Cloudbank 12 includes poetry by Robert Morgan, Kimo Reder, Kirsten Rian, Amy Bracken Sparks, and many others. Book reviews for Lichen Songs: New and Selected Poems by George Venn, OK By Me by Sheila Sanderson, and Physics for Beginners by John Peter Harn are included.
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Issue introduction by Michael Malan
After Cloudbank co-editor Peter Sears passed on last summer I received many thoughtful emails from our friends in the poetry world. To several I sent this reply:
After I heard that Peter had passed on, I opened
my thought to his spirit and here’s what I got:
The gates are open. Poets are listening to secret
songs. The mouse in the furnace has died in its
secret breath. I am living next door to Hart Crane.
I am having a great time. I am flying. I am no longer
earth-bound. I am free.
I’m not sure about the mouse, whether I heard it right,
or maybe the mouse represents Peter’s ego.
He and I had many wonderful times together.
I believe we will see each other again, share poems,
and talk about what will become our “online” journal.
After I sent this email, I felt a bit embarrassed. What if our friends don’t believe in heaven? I wondered. Will they think me silly and/or naive? Or just overly emotional. (I hoped for the latter.)
Peter and I worked together for over twenty years. We started Cloudbank Books in 1999 with the publication of Millennial Spring: Eight New Oregon Poets. We traveled up and down western Oregon—from Scappoose to Klamath Falls—to sell and promote the book. Thirteen other books followed, along with Cloudbank, the journal, launched in 2009.
We continued reading and selecting poems for the magazine until a few weeks before Peter’s departure in July, 2017. He read every poem submitted for the journal. Our discussions were lively. We didn’t always agree, but would compromise with “OK, if you like that poem, we’ll put it in” or “OK, you don’t like that poem, we’ll leave it out.”
Of course, I did see Peter again, in a dream. I was siting in a bar telling a story to some friends. I turned and Peter was sitting next to me on a stool, listening. I thought of his poem, “Snow at Night”:
I’m like the snow at night in the field.
Most of the time you can’t see it, then it glistens.
This reminded me of a poem in Robert Bly’s book, Silence in the Snowy Fields:
After many strange thoughts,
Thoughts of distant harbors, and new life,
I came in and found the moonlight lying in the room.
The associative leap from snow to moonlight worked for me, especially with the title of Bly’s book providing the link. The rhythm in both lines (6 beats) is similar and the way the words work together—“light”, “lying” in Bly’s poem and “most”, “glistening” in Peter’s poem helped me make the jump. How words work together by echoing each other is part of the magic (and music) of poetry.
In my dream, Peter isn’t speaking, just sitting sagely at the bar, uniting us, his students, in the art of verse. Another of his poems popped into my thinking:
I have started to go—
when I turn in my chair and wave to someone leaving,
the person isn’t leaving, I am.
I think of waving
but the air doesn’t work
and I’m smaller, lighter, and passing through.
[“I Won’t Need Legs There”]
Migration by Kirsten Rian
Suppose, then, all the birds in the world line up
and perch along the equator—for luck, for love.
It is spring and migrating patterns confluence
back and forth—give me what I need in the guise
of what I want, call it north, south, be it marriage,
divorce. Yesterday while walking the dog my boy
tells me he still cries alone in his room a lot.
Suppose, then, we wake from hibernation—
for light, for longer days. It is spring and my daughter
mows the lawn with our hand pusher. Later,
she yells at me, I tell her to clean up her mouth,
she emerges from her room 30 minutes later
with silence is everything scrawled up and down
and around her right arm, she walks around the house
with her arm held up like a banner, like a drawn sword,
like an estuary jutting off from the river toward some ocean
I can hear but can’t see. But it’s there,
covering seventy-one percent of my earth, it’s there
pounding my shore, the one she’s headed for
while I wait here for the coroner’s report that will arrive
in week eight and now in week six I’m thinking no one
dies of nothing, no one walks into a hospital and
dies of nothing, do they? Suppose, then, all the birds
of the world line on the wire strung in front of our house
like a forecast, like a sign, like a treaty delivered on wings
through air in place of your apology for leaving us here.
Poets and writers in Cloudbank 12
Amy M. Clark
B. W. Jackson
Katharyn Howd Machan
Kevin J. McDaniel
D. C. Miller
Amy Bracken Sparks
Matthew J. Spireng
Robert Joe Stout
Anne F. Walker