POEM BY MICHAEL SPRING
GHAZAL FOR THE CAVE
our dreams are structured like a cave?
how many chambers are in this cave?
a salamander muses in a stream
lulling in the limestone of a cave
guano muck and slip of vaporous glisten
stag of a stalactite drools in the cave
I didn’t find the cave, it found me
I crave the water trickle muse of a cave
is anybody there? who’s here?
no, I won’t drown in the collective fear of caves
I stop to face the darkness in me
wolfed by the darkness of the cave
wet mouth of a mountain surrounds me
seducing me with the moonmilk of the cave
mother of mycelium and root of dreaming
will you embrace me in this cave?
in this wet and dripping grotto
extinguish the lamp and become the cave
Michael Spring is the author of three poetry books. His most recent book, Root of Lightning, was awarded an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. In 2013, his chapbook Blue Wolf, won the Turtle Island Poetry Award. In 2014 he was named Writer-in-residence for the Oregon Caves National Monument. New poems are forthcoming in Absinthe Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Gargoyle, Poetry Pacific, and Turtle Island Quarterly.
POEM BY MATT PRATER
PARCHMENT COLORED SKY
Ancient censored artists knew how sublimations
could outmaneuver potent and home office,
and before Jung, Kristeva, or Garcia Lorca
played out the underimages of soul.
The Pennsylvania crimson geometrics
of Yankee furniture and checkered quilts
suggested the sensual God of Hopkins,
the breasts heavy in Sufi calligraphy.
So when it's dark midday and the air is fat,
and the mammatus directly overhead
gives the sky that yellow pallor of old paper,
and the television beeps in with storm warnings --
I am only interested then in the smell of sex
hanging heavy in the air around all things,
and I've known myself to think of this strange prayer:
Give us your lust, Lord, even if it kills us.
Matt Prater is a poet and writer from Saltville, VA. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Appalachian Heritage, Floyd County Moonshine, The Hollins Critic, James Dickey Review, Motif, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, and Still: The Journal, among other publications. He teaches at Emory & Henry College and Bluefield College, both in Southwest Virginia.
POEM BY AL ORTOLANI
IN LATE WINTER—THE SQUIRREL
slips from branch to branch, edges
down to the fence, runs the picket,
and disappears behind the toolshed,
tail waving like a flag of truce.
No one steps into the cold today.
Even the light from the front porch
is a joke—an ironic berry
on a frozen limb.
The neighborhood raccoon, burrowed
below the deck, nurses her kits.
The shivering March has sucked
the shine from her coat.
If we could retreat any further
into ourselves, we would surrender
like the hostas, the azaleas,
the wild rose, waiting in the mulch.
Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and the New York Quarterly. His fifth collection of poems, Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released in 2014 from New York Quarterly Books. Currently, he is teaching English in the Kansas City area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place.