“Journey” by Lowell Jons

Today, Lise Quintana and Kevin Sharp explore “Journey” by Lowell Jons, submitted for Zoetic Press’s Viable chapbook series.

At Night I Pray Like Lincoln
Make No Mistake

Errant thoughts drift in unforced
at 5:30 in the early dawn-proud morn.
An owl gently hoots,
a more distant coyote yap tip-toes in,
a stealthy breeze hushes past.
My attention, a meandering backwater stream
lulling me back to sleep, becomes a rapid brook
with voices out my open window.

Burglars wouldn’t be so bold, nor walkers down the lane.
Then it hits me like a lightning flash. The solar eclipse
strikes tomorrow and the neighborly neighbors
are getting up to make the 5 hour trek to see it in totality,
beating the throngs of other seekers.
Interstate-5 is expected to be glogged-up, not only for miles
but for the entire state of Oregon, like my grandpa’s
1890’s built arteries. The only eclipse he ever saw
was grandma blocking the sun, streaming in mid morn,
as she stood over his hungover-self.

The Navajo prayed indoors during eclipses,
protecting themselves until they could celebrate
outside the sun’s goodness. My wife’s father drank in dark
indoor caves to fend off the evil demons of war.
And my father’s father taught him to denounce a cross burning
in a neighboring corn field of his 1920’s Iowa youth,
at night,
big white hoods turn black when it blocks the fire.

I pray,
that we don’t make heroes out of southern resistance generals,
nor forget the flood of tears on both sides of the Uncivil War,
like Lincoln,
a young white woman was recently murdered by a white supremacist,
make no mistake,
the cards are being dealt and the stars are aligning just wrong
as someone is blocking the sun.

And yet,
and yet when the moon entirely eclipses our sun,
eclipses it such that the photosphere is shut out
and only spires and spirals of excited gas extend beyond the moon,
light shines still,
and it is achingly beautiful.

Breathless Monarch’s Flutter By

Fall, autumn.
Flapping, flapping all night and day,
falling rising soaring,
a small sky giant like paper airplane.
Wings of bloody orange, milkweed poison
laced with the evening silhouette
of prairie oaks. Millions of middlewest Monarchs
on a mission to Mexico.
Flutter by corn fields, mountains, canyons
of reddish rock and dust.
A windy two thousand mile migration/journey
with southern dreams buried deep within,
finding its forest yet again,
against logic, filling trees enough
to float them.

Pulsating sunsets.

Clinging to the winter protection
of the Mexican arboreal armada
it ekes out a survival many can’t.
Mountainous Michoacan forests
of green Oyamel firs 10,000 ft.
above the ocean blue. Storms buffet
and blast but they huddle in the hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds of thousands,
sometimes freezing, falling gracefully
unlike Icarus.

Sun compass receptors set in antenna
click on in March and whoosh, marching
north. Superbutterflyman flies,
drawn back to whence it came. Seeking
milkweed bushes in Texas she perfumes
the air with pheromones and snags
a one night stand. Dropping
a nearly microscopic dot
on a leaf, one per, out of a couple hundred,
in a spring desert flush with hope.
An eighth month awe, sum of wonder,
dies.

The only hope of civilization a speck
laid on a leaf. Crawling out its egg case
two weeks later a tiny worm,
yellow, black black and white striped,
chomping with piercing mandibles
it gulps the poisonous protective juices
of the milkweed, growing exceedingly
fast. Molting, molting multiple times
until it wraps itself into a chrysalis,
an enraptured pupa,
hanging from its hind pseudo legs.
Only to be self ingested, then exploding
into another rusty door hinge to God’s house.
Opens and closes all day and night again
seeking north, norte,
guide-less except what is written
on their gene strands of desire.
Wings of tiny scales, long legs,
a twelve thousand faceted eye, all arising
out of mush. A miracle metamorphosis
from a dot to a caterpillar to a butterfly
in 42 days.

Again north but a layover
in the Ozark ‘mountains’ of Arkansas.
It is impossibly true but another cycle
of love, betrayal, ravenous hunger and death,
and a new egg begins.
This dot develops and offsprings onward
to southern Illinois outside of St. Louis for yet
another bizarre short cycle of metamorph-illogical
madness! Yes, yet again a 42 day leap of love
and change, before finally, finally reaching the fields
of Michigan, Milwaukee or Madison City, Iowa.
Landing on the daughter of last year’s
milkweed it sets in motion the final, fourth
birth/rebirth in a year. Uncoiling
its long nectar sucking tube it feasts,
and makes earth love. The great grandchild dances
on prairie winds, summer bliss
on dew heavy grass. And behold,
it produces the superbutterflyman that endures
the 8 month falling arc to Mexico and back.
Fourth generation in one flight around the sun –
finished.

It is the great, great grandchild’s turn,
turning its antenna south by instinct,
again guide-less,
to the same trees in Mexico,
lifting them to the heavens once more.
Guileless.

Dark Forest Green Silver Scales

wriggle back and forth
over a pool of salmon orange
redd eggs, a hundred centuries
of memory infused with the dank
moss coated stream cut bank.
Breaking out of a planetary
sack, a flood of smells sets
the navigation’s home port,
Physt (pisht) or Quilliute
Or Elwha. Slides from hiding spot
to log to sunken elk prints
to grass edged estuary,
bulging with fire filled blood,
past fire smoke of sweat lodge.
Then bam, head first into
a wall of salt, boat’s beating
prop sonic, and gone. Dark
nights and long day
circular urge to just go
and go and go, four short
years Pacific world tour,
sun’s rays at steep latitudinal
angles or straight down
on your back.

And back, the salt melting away,
memory awakened white electricity
lighting in grey matters.
Jumping, fighting, pushing
against odds and rush
of home scents, sensing peace ahead,
unforgiving magnetic pull
to push past all aplenty obstacles.
Then full release, stop, here, now.
Dropping orbs of liquid love germ,
hope in masse, encircled dreams
of desire. Disintegrating complete-ly
into muddy moss, raccoon
bladder, floating down
amongst the needles felled
from an eagle landing on a
cedar, carcass splayed open
Hearted.


CORRECTION: The title of the Taika Waititi movie mentioned in the intro as “What We Do In the Dark” should be “What We Do in the Shadows.”