20 December, 2009

Water and Words
      With thanks to Emily Dickinson

The only thing my mother feared of death
was the pain she wasn't sure
a woman her age should have to take

who was too old in her stooping years
to be afraid of God, needles, enemas,
or children's nagging tongues.

We tried to mother her the way grown sons
think they have the right, the supporting arm
around the folded wings, the voice straight

out of Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda.
I'd never use that voice with my own kids,
they'd laugh me out of the neighborhood.

I know enough I'd never try such guddle
with my history classes of oldfaced high-
schoolers chewing on the lessons of the past

with certain smirks before they rested their fore-
heads on the kidneyed desks they'd about outgrown.
But with a mother I never understood would die

I used forgive me life the sickly touch of sons
when all she wanted was a cool glass of spring
water to wash away the fog in her throat,
water that had been someplace holy, that

and a couple answers to a crossword puzzle,
just a couple hints so she could finish off
the Sunday Times for once, for good and all,
and guess that it and all things else were right.

~ ~ Martin Galvin

Published in Poetry Magazine (March, 2000).
My pines look both cruel and wise in winter's soundless drone

~~ Grant Hackett

He was tall on Sundays,
his white shirt crisp,
his hazel eyes shaded
by the patio awning.

Heat from the grill
gave his stillness movement,
making him a reflection on water cut

by the ripple of a gentle current.

I imagine him steeped
in the smell of molten metal
and his own blood,

his youth left dead
under the hooves of a spirited horse.

The Sicilian field must have undulated
like an ocean wave, lured its prey,
snapped like a rug being shook clean
of dust and crumbs.

Maybe his brother
fell hard, with organs
bursting like flowers
blooming in a time-

lapsed film. Colors exploding
from leaves clasped
in prayer.

I picture his brother a leaf floating
in slow motion, back and forth on the gentle

breeze and resting
with blades of grass
tapping his face gently to see if he’d wake.

In that moment a mother lost two sons

when he was swallowed
by the ship, leaves of metal
clasped in prayer, cutting waves

that pushed against him, waves
that spoke in tongues
camouflaging him.

He had always been cut
by the ripple,
even before those Sundays,

cut in half
two brothers in one.

~ ~ Cristina Trapani-Scott

First published in Public Republic (January, 2009).
in the shop
a moth and I selecting
a wool sweater

~ ~ Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic
Often I Wish I Were

Often I wish I were

a potato.
Eyes opened
in all directions.
of the cold earth.
The difference
between life and death
for somebody.

~ ~ Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

14 December, 2009


The fire burns and I paint snowflakes
Into the picture for her, white flames
In her twists of hair, smouldering in auburn.
Something wrong with the canvas or brush
Or my artistry leaves her eyes empty
And her skin stroked cold. I finish
With something Rubenesque, yet Dali-ish,
Staring at a palimpsest of all she never was,
And all the things we might have been.

~~ Rob Radcliffe
Secret Machines

God is a secret.
You are a secret.

The man who lived with grizzly bears
got ate up.

He became like a bear;
smelled like a bear,
danced like a bear.
His eyes though
got bright not
dull like a bear with the long sleep.

He screamed.

In each of us
is a secret machine
and a secret animal.

-- JL Williams
The Conversation

Rain-soaked, the mottled bark
of the flowering pear darkened
past its texture’s vanishing.
My confessions always provoke
someone else’s confessions.
Why do you stand in the kitchen

if you don’t want to talk?
The changing light of morning
goes back and forth
as if it had already been
one whole mixed-up day.
Pear leaves tracked in

and out. The conversation
continues between windows.
Pear leaves shed around the house.
I thought by earning the world
I might have myself.
I thought you were listening.

Growth for this one tree meant
staying still. Still means
what it did then. Hardened
into a random texture
from the inside out and as we speak.
As if I could speak my heart.

~ ~ Katie Peterson

This poem originally appeared in New Issues (Western Michigan University Press, 2006), and is reprinted here with the permission of the publisher.

09 December, 2009

Winter Fire

is deep
around the lean-to.

The fire stick
a bright eye
out of cedar,
a red coal
which breathes
with my breath,

flows smoke
then lifts
up into flame.

Small sticks
begin to remember
an ancient tongue,
the language
of burning,
bright words
borrowed from
the sun.

Heat melts
the snow into a circle

I lean
into its warmth
my hands
held out
like those
of a priest

But this sacrament,
this winter blessing
of life
Is one
which I receive.

~ ~ Joseph Bruchac
Where She Walks Doves

Where she walks doves
coo and bauble about her feet.
Grey feathers puff like dust,
rise as if from pillows,
fill the air like winter inhabits a home.

She feeds them seeds of grain
from her bare hand, sings
to them of mountain burns and fog.

Her eyes are grey. Her hair
is white as steam that comes off ice.
She has never seen the sea and
it frightens her,
the thought of all that water.

~ ~ JL Williams
Due North

I should have my hood on--
Already there are rumors of darkness.
I should see the stones set before me,
Giving passage towards a place
Of complex nostalgias. And now
Should see the scree falling

Endlessly from the mountain's summit,
Falling on the recessive plain.
It is a private place, a wilderness
In practice. I am told that I should look
For a roof in rain, for a river
Split down to tongues of ice.

I shall start all together. As hollow
As a drum, the ground sounds--
It summons, repeats beneath me.
It is as intact and unchangeable
As the seven stars spun into position
When the day, which takes hours to fade,

Has dropped away in its small mist.

~ ~ Joan Kane

05 December, 2009

Hello Songs

I’ve crooned these hello songs to so many, so often.
And after all the second guessing, handcuffed sentiments,

and self-sabotaging behavior, I slice open my surface
like an errant razor across the cheek. Sometimes a woman’s

touch is a compass, sometimes a tire iron to the skull.
It dismantles common sense and whole days go missing.

These curvy ladies with honeyed tongues and stilettos.
With their whispered discontent and ransom notes

penned in the finest cursive. They climb inside me
with flashlights – seek the voice box, the sweet talk

that’s been jailed in my throat for years, the words I stash away
for later enjoyment like a well-rolled joint. All the hello songs

that need to be composed already have, their memorized lyrics
now my reflection: each adjective extraneous, every verb imperfect.

~~ Adrian Potter

First published in The Poet’s Touchstone, Fall 2008
Four Poems

Each step into simplicity :: undoes the weave

Published in Lilliput Review #170 this year.

                    ~ ~ ~

Who can discover
why the smile remains
when they no longer see the child

                   ~ ~ ~

Because silence is not a conversation :: the nothing I had to say, I said

                  ~ ~ ~

The way I write :: there I live

 ~~ Grant Hackett
I Hate Poetry

I hate poetry.
It doesn't pioneer unexplored territory
or stand upon dangerous ground.

I hate poetry
because it's crafted with shoddy quality,
like a t-shirt sold at a swap meet.
It's all foreplay, no passion.
It speaks of romance without defining anything new,
ignoring how the mention of sex
clings like sweet mango to the roof of your mouth,
how a kiss can push whiskey breath
onto unsuspecting lips,
how regret glistens like sweat beads
on a sleeping lover’s body.

I hate poetry. 
It believes it can crawl
through the broken glass of the past
without bleeding and still
manufacture timeless literature.

Remember:  advice is just advice,
but never let words stand in the way of writing. 
Instead, twist them – as if they are nipples
and your ideas are the index and thumb,
applying torque until the words
become what you desire,
what you fear,
or both.

Show me what I do not know,
how to cheat to survive,
why hope hovers in the chest of men
despite the bell-shaped curve of misfortune
that governs our existence.
Show me these things instead.
Show me these things so I can love poetry again.

~~ Adrian Potter

29 November, 2009

Pure/Pour/A Priori

full moon’s rays spill
a skeleton path on water
tell me the spell
you held me under
simpler to undo
than the first split steps
I took towards you.
Wrath and swell
of the silt-black sea
heavy and mute
with the weight
of so much ice melting
returns agency
to me, and ease.
Eyes travel,
trace along the shape
of pure coincidence;
sere white falls hued
through night air,
valuable, and silvers
on the waves.
Shafts of light
unravel, reeling
towards shore: shine
relearns its shadow image
and I relearn more.
I can scarcely scrape
and scratch my eyes
across the moon’s rough
surface. To conjure
this drag and chase down
the fixed spines of time
and the firm arrival
at some great vein
of truth appears
difficult. My own
divinations, though, draw
me down the coast
and raise my eyes high
despite the bone-bright
glance of the naked
skeleton path on the water.

~ ~  Joan Kane
Americana, Station by Station

At our lowest price today only
vote Appelman for the school board
the Lakers beating San Antonio by 39 points
your sins will be forgiven

on mattresses all your favourite brands
because as a teacher he knows
in the fourth quarter a few minutes to go
so long as you accept Christ as your lord

name-brand comfort at a great value
what students need and parents want
yet another rebound - let's see that again
you are saved, I tell you, you are saved

~ ~ Carrie Etter
Fiftieth Reunion

I remember the roads, but the trees
are bigger.  Or smaller.  I remember
the houses, though some are missing.

If I look into the center
of their faces, I remember the people
I once knew as classmates.

Their eyes.  Noses.  The shapes
of the mouths.  But their bodies
are unfamiliar.  We are old,

but alive, and mostly hopeful.
Some of us are missing,
finally unfettered, unafraid.

~ ~ Jerry Higley

23 November, 2009

Lying in Bed with a Book

The book on top, a lover
staring into my eyes.
The wind outside fails to turn
the pages of this book.
Coffee on a nightstand,
its surface unruffled
by the story of terror in war.
In a great stillness,
the pages under my moving fingers
roll a dessicated thunder
across my sky.
The tree in the bed,
the shade of a disembodied, leafing voice.
I dreamt once of grafting a book,
pulpy extremity of the body,
onto my wrist.
From buried and paginated
heart to hand, from hand to eye,
from eye to brain, from brain to
beating and unsignatured
heart—so goes the bed's song
of a circulating energy,
invisible dust devil
on the Great Plains of the quilt.
Beside the bed, a community of absences
stacked up, waiting to be heard.
Now the linden outside the window leans in,
begging me to read out loud.
When I'm done with each word,
it gets up off the page
and lies down beside me in the bed;
soon I am surrounded by burrowing
words, who fall asleep before I do
and leave me alone under covers
like words in a book myself.
Bury me with books,
all of them cracked wide open.
No satin, only the feel of this legible
dry skin under my cold fingers.
Be sure my head is propped a little,
next to a reading light.

~ ~ Philip Dacey
The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other's eyes more,
the government has decided to allot
each person exactly a hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it
to my ear without saying hello.
In the restaurant I point
at chicken noodle soup. I am
adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long
distance lover and proudly say
I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn't respond, I know
she's used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

~ ~ Jeffrey McDaniel

"The Quiet World" by Jeffrey McDaniel, copyright © 1998.  From:  The Forgiveness Parade, published by Manic D Press.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with the permission of the press.

16 November, 2009

Make It New

Shaking the parts of speech
like fluff
in a snow globe —

the way sleep scrambles
life's detritus.

Each poem says,
"I'm desperate"

then, "Everything
must go!"

(To hear something familiar here
leads to careful laughter.)

"Go" where?

The steady pressure
on the accelerator
can be stipulated
in advance

as can the stubby bushes
blurred by peripheral vision.

And someone will have set down
a diner or a gas station
at a desolate crossroads

and tried naming it
to evoke

the whole human situation

the impulse to do so.

What that name will be
is the one thing we don't know.

-- Rae Armantrout

Of Chains


A problem exists
in the simplicity
of chains.

The tug of the load
is distributed among the links --

a sagging see-saw against
a guiltless weight.


Every chain can
make me happy

with its clinging faith,
its cold, comforting slack

as long as the other end
is not bolted to a wall.


Once again, there is
only madness in
the simplicity of chains.

No member in the loop
can communicate
the disfiguring motives
of rust.

Each link will understand
only when its turn comes.

~ ~ Khristine Ong Muslim

Poor Shoddy

shŏd´ ē [origin unknown]

She’s odd.

She’s nobody and knows it.
She shudders, all shook up
               in her shabby body
               her shunned body.
Can’t shed odors of a shady past,
a shaggy dog story of shitty odds,
               a soggy shack, slipshod
               shanty ’mid the sodden sod.
A sure lock on schlocky. Come up short.
What’s sloppy is near ungodly,
               what’s odious should be shot.
               Should die. Should she? Shhh. . .
Such damaged goods
the source of Schadenfreude.
               Shocking. Her show of shards.
               What a lot to shoulder.
Shut the shutters, shadow lady,
shut the shouting out
               (ah, but not the shame)
               the stab of an age-old jeer
that seems to call your name—
"Cheap shoes! Cheap shoes!"

First published in RealPoetik  (September, 2007).

~ ~ Jeanne Marie Beaumont


There is always a trace
of prodigal dust
on porcelain

and a telltale
yellow stain
on the mattress.

Potpourri and snapshots
of smiling grandchildren
in summer afternoons

freeze time on the mantel.
The earthy smell of tea
and eternity mingles

as the rocker groans
the wordless hymn
of the passing years.

~ ~ Khristine Ong Muslim

12 November, 2009

We Giants

I seek a photograph.
Little red bellied snake seeks
a path I do not block.
I am the giant we fear, he and I,
the giant who owns no bounds
and scant courtesy, for we giants
imagine we were told we own
the likes of you, snakeling.

Fear the giants, lithe child,
cameras or not, meaning
well or meaning ill, for we giants
cripple beauty like yours
with our isolate pale fears.

~ ~ John Caddy
Coming to Grass 

                               Cornishman: a man at the bottom of a mine, singing.

They came to grass at the end of the day.
They climbed from the Dark to grass
and carried the Dark up with them.
After a long day of night with only
the head’s candle for light,
after aching hours of sledging iron
against candle-gleamed borer,
Grass was the surface they climbed to
through a thousand feet of Dark—

Over and over they pulled their weight up the rungs
as their hearts rang the ribcage,
to come up to light and grass-green,
but to carry Dark with them unseen.
Dark changed the strong men,
shortened their tempers, stubborned beliefs,
roughened their tongues—

Dark led them to think
they were the ones who could see.
But in the mine, in chapel, in pub,
Bearing this Dark is what taught them to sing.

~ ~  John Caddy

Regrets drowned in wine
will rise to the surface
to be swallowed again.

~~ Marion Sharville

sometimes, meanings

sometimes i want to tear at the skin of a poem
and see its heart beating underneath

sometimes i want to sweep through the clutter of words
and watch meanings scatter to the corners of a page

sometimes i’ll sit quietly as a poem yells until it’s out of breath
sometimes i’m embarrassed when a poem whispers its deepest desires

sometimes a sign flashes above my head in red neon
all types welcome
the poem more difficult than a game of chess
the poem thrusting its hips in the face of the reader
the poem confessing its secrets to strangers

sometimes i enter a poem
and all i hear is white noise
but sometimes it’s like waking
to the smell of fresh bread and coffee

and sometimes a poem returns at night
to find my dumb heart thumping a rhythm
as vowels purr in the throat
consonants pulsate on lips
and words float in the warm currents of the mind

~~ Cameron Fuller

09 November, 2009

Bird Men

There are no portals, and little wisdom.
Men jump from balconies with best wishes
for those below, hitting the sidewalk asleep
and dreaming of remote perches. They grip
metal rungs and arch backs in practice,
perfecting their pre-flight posture
in anticipation of the plummet. Trinkets
fall out of coat pockets, cell phones trill
on belts tightened against the leathered morning,
and handkerchiefs billow in the wind.
Wallets drained of bills strain against buttock-seams
and the cries of the birds sound quietly:
men stretch arms into grotesque wingspans,
thoughts of husbandry and fatherhood aloft
for a moment, then hitting earth with a thud,
cast off like dead plumage. Like crows who fly
from barren nests in search of gallows on which
to rest, or cardinals that shed vermilion atop
the corpses of brethren, men balance on railings
and teeter there, unsure of their flight paths through
this estuary of city skyline, this stasis precipice.

Just Saying

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.   

                - - from Philip Larkin's "Talking In Bed"

And I converse in double negatives,
that negation of negation that is pillow talk;
that not love could unsay, but there is not still,
not silence nor anything I don't mean,
and in this rush to unclaim declension
and any part of not you, not you,
or not unkind and not untrue,
at once, at once, it is not undifficult to find
the basest reasonings of will; and here, I am,
I am not willing to say these unsimple words,
but I am also not unwilling. The hinge of or,
the sulk of not. I stare. It is not morning,
nor night either. Your back does not balk;
It has no non. It is aware. Perhaps you will not hear.
I love you.

~~ Shane Neilson


there you go again
playing the piano
with a hammer

shards of chopin
litter the floor
’round your steel-toed

~~ Jack Cantey


She has let herself go:
the stringy gray-green mop,
stubble sprouting from her curlicue tail,
soil stains on a faded red leotard
bulging with crisp, white flesh.

Smoldering root, once
she drew fire from the soil,
hope, sulphur, and sex.
Plucked into air, now
she trembles in hand,
a scalded heart
still pulsing.

First published in North American Review (March/April 2007).

~~  Robert Peake

31 October, 2009

Glass Ghosts
"These lovely lamps, these windows of the soul."
--Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas (1544-1590)

Lenses from Grandfather's bifocals
were ground into sand.

Now they sift through a
perpetual glass prison
in an hourglass heirloom.

Upon death,
the living grind glass
and add vision to the timepiece
so the rest of the chain
can see glints of stray light
and insight from
ancient eyes
that flash into
young pupils.

Each contribution
lengthens time
as each old ghost
lends a hand
to the living.

~~ Max Bouillet

Making Cole Slaw

Callous hands and crooked fingers
speckled with age
clutch a half head of cabbage.
Drenched with cold well water,
the head plucked in its prime,
before the wilt and rot
rape away its youth.
Envious are the angled fingers
that rend the head to and fro across the
grate. They rain shredded
youth into a bowl.

~~ Max Bouillet


What was he thinking giving you
Such large eyes?
And that particular colour:
The darkest of browns.
Like being deep underground.
The colour moles and earthworms see
Right before they die.

Surely he must have known
That, as you searched the room
With your haunting gaze,
They would become gaping holes
Which I could but fall into.
Never to escape.

~~ Benjamin Russell

25 October, 2009


Hard to imagine yourself
in the ground … a shabby mess
of broken spindles, the loom
that cranked out the cloth of you
smashed, scattered—and somewhere
the ego sputtering its rage.

You can hear it now—railing
like a mill-town dowager
piqued, let’s say, by the country’s
fraying moral fiber. Her spotted fist
gavels the tea-table, making
the bone teacups clatter.

"Oh! The very idea!"

~~ Joseph Hutchison

Weed in the Concrete

Such a wise crack
that lets such
a joke of a weed
on a vast, cemented
urban plain
like a jovial
we can't

~~ Doug Holder

Coloring Book

Each picture is heartbreakingly banal,
a kitten and a ball of yarn,
a dog and bone.
The paper is cheap, easily torn.
A coloring book's authority is derived
from its heavy black lines
as unalterable as the ten commandments
within which minor decisions are possible:
the dog black and white,
the kitten gray.
Under the picture we find a few words,
a title, perhaps a narrative,
a psalm or sermon.
But nowhere do we come upon
a blank page where we might justify
the careless way we scribbled
when we were tired and sad
and could bear no more.

~~ Connie Wanek

21 October, 2009

4 one-line poems

~  against a snowy sky raven as a color

       ~  between statues the rest of history

              ~  heat lightning the dry burn of whiskey 

~  deep in space the red shift of my mind

~~ Jim Kacian

One Leg

long, dissociate
conversations about meaning
the space we
associate in

me and I combine
passively in a
perspective of "we"
whereas "you" play
free agent

today "we" are
an enemy attacking
your independence
and must be
defended against

don’t you know
without all of us
you have only
one leg
to stand on

~~ Ivan Donn Carswell

18 October, 2009

Carpeting the Mind

Content in the luxury
of wall to wall love
we tend, with diligence
to keep the colours bright;
spreading the wear and tear.
Illumined in a shaft of light,
particles from other lives
intrude, swirling around us.
We pass through, wondering
if their dust will spoil the pattern.

~~Marion Sharville
In silhouette, the large, dark eye
of the girl from India seemed
not to belong to the face at all,
but rather like a great, black beetle

attached to blind porcelain
and, maybe, about to crawl—
and the luscious lashes of unusual length,
closed & opened, closed & opened,

suggesting a butterfly's pulsing wings
clipped to a black-eyed Susan, say—
and for one tingling moment, I felt
I would reach out and possess this exotic

creature, this exquisite Agassiz humbug
and might have, but for propriety.

~~ Larry Kimmel

13 October, 2009

Carnal Knowledge

Having picked the final datum
From the universe
And fixed it in its column,
Named the causes of infinity,
Performed the calculus
Of the imaginary i, it seems
The body aches
To come too,
To the light,
Transmit the grace of gravity,
Express in its own algebra
The symmetries of awe and fear,
The shudder up the spine,
The knowing passing like a cool wind
That leaves the nape hairs leaping.

~~ Rebecca Elson
Another Makeover Show 

Rebels slash through jungle in Sierra Leone.
A renovation team invades a house in Sydney.

The rebels enter a clearing, and bullets fly.
The decorators move in wearing paint aprons.

Bodies lie in grass, covered in pixels.
In the backyard a new water feature brings energy.

A seven-year-old holds an AK47, looks right at the camera.
Stripping wallpaper is messy but fun.

The rebels decide to evacuate their village.
The decorators can’t decide between peach and lilac for the bathroom.

Women carry their possessions in baskets on their heads.
Well-placed ferns give good feng shui.

The women hold hands with children, already their backs to the camera.
The team is excited and ready to reveal their surprise.

Land mines and a three-day walk between the village and a refugee camp.
A blindfolded couple enters a bedroom, uncovers their eyes:


~~ Cameron Fuller

07 October, 2009

Two haiku poems

a nun wielding a broom
chases autumn
around the monastery

a bucket under the eaves –
one waterdrop falls in,
two leap out

~~ Zoran Raonić
Translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky
First Love
Titian’s Young Englishman with a Glove , circa 1530

It happened in Physics,
reading a Library art book under the desk,
(the lesson was Archimedes in the bath)
I turned a page and fell,
for an older man, and anonymous at that,
hardly ideal –
he was four-hundred and forty-five,
I was fourteen.
‘Eureka!’ Streaked each thought
(I prayed no-one would hear)
and Paradise all term
was page 179
(I prayed no-one would guess).
Of course
my fingers, sticky with coffee and bliss,
failed to entice him from his century;
his cool grey stare,
fastened me firmly in mine.
I got six overdues,
suspension of borrowing rights
and a D in Physics.
But had by heart what Archimedes proves.
Ten years later I married:
a European with cool grey eyes
a mustache,
pigskin gloves.

~~ Jan Owen

27 September, 2009

The Remarkable

In the middle of
the infield
during a stock-car race,

he lifts his camera
from the roaring before him
and snaps several shots

of barbed wire
atop a chain-link fence
with the blue sky behind it.

~~ Tony Brown

The Silence of Eggs

He never told anyone at the monastery
How he talked to the chickens as he took
The warm eggs from under them,
How he forgave their beaks, their sharp
Reminders of the privileges of motherhood.
He never even told the tree he came to
For its murmuring shade to wipe his brow
Of the Iowa summer. His best friend
Kept the bees, was becoming one himself,
Talked to the queen, he once confessed,
In bee, the sweet melodics of a love
That made nothing of the hive but sense.

Once when he was forty-five his sister came
From the East to visit him. She was allowed
To sit with him at meals but not to talk to anyone,
To listen while they ate, listen and meditate
On the scripture the senior reader chose.
She told her children how the Trappists' teeth
Scraped as they tried to chew the broth,
How the rosary beads sounded like rattlesnakes,
How she was afraid the whole time she was there
Of what she had become, how far she'd gone
Away from this holy silence, so far that she heard
The rattle of the bones each time her brother walked.

We got a crate of freshfed, handpacked eggs
From the monastery every couple months
During the war. The cardboard cups we kids used
To save our favorite stones could take an egg from here
To Timbuktu and back again my older brother bragged
Who otherwise had nothing much to do with miracles.
Every week my mother cracked a half a dozen open
To scramble us our Sunday eggs, she'd listen hard
For the silence that came tumbling out. Best part
Of the week, she'd say. That silence. Safe
In her own kitchen, among her gang of galoots
Who found in noise the harmonies of being young,
She would hide the silence of the eggs away
So she could have it with her afternoon tea.
She sometimes said when we were gone
She'd take the cloth, tuck herself inside a shell,
Not say another word till evening broke.

~~ Martin Galvin

catch me
striding to
the door. ‘Where are you going?’ they ask, standing
up. ‘Hunting,’ I say smiling, and leave for
the beach. ‘What’s he hunt for?’ they
ask my wife, their aunt. ‘Poems,’
she says ‘for words.’ ‘Where?’
Their voices doubt. ‘In
the very shape of
things,’ she

~~ Matthew Arkapaw
La Specialité de la Maison

My daughter didn't like it
that I had questions by my plate
the time she came for dinner at my place
on one of her return visits.

I tried to explain
how, because I seldom saw her,
I wanted not to forget
to ask her this or that.

It was the list,
she said, and my referring to it,
like an interview, no
conversational give and take,

as if she were applying
for a position
as my daughter.
I saw her point but, still,

thought she failed to see
the compliment, my will
all focussed on her, her life,
my wanting to miss none of it.

But when I said I guess
I should have memorized
the questions, dropped
them in where appropriate,

I could tell that
wasn't much better
by the way she
twisted her spaghetti.

So, the next time,
I served up
the surrendering
of my control,

covered with a sauce
of trust in the moment,
her, us, myself, and she ate her fill,
saying it was good.

It's not an easy meal
for me to make - the recipe
always changing, the risk
of failure, the kitchens

everywhere. That said,
I'm thinking I could get to like it.
I had a question for you,
but I forgot what it was.

~~ Philip Dacey

25 September, 2009


Whenever I saw Harry Flatt pumping notes
through his tuba, the clump of them
taking off like a gooney bird
plopping on his gold epaulettes,
and Harry hopping to keep in step
in the homecoming parade,
I knew the sky had opened
for redemption, for all of us,
for the droolers and nose pickers,
even Harry who would crawl up to heaven
on all fours, or get sucked up, his hair
standing like a corn crop.
And the band marked time
(notes slicked down like an old Ford
stuck in second gear, except
they weren't stuck and jolted on)
in whites and reds as red
as fireplugs, until it broke
up at Howard's where sodas
spilled over glass, and everyone
laughed like hussars.
It was forty or forty-one when
the letters came, typed up from the board,
and the whole band signed up,
even Harry Flatt, hair rising
like an expectation
and the war kissed them,
even the sophisticates
from Leopard Hill and Lafayette,
laid them down like children and spread
an eternity of white crosses
like corn seed
in longer and longer rows and the birds
flew north, whole flocks of them,
and never stopped,
not even for crumbs.

~~ George Ellenbogen

In an empty field
I found a metaphor.
It was dying,
no longer connected to its roots.

Recognising it from my childhood,
against my better judgment,
I tried to revive it.

~~ Cameron Fuller
Open Book

If the Future sends us Cimmerian messages
this picture must be one of them

under the dark crumbling sky –
a second-hand bookshop that sells
not books but the authors –
speaking dolls

this one –
recounting twenty historical novels
by heart

and that one –
reciting three volumes of his poems

in the candlelit window
Cinderella dances with wooden
Marie Corelli
three daughters of success narrate
the story of their porcelain marriage
to Mr. Nutcracker

I can see my pen-and-ink self
quietly getting onto a shelf

I expect to be selling well –
one can clearly read on my face
the promise of long hours running
filled by incessant intellectual activity.

~~ Anatoly Kudryavitsky

24 September, 2009

Orion’s Belt

You had three dark spots
in a line
down your back,
more or less in line
with your gently curving spine.
Your very own Orion’s belt
you used to call it.
Each one of us,
you would say,
has our own constellation,
we have but to find it.
I didn’t care for it much,
I have to say,
but I liked the way
the corners of your mouth
turned up when you frowned,
so I stayed quiet.
But now,
when I look up to the night sky,
I find myself tracing you out,
amongst the stars.

~~ Benjamin Russell

Book Seducer

You have revealed
your subtext to me
in a hushed
intimate encounter.
I seduced you
on a train
folding your
with dog ears
highlighting what
I loved about
you with
deep heart-red ink.
And even now
I talk you up with
people I meet
yet I abandoned you on some
pedestrian commuter rail

~~ Doug Holder

23 September, 2009


It is a nice thought
Our minds are lush palaces
But a closer look
Reveals a duct-taped shoebox
Filled with scribbles on napkins

~~ Jack Cantey

Lament for the Bamiyan Buddhas

Cry not for me, love,
my nothingness
knows nothing
feels nothing
but the breath of earth
unchanging on my changing form

Cry not for the grace
so rare, the visage
almost faceless in the air
of ages rapt in the beauty
of my house of sky

Cry not for that, no,
not for any loving thing
whose placid gaze
would love you only
as you love yourself,

nor for any thing beloved,
no thing to which
you speak your heart,
no holy conduit
of your deepest own serenity,

cry not for that--

our waters rush
as we would lose ourselves
in our own losing
all the same.

Cry only for the man
who would shatter the mirror
of what he might have been,
that dream of manhood
so much more godly
than my memory
of eyes and bones

Cry for the man
who would think he could be
as the tremor that brought down
the stone and lapis skies
of the house of Saint Francis

Cry for him
who would try to breach
the wall of your peace,
make holes in the light

Cry for him
who like a fool
would flail in rage
to make a nothing
of our precious nothing

But cry not for me

~~ Stephen Sartarelli


the invisible city is always with you
the way you know its inside dream
while the unknown city with its clashing
its sirens and bells
and strange rain charms
transverses your map
and in its latitude confuses
all your directions
every way is underground

~~ Jill Jones

20 September, 2009

After the Rain

Last night’s rain still hang from the branches
Like someone’s wet eyes, after the tears are spent.

~~ Nazia Mallick


Heavy clouds
on a locomotive’s back

a cry at every

~~ William Michaelian

The Poet as Archaeologist

This man smiles at the coming of autumn,
The silence of cicadas makes him laugh;
even the wind-scatter of leaves pleases him.

Tired of digging in, he is digging out
from under the ruins of his measured words,
while his ancestors, having escaped him,

turn round and smile at the distance between.

~~ Vassilis Zambaras
(from Sentences, 1976)

Charlie in the Tunnel

In the dark tunnel I saw you,
rodent like in my heart.
The ground shook above us, the grenades
resounding like thuds of heavy rain.
I felt the sweat of your hate,
Your body, quiet and still in the darkness,
waiting to kill me.
Here, I knew you and I belonged
in the underground struggle.
In the flick of an eyelid
I could not call you the enemy
in your own land.
Your glance was human--
even when cornered--our breathing stilled
by the hidden fright in us.
I backed out of the damp darkness,
telling my comrades above ground,
“The tunnel is cold!”

~~ Luis Lázaro Tijerina