a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
trying to find me. Like a broom, he sweeps up
whatever I leave him—frogs, fish, voles, anything
not to my taste.
After night drops its primary mask
I’m off. I prefer what you call the “swamp” though
I never admit it.
There are no straight lines, or stories.
I leave my skins for you to decipher — each word
you invent for them is quicksand, each idea
a trip mine. As with mermaid weed, crowsfoot,
cobra fern, you name things hoping they are
Even young, we learned to entrap
you with a simple ambiguous tale. My own eyes
change shape from day to night.
Our secret is:
Eden is our playbook. We think of ourselves as
What they say about us is fake news
– we do not swarm to attack you. In fact,
we’ll eat each other when times are tough.
We rely on your myths the way you rely
on your religion, for you, too, have learned
that you cannot twist the truth you do not know,
as one of your poets tells you.
And what is
the brain but carrion corrupted into worms,
as your Jonathan Swift wrote, and the soul
just a deflated balloon.
I am already on
the move for only I can lead the way.
A vine climbs to the side of the oak
like an extra spine, trying to imitate me.
You’ll think I’m a floating twig until too late.
At which time I will eat the sound of your fear.
Richard Jackson is the author of 17 books of poetry including The Heart as Framed: New and Select Poems, Dispatches, Where The Wind Comes From and Broken Horizons, and 12 books of essays, interviews, translations, editions and anthologies. Winner of Guggenheim, Fulbright, NEA, NEH and Witter Bynner Fellowships and the order of Freedom from the President of Slovenia for his literary and humanitarian work during the Balkan wars, he has also edited 32 chapbooks from eastern European poets. His poems have been translated into 17 languages and his books have won the U of Alabama Book Award, Cleveland State Book Prize, U Mass Juniper Prize, Ashland Poetry Press Award, Eric Hofer Award, Maxine Kumin Award, Ben Franklin Award. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies such as 5 Pushcart appearances, Best American Poems, Best of Georgia Review, Best of Crazy Horse, Prairie Schooner Anthology and others.