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
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
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.