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Pushcart Nominees

A portrait of winds (Excerpts)

 

            ii.

Which currents shall I ride towards you?
Hand me a moving map:
water feathers from the equator,
whorls along coastlines.
I will reckon.
I will drift.
I will propel myself.

I will swirl in Coriolis blossoms.

            iii.

My breath glances off your ear
and returns to caress the space above my lips.
I could draw you with my eyes closed:

a portrait of winds.

            iv.

Excavate.  Lay bare
the strata of my history:
the reversal of poles long ago
written in layers of rock,
the slow drift of plates

once solid as pledges of love. 

I have as many names as past lovers,
exotic terrain left by collision.

You will find their names written beneath my skin.

            v.

h = a/d,
where d is distance,
a, the apparent height of objects,

h, the true height.

When he kissed me daily, I knew him by the bend in his neck.
His silhouette is now the size of my palm.

The distance between us is the ratio: then to now.

I knew his apparition only.
If I had gauged the distance between us,

I would have known who he was.

            viii.

No single map can mark
this expanse from me to you.
I can only offer an atlas of charts,
each a modest moment:
this evening I listen to the ring
of your finger on bisque porcelain;
I note the tessellation of cracks
on the earthen surface of your statues.

Above us, the moon continues beyond metaphor.

            xii.

Mountain is slow wave;

wave, quickened mountain.

 Travel through me.

Bonnie Kwong

                                       Richmond, California

Caitlin roberts: redwing, 1888

 

He’d read to me long summer afternoons
the poems of William Cullen Bryant, each
strong line like gravity shared by twin moons
held by a single planet. And he’d teach
me symmetry, the way our hands could join
in balanced touch of palm to palm, skin’s heat
a way to meld, connected. Like a coin
with different sides fused at smooth edge to meet,
we found ourselves one being. How to know
why time and luck can bring together two
to love each other through their loving so
another’s words of light and life, one who
appreciated gifts of air and earth,

green seasons singing long before their birth?

 

                                        Katharyn Howd Machan
                                        Ithaca, New York

UNTITLED

 

In the same year that
time came to our house
the mapmaker returned

to my dreams and

if I called him
it was in a dark language
of animal faces.

Solitary before

bridges made of
the 4 a.m. rain.
Or in temporary

pairs while light

falls on hollow trees.
We spoke once and I
showed you this despair.

Beneath the surface

fish turned gold in
black water and
swam through

folded paper.

 

                                        Rachel Blum
                                        Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

CHAIN REACTION, FUKUSHIMA

 

If they find the canary
in the coal mine
dead—
trouble ahead.
Massive die-off
of starfish on west coast,
can this point a finger
further west
where the ocean heaved
four years ago
breaching the sea wall,
spilling the cauldron?
Atomic heat became the drill tip—
went deep into the earth.
Poisoned water now flows to
the great Pacific,
a third of all seas,
hundreds of tons a day without end.
When does the food chain break
and drop us
face skyward
hands clutched

to our knees?

 

                                        Bruce Gallie
                                        Rancho Cucamonga, California

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