Fall 2022 (4.2)

Photo credit: Kevin J. McDaniel

Dear Readers,

We are excited to present this print issue of Speckled Trout Review on the theme of freedom. Wildly entertaining and creatively varied, these poems surprise and delight us in their range. Running the gamut from the “hearsay herd” of “cowshiners” drunk enough “to jump or, at least, to milk the moon,” to a cloistered nun becoming “a shooting star contained,” to the outlaw Billy the Kid who “gets what death is,” to an oil well “destined to be a star in the Milky Way,” these imaginative poems wondrously and metaphorically, and, at times, even humorously, illustrate Frost’s assertion that “freedom lies in being bold.” To order a copy of Fall 2022 (4.2), readers can contact STR at speckledtroutreview@hotmail.com. Please put order in the subject line. Single issue: $10.00.


Kevin J. McDaniel, Founder of Speckled Trout Review
Nancy Dillingham, Associate Poetry Editor

Featured Poets: Susie Aybar, Mary Buchinger, Tom Carrigan, Timothy Dodd, Sharon A. Foley,
Carol Grametbauer, Alison Hurwitz, Rick Kempa, Mary Messick, Ione O’Hara, Lao Rubert, Claude Smith,
Marc Swan, J. Tarwood, Russell Thorburn, Ellen Wright

My Best Friend Leaves the Convent

Still I wonder:  homesick or frailty?
Hard to follow the rigor of solitude?
I never had visions of her with boys.
But maybe?
The note at the stop of the stairs
just said Sister Mary went home today.
I wanted to ask her why she left,
but I am entrenched with nuns.
Nothing more should be asked.
Nothing more would be said. 
On my descent to the chapel, I look
down at my black, clunky shoes. Each step
makes a squeak on the polished stair.
Chrysanthemums embolden the altar.
I fix my eyes on Sister Mary Lomax,
the organist who plays like Bach.
The chamber swells. Something
leaps inside me:  a shooting star contained.

Sharon A. Foley is an aspiring writer and has poems published in Solstice, South Florida Poetry Journal, and The Big Windows Review. She entered the Sisters of Mercy at age eighteen and lived with them as a nun for twenty-nine years. Sharon has a B.A. in English from Salve Regina College and an MSW from Simmons College. She worked many years as a school social worker and is now a psychotherapist in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
   For Tamsin

Somewhere up the mountain
you might think to find them: 
that hearsay herd, grazing tipsily beneath 
the stars, fermenting, sloshed by firmament, 
four stomachs full of shine. Except
they don’t exist, those cows implied
by hoofprints in the mud.

Identity theft? You’re right.
This is cow impersonation, some 
Sherlockian device meant to deceive,
a piece of liquor trickery, sleight
of hoof below the moonlit sky. Udder
chicanery, milking cops’ credulity
for all it’s worth.

These brazen moonshiners, far from cowed, 
taunt the law off track, eschewing true discovery.  
Can you blame them? Life’s rocky, rough, and jagged 
on these old and hoary hills, where stills hide out in hollers: 
everyone’s just scraping by. Why not make 
yourself a little bolder just to muddle through? 
Why not brew something to smooth the edges out?

Some nights I picture them
shapeshifters, still ruminating grain
soliloquies, ripping millet from the ground
to make a mash: hoof magic. Cowshiners 
mooing, those bovine Bottoms, smashed 
on their own subterfuge, drunk enough 
to jump or, at least, to milk the moon.

Alison Hurwitz has most recently been featured in Global Poemic, Words and Whispers Journal, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus (Volumes 1 and 2), Tiferet Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Anti-Heroin Chic, Book of Matches Literary Journal, Amethyst Review, The Shore, and Rust and Moth. Her work is forthcoming in Thimble Magazine, SWWIM Every Day, Academy of the Heart and Mind, River Heron Review, The Jewish Writing Project, Minyan Magazine, and Carmina Magazine. Alison was a finalist for the grand prize in Volume 2 of Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus and received an honorable mention from Tiferet Journal for its annual poetry award. On the second Saturday of each month, Alison facilitates a free online poetry reading, Well-Versed Words, facebook.com/Iambicreative. She lives with her husband, two sons, and rescue dog in North Carolina.

Billy the Kid's Been Shot

Love kept him alive for days
on his saddle. Inside the gunfighter,
this filament of light. Under him
his horse-hobbled gait.
Dizzy arc of buzzards overhead.
His death ride may kill him
or reunite him with Angela.
Staring up at the stars, their prickled
cluster of no return, he feels his lips bead for mercy.  
In the heat of the desert, lavender hair tonic
crosses the corner of his mouth—death lurks
above as a hawk or shadows that eat up
gaping rattlesnake holes. It's so hot,
and he wishes to return, the sand dune 
lying there, her body. He’s William Bonney, 
shot and sand-blasted. He knows he’s wanted: Pat Garrett
sworn to bring him back over the saddle
of a horse from Mescalero Territory.
He talks crazy, seeing Angela’s hanging braids,
as if she were with him on the horse, 
her breasts against his shoulders.
He now gets what death is, with his wound
seeping through his shirt. A tortoise,
like a stopped clock, lifts its ancient head
to watch a grisly, unshaven face,
dust whipping up, his teeth clenched 
with sand that’s ingrained against sunburned skin. 
When he removes his hat, it blows away 
from him like a lost thought never to reclaim.

Russell Thorburn is the author of Somewhere We’ll Leave the World (Wayne State University Press). A National Endowment for the Arts recipient and first poet laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he lives in Marquette with his wife. His poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including, Respect: The Poetry of Detroit Music and Undocumented: Great Lakes Poet Laureates on Social Justice. Thorburn’s new poetry collection, Let It Be Told in a Single Breath, will be published by University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Cornerstone Press, in 2024.

Apotheosis of an Oilwell 
Dear Shareholders:
            Recent communication indicates Grampco
            has allowed all three leases from the Bureau 
            of Land Management to expire—two, as of
            October 31st, 2016, and, the final, as of
            August 31st, 2017.  
               –The Wild West Bank and Trust Co.
I always knew I was destined to be a star.
       And, sure enough, as soon as I escaped 
              the Bureau of Land Management
       to begin my ascent into Big Sky, 
I could feel my metal parts scintillate 
       into a disco ball of crystals and rhinestones 
and effulge into a golden Rapunzel train 
       glittering behind me.  
Too bad about the shrinking rabble 
      of tycoons whose greedy mitts 
             grabbed for possession of it 
      as I escaped Earth’s gravitational field.
Hard cheese for that smug little shit Moon 
      whose pebbly cheeks I pinched
on my way past.  Pit-tee for 
      Wynken, Blynken, and Nod 
tumbling all around their shoe-boat 
       in my wake.  As I skirted Orion, 
             I draped my train, boa-like, 
       around his shoulders,
stole a gulp of champagne 
        from the Big Dipper,
helped myself to a gorgeous iridescent 
       ensemble from Aurora Borealis’ closet.

Once, I looked briefly back at Earth.
        From this far in the cosmos, she was
               so small and begrimed I could 
        barely make out my squalid, little 
rust patch in the Wild West.
        Surely you don’t expect me to notice 
any of the scars inflicted
        by her greedy inhabitants.
Lately, as I swirl among its luminaries, 
        I find I like the way my laughter tinkles
                 against the cut glass of the Milky Way 
        where, it seems, I fit in very well.

Ellen Wright is the author of the poetry collection Family Portrait with Oilwell, forthcoming in summer 2023 from Kelsay Books, and the chapbook, In Transit, published in 2007 by Main Street Rag. She has recent work in Paterson Literary Review, Naugatuck River Review, Hole in the Head Review (online) and Quartet (online), among others.  Her master’s degree in comparative literature is from New York University. Born and raised in the greater Boston area, she now makes her home in Brooklyn and her living as a musician.

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