Fall 2007, Volume 24.1


Photo of Joannie Kervran Stangeland.

Joannie Kervran Stangeland

Joannie Kervran Stangeland’s chapbook Weathered Steps was published by Rose Alley Press. A Steady Longing for Flight won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. In 2003, Joannie was a Jack Straw artist-in-residence. Her work has recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Chaffin Journal and Plainsongs.


On the Way to Nicaragua

No ordinary bird, the ebony Frigate
is magnificent as it circles
the steel mast’s shadow,
brought by the signs of fish
in worried water.

Small craft flirt with stark shores.
Los Murciélagos—the Bat Islands,
but in the captain’s voice, I hear "Bad,"
fear prescience in a name.
Our radio hisses and blurs.

The Papagayos pitch our vessel,
shift the currents to tide or whim.
Gusts embrace the sea
that lifts into whipping air.
Tropical depressions form off shore.

My skin is heavy with salt.
I drift in the ocean’s lull
until the anchor chain clanks
and the boat heels. I am yanked awake,
gripping my bunk in the absolute dark.

We leave in the rain-swept morning,
run before coming weather.
The jib snaps out, and I sew a new flag,
thread stitching short waves
across a gulf of blue.



45 Degrees

At the pink beach, rose rocks
were polished with each wave.
Having made it safely on the small plane,
she watched pelicans fly in on the tide

and came home from the tropics
with redder skin and visions.
After the honeymoon, she stayed
at the green parallel of her birth.

Here, the old map is useless.
Water hangs from the hanging begonia,
glistens like jewels in the night sky.
Mercury inches lower.

A fan of worries unfolds
and her hands open like roses,
the lines on her palms running out,
as water slips to the ocean.

She must get a bearing
on the angle of sun, if it’s visible,
or find a way to navigate
November without stars.



One Night in Guanacaste

After a week on water,
salt has eroded her face,
drawn its landscape
into unfamiliar relief.

In a close, anonymous hotel room,
the mirror’s glare,
she fingers the strange puckers
and bumps, hedges against permanence.

A street of Chinese restaurants,
signs in Spanish.
An empty bar.
She misses her usual skin,

the paths she used to know.
On the walk by the abandoned pool,
a large toad squats darkly,
still as stone.


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