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March 13, 2018

Peter Neil Carroll

Joe Cottonwood

Peter Neil Carroll

Photo by Jeannette Ferrary

Peter Neil Carroll’s newest collections of poetry are An Elegy for Lovers (Main Street Rag, 2017) and The Truth Lies on Earth (Turning Point Press, 2017); Fracking Dakota: Poems for a Wounded Land; and A Child Turns Back to Wave: Poetry of Lost Places which won the Prize Americana. His poetry has appeared in many print journals and online. He is currently Poetry Moderator of and lives in Belmont, California. 


Outside the chilly panes
only sparrows fly, feathers
smudged as city snow. Grandma
liked to leave stale bread
on the fire escape, but me
she gave chocolate cherries,
teasing if I didn’t come to her funeral,
she’d haunt me as a ghost.
She frightened me and I did go.
She returns anyway, taunting
my bookish ways. I know
nothing about sparrows—
if they prefer rye to cornbread,
make their nests in Florida
or hatch at the Bronx zoo.
In spring, the sparrows sputter
at Grandma’s window. I offer
a muffin; they show no hunger.
I whistle; they fly away. Come back,
I call, seeing a language go extinct.

–Peter Neil Carroll

From The Truth Lies on Earth: A Year by Dark, by Bright (2017)

Nothing Important

Days of mist complete the season.
I move the clock ahead one hour
and find myself in a state of grace
that knows no freeze.

All winter, nothing important has died.

Hours before the equinox,
not a leaf whispers. Even unruly
ravens are at peace. The world waits
for the axis to turn.

With spring comes responsibility,
an impulse to affirm, to seed
our little clump, to leave
something of us behind.

Joe Cottonwood

Joe Cottonwood’s new book of poetry, Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast is about life where we live around Half Moon Bay, from pelicans to pumpkins to giant redwood trees, from dangerous driving to sunny hiking, from earthquakes shaking the house to pumas by the roadside to seals giving birth on the beach, all served with a generous helping of dogs. Joe is the author of novels for adults (Famous Potatoes, Clear Heart) and for children (Quake!, The San Puerco Trilogy). His poems are scattered all over the Internet as well as appearing in journals and anthologies. The setting for many of his books is the little town of “San Puerco” which bears a striking resemblance to the town of La Honda. His previous book is the award-winning 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses. Joe has worked in the building trades for most of his life, starting as a carpenter, becoming a general contractor repairing and remodeling houses.

Crab or Gull

In the swash zone
a desperate crab somehow overturned,
belly-up. Dome-backed, helpless,
she twitches feet and claws
grasping only air
as seagulls gather, smacking lips.

Shall I intervene?
Who do I favor, crab or gull?
Frankly I have problems with both personalities.

Can’t ignore a creature in distress.
(Who programmed that?)
Wiggle my toes into damp sand beneath the beast.
With nary an acknowledgement, crab scuttles
sideways to a spot in the wave wash
where in a flutter of little legs she half-buries herself,
eyeballs above.
Seagulls scream curses.

What did I expect, a thank you?

Redwood Prayer

Grant me deep roots.
Solid branches.
Let the fires pass me by.
Let generations of squirrels and blue jays
        hop on my limbs.
Let me breathe fog, chew sunlight
        and look down
over centuries.