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Selections from By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters | DeWitt Clinton

By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters
poems by DeWitt Clinton
cover design by Dale Houstman
watercolor by Joan Thomasson
is a rose press forthcoming 2018

By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters

These poems are improvisations/adaptations of the classical Chinese poets in Kenneth Rexroth’s translation/collection, One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New Directions: New York, 1971): Tu Fu, Mei Yao Ch’en, Ou Yang Hsiu, Su Tung P’o, the Poetess Li Ch’ing Chao, Lu Yu, Chu Hsi, Hsu Chao, and the Poetess Chu Shu Chen.

Selection

Poetic Adaptations of The Poetess Li Ch’ing Chao

86

After Watching Rigoletto on a Sunday Afternoon by the Lake,
I Look to See That Li Ch’ing Chao Has Composed “Two Springs”

Summer sales are everywhere in town.
Our uncut neighbor’s lawn launches a billion dandelions.
The crabapple trees are starting to snow
On our dandelion free green lawn.
Above, puffy white clouds make
Shadows on some of those below.
From our basement Zac the Cat
Appears in a new spider web veil.
I’m quite hesitant to keep on dreaming
As the ones at night bring on a sweat
And the ones when I’m awake make
Those close by ask where did I just go?
Where we are the moon rises
When we’ve already latched the house.
We keep trying to return
To whom we were so long ago
When we sprang from bed like startled deer.
We still know what brings delight
Despite all our efforts otherwise.

87

Waiting in a Starbucks Near the Lake, I Read the Times
Then Find “Quail Sky” by Li Ch’ing Chao

It’s almost time for iced tea
Instead of the usual half decaf.
I’m usually the first to open blinds
To let the sun back in.
The green leaves of fading flowers are even
Drooping to the ground.
Some spring mornings I’m down
On the beach thrilled to watch
The sun rise out of our Lake.
With days like this I’m eternally
Grateful just to see what’s next.
I miss, though, all the friends
I’ve ever made who never
Think again of dropping by.
I’m in the back
Down on my knees pulling
Weeds so tomatoes
And broccoli and maybe even
Blue Egyptian iris can cheer us some
In this tiny spot
We still call home.

89

On a Warm June Saturday, I Wonder How to Hum “To the Tune,
‘Plum Blossoms Fall and Scatter,’” by Li Ch’ing Chao

After you’re gone, your White Linen mist
Floats in our tiny bedroom.
In the evening, west winds
Lift our curtains with big breezes.
I can’t recall when I last
Read something about what love might be.
Have you noticed the yellow finches?
Once, the moon filled our bedroom.
The rabbits have feasted
On all our baby broccoli plants.
The rains pour off our
Roof into our green secret forest.
Does a day ever go by
When I don’t wonder where you are?
Some days I’m on the other side
Of the world, and then, I wonder
What color amber you might
Wear someday, or not.
When I’m alive I’m always wondering what
The two of us might do sometime.

90

On a Cold, Rainy, Rainy Day in June, I Try to Find Solace
With “The Day of Cold Food,” by Li Ch’ing Chao

In six days, I will swim
In cold, cold waters of Lake Elkhart.
The outdoor grill needs cleaning
From all of last year’s
Feasts of fish and vegetables.
Tonight, we’ll dream with just one pillow
As we’ve stored all the rest.
The red-tailed hawk has not
Stalked our back forest all day
But we know what his taste
Is for garden-fed rabbit.
It is much too cold to scull
Down the river or swim
When rain pours all day.

91

After Completing an Olympic Triathlon Under Overcast Skies
I Rest in Dry Clothes and Read Li Ch’ing Chao’s “Mist”

Every morning we let the forest
In with light and birds into
Our tiny bedroom.
We keep our blinds
Closed all night in fear of
Who’s hiding right outside pretending
To come in with lonely knives.
Every day low flying jets
Make booms over the Lake.
We let the evening breezes cool
Our papered elephants and sleepy tigers.
We’ve replanted so many broccoli plants as
Briar Rabbit noshes on our young.
We’ll sit in sunset to catch
Every single moment.

92

Nearing the Longest Day of the Year, I Pull Weeds, Plant
A Flat of Flowers, Then Open Lu Yu’s “The Wild Flower Man”

No one really notices the old woman
Who sells bunches of bok choy
In the shade outside the indoor palace.
All morning long we never see
Who hoes and chops all day.
They’ve been here since the War
Brought them across from old Laos.
The marigolds and asters always
Sell before her leafy greens.
The two of us wonder where they
Go when they’re not behind what
We love to smell.
We’ve both been down on our
Knees (as well) pulling all the weeds we
Just don’t want to see in-
Between what we’ve planted that we hope
We’ll grill along with just caught fish.
Our good neighbor just
Can’t stand the woofs woofs anymore
So we’ll see squad cars
Pulling up late at night to check
Out what’s not right with our
Doggy neighbor who by now
Is smiling with a cold one.

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Selections from More than Moon | Jennifer Juneau

More Than Moon
poems by Jennifer Juneau
cover design by Dale Houstman
Sorrow 1 digital art by Mark Savage
is a rose press forthcoming 2018

Ten Photographs of a Life

1 baby picture

I am an exaggeration. A russet leaf swirling under a smoking-cold sun.
Manipulated by a schedule of wind, I settle in a bundle.
I was admired on a branch once. I tried to walk and fell forever into a foxhole.

2 childhood portrait

My days are blotted out. My awkward body so thin. My voice sings like sizzling
chestnuts. A suddenness of Kindergarten guffaws—I am snatched by a hand
that smells like a latchkey. I turn to crumbs in a shifty fist.

3 photograph of a volunteer

I am the gold-crusted hay that beds the baby in the barn. The coarse cloth
of honey that adds flesh to his naked bones. Nourishing and warm. I am sunlit
and taste vague. I overflow to the floor and settle at the foot of a robe.

4 wedding picture

Shapely as blown glass. Clear and unblemished. A succulent lemon. Underneath sequins
my pulp is ripe and good. I am all juice, dispersed in a pellucid pitcher of water
and chunk ice. Granules white and sweet better my flesh. Here, I am in love.

5 honeymoon photograph

I am red humidity. Mosquitoes fester in my ruddy breath. A slow burning coal
prodded by a slice bar. I am the heat of fevers. A pulse convulsing in the a.m.
I crepitate. This is the practice of something new, if only for a bit.

6 photograph of a homemaker

All winter. Staid cold snow woman shaped near a well. I shed cretaceous flakes
when I cry. My orbicular three-part body is snow-white and bitter, bitter-cold.
I think and want coldly. I grope coldly. In pitch I desire bitterly.

7 another photograph of a homemaker

Gunmetal sky, pumice mist. The cobblestone well chokes with my tears in the form
of snow cakes. Snow my floor and walls. Snow my home. I snow. Solitary in snow.
Abstemious in snow. You inside my snow. Night snow black. Crepuscular snow blue.

8 bipolar photograph

Vitiated by undulating sun, my days are moribund. My spotty body turns to corn snow.
My threadbare limbs are ground ice. I seep into flat grass in rivulets as day decides
to go. What have I become?—I have no eyes. I am all screams.

9 vacation photo

I move through ocean grass with the flexibility of a starfish. The water is brackish
and pale green. I scrounge the seafloor of bronze-colored dust. Fetid scent
of crustaceans. I close myself inside a shell. Here I listen to the chatter of pearls.

10 future photograph

Inveterate moss. I have rolled on stones for centuries. I am many greens. I’ve scaled
castle walls. The ones I’ve climbed were lined with trees of muscadine. I speak in velvet
tones I speak so slow. A wizened emerald, expensive and wane, I wait for death alone.

First appeared in Poetry International 2005

 

Postmodernism

There is a lot to ponder.
What if rain memorizes my address
and becomes my walls and ceiling? Asphalt,
my floor? What if I open my mouth to cry Mary
and it comes out marry, but never merry?
What if when the novel is finished
the paper in the book does not meet
the guidelines for permanence and durability
etc., etc. of the council on Library Resources?

There is a story, rather, was a story, about a little girl
who woke her mother in the middle of the night
(3:00 a.m. to be exact) and said, I’m thirsty.
This happened almost every night in her fourth year.
She wasn’t really thirsty, she was saying, I got a fear.
Fear of a dark room that echoes with my voice.
Fear of stretching out my arms only to embrace an empty space.
She deposits that moment into her memory bank
so when she hears the words, I’m leaving
you, she’ll be familiar with that kind of loneliness. Let’s back up.

A little girl is read a fairy tale at bedtime. She does not
remember the hard-pressed maiden winning the hand
of the prince at the end. She dreams of obstacles, foxglove.

The happy ending plummets from the book. She wakes
in a conformation solid as quenched thirst and searches
one empty room after the next for the prince’s lullaby.
She’ll search for that song the rest of her life
and won’t be satisfied until she never finds it.

First appeared in Poetry Midwest, 2007

 

Moon Song

night blooms, pitchy. if there is a voice out there chanting pithy vespers to tranquilize
evening’s pixilated mane, clearing its throat to recite, call it by my name.

center my pose under your loaf, dun moon—mother goddess you—like sparkling fruit
a vine-ripe bulb of muscadine. i’ll shine like a marbled goblet of wine: plump & plum
a still, still life

but never, never dumb in your full-bodied light. o, mother, mother moon
with your glinting skin
materialize out of flotage & brume, unveil the slack masterpiece that i am
minus your gloss.

feed me! am i noth-
ing to you? goddess, you are my life
& i, the gilded progeny
am an overwrought structure, carved by nature, curved
& nurtured
a stilted fixture, whim of your stature, i am indebted
to you, would fall to bed—
would wed—would marry you! dazzle me like juliet beseeching

a wary but better-for-it romeo, don’t take me slow, make me soon, my huntress,
fortuitous moon

bend here, not there, here. render me splendid—but never a fool—here,
nearer
near

First appeared in Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, 2017

 

Melancholy

Morning plans to unlove itself and day refuses to bloom.
I enter horizontally, an incision in a flattened room
where skylights like oxygen masks stained mulberry

reign above my private mid-hour, my blue cellophane.
Starfire plummets in a hurry: a grazing of bijoux,
a maze of ribbons darkened thickly. And still beauty mends no breakage.

In a pillow’s notice a tear-stricken face
shuns the unwelcome visitor in the brain.
I’ve tried to steer the big picture into another pastime

but morning rose like a slap in the face.
To motor: keep a car’s length from my frenzied fulsome
dulled with pain, careworn with scores of patchwork.

Oh no, not your heart, hard as a telephone pole. Listen: that’s not rain
tapping tin but the nosedive of a splintering pledge. The crack
in a muscle’s valve only saddens the tick. Tomorrow will wizen.

Where to the new embellishment? The replica of bygone lovers
embroils themselves into future embezzlement.
What concludes from a stockpile of grief? Who conspires unmoved?

First appeared in DMQ Review, 2006

 

October

I’ve misplaced time.
I look for you in a moribund afternoon
sewn into daylight savings. When
the light wanes from the earth’s outline

I look for you in a moribund afternoon
while engaged in prayer. Late to bed,
the light waned from the earth’s outline,
my body is half awake.

Engaged in prayer and late to bed
I search for six months ago
half awake
in the pocket of a clock set back.

I search for six months ago
in the dense grove of your lifetime
in the pocket of a clock set back
with thoughts of seeing you again.

In the dense grove of your lifetime,
sewn into daylight savings,
thoughts of seeing you again
misplace time.

First appeared in Switched on Gutenberg, 2009

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All the Goats | Leslie McGrath

Sometime before midnight all the goats
sent away by those who wanted to distance themselves 
from their sins and were lucky enough to have a goat
were roused from the rocky fields where they’d been sleeping 
(in shame, thought the families, though they were wrong)
and were led back to town by a child that wore 
a thin strip of cloth threaded through 
the shank of a brass bell. The goats followed its song 
through dark and stinking alleys back to the pens 
and tired barns with roofs like saddles--
places where they’d known care. The child lay with them there
in one hay-padded place or another until daylight
then beckoned them back to the fields. Thus the families
continued to believe their distance from sin was intact
and that they were cleansed. And the goats said nothing.
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Daydreaming in a Time of Panic | Leslie McGrath

So you have found me heartsick, curled under 
the throw someone’s grandmother crocheted 
and that I bought at Goodwill because I’m mindful and adjunct.

I’m not doing nothing here. I’m calculating the angle
of light that casts a long and chilling shadow
onto the largest screen on earth: millions of turned backs

of tweeters, texters, and trolls hell-bent 
over devices designed to connect but which only sift
self from self and will continue to do so until

someone with a working moral compass, someone 
who senses the hypnotic sleep of history coming round 
and round again writes ALARM! ALARM!

gigantic and trance-piercing on the wind no blanket
will protect me from. These hands are busy
with my rosary of hurts, but if they weren’t!

What would I become? Bell that warns the world.
What have I become? Talking mynah bird.
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The Royal Game | J. Karl Bogartte

 

The shadow of a fresh kill is the end of silence, the ever-present ring of enchantment. The spark of rattling insects… Nothing is ever finished, it just continues, changing places with memory… A vague reference to a dance of wild whispering.

*

There’s lightning in the moth house, ghost glow in the underground, and the light from when to dazzle the almost then, mindful of radiant anomalies. And even through the windows of ambiguous desire. You are the ghost of yourself, an enviable position. The enchantment of one who interrupts your gaze…

*

Through shadows of the face, of more light, swimming pathology, pausing in the runes… You spread out like a mythology. Shadows of lunatic endgames. The suddenness of a sign, missing link to her voice of glowing loam. Time-warp to skeletal maze, burning a window in the garden. Owl-turning, dust-making. She lamps out, dividing the spoils.

*

Night with its terrors, leaping through hoops. Nagual trapeze. You are upright panting and sleek. Marked. But cunning and random, drawn into a circle. Always an unauthorized approach. Consciousness passed through eyes… and at night, from mouth to mouth. Breath to breath, passage through the skin, to transparency…

*

To keep desire alive and shuddering, when the spine is bright, a starry debris. Handfuls of pollen gathered for a flash fire, outstretched by night vision of animal nature. She lowered her quails squirting pearls deep into a nameless shadow. A fierce mastery of a delicate nature to align a primal blood-gaze for the enraptured Coat of Melusine, for travel and sudden entrances. To leap. Light is the maze, darkness is an image of it…

*

A girl infected with candles, mirror of the humming. In a cloud, leopards, for the revolver, braille, a semblance of movement, long-stemmed invoking of ancient wiles. In that landscape you are fog the color of bees in sunlight, in cinema, a doorway for binding spells, broken into glowing.

*

A language of water opens the door to illusive interiors, in the field at night, when the walls are costumes begging to be worn, sheer and unsettling, effortless. Cause and effect grappling with the energy of presence, the hidden… If you spread your legs, for light, there is the candle dripping darkness for sleep and spell. The first spell, the primal incantation that takes you by surprise, even as it exhausts itself.

*

It was a complex halo in refraction, a sudden gesture of robotic dust-gathering that assumed a more delicate animal nature to eclipse between her legs and her mouth. Pole vaulting through Anasazi…

*

A Lunar disguise. Whose portrait reflects yours, whose myth is wearing your mask… is that you breathing in the arcades? Obscure parentage, night glitter, dark scent. Blood strung in the trees, tuned beyond repair, your intoxicating web of desire igniting antlers and small villages.

*

A warehouse illuminated by ravens, magnified by lightning embedded in the text left unsigned and awkward, an adolescent dimension sipping primordial brides, windows hunting for reflections… You follow only the scent that overwhelms you, the memory that speaks of confrontation. You imagine what cannot be imagined, to lose what is not imagined… It is my eyes, she said, that smell of sleep and chlorophyll… The unrest, discontent, narrative for a dousing-rod.

*

Night with its terrors, leaping through hoops. Nagual trapeze. You are upright panting and sleek. Marked. But cunning and random, drawn into a circle. Always an unauthorized approach. Consciousness passed through eyes… and at night, from mouth to mouth. Breath to breath, passage through the skin, to transparency

*

Paradise as a word in the loam of molting, a gender-fleece away. A body of lives before light, most shapes the dark, coming back. The earth smell of rain and hunger. Desire. Conspires. Cries out… A joyous raging.

*

The interior flow of blood seeks a voice as powerful as a sudden encounter. In sunlight it is a memory, the silence of a revelation. You spread out like a mythology, under golden blues, haphazardly mistaken for another, a darker shade. Playing shadow in the window of ambiguous desire, an image that leaves a scent to memorize. An unwashable stain.

*

There is no philosophy worthy of your body, without form when it dreams, lights the fuse, declares an uncertain sense of victory over exhaustion and doors that refuse to close. A theory emits tiny crystals for illuminated marksmen, consoling the alpha female in her dousing, sifting for gold and other arrangements.

What is lucid in your presence, however tentative, is the attitude of transparency, in its active state, which is a furious refusal – not simply to mystify, but to remove all doubts. The sense of nakedness violated with pleasure and disfigured with a passion to exchange places when the landscape intervenes. To visualize fire, engender it, yet remain nebulous and orphaned by chance, and choice, firing through the ashes… The virus of a window.

*

The wind she said the rain “as my flesh” for so much fog, then the almost of everyone, that not quite and the always interrupted, with a frenzy of expectation, the watery sun flows you into sleep… “I am the other place, and the other, so many doorways out of recurrence.”

*

In that space between you and the mirror, a slowly rotating constellation of unnatural design. Your reflection ignited. You see only yourself, or another… You see through, and for a few brief moments, you die, without waiting. You cannot remember that first momentous gesture…

*

The enslavement of a princess is that swan illuminated by lit fuses and embedded codes. Darkness is a long drawn-out gasp. Presence implicates unlawful entrances. Knowledge unattainable by any other means is magnetized by pleasure in timid savagery. You arrive before mythology… breathing on yourself… to regain all that was lost in translation.

*

You are the scent of sleep so heavy it illuminates each gesture, so intoxicating it draws animals into your breath, like crystals in your mouth, pulling sunlight inside…

*

Grace is the art of luring ravenous dogs into a state of springtime.

 

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stationary ruptures involve the imaginary gaining weight | gary lundy

in order not to float too far off the ground which preserves those moments under glass while that particular face with those baggage eyes stairs blankly back as if needing a boost in order to leave the rooms lock the doors wander those blocks so familiar they are no longer visible in real time although on this particular instance an over turned dump truck requires a new route which means paying attention so as not to get lost among those others spotting here and there their territory boundaries of no trespassing amid brief aromas of burnt cheese and bread when returning to the repeated familiar tune to block out eruptions of priceless energy teeth ground into powder used to glue together a makeshift purpose or two as the horizon invites forgetfulness of minute details braking prior to the required stopover lengthening the hours to an extent unexpected whereby more fills a void previously pasted to the back wall where only shadows lounge secreting sounds of lost light annoying what might have been small birds feeding on reclining insects more offered than mirrored face and the subsequent luggage emptied of all useable functionality after all why travel there this time of year flattening out in predictable directions perhaps remain in the apartment where chance collects outside the rattling windows frisking the passersby when too big turns delusional pillow conversation and lack of breathing exercise apertures in profile

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Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson | Thylias Moss and Thomas Higginson

(in a new kiss horizon)

Sitting by a calming fountain in Kiev, presser foot nearby
needle plate of sky, tremendous spooling, smoothing weather

just after the bells thread themselves like bobbins
of St Sofia rocking the plaza — real rocks
of noisy
heartstrings and foot pedals bated to a point nearly acquiring voice

that manages, amazing improbability,
that somehow says a few things in languages
all their own. Nothing else able to cipher

siphon possible meanings

any crazy dictionaries, hip cats tongueless hepcats
this morning are you really as crazy as this seems? am I prepared for a weather trying to be as real as the heart of the matter holding pieces of cloth firmly on the feed dog

Pretty crazy, as the take up wheel turns life, skyrocketing
foot pedals
inside out, feed-dog dragging everything through it

little ridges of
pockets of
fantasy dreams and reality screams

from a Go For It All woman

finally free

of annihilating sainthood

constantly inspiring and I wish
to also be that cloth stitched across you, banner, announcing
this unlikely kingdom
just because a world refuses to believe anything as good as a cracking plaza can still be a source of everything good:

whirlwind witches

here too, door number three

Standing off every

Jezebel to the side, foot pedals turn the corner
kilter kitty-corner cheering you on
like a diagonal fact no one can believe: such
weaving
on the verge of deceiving salvation:

Hey! Watch out monastery lava cooling down

all for that banana’s curvy storms to be sure

the only things left, only things not theft:
The Mnemonic of Yr Palindrome

also

those pieces of cloth heft and weft, curds and
way too far, weigh too deeply, whey cathedrals
on that feed dog of your heart [express to and from throat
blue plates
(also boot straps of bots
collie breed breaded tongue mnemonic
choice slab of steak: fanciest meal
on the menu]:
torrents of Baby colic
can’t wait
To taste your kiss again
and again
Kiss kissing kisses: this is life too,
not only acetate, acetylcoline
alternate fact of this lane in which you pass
Slow you lead your
Beautiful tender lips to the feed dog of mouth
Just to rest there introducing usness
quiveringly touching
The moment itself
Kissing a kneeling plaza
of pure consent

crude Singer
prototype of wardrobe clouds
ringing bells consenting to make music
tinnitus: is all we’ve got these bobbin days
dazzle as they shouldn’t: this is only sewing
thinking it can also be sowing
and today it can be going for it all, under
foot, tracking whatever can be tracked
“all in this space beside you, needle-nosed
pliers also compliant

feeding dogs everywhere a most special diet:

existence: menu around a generosity of neck:
foie gras stuffing a universe
finally free, body planet, out of control ringing every bell
formerly spool plates of daily servings of palindrome palaces
palindrome thrones king’s way Avenues Sofia and
Victoria; generous twin memes of energy pathways
watching out of veils washing up filters, those feed dogs
having to be prayers or
there might not be any, only
palindromes of despair, heaviest
mnemonics of all that spins

Sofia bottles, even Lourdes water fortified
here and here and here and hear
clouds waiting to be herds horse heads too
banana rainbows full circle azimuth arrows darts of
banana boomerangs
just for
lucky observers
knees of observers, sacking cloth
vespers: don’t worry, only religion
and, just for kicks: monetary moments
palindromes of everything acquiring
cash out values cashing out a morning
bliss, wonderland express
-ed longing for round trip tickets
to whatever
blind folded takeup wheel
taking up spaces of numbered chambers
dressing up
a last dance with you. 4/4 time, it all measures:
tout suite.

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NAKED NIGHT: a eulogy | Thylias Moss and Thomas Higginson

(Thomas Higginson: STOP 3 with:
italic origami by Thylias Moss)
Not trying to impose,
just trying to build structure, form, recipe for holding, folding holds
together: we’re made of this –is that not a purpose of bones inside: give shape to this, bones even buried inside the planet, treasure, pre-history and present becoming “now”, elusive
“now” elephants
in rooms, closets, “protected avenues” –must plow right through, force
of Indian elephants, never forgetting
origami of
why
we’re here: “you and I for-ever
pur-pose of purpose maybe
is
folding
building structure, training wheels for elephants
who must sink and swim
Kronos armies, TV sets with legs
on the Mexican beach (made in Mexico, you know) —

the ghost sea is so great, origami ocean, crumples and wrinkles like skin of
elephants poached ivory, white as ghosts, Caspar –they cannot survive
pur-
pose for-ever

To set in motion the secret boat so small, can
barely
cut
can barely
poach (now you’re cooking
with gas
chambers, now the alchemy)
barely cut, dice and chop
the wave, wave me down, flag me down, I need some help
this flat tire: get me to the church in time
The way is pretty durn milky universe, Kronos: destroyer of the universe, Shiva’s
half-brother, half sister, only half (circus freak) eats power stations, eats
swords
nuclear energy, appetite not deterred
by radiation, prefers
glowing food: the better to see it, better to taste it
swallowed a journey through
glowing throat, such illumination; how beautiful
death is
when mandatory
pur-
pose

If you know what I’m saying –can’t be late for my own salvation
in the dark
praying
the Breton Fisherman’s prayer, fisher
of men, half and 3/5ths, not choosy; they
come from “Fisher Street”
laundry hanging in the backyards, alleys,

lynched men hanging clean
Fels Naptha, water hot enough to dissolve skin”
float on, chug on, chug, chug, chug… dark holes
of memory dissolve into another
meltdown, why not meltup sometimes?
touch hems of angels? –unless they dissolve from just
the touch of dirt?
lake of crocodile tears
from elephant eyes, such
mergers: meaning of eulogy, thick
coming together just to come apart:

gallons and gallons of bleach…
enough to abort everyone, those old ways, tried and true
pur-
pose
contamination of all water, even
crocodile tears
bible tells me so true blue, true moo
till the cows come home – reactor core

breakdown pur-pose into cowing, kowtowing
–those industrial farms where cows don’t know what it means to be cows, kowtows
just elephants in these squeezed rooms, moo-ing and everything milked,

Cause I don’t you may

Sing this one back to me –I sing back bones, structure, skin of these things dissolving, slipping away…elephants in the room dissolving into shadows, holes, Bonnie Raitt’s music to dissolve to, to technicolor to: “I Can’t Make You love me, only dissipate, tractor away, tractor back, trapeze effects all –house of trapeze, curtain rods, fuel rods in nuclear power plants, hungry Kronos on the rampage –can’t make you love him –just like a man of pur-pose, scattering his power everywhere, meltdown after meltdown, pur-pose floats, black rain, mere Ivory soap, but this is dirty, pure dirty floating bombs, new Moses-types in baskets…

–we build structure; as if that’s enough to hold everything together, sound of motor, motor-song, little speedboat, hurry, hurry the message, in case it’s all praise –not enough pur-pose for that anymore
“The poem that floats
Its message across
The land that recedes –like memories, elephantized
memories
To the stars themselves glowing hot nuclear meltdown cores of
The recipients” contaminated hothouses!” –hot in here!

The poem curves a line to you –wormhole of 97 realities
Floats a word back

That’s the way we rock the world : jazzy funeral

dying

97 elephant trumpets

pur-poses (these like dolphins, elephants of the see pur-poses
To sleep. In the naked night,
The ocean wears a hat — hat; I wear your hat of fallout pur-pose
too:
97th shadow of
97th elephant in the room:
“I know I cannot live without you”
so I don’t live; just dissolve
and exist that way, 97 puddles singing giving everything back: reflection after reflection after reflection
of endless depth, a top
hat
to top off everything, make it
purty… purty, purty…
contaminated, pur-ty pur-pose
is as pur-ty does.

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Sestina for the Fix | Joan Mazza

So this is life, another day, another broken
thing: shoelaces, a fingernail, a leaky
faucet in the kitchen. The plumber says to bleed
the pipes, but I have no idea of such a fix.
I call him back and write another check.
I don’t care what he does. Just get it done.

When three things aren’t working, I’m undone,
especially when the car or the computer breaks.
I freak-out running through the checks
to trouble-shoot the problem. My mind’s leaky,
a sieve that can’t hold what I know, how to fix
or find a work-around. It’s as if I’m bleeding

out, can’t get conscious. Is courage in the blood?
A genetic ease with getting things done
in a certain kind of person who can fix
anything? I call an expert when something breaks.
I don’t know how to fix a leaky
roof. I call a licensed roofer, write a check.

Entropy acts on teeth, appliances. Nothing that a check
can’t fix. I tell myself I’m generous. I donate blood,
can deal with aging, though I hate these leaky
eyes. Some days I see it a first sign that I’m done
for. Here, overpasses and bridges break
down. There, abducted school girls can’t be fixed

when they return home with babies. Who will fix
this? Is there enough money to write checks
for all things broken? Daily, my heart breaks
at the news. Suicide bombers make my blood
run cold. How can it be? When will this be done?
Today the White House complains of intel leaks,

of disloyalty among his ranks. Most leaks
come from within, as it’s always been. No fix
for the chief who wants to triumph and won’t be done
until democracy disintegrates. He wants to end checks
and balances, to be king, to see some blood
run in the streets. He’ll say, I won. How easily we break.
	
Whatever’s broken must be fixed,
the leaking and bleeding stopped. I know
it will take more than a check to get it done.
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Return to Civilian Life | Dale Houstman

Yes, you will claim that you are at long last “getting somewhere,” working on your singing voice (ripe, softly vindictive, sporadically self-accusing), and yet your single recording (“Young Boy, Get a Mop”) is not the legendary hit we expected. As we ponder why, the thought of a desk fire beyond repair arises, that fire is here and now, and that fire has peach blossom flames. So, let us say “you were lovely” although it is only a tactic. Did it work? Call us.

A few in your outbuilding still hold eccentric notions about the letters of the alphabet – Such as they each function with an independent consciousness, some of them are better prepared for their inevitable retirement, vowels distinguish themselves via a special relationship to inertia, and so on. Yet, when “truth” finally emerges from beneath the packaging, it shall be awkwardly foolish, covering that with a gestural extravagance against which we will play the Episcopal character, backing away toward the fire. That pretty fire. Peach blossom fire. And, since you mention it, what of those “promises”? A serial rudeness, a handful of tiny thorns. Get over it. Lift a leg. Did it work?

And yet, psychology has also evolved a protective commercial shell, and even the lowest banking lackey can adjust its ineffectiveness to suit their disinterest. The entire nervous system finds itself unsupported by the wealthy, so we dismiss it, recalibrate its bosom alignment, and move farther away, leaving sensation to the children back there in the dark-feathered nursery. We realize such statements sting, another evaporation of frameworks, you are disappointed by our weekly proclamations, but do not concern yourself. Just try to wiggle your toes. Who is President? What year is it? Were you ever well-liked? The egrets fly under the low lamps.

And do not be dissuaded from desiring defeat. This place is obese with the stuff. Forcefulness is best mixed with hesitance and then mixed again: even mountains look small if you’re not impressed. You might be contentious as years breathe years and break their contents into smaller years, and that seed of a distinguished daydream concerning the reproachful stranger? It stumbles off into the background, away from the fire. That pretty fire. Thus, we have great peach blossom forests. Wander into them, pretending to be a singer. Did it work?

In conclusion, this specific day is a crack on a sink in a motel, or (I notice you were listed as a “Romantic”) a sleeping woman with a rose-tinted curtain as a skin. Whatever, that is all special in acceptable portions. But the question of our imitative barbarism? Historically, all our enlightenment, the full tank of comprehension is a miniature sunset to light your coral teacup, momentarily veined with damp, red strings of letters seen through a glowing thinness. Perhaps a sort of fire? That pretty fire.

Go away now.

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False Papers and the Vanity of Travel | Dale Houstman

Our least intimate madness less evident than the quickest turn of carpentry
or a furtive wager on the flight of birds.
A secreted sign over those accidents speculating on departures or the return.
The old world knew.
Detective, under-secretary, resentful servant: all the same man,
and less mysterious than a train window,
even in the deepest snowfall.
Yet we own all those mornings needed to regret all those evenings,
while hasty cogitations are the most superficially beneficent
to the craft of abandonment, the unnailing art
as extravagant salaries defeat the amusements of children
turning all to a politics, and a withering salary for fun.
By wind or watch or wallow, chance betrays opportunity,
and all this in the narrow gulfs, although we have heard
she is the very finest hospital ship.
So drop in at the River Palace, and learn to crawl
along its dark deck to the tragedian’s “secret” grotto:
admiration of delusions suffice as gratuity,
and the drinks seem free, fostering
dreams of railway porters, cowboy investors, showgirls
most desired for their Oldsmobiles.
Put it all down to a cocktail of sea air and coal gas.
Toward noon, we approach a spasm of pus-yellow hills,
the small lawyer shacks halfway up the slopes.
We lift from the water toward the High Terminus,
sails and rudders and dining cars and jets vibrate together,
but the ascension falls short of aerodynamic sincerity
even as one is impressed by the exterior cling hitches
holding charm starved churches (empty), libraries (empty),
and those small aluminum fortresses (not as empty).
One more dose of distant data
and the entire pot of coffee sours. Oh well...
No easy access 
to the obscurer pagoda platforms of Idaho,
and we cannot remake the bald circumferences
into a national residence for eagles.
The remaining viaducts inspire tepid conversation.
Photos of the viaducts are exchanged in the club cars.
There are red ponies seen through the windows
from the outside.
And a small clutch of worshippers
abandoning the coast
to terrapins.
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through clouds | Kate Roberts

landing at liverpool. three-armed wind turbines. men-like: tall. narrow. straight. industry swathes of sprawling. turbulence. shouts ay ay ay of child. jolt startled. place in non-space. tilting. banking. side view: patch – worked.

patterns of agrarian britain. carved up centuries ago by men of trade. divided. demarcated. disjoined. neat lines border tidy bandages of grass and crops. man’s handiwork. clusters of green oak. rivers of roads. dirty industry.

lined estuary. funnels replace furrows. and the sparkling ribbon of the mersey.

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Dharma | Roger W. Hecht

I am I because a little worm bites me
I am I filled with I’s and eyes watching what happens next

I am a host/I am inhabited
I am a whole world colonized
a body embodied, bodies burrowed in my pores, 
	my hair, my lungs, my eyes
Whose bodies are borne forth when I strut?
Whose being breathes each deep sweet breath? 
When I inhale whose lungs fill with air?
Do I walk, or am I conducted?
What DNA varies my mind when I turn on the TV? 
When I sip a beer what yeast’s thirst does my deep drink slake?

I am host/I am inhabited
I’m a whole ecosystem complete with theology 
unraveled, the DNA thread more not me than me strung like a lyre, 
let the wind strum sing my song
I sing the body organic 
I sing the matter inside me
Am I its god going about my business, tending the infrastructure, nerves, 	
	veins, capillaries, pores 
	conducting all beings to the spaces they visit:
domodex follicorum skitters on a folicle, doing its mite dance, setting its 	
	teeth in an old dried flake of skin
there’s one now leaning on an eyelash, waiting for its mate in the 	
	blood-lit night
Lactobacillus soft blankets, smooth as new snow, churning its germs, 
sweetening the milk I drink
Entero bacteriacoea, my probiotic protectors, beating back all that
	salmonella that would make me sick
h. pylori pissed off and mean, 
	burning holes in my gut just for the fun it

I don’t know what I am, or what to make of me now
Mitochodria shuffle the deck: 
I’m a virus on the planet, 
I am a planet for a mite, a forest of invisible fauna 
	each with its claim on me
Cell lines, whole families 
	speaking their chemical language, cultures, 
		whole civilizations
I am Mahayana, greater vehicle
impacting a million lifetimes’ karma each time I cough

Pediculus humanus captis, do you ever wonder what you are?
You turn your monstrous pin-point face 
undaunted by any existential doubt 
	& plunge unflinching your teeth deep into my dermis
		my blood belonging to me as good belongs to you

worms in my stomach
worms in my eye
worms in my brain
I contain multitudes
I’m giving up the ghost
I am a ghost hosting worm ghosts & all my relations
a dot in the universe expanding in space
Expanding & waiting to collide with 
whatever come what may 

See me expand. Watch me grow. 
Big Bang.
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Sad Miracle | Roger W. Hecht

That anything’s alive is miraculous
though I don't believe in miracles. But outside 
the minus-five cold encases the trees, 
stiffens snow. Still, new tracks bisect the field, 
a woodpecker batters a frozen stump, 
& there’s a cabbage white butterfly 
glued to the window above the sink, 
waiting out the naked maples
in the heatless light of a compact florescent bulb. 

On what harvest did it hitch a ride to my kitchen, 
& how will I keep it alive? 

Days pass. It bypasses the plate of rotten cantaloupe
I try to pass off as nectar. The morning sun's 
an ice ball. The trees refuse to flower. 
Days pass indifferent. Flexing its white wings, 
The butterfly dedicates itself to waiting 
out the clock. It's a miracle 
of bad timing with nothing to pollinate 
& no metamorphosis 
except into a relic on my shelf.
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Day in Night | Chris Stroffolino

let light go into the nature of things —Ben Franklin

Enlightenment coffee:
the light and dark of it,
rich and poor, up and down
fast and slow, man and woman
of it, light is up

and dark is down
light isn’t a thing
and things must be dark

Enlightenment–
the active idea light,
the dark passive thing—
a world from that?

Coffee—
active dark ingredient
passive drinker sipping
with cream from happy heifers…
a thickening line

above this line, the domain
of eyes and separation,
nerves so shattered
hands can’t get their act together
to teach the shovel
to caress the soil with life
(or let the Singer caress the cloth)

2.
To jump ahead, behind,
to start, with a simple
word Day (and wordless
noise or silence). yes, Day

is no longer
equal to night
but is under-
stood as a container

in which both day
and night live
or is it battle?

The day in day
can side with the
big d Day it’s in
against its dark side
as matter

against space
against the black
or for the white
Christmas of the North
when it’s red summer

in the South,
to say nothing
of the equator

or evening, or where
“the night is always
wider than the day.”

“and afford leisure
to cultivate the arts
(at least what you
call arts, if not crafts)

3.
Earth is water
calling Earth Earth
rather than ocean
is like calling
Night/Day Day
maybe even worse
since ocean is more
earth than night
is day….our bodies
mostly water….
Earth is dirt
as in you treat me like
dirt, you treat me
like earth, even

4.
what goes up must come down
the post coffee crash
so the economy
had to go south

because most people’s
depression can still be
a minority’s manic boom

like when mind first
knew it needed body
as white felt it needed
black as money knew
it needed to (harness)

barter, as day knew
it had to use the night
that had no use for it,

the night of coffee beans
where they grow, even cocoa
Frenchified into chocolate,
to toboggan tobacco[1]

The white that needed
upper drugs, or supper
clubs, to support the strain of

mind trying to live as mind
above Descartes’ white collar
(I might, therefore I’m
right; I writes); the life
and death of it

and someone down
& out enough to catch
you when you fall…
and one may wonder
what the coffee bean
thinks about all of this…

5.
Before Enlightenment
termed the brightest places on Earth
the dark continent,
the word “owe”
not only meant what it means today—
“I am in debt,” or “you are in debt,”
but it also meant
today’s meaning of “own.”

You owe what you own.
It’s all over Shakespeare.
property relations
were not quite as reified
and the economy
may have rooted a little more
in the ecology
just before England
got in on the slave-trade—

if you can own people
you certainly don’t owe them anything
thus, if you own the land
you certainly don’t owe it,
or the people who live there, anything

6.
Enlightenment could wage its little war
with the Puritan dominated church,
but they could agree on racism and slavery,
and damn if the ministers didn’t love
a good cup of coffee
as much as the statesmen, newspapermen
and bureaucrats did….

In the secular world,
Dark and black is not always negative.
You can be in the black
if you sell enough slaves at a profit.

Laws were passed saying that any offspring
of a white father and black mother
would be considered black
to give economic incentives
for whites to rape black slave women.

Furthermore, if such rapes came to light,
the myth that that the hyper-sexualized
black woman slave was seducing
or even raping the gallant white
(Jeffersonian) slave owner was pushed.

At the same time, the white men
“wanted to prevent the limited number
of white women from engaging
in similar interracial relations
(as their bi-racial babies would become free).”

7.
Enlightenment grew by day,
with the unequal coffee trade,
the tea and slave trade
to rescue Europe from the dark ages
of nomadic night or when those Muslims
got as far north as Spain and started
infecting the English language
with zeroes, or algebra
closer to the equator
where night and day are more equal
and Africa was more free

Christian soldiers followed
the land-grabbers on the front
to use the coffee as a kind
of white powder, speed
up the thinking machine
(gum it up, gun it up).

There may yet be
A Tome on Pure Reason
if you don’t sleep.

Yes, the coffee worked for you
and how do you define you?
It wasn’t only Macbeth who murdered
sleep, and how do you define sleep
when coffee-colored slaves became your morning Joe?

Ah Europe; if you’re up; the rest is down….
Ah America, you’re closer to Africa
and South America than you think.
that stuff they got DOWN there
can really get us UP
and when black people move north
the Harlem Renaissance
is portrayed as King Kong’s climb
up the Empire state building
and the Panthers call for self-determination
scares Hollywood into Planet of the Apes.
No wonder you have a hard time keeping your coffee down
as you gaze down from the windows of your ivory tower
to the heavy bear that goes beneath you,
the body you forget is yours.

8.
Coffee has made some better singers—
loosen the chords for the high notes,
but not being able to sing is no great loss
if you could say and write they sing
with the pre-written voice and beat
all may feel in the womb’s deep craft
or what death may be before
you realized you could make more off a tomb
(like a privatized personal pyramid
more “democratic” than in the Pharaoh’s day
but still more selfish than even the gravedigger’s scene in Hamlet)

Selfish, and more expensive, the grave-like soda
when your body cries for cheaper water
to plant a mango tree next to the coffin-less corpse
and the soil’s collective soul
when digging fed the earth, the land,
liberated the glut of supply,
and the clog of demand, the convoluted
puffed up pride of sacred corpses!

A place to start from, muted
but burning beneath the surface
one might call peace or truce.
The body, beneath, a sleeping giant of space
or water cycle
around the lie of your singularity,
the actual earth that grounds
with its sky, its atmosphere,
the air with its sky, and needs not
coffee and uppers and slaves
to separate, to elevate
to define a self as unit…

The self is but a seed
and the we it calls a weed
a wider we that transpires
a lovely world whose essence
is dialogue and dance
that doesn’t have to divide sky from earth
to explain the (wealth) gap between ideals and realities—

9.
One may have to call the beautiful harmony
the marriage of heaven and hell—
if you start with them as bookends
to hold the earth in place—
just like those who hold the ego in place
with superego and id bookends—

But that starting place always comes later,
like your Legos, or Logos, the word in the beginning
of the Bible (and not its audio book), its mono
theistic personal god, or unmoved mover
who just so happens to resemble the corporate Job Creator
if translated into the prose of feeling
oft derided as “vulgar” or “normative discourse”
of popular gossip syntax—-or, worse,
conversation! True conservation, to conserve
and negotiate a community from the ground up
(even the destroyed ground up ground;
a growl with the word “grow” in it),
a soil that knows it is also air,
the sky between each space of so-called unearthed digging…

10.
Digging
a dynamic soul that can better be understood
in the terms of music history as rhythm and blues!

(Do you ache with emptiness yet?)

One cannot speak of the soul without speaking of soul music
or the flesh becoming word, the ass-freeing-mind
returning to the tomb as a womb, the first sounds.
your mama’a heartbeat louder than the Mazda,
the amniotic fluid that isn’t the weapon of mass destruction
one found in Iraq under the name of “Oil”
in the name of British Petroleum or Gulf,
or in the name of Enlightenment Coffee, Tastebud’s choice

You may call the melody the upper registers,
but the rhythm ain’t down; the blues ain’t up.
the bassist is as melodic as a meeting, a core
to a collective, recorded in order to live
—broadcast–
and the drums might be down, not allowed
to be too loud, begrudged, or accepted only if mixed
in the back, behind the front man or maybe woman
behind the soloist, the call that forgets it’s a response
to response, forgets its parts….

In these passages, you may see a positive thought: The bassist is as melodic as a meeting, a core
to a collective, recorded in order to live
, but the negative follows quickly on its heels….the repression of the drummer, the terms of the so-called harmonic scale that doesn’t even look so great on the paper on which it primarily lives—

11.
As day falls on America
like a wilting flower
ripped from the night,
Socrates spoke of the soul.
Plato wrote it down
Descartes & Hegel
wrote it up
James Brown sang it out
danced it, played and worked it
out and in and out again
A deeper duality than dualism!
(you don’t only have to use the past tense)

The flesh becoming word
and the mangoes
from the tree planted
on the coffin-less graves
ripen as the rhythm
& the blues express soul,
body and soul
body as soul
(with plenty of room for reason
ample room for day
in night when the sky
doesn’t seem like
a ceiling like it does in day)

a larger whole,
spirit that need not
spear it, the bass
melodic as a meeting
the drums no longer
forced in the back
of the bus, or the mix
behind the sensitive
singer-songwriter
or Pandora culture Tzar
in his little trickle down
think-tank
disguised as a heart
from Jamestown…
(or a tailor
from Jackson town)

it comes from night,
from down and in,
an in called out
by “I think,” you know?

and afterwards
you don’t even need
coffee to feel invigorated
for your critique of pure reason
like when sex gets better
when you flip from the missionary position

Epilogue
(and the strained analogy
gloriously, fails)
but as long as metaphysical dualisms
were designed to obscure
the class, race and gender
dualisms they helped create,
such troping may be
a lifelong struggle
in the war of ideas
that are never as disembodied as they pretend.

 


Footnote

1. Nicot, whom Nicotine is named after, was the first to put “race” in the European dictionary. | back

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The Lie | Theresa Darling

Of course there was never a kitten. 
There were four men,
four dirty, poor-people pea-green walls
and a bed with four corner posts. 
There were four windows with blinds
pulled down quickly, blowing out the sun
as if it were a candle. There was one door
that boomed when it closed and clacked 
gun-metal hard when its lock turned. 

The knot in my stomach told me there never was a kitten 
but I asked where it was, anyway. One of the men
set his beer bottle down and slurred I'll show ya, schweets.

On cue, I'm lifted up. 
I'm a dandelion santa claus in the wind…
I'm flying lighter than an underbelly feather above the bed.
I'm an inhalation filling the lungs of life itself.
I'm the swimmer sucking in one last big breath
knowing it's a long way to the bottom
though I've never been there before, 
and I have to make it all the way down
and all the way back. 
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Words So Small | Theresa Darling

Behind every sound 
is the true sound: Hush,
air rests. The cumbersome world 
outside asks why she has settled for this

but she cannot speak. Her words are so small
they slip around her tongue avoiding
acidity, evading the touch 
of a disappointing discovery. 
They disappear, like sand 

born of some greater stone, 
weathered, mingled, suddenly lost 
amidst the dance of windblown grass 
and the music of its rhythm.

The voice inside her head is a violin. 
It weeps, climbs, falls, 
		weeps again. 
She comes home from work
to work, one moment and movement
linked to many other movements. 

	Word and voice.
Dance and body. 

Complex reconciliations join what she dreamed 
would be a fabulous journey
with an embittered destination. 
	Yet still, she feels incomplete. 

She plunges on, full and busy
her essence homeless, needing, always 
borrowing from a better measure. 
She cannot wait for an ending 

even too near. This small rock 
rests on a larger rock. 
This woman. 
	That man. 

The words between them are a brown-green creek
touching both. No, give them lakes! 
No, give them oceans 
lapping at both shores. Between them
an exploding universe 
	or nothing. Truth pressing
or eternal death, echoing. 

Air bathes all possibilities, its ripples unseen, 
like water far beneath the surface 
of a deep-cutting boat, or parched leaves
folding white-silver back upon themselves, 
painfully baring their vulnerability 
	then hurriedly rushing forward
but like rocks
never wholly going anywhere.

Who can say what lies between nothing and one? 
She believes there is something unspeakable.

He is sure rock and water say nothing,
really, but she believes the voice 
inside her: 
	Hush, the world outside no longer exists. 
	Everything happens 
		inside of her
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don’t you dare | tree riesener

try
to cut us apart and go to her 
does she know
that your top layer 
for oh say an inch under your skin 
is me as well as you

you can’t 
wash away that many years 
of sleeping so close 
that getting up in the morning
requires gentle effort 
to pull us apart

breathing my air for so long 
has lined your lungs 
with my molecules 

sitting with you over coffee 
she’ll end up sucking me in

a crime scene squad 
could test her for my dna 
and come up positive every time

remember how we’d go to bed
in stiff anger 
wake up conjoined twins again 
jesus and sophia tight

you don’t have enough years left 
to sleep with her enough nights 
to replace me in your skin

our bodies will call out 
crawl toward each other 
like twins hacked apart 

hurry us to some alley or room 
where they can lie down  
desperate to undo the operation 
move into their conjunction 
sigh with healed content

you might as well give up now 
forget this surgery and let them be
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Benediction (30 days in the asylum) | Paulette Claire Turcotte

There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they cannot hope. —Rumi

  1. somewhere a woman,
    somewhere
  2. you were intoxicated with the light from a thousand brilliant suns
    but the lights were out where I came from
  3. my heart was pounding as I turned to leave
    listen, I said, I break like tinder
  4. you loved my specific and colourful madness
    the touch of my fingertips on your cheek
  5. look now, no regrets
  6. crows feed on my grief
    I am petrified wood
  7. vestiges of human frailty stalk me
    something alien breathes in me
  8. the planets still orbit the around the sun
  9. I beseech the saints,
    mourn prophets 
 light candles to the Blessed Virgin
  10. I am the disappeared
    inventing my own city
    the streets and I
    fronting on insanity
  11. I am a muscle, an eel, a fish, 
 I am a heart, a woman
  12. the lunatic forum for the marginalized
  13. I am petrified wood
  14. I run naked into the streets
  15. there were too many nights like this you said
  16. now the saints whisper,
    asking me to believe.
  17. the bite of the dark
 the cold of the walls
    the corpses stacked along the way
  18. naked, I wander the hallways
    looking for comfort
    signs mistaken for wonders
    the pity beyond all telling
  19. we were bruised and we were healed
    I wrote letters from the asylum 
 an act of contrition is a lonely sacrifice
  20. the voices taunted me from behind the walls
 I was clothed by the good sisters,
    dreamed into being by their persistent prayers
  21. letters, words, proof that I’m here,
 I exist
  22. I lie down with my dreams and the stars,
    with my head at the roots
    of that one tree you see there
  23. the birds are about.
  24. I can smell the loam.
  25. am I too late?
  26. what is the colour of hope?
  27. I dream of a changeling
    animal and divine
  28. I am holding out for the sacred medicine.
  29. sometimes your desires are all that’s left after the storm
  30. still, it’s hard, wrestling with a stone.

 

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Interpretation | Gordon Hilgers

In both high life and lowdown, mendicants walk
through a welfare state of light so pure in the nudity 
of intent the screen of your laptop goes blank in the sun.  
Your mouse scurries near the sacred stairways 
of Kathmandu 
 
like a pacifier to a lost awareness.  In America, should you dare
drift like this, hungry for days or weeks, the body’s dirt
a meditation on implicit cleanliness, you would be
told to get a job.  Lady Liberty 
 
hid this choice beneath her rust-riven copper skirts; the hands 
by which Whitman held high the homeless as he chanted
of pioneering blissfulness to hold you too, millions up and leaving

the city’s heat for rabbit trails, arroyos, each passage

breathless to see you for the first time.  

You clatter
 
upon your keyboard atop the Olympus of abstraction, 
the NOMAD satellite phone fit to feed you more,  and your labors
more, amid dying amaranthine, pining evergreen,
oddities of a fallen Everest, or of a heart, a nervous reflection
of your face

 in cloud, water, beyond the poshlust of supply and demand.

 

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Selections from Here is a Woman | Barbara March

Guilt is her underbelly until mortality slaps her—overnight,
two inches of invisible wing sounds.

Rain from the left.

The apricot unprecedented, snow from all sides, flashes of light stick to her face. All yellow eyes
and fragile sex pop.

Dunes of snow on the lane speak headlands, dikes, hulls of boats, coral bone white.
Herds pray.
The old lane disguises as a line and DNA molecules free straight reckoning.

Wings stoke the crystal mirror for singing out loud.

– – –

The foot caught in the stirrup turned a hinge
into the fourth nightmare.

Now she’s the anxious observer,
dry-eyed from time in the sun, determination of the buckets,
the foundered stile accuses the sky.

Soften, soften. Let her tell you. But first notice the field’s curve,
its glassy eye.
The shivering snipes.
Ten telephone poles say get off the cross and walk.

When a woman is lost sometimes all she asks for is a toothpick.

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Taxi in Lima | Rose Mary Boehm

He had two teeth left in his lower jaw. He also
had two nodding dogs on his dashboard.
No air-conditioning. ‘The asthma, understand?’
But the window was down and the fumes
from a bus stopping next to us almost
asphyxiated me. He coughed dramatically.
It’s a question of price in a country
where everything is makeshift.
Why buy new if you can mend it,
where your water heater will
be hung up on two instead of four
pins because four are inconvenient.
Street dogs roaming, miraculously
surviving in streets where
nothing is lawful.
The shoeshines hanging out
in front of the pharmacy that’s
next to the bank where cambistas
chant ‘dollars’, ‘euros’ at anybody
blonde enough to have pockets
full of money. Their rates are more
favorable than the banks’.
Today we heard the bishop of Lima
preach in favor of big capital
and the union of one man and
one woman. They don’t get married
much here, they make loads of kids
and vanish after beating her
badly. With the church’s blessing.
The afternoon brings romance
on the telly. Women who sigh.
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Fireball | Carolyn Gregory

He took the Seven Seals and prophets,
turning them to glory for himself,
made wives of other men's wives,
siring children in a compound 
made of stone.

They had Bible Study daily.
With an acoustic guitar, 
he was their homespun prophet
while inspiring the fear of fire
in their hearts as they hung
on his words.

When the guns started
and the walls of his kingdom
were breached,
they stayed with him.
He saw the truth at the end
of the world and divine light stayed. 

Glass broke, tanks crashed through walls,
a fireball washed through
where children burned beside their parents,
lost to blind faith.
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Queen of the Verdi Club | Carolyn Gregory

The ladies with lorgnettes and poodles adored her,
fêted with mushrooms and crudités
for every popular concert she sponsored,
creating tableaux vivants
in flowing gowns and wings.

She was lavish in praise with high hopes,
taking music seriously in her forties,
soprano hostess and friends 
with Caruso and Toscanini.

Many knew she had a tin ear,
flatting at every interval with poor diction,
singing St. Saens and Mozart out of tune
with most everything

while offering her wide embrace of 
an audience of soldiers and aristocrats,
wearing a diamond tiara for every song sung
at the Ritz-Carlton, 
her face framed by chandeliers 
of pure gold light.
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Reading Jung | Javad Ahmadi

I had to find the library near the Church.
Old mahogany was on my mind, dark cherry, 
aged patina of dread, graceful and noble
somewhere dark with the curtains down.

When the poet dies, the birds linger mid-air.
I saw it when Mark died. The birds knew
he was in a fall, a clumsy transition.
He ate poetry; the librarian was aghast, just a fluke.

We walked uptown a lot of us, 
walking back to catch the morning before the fall
lamenting, Animals in pain, sobbed.
I felt like reading Jung, lush red words, brilliant green
gods, in vibrant hues, contrasting the sky.

The smell of burnt hickory musky and raw, 
hung in the air, like the smell of sex
lost in the rush of an afternoon tryst, 
she was abandoned. Motel rooms are cold 
and odd. They never add much.

The librarian tried to get the pages out of his mouth.
He was fragile yet put up a fight pushing her fingers
away from his mouth. She wished she was a feminist.
He choked on his poem, an unfinished one.
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Before the Trials | Miguel Escobar

a
sadness
— life expectancy of a certain class
stuck —
at the same time
as
an institution looking the other way
from gratification
— when behooving meshes
 
good mourning A.
 
golden door
 
golden goose, golden
may be the
link
proves the *sham
— after the true story
 survives
 
start with a glass house
and style of bone
mastered by the
chimpanzee
 
sit back and wait
 
the bush in the middle on fire
we encircle but
can never touch
 
as if
nature herself forbade it
 
something so obviously right
about privacy
 
— in what age
have there been no pirates
 
the etchings upstairs
sit there
— no matter what
 
the film about the life of
the film artist shows
signs of the
times
 
these are just impressions
 
before
the inevitable trials
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44 Barber Street, Windsor | Miguel Escobar

restricted airspace

at your beck and call

 

the stress of racism —

 

its entry

into the lexicon

 

— with us

waiting out of breath for

every new edition

 

and

guitar electric twang

 

— hymn

of liturgical pulp fiction

whines

where is

commonwealth on a map

 

you might look at

44 Barber Street, Windsor

for

revolving doors

 

in same sense as

farewell being waved

to arms —

in the act of bidding goodbye

to words

now

 

being bid

stand up for

the enshrined piece of music

— or relive

separation anxiety

in a kind of

life behind bars —

 

at the bible museum

— a use of the near-death experience

as so much more than just

an excuse

for slacking

 

an about face

— like most normal people

 

then wither

from heights — feeling slain

 

Provence or its corollary all a mood

— toss and turn

it turns out for decades

 

still

to be found here

happy to have known Tolstoy

 

I can rest now

knowing

we never need think

of ourselves

as

being apart
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Daylight Saving(s) | Jennifer Peterson

The incorrectly-added final s 
suggests that there is some accounting
for the bilious fatigue 
of this particular pre-dawn—we have spent ourselves
in haggling with the heavenly bodies but this time
we got a bargain: 6 instead of 5. 
The little hiss lets slip 
belief that there exists some great reserve 
of daylight we cannot call on now 
but only make deposits in 
by electing small privations: black mornings 
at the bus stop silently accumulate there as golden 
after-dinner strolls in dreams where we retire 
early, undepleted, not alone 
for the inevitable
tumble back to dark.
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String Theory | Krysia Jopek

ESTRANGED

When I finally arrived after seven days of difficult journey with my rusted metal suitcase [my grandfather’s toolbox really] and waterlogged notes [viridian ink swirls on graph paper], draped in dull cloths sewn by the wives of the fishermen, no one recognized me. Hence, I became even stranger to myself and my own history. In the foreign city, on the stone that marked countless battles and immeasurable bloodshed, I sat with my paring knife to expose the innermost layers. I offered the shed skins [the dead cells I had outgrown years ago] for sacrifice. Heal me! I cried out in the language of the country I had studied for years. And this is how this particular story begins.

 

EDITOR

Dear [Poet A],

Your poems finally arrived today, and I just finished reading them. They shattered me.

Thank you for making me feel human again. I had been feeling like a rusted robot of late.

Yours with most infinite perpetual gratitude and admiration,

[Reader Z]

 

THE GHOSTS OF THE HOUSE

The House [of Being] is a mess. A disaster, in fact. How quickly everything shifts into disarray. The ghosts—they venture up from the dirt cellar while everyone is sleeping. They rifle through our things, reminisce about what it is like to wear clothes, specifically fall sweaters, eat French toast with fresh maple syrup, play the piano that is now out of tune, touch someone and watch them move. They are curious about the bills, the rate of inflation, the World Series, the noisy cat. What they really want to know is if anyone missed them.

 

TAG

I caught a glimpse of you today, but you ran away. Okay, I chased you. I thought it was a game. When will you come back? I have set the table with critical questions:  Who placed the colossal conch shell in the forest?  When did we lose the capability to love [ourselves] enough?  How do we stumble under the same elusive sky and sun—and remain so different?  Why does the boy only have one arm?

 

POET

The poet wanted to SPEAK dog [T.S. Eliot] and [Van Gogh, Roethke, and Kandinsky], liquid paintings commanded into being with horsehair brushes [the color of her long auburn/autumn leaf/honey/golden/bronze/butterscotch hair]—according to the angle and intensity of indoor/outdoor light and time of morning/noon/afternoon/evening/night]; brushstrokes of chartreuse light, the uncanny hue of sky before a tornado, the inch-worm green of the smallest leaves that would unfurl finally at the end of April or early May after a winter of snow [from November to March usually] and if/when no snow—skeleton drab trees/birches thinned by poison ivy vines choking them out in the summer or too much ice dragging their limbs down [depending on the weather that particular year] into surrender–

PAINT rain that defies photograph, the smell of summer rain, the sound of rain falling on the House at night [but not the dangerous ice of winter], the smell of fresh-cut summer grass; the infinite cornflower/robin’s egg/cerulean/cyan [like ink]/iris/periwinkle/steel blue/indigo/viole[n]t sky;

PLAY the violin and cello [with the horsehair bow and stubborn dried resin] and oboe [at the opening of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring [the first audience left in disgust] and grand piano with its yellowed-teeth keys

with her morphemes; syllables; and circuitous, long-cadenced sentences [like high tide waves crashing onto the silk sand]

SCULPT the redolence of French pink/blueberry-purple/lavender/cream lilacs.

but she could not find the QUESTION MARKS without lighted keys or the LIGHT without question marks.

 

MUSE

She wrestled with the Angel of Poetry last night, and he ripped her left arm out of its socket. The anesthesia will wear off, she is almost sure, and she will feel things again. When hanging by a thread, think of the spider [she would convince herself after repeating many times]. Thread the needle and sew up the wounds.

 

MONDAY

I saw you again [ swear I’m not stalking you]—at the show of liquid pear lights—looking for something. Perhaps your wallet, a lucky stone, or another chance. Restless, you were lost in borders/boundaries/the shuffle/juggle/aftermath/tug-of-war-struggle, tired and afraid. You realized you had become complacent lately in your mandated hamster/cubicle life. And you were suddenly aware it was Monday.

 

THE HERO

At last sighting the hero was adrift on a raft he fashioned out of oak [from the forest] in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean writing Petrarchan sonnets.

 

DERRIDA

So far everything is true.

 

PHILOSOPHY

Some questions rupture the pillars of what we wanted to build. We travel at a steady speed, taunting the milky blankets of faint cloud-light. We must believe the stories we cast to find possible truths, that our time was well spent.

 

DUET

The protagonist, exhausted, walked off stage and wept. The understudy appeared stage left and started singing. It was an odd duet.

 

BROKEN STARS

Her cello sounded even more lugubrious under water.

The gauze of her lavender gossamer nightgown—or was it the color of lilacs or mauve/orchid/periwinkle/violet/amethyst? She didn’t know anything anymore, not even her name, so she called herself Bellona, the Roman goddess of War. The tattered nightgown [from his hands groping her before the 9-1-1 call, and the police removing him from the House handcuffed, face magnetized to the floor in utter shame]—

flowing diaphanous in the sea she so loved—; boundaries now colluded/blended/blurry/obsolete.

She had escaped the violence in the House feverishly without time to pack anything except 12 notebooks she had named in thick indigo permanent marker: Entropy, Skipping Stones, Random, Warrior, Archives of the Future, Studies in Nomenclature, Hourglass Studies, Painting the Rain, Skipping Stones, E C H O [E S], The Island Within, String Theory] and 1,371 pens/markers/hi-lighters in a brilliant assortment of colors and thickness—now swirls of dissipating/dissolving/disappearing shadows of color drained and taken into the indigo/cobalt/lapis/peacock/navy—pages of sea.

Autumn had so fallen suddenly and hard that interminable year after a tenacious Indian summer [now politically incorrect, but “Native American sunset” didn’t have the same meaning/recognition/ring to it/cultural significance and whatnot]—and the briny water was head-ache cold.

But she was oddly happy. She felt this was her home, the House where she belonged, where someone she couldn’t see or imagine recognized her inside-out fragile whale-bone core. She was stitched into the dome of sky and [unfathomable] universe again.

She wasn’t sure if she was dreaming or hallucinating or if the Angel of Death was upon her—a beautiful, fluid angel-ballerina with long-mossy-green-bubble-wrap kinda seaweed hair—like the beautiful woman in a Kurosawa film: the one with the exhausted men hiking uphill atop Mt. Fuji in a blizzard that made her miss her elderly father [who as a young boy survived Siberia for two interminable winters, felling trees with his father; the boys tasked with digging the two feet of snow-perimeter from the base of mammoth trees in the taiga, 50-degree below zero temperatures]. The labored, slowing breath of the mountaineers in Kurosawa’s dream trudging and falling in the snow and ice—with their labored, slowing breath echoing in their masks.

No—the ballerina-poet’s cello did NOT work out as a flotation device, as hoped—and storm was approaching, roiling at her edges. How much longer could she tread the indigo sea in neap tide before the burgeoning late fall/early winter nor’easter? She floated on her back to soak up the waning sunlight—and collect the broken stars.

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