I love MG’s Mountain Dog issue. Inter-species friendships, particularly with dogs, cats or horses, assume an importance in rural lives far beyond the concept of pets. They often become an integral member of a family, working partners, familiars whom we come to love deeply and depend on. The mother of my oldest son had a wonderful mixed breed named after one of the sites at the Navajo National Monument. We called her “Seel” for short. Although nearly blind, she was an incredible fetch hound, and would begin a scent-led spiraling circle search if she lost sight of any stick thrown — something that happened a lot. Nevertheless, she’d invariably come up with the stick, having never stopped looking. I still dream about that wonderful playmate and companion.
For the last several years, I’ve had the good fortune to participate in a gathering of Ish poets at Shi Shi beach in the Olympic National Park and just outside the Makah Reservation at Neah Bay. The late poet Robert Sund had a cabin near Petroleum Creek at Shi Shi, and he was the one to give the name Ish River Country to the Pacific Northwest’s coastal bioregion, since so many of its rivers ended in the suffix “ish” (Duwamish, Snohomish, Skokomish, etc.).
This month we’re featuring one of the finest Ish poets, Tim McNulty. An award-winning nature writer and essayist, his books of poetry include “Blue Mountain Dusk” (Pleasure Boat Studio) and “Pawtracks” (Copper Canyon Press), as well as some nine chapbooks. His natural history of the Olympic National Park is the definitive guide to this national treasure.
— Art Goodtimes
Sunset, Sourdough Mountain Lookout
Late flush of evening cloudlight
glowing through rippled window glass.
Steam curling from teacup
in cool night air.
Only the mountains are still.
— Tim McNulty,
At the waterfall gorge
in Tai Lam Chung valley
a sprig of wild pears.
Fruits no bigger than mountain berries,
but sweet and chewy —
same taste as the crisp
from the market at Kowloon Tong,
where each small globe is wrapped
in delicate paper mesh…
— Tim McNulty
No One’s Ark
I have squandered
the beasts of the earth
& must remake them.
It is enough.
Otter, platypus, snake & dove,
Zebra, porcupine, elk & dog:
Once you were only photographs,
Now you are only words.
— Quinten Collier
Mark Fischer Prizewinner
Your poems shock
the way water lilies burning in a museum
shock the moneyed. With fragrant treason
you begged even the rich,
to understand, as you spoke
to each generation as that generation,
your dark hair curled in the Thirties
by a passion electric for justice.
— Jackie St. Joan
Excerpt from “Letter to Muriel Rukeyser at the End of the 20th Century”
a dozen howls.
a thousand cows.
a million stars.
a billion cars.
— David Feela
the eastern sun licks
ice crystals from my front door
— Carol Bell