Poetry

The Fieldstone Review (2017-2018)

Kiremit Caddesi, Balat, Istanbul: June 2015

By: Zak Jones

 

Ramadan

 

Mauve hands

break bread.

 

Competing minarets

project echoing

stability, despite

bomb blasts

elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elections

 

Neighborhood signs

show

ethnic lines

drawn

in architecture

through

an economists

lens.

 

The army

or

the police

have

fired guns

in

the distance.

 

Where

or

what is

Victory?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Cunning Woman, Cutty Sark *         

By: Kate Rogers                                                                                                        

 

Nannie lap and flang, 

(A souple jade she was, and strang), 
And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch'd, 
And thought his very een enrich'd; 
Even Satan glowr'd, and fidg'd fu' fain, 
...

Tam tint his reason ’thegither, 
And roars out, ‘Weel done, Cutty-sark!’ 
And in an instant all was dark 

—Robbie Burns, from “Tam OShanter

 

I

The poet rested his mare

under the mistletoe vine

caping the crossroad oak.

My wheel outside, I spun

another hour. Kirk steeple pricked

the low sun. Yolk leaked

on our thatch.

 

I spun sun-gilded like a garden

spider, pulled silk threads off my lap,

carded wool. Then (while still

the poet waited) I fished with hairs

plucked from a nag’s tail.

Hooked trout in the Doon.

So, they called me Cunning[i] woman.

Meaning witch.

 

Again the poet. He knew Father

badgered corn between

Alloway and Mauchline.

By the outhouse—silver buttons

wink bold on his waistcoat.

He doffed his cap—blue, green,

black, thread of red.

Praised my shapely calf.

My nightdress slipped.

 

What plump loaves, he grinned.

Will ye dance wi me, Cutty Sark?

 

The poet gently bent me

o’er the wall, its cool moss pelt

sponged my blood. That man’s

poker glowed. He tended

his fire at dawn, at dusk.

It’s a wonder he didn’t burn

the village down. His staff

strongest when he made

me keen. Then

he met barmaid Anna[ii].

 

Their bairn broke her open.

Did the poet mark her end

with a song?

His wife took little Betty.

Fed her on her own lap.

 

I bunched the goose down

‘tween my legs. Nerves awake,

I ached for him. Father found

me crying—hair tangled.

 

Neighbours showed Father

my blood on the wall, whispered

the poet’s name. And Anna’s.

Father, his poor man’s pride

kicked the cage round my heart.

I crawled away to the copse:

Hell-hag, slut. 

 

For three full moons in the garden

I chewed cabbage leaves

among gentle rabbits. I stroked

their soft throats, slit them

with kirk roof slate.

Sipped their blood as they kicked.

My knees, my elbows sharpened

knives at dusk.

II

No sun melted dawn mist.

A broad hand of warmth

on my spine, but no hand

there. Dew on my bare

shins, my numb, blue toes.

 

My cold hem in the breeze.

Who saw me

by the copse? Who sent

that kind touch? Windows

a dark skull stare.

A hawk roosted

in the tall beech over the kirk,

stretched rust-coloured wings,

shook out a feather duster.

Combed the breeze.

I blinked. Old woman perched

on highest branch, talons

knitting a nest from leaves,

from stems.

 

Mungo’s mother hanged herself

in jail. After Mother passed away

from cauld, Mrs. Mungo

showed me how to staunch

my monthlies with petticoat rags.

 

Villagers burned Mrs. Mungo

before evening service. Said,

She healed the baker’s boy with spells.

 

The blacksmith found a red hawk

drowned in his trough. Neck broken.

 

In the long grass at field edge I crushed

lavender blooms, dreamt a scented

waterfall pooling below my curls.

When was the last time I washed my hair?

 

Fog wrapped me in cashmere—

Father found me on the bridge

where I slipped on the cobbles.

Not a witch.

III

The only stone with my name

the walkway in this kirk yard—

chiseled with the poet’s verses.

I did not jig here with sister hags,

chase the poet home![iii]

 

Nannie Dee!

Not my true name neither!

 

Most days the dull

blade of sun can’t shear

the fog-sheep round

the Auld Kirk. I drift

mist-cowled

among tombs.

 

Ramblers on the far

side of Brig o’Doon. Voices

fast water on gravel

likening ladies’ flushed

cheeks to village garden

blowsy roses. Fie!

 

The poet brought me posies

each time he took me.

How dare they flirt?

 

I weave raw grey

wool of rain clouds. Splash

sky black, steal flash

from the blacksmith,

a lightning bolt to bind my broken skull

with golden band.

I am the sea-cliff, hurl ice stones

at wigs and bonnets,

mangle every new lamb

on noble lands.

 

I dare ye walkers pass

these gates! Gale, dash them

now ‘gainst granite!

Read portents in my storm!

 

* The original Cutty Sark was not a sailing ship, but the character of a witch in the Robbie Burns poem, "Tam O' Shanter". (Cutty Sark means short skirt in Gaelic.)

i “Cunning” woman was a word for a healer. In 17th and 18th century Scotland, female healers were often mistrusted because of their powers.

ii Barmaid Anna refers to Ann Parks, a lover of Robbie Burns who got pregnant and disappeared. Burns’ and his wife adopted her baby.

iii Alloway Auld Kirk is the site of the witches dance in Burn’s poem, Tam O’Shanter.

 

 

Milk Soup

By: Shauna Eveleigh Harris

 

I think of you and the

milk soup

you made for me

on the stove-top

in your basement suite;

you threw rocks

up at my City Park window

like I was Juliet.

 

Years later, I discovered that

my apartment was closed up;

it was against Saskatoon fire codes

to live at the top

of a 100-year old house,

with only one window

that wouldn’t open.

 

I think about your

long-toothed smile and shiny gums;

the way you danced at Oktoberfest

in Humboldt, like Goofy.

 

I remember your foreign car -

Was it an Audi? I had never seen one

before but you filled the trunk with speakers,

boomers and bass from a shop

on 33rd Street;

 

I brought you fresh-baked

chocolate chip cookies,

warm, buttery spots staining

the brown paper bag.

 

Sitting in your Audi

outside of Riley’s Night Club,

you begged me not to

disassociate myself

from the truth -

that’s what it was called -

the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses

we both belonged to.

Your dad and only brother

both not allowed at family occasions.

What did they do? I asked

Ask them yourself, you said.

Besides, who would talk to them anyway?

They were disfellowshipped, ex-communicated

apostates.

 

You told me how much you cared

and I remember how you watched

stone-faced

from the driver’s seat

a rearview perspective

of his hands, his long fingers

up my respectable grey skirt

inside me;

 

drunk on Cherry Whiskey

and Southern Comfort,

head lolling in the backseat

on our way to someone’s wedding

in Regina.

 

I missed the whole thing

- the wedding that is -

threw up in the girls’ bathroom

no one to hold my hair back;

stumbled to pass out,

begged you to stay with me.

 

I think of how you disappeared

right before I did.

 

I think of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Eulogy to Honour the Death of Original Thinking, Laid to Rest by the Educational System

By: Lesley Machon

 

 

I stand at the grave and weep

She is not there

She went to sleep

Long before we laid her down

Ten thousand feet below the ground

Piled beneath a multitude

Of papers marked, A+.

 

The last goodbye reserved

For those whose knees were bent

Long gone from the establishment

The ones who knew her best

Were banished long ago.

 

Creativity is a virus,

And the hallways are lined with little dispensers

Of hand sanitizer.

                

My feigned smile in the rear view mirror

A crack across the glass

On graduation day.

 

 

 

Her Resistance

By: Debbie Okun Hill

 

Her parents straddled a politically correct fence.

 

            As a baby girl, skin soft pink

            she slept curled sideways in her infant corral:

            her country home wallpapered in yellow and navy

            and a rocking horse border circled her room.

 

            At age filly-five, she tested her limits.

            Her green and red Play-Doh

            stuck-silly to her fingers; her orange bicycle

            splish-splashed through grey puddles.

 

 

Today, she’s a free-spirited           child.

 

            Nine-years-old turning 16, she bucks

\           her gender-neutral ways: washes dirt from her hands,

            snubs loud sirens, mechanical wrenches, toy trains,

            and cars gifted with white-walled tires.

 

            Instead, she rebel-whines for psychedelic swirls

            on rose-painted walls, satin pouf curtains,

            ribbon-laced skirts, and green apple scents.

            A rebellious fight for independence.

 

 

Her diaper-clad dolls and plush-pillow pals applaud:

 

            her forward escape through open gates,

            her blonde mane wind-blown and flowing,

            her stride confident and strong

            like a thoroughbred champion:

 

the revolutionary wearing a pink blanket of roses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Series of Lies

 

i)

 

He twirls lies

            like curling red ribbon

with sharp-tongued scissors

            black-and-blue-lipped handles

stainless-steel-bladed teeth

            biting///cutting///slicing

his twisted-stories

            hung up on coiled

telephone cords

            disconnected

from everyone’s

            party line

 

ii)

 

His lips, inflated skin

            two pink balloons

            hot air deception

his tongue

            tied and untied

dangles a string

of untrue secrets

the kind that

winds once-twice

            around a neck

like a grey scarf

pulled tight

tight-tighter

against fisted fans

            his cold north wind

            of duplicity

 

iii)

            He corners her

with fragmented fibs

            spoken and unspoken

disguised in foiled

            blue and gold gift wrap

shadow boxes

            her composted innocence

squeezes the air out

            then buries the truth

 

 

 

a strike, a show of hands

By: Sarah Jensen

DAY 0

-

Colleagues,

I am xxx writing to tell you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx what is fair and reasonable. xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx. The Union also has its most recent positions and xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx .

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the Union XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXX tomorrow Xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx will first vote xxxxxxx xx to accept or reject the University offers.  xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx if the offers are rejected, xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx there will be a strike xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx a show of hands.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxixxx  Xx encourage you to xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx reflectx the views of xxxxxxx employees xxxxxxx xx.  The 2015 Final Offer xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx lead to a 29 day strike xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx x xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx x.

YXXX UNIVERSITY

 

DAY 18

------------------

 

     no bargaining poetry yesterday

            (contrary to reports you may have seen)

just lipstick and an annual mammogram

     —a return to routine labour—

disrupting picketing and all other work, picturing instead

           all-queer medicine: high fashion over high risk. no sentinels.

if i had been thinking in lines, i might’ve been comforted,

     The University: “business as usual”

     The Union: “no concessions

 

 

 

DAY 36

------------------------------------

 

YXXX disappointed xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

We are deeply disappointed with xxxxxxx xx members of the Union xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx rejecting our xxxxxx offers xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx.

 

We have been consistent. We provided a xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxXxx five weeks xxxxxxx x strike xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx and proposals that are unreasonable xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx x.

 

YXxx UNIVERSITY

DAY 37

-------------------------------------

 

Strike offers students lessons in brevity

 

@M xxxxx • 4hrs ago

Replying to @TheUnion

Cunts

 

DAY 44

--------------------------------------------

           

all attempts at bargaining art have failed.

best stick to striking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry