DNA is my totem pole, I shall not want.
It leadeth me to lie down amid terrapins at low tide:
It leadeth me beside coiled anacondas.
It restoreth my limbic brain:
It leadeth me on the tao of evolution for no one’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the herpetological vestiges
of primal fear, I will fear no amphibian or reptile,
for thou, deoxyribonucleic acid, are within me.
The helices of thy spiral of immanence guide me.
Thou preparest a swampscape in the presence
of my kindred spirits; thou anointest my mind
with imagery; imagination runneth over.
Surely turtles and tortoises shall follow me all
the dreams of human life, and I will dwell
in the burrow of oroboros forever.
Six Mile Cypress Slough après Howard Hodgkin
This is a poem in black and white
like a black-and-white warbler
in the black-and-white of midday
sun spots and spotting shadows
of wax myrtle sweet bay red maple
bald cypress in green stillness
this is a poem turning the greens
of spring in the slough into strap-fern
green green of alligator flag green of water
hyacinth in algae-green water swamp-lettuce
green green of my envy for the green camouflage
of an orb-weaver’s web empty of spider and prey
this poem swerves into the red
eye of ibis red eye of black-crowned
night heron red in the voice of cardinals
red on the marginal scutes and carapace
of turtles heating up with the day
red my blood red my blood red blood
for Colleen North
Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (based in Vancouver, BC), a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild. She is currently at work on three manuscripts and seeking a home for The Comfort of Commas, a quirky chapbook that pays tribute to punctuation. Visit her woefully outdated, soon-to-be-resurrected blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.
“You have a big head. Can I touch it?” she asked bluntly. The little brown hands approached my head like a priestess who was about to perform a ceremony, and give her first blessing. Her hands felt cool on my scalp that has known brutality of many other hands, combs, hot combs, perms and finally an electric raiser, (cutting my hair while sitting hunched over pages of old newspapers, on my living room floor). Once, I had to use a black eye pencil to fill in the gap from the missing chunk of hair from the electric raiser in my trembling hands.
To tremble with fear for going against tradition happens to me often. This was my first encounter with a person who felt brave enough to touch my bare head in the church. My mother has never really touched my head since my buzz cut, over twenty years. Her fear of no man marrying me because of my short hair hasn’t come true yet, but she still holds onto the hope that one day I will realize, “I need to have hair.” I will need it to preserve my beauty, I will need it to identify me clearly as a woman, I will need it to have her native land’s full acceptance. But I didn’t need it for a child’s blessing, soothing the heat of many years.
Jerrice J. Baptiste
Jerrice J. Baptiste has authored eight books. She has performed her poetry at numerous venues including the Woodstock Library’s Writers in the Mountains series in association with other noted female authors and poets in the Hudson Valley, NY. She has been published in the Crucible; So Spoke The Earth: Anthology of Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc; African Voices; Chronogram; Shambhala Times; Hudson Valley Riverine Anthology; Her poetry in Haitian Creole & collaborative songwriting is featured on the Grammy Award winning album: Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, released by Spare the Rock Records LLC; upcoming Typishly Literary Journal; and the Autism Parenting Magazine (upcoming issue February 2018)
while you are still breathing
where your skin is submerged
and there is nothing to be
holding highest joy
and utter despair
notice the flow of your life
pushing and pulling
perhaps in spite of it
to taste your exquisite life
Matthew Mumber MD is a practicing, board certified radiation oncologist with the Harbin Clinic in Rome, Georgia. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Virginia and completed his radiation oncology residency at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. He graduated from the 2002 Associate Fellowship Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Living School for Action and Contemplation through the Rohr Institute. Matt founded Cancer Navigators Inc. in 2002, a 501c3 corporation which provides nurse, education and service navigation for those touched by cancer. He continues to facilitate residential retreats and groups for cancer patients and physicians. Matt took poetry writing classes under Debra Nystrom while at UVA and has continued to write, and just recently has begun to seek publication of his poems. He has published two health and wellness books.