching over us.’ Then he knelt down and beckoned to us, and he said, clear as day I remember it… ‘look at that,’ he said with a proud sigh ‘it’s against all odds. Growing in a conifer forest filled with fir cones and shadows! Who woulda thought?’” She smiled warmly. “Every year we came back as it grew. I’m still here and you have to think, we’re just like the cherry blossoms. Against all odds we’re here. You’re a fox by god. I’m not but an old woman. Yet we’re very much alike, me, you and the cherry blossom. You see, the cherry blossom only blooms for a short time. After that it hides its beauty from the world.” she smiled blissfully, “I myself doubt I have much time left here. Days are ticking away. But even if this is the last time I come here. I’m glad to have come, I might be the only one to have ever seen it as it truly is. Beauty given to only those who take the time to slow down and take a look.”
First Place Poetry, Middle School
FA M I LY PH OTO S Eva Sharapova, 6th Grade People cast in black and white. Their eyes unblinking, Faces unmoving. Caught in a state of perfection. Beauty in a fragile frame of glass. Broken glass. Frozen in time. So much Could be shared. So many apologies Could be whispered. So many thoughts Could be spoken. So many fears Outspoken. Look deeper I beg, Hiding behind Their smiles, Darkness captured in a single flash. Perfection in a wave of pain. Lost in thought, Or lost forever.
First Place, Bob Schulze Award for Prose, High School
E L EV E N L E T TE R S Marisa Hoover, 10th Grade, Petoskey High School Eleven letters. That’s all it takes to create a ripple in the lake of consternation. You never think something can erode you until it washes up on your shore. Life-altering events are the whirlpools that drag you to the sandy floor and beg for your gasping breath. Like a footprint seared in the trodden sand, you always seem to recollect the setting of significant events as if they are ingrained into your reminiscence. It was a nippy and frigid December evening. The sounds of the frozen wind howling and the drip of deteriorating icicles created a vortex of tranquility. My Shenandoah, however, was about to be shattered by a squall of reality. A knock came to my brother’s fine-grained door, and my mother entered. She approached me and my brother wearing a halo of reassurance above her raven black hair. She gazed at us with her cerulean blue eyes and brave countenance and then said the eleven letters that resonated an echo of perturbation within us: I have cancer. Those letters ricocheted off the fresh snow colored walls and blew buffets to our utopia. It was as if time had been frozen. The room chilled and ice seemed to trace my spine. The numbing ambiance, however, melted in the cornucopia of my mother’s warmth. There seemed to be a conflagration that enveloped her determined features. She promised us that she was going to fight her battle without treaties or white flags of surrender, and she was going to decimate her foe with deep animosity. That promise was sealed with copious amounts of devotion and tenderness, never to be broken. Her fight was a grueling one, and it chipped her strength into splinters of defiance. She went through eight rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, and even had a port inserted into her chest. Her immunity dwindled, but a smile was always plastered on her face. Her robustness illuminated the true capability of courage, and it seeped into the lives of those around her. Her thirst for victory was unquenchable. Even as her hair diminished, her resistance waxed to a zenith. She started off wearing a wig but felt ill at ease under the mask of inauthenticity. The way she emanated bravery by displaying her true self still reverberates with me today as if it was etched into the shore of my evocation. Her water colored eyes and sand dune skin holistically embodied a lake of valor. Her fight ultimately persisted for twelve months, until one transformative day, she explained to me that she had won her war with cancer, solidifying her victory over the malignant vessel. That’s when I ascertained the most empowering eleven letters ever amalgamated: I’m a survivor.
First Place, Bob Schulze Award for Poetry, High School
ENVY Marisa Hoover, 10th Grade, Petoskey High School Tangled in profuse vines of green, Jealousy towers lofty and pristine. Grass trounced beneath hankering feet, Sprouts desire where comparisons meet. Disguised by a facade of benevolence, A brute ruptures levees spouting my pestilence. My perceptions gleam of its jagged fangs craving; Insecurity dictates its terrors and panging. As our hearts flutter in a synchronized chorus, My Achilles heel grows exponentially porous. Ubiquitous are its jade petrifications; Suggestions buoy my begrudged obligations. The behemoth creeps, rapacious for control; I’m devotedly covetous with my heart and soul. Its serrated claws prickle porcelain skin, Piercing the confidence buried within. Yearning avarice reaps harmonious unions; Intertwined are my deceptions and delusions. As prevaricating aplomb lurks apprehensive, My actions become utterly retrospective. An aperture augments to chasms of greed, Plagued with cacoethes, I acquiesce and concede. My Statue of Liberty collapses like Goliath; The flame erupts into a conflagration of riot. Emerald tinged are its formidable frights, The green-eyed monster is all bark, no bite.
Best in Show Prose, Hanna-Renkes/Jan Smith Literary Award, High School
N O M O R E NO R MALIT Y by Isabel Dunn, 9th Grade, Harbor Springs High School Arthur knows that he shouldn’t be at the store. He shouldn’t be anywhere, for that matter. Anywhere except the confines of his house are forbidden. He isn’t sick— not yet, at least—but he is on the watchlist. Ever since his older brother and his wife came back from their honeymoon in Italy, he and the rest of his family have been under quarantine. He can still remember the first few tense days. His brother, David, was on one of the last flights allowed in or out of Italy. Since Arthur’s house was closer to the airport than his own, that was where he and his wife, Julia, made their first stop. They didn’t realize that in doing so, they had jeopardized the health of their entire family. At first, everything was alright. Then, after three days, Julia woke up with a high fever and a tight feeling in her chest. She was whisked away to get tested. Of course, it came back positive. Only a day after that, the same thing happened to David. Arthur hates being stuck inside. He misses his friends, and all of the activities that he was looking forward to doing outside of school. That’s why, as soon as he heard David say that he really wanted a specific type of granola bar that they didn’t have at the house, Arthur took it as his opportunity to escape. The streets are almost entirely empty. Although he lives in a small town, Arthur has never seen this few cars out on the road. He expects the grocery store to have a considerable population since it is one of the only places that is still open, but he is surprised to find that it is mostly deserted. What surprises him more, however, is when he turns a corner and sees a familiar face. “Cinthia,” he says before stepping back to make sure he is at a safe distance of six feet. “Arthur,” she replies, stepping back as well. She is wearing gloves and a face mask, just like he is. She is also alone. Arthur wonders how she and her family are doing. He had never been close friends with Cinthia when they were in school, but he knew who she was. “What are you doing here?” Arthur asks. It’s a stupid question. He realizes that as soon as he says it. They’re at the store, so she must be shopping. Cinthia ignores his stupidity. “I’m looking for soap,” she says. “What about you?” “Same, I guess,” he replies. Technically, he’s telling a half lie, but he suspects that mentioning his sick brother won’t win him any conversation points. Cinthia nods. “This is crazy, isn’t it? I haven’t seen anyone in days.” She crosses her arms over her chest. Arthur can’t see much of her face, but from what he can tell, she looks
slightly apprehensive. Not just of him, but of everything around her. It’s almost as if she thinks the corona virus could suddenly jump out of a box of cereal and take her down. Now that he thinks about it, that could happen—only in a less literal sense. “Yeah, things are crazy,” he agrees. “How are you? How is your family?” The fear in Cinthia’s eyes deepens. Arthur wonders if he has hit a sore spot. “I’m not worried about myself,” Cinthia admits, “but I’m terrified for my family. My little sister has an immunodeficiency disorder, and my grandpa has lung cancer from smoking for over twenty years.” “Oh,” Arthur says, unsure of how else to reply. Her family really does have it pretty bad. He wants to do something nice for her, like give her a hug, or buy her some soap, but coming any closer to her would only make things worse. “Yeah,” Cinthia agrees. “How’s your family?” Arthur pales. He should have seen this coming. It was only common decency to return a question back to the asker. He stutters out a vague response. “We’re okay, I guess.” Like almost everything he’s told her, there is a bit of truth masking the one monstrous lie. Yes, David and Julia are both getting better, but that isn’t exactly what Cinthia had in mind when she asked how his family was doing. Cinthia sighs and shakes her head. “This is crazy,” she says again. Arthur nods, suddenly feeling a strong urge to get out of the store and away from everyone. He’s putting people in danger by being here. He is a threat to Cinthia, even from six feet away, and he’s a threat to her sister, and her grandfather, and anyone else that he has come into contact with today. What was he doing here in the first place? Just because he was going a little stircrazy didn’t mean he was suddenly allowed to leave. Just because he wasn’t showing any symptoms didn’t mean that he wasn’t a carrier. He starts to back away from Cinthia. “Hey, I should probably go,” he says. “Oh.” She looks surprised by his sudden departure, and maybe a little disappointed. “Okay. It was nice seeing you, Arthur.” “You too,” he says, still backing away. She stops him. “Wait,” she calls. “Maybe, when this is all over, we could hang out some time?” At any other point in time, this would have made Arthur’s stomach flip with excitement. Today, however, he just nods and waves goodbye. As he walks back to
the hospital, he can’t manage to shake her words. When this is all over. Arthur isn’t sure what will happen ‘when this is all over.’ He doesn’t think that anyone knows. However, he has noticed that everyone seems to be living with the hope that everything will snap back to normal, like the horror movie that they are living through on a daily basis will suddenly cease to exist. Arthur isn’t sure what will happen next, but he feels certain that it won’t be considered ‘normal’ anymore.
Best in Show Poetry, Hanna-Renkes/Jan Smith Literary Award, High School
FI N DI N G MYSE LF Hannah Ivie, 10th Grade, Boyne City High School “Be correct.” “You have to be right.” And so I try; I don’t put up a fight. “Look at her.” “She’s just fine.” Suddenly, I’m living a lie. My life is no longer mine. I’ve become someone new, Someone who’s not me. If I’m not being myself, Who am I trying to be? I see the others, The “perfect” ones. I see all of them, The daughters and sons. I’m supposed to be like that. I’m supposed to belong. Why am I different then? Why am I wrong? I’m in a battle That’s all in my head. Now it’s too late The monster’s been fed. My mind is the monster Controlling my thoughts. It’s made expectations, Lines not to cross. Now I’m stuck in a void, One of blackness and sorrow. I have to focus on today, Forget about tomorrow. Because it’ll come.
It always does. Look at who I am now, Compared to the person I was. But now this is my life; This is what it’s become. Endless struggles, Crushed under my thumb. All of the pressure, Weighing down on me now. But I have to keep going. I’ll make it through somehow. So I decide to fake it, To put on a happy face. But it all gets to be so much, While I’m trying to find my place. Am I just lost? Am I just broken? But I stay silent, Leave words unspoken. I don’t want you to worry. I don’t need you to ask. Please don’t say, “What’s wrong?” Just be fooled by my mask. I’m playing pretend, And faking at school. I realize I’m acting, That I’m just a fool. To think I could be more Than who I am. I thought maybe I could, Maybe I can.
But I’m not the person, That I am supposed to be. And I can’t do anything That is asked of me. But now I remember. I remember I am loved. And so now I start, Start removing the gloves. I remove the mask; I stop pretending. This world of criticism, It’s now ending. I take the reins; I’ll start anew. And hopefully, I can make it up to you. I accept myself For who I am. Your opinion doesn’t matter; I’m done with your scams. I have a life, And it’s my own. This is my life. I’m no one’s clone. And now I know You’re telling me lies. My eyes are open, Now I realize I am important, And I do matter. Tear down all of the walls; The barricades I’ll shatter.
Now I’m done, Done locking myself away. No longer stuck in the dark, No more being afraid. I’ll embrace my differences; I’ll be myself. I’ll be who I want to, And no one else. I am correct, And now I am free. I am myself. I am me.
CONTRIBUTORS Priscilla Atkins studied at Smith College, the University of Hawaii and Spalding University, where she received her MFA. She is the author of The Café of Our Departure (Sibling Rivalry Press) and her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry London and other journals. Originally from central Illinois, she currently lives in Holland, Michigan. As a child she spent several summers in northern Michigan and has visited many times since. Elizabeth J. Bates resides in the UP “which provides ample opportunity for photography. As an amateur I find that my camera encourages me to explore unique perspectives. I am delighted to share my views of the Sand Point Marsh Trail boardwalk with you. My photos have graced the covers of two publications, Maiden Voyage and Stand Still in the Light Maiden Voyage is an anthology of the Marquette Poets Circle, 2017 by Gordon Publications. Stand Still in the Light by Milton J. Bates (yes, my husband) and published by Finishing Line Press, 2019. I have placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in several different years of the UPEC Photo Contest as well as placing photos in several small local publications. James J. Bogan, Jr., is a summer resident on Mackinac Island where his Irish ancestors landed in 1840. He is an emeritized Distinguished Teaching Professor of Art and Film at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. Jim Bolone has been a bartender, a drummer, a dockporter, a bouncer, and, for the past twenty-four years, a junior high English teacher in Northwest Ohio. Jim grew up in Detroit, Michigan, attended the Detroit Public Schools, and ultimately graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in English. He and his wife, Lori, share their home with three great kids, a dog, a cat. Yuan Changming started to learn the English alphabet at age nineteen and published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks and poetry awards as well as publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1,759 other literary outlets across 46 countries. Thomas Ford Conlan When not listening to the simple symphony of wild birds in the morning, Tom Conlan lives, writes, and tends his modest grape vines in the highlands of Northern Michigan. He has captained a Coast Guard Cutter, sailed the world’s lakes and oceans, and now searches for the elusive brook trout in backwater streams. His lyrical memoir “My Journey Begins Where the Road Ends...” was released in June 2017, by Mission Point Press and is available through Amazon, Nook, and local bookstores. For a signed copy, visit: www.thomasfordconlan.com
Tom’s prose and poetry has appeared in print in several literary journals, including Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Tulip Tree Review, the anthology, “The Water Holds No Scars,” in QU Literary Review, The Avocet, Outlaw Poetry, and in Walloon Writers Review. His work was chosen as a finalist for the Annie Dillard Prize in the Bellingham Review. Tom attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and a Master of Science from the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California. Nancy Cook runs “The Witness Project,” a program of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis to enable creative work by underrepresented voices. In 2019 she was the Fermanagh & Omagh International Artist-in-Residence in Northern Ireland where she worked with people affected by the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.” Currently, under the auspices of the League of Minnesota Poets, she is coordinating the Pandemic PenPal Poets Project to reach out to those in congregate housing with little or no access to social interactions. Some of her newest work can be found in Humana Obscura, The London Reader, and the Michigan Quarterly Review. Art Curtis had written thousands of words of advertising and commercial copy when he turned to poetry in 1991 after reading Jim Harrison’s, “Letters to Yesenin” during a major personal crisis. Perhaps it’s his years of writing for radio that influences his belief that poetry is an oral/aural art form in which poet and listener form a perfect feedback loop, a theory being profoundly tested by COVID. Art read for several years with the Central Michigan Poetry Quartet and up until March of 2020 read episodically at other venues. For many years, Art owned a small ad agency, but found time to teach enrichment classes at night. He did his undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University, graduate work in mass communications at Miami University and in art at Central Michigan University, where he served as faculty in Journalism, English and Art. Art has taught photography and/or papermaking at Central Michigan University, University of Michigan-Flint, Alma College, Flint Institute of Art, Midland Center for the Arts, North Central Michigan College and the Martha’s Vineyard School of Photography. Lisa Fosmo is a poet from Escanaba Michigan. She is a member of the Michigan Poetry Society, and a member of the Marquette poetry circle. Lisa was a featured poet in the Ziggies poetry festival Denver CO. She was a winner in the 2019 Heritage haiku contest through The Susan Lane foundation’s art through literature. Lisa has a great love of nature, and has been photographing the beautiful UP for years. In her spare time, she gives workshops on native pollinators and habitat preservation. CJ Giroux is a lifelong resident of Michigan. He teaches at Saginaw Valley State University, where he also serves as assistant director of the school’s writing center. He is one of the founding editors of the community arts journal Still Life.
Grace Giroux is a lifelong Michigan resident. She is currently a freshman attending college in Grand Rapids. Grace loves spending time with her family, her two cats, visiting northern Michigan and of course, taking photos! Although Grace is undecided about what to major in, she would like to continue pursuing her passions for photography, Spanish, and Women’s studies. Jon Jordan writes: My family has treasured time at the summer cottage in the Les Cheneaux Islands for well over one hundred years and counting. Family times at Cedar Haven are the main focus of my meanderings and photos. Our “Up North” family heritage is owed mostly in part to my great grandparents Dr. Rudolph and Martha Pfeiffer and grandparents Dr. Harold and Agatha Yochum. Many thanks to them and to the many loved ones with which we’ve shared woodsy paths and crossed ripply waters over the years. My wife Maren and I live near Indianapolis. We certainly enjoy vacationing in Michigan. Feel free to check out @jonjordanLCI and jottingsbyjon.wordpress.com (The Cedar Haven Reader). Deda Kavanagh lives in Bay City near her sister, Rosemary, The Lady Who Paints. Her chapbook, Bicycle Through a Covered Bridge, was published by Finishing Line Press. She received an Honorable Mention in the 2009 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award competition and has had poems published in Patterson Literary Review, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It, Poets for Living Waters, and most recently, Still Life, and Walloon Writers Review.
Kelly Kazmierski is a multi-discipline artist who creates original and commissioned works through photography, pencil, ink, paint and collage. Kelly achieved her first degree in fine arts, followed by a degree in education. She taught elementary school for ten years, then pursued her passion of animals by devoting the following 12 years working in veterinary medicine as a licensed veterinary technician. Growing up in Ontario and now residing full-time in Harbor Springs her influences are rooted in the beautiful majesty of the Great Lakes and the timeless traditions that make this place so special. Currently Kelly works from her home studio on the shores of Little Traverse Bay where she is able to pursue her artistic spirit by combining her creativity and love of nature in a variety of mediums. Kelly’s most recent works include commissioned originals, reproduction and reinterpreted masterpieces using collage and pencil, photographic art, and the publishing of her children’s book The Girl with Spaghetti Hair. Kelly was also very fortunate to have her original photograph on the cover of the 2018 Walloon Writers Review. A summer resident of Mackinac Island, James P. Lenfestey has published a collection of personal essays, seven collections of poems, edited two poetry anthologies and coedited Robert Bly in This World, University of Minnesota Press. His haibun memoir, Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain (Milkweed Editions), was a finalist for the 2014 Minnesota Book Award. His sixth poetry collection, A Marriage Book: 50 Years of Poems from a Marriage (Milkweed Editions), was a finalist for two 2017 Midwest book awards. In 2020 he received the Kay Sexton Award for significant contributions to the Minnesota literary community. For fifteen years he chaired the Literary Witnesses poetry program in Minneapolis and led a summer poetry class on Mackinac Island. He lives in Minneapolis and on Mackinac Island with his wife the political activist Susan Lenfestey. They have four children and eight grandchildren. John Lennon is a resident of Petoskey, Michigan where he teaches High School English. As a lover of music, nature, and people, he draws inspiration from all of the small wonders in the world that make life more meaningful. His work has appeared in Walloon Writers Review, The Language Arts Journal of Michigan, and the Michigan English Teacher newsletter. Ellen Lord is a Michigan native. Her writing has appeared in the 2019 Walloon Writers Review Chapbook, R.k.v.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal, Peninsula Poets chapbooks and TDAL Poets Night Out chapbooks. She won the Landmark Books Haiku Contest in 2017 &amp; 2019. She is a behavioral health therapist and lives in Charlevoix County. She was raised in the Upper Peninsula and returns there often for soul renewal.
Chris Lucka has been a member of Mid Michigan Writers, Inc. group since the 1980’s, although its inception was 1977. “It’s wonderful to have a support group of dedicated writers in the northern Michigan area.” Chris writes: I have been published most recently in Still Life 2019, a publication of the Saginaw Valley State University Community Writing Center and earlier in Jack Pine Journal, a publication of Kirtland Community College and Mid Stream, Mid Michigan Community College›s Magazine of Writing and Art as well as anthologies published by Mid Michigan Writers to showcase area writers. Raymond Luczak grew up in Ironwood and Houghton, Michigan. He is the author and editor of 25 books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press). A proud Yooper, he lives in Minneapolis, MN. Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Assure Press called Uneven Steven. He also has a new chapbook out from Moonstone Arts called The Book of Micah. Kacey Riley received her English degree from Aquinas College where she discovered her love for poetry, Shakespeare, and the coast of Connemara, Ireland where she studied abroad. She currently teaches Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition at Petoskey High School and lives in Harbor Springs with her husband and two daughters. An aspiring writer, Kacey enjoys exploring the profundity of the natural world and the art of being human. Katherine Roth lives and works as a physician in Traverse City, Michigan. Her poetry has been published in the Wild Root Journal, Open Palm Print and the Peninsula Poets of the Poetry Society of Michigan. She is the co-author of the memoir The Good Fight: A Story of Love, Cancer and Triumph, which was featured as part of the National Writers Series. Her first poetry collection, UNFORGOTTEN, was recently published by Mission Point Press. It is available from Horizon Book Store in Traverse City and through Amazon. Melissa Seitz is a writer and photographer who lives with her husband in Higgins Lake, Michigan. Her work has appeared in After: Stories About Loss & What Comes Next, The Bear River Review, The Dunes Review, The Lake, the Walloon Writers Review, and other journals. As of 11/01/2020, she has photographed the sunrise 1,037 days in a row. Shelley B. Smithson writes: I live and work in East Lansing, MI where I maintain a full time psychotherapy practice. During the pandemic, I have hunkered down much of the time in the hestled town of Elk Rapids, where I love to savor time to read and feel the presence of the water and the waves and Old Mission Peninsula lurking in the distance. I write as an avocation and also love to spend time with my family, friends, and do political volunteer work.
Bev Steckert was born in West Virginia, spent her working life in Central Ohio, and am now retired in Northern Michigan. “After spending many years visiting, we decided that this was where we wanted to retire. This is my first published work since high school.” Phillip Sterling’s books include two full-length collections of poetry (And Then Snow, Mutual Shores), and five chapbook-length series of poems, the most recent of which, Short on Days, was released from Main Street Rag in June 2020. He is also the author of two collections of short fiction: In Which Brief Stories Are Told (Wayne State U Press 2011) and Amateur Husbandry, a series of micro-fictions narrated by the domestic partner of a yellow horse (Mayapple 2019). Edd Tury descended from Hungarian Gypsies. He is a Michigan native and lives in Charlevoix County. He is an electrical engineer and UM alumni. Edd is an avid transcendentalist and enjoys forest bathing in unpeopled spaces . His writing has appeared in Dunes Review, Open Palm Print, TADL/PNO chapbooks, Detroit Metro Times, Michigan Out of Doors, Michigan Woods n Waters and the Ann Arbor News. He is a founding member of Charlevoices Writers Group. Karen Walker was born and raised in Northern Lower Michigan, and has been pursuing art and photography since childhood. In 1992, Karen opened a photography studio in East Jordan specializing in portraits and weddings. She has since escaped the confines of a brick and mortar studio to explore a wide variety of interests including fine art and writing. A Master Photographer and Photoshop Certified Expert, Karen has collected numerous awards for her outstanding photographic work. She has served on several volunteer boards and is past president of Professional Photographers of Michigan, Jordan River Arts Council, and the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce. More of Karen’s work can be found on her website, www.KarenWalkerStudio.com. Michael Walker is a writer living in Newark, Ohio. He is the author of two novels: 7-22 and The Vampire Henry. He has also seen his stories and poems published in numerous magazines including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Fiction Southeast and PIF. Allen M. Weber A native of Michigan, Allen currently lives in Hampton, Virginia with his wife and two of their three sons. The winner of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Memorial Prize, his poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies— including The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Fourth River, Naugatuck River Review, The Quotable, Terrain, Unlikely Stories, Up the Staircase Quarterly, the anthology, Changing Harm to Harmony: Bullies and Bystanders Project, and twice in A Prairie Home Companion’s First Person Series.
Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His book At the Driveway Guitar Sale will be published next year by Main Street Rag Publishers. He podcasts poems on aging, memory, and mortality at thirdactpoems. podbean.com and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Glen Young is a writer, teacher, and kayak guide. His poetry has appeared in the Walloon Writers Review, Beneath the Lilac Canopy, and Thoreau at Mackinac. His literary reviews appear in the Petoskey News Review and Split Rock Review. He is a fellow with the National Writing Project, as well as co-director of The Tip of the Mitt Writing Project, dividing his time between Petoskey and Mackinac Island.
Walloon Writers Review is an independent collection of original creative writing and nature photography inspired by Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. “edition 6” is titled this way as it is the first digital publication of the magazine. Founded in Petoskey, Michigan in 2013, Walloon Writers Review features professional to first time in print contributors. Previous print editions can be obtained from Michigan independent bookstores as available. Information about Walloon Writers Review, how to share your Northern Michigan/UP story, poetry or nature photography and updates on the achievements of our creative community can be found on our website at www.walloonwritersreview.com. Individual contributors retain the North American Rights to their original work and the collection is copyrighted to Walloon Writers Review. Unauthorized copy, transfer, duplication, distribution or reprinting/reposting without permission of the original writer/photographer is in violation of copyright.