Coming Home (Spring/Summer 2018 Issue 13)

spring summer 2018 cover

Late last year I attended a sharing session by Li-Young Lee. I’d already been enraptured by his poetry of course, his meditations on love in particular. But until I read his memoir, I didn’t really know about his family’s harrowing journey as refugees before they sought asylum in the United States and settled into a new home. He had said that we’re all a version of Odysseus trying to get home.

Why is that? Home—is that a place of origin that determines who we are? Home is tied up with the stories that get told. It’s history and geography and a lot of storying of self. What if you’re an emigrant? Well then yours would be an emigrant’s story. America is a melting pot of people of different origins isn’t it? But even if place plays a key role, the journey is a journey with self. It is ultimately a spiritual journey, a journey of becoming.

Remember the epic story of Don Quixote, who imagines himself as a knight in a chivalric setting? It’s really a journey of the imagination. Sure Don Quixote is delusional, living in a kind of personal utopia—a fantasy no doubt. But if the exploits of the anti-hero in Cervantes’s picaresque novel is infused with so much humor, warmth, humanity and imagination, can it be meant as a total indictment of the world of fantasy? Sure we have to come down to earth but if there are only Sanchos, wouldn’t life be dull as ditchwater? Imagination is self. Perchance there’s more than one self. If the self is imagined, then the song is the thing. I think the best poets know this. Well, isn’t the song of the poet just the way poetry operates to lie against time, to hold a staying hand against time and nature?

One of my favorite stories is the film, Cinema Paradiso. It tells a touching story of the relationship between a famous Italian film director and his town’s projectionist, Alfredo, who had taught the young Salvatore how to operate the cinema projector. But Salvatore was advised by Alfredo to leave his village to pursue his dream to become a film-maker. Thirty years later, Salvatore returns to his village to attend Alfredo’s funeral and as he plays the film reel that Alfredo had left for him comprising all the censored kissing scenes of films he once projected, Salvatore experiences a sense of fruition as well as deep loss. His coming home is a coming home to self–the beginning of self meeting the journeying self if you will.

So there it is—the theme of our Spring/Summer 2018 issue is “Coming Home”. If journeying is exploration, adventure, and becoming, then no journey is complete without coming home. Inasmuch as it will be a physical journey, it is really a poetic one. Its reality is spiritual, so I’m calling that poetic because it’s how we get to a sense of the sublime. It is remembrance. It measures the spiritual distance between our original condition, having not journeyed, with the post-journey self. So journey is transformation. How can we not call this reality poetic, because as Lee pointed out,

“Poetic reality is the reality. All other realities are packaged bites. I think poetry is reality. The world is a poem.”

What he meant was that as much information as possible has been packed in as tight a space as possible—that reality is actually saturated. Much like what we experienced at the ending moment of Cinema Paradiso. We’re all a version of Odysseus getting home.

In this issue, we call for poems about the spirituality of self, the self in moments of sublimation, the fictions of self, journeying, the return. We explore what home means. Where do you feel at home? How do you feel at home? Or do you not feel at home? What is home? Does it mean coming to a kind of peace with the life you’ve been given? Does it mean changing your life and if so what are your choices? What does it mean to come home, to be home? Is home a place, a person, a feeling, a journeying back?

Oh that quote from T S Eliot’s “Four Quartets” goes:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

Life’s a cycle, so things from the past come back to haunt. We journey back, this time much wiser, and things assume a clarity that wasn’t there before. And ultimately we return to dust. But before that we’re on a quest aren’t we? What is your quest? Are there common grounds with others or is yours unique as hell?

Whatever it is, we hope it will be a worthy one and that you’ll share those poetic moments filed under “notes toward becoming who one is supposed to be”. In other words, think about your narrator’s destiny. What is the path or journey of your narrator? What shape or meaning does his or her life take on? Does coming home mean coming home to the self after the soul’s journey, a kind of soul recognition? I mean, really think about who he or she is, and also who we are. Life’s journey perhaps is best seen as one of being cured of one’s delusions. But what a ride. Tell us stories. Tilt at windmills if you must, because you can’t help it.

These stories, I think, tell of the soul’s longing, its quest, do they not? Whose soul? We’re not really sure. If it is ours why do others find resonance in them? I once saw a performance where a woman started off with a feather and started to place all kinds of twigs and branches over her body in counterbalance, one thing balancing the other, till she’s totally laden with twigs and stuff. She held an amazing, seemingly makeshift contraption. In the final act, she removes that feather and everything falls. Is the soul a feather, holding everything together?

Submissions are open for the Spring/Summer 2018 issue. Closing date: 28 August 2018. Please read our submission guidelines before submitting.

Selected poems will be posted on this site from March 2018 to August 2018.

Our journal has a prompt site, Red Wolf Prompts. You are encouraged to write to the prompts over at the site, if you so wish.

Irene Toh and Tawnya Smith, Editors
Red Wolf Journal
https://redwolfjournal.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Castaway, by Robert James Berry

Castaway
by Robert James Berry

I should like to founder
on a coral atoll
bathe my big toe
in glistening turquoise sea
paddle with dugongs
maybe dolphins
eat salty anemones
admire the rush of tropical sunsets
never get rescued.

Robert James Berry lives and writes in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the author of nine collections of poetry: Smoke (2000), Stone (2004), Seamark (2005), Sky Writing (2006), Sun Music (2007), Mudfishes (2008), Moontide (2010), Swamp Palace (2012) and Toffee Apples (2014). His latest collection, Gorgeous, is out from Sylph Editions, London http://www.sylpheditions.com (https://www.amazon.com/Gorgeous-Robert-James-Berry/dp/1909631213). His poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as Stand (Leeds, UK), Poetry Salzburg (Salzburg, Austria), Westerly (Perth, AUS), Rattapallax (NY, USA) and Landfall (Dunedin, NZ).

Robert was born in the UK and educated in England, Ireland and Scotland. He holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Stirling, Scotland and MA and BA degrees from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He has lectured in English Literature at universities in England, Malaysia and New Zealand. He is married with three sons.

Deep, by Robert James Berry

Deep
by Robert James Berry

Deep ocean creatures
enthrall me.
If you haul them
to the surface,
they implode,
into distorted monsters,
far-fetched freaks
to disquiet your dreams.

Robert James Berry lives and writes in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the author of nine collections of poetry: Smoke (2000), Stone (2004), Seamark (2005), Sky Writing (2006), Sun Music (2007), Mudfishes (2008), Moontide (2010), Swamp Palace (2012) and Toffee Apples (2014). His latest collection, Gorgeous, is out from Sylph Editions, London http://www.sylpheditions.com (https://www.amazon.com/Gorgeous-Robert-James-Berry/dp/1909631213). His poetry has appeared in literary magazines such as Stand (Leeds, UK), Poetry Salzburg (Salzburg, Austria), Westerly (Perth, AUS), Rattapallax (NY, USA) and Landfall (Dunedin, NZ).

Robert was born in the UK and educated in England, Ireland and Scotland. He holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Stirling, Scotland and MA and BA degrees from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. He has lectured in English Literature at universities in England, Malaysia and New Zealand. He is married with three sons.

Conflicted Excitement, by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

 

00_2018_Chapbook_cover_LoSchiavo

Download the collection here:

Conflicted Excitement by LindaAnn Loschiavo

LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s debut collection is an Italian memoir about coming to America. It traces the first footsteps to a country that would become home. The sense of belonging proved to be elusive for her immigrant grandparents.

“Fit in!” advised her husband. Neither did,
Unnoticed by America’s embrace.
–Merletto [Lace]

Setting up roots would be reflected in the efforts of her grandfather, affectionately called “il nonno mio”, growing fig trees in Brooklyn. In fact the poems about her grandparents endearingly anchor this collection.

Her poems—peopled by her grandparents, parents, her sister, her relatives, her friends–engage us in an effusive warp of story-telling. Sometimes one gets the feeling of being wrapped in a cocoon of Italian babble but thankfully there’re translations to get us through them. For of course one brings one’s own language along with oneself, and LindaAnn’s poems reflect that. We also learn where she got her gift of narrative from…her father! (See “The Wizard of Words”).

Along with her native language, religion is weaved through her personal rite of passage, enabling her to cope with death and the question of eternity.

Where Jesus, spotless, guiltless, is then beaten
For others’ sins returns me to my oyster
Shell, hard home where I dwell with grains of sand,
Intruders I coat with a glaze to make their
Existence not so scratchy, making it
All easier to slip around till I’m good
And ready for that opening up.
–A Little Choir Girl at Passiontide

For us then, the poems are secret musings of oneself, but it is when she makes leaps towards the sublime that “Like death’s jewels, feathers fell from pelicans.” (“Aboard S.S. Guiseppe Verdi”).

I am here, by Diane Jackman

I am here
by Diane Jackman

Here among the trees, the city smoke fades
to a distant memory, purple wreaths
beyond the hills and out of sight.

Slipping into unaccustomed ways,
embracing the new landscape, people,
fitting in snug as a bespoke jacket.

Home is not always where we first saw light.
We can find it elsewhere, in a place
of sudden welcome, of deep belonging.

Diane Jackman’s poetry has been published widely in magazines and anthologies. Starting as a children’s writer, she now concentrates on poetry and researching lives in the Breckland, England’s desert. Last year she started a poetry café in Brandon, Suffolk.

Sonnet to My Former Dance Partner, by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Sonnet to My Former Dance Partner
by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

How perfect was your choreography:
Those steps that led away from me, the waltz
Of loss. You shed your youth, which didn’t halt
Your appetite for living. Legs slowly
Refused your body’s gracefulness. Your knees
Rebelled. Bright hoping failed to see assaults,
Damage within. A dance card filled up, no fault
Of nurses. Healers bowed apologies.

Assigning places to emotions, you
Would spin around the numbers: the hours
Remaining for your performance.
A dress rehearsal, a final curtain drew
Closer. Time had me fooled. Love lost power,
Escaped routines. Youth never learns this dance.

Process Notes: When the most graceful individual in your life dies, you give your sorrow to the paper and pray the Petrarchan sonnet becomes a hyphen between the silences.
.
Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo has work forthcoming in Literary Manhattan, Flatbush Review, Indian River Review, and Adversus Press. Her chapbook, Conflicted Excitement, is a forthcoming release by Red Wolf Editions. Blog: https://MaeWest.blogspot.com

Death of a Poet, by Debi Swim

Death of a Poet
by Debi Swim

I have become an empty cistern
A dry river bed, bleached bones
Have forgotten the smell of rain

I am words stuck in the throat
A horse without a whisperer
A pot untended, boiled away

I am parched, athirst, panting
Where is the well that I may sip
Where is my Erato?

Am I singing my swan song?

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

And Only Infrequently, by Holly Day

And Only Infrequently
by Holly Day

We exchange pictures through the mail because words
aren’t good enough. The passage of time is explained
through the faces of strangers, in the pictures of children
only known in person as tiny, warm babies
coiled and asleep, newly born. The envelopes

also contain pictures of people I know
but older, grayer, tired. My sister’s gap-toothed smile
has been replaced by the tight grin
of a woman with perfect teeth
standing next to her own family—her goofy college sweetheart
is now a man holding hands with a toddler.
I put pictures of me, my children, their father
in a similar envelope
seal it without looking

without wanting to look
still in denial that time
has passed at this end as well.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Floating Away, by Holly Day

       Floating Away
by Holly Day

I put the tiny boat
in the water and watch it
float away. Somewhere,
someday,

someone
will pull it out of the water,
either intact
or as a sodden, soggy newspaper mess, find

a tiny plastic bag
full of ashes
a sprig of dead lavender
your photograph, our wedding rings

and wonder

what it all means.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Heading Home, by Alan Walowitz

Heading Home
by Alan Walowitz

Call off your dogs.
A seller I’ll be and happy–
or whatever you want–
if you give me a moment to think.

The highways of America stare
open and ready. And potholed,
you might say. But life is entrapment
avoiding being trapped in them.

Let me rodeo a moment.
I’ll convince Uncle Harry or anyone
that a cow’s life is just as my own,
waiting to be hoist and weighed.

I won’t wait on your reply.
for I don’t fear as you grow closer
and I grow old
we might emit some same syllables.

I’ll be ugly only
when our mouths move the same.
Uglier,
I’ll be home soon.

Process note: This is an old poem, from around 1972. I think I wrote it when I was convinced I wanted to be a Jewish cowboy; or perhaps I was just going through some extra, late-adolescent rebellion–which has continued right through today.

Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web–and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an online journal, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. For more see alanwalowitz.com.

It is the Nature of the Beast, by Debi Swim

It is the Nature of the Beast
by Debi Swim

See the wisteria’s jumbled limbs? Their tightly clasped leaves just beginning to unfurl makes a green lacy pattern against a clear sky. Soon it will be a jungle, a maze of hidey holes and perches for the birds. The feeder hangs from a low branch. All day juncos, grackles, jays, cardinals and their cousins dash and jostle, scrabble and fuss for a place on the ledge. A woodpecker swoops in, hangs by its claws, half its body underneath dangling like an acrobat. The nuthatches fling seed hither and yon – picky eaters – while below on the ground heavy, clumsy doves clean up their mess. Turkeys come early morning and late evening scratching the spot beneath the feeder for leftovers furrowing a patch that will become a muddy mess with the next rain.
Marvel at the chipmunk as he climbs the thick, twining base and gracefully, agilely jumps to the feeder, the squirrel, too. Deer come, mostly fall and winter and butt the feeder with their heads, then munch on the splatter at their leisure.

                In every season the feeder an oasis, a cheery café.

And yet, this happy scene is marred by an ominous shadow. A circling hawk is attracted by the activity below. His keen eyes on the prize, he waits for his chance, sees a careless chipmunk scampering across the lawn and with a noiseless plunge scoops his prey in deathly grip of talons and carries the limp bundle away. Imagine the calamity of it on a peaceful, ordinary day. The swiftness of the attack, the scurrying of the creatures and then the waiting, with trembling and skipping hearts till one brave bird dares the feeder again and all becomes normal again.
It is the way of nature and of the world. But, at least nature is not malicious. It does not attack out of hate and erroneous ideology. It is only survival. Let man take notice.

                Greed, terrorism, hate, ways of the human order, nature’s greatest foe.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.