word fountain fall 2013 issue no. 9
Editors: Rachael Goetzke, Iris Johnston, Jessica Kush, Edward Lupico
“Though the winds of change may blow around you,
but that will always be so”*
This issue is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Timothy Allen Harris
Born: November 4, 1982
Died: September 13, 1999
cat cover photo art: Rachael J. Goetzke
copyright Osterhout Free Library (c) 2013
*Led Zeppelin_“In the Light”_Physical Graffiti_Swan Song, 1975.
|A POEM for HALLOWEEN||Charles O’ Donnell|
|A Demon’s Treat||Carol MacAllister|
|A Son||Jennifer Hill|
|A Journey to the Buddha||William Harrison|
|May God Bless You Now and Hereafter||Lisbeth Gelatt|
|Autumn Requiem||Rachael Goetzke|
|On Fall||Scuter Tornieri|
|Watch Out For Witches||Adrian Spendlow|
|Stranded in Scoville||Carl Albright|
|Attack of the Trednods||Carol MacAllister|
|Poem for Japan, March 2011||Dittow Tornieri|
|NOVEMBER SECOND||Charles O’Donnell|
|Meet Your Editors|
A POEM for HALLOWEEN by Charles O’Donnell
making you by taking
away from you,
I cut you with a knife.
A stabbing craniotomy
scoops out your useless brain.
I slice your nose,
your sightless stare triangular,
a gash of jagged grin.
Seeds like spit-out-teeth
East of yellow, west of red–
your pumpkin color–keep.
your carved out space ignites
an inner light–
this candle making whole
A Demon’s Treat by Carol MacAllister
Fresh newt’s eyes and frog legs flinch
while boiling in the brew,
Spells are cast on howling winds,
There darts a trick or two.
Trouble lurks at every turn,
unknowing victims race
from moaning dead, banshee cries,
monster’s snarling chase.
Autumn’s rustling branches drone
at demons overhead
on ancient brooms, phantom steeds,
Rousing up the dead.
Strange, how innocence is lured
to wander through dark streets,
Each year, a few just disappear,
Snatched! – a demon’s treat.
A Son by Jennifer Hill
Bar none, hands down, he has the happiest face in the history of punctuation.
Period? Not that end mark, full stop of forever. A comma, like the pause
that happens in a film where the director left the sky for the viewer to consider.
His face makes you want to write love letters to the world, gives you the feeling
that a grain of sleepy sand from his eye contains the universe. One yawn
and the entire court of your heart kneels. This is the light that clubs you to death.
You sense the great supervisor of your life
working at the file cabinet,
shifting your childhood, your young adulthood to the back to make room
for what will be his key years, your responsibility. It’s yours to hold and keep,
to match or un-match with what your parents did for you. His face is the happiest
note in all of music, in every song ever sung, even in his wailing, which reaches
a volume that makes the dog’s ears tilt and the cat scuttle under the bed. You asked
for spring and got all the seasons fast forwarded, but his face calms you, slows
the chatter in your head, casts a spell on reality. He is the dream that seals
the story, stacks the deck in your favor. If the devil himself had presented him
to you in the basement, filled with its spiderwebs of cunning,
you would have swaddled the boy and run. His face is the comma,
his face is the first brick of your foundation, his face is every seed
of the possible, and he came from you. Just you.
A Journey to the Buddha by William Harrison
A perilous pathway wound its way
up a mountainside in Uijongbu.
Patient pilgrims plodded with staggering steps
along the dizzying precipice, fearful of falling.
Clinging to the mountain, sacred sites
gave haven from the punishing rays of the merciless sun,
or drenching torrents of flooding monsoon rain.
Food and drink were the comforts holy hermits offered,
asking nothing in return but pilgrims pray for them.
At the top the Buddha sat in splendor;
silent, stone-faced, staring eternally out
from a temple hewn of pine trunks painted red;
its lacy walls were inlaid with golden symbols.
Spirit-stoppers, in the form of savage serpents,
crouched on the roof
guarding the worshippers from lurking evil.
As from an infinite distance the Buddha watched
celebrants genuflecting on the stone floor at his feet
making obeisance to what they thought he was.
Unenlightened soldiers at the mountain’s base jumped
into their jeeps
and sped hastily to the Buddha, not realizing
that the journey was the goal.
This poem was written as a meditation on a pilgrimage to the
Buddhist temple north of Seoul, Korea while I was stationed with the 2d Division Artillery in 1980.
May God Bless You Now and Hereafter. by Lisbeth Gelatt
He was Not the first, God no.
It was very nearly tradition.
He lovingly polished the muzzle
ceremoniously blued just days before,
the one that echoed in his mind.
She nearly flexed her beautiful figure
in his mind,
caressed his hand, in his mind cried out
Choose Me! Me!
I’ll do you good,
So he picked her right out of the lineup
of eternal lovers,
that collection he and his buddies accrued.
Some of them old friends, some trophies
some clutched desperately
in the middle of the night
against unwelcome company.
Oddly, the nightmares receded
once he knew, knew
the direction he’d go with his life.
Heh, heh. Funny. He joked to himself,
didn’t think of anything,
pictured cool desert stars at night,
palming her cool thigh.
Saw that towering wall of red sand
swallowing the barracks;
scattering the pickup game;
Swallowing sound in that shushed roar;
Advancing surely and with infinite patience;
Sipping greedily the town outside;
Overtaking a woman, small boy,
his gunmetal lover.
04/16/2012. In memory of PFC Gray, and all who fell to enemy fire after coming home.
Fall by Quake Tornieri
This time of the year,
too clearly cold and heavy—
my window strategy time—
comes too soon.
Can spring hide forever?
Autumn Requiem by Rachael J. Goetzke
In eighth grade, the jocks made fun of me because they knew my brother Jeremy was a “stoner.” One day at the lunch table after their chiding, I was so angry I cried. Tim, the smelly kid at the end of the table, said, “It’s okay, Rachael. They’re just stupid.”
“Dude, your brother is so cool,” Tim told me in English class our junior year. I gave him a foreboding look. Within five minutes, he was having narcotic dreams. It made me hurt. I remembered that smelly kid (he didn’t smell anymore) who put his arm around me and told me not to worry about the stupid kids that made fun of me for having a “stoner” brother.
Every day during our 27-minute lunch our freshman year, Tim would bribe coins off multiple people to see how many Yoo-hoos he could buy by the end of the lunch period. One day, he’d bribed enough change for three and drank all of them. He bounced through the lower commons on a sugar high. He came up and put his arms around Lindsey and me and starting singing, “And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson…” and all three of us launched into, “JESUS LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW WHOA-oh-oh…” and finished the verse, at least.
I was walking from my‘86 VW Jetta fall when Tim caught up to
me on the sidewalk in early September of our senior year. “Hey, Rachael. You have a Jetta, too?”
“You’ve got one?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty shoddy but it gets me to school. It’s an 85. What’s yours?”
“So I’m going to a party out in a field somewhere this weekend.”
“Tim, be careful, okay? I worry about you.”
“It’s cool. Thanks. Have a good weekend!”
“You too, Tim.”
My friend William called me that Sunday evening. “Tim Harris died last night.” Flashes of Friday’s early fall sunshine spread across my mind as I saw his strawberry blonde hair swinging into his freckled face. Sobs came and I set the receiver on the bed. Mom came into the room and took the phone from me.
“H-how did it happen?” I replayed a few of his last words to me: Cool. I’m going to a party out in a field somewhere.
Mom had spoken with William before he called me. “He was staying at his doctor’s house, ironically. And he took too many pills. They didn’t know until this morning but they said he died sometime Sunday night.” Thoughts of my brother raced through my head. I remembered Tim staring up at me with pinpoint pupils during the old broadcast version of The Scarlet Letter in English class the previous year. By the end of that year he had taken to using his leather jacket as a pillow. My brother’s so cool, all right. So cool he could be dead, like you, Tim.
Tim’s viewing was the first one I’d ever attended; Mom went with me. I’d like to say I shouldn’t have gone but it did something important for me. It instilled in me the firm belief that your last vision of someone should be of them when they are happy and alive. The image of waxen post-mortem Tim is tattooed on the back of my retinas. I still don’t have to close my eyes to see him laid out in his Hardee’s uniform clutching a tennis racket and his VW keychain. Laid out. What a funny term, if you think on it. It sounds so inviting—like you’re having some posh party while
everyone is grieving. I stared at his lifeless face for a long time.
Only a week after his passing, I said to my friend, Chris, “I know he’s in a better place.”
“He’s gone, Rachael,” Chris insisted.
“Yes, I’m aware. I choose to believe he’s in a better place.”
“When people die, they’re just dead. That’s it—the end. Game over,” he said.
Tears threatened my eyes, “No,” I argued he’s in a better place.” Before I finished my sentence, tears spilled over my cheeks.
Chris retreated, only a little, “Well, that’s foolish,” he said. But then he dropped it. I can’t accept the idea that nothing exists after this life. My faith is too strong and “I shall not be moved,” as the old hymn professes. I still believe people who have passed on are watching over us. Mom shares this belief and has often said that she feels like her first love, Danny, is still looking after her. Many people doubt the afterlife for animals but I refuse to believe in any other fate. I’m quite assured that my dear, sweet cat, named Snakes, is watching over me, and always will be.
Sitting in the pew at Tim’s wake must have been eerie for her. As we sat together I saw a girl clutching an older man. She was unrecognizable in her grief. “Daddy just tell me he’s sleeping,” she kept wailing. This incident was actually more disturbing than Tim’s waxen face so artificially at peace. I later found out this was Jessie and her father was the doctor who’d been allegedly been allowing Tim to crash in the barn and also provided him with illicit substances that may have incited his death.
It took me about five years to write about Tim’s passing. One
beautiful fall day after poetry class in college I summoned up that
September just a few years before:
Silence deafened the day
The leaves danced to the ground—
Kamikaze pilots in a perishing pirouette
Dive and plie among the trees the gentle breeze
Sang a song for you
My childhood friend slipped her hand in mine
The warmth colored my hand with comfort
As the fading day drained the color from your once-green
The single rose shattered the silence
as I set it on your cedar bed
And the benevolent moon strolled up on the scene to bid
the fallen leaf goodnight.
He’s in the passing leaves now.
ON FALL by Scuter Tornieri
Disappointment speaks of change.
Clover time and garden time are over for now.
Flying time finds animals leaning to the south
or under the cooling ground.
Below, turtles, hide alone
In necessary sleep.
Watch Out For Witches by Adrian Spendlow
Watch out for witches whirling about
Creeping and flying and leaping right out.
The warty, the shorty, the wily stick thin
All have a pot to boil you in.
With a hubble, a bubble, steaming it all
They creep up behind in the woods or the hall.
Whizzing on bristles, being cats or a hare
A whisk of a whisper they’re suddenly there.
Wizened and beaky with gleaming mad-eyes
Surprisingly silent till they screech a cry.
With a wriggle, a giggle, a wiggle of wand
Oops! You’re a frog and you live in a pond!
We dance with a cackle and cast a wild eye
“We are the witches,” we scream and fly by.
Stranded in Scoville by Carl Albright
No matter how comfortable
you feel in this present,
never give in
to a habanero dare.
Even when you’re sitting in
the Hard Rock Café of Niagara Falls,
beneath the slight shadows of
a Jimmy Hendrix hollow body.
No matter how innocent
finger-sized pepper looks,
tell nothing about
what it feels like,
to have the immediate future
seared out in a stream of tears,
a pitcher of Budlight,
handfuls of hard rolls,
and yet another
Attack of the Trednods by Carol MacAllister
The rally ring of roses rang
While cockle crows shined purple fangs
All readied to save Starkle Tweak
A quiet place where Trednod feet
Can turn the drifting silent dins
Into a month of rattle grins.
“No rattle grins,” the slithers cried,
“The Trednod march. We need to hide,
or be trampled under toes.”
“Don’t worry,” cawed the cockle crows.
Crows flew the cider waves of Mork
Each purple fang dropped silver forks
Upon the Trednods’ green webbed toes
Slithers hid as cockle crows
Drove back the stomping Trednod feet
Than all the slithers did repeat,
“Hurray! We’re saved from rattle grins
They will not stop our silent dins.”
Poem for Japan, March 2011 Dittow Tornieri
Earth I love.
Above, flying, I watched
ugly tide curl and rage
far so far outside the sea.
So different before and after.
How I cry! Sweet lost people and pets
haunt me. Who forced the treasured grass
and blanket of land off gardens and ground?
Boiling claws of water, signing sculpture it bare.
After, shallow pools shaped the face of the city.
Poems lights fear.
NOVEMBER SECOND by Charles O’ Donnell
When her patient dies, the night nurse winds
the body in sheets and opens the window so
the soul will not be hindered on its journey.
Soul seeks her home at the end of her shift,
slips through her shaded window, entwines itself
in morning sheets, lingers in her daylight dreams.
Lonely Willow Tornieri
June’s dry, soft clouds
code herons’ fishing time,
while in our lawn, robins listen
for worm rustles.
In fall, birds yield to the cold.
far away, my poetry cries
for spring’s return.
Carl Albright lives with his wife and three teenage sons in rural Northeast PA. He especially enjoys jogging over bridges, playing Sunday-morning guitar, sharing family
dinners, and praying for peace.
Lisbeth Gelatt is a writer, poet, and student in her final
semester at Keystone College. Lis’s work can be found at
Cowboypoetry.com, at the Keystone College Litmagazine, The Plume, at Pank Magazine’s parenting special, at her blog threedivas.wordpress.com, in Skin to Skin literary magazine’s upcoming December issue, and in 2012’s flood issue of Word Fountain.
William Fuller Harrison is a resident of Wilkes-Barre, PA. He has studied creative writing with Charles O’Donnell of ArtSeen, and Leland Bennett of Plymouth High School, from which he graduated in 1965. His poetry and prose have been published in Veterans’ Voices magazine and Word Fountain.
Jennifer Hill writes, creates, performs, and believes only boring people get bored. You can find her online at: actsofjennius.com.
Carol MacAllister, M.F.A., is widely published in poetry, has won several poetry awards and has served as adjudicator in poetry competitions, most recently, NFSPS. She has edited and published three books of poetry – RIPASSO, a unique by-invitational-only collection including Robert Pinsky and other poet laureates. Available only at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles O’Donnell graduated from King’s College where he majored in English. He is a social worker in Nanticoke. His play “The Last Time” was produced by the Jason Miller Playwright Project in Scranton.
Adrian Spendlow is the official Bard of York, England, and presents his work in private and public venues. He is a key presenter in the huge annual Viking Festivities, as well as a storyteller and portrayer of characters in themed events and enactments.
Dittow, Quake, Scuter, Willow Tornieri are a family of Japanese poets whose work has been transcribed by their colleague, Rosemary Lombard.
Meet Your Editors…
Rachael Goetzke has her MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Excerpts of her memoir have been published in The Writing Disorder and Word Fountain.
Iris Johnston can’t decide if she is more satisfied by flowers and ponds, or Sephora and Thai food. She currently hopes to discover the existence of a Nail Polish Tree.
Edward Lupico is a full-time librarian who is never far from words. He travels many miles to taste craft beers and unequivocally enjoys the company of his dog, even though that dog is an illiterate teetotaler.
Jessica Kush is the Office Coordinator in the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Office at King’s College. She is also a graduate from King’s College with a Bachelors of Arts degree in English: professional writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys volunteering and planning programs for several nonprofit organizations.