Sonnet on an Ancient Chinese Earthenware Turtle, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The idea, in those days, was to spend a week
beside a subject, soaking up its ways,
observing it intensely through the days
until it also crept through you in sleep,

And made its fixed impression on the mind
before a like duration spent apart.
Such was the truer naturalist’s art,
who suffers Nature to warp all his design—

For Man is also natural, and his hand;
and what the Artist’s memory mislays
confabulating Nature will replace
with readier and fitter clay of Man.

Then, not a turtle—not precisely, no—
But, imagined turtles are precisely so.

Torben Niemi is from Copper Harbor, Michigan. He is foremost a painter. Despite some formal artistic education he considers himself an “outside artist,” and his consistent themes are nature, animals, and antiquity.


When the apocalypse comes, I will be glad!!
I want to die with all of you, at once,
and scream and run with you in burning streets,
while failing earth gapes blackly at our feet;
How grand! How glad!
How fun—
but it must be all of us at once.

When finally it comes, I will be grand,
and wailing with the rest of you, and drunk—
No more books! No houses! Only death!
Only free dying, lovely! This is best:
No happier thing was ever man’s
in all his days under the sun
than to perish, all together—all at once.

Robert Kicinski is another descendent of Polish immigrants in South-East Michigan. He lives temporarily in Chicago, but returns often to the Detroit area. He has been published in 3:am Magazine and Outsider Poetry, and his self-published chapbook, The Spring!!!!!!!!!!!! can be found at Quimby’s Bookstores in Chicago and NYC.

The Grackles

The grackles have returned! I said,
But the winter stayed too long;
I meant to be glad when the grackles came,
and robins red,
with robin-song,
but now they’ve come, I feel no change,
the winter stayed so long.

Alexander Bloom is an adjunct professor and the author of two chapbooks, The Frosted Bums of Denver CO, and Meanderton. He was raised in Miami but has since built his life in New England. His works have recently appeared in AGNI, The Nation, and Granta.

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