June 2023 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

New poems by R. ZAMORA LINMARK, KEVIN CRAFT, and COLE W. WILLIAMS

Table of Contents: 
—R. Zamora Linmark, “Under the Influence”
—Kevin Craft, “Basin and Range” and “Or Later We Become Our Parents”
—Cole W. Williams “Gombe”

 

Under the Influence
By R. Zamora Linmark

After watering the baby navel orange tree
rosemary and sage I left the garden before 
the rain returned and sped to Ala Moana mall
after my brother told me nothing beats retail
shopping under the influence of grief
especially when everything from Spring must go
so wail flail your arms wildly like a child drowning
stomp in your black leather sandals for Gethsemane
but for Pete’s sake please pedicure first
you want your sorrow to be of first rate honey
equated with Achilles and not Manchego cheese-
like heels then hit Zara and buy that slim-fitted
charcoal-gray pants with matching coat
you’ve been dreaming of that varsity jock
letterman jacket with green sleeves and decal
in Greek one size smaller if available
a perfect motivator to wake up very early
in the morning load the Biki bike with your inflatable
board and oars and balancing between choppy
waters and gusty winds paddle from one end
of the beach to the next just a little after sunrise.

 

Basin and Range
By Kevin Craft

No place we’ve lived but the lake dries out
just as the swan dive begins.
No one to raise his hand
when the teacher calls roll,
sixth grade heart pumping donated plasma.

One day he’s there,
the next we’re reading about leukemia
and what are the chances
a boy outlives his broken blood.
Poor Mike. That’s what we said

in the quiet corners of recess
at the stone kicking edge of the field.
Bloodline, life line, a hand held out,
someone to read it. What have we missed?
Once after school I took a screwdriver

to my thumb, drawing just enough red
to press into my best friend’s likewise
self-inflicted wound, our two thumbs stuck
together, fists interlocked in brotherhood
forever. It’s what we heard you did

if you wanted to hew close
to this world long enough to look back
wondering which absence
still holds you in its aching limbs.
The lake dries out taking with it

poison carp, jump rope,
whoever walked on water.
When I first call the agency
to glean what I can about my own
sealed medical history, the woman

on the landline notes with clinical
enthusiasm an uncle has four kidneys.
That’s one way to cobble a secret society—
stories to line our pockets,
a surfeit of risk and ward. 

But no names. A biography in outline only—
Hole-in-the-Ground, thermodynamics—
yesterday’s kestrel hovering
hovering over an inland sea. Before marrow
there was maar, the tuff ring eroded

of basalt snarling water in a gusher of steam.
Today I drive a dusty sedan through basin
and range toward its planned obsolescence.
Fort Rock, Summer Lake—lonesome
lives inside us like an island we can swim to

dreaming. Terminal the playa—meaning
no outlet but sinking or evaporation—
water stitching salt to silt like a sworn pact
or residue of alien memory—
blood in another boy’s vein.

 

Or Later We Become Our Parents
By Kevin Craft

Maybe you just wait it out.
You don’t need my advice.
Take yarrow: to some it smells

pleasant, like a drive-through matinee,
to others like damp socks,
an ashtray in the basement.

Some things will grow anywhere.
Barnacle on a barnacle. Worry
on a walk. Bee sting on a pedigree.

You don’t need to collect antiques
to wind up with the grandfather clocks.
Summer comes sweeping over the hills

drying up mosses, yellowing grasses.
Then come the fox kits
sniffing out sparrows.

How much quiet does it take
to fashion a savanna?
Think of the kelp crab

climbing the piling
to the height of the tide—
the one thing it will touch today.

A dozen sailboats moor in the cove,
stick figures gathering
pitch roll yaw.

The same could be said
of a clawfoot tub.
My mask is a jellyfish

drifting between ice ages.
Some things will grow anywhere—
tulip in concrete,

crane’s foot in a crumbling vault.
The Vashon glaciation
left us this meadow,  

poppies brightening the drop cloth
end of it, one long stop-
motion landslide holding out

for a shoreline to flood.
Yarrow for fever, for toothache,
yarrow for stemming the blood.

 

Gombe
By Cole W. Williams

Jane Goodall put her child in a cage; the chimpanzees roamed free.
Jane Goodall knew animals better than man; that’s not true, it’s never true.

Man spends millennia trying to Know Thyself; searching for unequivocal Truths.
Man picks up the stone, the stick, the dodo head: all lens unto Thyself. 

On an airplane ride I watch Jane—a documentary with Jane Goodall as narrator.
Is it necessary to portray breakdown in the marriage; it feels awfully Princess Diana;

awfully car crash, unless there is a deeper allegory about intimacy, about rigor
and the truths of life, the limits to where intellect and heart can meet—is there 

a crossroad here? It may be better for man to live more than 75 years: 4,000 years,
we may preserve more wisdom if we were more closely related to Bristlecones. 

Jane sure was shocked when the chimpanzees lost the matriarch and chaos broke out,
Jane always seemed shocked at the chaos, but chaos is a law we Humans decided 

was Unequivocal a long time ago; plane passengers around me sure were shocked
to look over at my screen and see a male chimp taking a female from behind in broad

daylight, the puritan that I am I covered his Grace and tried to fast-forward,
but wondered if I was compromising something of myself for not being more Jane-

like, there’s no way Jane would fast-forward, so anyway, Flo dies and the community
of chimps fracture into two factions; one leaving the site of the original, it appeared

there was peace, it appeared Flo’s son, Flint, died of heartache. Alas, the Originals
went and found the Detractors, hunted them, and thumped their asses until they were

dead. Jane Goodall’s husband was growing sick and tired of all the chimp obsessions,
even when Jane discovered Murder, Cannibalism, Compassion; maybe he didn’t like

his son in a cage either; he fell in love with the Serengeti, and began visiting more
often for longer until the deep orange and lion’s manes sunk deep into his heart, 

in a strange way, you have Jane to thank if you have ever lost your breath
at the miraculous early footage of the Serengeti, because why did Hugo van Lawick

stake his claims with water buffalo and not chimps? Because he had to. Because we
are not so mysterious after all and Hugo gave Jane an ultimatum to test her love, duh

Hugo, you’re going to lose. Jane chose Authority, she chose Missionary, the World,
F-Family, Legacy, and Bobble Heads [apparently, I went too far as I cannot find proof

of this last assertion, but there is Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Austin, and Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring
bobblehead; $31.95, all available]. For a while, Jane was translating lessons from the jungle

deep back to the hapless, wandering lost lollipop souls, every animal behavioralist man
turned on his head to have a woman fix his theory, go Jane, but the Truth of Jane, 

as all Truths, are far more nuanced than documentary allow, after all, documentaries
are propaganda too, they are trying to convince you to love the world you are attuned 

to—you lettuce—show some appreciation, so it may not be worth, in between dispelling
myths and theories and before the call-to-action credits to add a short section on;

White Supremacy, Colonization, Privilege, White Bias, Extending Privilege, the Harms of
Academia, Exploitation, Exploitation for Personal Gain, Exploitation of Family, Exploitation

of Local Indigenous Community, White Saviorism, Chimpanzee Disease, Alliance for Leaving
Wild Creatures Alone, Anthropomorphic Override for Myopic Views, God, Gods, Worship, 

Data on the number of children who sought out nature after watching Gorillas in the Mist.
Shit, that’s Dian Fossey, did they know each other, Number of children who are read a Goodall 

Story at bed and think, that’s nice, I want to be Jane Goodall when I grow up, but the closest
they get is to be an airline steward, handing out headphones to crabby, cold, blank-faced

Florida vacationers, like me, is anyone else distressed at the idea of chimps sitting in the jungle
watching chimps use a twig or a leaf and writing notes about it? I can be flippant. I am 

on the future side of Jane’s research and it is hard to fully grasp how much worse academia
was before Jane, but still, the live video footage slows down and the music changes

to impending doom when one chimp attempts to spear another, no worries though, quickly
the music shifts back to bouncy as chimps play tug-of-war, where in the world did we get

our habits from? I want to know from the airline if anyone else watches this insufferable
documentary, a tonic for flight anxiety, I want to know if Jane ever loved him, and I want

to know why her son was nicknamed Grub. I also want to know if she had a secret love
affair and if she has any regrets. I’m tired of buttoned up Jane, I want to hear Jane
say Goddammit, you fools, I’ve been telling you for decades now. I want to see Jane 

drunk and I want to take notes.

R. Zamora Linmark‘s most recent poetry collection is Pop Verité. He has just completed Open Mic at Mandoo Lily’s Unending Memorial Service and is editor of the forthcoming Eh, No Talk Li’Dat, a book about Hawai’i Creole English. He lives in Honolulu.  

Kevin Craft lives in Seattle and directs the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College. His books include Solar Prominence, selected by Vern Rutsala for the Gorsline Prize from Cloudbank Books (2005) and Vagrants & Accidentals, published in the Pacific Northwest Poets Series of the University of Washington Press (2017). His new collection,Traverse, is forthcoming in 2023 from Lynx House Press. Editor of Poetry Northwest from 2009—2016, he now serves Executive Editor of Poetry NW Editions.

Cole W. Williams is a poet, essayist, and hybrid writer. Recent works are featured with Florida Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, Water~Stone Review, Eastern Iowa Review, Xinachtli Journal, and other journals. Williams read offsite at AWP 22’ with The Night Heron Barks. Her piece, “The Godwin Essay” was recognized by the International Human Rights Arts Festival’s Creators of Justice Award; 2021. Williams attended the 2022 Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference within the poetry cohort. 

June 2023 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

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