You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Tupelo Press’ tag.

Return to-and-from Morgan Meadow

“Isn’t this nice?” I breathed cool misty fog
Just like my mother would say on an island,
But I was talking to my curvy hot dog dog,
A pointer-dachshund, who isn’t that reliable
When I let her run off-leash; the meadow

Seemed deserted, a 500-acre preserve,
No one else parked in the lot so I got risky,
Let the dog romp loose; lessons learned:
Once, she bounded unleashed into the woods
During our tour with the Inland Fisheries
Wildlife Biologist, and his great dane, Gus, rescued
Sophie-Bea. She trotted beneath his elegant body
As he galloped; it’s fleeting, the love lives
Of dogs, or so I have observed.

We tromped through unpredictable snow,
Followed deer tracks, boot holes and paths
Of snow-machines, a sort of broken treadmill
With trap doors for every third or fourth
Footfall, suddenly ankle-and-shin deep,
Crust-cutting and gator-bruising (I should
Have worn knee-pads). We trekked

A mile or more, then turned back, a hard
Walk (The dog snorted cold air and I panted
“Wait for me,” not a command she obeys.)
I felt somehow dismayed not to have
Seen wildlife, though there were signs:
Scat and smells the dog investigated.

At home, we guzzled water and cracked
Open some windows to let 40 degree
Fresh air fill the house; after that,
The dog tore through the upstairs
Screen, over the bulkhead, diving
Head-first, paws out, as if to jump!

There, by the lilac, where I’d tossed
Soft apples for squirrel and deer,
A small grey opossum rummaged
Around, not showing any fear
While my dog bashed herself
Against the window panes.

Oh, the pointless hysterics,
As I searched, half-naked,
Mid-dressing, for the camera
To take its picture.

I went out in mismatched PJ pieces
Breakfast slippers like an old man
Inching toward this bizarre species
That really belongs in Arkansas—
Just look at the headlines: “Recipe
Time: Eat Possum,” “Opossum
Found at Courthouse,” “Officials
Say ‘unlikely culprit’ raided Scout
Troups’ snack tray,” “Possum Tails:
How to Care for Your Pet.”

oppossum

Leah Stetson photo

Seeing this nonnative creature waddle
Through my little Maine wooded seep
Makes me wonder about the weirdos
Who save orphaned opossums, keep
Them as pets and make home videos
Of their marsupials doing pig-tricks.

Now bobcats and red foxes, moose
And coyotes, hell, local legends
Of wild dogs (they’re suspicious)
Run ‘round Morgan Meadow’s
Marshland and forested wetlands,
But the possum is a new-comer.

Its population won’t sky-rocket;
The possum’s plight is pathetic.
It doesn’t survive under pressure
(Tires, mainly, the kill’s automatic)
On my drive up the Hill of Doom,
I swerved to avoid a dead one,
Quite possibly the same possum
That drove my dog nuts.

She’s from Arkansas, too.

TP Subscribe

Thank you for supporting me in this unique challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days to raise funds for the nonprofit Tupelo Press. To make a tax-deductible donation to Tupelo Press, please click here.  Or if you’d prefer to support the literary press by subscribing to one of their fine publications, please click here.  In the meantime, my fellow poets and I have the 12 poems so far at the Tupelo Press 30/30 blog page. 

Rose-hip Jelly

My grandmother littered the house
With pastel post-it notes; I read her
Thorny handwriting, broken twigs
Her unfinished thoughts, seed-casings
Reminders, bequeaths, old recipes.

We opened the windows & doors
To let the trapped sea air out
When the river got winded, because
The Big House needed to breathe.

Her notes blew in the breeze,
Scattered, melting into damp soil
Wilted petals from the roses
Thrived in the courtyard
Of my family’s two houses.

My father tended to those bushes
Like Hawthorne’s Rappaccini,
He harvested their pungent oils,
Safely, wearing work gloves,
The pantry became a perfumery
While Dad made rose hip jam.

I pranced between the shrubs
We were sisters, like Beatrice
And her poisonous plants.

I collected the heart-shaped
Droplets, molded perfectly
Fitting my fingertips, a fresh
Pair of thumbprints. If I spun

Around fast enough, my pretend
Petalled fingerprints transposed,
Exposing a wishful identity
The wide rosehips, silky blooms
I hadn’t grown into yet, wild

And slowly solidifying, sun
Speckled inside a fly-eyed
Crystal set on the window sill
Bubbles of black currants
Like tempted insects sealed
In magenta jars of jelly.

~ Leah C. Stetson  TP Subscribe

Poet’s note: I’m still recuperating from the migraine and what’s more fun, I’m hobbled over like a fallen garden gnome from some kind of sciatica (or pinched nerve?), which I’ve never had before. Nevertheless, I just got new sneakers so I can hit the gym and hopefully work out whatever’s bugging me. That said, the poem below is a work-in-progress and so far, not looking pretty.

My Neighbor, the Lawn Ornament Devotee

My neighbor stacks flamingo skeletons
In my dooryard, which is his backyard,
Behind his house, by a tool shed.
These bones are remains of two kinds;
Once fragrant hydrangea & heliotrope,
Hung to attract hummingbirds and butterflies—
Now long dead, their white, plastic hooks
Huddle, as if bowed head to head.

My neighbor’s wife used to peer
Out the back screen door
As Ed exchanged a plastic deer
For a garden gnome, or
A family of clay squirrels.
An iridescent “crystal” sphere
Rested on its pedestal;
Everything else rotated,
According to her cycle.

Mary & Joseph glowed for months
In florescent robes, bent over
A snow-covered baby Jesus,
Their faces not meant to be seen
Up close, like in impressionist paintings.
Removed from their hay manger
On the front lawn, they lay sideways,
Unplugged and dim against spring grass,
Abandoned by a busy re-arranger.

Ed totes the garden gnome
Under a muscled arm; he mows the lawn
In summer, weeds the flower beds
And has done it all by dawn,
Or by the time I have motivated
On a Sunday morning.

But now the feeders are all empties,
Which I don’t mind noticing
Because she put sugar water
Out for hummingbirds,
Who expire from diabetes
By the time they’ve flown to Costa Rica.

My fat cat catapults off a two-by-four
Into my neighbor’s garden
And hunts for frogs. A decapitated replica
Of a Greek Adonis in miniature
Stands barely erect by the gate.

I had not seen my neighbor’s wife,
Who I knew was ill for a long time.
Ed seemed fully devoted,
Probably faithful his whole life,
A Pisces like me so I can relate
To feeling compelled to do
Whatever one can do to please one’s mate
Even if all she asked each day:
For him to “move that over there,”
Hold up an ornament,
Then vacillate.

Poet’s note: I woke up yesterday morning with a pinched nerve or some kind of painful back spasm. I’m not one for pain medication, so I have been stretching and soaking, rolling around on tennis balls and walking like Carrie Bradshaw in the episode with Charlotte’s 2nd wedding. Yeah, that bad.

A January To-Do List

Nurse coconut mango tea with dandelion root and bitters
Feed the cats and dead-head the dish garden; water the moss
Pluck juicy sections of pink grapefruit and bag up the litter
Clear off the dining table I inherited from my grandparents
Read the Human Ecology Review and sort the harmless mail
Let the dog out, then in again, patiently listen to her vent
Work up the motivation to vacuum the living room
Dig out my most conservative swimsuit for the lap pool
Roll tennis balls beneath the origin of my back spasms
Debate what to wear to burlesque dance classes;
Squeeze into inappropriate ensembles (as practice)
Call the Department of Labor to obtain a password;
Hear bad ‘hold music’ on the phone for 45 minutes
Ask a local guy to sand my long luge of a driveway
Strap on Nana’s “cramp-ons” to walk on the ice
Forage for birch bark blown down in the wind;
Write checks, a new poem and thank-you notes
Lug firewood and put the clean dishes away
Build a fire in the woodstove, sustain the heat
Curl up with Daphne du Maurier’s lost stories
Hold a warm mug of spicy chai with milky oats
Spoil the dog; rub her belly and give her treats.
Listen to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me;” get cozy,
Soak in the tub with lavender and chamomile;
I don’t have to do anything for a while.

~Leah

Little Rebel at White’s Island

At night the moonlight masked the hedges
On Tucker’s Hill, a private thrill to walk
From our Victorian home to White’s Island.
I’d cross the causeway, both footbridges,
Historic railroad tracks and inhale a secret air
That only I felt could fill my strange, weak lungs
Without a jerk of hyperventilation, my Ondine’s curse.

As if I’d held my breath the swift sprint to the island,
I caught the scents of saltgrass, the mudflats and lush
Odors of the Sheepscot River and damp trees, all seven
That grew in a circle, leaning like a coven of witches.
I stood by their cauldron, a natural cavity in the earth,
Brimming and brewing some magical potion that might
Transform my old soul pre-teen self into maturity.

Poems, not spells, I cast into the water. Smooth stones, not sorcery,
Slid back and forth in my hands. I traded love letters with a boy,
Who stole down to the island to smoke cloves by the stone wall;
Cracks in the mortar of the old bathhouse facilitated delivery.
Flats crackled as the tides shifted; its ebb awakened the eel grass
And all its inhabitants in the water bed.

I played a daring barefoot game along a line of rocks, jagged
And round on the less-popular side, a pebbled beach strewn
With sea glass, not always “ready” (I returned the sharp pieces)
Broken bits of brick, cast-offs from the mason station, dead crabs.

Gramma called the big slate boulder, “Leah’s rock,”
I liked to sit there dripping in my wet bathing suit,
Let my long hair dry in the sun. Salt flaked on my skin
In glistening specks; the white of the salt clung to my ankles
Invisible socks (when I wouldn’t wear my jellies).
Water marks rimmed the rock’s edge in uneven, parallel
Stripes; they measured the tides like waistlines
On a full-figured woman. At high tide, I perched
Curved-postured, as if to dive, and dipped my fins
Into cold dark green saltwater up to my shins.

Those summer nights when I snuck down to the island
In my ripped-seated jeans and tennis sneakers,
Sitting on the rock, my little rebellion.

(a work in progress)                     ~Leah TP Subscribe

Here is my 6th poem in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Again, I am writing 30 poems in 30 days to support (and raise funds) for the nonprofit Tupelo Press. I’m not alone; there are 8 other poets doing TP Donatethis with me. Their poetry, along with mine, can be found at the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge blog page.  I have linked to some of the other poets’ WordPress blogs, too, under my blogroll and will be adding others as I get the links. Please support Tupelo Press. They are publishing a lot of good work and really depend on the generosity of readers, lovers of poets and kindred spirits.

Dream Sharks

Sharks swam below me in an army of shadows
All moving in one direction: the same one
I was swimming in the dark ocean.

I aimed my flashlight; its beam illuminated
Their silhouettes—unmistakable, these ghost predators
In hazy kelp-dappled moonlight. Our lives, semi-fated.

I saw their fins, recognizable shapes, their stout squarish
Faces, gills and the dorsal, pointing up at me. I swam
Endangered, a subconscious fear of role reversal.

I didn’t splash; I cut the water nose-first
And swam as though fish or a shark myself,
No longer shining a spotlight.

My senses led me, an internal system navigated,
Waves sped me—I felt propelled by some innate energy
Thrust through the water, half under, mostly submerged.

The flashlight, gone. But the sharks, my entourage
A night brigade guarded my belly. We smelled collectively,
The marked perfume of carnage, full-blooded.

We moved in “S” formations: synchronized as a school,
Gliding to white noise, slalom water-skiiers, snakes in a desert.
And when I woke, my skin felt cool.

I was one of them.

LCS   TP Subscribe

Wild Cactus

The windows were broken to eat you alive.
Slicked with ink and thin paper, my hands,
Under-appreciated, unhinged—even thrived
Despite the lackluster smidgen of damp sand.

I am at the beach, plump with rainwater from a
Cool foggy summer—the island, laughing
Staying true to its cold hardiness, a collage
In rescuing the wild form, a soft mossy green.

That said, a spiny devil records their catches:
A hummingbird, stones, monsoon storms, a queen
Flown, thrown and blown through cut paper latches
Burn off their spines, it’s not that damage-repair thing.

Poised to scream out lots of terrible bare-tree lines
Because he was suffering in private gardens,
Clad in welding gloves, a fish hook thought of a tongue
Like a sermon of my father’s, to dig up tender globes,

I re-imagined my artichoke romance, living proof
Their purple-blue thistle havens sugared and sold
Love along the edges of a slip-covered coast
Without shells or throw pillows or souvenirs.

The vivid art of dreaming pins a spooky piece
I kept trying to save Saturn or Uranus, giant houseplants,
Hoping for a robust shape-shifter to take in a dying sea,
A ball of recycled gyotaku doused with kerosene.

LCS

TP Donate

Sleepy Venus

A nor’easter and the rarest of moons,
Closest to Earth, not to be confused
With the blue-white sparkly goddess,
Brought me news from the police station:
An officer claimed my “son; he’s missing;”
I said I haven’t any children. “Not a son?”
He asked, and I verified the biological facts.
When I inquired, the cop on the line
Couldn’t offer any explanation.

I felt like Nancy Drew
With something eerie to solve
And possessing faultless tact.

The last time a sheriff called me,
Indeed there was a nor’easter, then
I’d been robbed—a long stupid story:
(By stupid, I mean self-incriminating)
An ex-fisherman from Kodiak Island
Who’d flexed his triceps on reality TV,
“Deadliest Catch”  (perhaps a red flag)
After hot chocolate, had fled my house
Taken cash from my bag, and in haste,
Forgotten his pants.

During the same storm, a lone bobcat
Stole along the snow-covered stone walls,
Criss-crossed directions, this way and that,
Leaving half-clues, barely tracks, but we saw
(The dog went bananas) the dark silhouette
Just the shade of him, a stealth criminal
At dusk, a moving jet black portrait.

My mother warned, “you have to think
About these things,” if the bobcat crept
To the door (!) she shrieked, clink-clinked
Ice in her glass. His climb to my front step,
A poorly-marked detour, a wily mistake.
But I wasn’t worried about the little beast.
(My orange alley cat is almost as great.)

I tromped on snowshoe to investigate,
But he was temperamental, a mystery.
He escaped behind a rumpled comforter
Upon a rounded, unmade bed, no duvet.
Watching the twenty-five pound cat
Slink unobtrusive, costume and all,
Proved I could be a good detective.

If only I unburdened myself
Of the slip-knotted curiosity
Sole daughter of a werewolf
Plunge plucky hands-on-hips, told
Unself-conscious stories, no fear
But dashed dreams of playing one
In a popular sci-fi series, a second
Opportunity. It had credentials.

“Scratch-that, my dear,”
she said. It’s too late.

Vicious-lipped, the storm whistled
A steaming kettle boiled and spittled.
I sipped warm tea, cinnamon and clove,
Picked up crumpled letters and listened
As the house shifted in the cold, unsettled
While sleepy Venus awakened an old love.

I looked up from my work, and the tick
Tack-boom of the glowing woodstove,
As frosted rhododendrons—their heads
Doubled in size from clumped snow,
Surprised, caught me unguarded,
A jolt to check seemed foolish
Their sneaky shadows,
Peeping tom-ish,
Slapped the pane
in the wind.

Leah C. Stetson   TP Donate

The Last Summer

Bent-kneed on a borrowed board, I paddled to and from Fish Rock,
Where “Leah’s ladder” still rests beside the great-hearted granite
My wanton eye on the Sand Bar, I lusted after its sinuous profile—
A throw-back to adolescence, when Grampa ferried me from the dock
To the bar; I’d be left (my wish) to prance and play Sports Illustrated
Swimsuit photo shoot in my bikini and long salt-blonde locks.

Here I was all grown, my stomach clenched, leaning like a surfer
Pushing into waves, boat wake and natural, a real temper thrust
Upon me, testing gravity, lest I get pulled as though by a killer
Whale, or tiller, but I continued to glide and guinea-pig because
I poured-over like water-in-air, downwind, a curvy figure eight.

Centered myself, a hip movement long been studied, oozed
In the language of bellydance: notably, an invisible weight
Like a pendulum, drawing a pattern from within my roots,
Chakras, the divine usage and nuance of hydromancy, a fate
Not lost on me—I loved the lake, the vibrant angle of hawks.

Heat rose off my gypsy arms, hot-blooded calves as I merged
Game-faced to mask my zeal; I assembled each funky stroke,
Hefted and carved house-sized whirlpools, tributaries surged
And stream-lined behind in a make-shifting current, a joke
In nature’s back-story, reminiscent of a bustling youth

How I came of age, skimming sandy and mudflat bottoms
Disguising an uncommon turquoise aura in a grey-green haze
In Sheepscot Bay, Little Sebago, the ocean at Pemaquid and Popham,
Body-surfing at Scarborough (or wherever we went), to taste
The lingering tidal scent of the saltmarsh on our tongues.

~Leah C. Stetson TP Subscribe

The Wreck and the Abyss

 

I heard from an electric man,
Booming commands like winter,
His voice, as rare as thundersnow,
‘I want you,’ unashamed as scarlet sky
At sea; its clumsy clouds mirrored
My mauve heart, and a fanatical force,
To siphon the blood in his veins,
A velvety crescendo at hand
Caught in a misshapen idea of me.
When he commandeered a strange brig
Its sails and mast were splintered,
Twisted roots and blotting paper,
Fueled on Irish whisky and ginger beer,
Nevertheless, he stood sand-blasted
And triumphant; his brow, scowl-lined,
Unwatered and stung from listless wars
Fought (man versus himself, at times)
Far from familiar shores.

He was, as they say, a wreck.

Did he thirst for disaster?
I’ve got an uncanny way to know
(Reading the Tarot, albeit faster)
Defiant, I danced, slipping along
The icy luge-like drive, white-edged
Banks, marbled alabaster, plowed
And pocked by the dog and deer,
My snowshoe-paths, once
An orderly plan, now crashed
Indistinguishably bewildered
I romped through the woods,
Unharmed, unheard—

Unchecked.

Still, I wanted a navigator.

I obeyed none before him,
Why fiddle with that? Yes,
My savage hair wilted
To curled reeds, foam-tipped
In the bath. I’m a private steamy
Abyss, dreaming boat slips
To make me over: a clear lake,
Or river, swimmable; navigable;
Instead I’m insatiable, bottom-less
With a merrow’s repeated apology,
“I must go;” and he supposed
A low hum, barely a lion’s
Fremitus, inaudible to a mere
Human-girl, (but I hear
Preternaturally well) might arouse
A subterranean mantelpiece,
Stoke the fires in my breast,
Nearly fatal to any man
Except him, I expect.

In our joined subconscious,
We pretend the stinging tang
Of salted roads that separate us
Creep deep into our throats, akin
To an astringent, a reliable remedy,
Rather than a kiss; it wants
To descend into the esophagus,
Not cling desperately
Begging uvulas, but to fall,
Digesting slowly
Into the gut.

It’s the one place we trust.

 

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

Twitter Updates

Past Posts

Strange Wetlands Blog: Strange Wetlands™

Raecine Ardis Wilkinson

Sessions and healings by intuitive reader and priestess, Raecine Ardis Wilkinson

claire houston | p h o t o g r a p h e r

a collection of single images

Truly Teach Me Tarot

The Art of Holistic Tarot Therapy

Confessions from a Homecoming Queen

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tupelo Press

Live from the Loft

Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Lezlie Moore

Always leave them wanting Moore

Wish I Were Here

Journeys Through Place and Time

Miss Modernist

Written Word of the Modern Era

The Daily Coyote

Musings of a Maine lake dweller

The Ark of Identity

Laura M Kaminski's poetry practice and links

Introduction

Just another WordPress.com site

Catherine Evans Latta

Poems for Everyone

BridgeBuzz

Public relations issues and trends

Natural History Wanderings

Sandy Steinman's Blog

Mixed Waters

A look at the conditions and events surrounding estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters