Imagine yourself a kingfisher,
skimming the surface of
a lake of the woods so placid
you catch yourself bemused by
the belted reflection whipping its wings
below you. Bankside, your nest rests
in cool mud somewhere among cattails
and reeds. Your rattle declares your brilliance
before you break the mirror
with one last plunge. The gloaming
casts wooden shadows on the far shore,
impels you to your darkened hollow,
beak empty. Some days offer little
more than the grace of gazing inward.
You settle in with your brood,
shared warmth your only nourishment,
and greet the welcoming pause of night
with a flourish of want, anticipation
for the scattershot light of dawn.
In the bleeding throng of dawn
we cast aside our penchant for precision,
deem what is real to be improvisation.
Somewhere our mountain top gets lost--
cathedral spired cliffs thrust
their silhouettes, scale daybreak
like a slow dissolve shot in
a John Ford film where our hero lingers
off camera, asks how many suns we must
chase before succumbing to serendipity,
the wilderness of our longing gilded in
an acetate morning beset with shadows.
To see clearly is to grasp a whisper.
Given the choice,
how would you enter
rippling between reeds:
drift with morning mist
torn from a lover’s journal--
bloom like a black ibis
fishing a parchment fringe--
bleed like a brushstroke
hanging in the folly of margins.
What space to enter comes easily,
how to fill it takes a lifetime.
Whose lone sail carries the boat
through sheets of rain, black
skies looming? Whose hands guide
the rudder through choppy waters?
This is the sky breaking.
This is after the storm.
Lighthouse a mere shadow
on the peninsula, landfall a dream.
The wake swallows up memories
like ink spill in linen. A hard edge
bears the night little leniency.
A sailor squints in mist, drifting with
a calm, heavy-handed yearning.
What wild creatures haunt
our childhood dreams--
lanky, leggy, gathered
hip-hinged beneath a waxing moon.
Plotting, plodding, they roamed
open fields as we slept unaware.
Only in dreams did we dare
dance with such devilish beings
intent on dragging our souls
into Satan’s lair.
Or so we were told
by Baptist grandparents
who tucked us in, held our hands,
prayed to a god that lingered
somewhere in shadow,
prayed that we sleep safely until morning.
By the time we grew old
enough to trust our doubts,
these creatures—whose only sin was
a longing for our world to see
virtue in their otherness--
have left us. We yearn,
cling to a past dimly lit,
wondering if they still lurk
in hillsides, too murky,
too foreign for us to trek
alone in the blue bruise of night.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Chuck Salmons is a poet and currently President of the Ohio Poetry Association. His poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Pudding Magazine, Evening Street Review, Common Threads, The Fib Review, Red Thread Gold Thread, Everything Stops and Listens, and Poets to Come: A Poetry Anthology in honor of Walt Whitman’s bicentennial. His chapbook, Stargazer Suite, was released in December 2016 and is available from 11th Hour Press. His second chapbook, Patch Job, was published by NightBallet Press in 2017. He won the 2011 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest, sponsored by The Poetry Forum of Columbus, and has garnered awards from Ohio Poetry Day. Most recently, he is a recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for his poetry. Chuck regularly gives readings throughout Ohio, both solo and as part of the poetry trio Concrete Wink. He also leads workshops for various groups and audiences. Learn more at his website: chucksalmons.com.
Alice Carpenter's inky, rich monotypes have a visual depth and pictorial strength that belie size. Her unique technique and handling of her media evoke an invitation into scenes that combine memory and presence. The tactile physical presence of her monotypes have affinities with some of the early drawings and etchings of the contemporary master Brice Marden. Along with showing in many regional venues, recent national recognition includes selection into the Butler Institute of American Art Midyear National Juried Exhibition (2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019) as well as the Monotype Guild of New England National Juried Exhibition in 2018. Learn more at www.alicecarpenter.com.
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