Issue 48

Iris Jamahl Dunkle

I Must Go Out and Find Something Else To Hate

Besides the pink-petal blossoms that flag
the untrimmed trees that continually line
the passage of potholed roads carrying
me away from their embrace and this place.

I must find something that is more deadly
than arsenic and lead to kill what spreads
uncontrollably: mistletoe, cankers
mildew, flies, and my need to always look back.

I must watch the green hills roll out toward
somewhere else where the fog rests. I must
site a single tree rising on the hill’s
green, broad back, and know it as a sign

Even as the wagon slows, even as
the dust rises to blind us of hope.

[Over the cross, the grave, the skies]

On Wolf Creek, the water ebbs and flows. Come
spring a new path is forged from flood of snow
melt, overpowering the boundaries.
Until fall when the water will sink back
into itself, toward stasis, speaking
only in cold whispers that spill from cracks
in the ice like breath. All are saved whether
they know it or not. Then, the nameless voice:
green, fecund screams, thrust and ache from its banks.
Uncurling lips of skunk grass, steady-eyed
gaze of the white iris. Still, the voice of
reason will swim in the deep of the creek—
a forgotten, shadowy trout. Look hard,
long enough, you might catch a silver glint.


Iris Jamahl Dunkle's debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry, essays and creative non-fiction have been published widely. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College.She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers Conference.