Cloudbank 5 includes poetry and flash fiction by Dore Kiesselbach, Clemens Starck, Babara Drake, Gary Lark, J.P. Dancing Bear, Eleanor Berry, Rodger Moody and others. Floating Verses by Jim Shugrue, White Shirt by Christopher Buckley, and Birds of Paradise by Christine Kitano are reviewed.
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Issue introduction by Michael Malan
Twists & Turns
Imaginative twists and turns can add bling to a poem. Unexpected juxtapositions can help us see things in a new way. Associations are made in the poet’s mind not on rational basis, but more in the context of a poetic logic that operates outside the rational universe. A good example is “Potato” by Shinkichi Takahashi.
Inside of one potato
there are mountains and rivers.
This poem can be read on many levels: 1) Do we sometimes overlook the marvelous concealed within the mundane? 2) Now that’s an exciting associative and imaginative leap: transforming a vegetable into a Bierstadt landscape. (Of course, this depends somewhat on the visualizing power of the reader.) 3) What a nut! What has Takahashi been smoking?
Many of us tend to be more comfortable with linear narratives that describe something familiar, poems that don’t stray too far from the safety of middle-class sensibilities. By way of contrast, here’s the first stanza of a poem by César Vallejo that includes several startling images:
I know there is someone
looking for me day and night inside her hand,
and coming upon me, each moment, in her shoes.
Doesn’t she know the night is buried
with spurs behind the kitchen.
[“Poem to Be Read and Sung”]
Ouch. It’s one thing to be looking for the poet in our hand, but do we really want him in our shoes? And the night with “spurs behind the kitchen” sounds pretty scary, like something out of Bram Stoker or Edgar Allan Poe, rather than one of Peru’s best-loved poets.
PRIZE WINNING POEM
Snowshoeing Mt. Tom
by James K. Zimmerman
in a neural web that seeks its way
like blind fingers between rocks
now dormant under the crystalline
sheen of just-fallen snow
and through a warp and weft
of grey shale ledges interwoven
with the dendritic roots of
statuesque or scoliotic maples
and ash, spruces and pines
the timeworn path is beaten
but never beaten down it rises
to greet me in crunch and flurry
slowing my unheedingly hurried pace
to a rhythm at one with the flow
of breath and receding thought
and here in the early afternoon sun-
light some would call lemon yellow
that is closer perhaps to tarnished
heirloom silver, I see the trees
as a forest
while the maples red and sugar
and the pines white and black
know the forest as a snowbound
and here in the open mind of silence
I hear the path as a bloodline
veining itself through the skin
on the back of the hand of the earth
while norway spruce and white ash
see me as a solitary blurred moment
and black pine and red maple
hear me as the murmur of a recollected
dream forgotten once again
and so I say: when I am ready to die
bring me here to the forest and
leave me to wait in the unending
heartbeat of wintering trees
Poets and writers in Cloudbank 5
Nancy J. Bringhurst
Susana H. Case
J. P. Dancing Bear
Cindy Williams Gutiérrez
John C. Morrison
James K. Zimmerman