Tool by Wren Tuatha


The goat pen is an acre island in a sea
of more land. Among the browsing bodies

are two Akbash, primitive dogs, built
over millennia to kill bears. They gaze

for hours through the electric netting
at each breezing branch, all the hunting jays.

It’s the sounds they answer.

The short legged dogs down the road.
The senator’s helicopter, the propane delivery.

All warned not to enter, these dogs have faced
down the bear. They won’t suffer you. Hours

and goats and sounds. The pen is an island.
Only the weather changes, bitter rain, sleepy heat.

The ranch dog is fascinated by every tool
the rancher brings into the pen. Microbes

from the last job or the mice that tip toe
across it in the shed. Worlds, stories, forensics.

The cold metal hammer. It made
the barn and the pen. It ricochets shots of sound

away from here.

by Wren Tuatha

Editor’s Note: This poem’s title serves multiple meanings as the lines unfold the story of two dogs and their purpose within a larger narrative of tools and wonder.

Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch by Wren Tuatha

Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch

Addah Belle’s pocket watch stands open
on my desk like a sandwich board

I want to shrink down and crawl under it,
camping in my ticking tent. Constellations
and bug spray.

Addah Belle knew me. She could
look at me and tell my future. In her time,
women married.

Addah Belle chose door number two
and taught at a girls’ finishing school,
finishing them off for the altar.

Retirement came abruptly. Bourbon and
ceremonies. The stillness of her room
in the farmhouse. And no Marian.

Two twin beds, like a dormitory, and her
married sister downstairs with grandkids on
long weekends.

I, her grand niece, tracked in
with pocket frogs, too-close best
friends and notebooks. She noticed.

Mom cut my unattended hair short.
Strangers took me for a boy. A boy
with notebooks. Listening to Auntie.

And the pocket watch tent would ticka tick,
flashlights and ghost stories on her desk while
she advised I could be a writer, plan a career.

In her time pocket watches were for men.
That might be how it came to her. Tom,
the last at bat who walked home

lost, wondering why she wouldn’t
marry him, why remaining at school with
Marian was preferable. The watch

forgotten on a wash stand, a library shelf,
a parlor bridge table. Tempus abire tibi est.. . . .[It’s time for you to go away]
The watch she kept and wound, for the sound.

I was a writer when she died. I was a lesbian
when I found her love letters. Her watch,
a flashlight and a tape measure in my drawer.
Tempus vitam regit.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[Time rules life]

by Wren Tuatha, first published in Bangalore Review.

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem draws the reader in slowly. By the end, the heart wrenching sadness of the narrator’s aunt is fully realized.

Broom Zen by Wren Tuatha

Broom Zen

(In memory of Charles Curtiss)

Charles’ mother is dying.
He has planed
800 miles.
Now he sweeps
her kitchen.
He sweeps the hall,
2 seconds per stroke
by the mantle clock.
“Get the stairs while
you’re at it,”
his father says.
He sweeps the living room
and the porch.
He sweeps the lawn.

His mother is awake.
She asks about his plans.
He talks of job changes.
She takes out 3 papers
and crunches numbers
on the first.
Charles makes
clarifying calculations
on the second.
She rests.

And Charles waltzes the broom.

He spreads out the pages—
her handwriting, his;
The choreography of cursive.
And one more…
He takes the unused page,
with a pause for
all symphonies in the ether,
and drags his dust pile
onto the page
with his mother’s broom.

by Wren Tuatha, first published in The Green Revolution and Winamop.

Guest Editor’s Note: A playful tone and a swift turn at the end sweeps through this poem (a poetic broom?), handling difficult material in a deftly dazzling way.

Please welcome Guest Editor Laura Foley from March 27-March 31, 2017.

Random John Fox by Wren Tuatha

Random John Fox

It’s a sterile garden and he
lies like a fishpond, still
water, and the virus swims.
Doctors are cats looking in,
pondering the pounce,
pondering the reflection.

We phone in morning
glories to the critical floor.
Each bloom believes its
story in some symmetrical,
hothouse way.

Will they find this poem,
years from now, when the cure
is common as clover,
and try to understand the stun
of randomness?

Random John Fox, who survived
a drunk driver going the wrong
way on 83, and got a shiny
new car in the deal,

who built Pride II when random
seas took The Pride of Baltimore out
of diplomacy’s service.

Diplomat John tendered a
treaty between his
child and the breakfast cupboard,
morning and morning again.

Gentle pool, John Fox would sail
around the table or the globe—
if the morning would just
wake him and say—
Today is the day.

by Wren Tuatha

Editor’s Note: Allegory is used to great effect in this poem as the narrator describes the randomness that lies at the heart of all our lives (and deaths).