Featuring Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes & Stephen Kalmar II
Poetry is my 911. I am a retired professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside; have been a librarian in a log cabin in the north woods, and a volunteer EMT—but I have always been a poet. I have poetry, literary analysis, and research published in three countries and languages. I served as the advisor for the Native student organization, Sacred Circle, at UW-Parkside while teaching there.
Over 100 of my pieces have been individually published, including in The Malahat Review in Canada, The Greensboro Review in North Carolina, Nutshell in England, Root River Voices in the annual and collective publications. My work is also in the anthology, Unsettling America, published by Penguin Books, New York. A member of the Root River Poets and the Spectrum School of the Arts and Gallery in Racine, I am a photographer and have always believed in nurturing creative energies in grass roots community initiatives with both children and adults. My chapbook, The Lost Italian and the Sound of Words, is always distributed to audiences for free, with the opportunity to explain its background and emergence. Another is in progress.
Not much goes to waste up here
the corn we can't eat--
20 rows more than we can use--
goes to rabbits, voles, birds, pine squirrels.
the voles sometimes go to the hawks and the barn owl.
some of the rabbits
are too young to know:
don't go sunning out from under the pines too far--
leap too late from those shadows overhead
and dark on snow will be the last thing you see.
Scraps from the turkeys and chickens
wind up in the coyote hang-out--
we try to help them along
hoping they will leave the rabbits alone
but we know nightfall
brings the round-up howls.
most people can't tell a coyote from a wolf
but you learn.
Sometimes we notice the matted blood in the snow
under the birdfeeder:
a couple of rabbits short by the end of a week
when single digit nights sinking below zero
make us a little crazy too
The tracks change with the weather
and the mood of the coyotes:
even first young of a rabbit year
can do a three foot landing in clear snow--
we've seen them do it in mid-day sun.
As for the pine squirrels--
let's just say there is a difference of opinion
in the household.
one of us says they're just another critter to feed.
the other, well,
the rifle in the back hall is loaded for a reason:
was it Hemingway who said
if a gun shows up in a story
it has to fire?
stephen kalmar II grew biggest north of Toronto, Canada. Began writing and publishing while a teen. In 1977 he joined the Root River Poets writers consortium; current byline of moderator. After service, he returned to Racine to study Philosophy, Creative Writing, Speling and web design at UW Parkside.
Has worked as editor of poetry anthologies, published handfuls of his work in newsprint, books, academic and listing journals. Has given hundreds of publics readings, some invited. With his children has acted in theater on stage, radio and television. In 2011, was named a Racine Poets Laureate. Spends his time judging poetry contests, providing writing workshops and now annoying his juniors. Most of all, knows a good piece of writing when he sees it and feels at his advanced age the right to say so.
In real life works with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, so be extra nice to kids when he is around.
I envy you your voice, more than ever.
Can you teach me it?
Or better, trade it for something that has value to the both of us?
Maybe I can give you a little more summer, barter away the winter that stokes MY heart?
Rain instead of ice?
Flip-flops (or sensible shoes) instead of full-rubber galoshes, holes poked with duct tape?
More flowers, fewer snow balls.
I’ll take your marketing calls from your flip-phone and respond directly when they stop to breathe.
I’d even hold a mirror to your minister, that one that shakes your head but refuses to leave it,
the surface so slick that she slides to the ground without leaving a path and you can tisk-tisk
as you walk over her, stepping heavy enough and she has to look up to know it’s you.
or think of something that would be an even trade for your vision: we can’t just switch spectacles, right?
Ok Ok, I get it. You know you and you like it, clasp your with both two hands.
Right where it is
Can we share?
Bring in that harvest?
We did do once and can find this winter apple again
Not too late. It’s October Now. A Red Moon. That casts.
How about if we just stand in the fall and watch the sky for signs of poems?
we could even set-up a tree stand, fresh game scent and pack in some of that Ale that you like
I’d have my hot-spiced tea and you your near ice cold brew.
Just as long as neither of us twitch, recoil, makes a song lest we frighten them away.
there is this swimmer
in the lane next to me
his waves reach the pools edge
lengths before any one
he’s strong stroke
enjoys the lane marker
and the fact that
no matter how buffeted
they twist roll bob spin
never go under
well, not all the way
he didn’t flail
on his turns
yet, wasn’t graceful
and pulled at his suit
like the rest of us
seems he always swam
in a single direction…
when he said to me
he had no regrets
about it’s rightness
puddled on the floor