A Literary Journal

A Hebridean Testament

by James Moose


I saw her first one autumn day as she stepped out

for fun and frolic, walking briskly on a strand,

the scent of salt afloat upon the air about

her lovely head, the ranks of scudding clouds as grand

a scene as one could wish, and leavened by the green

and brown of rocky slopes that lie along the sea

and link the Cuillin Hills to Skye's abrupt marine;

and when I die, that afternoon will die with me.


Buzz

by Cathy Barber


When the world

sounds to me

like buzzing insects,

or the crackling

overhead lights

of cafeterias,


and I ask you a

and you

say no with that

upward inflection

like it is something

you hadn't thought of

but not at all out

of the realm

of sanity,


well, I am still

sorry I asked.

Something about

the way your

non-buzzing brows

knit at me

there for a second.

Ode to an Earthworm

by Moira Magneson



Long pink

earth monk

Miracle of

nonduality.

Neither he

nor she

but both.

Though

you have

no eyes

you cry

yourself

a robe of

silky tears.

Oyster-pale

sensitive

to light,

you work

the dark

dirt day

and night.

Five-hearted

Pilgram.

Kindred soul.

You know

the slow

world by touch

and feel--

eggshell,

coffee grounds,

apple peel --

the compost bin

your begging

bowl. Sensei.

Philosopher.

I could learn

so much

from you.

Miner of the

a priory,

nary

a thought

in your tiny

head.

You abide

in the moment's

story.

Your presence

my practice--

quickening

the dead.


Poetry from Our Pages

Tule Review

The Volcano

by Marva Zohar


When we hatched out of the crust of mud

we were thirsty and latched on to the first

mountain we saw.

The slope was slippery but fertile.

The high priests taught us

the name of the peak was Ima.


In those early days when the liquid flames

came down the hill

we did not know what hit us.

How could we grasp it came

from the same source

that gave us our milk-bread-water-shelter?


When the smoke cleared we went right back

to the bosom of the slope,

rebuilt our homes, replanted our gardens.

The earth was fertile as ever before.


When the liquid flames came again they

caught us in the middle of a motion

a shovel just about to penetrate the soil,

a sandal strap about to be fastened.


The high priests told us we were the cause of it.

We became meticulous about every detail.

Measuring the distance between the seeds

in the field. Agonizing over the shape of the fire.

The ratio of each water particle to grain of rice.


We learned to see it before it came.

Smoke signals, patterns of luminescent blood

and dark in coals, the shapes in rotting

organs of animals we had not killed.

Every fleeting bird became an omen.


Sometimes our fear made it happen.

We thought we saw her lips quiver,

our muscles went stiff, the birds took off, like a chill

passing through the spine of the mountain.


And the flames gushing out of the mouth

burning us alive. We should have seen it coming

but every single time, when it was over, all we wanted,

all we could do, was go home.

Laika

by Taylor Graham


                         for the first dog in space


Terriers always love to go for rides.

I imagine her hopping aboard,


dreaming maybe of Mars--

a new world to explore, red dirt

to dig for bones;


watching Earth recede,

a shrinking quilt of fields and rivers,

the city she used to stray.


But this ride was lonely.

Her only master stayed behind.


Wherever she was bound,

she never made it;

a trip not programmed for survival.


Pert terrier-ears perked

for signals from out-there, or home--


how long does it take

for a howl to travel back to Earth?

Sonic years, decades?


On his evening rounds

my dog stopped, cocked his ears,

as if listening for a call


far distanter than coyotes, dark

hollowing empty space.

I Don't Want

to Forget

by Beth Suter


Winter rain sizzling

in the Jacuzzi,

your hands under my hips

floating me.


I was the fern, raised

in a hot-house of emotion.


Your boxy-brown Volvo,

the bucket seats too far apart,

gearshift and handbrake

as awkward chaperones.


You were the succulent,

storing tenderness.


Weekends entwined,

knowing you in the dark:

delicate collarbone,

your hip in my hand.


Resting in your desert silence,

I didn't need an answer.


That first summer

your fuzzy, satyr legs

and the smell of sunshine

on your shins.


I chose the dryness

of you.

Secrets

by James DenBoer


Without a secret you could never be alone.


Whatever is under the scum on the pond

or whatever is under that flagstone,


that rattlesnake, for instance,

that I killed with a hoe so it wouldn't bite

the dogs going crazy in the periwinkle.


Secrets are no danger but you need

to cover them with algae and stones.


You need to keep your eyes flat, keep

your voice from cracking like our goat's hoof.

Haiku

by Frances H. Kakugawa


winter to winter


black strokes against white

ink blocks brushed in old kanji

a Basho winter


through murky waters,

a lotus blossom rises:

a Buddhist moment


red juices drip down

forming rivers down my chin

tomato's ready


someone took crayons

across the rolling green plains

stroking august moons


the giant pine trees move

slowly across morning skies

or is it fog?

Tule Review

At Customs

by Francisco X. Alarcon


the world

is my country


the rainbow

my flag


cacao seeds

my coins


laurel leaves

my bills


kisses

and embraces


caresses and

remembrances


I diligently

write in


as my only

worthy goods


on my customs

declaration


when I cross

the border


to visit, Pablo

your nation

Estero, the Second Time

by Maya Sinha


"The Estero Trail is a sensational trip on a warm early-fall day..."

                          -- San Francisco Chronicle, September 26, 2007


My husband knew the name of every plant.

(He always did incline to the pedantic.)

Now here with you, the one who might supplant

Him feels half-bittersweet and half-romantic.

The lupine and the tar-black cormorant

I can identify because he taught me.

And if I sometimes look at you aslant,

I'm learning how to dance (still) with who brought me.

You're new: I hardly know you. But I can't

Quite seem to shake the startling impression

The stars have all lined up, determinant,

And watch, bemused, our tentative progression.

You take my hand. We hike though head-high sedge

Like it's the hundredth trail we've navigated.

The wine, the kiss, the wind, the water's edge:

It all unfolds just as anticipated.

A rainbow, upside-down: Now that one's new.

And never -- cross my heart -- with any man

Have I felt so strangely certain, as with you:

He didn't love me, but you could. You can.


Horizontal Pronoun

by G.A. Scheinoha


Wherever you find words, there am I,

plopped down among them; all those idle

consonants and vowels, syllables and

sentences in a jumbled pyre. Sometimes

I stack each gaudy noun or verb like an

infant's brightly hued blocks in a tower

towards the stars. It doesn't require

God's hand to slap me back to earth

again. Pride, the poorest mortar urges

me higher, too high, too fast. Hubris

won't heed even a calm breeze, mind far

removed from Pisa. Soon enough I'll

tumble of my own accord.

Pi/Pie

by Jan Haag


Had they explained it to me in math class

using the circular plate, pressed in a crust

and prettily fluted the edges, added a filling


tempting to taste buds -- apple, cherry,

any kind of berry, pumpkin--but not mince,

never mince--then baked it to a gentle bubble,


I might have understood or at least gotten

a glimmer of the miracle of mathematics.

But being told that pi is the ratio of a circle's


circumference to its diameter made no sense

to my teenage brain. It was all I could do

to remember its first five digits--3.1415.


They held no meaning for me--I could not

taste, touch, feel those symbols. But pie, I

could understand--Grandma's cinnamon-y apple


with its lattice-top crust. A small Chinese man

walking through his restaurant with his

banana cream (a recipe, it was said, that he


brought with him from China).

A man I loved fork-feeding me bits

of cherry pie he'd made from scratch.


Pie, it turns out, is love in all its infinite forms.

Numerical or baked, it is a constant. It is both

irrational and transcendental, and, I have


learned, this miracle of numbers and dough

and filling continues, without repetition

or pattern--on and on and on, ad infinitum,


amen.


Seven Thoughts

for my Father

by Paul Lubenkov


After the funeral

We learn to suffer.


Old men with umbrellas

Lean into the wind.


You are layers of air,

The twist of water.


I remember your color,

Stones in the night.


Your face had to say

What your words could not say.


Now, day after day

The dry wind blows,


And the wind that remains

Is the shape of your pain.