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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 1, March 2014

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Charles D. Tarlton
San Francisco, California, USA


A Brighter Day

—for Rosemary

CARMODY: I feel like I've just awoken from a drugged sleep. I can see new possibilities on the horizon.

BLIGHT: Whoa, boy! I'm not quite with you.

A retired Oregon State Fish and Wild Life officer I once knew invented a lure for catching salmon in the open ocean. It was composed of a clamp-like piece of plastic into which you inserted the thick end of a herring filet and a peg of plastic that fastened the bait to the lure. When it was trolled through the water it imitated the movements of a wounded fish.

catch a wind-blown leaf
on the fly, draw your finger
through black paint to make
the nude tapering branches
dapple with a stubble brush

show how the wind blows
calls the sea foam to a dance
makes the new snow fall
in clumps from the unclothed
Chestnuts and Norway Maples

wiggle a new fish
from the splashing, tumbling waves
strain light tackle, catch
a marlin on six-pound test
using the right reel drag

Walking through woods along a narrow country road on an early warm and humid morning, suddenly we came upon dark orange slugs everywhere—on the road, on the fences, in the trees, and dangling from the lacy carrot sauvage— eating everything in sight. "The cursed Arion vulgaris," François said. "Ils viennent à nous— commetant d'autres choses— de l'Espagne."

many French farmers grow
hardwood in among the ferns
pedunculate oak,
sessile oak, and beech mainly
they harvest it like wheat

I'm looking forward
to the first clear sighting of Rome
from my plane's window
Ecco! the Forum's ghostly spires
crowds around the Pantheon

when you paint puddles
the hardest thing to get right
is how flat water
lies when sky falls into it
without causing a ripple

I have this idea of brightness, how it comes sometimes from things themselves and sometimes from the ideas we have of them. The white air at the beach, the weight of the rain, and memories of someone we loved. We should scrape the canvas clean every time we try to put the world back together.

all my Christmases
mishmash into a single
vision—one electric tree
a football game on grass
everyone playing in bare feet

Mount Baldy's snowpack
lit bright white though the desert
floor was still so hot
you couldn't breathe the air
—everything white cold/red hot

colorless, no lines
the picture in my head
of my sweet dead girl
remains indistinct, her face
always about to turn away

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