of the Dodo
Careful readers of this journal—the best kind, really—may note that our practice, generally, is to take the title of our issues from a word or phrase in one of the poems. Occasionally we will use the title of a poem, but more often it’s just a phrase a reader will encounter at some point while going through the issue. RHP Editor Laura M Kaminski solo-edited this issue. She made the picks, put them in sequence, and selected the excellent title, “Remnants of the Dodo" from Ina Roy-Faderman's poem on this issue.
More often than not, I create or borrow or steal some kind of cover image for the issue that is inspired by the title. Most of my visual work consists of making collages out of found images. So, this issue called for dodo art. (Considered a sort of Dada dodo, but thought better of it.) In this issue, I made physical pieces, scanned them, and then manipulated them with image editing software. It’s not a bad approach for a guy who really can’t draw. You’ll see what I did.
My little adventure in doing research on the dodo led me to this question: What is the deal with the dodo?
I’ve been hearing about the dodo since I was a child, which I no longer am. It is the best-known non-dinosaur extinct animal. The Wikipedia entry is, well, encyclopedic. The critter was peculiar to Mauritius, one island in the Indian Ocean. They died out before 1700. They had a comical name that fit an odd appearance. They were big birds, more than 3 feet tall and weighing in at something approaching 50 lbs. That's about the size of a 5-year-old. A short 5-year-old. So, maybe a 5-year-old sumo wrestler. Dodos couldn’t fly, which is a really annoying feature of some birds. I mean, if you’re going to be a bird, fly for crying out loud. You’re embarrassing yourself. (In fairness, very few 5-year-old sumo wresters can fly.)
They probably were not good eatin’, as we say down this way. Wikipedia says people preferred to eat parrots and pigeons, which ought to tell you that the dodo was not exactly a delicacy. Plus, you know, how do you cook a 50 lb. bird? Some believe people ate the dodos’ gizzards. So, just think about those weird little chicken gizzards, and imagine them the size of a size 10 shoe. Yum.
The thinking is that the dodo had the bad fortune of having encountered humans, because they died out within 100 years or so of first making the acquaintance of people. "Died out" may not be the best way of putting it. More likely they were shot with guns. My advice to creatures is to stay away from peope with guns. They tend to get mad, drunk, and/or stupid and shoot people with them. Now the dodo may have been a pretty robust creature. Dodos appear to have had large, sharp, and powerful beaks. But, as the saying goes, don’t bring a beak to a gunfight.
Thanks to Laura M Kaminski and all the poets whose work appears in issue 101. Great stuff!
Dale Wisely, Editor-in-Chief
M. J. Arlett, Ian Brand, William Cullen Jr, Nicholas Froumis, Howie Good, Ann Howells,
M. A. Istvan Jr., Michael Kriesel, John McKernan, Tom Montag, Terrie Leigh Relf, Brad Rose, Ina Roy-Faderman, Sanjeev Sethi, Phil Shils, Robert Vile, Rodd Whelpley, Mark Young
It is the first day of coriander
I go for a walk uptown
The absence of intelligent design perplexes me
People think gunshots are normal.
If they wait long enough,
a bullet may come through their window.
Art show? Performance? Gunfight?
I need to remember. You saw
the eyes of the jaguar. I didn’t.
Look at this, showers of gunfire
in a distinct shade of yellow.
And yes, please keep the blood
in place of Jesus in the wine bottle.
Ball caps at the VA Clinic
read USS Nimitz,
Operation Desert Storm.
I wish I’d kept my old
command ball cap.
I sailed it off a pier
my last day there.
Gold letters spelled
a failing ammunition ship
named for some volcano
only local Hawaiians
and three hundred sailors
knew how to pronounce.
The past isn’t here. Isn’t now. Does not exist.
Locked trunks bulge with asterisks, parentheses,
those ubiquitous question marks. Everything
is boxed-up, stored in mental attics—purple ink
on unlined pages. Dead lips, once stitched,
Small Town Skeletons
Candles are lit
Smoke rises above,
while wax drops below.
Two opposite destinations
with those who remember
stuck somewhere between.
At hymns we miss them.
Not their voices—
alto who thought
she was soprano.
Softer, older ones.
Tones they’d reach.
Or fall just under.
It’s the space between—
the rests. You hear them
sharpest then, the end
of every phrase, when
the congregation takes
its breath. And they
Oh, crow, bassist
for the Blue Sky Cowboys,
keeper of the beat, the beat,
crooner of the sad old songs,
father of the broken heart,
sing us a love song.
yesterday I was equidistant
between my two children doing the calculations
of parenthood. today felix went to
the back yard and picked up a saw
that he swung like a scythe. I made
certain the gate was locked then took
the saw from him and put it back
into the pile of timber that had been
torn from the house. its absence
opened a gap above the back
steps that's made a
roosting place for pigeons.
everyday I clear their shit away
and hold my breath. the front
door is locked. or is it? lucia
is in her chair. or is she?
Spiral red then white light
Wrapped itself around
The sliding siren for ten miles
As I followed the fire trucks'
High-beam white-line straight-ahead tuning fork
Curving right Flat
Then sharp left
Across the concrete bridge
Over the frozen mountain creek
It was delicious To brake & slow down
To see the fire trucks
Speed right past my house
Over the upgrade hill's silent curve Delicious
The Pulsing Zero to Fifty in Eight Seconds
The door hisses open and I dangle this poem
at the threshold, threaten to leave it there.
It remains mute, the poem, as I check the tether,
open the outer hatch, gaze outward at the dark expanse
as a constellation inches closer,
curious, perhaps, what we're up to.
Somehow, this poem manages to release the safety,
hooks itself to me, then leaps outside the airlock.
"I finally get what you mean," I say, as we drift
further away from the ship—and then its sails,
its glorious sails, unfurl.
While at the airlock
Terrie Leigh Relf
blocking the fire outside.
storing the fire inside.
Everyone fears dilation.