a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
No place for hothouse blooms. A thrush whistles its bright sequence
therefore, morning once more. I’ve turned down the news.
A riot in the peppered overgrowth
near-naked pink clover fronting a hill. There’s a basketful of heads
a tumbril for carting away rebellious proles.
The obvious, at times a lie.
The war flower skirts a victory garden, leaves a pollen smear,
this beauty richer when it goes without, though my hand’s been sought
in a stained collusion.
A betrayal of what makes its bed unbidden, rife.
Here’s balm for heart disease, nectar cup for long-tongued bees.
The dead say
this is a question of influence—yours or ours.
I crawl around the weeds, trying to find the lucky sprig dropped carelessly
as if it would cry out. Her skirt hem swings wide of the wheelbarrow
while she earnests this small field, sunburnt across neck and chest.
To follow in emulation, such a simple thing. Her hair bound, a Roman matron
stooping. I am earning my keep.
It’s now the hoppers rise up between taut blades, disturbed
and thumbnail-sized spring toads, skin like dampened clods, scatter in the wind.
I want to say
I’ve been displaced, that the sweated sugar in crushed stems smells of loss,
that I have slept in clover to a saintly hum, bees uncurling from their sticky cells.
One note, bending under pressure of the fret—
thrush again. All morning
island fog has darkened the sun; needs to rain. There will be an interval
a suspension in which nothing pleads its case.
& the pleasure of watching ripples divide only
to summon strength to reform a broken color
bones still soft hair slickly parted
what they do
a whole language
the way wind strips away chatter & chaff.
These little mounds also collapse
& rebuild— silt gravel vast uncollected stuff
a cycle of nouns 1 billion of them listen
even without agency a noise as they slump
dragged into the streambed embedded
one child with wispy hair insisting
scrapes & sludge on her knees
indifferently marred while afternoon too collapses
crepuscular a train passing by piercing holes in the blue
but what is un-solid cannot be broken down.
Do you know something about human footprints
tracker of time warps who once nosed a creek
unlikely in dimension after rain
who fish-hooked into shallows with a strand of hair & bent pin
watching it wrap around a twig. A paper nest, a glass pipette.
When you returned with sunlight’s proof
such delicate emptiness.
while translation—black gold/rapeseed/wheat
the startled spillage over streets, fields
the caskets vultures scent—is rubble that fits into the palm.
Again, spring has come too late.
I am thinking of you on that convoy
your teddy bear flown to Washington, D.C.
Spring with its stubborn licks of root
long green muscles aching to push as in childbirth
the time of softened earth, of shovel and hoe.
What will it trade for bones that still have years of growth?
A mourning ring around the sun, a brooch with a sharpened pin.
The ethics of want can drain a river
but the muck has turned your eyes a strange brown.
Eye language, hand language. Bodies plummet
crow-dark, for a moment investigating the breath
that passes in a forlorn plume of desire.
Is the last thought madness? A country shapes on the tongue
but the wheeling sky, the crust of snow
the clouds composed of horses
how a building was there then not there.
Days stretch beyond into a place where songs are made.
Where songs are made, strands of black and gold
tinged with iridescent melt are grapevines of the killed harvest;
children lose their dogs. Caravans of bitterness
go winding into realms of the future and the futureless.
Your mother says love, pray love
eat these seeds and sprout a story only you can tell.
Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press, 2021), Environments (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press, 2017). Her poems appear in a variety of anthologies and in journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, Canary, The Common, Cumberland River Review, Denver Quarterly, The Goose, Hamilton Stone Review, One, Pangyrus, Pif, Ruminate, The Seattle Review of Books, Southern Humanities Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Stonecoast Review, Sweet Tree Review, Terrain.org and Third Wednesday. Additional work is forthcoming in Big City Lit, Delmarva Review, Free State Review, Raintown Review, and Verdad. With Stephen Massimilla, Alexander is co-editor of the anthology Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Spring, 2022).