Big Mouth Black bass: all muscle and mouth they breach spit and shake out barbed hooks tangle in weeds then snap filament line. The grit rammed under their fingernails and between clenched teeth washed down by home made red wine heavy with sediment Nonni* bust their gnarled knuckles on GE locomotive turbines. Their grandchildren court English-Irish girls above the Mohawk on the bridge between Little Italy and Becker Street in Schenectady. * Nonni is Italian for Grandfathers
Deer Dancer Blanca Peak, Colorado August 7, 2016 The Mountain teaches a man his promontory limits The Ascent On bunched haunches rippling. quivering. against the hug and tug of earth on the steep, brutal, narrow trail humped, sometimes strewn with talus and scree, lined with bluebells, red paint brush, pale columbine—the deer dancer ascends. His frozen-stiff brown fur no longer repels the freezing drizzle. Cold sweat urges a quick ascent determined. desperate. With each upward bound— guided by metal forelegs made by L.L. Bean—he mounts and sways to pueblo drums: step step step step … heave … step step. The Descent The black hail-laden clouds swag and roil Zapata Lake. Their skirts of swirling mist obscure the naked rock-spines of Ellington Point and Blanca Peak. They drive the dancer into a graceless, frightened retreat. Zapata Creek swells. Its rock fords submerge. The track melts into fast-sliding mud. He picks, pricks, clicks his way, leaning into the deep on weakened forelegs. Hail cascades, a stinging maraca beat. The deer dancer, drugged with fatigue, staggers past lightning-blasted pines. He collapses, three times, to his knees.
Their Blood Comes Up Longstreet’s 25,000 men raised back and up a confederate sledgehammer above General John Pope’s exposed left flank. The second Battle of Manassas August 30, 1862, 4:00pm the hammer smashed the 5th New York, Zouaves whose uniforms were modeled on the French: short open-fronted, red- braided blue jackets baggy red trousers tasseled red fezzes. On came the 5th and 4th Texas. As the massed confederates came out of the woods and rifle smoke. Union Private Alfred Davenport remembered, “It was a continual hiss, snap, wiz and sluck” of bullets ripping into flesh. The hammer smashed through fresh-baked bread. The 5th New York, fled: Union Private Richard Ackerman said, the men “ran like dogs.” In ten minutes the slaughter ended: the most dead of any regiment in any single battle of our Civil War. Confederate Valmore Giles recalled the red breeches the blue jackets among the broom sedge Virginia hills—some writhing, many still—colored, torn patches that put him in mind of April blue bonnets and red Indian paint brush blooms in the rolling hills among the live oaks of East Texas. 152 years pass: more smoke. I stand on this exact ground where my Brooklyn boys stood, now patched in undisturbed snow. Their blood quiet, braided siphons up through my feet.
Gregory L. Candela has resided in New Mexico since 1972. He has published scholarly articles in American Literature, a volume of poetry (Surfing New Mexico—2001), written seven produced plays and edited 6 volumes of poetry and prose. More recent publications include poems in Circe’s Lament: Anthology of Wild Women Poetry, Malpaís Review, Adobe Walls, Sin Fronteras, Van Gogh’s Ear, Cyclamens and Swords, Monterey Poetry Review and Italian Americana. He has been a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, served on the Selection Committee for Albuquerque’s first Poet Laureate and serves as a Poet in the Classroom. He is currently looking for a publisher for his poetry manuscript “Graveyards of New Mexico.”