Photo credit: Chelista E. Linkous
Speckled Trout Review’s Fall 2020 (2.2) publication is a print issue on the theme of crisis. Poems in this collection address the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustices, power of place, health and aging, and other noteworthy subjects. To order a copy of Fall 2020 (2.2), readers can contact STR at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put order in the subject line. A single print issue is $10.00.
Kevin J. McDaniel, Founder of Speckled Trout Review
Nancy Dillingham, Associate Editor
Featured poets: Elizabeth Bagby, Joan Barasovska, Michael Carrino, Ann Chinnis, Ed Davis, Mark Defoe, Betsy Hearne, Richard Jones, Joel Long, Deanna Ludwin, Marilyn McVicker, George Moore, Marc Swan, Iain Twiddy, James Willard
Gypsum Mine, Skanesbukta
The twisted vertebrae of rails, slipped
free of trestles, curve up the slope
to the square, mean hole in the mountainside,
screened off with wire now, and further blocked
by fallen braces. Snow coats the rotting wood,
the ground a slick peril of ice and mud
studded with tussocks of red-black grass.
Whatever anyone wanted here, assume
they prised it bloody-fingered from the rock,
or died within, unheralded, crushed
in a collapse, or claimed by creeping frostbite,
or simply lost along some fatal path,
wandering in and in, in dwindling light.
Down the beach, the wrack of a wooden boat
lists on its keel, a coppered hulk, wind-stripped,
sunk in the frozen sand, planks and strakes
black with damp, gray with salt spume.
Whose? How old? How lost? The violet afternoons dim
the recollection of decades. Not every deed
becomes a memory—nor every monument a statue.
E. A. Bagby, a multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago, is a recent literary resident of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation (Taos, NM). Her writing and music have appeared onstage with companies including Strange Tree Group, Sansculottes, and the American Myth Center. She is also the lead singer and songwriter for the indie group Liz + the Baguettes.
The Cure, After Ishion Hutchinson
The angel says find contagion’s cure. I find it
in my kitchen, soaking in soap scum and butter.
I discover it in murk and neglect. I alone.
When Lie and Wall Street dress nurses
in scarves and trash bags, I stand
under hospital tents at night, count
falling stars, even my own. I find
a rope and a stick to dance over contagion’s canyon,
where ass, eating smaller ass, look up with ass in their
mouths, startled. The angel commands find a cure,
but make it quick, and cheap. I find my cure under dirty dishes,
floating in my sink’s stink. I discover my cure in Chapters.
That test tube, Chapter One, I call Begin;
I put all life in there.
I put Begin to make my cure loved.
Next Chapter I call Greed. I put money-thing’s shadows.
I put Greed to make my cure last.
Next Chapter, I call Hate. I put races and gods,
prisons and borders. I put Hate to make
my cure strong. The last Chapter, I call Fool.
In this tube, I put them all: Politicians
who wrote Greed and Hate, the Fools
who gave them a scarf, instead of a sword.
I put Fool to make my cure real.
I station my cure’s reagents, red and yellow,
next to my bread and coffee.
The yellow radium catalyzes my cure.
I pipette it into tubes that glow like the blood
moon. My tubes will survive all planets.
My tongue glows, and my hands
pulp the red from cherries, beets, raspberries.
My hands, my tongue, my mouth, my cure,
red, ready, a sun rising steady, slow
over a black, soulless sea.
The angel wants to pour the cure herself,
but I alone decant my fluorescing
physic onto the elm’s roots in winter’s dead,
inhale the sulfur cloud as the tree blooms,
full of green shine. I catch
the apple that falls from its limbs.
I am the motherboard, Chernobyl, the yeast,
the bulb. I am all of this.
I take the bite I deserve.
Ann Chinnis has worked as an Emergency Medicine Physician and teacher of Emergency Medicine for 40 years, as well as a leadership coach. In an effort to reconnect with her love of writing, as well as to understand her experience of medicine through poetry, she has studied at the Writers Studio in New York.
Burying the Dead on Hart Island
Her whistle made plants wilt. He could tie
a fly like a blue dragonfly. He could play
the banjo out of rhythm. Her mother
told her to come home early, to pick up the plates,
to make her bed before she left her room.
He hit baseballs with his best friend
in the parking lot by the bishop’s house
then smoked cigarette butts they gathered
from his parent’s ash tray. The trees
got dizzy with it. She always wanted to see
Venice, the Bridge of Sighs, the Doges Palace.
He stole a stop sign when he was twelve.
She screamed at her sister when she let
the dog run away. On the island, they let
the big machines dig the hole this time,
deep enough to begin the foundation for
an apartment building. She crocheted ducks
the size of thumbs and gave them to her daughter
in tiny nests. He sang in the shower so no one
could hear he could sing. The prisoners
from the island lift the boxes with rubber gloves.
They wear masks that were hard to come by.
Everyone here is healthy, so they let them do
the labor of unloading the trucks while birches
begin to sprout leaves, that yellow green of springtime
that comes out wet from the darkness, sticky
from the underneath. Every box is labeled
for storage. Every box has a name and a date,
so that when the beloved comes, when the flood
is over, the box can be found in the records
the city keeps. She believed in angels. He played
cards when he was alone. It is a quiet city
they are building. The apartments are too narrow.
Where are the elevators? Where are the cupboards?
She looked out the window to watch the delivery trucks
deliver fresh fish to the restaurant on the street.
He wrote in his journal about the smells coming
from the sewers and the saxophone song spilling
from the fire escape. And daffodils bloom and lilacs
lift a thousand tight fists concealing the great scent
the world keeps hidden until now, and two prisoners
stack one more box, pull the dirt over the lot of them.
She learned to use her cell phone to send her granddaughter
a photo of her dog. He charmed his wife with pomegranates
and wine, a joke he heard in the bar from a drunk.
Joel Long’s book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Lessons in Disappearance (2012) and Knowing Time by Light (2010) were published by Blaine Creek Press. His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published from Elik Press. His poems and essays have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Sports Literate, Prairie Schooner, Bellingham Review, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Massachusetts Review, Terrain, and Water-Stone Review, among others. He lives in Salt Lake City.
The Words Shaking Free
with thanks to Elizabeth Barrett Browning
When my own soul stands up erect, strong,
sixty years sprawling backwards, the future
dawning near and nearer, what bitter wrong
can there be, that I should not gather
Think: From minister’s daughter, to wedded wife,
to lesbian life, through child-raising, dog-training,
bread-baking. Through garden-planting
and tomato-canning. As camp director, pool operator,
music teacher, flute performer.
I have stood before thousands with music in my hands.
I have stood with children clinging to my skirts
and known it all to be snatched away. I have stood
before doctors, allergists, immunologists, infectious
disease specialists, my body imploding with sickness
We came to the mountains to heal. My deep dear silence
is pierced: We Don’t Want Queers in This County.
And I sing the perfect song, spin the silver silky thread
of Debussy, Bach, Ravel, Poulenc, filling the air
with shimmering song, while the beloved cooks kale
and carrots from her garden. I will stay here, in this
remote cove, where deer graze out my window,
chickadee visits the feeder, wren nests on the porch.
I will stand up tall and strong, claim this place to stand
and love in, for today and tomorrow, however many
days are left, with darkness and light, wind
rattling the trees, the words shaking free.
Marilyn McVicker has published most recently in Kakalak, Earth’s Daughters, Front Porch Review, among others. She published a non-fiction book, Sauna Detoxification Therapy, in 1997, and a chapbook, Some Shimmer of You, in 2014. She currently lives in the western mountains of North Carolina. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
After Siegfried Sassoon
One war was prelude but never outdone
for its crimes against the individual and each man
dead torn to bits each hour spent in chest-high mud
each day on a line where the line across was met
by the eyes of enemies or friends was a map
to this present future
The bonds the bombs the blinding insanity
of trench and gas and hours to days when nothing moved
a prelude to the madness of the century
that comes around to the smallest new invasion
more deadly than the napalm drones or kill-boxes
and the inventive ways we find to finalize
the social and anti-social distances
The hungry little bug that believes nothing of equality
and brings out the best and worst of human sense
a new music to the tune of madness
to the heart’s collapse and the fever
that wars once took the blame for
George Moore’s collections include Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016). Published in POETRY, Colorado Review, Atlantic, and Orion, Moore has been nominated for six Pushcart Prizes, shortlisted for the Bailieborough Prize, and long-listed for the Gregory O’Donoghue and Ginkgo Prizes.
Woodchuck and Woodchip
Ornate in an old-world style, a solid wood
coffin, on top a replica of the woodcarver—
eyes closed, hands clasped, then the box
with a small hole on the side to deposit
a Toonie* if you are inclined.
A living memory of the Woodchuck
who wasn’t ready to die. His wife,
affectionately called the Woodchip,
tells their story on a remote stretch
of highway in a double-masted gallery
he built on the Acadian coast. Two years,
but I keep his spirit alive. We amble
through the studio: shelves of books,
antiques, vintage LPs, more carvings—
intricate details of life in New Brunswick.
Each one from a slab of pine, the work
became days, became weeks and months.
Seventeen years of personal history
in this respite from howling winter storms,
a few licks of summer heat, now a stop
for tourists at this quiet seaside retreat.
* a two-dollar Canadian coin
Marc Swan’s latest collection, all it would take, was published in May 2020 by tall-lighthouse https://tall-lighthouse.co.uk/marc-swan/. Poems are forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Stony Thursday Book, Nerve Cowboy, among others.
He lives in coastal Maine with his wife Dd.