Big Dane

 

Story goes he drove New Hampshire
in a hand-torqued Saab, the old kind,
sewing machine-size engine, and when it fried,
lugged an extra from his back seat,
bolted it in in the big freeze,
snow half up his ankles.

In Massachusetts I found a green Saab shell
missing its own midget engine.
So he wheezed a donor car in place,
twang of it rattled
like a preacher stirring congregants from sleep-walk,
dust and mold kicked up lungs
in the back-pews aching for a smoke,
but the motor sang like a cherub with a hymnal.

Under half an hour he swapped out the two beater engines,
left me sockets to tighten so I could crawl across the continent,
promising one day a fifty or a hundred in the mail.
You’ll be surprised, but I’ll send it.
That cracked him up.

After all, he smuggled that crapper across two state lines
without headlight, license plate or much of a way
to stop but a rusted handbrake, lashed to the ass end
of his own impeccable road warrior,
he dragged the good engine, me, and that dead car
by the dark of the moon,
to my green SAAB shell somebody
abandoned like a bad check.

When I waved so-long, he yelled it was a hoot.
I’ll send you some money! —
maybe a hundred, fifty for sure,
but I never got to it and he, he’s gone now,
under his own power,
never asked for anything
not from me, helpless as a kitten,
nor old friends who wished he’d sewn
together the distance, and, in stitches,
chugged over the mountains.

—Michael Daley

michaelfdaley@gmail.com


Michael Daley’s poems have appeared in APR, New England Review, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Rhino, North American Review, Gargoyle, Writer’s Almanac, and elsewhere. Awarded by the Seattle Arts Commission, National Endowment of Humanities, Artist Trust, and Fulbright, his fourth collection of poetry, Of A Feather, was recently published by Empty Bowl Press. (Raven Chronicles’s Summer 2016 magazine, Vol 22. Celebration, has a review of Daley’s book by Jim Bodeen, out July 1, 2016. Bodeen’s review was also published in the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Issue Twenty, 2016.) Michael lives in Anacortes, Washington.

Book Review: What I Learned at the War

Mish Cover2What I Learned at the War,
by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
West End Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico
West End Press
ISBN 978-0-9910742-9-7
2016, paperback, 80 pp, $15.95

Reviewed by Thomas Hubbard

As a child who spent countless days in company of a river — swimming, catching crawdads, fishing, trapping muskrats, hunting rabbits — I learned how to cut small, tinder-dry grapevine twigs and smoke them like cigarettes, exhaling the mild smoke to drive away clouds of river gnats. And so when I opened Jeanetta Calhoun Mish’s What I Learned at the War for the first time and read the lede stanza of her “Pastoral for My Brother,” I was immediately hooked. She wrote,

Today, I remember
prowling the woods with you
smashing wild grapes
into our haunted mouths,
smoking the vines.

Reading on, I discovered a writer whose work evokes the America that birthed “new” southerners, urban mixed-blood NDNs, midwest greasers, and the legions of lost travelers who, like Kerouac in the fifties, cross the continent endlessly, searching for their lives. This collection of poems displays a distinctive attitude, established most succinctly in the poem, “Sometimes there was an armistice.” Mish recalls attending her first formal dinner, and toward the last lines she tells us,

…I went to the ball, and as I remember it,
managed to always use the right fork
and to not say fuck out loud, not even once.

She tramps through America’s garden of violence, inequity and hurt, making poems of evidence she sees and remarks she remembers, then kicks them along her path like a child who kicks an unwashed tin can along railroad tracks, ignoring the oncoming freight train.

Mish’s prologue, “For the American Dead,” even though not written in an elegiac form, elegizes America and even American elegies, establishing a distant background of disconsolate introspection as she tells stories of the unfortunate among friends and family. But she peoples these stories with palpable characters who — despite bearing deep scars and bruises inside and out — smile, laugh, and shout at indomitable life.

The first poem in this collection’s body proper is “The Mice.” Mish carefully establishes the setting and personnel with subtle brushstrokes that would make Michelangelo proud.

It was late July, late afternoon,
one of those thick southern days
when shimmering heat draws a veil
over everything. A day that farmers,
eyes shaded by calloused palms or
John Deere caps, raise faces to the
stony sun and dream of rain. We tilled
the garden in March. Now, scarlet runners
weave red and green Pendletons around
their bamboo tripods, apparitions of old
Cheyenne women singing by the drum.

In her hospital room we were desperate
not to speak of death. Defying silence,
distracting her from pain, I confessed….

Here, the speaker inserts into the conversation an anecdote from when she was “running the cultivator” and accidentally disturbed a nest of field mice, which fills the eleven-line stanza. And then she finishes the poem with three lines:

We spoke of squash and mice and mothers
and of rain and scarlet runners. I tell you,
we were desperate not to speak of death.

Mish proceeds with three poems under the title, Occupational Hazards. The first, “#1 Child Labor,” recounts her childhood chores, which lead up to her ironing jeans for the family, and it ends with four rollicking sentences,

…Graduated to jeans at fifty cents a load at age eleven and developed a fetish for perfect ironed-and-starched creases. Later fell for a series of cowboys based on the perfection of their starched-and-creased pearl-button shirts and Levis. Gave up starch-and-crease when I gave up cowboys. Never ironed again.

Next comes seven somewhat whimsical pieces under the heading, Literacy Autobiography 1961-1992. The first, “#1 Body Language,” begins with birth, “My first language, mothersmell, rhythm of womb…,” and ends with,

…The hand reaching for a belt or a long-neck bottle, the fist swinging, the leg drawn back the perfect distance to kick with accuracy. This language I have tried to forget, so as not to confuse an arm reaching out in comfort with one poised to choke; so as not to confuse a body hovering over me in ecstasy with one preparing to suffocate.

The final piece in this grouping of seven is “#7 What I Learned at the War.” It ends with darkly humorous advice,

Try not to think about whether there is somewhere no war is going on. It’s like sending happy postcards to your former pimp in prison—it just makes the situation more unbearable.

Mish’s two poems, “What Sarah Venable Little Told the Sheriff” and “What Sarah Venable Little Wrote in Her Diary,” recount the vengeful and violent aftermath of America’s war between the states, first from a “family history” viewpoint, and then from a dying grandmother’s viewpoint of personal repenting and sorrow. On her deathbed, Sarah Venable Little mourns fathers of two generations, slain, “…because we turned away from / our grandmothers’ simple faith / / forgot the commandment / to never take up arms against another.”

Like many American families, especially in the South, this family still carries forward (and holds dear) their old, festered wounds of the Civil War. And like so many southern families, this family’s hearts pump blood of the conquered tribes which roamed here not so long ago. Conflicts….

In the poem Pia Toya, Mish writes two stanzas that may bring rain to the eyes for Coast Saliish tribes and, indeed, for all tribes.

Inside your heart
is a mountain written over
with a story not its own.

Let us remember its
ancient name, tell its true
story in the old way

made new.

And we all know the names given our west coast volcanoes on mainstream maps are not those mountains’ real names.

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish ends this collection with a long poem, “The Quah Effect,” named after Talequah, Oklahoma — capitol of the Cherokees’ “new” home at the end of the Trail of Tears. Among her closing lines are these:

It comes down to this:
head out for The Territories
east of the 97th parallel
south of the cultural Mason-Dixon

where there are two kinds of
survivors: the crackers and the
others—the music makers, the poets,
the artists, the medicine people.
I come from both kinds.

This book provides, among its considerable gifts, a view of what it is that makes otherwise sane adults write about the life “new” southerners, urban mixed-blood NDNs, midwest greasers, and the legions of lost travelers forever search for, and sometimes regret finding.


Thomas Hubbard, a retired writing instructor and spoken word performer, authored Nail and other hardworking poems, Year of the Dragon Press, 1994; Junkyard Dogz (also available on audio CD); and Injunz, a chapbook. He designed and published Children Remember Their Fathers (an anthology) and books by seven other authors. His book reviews have appeared in Square Lake, Raven Chronicles, New Pages and The Cartier Street Review. Recent publication credits include poems in Yellow Medicine Review, spring 2010;  I Was Indian, ed. Susan Deer Cloud, Foothills Publishing, 2010 and Florida Review, and short stories in Red Ink and Yellow Medicine Review. He serves editorially with Raven Chronicles and The Cartier Street Review and he blogs about writing techniques for WordCraft Circle of Native American Writers and Poets.

Flash Review: JARMICK’S NOT ALOUD

Jarmick coverNot Aloud,
by Christopher J. Jarmick
MoonPath Press, Kingston, Washington,
http://MoonPathPress.com
ISBN 978-1-936657-19-3
2015, paperback, 188 pp., $20.00

Reviewed by Thomas Hubbard

Do you read or write poetry in Seattle? Have you ever read or written poetry in Seattle? Columbia City? Kirkland? Are you familiar with the term, Poem Starter? You do? You have? You are?

Then you must know Chris Jarmick. So you won’t be surprised, reading the first poem in this collection, “A Supermarket in Seattle,” to learn that it is not only a tribute to dead poets, but a very skillfully crafted, sometimes giggling, near paraphrase of Allen Ginsberg’s poem, “A Supermarket in California.” Look it up on YouTube, and realize this guy does his homework.

Nor will you be surprised, upon buying and reading Not Aloud, to find that Jarmick’s “Supermarket” takes you back to shake Ginsberg’s hand and laugh with him. And you will likely agree that Jarmick does funny about as well as anyone, including Dr. Seuss, another of his sources. But if you want something other than funny, turn directly to “Rides With Dad,” on page 112, and be sure to have a handkerchief handy. Not that it’s sad — it’s not. It’s a feel-good poem that could change the way you feel about family errands. But have the hankie handy, just in case a drop of rain … well, you know.

Perhaps you’re a lover of irony — maybe even irony about love? Then “Not A Poem About the Divorce,” on page 63, will please you. Ironic as it is, you will still get a belly laugh. This is a big book, so despite the Poem Starters (after all these years I’ve come to enjoy them), there are plenty of funny, serious, ironic, earth-shaking poems here that will change the way you see most anything, at least for a while.

This is another of those books you buy, then give away, then buy another. Might as well just go on and buy a couple. Not Aloud is a bargain. And the cover art, “When The Believers Try To Silence Their Gods,” by Duane Kirby Jensen, is a big bonus.


Thomas Hubbard, a retired writing instructor and spoken word performer, authored Nail and other hardworking poems, Year of the Dragon Press, 1994; Junkyard Dogz (also available on audio CD); and Injunz, a chapbook. He designed and published Children Remember Their Fathers (an anthology) and books by seven other authors. His book reviews have appeared in Square Lake, Raven Chronicles, New Pages and The Cartier Street Review. Recent publication credits include poems in Yellow Medicine Review, spring 2010;  I Was Indian, ed. Susan Deer Cloud, Foothills Publishing, 2010 and Florida Review, and short stories in Red Ink and Yellow Medicine Review. He serves editorially with Raven Chronicles and The Cartier Street Review and he blogs about writing techniques for WordCraft Circle of Native American Writers and Poets.

Poets Against Hate Reading

Poet Larry Crist: fights against hate, February 13, 2016
Poet Larry Crist: fights against hate, February 13, 2016

Video of Poets Against Hate Reading This video was recorded by Seattlechannel.org, City of Seattle Channel 21, on February 13, 2016, 2-5 pm, at the Central Seattle Public Library, in the Microsoft Auditorium, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA. Co-sponsored by Raven Chronicles, It’s About Time Writers Reading Series and The Seattle Public Library.

Tiffany Midge: Upcoming reading

TIFFANY MIDGE, STORME WEBBER, CHRYSTOS group reading

Saturday, 03/26/2016 – 7:00PM, Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Avenue, Seattle Elliott Bay Calendar

Occasioned by the publication of Tiffany Midge’s much-awaited new collection of poems, The Woman Who Married a Bear (University of New Mexico Press), this evening should be a spirited night of poems and performance. Also part of the night are Storme Webber, a Two-Spirit, Aleut/Black/Choctaw writer, interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator, cultural producer, author of three poetry collections (including the forthcoming Noirish Lesbiana), and Chrystos, a pioneering Native American,…

An Unevenly Distributed Future

Matt Briggs discussing writers and technology, on 2/4/16 at Seattle Central College Library
Matt Briggs discussing writers and technology, on 2/4/16 at Seattle Central College Library

by Matt Briggs

It is hardly news to anyone in Seattle that humanity over the entire planet is experiencing an unprecedented rate of technological change. In Seattle this is visible in entire neighborhoods replaced in the last ten years. According to Governing Magazine, Seattle has experienced a 50% gentrification rate since 2000, compared to a 40% rate in the 1990s. Cleveland, in contrast, has experienced a 6.7% rate since 2000. In Seattle, to travel to a new city, you only have to spend an afternoon watching a movie. You will find a new skyline when you go outside. Major shifts such as the movement from stone to metal tools, from hunting and gathering to agriculture, or from human labor to mechanical labor, once took place over millennia or centuries. Since the end of the 19th century, however, we have experienced a continual and increasingly rapid succession of equally large technological shifts: the internal combustion engine, the rise of machines capable of computation, nuclear power, global communication networks, the spread of pervasive data collection, and automation of complex information and physical systems.

Continue reading An Unevenly Distributed Future

Patrons, Revolutions, Romantics, and Boarding House Reach:

Paul Hunter discussing writers and technology, on 2/4/16, at Seattle Central College Library
Paul Hunter discussing writers and technology, on 2/4/16, at Seattle Central College Library

Pursuing a Life in the Literary Arts

by Paul Hunter

During the last four thousand years, where art existed at all, for most artists making a living meant begging from those in power. Historians call it patronage, though most of it went without saying, part of the facts of life absorbed by osmosis. Some rich person, king or noble, bishop or abbot, cardinal or pope would be approached by an artist, a painter or sculptor or poet, and if the rich person liked what he saw, the two might arrive at an understanding whereby the artist would be clothed and fed, perhaps given supplies and a stipend along with a series of commissions which were really command performances. He might also sometimes be given a tedious, responsible job as personal secretary or teacher of the rich man’s kids, in return for his work being sponsored, tacitly approved, owned and enjoyed by the wealthy man and his family. If the artist remained properly subservient, the arrangement might be lifelong. To some extent patronage still goes on today, politely veiled through a couple of mechanisms I will come to in a minute.

Continue reading Patrons, Revolutions, Romantics, and Boarding House Reach:

UPCOMING EVENTS

APRIL BOOK EXPO: March 20th, Hugo House, 11am-5pm. 1634-11th Ave, Capitol Hill, Seattle. Please visit Raven’s table at the book fair!

APRIL is an annual festival of small and independent publishing. Since 2011, they’ve created programming designed to connect readers with small press writers and publishers. They believe that small press publishing demonstrates the best of what is vital, daring, and energizing in writing today.


 

¡Xicanismo Afire!

​Museum of Northwest Art, LaConner, Wa
             March 25-26, 2016​


Xicano (Chicano) ​Literature Foundation​ Poets
Friday, March 25 from 6-8+pm
Poets: alurista, Lorna Dee Cervantes, John Martinez
6-6:30pm light refreshments; 6:30-7pm, USA Chicano History
7pm–8+pm, poetry reading and questions from the audience
​Tello Hernandez, guitarist​
Pacific Northwest Xicano  (Chicano) Poets
Saturday, March 26 from 6-8+pm
Poets: Ramon Ledesma, Raul Sanchez, and Angelica ​G​uillen
6-6:30pm light refreshments; 6:30-7pm, Northwest Chicano History
7-8pm, poetry reading and questions from the audience
​Dr. Devon Peñ​a, guitarist
Questions? please contact

Liz Theaker,  lizt@museumofnwart.org