Poets Cheadle, Dillon, Walker will read Jan. 7 at Poulsbohemian

POULSBO — Poets Ralph Cheadle, Mike Dillon and Richard Walker will read their works beginning at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 at the monthly Poulsbohemian Poetry Reading.

The Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse is located at 19003 Front St. NE, Poulsbo. The featured poets will be followed by an open mike.

Cheadle moved in 1969 to Bainbridge Island, where he taught 29 years at Bainbridge High School and raised three children (now grown). He was close friends with Bob McAllister, Everett Thompson, and Nancy Rekow, and because of that was in the weekly writing workshops begun by McAllister (which have now continued for more than 40 years). Cheadle and McAllister were influenced by Nelson Bentley. Cheadle is now enjoying retirement.

Dillon grew up on Bainbridge Island and has lived in Indianola for three decades. He retired as publisher of Pacific Publishing Co. in Seattle in 2013. He will read from a new, Indianola-centric book of haiku, “Outside the Garden” (Red Moon Press). Along the way, he’ll explore some of the misconceptions that have gathered around the small art form and the state of English-language haiku today. As Robert Spiess, the late editor of Modern Haiku wrote, “Genuine haiku embody the existential mystery of things.”

Several of Dillon’s haiku appeared in “Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years” (W.W. Norton, 2013).

Dillon will also read a handful of poems from previous books of his regular poetry, as well as new work, including a manuscript in progress.

Walker is editor of Kitsap News Group and author of three books. He is of Mexican/Yaqui ancestry. His poetry has been published in Indian Country Today; Yellow Medicine Review/ A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought (Southwest Minnesota State University); and in a chapbook, “The Journey Home” (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2012). He and his wife Molly, a member of the Samish Indian Nation, live in Poulsbo. They enjoy cultural activities and events, spending time with family, and exploring Coast Salish country.

RALPH CHEADLE

Day after our wedding

we walked in Woodland Park.

The rustle of the peacock’s

fan was as startling as

the shuffle of a diamond

fingered gambler.

Behind iridescent eyes

on his feathers a dusky hen

faded in the hollow of a bush.

We talked through the menagerie

of other marriages grinning

like losers entranced

by the clack of dice

in some floating game.

From the shade of a hawthorn

your eyes gently mocked

the preening of a graying dandy.

MIKE DILLON

Song of the Hermit

I hied myself to the forest

and declared a truce with the soul’s civil wars.

I peeled off the ancient curse of not belonging — that upholstered noose.

Where your trail ends mine begins.

Old Couple

Says she: “There’ll be a full moon tonight,”

who carries her life in a dirty canvas sack.

Walking beside her, so does he.

“Almost full,” he corrects, softly as moss.

They part the sea of pigeons in the square

as blue May hums over the city

and its towers of steel and glass

where their braided being drifts like spring rain.

Or two deer sloped to a moonlit lake.

Home

Gone too many autumns

from my home ground

I had almost forgotten

how thoughts of autumn

become drifts of golden leaves,

the blackened fruit of spawning salmon.

I had almost forgotten

the calligraphy of the estuary man

against a dark cloud bank, raking for crabs.

Or the longer shadow cast

by a leaning gate post,

the monastic silence of its moss.

I had not quite forgotten

the village faces, angelic and precise now,

as they go upon their rounds.

Or the baritone foghorn at midnight

with Orion strung in a sky hole

above the western firs, even so.

Cliffs

Even now, in your midnight dreams

you try your wings and fly.

Morning: You wake to walk

earth’s steep gravity

where each breath you take

thrusts a new cliff at your feet

that whispers: Remember,

despair has no wings.

She Senses Her Future Life

The child left alone

in an oak-paneled room

of a great house

filling with adult laughter

in a farther room

gazes at the wall

of old books bound in leather

and the mustiness

of another century,

takes one down

and begins to read

and drifts far from the distant laughter

until the last robin’s carol

brings her to the window

where the evening star blooms

above the dark wood.

RICHARD WALKER

Jack

“Jack’s at the fire

again,”

someone says

in a way that implies,

“Jack’s avoiding us,” or

“Jack’s being antisocial,”

but he’s not being

antisocial at all,

but listening to the

crackle of the fire

in a longhouse,

listening to the drums

and songs,

watching shadows

on the fence and

imagining the dancers’

shadows on the

longhouse walls,

the shadows and songs

of his ancestors and his

relatives.

Here at the fire, he’s

not a boy with a Scandinavian name

from East Wenatchee,

but he’s who he really is,

a man who carries the

blood of the Penticton,

of the Okanagan, of the Osoyoos

and the Similkameen,

an urban man who longs

for the river, longs for

the smell of cedar and

forest and salmon.

I join him as he

tends the fire

and he looks up

as if to say,

“Hello, uncle,”

but the words come out,

“way’, sesi?.”

The Payment

To all those conquistadors

who came here and tried

to replace our culture

with their own:

This is what the world

shall know about you.

You were nothing but unwelcome

visitors here,

you took our people’s welcome,

the welcome of our leaders,

and answered with

land lust and flesh lust

and murder.

Here’s what we have done:

We have kept your names

and language as partial payment

for the destruction you left

behind,

for lives lost,

for rape and enslavement,

for your gold lust.

Let no one say

we are Hispanic or Latino.

We are Indigenous People.

You did not change who

we are.

The names we carry and

the common language we speak,

once possessed by you alone,

belong to the Indigenous now,

reminders to the world

that you are gone, but

we are still here.

Let no one say these

are Spanish names —

they are Mexican names;

or that the language we speak

is the Spanish language —

it is a Mexican language now.

Yes, when people hear our names

and when people hear us speak,

they will say,

“Ah, there is one who carries

the blood,

A child of The Survivors.”

Our People live on.

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