thirteen ways of looking at a pelican (4 – 5)

by shaindel beers


4.

The young man and his friends float the river
the Fourth of July
		                 Downstream are parade
sounds    neighing of horses     marching bands 
salvos of gunfire
		         
Here, there is only the river	soft lap of water
against the inner tube

			            The peace only occasionally
interrupted by an Oh shit! when a raft scuffs a rock
gets hung up on a branch

	     Miraculously, the pelicans sit still on the rocks
inspecting from ice blue eyes on either side of long beaks

		        Their heads tilt this way and that
but otherwise they are unmoved by these creatures

the only ones larger than they who float downstream
	    The young man has the odd feeling he has never
been so close to another breathing thing

He looks into the ice blue of the pelican’s eye as he floats
	    by     thinks of the day his eye drew this much
		        attention	      Hiding under the bill of his cap

eye surrounded by magenta bruise, fidgeting to the rhythm
of fluorescent light flicker 	the professor asking

	   My God, what happened?

He recalls the feel of the lie slipping out of his mouth

	    A baseball I didn’t catch

5.

We come home with the groceries, and I see
the slow V of pelicans floating over the neighborhood
try to tell if they are tracing the river.

I’ve heard they are one of the few bird species
that fly “for fun.” I wonder what that means,
try to imagine what it must feel like

to soar on thermals for up to fifteen miles
without flapping a wing, to climb the pillows
of hot air, drop down into coolness

to gain speed. This is called dynamic soaring.
I didn’t used to be so fascinated by anything
but now, I pull out my phone, try to record them.

They are immortalized as radar blips over
my neighbors’ chimney; in the background
my dog barks, my son is excited to be allowed

to run to the porch by himself. How could anything
be so effortless? I wonder what I might miss
if I were afforded their abilities, their innate sense

of measuring air temperature through their nostrils,
of spotting a single fish from sixty feet above water—
All I can imagine missing is the grey house

with its hot pink door which I drive by every day.

thirteen ways of looking at a pelican (1 – 3)

by shaindel beers


1.

The lone pelican in the reeds
of river’s edge seemed odd.
I stopped—watched—
did nothing.

Later in the paper the story
of its broken wing,
likely caused
by flying into a wire.

That it would probably be
euthanized. When you see
a pelican alone, it usually
means something is wrong
,
said the wildlife expert.

My self-doubt that kept me
from calling. Did I cause that pelican
more hours of suffering
or gift it a few more hours
of floating in the reeds,
a little while longer to bob
in the gentle current,
the coolness of water over webbed feet?

Forgive me, pelican. I also, am always alone,
also fly too recklessly for my own good.
 

2.

When I told you about the pelican—
that I thought I should have called someone.

You said, That’s your problem. You always
doubt your instincts
.

As a woman, I’ve been taught to ignore
connections. The ones between myself

and the moon, the tides
internal and external.

The way the pelican and I
for an instant

were one.
 

3.

The pelicans sit on the rocks preening,
a section of concert violinists bowing

apricot bills against snow velvet down
of breast. I wonder if they can hear

the friction of their surfaces one against
the other. If there is a making of music

out of their bodies. I remember them
later when the photographer says,

When you touch yourself,
when your fingers skim

the hollow between throat and clavicle
you are telling the viewer, Oh, my skin

is so soft, don’t you wish you could
touch it?

the three-body problem

by diane raptosh


               Solutions to the three-body problem may be of an arbitrary
complexity and are very far from being completely understood.  –Scholarpedia


i) Periodic Systems of Astronomical Interest

Like some Carica papayas, George Washington had the XXY condition. He
pointed out that he was statuesque, had no kids but rather broad hips,
a size 13 boot, and a fondness for swatches of calico. He liked to rub
and compare them, to watch them through moon-mote, to flutter and twirl
them in horseshoe orbits. He powdered his red-brown hair and tied it in
a braid down his back like a small mane. When George was elected, a
czarina reigned in Russia, a shogun lorded over Japan. Only the office
of President endures. In this case we can ignore the influence of the
light body on the other spheres. For assurance, Washington carried a
pocket sundial wherever he went. He bred hound dogs he named Tarter,
True Love, and Sweet Lips. He would spell words like blue as
blew, oil as oyl, and eie for an eye. The six white horses in Washington's
stables had their teeth brushed every morning. Washington's orders. As
can be seen, the three-body problem—its four degrees of freedom—offers
myriad options for public service.


ii) Without Loss of Generality, We Consider the Three-Body Problem on a Plane

                                                                         Three healthy male volunteers
in their 20s were placed bare-chested in front of cameras in light-tight rooms
for 20 minutes every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for three days.
Researchers watched body-gleam spool through the dark. “If you see the
sheen from the surface of three bodies, you can see the whole body condition,"
states researcher Etsuko Kobayashi from Kyoto U.


iii) Three Bodies of Equal Mass Follow Each Other at Uniform Spacing

If there was a drowning in the River Rappahannock, her mother would

note how that was the third in a series, even if it was not, or how there

would be a third drowning if two had taken place within the past six years.


iv) Celestial Mechanics

Her boyfriend is the mother of her child.


v) Two Bodies Move Closely Round Each Other and Around a Third Body Far Away

The oil-black aril-covered seeds in the papaya’s core, which smack 
of nasturtiums, have contraceptive effects in adult male langur monkeys

and handpicked blue-green eyed persons . . . .

 


“The Three-Body Problem” was first published in The Prose Poem Project, Fall 2010

rugged western individualism

by diane raptosh


A man who is his own wife gives birth to his identical twin through his belly button. For months, he thinks it’s a cyst. Fistula. Ingrown hair. A fir tree germinating in his spleen. He father-mothers this shriven boy, fine and tiny as walnut lung. With equal parts sweetmeats and a firm touch, he bathes this baby in a small green bowl—that wee, webbed blood of living kin. Nights, the man daubs his chafed nipples with tea bags and lays a wet cloth on his eyes. He tugs at the far left swirl of his mustache. He sometimes wonders out loud: Am I famished? Is this fullness? When he kisses his own hand, his wife strokes his cheek.

 


“Rugged Western Individualism” was first published in The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets (2013)

survey crew

by lesley-anne evans


Shock was not
canvas tents strung along
the shore of Lake Superior rather than sleazy
shag-carpeted motel rooms south of Marathon
no.

Shock was not flying clear dome bell chopper
black fly and bear territory
land-on-a-dime river side
in the middle of the God-forsaken-wilderness
or God’s country depending on how you look at it
no.

Shock was not watching Roy walk pissed off
straight into the bush for a three hour no map
bush-whack straight back to camp
to roll cigarettes
and hork into a smoldering fire
no.

Not night sky infinity
pin pricks bleeding out heaven
not silent adrenaline
pregnant pause voids
not hard luck off rez boys
drunk fireside fights
no.

Shock was
axe clean cut through boot and bone and
big Dan felled like a lodgepole, you pinned
like a bug to the forest floor.

 


“Survey Crew” was first published in The Antigonish Review Issue #177

pacific chorus

by lesley-anne evans


June hangs humid, and Spring Peepers 
call their lungs out just beyond 
the pasture fence. They are a wall 
of sound, a wave of mud dwellers 
all spit and polish in a lovestruck serenade
around the neighbour’s pond. 
  
Pacific Chorus of a thousand perfect pitch
and all for some lithe gal the next field over,
an unsuspecting young thing in a hot chase 
of the more and less suited. She’s empty bellied
and he’s thinking she’s a dish 
best served soon, riparian delight.

She waits at a meadow edge, held by voices 
vying for her and her sisters. All she needs
is a moments peace, hush 
in the dark, to consider if a mass of eggs 
between her legs 
is what she really longs for - with the moon ball 
suspending time, a woodland 
of knowing eyes, skunk cabbage 
unfolding herself, and the pond abuzz 
with fairy moth, mayfly, and water strider.

His green question lingers like eighth notes 
on the stave of her skin,

					dolce 
					delicato 
					dolchissimo 

the repetitious nature of hunger.

and so it goes

by lesley-anne evans


A resident must ensure that no air conditioning units, laundry, flags, clothing, bedding
or other articles are hung or displayed from windows, balconies or other parts
of the building so that they are visible from outside of the building.

Let’s imagine she hauls the basket up the iron steps around back 
and hangs the socks, toe first. Next the shirts, always upside down, 
measuring out the pegs and their double duty, one shirt holding
hands with the next, grasping the next. This pattern 
of one of these things is just like the other, over and over 
along parallel lines, swung over the garden 
where strawberries promise jam in matching jars 
when she gets to it later. Pillowcase and towel flags 
celebrate morning and the sun bleached fresh they’ll share come dark.

“Works and Services” includes highways, sidewalks, boulevards, boulevard
crossings, transit bays, street lighting, wiring, water distribution systems,
fire hydrant systems, sewage collection and disposal systems, drainage collection
and disposal systems and such other infrastructure or systems as may be provided
within the City from time to time.

Let’s say we’re with him in the drive shed tinkering, oil under his nails 
and it won’t wash out. He’s staked the tomatoes, harvest is heavy 
this year. His brother’s coming to take steers from their mothers 
and move them up the east field, their wet noses meet him at the fence 
each morning he puts down alfalfa. They question his intent,
but no use working himself up when the south gate needs mending
and cherries are due for spray. Each day has work enough of its own. 

The Noise Control Bylaw regulates or prohibits the making of
objectionable noise within the City of Kelowna that may disturb the quiet or
enjoyment of other individuals. Objectionable noises include playing radios
and stereos at high volume, or keeping animals or birds which by their noise
unduly disturbs the surrounding neighbourhood.

Let’s picture Sunday afternoon and they’re all there, blankets 
spread on the grass, boy cousins playing stick ball, girls all whispers 
and giggles. He looks at her sitting across from him, remembers
how she planted whips in the fields alongside the men. How her mouth 
is a rose opening, her legs summer gold and capable of carrying them 
well through winter. He bites into his pie, Macintosh, cinnamon,
pastry flakes on his tongue, the flavour of what the land gives
and what it withholds. She leans over, her finger to his mouth 
returns to hers. A taste of him and the pie, that sweetness 
taken in, as she will welcome his body 
in, their harvest in a small house 
by the side of a gravel road.

“Parcel” means any lot, block, or other area in which land is held or into
which land is subdivided, but does not include a Highway.
“Subdivide" or "Subdivision" means:
(a) the division of land into two or more Parcels whether by plan, apt
descriptive words, 
or otherwise;
(b) the consolidation of Parcels into one Parcel by plan; or
(c) the creation of a Highway or a portion of a Highway by plan.

We’ll end it here, say nothing of yellow excavators, fallow fields, 
a sign crudely taped to their white front door. We’ll downplay entirely 
asbestos removals and shattered foundations. We certainly won’t mention 
the grandson’s salvage operation, his pickup and flat bed trailer 
with the old drive shed loaded high, a land barge 
floating long down the lane way, dust clouds in waves,
the field of ripening alfalfa. 


Portions of text taken from the City of Kelowna Civic Bylaws, “intended
to keep Kelowna clean, healthy and safe. City Council enacts bylaws that are
created, interpreted and administered by a number of City divisions and departments.
Bylaw Services promotes, facilitates and enforces general compliance with bylaws
that pertain to the health, safety and welfare of the community.” 
(http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/page1329.aspx)

vineyard

by lesley-anne evans


To walk a vineyard’s long line,
the thrumming rhyme
of post and wire, post and wire,
post and wire. Gnarled stumps
of last year’s growth pruned back hard
to four thin arms, how
everything waits
from the ground up.
Rivers of stone hand gathered
and laid down row by row by row
to warm the waking roots,
this pause, this expectancy,
this too is a prayer.

statement of place: lesley-anne evans

My history with dirt begins as a small child on my grandfather’s two acres, walking barefoot into his vegetable garden I pick a beefsteak tomato big as my hand, and bite down. Juice oozes down my chin and that taste, sun warmed sweetness mixed with earthy undertones, is a marker for how I long for the land and find what feeds me.

I am Belfast, N. Ireland born, with rebel, mystic, and stubborn mule hard wired. My early career as a Landscape Architect in Toronto, Ontario, melds a childhood fluent in Latin plant names, an artistic and no fear of dirt under the nails sensibility, with environmental stewardship. After several years of consulting life I retire West in search of a simpler way. As my creative expressions morph from landscapes to motherhood to words, themes of environment, humanity, and earthy spirituality emerge.

Kelowna, British Columbia, is my home of 22 years, coming full circle from the 1940’s when my grandfather spliced apple whips in Grimsby, Ontario, then shipped them to the Okanagan Valley. The agriculturally rich and vital Okanagan landscape is my contentment and inspiration. Although wilderness is here, I borrow wild views and stay on tamed edges where I lose myself in thought without danger of being eaten. Spaces that feed my creative spirit are Okanagan Lake beaches in off season, cut alfalfa fields, apple orchards, cemeteries, greenways, and South East Kelowna rural roads. I find my place here and learn to flourish.

My wildly creative Landscape Architect/land developer spouse challenges me to see how great project design can sometimes warrant uprooting orchards and leveling farmsteads. It’s not easy for me to accept this. I often write poetry as record and witness to what was. I imagine a way of life where we sustain ourselves yet save vernacular and wild beauty, all the while knowing I live a contradiction of railing against what puts bread on my table. This too feeds my creative process.