05 March, 2011

The Dog Show

You don’t know the dog show
has been staged for your benefit
and all these dogs represent
people you’ve forgotten to thank
for their contributions to your life.

You don’t see that the handlers
in their odd and dowdy suits
are the teachers who brought you
the lessons you needed to learn
and paraded them before you.

You don’t recognize that those shiny coats
and brushed out fur and white hard teeth
are signifiers of crucial junctures
when you worshipped style over substance
and feared the honest chomp of a deserved bite.

All you know is the vague preferences
that stir you. You like the Westie,
the Skye, the Bearded Collie;
you are indifferent to the Toys;
you feel love for the Scottish Deerhound,

and that Viszla reminds you of
moments you were just ahead of Death,
who coursed behind you snapping at your heels
and guiding you to this moment where you
are the dog show watcher.

You are fur, and breath, and memory.
You are observing effort that you’d never make yourself.
You are badly dressed and amazed and squealing
over animals that seem perfect and at ease when they move.
You wish you’d done something like this with your life.

~ ~   Tony Brown

The body collects countless cruelties.
Regrets nest in each forehead crease,
while every heartache slits its imprint
just below the wrist.  Even after midnight,
troubles upset the peace within my stomach.
Broke down and blown through,
I dream of a history of anonymity,

its precision:  me, my father’s sole progeny,
and my achievements, all worthless as cold coffee
or rain-soaked cigarettes.  Surely we all struggle
with the misnomer of identity, or a knot in the rope
of our errant epiphanies. Even now, anger
simmers in my sternum, while apprehension swims
through blood streams, the heart’s gates and locks.
My confidence still unravels at the slightest pull.

~ ~ Adrian S. Potter

Published in Foliate Oak Literary Journal (April, 2009).
on being seventeen

the people that you love
think they know they think
they remember being you
conversations like cheese

graters & you’re the cheese
they shred you & they
don’t even notice the fine
white pieces as they chew

& you fear the boy you love
will grow up to be a man
you don’t want to want him
you don’t want to watch him

turn into your father & you don’t
want him to see you becoming
your mother & being seventeen
& the oldest means leaving

or staying & shredding
into thin white curls on the family
kitchen counter but how can you
leave when you’re only seventeen

& adult means knowing more than
you they must know something
you need to & being seventeen
& a woman (in this borrowed

body) is not what you had hoped
the body tricks you in the most
unexpected ways who would know
how you ride its fierce insistence

how your thoughts become all bone-
less liquid slow when inside you feel
so hot & hard & sharp words
slice you like thick white cheese

& you’re only seventeen
but watching them you know
what you must not become
but you know they said the same so how

do you get out?

~ ~ Sharon Brogan
Rock means
what rock is.

Soil is more

                                                            Not much time
                                                            and not much space

                                                            but lots of words 
                                                            to feed the darkness.

Not enough
wind to make

a leaf
                                                         What you grasp
                                                          eludes you.

~ ~ Tom Montag

Imagine nothing to read or write
no way to watch your saffron thoughts
unfurl in gray graphite on pristine sheets of white

Imagine loneliness without solitude
no way to swim between friends and lovers
and the treasured company of your own secret muse

Imagine only filthy, brackish water
or no water at all to cleanse your body, inside or out
no clean springs in which to play by graceful glades

Imagine children conceived in rage and revenge
mothers without means to provide, to protect
endless explosions stilling life on killing grounds

Imagine knowing only

Imagine dying before you are old enough to know who you are

~ ~ Jamie Dedes

First published in Poets Against the War (February 2010).