Cloudbank 6 includes poetry and flash fiction by Stuart Friebert, Phil Kennedy, Sarah Carson, Albert Garcia, David Axelrod, Diane Holland, Jenna Rindo, Jenny Rood, Carlos Reyes and others. Salt Pier by Dore Kiesselbach and In My Father’s House by John Hodgen are reviewed.
Issue introduction by Michael Malan
The Word Is Rabbit
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,
You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
A supporting role in the poem is played by a cat (or possibly two cats, “the red cat“ and “the little green cat“). The cat is introduced in the second stanza of the poem: “There was the cat slopping its milk all day, / Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk . . .”
Interpretations depend pretty much on what the reader brings to the poem. Harold Bloom reads the poem philosophically: “The rabbit is the Sublime or Transcendental consciousness-without-being in Stevens, while the cat is his mere being-without-consciousness.” Susan B. Weston places the poem in the context of Stevens’ transition in the late 1930s “from a doctrine of imagination to a doctrine of the word.” She quotes “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven” : “. . . words of the world are the life of the world.”
Other critics, like Helen Vendler, are dismissive of Stevens’ work during this period: “. . . one side or another of Stevens’ expressiveness seems to be restrained, ignored, or falsified, in violent seesaws of effort.”
The poem, I think, can be enjoyed simply for its images, in the way we might appreciate a painting. Suspend critical thought. Be the night. Be the trees. Be the rabbit.
PRIZE WINNING POEM
A Nice Day in February
by Phil Kennedy
It takes you through the whole calendar
and around the world,
out of the severe clear winter night’s icy grip—
frost on the windshield, underfoot
crunching the pingoes in the driveway mud
out to get the paper, the bitter stars
biting like diamonds.
The dog, who can’t remember
there was ever anything but winter anyway,
chuffing at some rude message
posted on the mailbox post,
the rosy pink cloud at the surprisingly early sunrise,
echoed in the winter-blooming porch roses,
gets you as far as California,
where they have no word for weather,
only the eternal pinkness of flowers,
and in the cheeks of surfer girls.
By eight the Douglas squirrel is annoying
the Pine Siskins, and in the backlit pasture
the viburnum is determined to leaf out,
a latitudinal error—call it spring
if you dare, like cherry blossom time in D.C.,
the whole house ballooning
under the pressure of light
forcing its way in under the eaves
and blowing you outside.
By noon you have left even Florida behind
and, wiping the hemlock deadfall
from your adirondack chair,
you now sit on an island
somewhere in the Carribean,
or is it the Mediterranean,
and though you know Triton might blow
his cold tramontane at any moment,
for now there is only the sun on the olives
you can see so clearly, golden light
warming the back of your hand
from which the garden glove has been removed,
the sharp sounds of winter are dulled
in the soupy bright air.
And when the breeze is still
for one drowsed moment you are in Malabar,
imagining the agility of reptiles,
quickened in the heat,
rustling among large tropical leaves
maybe a monsoon is coming.
A trickle of sweat and
your sweater must come off,
dusky maidens wearing unfamiliar types of jewelry
children in T-shirts with corporate logos
running on the beach,
the sparkling surf blinds you,
the whine of an insect reminds
it is actually possible to tire of summer.
The sun crosses behind one tree,
and with the shadow on your face, autumn arrives.
The dinner-plate oak leaves you imagined,
their shady protection now ridiculous,
are falling, and by five you are migrating
over the steppes of Mongolia, looking anxiously
for a good place to set up the yurt before sundown
when the cold Siberian mistral
will blow you on across the solstice,
over the bulge of the cold Pacific
that acknowledges no seasons, perhaps
bending your trajectory north to Alaska,
where there may be wild streaming northern lights,
a shuddering of foolish crocus shoots,
back to February, where you started,
black winter night with its cold howling starlight,
the porch is abandoned,
and the furnace clicks on.
Poets and writers in Cloudbank 6
C. R. Resetarits