Dwelling: Menting & Carpenter

Stephanie Wade
Introduction


It is so easy to get lost in our hurry to get there- time dissolves as we browse the internet; as we speed from place to place, ingesting soundbites and tweets, directed to the fastest route possible by Google’s algorithms, by the voices from our phones.  But, what, ultimately, do we lose in our quest for efficiency?

Poems slow us down and open us up by creating space in which we can navigate and renegotiate the terrain of our lives, explore the intersections between self and other, and imagine new worlds. Dwelling in poetry changes our bearings. Maps do the same thing. They create layers of time and place; they allow us to imagine multiple paths, alternative destinations, new worlds. Illustrating geography, history, politics, and culture, maps, like poems, serve as portals, like the map songs Harriet Tubman and others used to connect stars in the sky and moss on trees and people on the path to freedom.

Michelle Menting’s poetry and Margot Carpenter’s maps invite consideration of the consequences of haste, and they illustrate alternatives. Their work reminds us that many paths lie ahead, twisting and turning and intersecting and diverging, appearing and disappearing, again and again. Slowing down, dwelling in their work, we may feel the connections between humans and other mammals, consider the shared spaces we inhabit, and learn where to find what nourishes us.


Harriet, ©Margot Carpenter

 

AFTER READING “A BLESSING” BY JAMES WRIGHT

I pay more attention to life
along the highway. Literal life. Literal
highway. So often I’m consumed
by the death, the road-kill-carrion
smeared muscle of rodents, raccoons,
even bears. Oh my.
Before A Blessing, I noticed not
the Guernsey cows, so golden, so sweet,
and the deer that make it, that do
their best Baryshnikov over the ditch.
I noticed instead the porcupine’s needles
follicle-ing from asphalt pores, the fox’s tail
bobbing and stuck in a seam of tar,
and the feral cats who didn’t do their best
Martha Graham to avoid a Honda’s tire.
After A Blessing and learning about breaking
into flower, and the joy experienced
from observing two ponies nuzzling,
I pay attention. I see turtles living on the edge,
scooping the gravel to lay their eggs.
And my left arm greens to a stem.
I see frogs being improper in the road, right
in the middle of the road during a rain storm,
and I brush pollen from my shirt.
Those cows, those gentle Guernseys?
I see them, and the fingers on my right hand
become petals. I can’t step out of

my body completely and break
into flower, but parts do blossom.
After reading A Blessing I’m still no fool.
I can’t ignore the sadness of the road,
the literal road, the metaphorical one too.
One morning while running in Madison,
Wisconsin, I saw further up the street
the shape of a squirrel hovering over
some thing, some still but soft thing.
I caught up and the squirrel, that visible
squirrel, didn’t flee. It didn’t leave
its partner, the soft lump in the center
of the road, clearly hit, clearly dead.
This squirrel, this living rodent, this pest
to attics and garages, prodded its dead love.
Nudged her. Wouldn’t leave when I ran by,
and only fled to the grove of oaks
when another truck approached.
I kept running. I looked back,
and that squirrel had returned
to its partner’s side. That’s when I thought
I’d break. That my whole body and heart
would break, but not into blossom.
Instead, I would crumble like a leaf
in November. I would crisp into pieces—
some parts dirt, while others
would sparrow into the wind.

Hills to Sea Trail, ©Margot Carpenter

CYCLIC

The odor was septic and made us speechless,
though we’d already lost our voices
when the sun napped dusk, when night’s sheet
hushed the traffic, the birds, our thoughts.
It was a peahen hit to the ditch
and decaying. Her left wing shielded
her breast–a draped cape, her final
comfort. The smell of turkey is not
always the same. If we cooked her carcass,
would the scent remind us of arugula,
of berries brined? Of autumn and wood fires,
or late summer’s chilled wine? This find,
this bird, we encountered on an evening
that made us question beauty, was she messaging
her last will and flight? Her lofted feathers,
those still sticking to live twigs weighted
with winter berries, lead us further still
into the meadow policed by the farmer’s
one black horse and one banded cow.
Land we did not own but that owned
our souls in its soil like all life its surface
sends meandering. Not listless in loss
but lustful for fresh discovery in beauty
found in failed crossings, we crossed
as wayfarers. We foraged through paths
in pastures of sorghum futures or would-be whey.
Our earlobes and nostrils, every follicle
of skin, set as seismographs collecting
fall rot and cyclic decay–any fresh
disturbance–in measurements of awe.

Hills to Sea Trail,  ©Margot Carpenter

HOW, NOW FROM OUR FRONT DOORWAY YOU CAN SEE A FAIRWAY

Maybe the moon rises like this everywhere?
Wide, reflecting the pond in the middle
of a golf course? We laughed: how
coarse, a course of golf. How now
we went from a home in the woods
to puddle and turf. Now,
we look from a gate with wire
that wraps the remaining pines: how, now
they fence the land. Still, that moon,
once buck now harvest, is slow
but full over the tree line. Low
and looming. Too orange to be safe.  

Washington County Farmer’s Market, Margot Carpenter for Maine Federation of Farmer’s Markets

REVISION

This time in my house, I’ll bring in the furniture, inside
this time, from the garage.

Years ago, our house–the one we lived in together, thought
how cool to be new in our twenties with a deed and a driveway,

that house, a brick bungalow with charm–stayed empty
for a year with bags as dressers, futon for our bed.

That house–hollow without tables or chairs, sofa or stools–
we didn’t know how to fill, except with our voices: inside

the air between rafters and thresholds, all that space, we’d loft
phrases, pastoral and poetic. You’d say lines

like, you shed our morning blankets like a dragonfly
molting, and I’d say, you’re wading along the lakeshore,

wielding a net. And back and forth, the words we tossed
echoed and faded, bounced in that space we shared

against emptiness. Maybe if we had created an alcove,
spackled a wall, constructed a partition, or just brought in

our furniture, we could have secured our words, trapped them
inside, filled our house like an aquarium of language.

Instead, after coffee that final August morning–our last
together in that house or anywhere, with windows

open, breeze traveling through–we sat in silence.
The only words were stuck on the refrigerator door.

In block letters we formed phrases, final and magnetic.
You linked: SHADOWS WE FELL THROUGH

TRUTHS WE LOST. And I linked: I KNOW
AND MISS A HOUSE A HOME.

And all around us, inside and quiet, the wind blew
our phantom voices from rafters to thresholds.

Contra Dancing, Margot Carpenter for Alex Mann

ASTERISM ASTERISK

Remember       when you could draw       Ursa Major

     from memory?       How you knew to dip       from line

to endpoint      to line to endpoint?      Ursa Minor      was the same

     across       the        sky,       and Orion was a three-prong belt.      Maybe

this was in third grade      when string cheese was in lunch boxes

     and string theory       on TV.       When space shuttles taught you

the word tragedy      and you hoped      your teachers would never

     fly          away.       Something about outlining the stars—     

forming constellations by connecting       the dots, something

     about endpoints—      seemed necessary,      like a new language

you could use      in a future       where everyone soared       in cars.

     Something about mapping     those lines, and memorizing

the Latin,      and that joy          you got from asking,          “how is that a bear

     or an archer with a bow,      and what is a big dipper       anyway?”

Some things      are so easy       to forget once you learn      tragedy       by heart. 

Eastholm, Margot Carpenter for private collection

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Stephanie Wade teaches writing and environmental humanities at Unity College.  Her interest in maps and poems is part of a project to define narrative ecology, which posits narratives as living systems that include the stories conveyed by physical environments and material items; that shape our experiences and also respond to our actions; and that persist in layered, multiple, dynamic forms.

Michelle Menting is the author Myth of Solitude (Imaginary Friend Press, 2013) and Residence Time (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, The Offing, The Southeast Review, The Hopper, and the Deep Water and American Life in Poetry columns, among other places. She lives in mid-coast Maine.

Margot Carpenter creates digital and print maps for a diverse market. She has made maps for the Maine Department of Transportation; recreation, tourism and environmental groups; and for books published by Downeast Books, Dutton, Simon & Schuster, and Falcon Press. Her business Hartdale Maps is in Belfast, Maine.

Stanizzi & Marble: Listening

flying_birds_2

John L. Stanizzi Anne Marble       


Skein

a length of yarn or thread wound on a reel or swift
nest of yarn on Zia Rose’s lap
beaks of knitting needles
pecking mittens into being

*
ice and wool
in murky chunks
inedible on mittens

*
mittens on the radiator
sun a hank of fire
on the horizon

*
the swifts are gone
but the blackbirds
murmur by the thousands

a succession or series of similar or interrelated things such as an incoherent skein of words
wounds healed
by the long stand of years
the theology of the sun

*
golden gratefulness
eruptions of wind
flowers bowing in the storm

*
listening to flesh
you draw closer
glisten with urgency


*
you leave
past the moon
swift with borrowed light
a flock of geese, ducks, or the like, in flight
low over Mansfield
coming together from three directions
three skeins of geese

*
the Chinese poets
might say they conduct a message
of love from afar

*
their boundless sound
the white flecks of their bellies
thrusting air up and down

*
your swift breathing
is the air
that reels me in


A Sign; acrylic on canvas; 30 in. x 40 in. © Anne Marble

Lungs; paper, ink, acrylic paint, glue on board; 24 in. x 30 in. © Anne Marble


LISTEN

for Cathy O’Reilly

On a clear, warm summer day
Cathy handed me a prize
she’d received from the surf.
It was a vertebra,
from a fish I imagine,
about the size of the top of my thumb,
and so smooth,
so rounded by the sea,
it felt soft.
I was holding it this morning,
rubbing the tips of my fingers
all over its unlikely velvetiness,
when I noticed that if I held it
so that I could look through
the hole in its middle
it looked like a resplendent ear,
this one small piece
of something from the sea,
something larger,
more complex,
and now on dry land,
a separate entity,
a curio given by the ocean to Cathy
and by Cathy to me,
so that now when I’m alone in this room
I no longer worry
that when I speak into the nothingness of frustration
my words will go unheard

The Messenger; acrylic on canvas 30 in. x 40 in. © Anne Marble



 

Magic Inside; acrylic on canvas 30 in. x 40 in. © Anne Marble

Magic Inside; acrylic on canvas 30 in. x 40 in. © Anne Marble

SKEIN II

I was on my way into the gym and
heard the geese blaring before I saw them,
a skein from the west, the V visible
but ragtag. I was looking up now, and
from the east a second skein was coming,
their raucous clamor growing as they rammed
the first V, though “rammed” may not be the best
way to describe what I saw; it was more
like the calibration of clockworks, each
bird part of a pinion meshing with the
larger wheel, a gear-train powering south.

As one bird pulled in behind the other,
their heart rates slowed but their speed increased as
they slipstreamed across the January
sky; and then a third skein came barreling
in from the north, the third wheel in this huge
going-train, urging and gliding, every
goose baying a one note song millions of
years old; and below their riotous noise

the V appeared with the kind of wonder
that becomes visible only after
it has happened. And I was left standing,
my senses staggered, my spirit increased,
as in the distance their yawping became
quiet, their instinct, their impulse for south
moving them along, me waiting for spring,
the geese gone, their perfect escapement done.


Chains; monotype print; 22 in. x 30 in. © Anne Marble

Chains; monotype print; 22 in. x 30 in. © Anne Marble

John L. Stanizziauthor of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, and Hallelujah Time!  His poems have appeared in American Life In Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Tar River Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and others.  He teaches literature at Manchester Community College. 

Anne Marble is a painter and monotype printmaker who lives in the Philadelphia area.  Her background in biology and environmental planning often serves as a reference for her work in both media. She is also the founder of a non-profit organization supporting several rural schools in Cambodia.  On her visits to Cambodia, she teaches printmaking to middle school students.  She maintains an active studio in Norristown,
Pennsylvania.  

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Birds modified from copyright http://fictionchick.deviantart.com/

Climbing: Schaidle & May

Allen Kenneth Schaidle

Climbing Rocks

For many climbers,
climbing becomes spiritual,
religious,
transformative,
community,
identity,
art.

Not for me.
It’s just climbing rocks,
Big and small.
Finding beauty in the simplicity.

Life is complicated,
work is difficult,
and school is dense.
Sometimes even climbs can be, well, complicated too.

There’s anticipating travel logistics,
destinations,
routes,
brushing,
and beta.

I want climbing to be transparent.
No grander meaning,
I’m already overwhelmed with life’s meanings.

I don’t want a relationship with because then I’ll take, take, take and never give enough.
I’m struggling with this.
Just leave it as it is.
You know,
“leave no trace.”

And climbing certainty isn’t art
because then it can be judged
and that causes rivalry.

I want climbing just as climbing rocks.
Nothing more.
Just climbing rocks.

 

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

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Allen Kenneth Schaidle is a diehard Midwestern, educator, and activist. He holds degrees from the University of Kansas, Columbia University, and the University of Oxford. A native of Metamora, Illinois, Allen considers the creeks and forests of central Illinois his boyhood home as he continues forward in his life. 

Jesse May grew up on a small farm in the mountains of Virginia where his explorations of the farm and the surrounding woods were a constant. A large part of his exploration as a kid were supported by his Mom, who still supports his adventures to this very day. Recently, Jesse has been exploring  South America, Northern California, Utah, and South Dakota with his camera, all while camping and still enjoying the outdoors as much as he did when he was growing up.  It’s been a fun couple of years adventuring for Jesse, and he looks forward to at least a few more good years of seeing cool things. Jesse is a 2015 graduate of Unity College. You can follow him on Instagram.

Layers: Engelhardt and Frederick

James Engelhardt

You’ll never understand how
the knowledge comes to you—
the children naming animal tracks
at the river’s edge, the cribbage board
on the cooler—that you’ve come to love
someone who isn’t in the opposite chair
sipping their beer, their sunglasses
reflecting a mate who has been pulled
toward a different light, another coast.

Summer flows and dies around you.
A west wind summons a dust devil,
brings the smell of a distant wildfire.
The mews gulls and owls have fledged,
and autumn will bring darkness soon.

You play your cards, peg your points,
and yet the hands you use feel lighter,
filled with some strange gas, not bone,
and in your chest a foreign sun
burns fiercely with joy and despair.
The coming nova will swallow the orbits
of all the planets around you now,
the cards, the board, the river, the tracks.
Unthinkable. How do you participate
in what you never wanted to be real?

the one road heading north
deadends in Deadhorse

night spills into the next day,
there should be an end

Santa Claus stops at Deadhorse, too,
leaves eleven months later, full of schnapps

you tell me your mother walked out
headed north

you say you were too young
to pay attention, to notice your father

had taken to drinking
out of an old Christmas glass

three wise men, a baby,
and a star

you add these
to the list of places you can’t go back to

MdwntrJrny

 

 
   Linden Frederick

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James Engelhardt’s poems have appeared in the North American Review, Hawk and Handsaw, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine, Terrain.org, Painted Bride Quarterly, Cirque, Ice Floe, and many others. His ecopoetry manifesto can be found at octopusmagazine.com. He is an acquisitions editor at the University of Illinois Press.

 Linden Frederick  is a full-time painter residing in the Belfast area of Maine since 1989. His subject matter is the American landscape at dusk or night, but with a cultural emphasis. For example, his 2004 one-person show MEMOIR was inspired by the small town where he grew up in upstate New York, and NIGHT NEIGHBORS (2010) by Belfast. A larger geography and therefore, different American sub-cultures, were explored in the shows AMERICAN NIGHTS (2002) and AMERICAN STUDIES (2008). Other recent one-person shows were NIGHT LIFE (2014) and PAINTING NOIR (2006). He has been invited to guest lecture and/or teach master classes at educational institutions. He is represented by Forum Gallery, NYC.

 

 

Building on poetry slam tradition @ Unity College

Robin MerrillPoetry Slam @ Unity College
On April 27th, Unity built on their budding poetry slam tradition with a rowdy show of student poetry. Six talented students participated, with Brian Fisher taking first place and the $25 cash prize that was generously donated by a member of the community. Judges came from near and far to hear these poems and score them subjectively, but the poets know that the points are not the point!


The evening opened with a feature reading from slam poet Robin Merrill, who will represent Maine at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California in August. Visit her at robinmerrill.com.

 

What’s Fucked Up About Abundance

Lilace Mellin Guignard

What’s Fucked Up About Abundance

 
 

How in the midst of all those tomatoes
glowing red and orange in my backyard,
ripe and rotting in the raised 3×3 squares
I bowed my back filling, tilling, and weeding,

how in the bosom of late August
when their armies swarm my counters
and they roll off my sill—splat—into the sink,

how with the flavor of the hordes numbing
my tongue’s memory of winter when,
like mail order brides, I embrace cans
of diced and stewed from who-knows-where,

I lose each fruit’s singular beauty in the glare
of all there is to do—slicing, roasting,
freezing, boiling, canning—always pulling at me

like a million small children, or, let’s say, two
holding onto my legs, two perfect children
I’ve waited my whole life for clutching my legs

and the amazing—really—beefsteak of a man
I waited 30 years for (and would again)
reading Climbing magazine at the table
where he’s cleared a space for his beer

while I shuffle to the sink to lay
the knife down so I can pick the baby up,

how so much goodness doesn’t make me
thankful so much as frantic knowing
the rest of my life I must work to deserve it.

 

Lilace Mellin Guignard was a 2003-2004 recipient of a Nevada Artist Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Ecotone, Calyx, Rivendell, and ISLE, as well anthologies; her nonfiction has been published in Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, and Orion Afield. Guignard’s research and academic articles focus on gender and outdoor spaces. She currently writes from her home in rural Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband, six-year-old son, and three-year-old daughter.

Naming the Trees

Stacked Chairs

 

 

 

 

Hannah Fries

Naming the Trees

 

We are naming the trees as we walk, or trying to
name them—it is early spring,
no help from leaves,
though their shapes are etched on our minds,
their branching veins, the space between,
like my hand against your chest.
Only the texture of bark: smooth or rough, riveted, peeling,
or drawn with arching brows
(skepticism, perhaps, at our naming),
and their crowns: spreading or drooping, branches growing in whorls or
alternately, needles in groups of three
or five, or soft fronds of hemlock.

Oak (white), maple (red), birch (silvery yellow) and the smell
of wintergreen scratched open,
thumbnail to damp wood. We name them
because they tower over us, wave their myriad arms,
largest living things we see and don’t
see, here on the hills where they were logged, burned,
where, we remember, they marched back anyway, across the ashen slopes, saplings
cracking the rain-pocked earth, they split
themselves in all directions, stretched against sky, breathing
our breath. We are naming the trees

that have grown the perimeters of the burnt-out factory where sky
shouts through the windows
on the wall left standing,
the rest all ghosted and black, letters rubbed out from caving sides—
a wood treatment plant, hidden behind the barbed wire’s
curtain of climbing vines,
its bittersweet, honeysuckle, nostalgic and invasive: what strangles
the forest undoes this too, us, fenced in
and overcome with sweet blossoms and berries
and doomed as the gasping tree in bittersweet’s coil.
We are naming,
we are naming the trees before they walk away

because we are unlearning our forgetfulness,
because this time we are trying the opposite and taking our time,
and right now time loves us
because we just made love, late
this morning, slowly
waking each other up, without speaking,
yellow ribbons of light streaming in on our bodies, through branches
through slats of the shades, and then
we got up and went outside to name the trees: horse chestnuts
in front lawns, magnolia, crab apple still budless,
thinking pink.

On the back of your hand, blue veins branch
like trees, like roots seeking water,
like the river that roils under the bridge
we are walking over, somewhere farther along,
where we could fish it, eat, not think
toxic silt, PCBs carried downstream.
Think: tree swallows in silver maples,
water-loving. We press
our hands against bark to print its pattern on our palms,
across our lifelines, grooved
skin and finger pads whorled to the center. I say

your name, and you turn
like a stalk toward the light. I love you.
There is no good reason
why any of this should be, which is why
we hold it in our mouths, turning it over. Today
we are naming the trees, calling them back to us.
Shagbark hickory, tamarack,
weeping willow and white pine.
Sugar maple, we say, and it is on our tongues:
Tap it now, in March,
the ground a mash of snow and mud, sap rising
from the roots, clear drop on the finger:
small sweetness we taste because we know it’s there.

 

 

 

 

Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion and a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Calyx, terrain.org, and other journals. She recently took part in an interdisciplinary artists’ residency focused on mine reclamation with the Colorado Art Ranch.

 

Noah’s Wife: A Diary

Cole Caswell, Image 1

 


Noah’s Wife: A Diary

 

So I’ve started to gather seeds,
stitch them
into the hem of my robe.

I choose a dozen flowers
to hide in the cuff of my sleeve.

* *

Rain: small craters in the dust
like holes to plant the wheat in.
Refreshing at first. At first,
things will want to grow.

* *

My ankles are black
with mud. The sheep sink in
to their knees,

Cruel, to choose.

* *

The beasts, obedient, file in.
Who will save the olive and the barley?
I hide a cherry stone beneath my tongue.

* *

When the bears shambled in with burs
in their coats, I secretly rejoiced.

Last night I groomed them,
plucked their coarse fur clean.

* *

The giraffes are seasick—knobby
legs wobble beneath their bellies.

So am I. I pick through
feces, finding the pits and seeds
of what last fruit they ate.

* *

The raven sits on my shoulder.
I feel his beak in my hair, and
his feathers are oil.
he follows me, my shadow
the shadow of wings.
I should have been left out there
in the sheeting rain.

* *

The clouds have dried
and withered like my hands.

Mountain peaks are islands, thrashed and bare.

the water is so still: a bowl
filled with sky.

* *

Two snakes have bred.
Their young slither about the floor.
I think of the poppy seeds sewn
into my right sleeve, a constellation
shifting around my wrist.

* *

The dove is a fool: it returns
to this mess of wood and flesh.

The raven went out first—
seeds tucked in his smoke-black beak.

He won’t return.
He’ll fly until he’s through.

 

 

Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion and a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Calyx, terrain.org, and other journals. She recently took part in an interdisciplinary artists’ residency focused on mine reclamation with the Colorado Art Ranch.

 

 

Iced

Caswell, Fallen

 

Richard Downing

Iced

The last polar bear visited our town last
night. It was burping up parts of Billy
when Big John blew the top

part of its head off with one shot
from a Browning over and under.
Bear landed

on top of what was left of Billy.
Nice kid. Too bad. Bear went right
for the face. That’s what they do.

Most of us asked what the bear was doing
in town. It’s not like them to just drop in.
We figured we hadn’t seen one in a while because

we keep the garbage inside. Otherwise the moose
have their way with it. Ed slaughtered
the dead bear. “No sense letting it go

to waste,” he said, and as an afterthought, “Billy
would have wanted it that way.” From what I saw
of what was left of Billy, he wouldn’t

have wanted any part of any of it. Crazy thing
about it is he was the one that liked the damned
bears. He was always talking about their ice

melting, how it was their ice,
how they needed it to reach the seals.
He’d talk

about how we’re all in it together—
Interconnected, he’d say.
Well he sure was with that bear.

 

 

Richard Downing has won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Poetry Contest, the Writecorner Press 2010 Editor’s Award, New Delta Review’s Matt Clark Prize, and New Woman Magazine’s Grand Prize for Fiction. His poetry can be found in his chapbook Four Steps Off the Path, in the anthologies Hunger Enough: Spiritual Living in a Consumer Society; Dire Elegies; and Against Agamemnon: War Poems, in many literary journals, and at OccupyPoetry.org. He is a co-founder of Save Our Naturecoast and holds a PhD in English.