Dennis Maulsby


Hidden in undergrowth, curious as death, yellow eyes watch.
Last night surrounded by the wash, wash, wash of lake water,
they loped through the pinewoods, their shadows feather-drifting
across mossy ground — owl wings riding on whispers.
Across from the narrow beach, its rocks hot, green-algaed apples,

a boat is laced to the dock. The brown sugar, tung-oiled hull
lifts and tugs against mooring lines. A bare-chested,
blue-jeaned graybeard works on the cambered teak deck.
Muscles knotted, he furls sails dyed crimson
with Chinese ox-blood. The sun wrings bright spots
out of the water to dance over sail and man.
Scarred medic’s hands become mottled red, slick again
with wound-flowered flesh and fluids. His topaz eyes
remember crawling among the wounded, bodies scattered
in bullet-cut elephant grass, jungle all around.
A ghost soldier’s back arches, flooded lungs and mouth gush.

A short-legged, wirehaired terrier peers over the bow,
wide black eyes curious marbles. He huffs,
nose wrinkles on and off, thinks big dog thoughts.
His jaws open in a yawn of pink tongue, crenelated teeth.
The dog imagines himself hustling down the island’s
dark, paw-soft paths, scents of wild things songs in his nostrils.

Man and dog sense wolves in their dreams. In jungle
and pines, quick gray-black grinning muzzles seek them.

Author’s Note: Printed in the The Briarcliff Review, 2010. [It’s] amazing what innocent events can set off war-memories. Isle Royale is an island well out in Lake Superior, primary inhabitants moose and wolves. A National Park, primitive camping is allowed. Can be reached only by floatplane or boat.

News Release
November 2010

Dennis Maulsby, a member of the local Ames poetry society Third Stanza, has had his poem Isle Royale Hunted nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editor of The Briar Cliff Review. Nominated literary works will be reviewed by judges and winners announced in the spring of 2011.

Every year, Pushcart Prizes are awarded to short stories, poems and other works published in literary magazines and then collected in an anthology. The Pushcart Press, which presents the awards, is devoted to writers, small presses and non-commercial publishing. Publishers Weekly has recognized it as among the most influential publishers in American history. The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses series has been published every year since 1976, and is the most honored literary project in America.

Magazine and small book press editors (print or online) may make up to six nominations from their year’s publications. The nominations may be any combination of poetry, short fiction, essays, or literary whatnot. Pushcart Prize annual editions are found in most libraries and bookstores.

In the 2010 Briar Cliff Review editor, Tricia Currans-Sheehan described the nominated poem: Dennis Maulsby’s Isle Royale Hunted shows the mystery of the past. ‘Man and dog sense wolves in their dreams.’ The speaker can’t shake the images of Vietnam where bodies are ‘scattered in bullet-cut elephant grass, jungle all around.”

The Briar Cliff Review (founded in 1989) is published annually at Briar Cliff University located in Sioux City, Iowa. Each issue includes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, essays, and reviews.