Sunday Apr 14

Quillen Poetry Rita Quillen’s new novel, WAYLAND, is forthcoming from Iris Press in 2019. Her most recent poetry collection,  The Mad Farmer’s Wife, was published in 2016 by Texas Review Press, a Texas A & M affiliation, and was a finalist for the Weatherford Award in Appalachian Literature from Berea College. One of six semi-finalists for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia, she received Pushcart nominations in 2012, 2015, and 2018, and a Best of the Net nomination in 2012. 

Feeding the Flow

Though it happens every time,
I stand always amazed.
The hidden bees appear
out of nowhere
summoned by something unseen
—a glyph in the clouds,
a whistle through the field of wild mustard
calling them to April vespers.
Forgotten in the winter ice and gray pelt sky,
taken for granted like mother’s love,
they show up
whether we are grateful or not,
blindly assured
that the wild always comes through,
that Creation,
the Great Plan, will always work out,
whether we try or not.

Artfully arranging the row of jars
under the tree to take a picture,
I join the fight with sourness, too,
every way I can—
the bees and I carrying pollen and poems
unburdened by thought and fear
delivered from winter
and the grave and memory.
They are the honey from my days offered
to the ghostly gods,
legions of angels assigned
to keep check on the great flow,
that cosmic transparent eyeball keeping watch
on the seasons of it all.

Taste and Other Mysteries

Dad poured packs of peanuts
in those little Coke bottles
washing all that good salt
into a sugary brine
and bland mush,
loved chicken livers fried crisp
(even the smell makes me gag),
delighted in candied orange slices
with the consistency of sugared plastic for dessert.

He would pour out a whole jar of canned tomatoes
—edible dreamcatchers floating in red soup—
and relish them with peanut butter crackers.

Junior was the only person
in the entire world
who actually loved Claxton fruitcake.

Worst of all, most repulsive snack ever—
those little flat cans with a key on top
which he would roll back
to reveal a smelly treasure:
little oily sardines to lay on saltines
which he would make disappear
into the smile under his moustache.

How does one reconcile it?
Sound judgement otherwise,
his brain was hardwired to change flavors
from reality to some phantom or dream,
into delicacies inexplicable to me,
eating memories, perhaps,
from another age, another place,
where he was a fatherless child,
his mother too sad to get out of bed.