Bodega Bay Internship by Jeff Burt

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Bodega Bay Internship
by Jeff Burt

Scraping out oysters
just to scrape by

waves scraping back
draft daft captain capped

pelican turns and terns on cans
muscular mussels

gulls the grafters grifters
gifts of dry dock

grit in paint peel
pearled on deck

propellers spun
sun-lures in the harbor

car broken down
tow truck for a starter

but once started
never ending repairs

boat tow to drop collectors
of coastal acidification

toe sliced by rock
gaining a foothold

toe-finding oysters
weeping over oysters

killing oysters at the bar
killing time

pain collected
mouth bi-valve

closed to beautify
opened for pearls

full of personal pluck
preening like a snowy plover

stealing like a seagull
spunk of an otter

greased like a goose
like an axle

like a winch to raise a boat
a broken car

a weathering spirit
marine sprit

varnish to seal
drink of the harsh

stuck in the bodega
on the bodega

feet buried in mud
dumb-struck by touch

face free to the wind
unwinding

PHOTO: Sunset, Bodega Bay, California. Photo by Arthur Cofresi, used by permission.

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NOTE: Bodega Bay is a shallow, rocky inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of northern California. Approximately 5 miles across, it is located about 40 miles northwest of San Francisco. The bay is a marine habitat used for navigation, recreation (including swimming and surfing), and commercial and sport fishing (including shellfish harvesting). Marine protected areas near Bodega Bay include: Russian River State Marine Reserve and Russian River State Marine Conservation Area, Bodega Head State Marine Reserve & Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area, Estero Americano State Marine Recreational Management Area, Estero de San Antonio State Marine Recreational Management Area. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Bodega Bay north of San Francisco and Point Reyes is an oyster and boat town, and as remarkable the sights of Point Reyes, the flattened shores, the oyster bays, Bodega Bay has a beauty in grit, sea craft, paints, winches, camshafts, seagulls everywhere. It is a transition point of water life and earth life, of the ocean’s wonder and the beauty of the human spirit. My daughter had taken an internship at the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Science Institute in the summer of 2009 at Bodega Bay, studying coastal acidification and its effect on marine life. Her car had broken down, so we traveled to her, and were able to spend time in throes with Point Reyes, the harbor, and grand collision of ocean and earth.

PHOTO: Pelican at Bodega Bay (California) by Joaolrneto, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, and works in mental health. He grew up in the Midwest before making his home in California, though the landscapes of Wisconsin and Nebraska still populate his vision. He has contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Sheila-na-Gig, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review Poetry Prize.

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad, Nightfall at Minnamurra

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Nightfall at Minnamurra
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

At the foot of Minnamurra Falls
the maples heave in the gale,
wind drawing applause
rich with sudden confetti
whirling bushels
of umber, gold, sienna.

The trees arch skyward
upper reaches shorn
as the windstorm shuffles away,
balm of autumn night
settles eggshell, tranquil,
the forests of Illawarra
lit by a smudge of fireflies.

First published in Plum Tree Tavern, November 3, 2019.

PHOTO: Minnamurra Magic by Kevin Rheese, used by permission.

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NOTE: The Budderoo National Park is a 17,840-acre national park located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia, approximately 60 miles south southwest of Sydney. The park is best known for the timber boardwalk through the Minnamurra rainforest. The park features waterfalls, picnic and barbecue areas, and a visitors center. 

PHOTO: Minnamurra Falls, Illawarra region, New South Wales, Australia. Photo by world-of-waterfalls.com, All Rights Reserved.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In the days before lockdown, I used to spend a lot of time painting en plein air.  This poem was inspired by one of my painting trips. Above is the painting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an artist, poet, and pianist of Indian heritage. She was raised in the Middle East. She started writing poetry at the age of seven. In 1990, during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, she was a war refugee in Operation Desert Storm. She holds a Masters in English, and is a member of The North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in Neologism Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Nigerian Voices Anthology, Poetica Review, and several other print and online international literary journals and anthologies. Her poem “Mizpah,” about a mother who hopes for the return of her son who was taken as a prisoner of war, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Glass House Poetry Awards 2020. She is the co-editor of the Australian literary journal Authora Australis. She regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.

Julie A. Dickson, September on Lake Ontario

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September on Lake Ontario
by Julie A. Dickson

Ontario is calm today, sun warm,
waves lap at rocks in quiet rhythm.
I hear the call of a lone goose,
Canadian black markings clear
as it swims lazily — far away from the chattering flock,
as if to say, “I need a few minutes.”
Perhaps he is like me.

I sit on a rough-hewn boulder
that edges the grassy outcropping
where the old public pier once stood.
Looking east to the row of cottages,
the dormered windows like open eyes
trained on a blue expanse. All eyes on the
great lake, watching — past the calm surface.

I remember days when white-capped
thunderous waves crashed against the break walls,
toppling boats, eroding the shore,
but not today.
Today Ontario is calm.

Previously published in The Avocet: Journal of Nature Poetry (2014).

PHOTO: Vacation homes on the shore of Lake Ontario, near Rochester, New York. Photo by Richard McGuirk, used by permission.

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NOTE:  Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is surrounded on the north, west, and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south and east by the U.S. state of New York, whose water boundaries meet in the middle of the lake. The Canadian cities of Toronto, Kingston, and Hamilton are located on the lake’s northern and western shorelines, while the American city of Rochester is located on the south shore. In the Huron language, the name Ontarí’io means “great lake.” The last in the Great Lakes chain, Lake Ontario serves as the outlet to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River, comprising the eastern end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It is the only Great Lake not to border the state of Michigan.

PHOTO: Sailboat and lighthouse on Lake Ontario, Oswego, New York. Photo by Debra Millet, used by permission.

MAP: The Great Lakes, with Lake Ontario indicated in darker blue.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  A favorite location of mine was on the Western shores of Lake Ontario in New York State. The photo above shows the cottage of my poems behind me (light green), where I spent many summers growing up, swimming and canoeing in view of the Great Lake.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a lakes girl, raised on the shores of Ontario, now living on the New Hampshire Seacoast. Her poetry depicts early times on the water, nature, environment, elephants in sanctuaries, and teen issues. Dickson’s work can be found in journals, including Poetry Quarterly, The Avocet, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press. Her full-length works are available on Amazon, and she received a Pushcart nomination for her poem “The Sky Must Remember” in 2018. A board member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, she shares her home with two rescued feral cats, Cam and Claire.

February Evening in New York by Denise Levertov

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February Evening in New York
by Denise Levertov

As the stores close, a winter light
xxopens air to iris blue,
xxglint of frost through the smoke
xxgrains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous
xxfeet pattern the streets
xxin hurry and stroll; balloon heads
xxdrift and dive above them; the bodies
xxaren’t really there.
As the lights brighten, as the sky darkens,
xxa woman with crooked heels says to another woman
xxwhile they step along at a fair pace,
xx“You know, I’m telling you, what I love best
xxis life. I love life! Even if I ever get
xxto be old and wheezy—or limp! You know?
xxLimping along?—I’d still … ” Out of hearing.
To the multiple disordered tones
xxof gears changing, a dance
xxto the compass points, out, four-way river.
xxProspect of sky
xxwedged into avenues, left at the ends of streets,
xxwest sky, east sky: more life tonight! A range
xxof open time at winter’s outskirts.

SOURCE: ”February Evening in New York” by Denise Levertov, from COLLECTED EARLIER POEMS 1940-1960, copyright ©1960 by Denise Levertov . Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

PHOTO: The blue hour, New York City, New York. Photo by Matthew Omojola, used by permission.

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NOTE:The blue hour is the period of twilight (in the morning or evening, around the nautical stage) when the Sun is at a significant depth below the horizon and residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue shade, which differs from the one visible during most of a clear day, which is caused by Rayleigh scattering. The blue hour occurs when the Sun is far enough below the horizon so that the sunlight’s blue wavelengths dominate due to the Chappuis absorption caused by ozone. Since the term is colloquial, it lacks an official definition similar to dawn, dusk, and the three stages of twilight. Rather, it refers to a state of natural lighting that usually occurs around the nautical stage of the twilight period (at dawn or dusk). The blue hour lasts for about 30-40 minutes each day.

PHOTO: Midtown, Manhattan, New York City, during the blue hour. Photo by Dschwen, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Denise Levertov was born during 1923 in London, England, and educated at home by her mother. Her formal education ended at age 12, though she studied ballet for a time and was a lifelong autodidact and student of the arts, literature, and languages. Her first book of poems, The Double Image, was published by Cresset Press, London in 1946, and in 1948 she came to the U.S. as the wife of Mitchell Goodman, who had been studying in Europe on the G.I. Bill.  Levertov was introduced to the American reading public through The New British Poets, an anthology edited by Kenneth Rexroth. From the early 1950s, she and her husband were political and antiwar activists. Levertov taught at University of Massachusetts, Boston, Tufts University, Brandeis, and Stanford University. Along with the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in poetry and the Lannan Prize, she won the 1996 Governor’s Writers Award from the Washington State Commission for the Humanities. She died in Seattle, Washington, on December 20, 1997. Levertov published more than 30 books with New Directions.

Carolyn Chilton Casas, The Beating of Drums

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The Beating of Drums
by Carolyn Chilton Casas

At the pousada pequena in a tropic beach town,
fatigued from too many hours of travel,
we were concerned when asked to leave
our key hanging on the reception wall.

We had read State Department warnings
for tourists traveling to this area,
heard rumors to be careful, cautionary tales
about things being stolen.

A teacher at the school told me
her husband, an international pilot,
never left his hotel room in Rio
for safety reasons. She hinted
Brazil was not the best choice for children,
hence, I was on high alert,
and somewhat alarmed about the key idea.

In the São Paulo airport, we had just met a family;
their son, fifteen, an exchange student who
stayed with us earlier in the year, and now
we were here to see the place he called home.

Our son had just turned eleven.
Having been given only a double bed
and a small cot for our daughter,
the family offered to let him stay,
the boys happy with this plan
having shared a bunk bed months ago
and become friends.

Leaving our sons to catch up, we walked to dinner.
Like in many places with warmer climates,
the evening meal is eaten late;
at midnight, we strolled slowly back,
amazed to be suddenly in a place so foreign to us,
enjoying the fragrance of angel’s trumpet,
a night-blooming flower.

Upon reaching their beach house,
we bid boa noite to our new friends
and continued down the dirt path to the inn.
The dad came running after us to say
their son had fallen asleep and ours was gone.
In his hand, a handwritten note, which read—

I couldn’t sleep because of the drums.
Outside, I yelled at them to stop.
They didn’t, so I am going to our hotel.

We ran toward the Pousada Canto do Camburi
many dark streets away;
where we found no key on the wall,
took the steps two at a time
to the second story, and hurriedly
pushed open the door to find
our boy sound asleep on the tiny bed.

The next morning the Brazilian family
explained to our son—
the loud noises he had heard weren’t drums
but the ba, boom, ba, boom of big frogs,
living in the jungle growth behind their home.

PHOTO: Camburi, São Sebastião, Brazil. Photo by Amanda Ferreira on Unsplash.

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NOTE: São Sebastião is a municipality, located on the southeast coast of Brazil, in the state of São Paulo with a population in 2020 of 90,328. The Tropic of Capricorn lies about 15 miles north. The city is famous for its beaches, including Camburi, making it a popular tourist destination. The Alcatrazes Archipelago is formed by five main islands and some smaller unnamed islands. The largest island of the archipelago is also called São Sebastião. Birds, whales and other sea animals stop here seasonally to reproduce. The islands are within the Tupinambás Ecological Station. Several species of frogs are only found on the Alcatrazes.

PHOTO: Young Alcatrazes frog (Scinaz alcatraz), a native species of the island of Alcatrazes, off the coast of São Paulo, Brazil. Photo © Norberto Hulle. For more information, visit the World Wildlife Fund at wwf.org.br.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Beating of Drums” recounts an experience in Camburi, Brazil.

PHOTO: The author with her family in Brazil.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master and teacher, a student of metaphysics and philosophy. Her favorite themes for writing are healing, wellness, awareness, and the spiritual journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in Energy, Journey of the Heart, Odyssey, Reiki News Magazine, Snapdragon, The Art of Healing, as well as other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram at mindfulpoet. On February 16, 2021, her first collection of poetry, Our Shared Breath, was released.

Callanish Stone Circle, Isle of Lewis by William Doreski

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Callanish Stone Circle, Isle of Lewis
by William Doreski

The avenues and circle form
a rough Celtic cross about
four hundred by a hundred
and forty feet. Standing centered
in the central circle of thirteen

standing stones bathed in sea breeze
I feel the sky pour over me
in marbled gray sympathies
as if I’ve finally accepted
the planet’s full embrace. The stones,

eight to twelve feet tall, look staid
as the Methodist churchgoers
of my childhood: formal, serious,
but secretly atheist. Traces
of cremation sour the ground

of the cairn underfoot. Science
isn’t certain this structure
provided astronomical
or solar function but the dense
clouds above the Outer Hebrides

suggest that cosmic observations
most often eluded the builders
of this outlook. From inside
the circle I can see the waters
of East Loch Roag and the mountains

of Harris. I think I’ll stay here
until history withers away
and the ancient rites refresh themselves
possibly by cremating
whatever remains of me after

five thousand years of patience—
the stones unimpressed, the mountains
plain and stoic, but the waters
of the loch roiling as creatures
step ashore and learn to evolve.

PHOTO: Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland (August 2012). Photo by Petr Brož , used by permission.

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NOTE: The Callanish Stones are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. Located near the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, the Callanish Stones consist of a circle of 13 stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle. Two long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other from the stone circle to the north-northeast form a kind of avenue. There are also shorter rows of stones to the west-southwest, south and east-northeast. The stones are all of the same rock type, the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb to the east of the central stone.

PHOTO:  Chambered tomb, east of the central Callandish Stone, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Photo by Nachosan, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020).  He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors.  His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

Author photo by Keene State College

Volcano Park by Ed Meek

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Volcano Park
by Ed Meek

In case you forgot
what burns beneath
the surface of the earth,
pay a visit to Pele,
goddess of the volcano,
on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi
where a fire river of lava
tunnels through molten rock.
You can catch Kīlauea flow—
luminous at night—
from black pahoehoe cliffs
that overlook Kaʻū Loa Point;
locals call it the witch’s nose.
Gleaming lava cascades from her mouth
into the Pacific Ocean
where it clashes with crashing waves,
crackles and spits steam and gas
into a vast sky and solidifies
into vase, or volcanic glass. Just in case
you forgot what simmers
at 2000 degrees
two miles beneath
the surface of the earth…

Previously published in Cosmopsis Quarterly (Fall 2009). 

PHOTO:  Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaiʻi. Photo by MN Studios, used by permission.

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NOTE: Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park features two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive shield volcano. The park provides scientists with insight into the development of the Hawaiʻian Islands and access for studies of volcanism. For visitors, the park offers dramatic volcanic landscapes, glimpses of rare flora and fauna, and a view into the traditional Hawaiʻian culture connected to these landscapes. The park was established on August 1, 1916 as Hawaiʻi National Park, which was divided into this park and Haleakalā National Park. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987. In the Hawaiʻian religionPele is the goddess of volcanoes and fire and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

PHOTO: Mural of the goddess Pele, Big Island, Hawaiʻi. Photo by Marlon Trottmann, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, we went to see the active volcano at night and watched the lava flow into the ocean. It was spectacular.

NOTE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Seeing lava flow with your own eyes is a rare sight. We drove our car as far as we could until the road ended and then switched to bikes to get to the lookout point. The glasslike rock scratched our skin as we sat and waited for nightfall with our camera equipment. At dusk, we captured this moment where the glowing fire blossomed into clouds of steam as it collided with the lapping waves that crashed against the cliff. We were witnessing the birth of new land and saw the raw power of brute violence of natural creation. There is no clearer evidence that the earth is alive. Photo of Kīlauea lava flow by Mandy Beerley on Unsplash.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ed Meek has been published in The North American Review, The Sun, and The Paris Review. His new book of poems, High Tide, came out in 2020.

February Snow by Francisco Aragón

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February Snow
by Francisco Aragón

The tint of the sky between sunset and night.

And wandering with you and your nephew
in that maze, half-lost—Madrid
of the Austrias—looking for Plaza of the Green

Cross where, days before you arrived,
an Opel with false plates was parked, its wheels
straddling the curb, and so the van

heading for the barracks that morning
had to slow to squeeze
past . . . Back at the hotel your mom

is holding up her gift—Amethyst, she says
admiring how light
when passing through a prism

bends. At his window that morning before we began
my student said, ¡Qué bonito!, watching it drift
and descend, settling on roofs and cars.

And I think of you and your wife
and daughter: getting to see Madrid
in white, your visit winding down, and how

I had wanted that lesson to end
to get to the park—Retiro, they say, is the city’s
one lung, and the way the feel and sound of steps

cease
when grass is completely covered
as if walking on a cloud. The year before

on a visit from the coast, a friend
sitting at a window
watched the flakes flutter

and fall, dissolving before reaching
the ground—aguanieve, he said
while from a town near Seville

B-52s were lifting off . . .
I was in a trance that week
though like most things the war

in the Gulf was soon another
backdrop, like the string of car bombs
the following year. And yet that morning

as soon as I heard, something led me
not to the park but down
to City Hall, workers in the street

evacuated, sipping coffee, though I never reached
the site—of course it was cordoned
off, the spray of glass, the heap

of twisted metal, and so later learned their names
their lives. Of the five
there was one: a postal clerk who

as a boy, would plunge his hands
into the white, the cold
a sweet jolt

whenever he got to touch
the stuff, scooping
it tightly into a ball

like the ones he would dodge and throw
years later
at his wife-to-be: those weekends,

those places—away from city air—
a release . . . Miraflores, Siete
Picos, Rascafría . . . It’s in

his blood, she would come to say
chatting with a neighbor
about his thing for snow—the way it falls

softly, blanketing roofs
and groves, villages
nestled in the Sierra’s

hills: it is February
and she is picturing him
and the boy, up there now

playing, horsing around

SOURCE: “February Snow” appears in the author’s collection Puerta del Sol. Copyright © 2005 by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

PHOTO:  Palace of Communications, with statue of Cybele, Madrid, Spain, after Storm Filomena, January 2021. The snowfall was the heaviest in 50 years, leaving 20 inches in the capital and nearby provinces.

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NOTE: Madrid is the capital and most-populous city of Spain,  with approximately 6.5 million in the metropolitan area. It is the second-largest city in the European Union (EU), after Berlin. While Madrid possesses modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro Park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain’s historical archives; many national museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which complements the holdings of the other two museums. Cybele Palace and Fountain (pictured above) has become one of the monument symbols of the city.

PHOTO: Madrid, Spain, cityscape. Photo by Rudi1976, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Francisco Aragón is the son of Nicaraguan immigrants. A native of San Francisco, California, he holds degrees in Spanish from UC Berkeley and NYU. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1998 after a decade in Spain, Aragón completed graduate degrees in creative writing from UC Davis and the University of Notre Dame. In 2003 he joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies where he established Letras Latinas. A CantoMundo fellow and a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, Aragón is the author of two books, Puerta del Sol and Glow of Our Sweat as well as editor of the anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry.  His third book, After Rubén, was published in 2020. His Tongue a Swath of Sky, his fourth chapbook, was released in 2019. Previous chapbooks include TertuliaIn Praise of Cities, and Light, Yogurt, Strawberry Milk. His poems and translations have appeared in various print and online journals, as well as numerous anthologies. His work as a translator includes four books by Francisco X. Alarcón, as well as work by Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Gerardo Diego. More recently, he’s been rendering versions of the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío. He has read from his work widely, including at universities, galleries, and bookstores. He’s been a featured poet at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival as well as the Dodge Poetry Festival. Aragón spends the fall semester on the Notre Dame campus, where he teaches a literature course on Latinx poetry, and spring in Washington, DC, where he teaches a poetry workshop featuring the work of local and visiting Latinx poets. ​Read more of his work at franciscoaragon.net.

Author photo by Craig Mailloux

Threshing by Ed Ruzicka

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Threshing
by Ed Ruzicka

Leoncio wakes me before six
so we can march down to the next town.
I am to drive the Datsun that is kept there in a cousin’s garage.
I have been trying to teach Leoncio
how to drive but it is terrifying.

So many pile onto, lean off, the pickup’s bed
that I can hardly see out the rearview.
On a great knoll overlooking the Jauja Valley
everyone whips out machetes, sets to hacking wheat.
They gather cut stalks, bundle them,
spread them out across hand-woven blankets.

With gestures, they tell me to drive back and forth
over the blankets. That is how they plan to strip
chaff from grain. I tell them it is not clean.
They laugh with the sun in their mouths.

They raise grain, let chaff and seed sift down
in a golden rain, “Limpio, muy limpio.”
To keep the herd at bay, women and children
pluck up dried dung, zing it at cows.
I try to explain microbiology in a language
I can barely use to order lunch. “Limpio,” they sing.

The Datsun jolts back and forth.
At noon we drink cool maté from clay jars.
By sundown we have a harvest spread in bronze pyramids.
On the journey home slumping figures bounce over ruts.
I drop them off. Guided by nothing but starlight,
I manage to squeeze the Datsun back into the garage.

Silent, exhausted, Leoncio and I
trudge back up the side of the mountain
with legs as heavy as stone.

PHOTO: Mantaro Valley (also known as Jauja Valley), Peru. Photo by myguideperu.com, All Rights Reserved.

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NOTE: The Mantaro Valley, also known as Jauja Valley, is located in the Andes, 120 miles east of Lima, the capital of Peru. The north-south trending valley, which extends for about 37 miles, is situated between the cities of Jauja and Huancayo.The Mantaro River flows through the fertile valley, which produces potatoes, maize, and vegetables among other crops. From Pre-Columbian times, this site has been a breadbasket for the people of the Andes. The valley contains about 160,000 acres of arable land, ranging in elevation from 10,330 feet to 13,800 feet, the highest elevation at which cultivation is possible in the area. The Mantaro Valley also features many archaeological sites. At the northern end of the valley is the city of Jauja, an important pre-Columbian center and Peru’s provisional capital in 1534.

PHOTO: Tejados de Orcotuna (Rooftops of Orcotuna), a village in the Mantaro Valley (October 2009). Photo by Martin Garcia, used by permission.

leonci and family

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1979, over a period of months, I bussed from Bogota, Columbia, to deep in the Peruvian Andes and back. What I did could not be done again. By the end of that trip, I was who I am now, not just some father’s son. I was lucky enough to stay a month in a small village in a room off the familial quarters of a master carver of gourds, Leoncio Veli. Leoncio and his family are pictured here. His wife is wearing the sort of broad brimmed bowler all women in this region wear. I went back last year. Leoncio is still carving. Leoncio’s wife wears the same hat. Most things change, some do not.

PHOTO: Leoncio Veli, his wife, and children in their Andean village, Peru (1979). Photo by the author.

the old gringo returns

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Raised beside creeks and cornfields near Chicago, Ed Ruzicka is an occupational therapist and lives with his wife, Renee, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ed’s many takes on the rocky marriage between freedom and the American highway were just released in his second full-length book My Life in Cars. Ed’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Rattle, Canary, as well as myriad other literary journals and anthologies. To read more of his work, visit edpoet.com.  

PHOTO: The author, Machu Picchu, Peru (2020).

Golden Eagles over Franklin Mountain by Robert Bensen

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Golden Eagles over Franklin Mountain
by Robert Bensen

On Oct. 25, 2018, we counted 128 Golden Eagles, a single-day record for eastern North America. The previous single-day high was 71 (Nov. 11, 2015) so the magnitude of this big day cannot be overstated. The reason for this Golden Eagle push two weeks before the traditional migration peak, is unknown.
—Andy Mason, Franklin Mountain Hawkwatch 2018 Report

The scaffold bristled with digital Yashicas clamped on scopes
and monopods strutting in khaki and camouflage, as a flock
of hawk-watchers scanned quadrants of sky from Otego
to the peaks where the Susquehanna swerves into the valley, and east.

I stood by, naked eye aswarm with floaters the one,
the other useless that magnifies and smears every human face.
Peter, half-felled by flu, and Becky tallied the count
and helped the dozen-some visitors identify specks

that could be buzzard, or goshawk, or harrier, or sharp-shinned
or rough-legged or Cooper’s or red-tailed hawks, or merlin, falcon,
kite or kestrel, among twenty-nine listed, including Unknown Raptors,
hoping for Goldens riding the polar stream from Canada, or, better, one

gliding low and hungry on a hunt. I couldn’t see diddle.
And it seemed weird to me to have the drum, but to my hand ungloved
the skin felt warm and taut. So I slipped away and up the path,
deer-silent for the spring of thatch underfoot.

I dug my heels in and labored up the grade, paused
to catch a breath at the hill’s brow, midway through the field
walled in by limb-laced fir and hardwood, when a shape or shadow rose—no,
an enormous bird rose above the brim and—Wait! I yelled and I swear

it gave pause mid-air while bone-chilled I fumbled the drum,
and out of a cloud of sage-smoke started a roll of thunder
that closed in, closed fast and passed, then the song brought
a line of thunders helping the verse find drafts and currents

to ride and sign God-knows-what to the bird, white flame-tongued
wings that skimmed the tree-rim, gliding so slowly with the song
that so tethered the two of us it seemed the wall of trees revolved
the way between the potter’s thumb and fingers the new bowl turns.

We shared the easy slip of air around the bowl of circled trees.
Once around, his flight feathers splayed, trimmed then splayed,
eyes holding steady gaze, with each lift of song a fresh wind. A quick
turn of his head and he vanished. Who’d not be at first forlorn?

But filled with that glory who’d mourn or sorrow for long
or deny he’d gone to let the others of his kind know,
ready for passage through this valley to the Catskills, that here,
here someone had kept the song the eagles gave so long ago:

Wanbli gleska, naha anunca, heya a uh chun kay.
Mea trocha heya anpetu wawakeay:
“Golden eagles, Spotted eagles, the first to fly with the dawn,
come see the people trying to become human beings! Come!”

So they did and were counted: one-hundred twenty-eight strong.

Previously published in Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Newsletter, January 2020. Find the poem at this link

Also previously published in Blood, River, and Corn: A Community of Voices, ed. Terra Trevor, March 2020.  Find the poem at this link.

PHOTO: Golden Eagle coming in for a landing. Photo by gardenofeaden.blogspot.com, All Rights Reserved

NYSOA

franklin mt ny

NOTE: The Franklin Mountain Hawkwatch, located on the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Sanctuary overlooking Oneonta, New York, is noted for late-fall-season flights of Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles. Franklin Mountain provides a panoramic view of the Susquehanna River Valley and surrounding hills of New York State’s Otsego and Delaware Counties. Read more about the area’s annual Golden Eagle migration at nyupstate.com.

PHOTO: Hawkwatchers, late fall, on Franklin Mountain, near Oneonta, New York. Photo by Delaware-Ostego Audubon Society, All Rights Reserved.

BENSEN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Bensen is a poet, essayist, teacher, editor, and publisher in Upstate New York.  Most recent among six collections of poetry are Before and Orenoque, Wetumka & Other Poems (Bright Hill Press). Poetry and literary essays have appeared in AGNI, Akwe:kon, Antioch Review, Berfrois, Callaloo, The Caribbean Writer, Jamaica Journal, La presa, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Wales, and elsewhere. He has edited anthologies of Native American and Caribbean literature, and authored a bibliographic study, American Indian and Aboriginal Canadian Childhood Studies, at Oxford University Press online. His writing has won fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, the State of New York, Illinois Arts Council, the Robert Penn Warren Award, and others. From 1978 to 2017, he was Professor of English and Director of Writing at Hartwick College (Oneonta, New York).  He conducts the community-based poetry workshop Seeing Things at Bright Hill Press and Literary Center (Treadwell, New York). He is the founding editor of two literary presses, the Red Herring Press and Woodland Arts Editions. Find more of his work at robertbenson.com.