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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Cadralor: 592 words
By Lori Howe

Magnetoreception

—for Patrick
 
1. Scorpion Light 

At dusk, my brother and his friends slid out into deepening shadow 
with their bowlcuts and left-over Garanimals, impatient to be men. 
They carried old sacks, kitchen towels, and flashlights, brushing 
the still-warm summer walls of adobe and brick houses, waiting 
for a stray beam to finger a scorpion, luminous blue-green angels 
of the night. Breathless, the boys dropped them into the velvet dark 
of our mom’s old black purse, into the movie-theatre scent of lipstick 
and Juicy Fruit. In my mind, I see them falling, luminous arms rising 
neon as carnival rides into the humid dark, vivid x-ray images 
not of bones but of desire in that strange, close, fragrant world. 


2. Stavanger 

When mackerel came swimming into Skagerrak each spring, 
Norwegians caught them with a drift-net fleet. In 1920, Stavanger 
men and women, their hands slick with bodies, worked into the night, 
stemming tides; from the ocean’s skin, they gathered mackerel 
in their arms like loaves of bread, staggered home knowing wealth, 
imagined their children sleeping full and satisfied in warm beds. 
The wooden canneries are vacant now, pickets stained; ghost teeth. 
Inside them, rows of sealed glass jars hold voices of men 
and the great fish they followed into the hadopelagic zone, 
seven miles down. If you are quiet, you may hear them breathe. 


3. Magnetoreception 

Sea turtles and pigeons posses a full map sense; tiny compass needles 
of magnetite in the receptor cells of their noses guide them in 
the dark: a strewing of fireflies. There is magnetite in the abdomens 
of honeybees, my love. In this cathedral, dimple the comb 
with a larch spoon’s edge, fill your own hollows sweet, be pulled 
by the earth’s liquid outer core as a night breeze sways bamboo 
in green choirs, the way mermaids swim in abalone; exhale a feast 
of carbon and pyrite. Like ostrich wings, humans retain a vestigial 
magnetic sense; it pulls, the way torn wallpaper brushes memory to 
surface: a slosh of turquoise; scent of jasmine; gondolas, passing. 


4. St. Clement, Patron Saint of Hatmakers 

Lying in the Bismark cold, 8,900 men, women, and children spread arms 
and legs, flapping joyously, making snow angels against winter’s grey, 
mittens painting the canvas with poppies, scraps of June sky, gold coins 
by a tourmaline sea. Fifteen hundred miles away, there is only my own 
warm hand to hold against my heart. Oh, the gaunt ache of distance, 
our arms flying close as nightfall casts our angels in ice, glazed silver 
and pearl by a honeyed sliver of hot moon. Just off the square, 
the chocolate shop is closing, windows steamed gold with the spice 
secrets of rose truffles, ginger, a melting of tahini strewn with petals. 
Come morning, long lashes of ice shimmer with fennel and peonies. 


5. Telephone 

Human eyes offer up phenomena to the gods of our brains, translators 
of force and distance, the hues of visible light. In 1663, Edme Mariotte 
proved that the optic nerve is an absent telephone operator 
between the retina and the brain, is a cell-less disc, a dark forest 
we cover with white sheets, projecting onto them a movie with a plot 
no one understands. The underground parking lots of Paris throng 
with fresh chicory and oyster mushrooms, and an octopus unfurls 
her glorious carmine cape to the depths: a roseate string of hammocks 
stretching fine across the chasm. The arc between there and here is 
immeasurable, my love; see how our breath rises around us like pearls. 

 

 

Publisher’s Note:

For details about the genesis and rules of this poetic form, see:
Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor.

Lori Howe
Issue 13, May 2022

is a co-creator of the new poetic form, the cadralor, and Editor in Chief of its flagship journal, Gleam. Her work appears in such journals as The Meadow, The Tampa Review, Sandstorm, Verse-Virtual, Synkroniciti, and MacQueen’s Quinterly. She is also the author of Cloudshade: Poems of the High Plains and Voices at Twilight (Sastrugi Press, 2015 and 2016 respectively) and the editor of Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press, 2016).

Ms. Howe lives and writes in Laramie, Wyoming, where she is a professor in the Honors College at the University of Wyoming, and mother to a feral cat named Miss Kitty Pants.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Refraction and Ripening, two cadralore by Lori Howe in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 6, January 2021)

New Poetic Form With Wyoming Roots Goes Viral by Micah Schweizer at Wyoming Public Media (4 December 2020); includes audio of Lori Howe reading her cadralore (Numbers 9, 5, and 4)

 
 
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