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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 5: The Fire in Our Souls

Jeff Fearnside

Jeff Fearnside
Black Friday Morning
Bill Evans’ autumnal piano on the speakers,
a dinner date in Greenwich Village
more than half a century ago,
wine glasses clinking in the soft passages
of LaFaro’s bass solos, Motian’s brushwork,
the leader’s lyrical backing chords.
Tang verses in translation in my hand,
water clocks and crystal curtains,
other worlds, golden ages
long gone, the same Milky Way that stretched over
those poets over me,
though I can’t see it
in the city lights’ glare.
I don’t stand in blocks-long lines today
under unseen stars,
fighting strangers for bargains.
I sip my coffee slowly.
Later, I will pour some wine,
raise a toast to Evans’ trio,
and then join Li Bai and his two sober companions,
his shadow and the moon,
so that he won’t have to drink alone.
I will play Han Yu’s stone drums
on the backs of camels,
tapping each carved syllable
with my fingers, a rhythmic Braille,
tapping my feet to the jazzy rhythm,
feeling through my whole body
the gifts I already own.
Jeff Fearnside’s poetry has appeared in various literary journals, including The Fourth River, Permafrost, Qarrtsiluni, Blue Earth Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and The Los Angeles Review, and is forthcoming in an upcoming anthology of writers who have been awarded residencies at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest. His chapbook Lake, and Other Poems of Love in a Foreign Land, winner of the Standing Rock Cultural Arts 2010 Open Poetry Chapbook Competition, was published in 2011 and additionally won the Peace Corps Writers 2012 Poetry Award. He has taught writing and literature for many years at the Academy of Languages in Kazakhstan through the U.S. Peace Corps and at Washington State University, Western Kentucky University, Prescott College, and—currently—Oregon State University. He lives with his wife and their two cats in Corvallis.



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