Issue #9: Poetry Selections
Fought a lynx between my ears
Woke up with blood in my mouth
Brushed my teeth with razor blades
Maple blossoms and hawk feathers
Hand rubbed basil braided sweetgrass
Grew four-leaf clovers between my toes
A million snowflakes fell the day I was born
Lightning soldered winter bees beneath my crib
Blue collar pollinators cauterized honey like dynamite
Cranes stayed south that spring
I still pestle my head in honey comb mortar
A godawful bear thirsty for that deaf stream
Where a cedar carcass floats to the biggest lake
Ribbon waves curl lashes and entice
Wink at my sober brain a promise of catharsis
To grow my hair longer than frogs can sleep
Nectar and peat moss swell my tongue
That belly-up rosehip wintered over for the birds
I still hum to blue jays and chickadees
my suet lined throat hides as song with teeth.
Tyler Dettloff is an Anishinaabe Métis, Italian, and Irish writer, professor, musician, and water protector raised on the edge of the Delirium Wilderness. He currently lives in Gnoozhekaaning (Bay Mills, Michigan) and his work has been featured in Voice on the Water, Crab Fat Magazine, Heartwood Literature Magazine, and Swimming with Elephants.
after Gwendolyn Brooks
I, small. You, wind. Ghost children, damp and luscious. Deliberate. You return, rather than were made. Breath tumults your singers, your games. You killed my breasts. You forget, baby. You will believe children, lives unfinished. You sigh, snack sucking-thumb, whine, scuttle off. You, as children, die lovely, sweet. Become old.
I knew, I, as air, loved. I sinned, and contracted, gobbling silence, my dim voice. I sucked. I seized you, loves; your born bodies, your birth, luck. Tried controlling you, tried dimming your beginning, who you are.
Faulty abortion of will, pulp or workers, dead. Let’s not remember
I faintly loved. I loved you, all. You giggled though, heard wind, reached, stole names, poisoned straight your hair. My aches. I never neglected you, believe me, if truth said so, dears. I have sweet anyhow since by deliberateness planned what I shall say. You got voices; you had wills. You handled marriage, eased into your deaths. You did not get little:
as your mother, I believed in my tears. I was, I am, afraid. Why whine even now?
Never that, never leave, never will, never stilted, never instead, never were, never them. I have said I cried, how eyes could be. What could beat other than that? Is that a crime? You’re not me, but, you, too,
Kristina Erny is a third-culture poet who holds an MFA from the University of Arizona. Her poems have been the recipient of the Tupelo Quarterly poetry prize and the Ruskin Art Club Poetry award and have been published in Yemassee, Tupelo Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review, and most recently, Bluestem, among others.
I still hear you when I laugh real hard
I stop my breath and feel like I’m waiting
for you to lie down
those nights in bed when I first started to feel
the spaces between my ribs and how unprotected
you say I stare like I see stars through the ceiling
tin-can holes, such mercy
for the trapped
Devon Tomasulo has a Doctor of Letters degree in writing and literature from Drew University and an MFA from Pacific University. His work has been published in numerous journals Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing, vol. 3, no. 1, 2011 and is forthcoming in Bitter Oleander and Euphony Journal.