28 March, 2012

The Shaker

Clicking seed pods in Amazon canopy
crickling knees of a cricket in dry grass
urgency in the rhythm coming
across great bodies of water
to seek you out

Lifeline of the singer,
        the story-teller
     the dancer in flight
who lands on the moveable surface
of grumbling stones

Arroyo of rattlers
who have eaten the water
and spit out insistent noontime heat
insects that harry the sleeper
aphrodisiac dreams

O traveler
close to the bones across evening prairies
shaman's apprentice, salute
to the threshold between
the worlds.

                                   Soledad Prison, CA, January 98.

~ ~ Janine Pommy-Vega

Printed by permission of Bob Arnold, executor of Janine Pommy Vega estate.
 Photographer: Kevin McCollister

Night Sonnet
Great wise night
Under the city walls
You pull me out of
The monster's socket
Lead me crazed
Out on the empty square
So I may walk again
Around myself
And see once more
That I'm still
A living creature
Son of thunder and smoke
The lost son
The solitary, generously salted--Nobody

~ ~ Novica Tadić 

Translated by Charles Simic

From Night Mail: Selected Poems,  Oberlin College Press, 1992.
Copyright 1992 Oberlin College, with permission.

                    in the train
                    rocking by itself
                    my mother's teacup

~ ~ Aditya Bahl


he eats roots and leaves
and that’s fine as he eats well
and then quietly walks away
this is not what i complain about
but why like a wombat?

his dull depart is saying
i would and i would not
leave you darling

or: yes i am leaving with no doubt
but see it’s not so easy for me to slide out of
this warm burrow onto loose tracks

or: i am leaving now my love
but you have a very good chance
to catch my leg and turn me back

and if you don’t
it’s not my fault
when our story comes to its tearful end

Tatjana Lukić

From: la la la,  Five Island Press, 2009.

"Matchsticks".  Photographer: Anatol Knotek

stapaju se
godišnja doba - leptir
dodirne tipku

       chou hirari
       tokeru kisetsu o

              seasons merge
              slowly - a passing butterfly
              turns the switch

akordi Zemlje –
preslažu se brda
i oblaci

           kumo oka oka kumo
           juusou su
                     the Earth's music -
                     folding over each other,
                     clouds and hills
Croatian translation by Višnja McMaster
Japanese translation by Masahiko Otsuka
To and From

She laughs as she tells of their escape
from the rural region where they'd built their farm
of chickens and goats, rice fields, some beans.

Despite note being a market woman, she'd been shrewd,
forced to be, in a country ruled by anticipation

of food shortages
of shortages of gasoline,
of shortages
of electricity,
shortages of power,
of power shifts.

Her husband, in his impeccable restraint, recounts
their consideration of the hen-house as refuge,
behind the barbed wire or in the plantain fields
where humans and trees are often confused at night,

while the gunmen, if they came this time,
shot the house, perhaps the dog, indiscriminate
 as the circulating lists of marked individuals:

radio announcers,
students and
the regligious,
so-and-so Jean Baptiste,
followed by
woman of so-and-so
Jean Baptiste.

The woman and man give a nervous laugh
to their daring, how at rooster's crow they crept
into their station wagon and through the hills
of Plaisance, down the coast into Gonaives,
where their old church stood (sign-of-the-cross),
through the Roboteau the army dared not enter,
where the people threw back the clothes the governors
had brought, threw foreign rice into canals.  They drove
quickly around the salted hills, like country-bus drivers,
like all the country's drivers, this time not speeding
for market or goats or grain but for the capital
where namelessness would harbor them.

~ ~ Danielle Legros Georges

"To and From" originally appeared in compost, volume 5, 1994; and is
reprinted with permission of the author.
Untitled.  Artist:   Caio Fern.


the images of true peace
have nothing
to do with permanence:
on a bomber window make a half-moon silhouette
of sunlight, leaves, and geometry
on the wall here
in my imagined house which is
made of soft memory
nothing i can build (or
you can build) will ever be
a bird

Peter Greene

©Peter A. Greene. All rights reserved.


Sleep addressed me familiarly, calling

She takes a third of our lives and when
we come back this way a second time
doesn’t recognize us

traipses to the curtains to let
in the broken glass light of clouds


read the sign on the dream shop door
the battered mouse a gray dust ball
about two days dead

roared about lost innocence
to a loose sock on the closet floor

ripped anew

out of the upside
down canoe

(sleep’s protection)

~ ~ Tom Clark

Can not

A bank
can not
the appearance
of gold
on a chapati
in bloom

~ ~ Aditya Bahl

"Zick-Zack".  By Anatol Knotek

Demain (Tomorrow)
     after Folon

Surely trees are reaching for some voice
the winter burglarized.
While they were sleeping

luxuriously in thick green
featherbeds, the wind slid
into their arms, kissed them till they

were shaken
dark bones clawing for the stars
who speak a language of farewells.

Strip anything
and there's an agony of form

desperate to acquire
what only camouflage can proffer
or failing that resist.

If trees do nothing but foreshadow,
if they persist
like war-cripples waving deformed stumps

at the windows of the comfortable,
if they hail a black planet in the dawn sky.
If it hurts to look at this,

don't look,
only keep thinking
one day ahead of yourself.

~ Joan Colby

Published in Pedestal Magazine, Issue 55 (2009)
Untitled.  Artist:   Caio Fern


When the moment arrives
the moment is weary.
and then it’s gone
just like us.   Just like love
which is like following a dead person
into the forest
when you should be tending
to your cabbages.
Putting up the wire fence
that will save them
from the rabbits.

~ ~ Ben Mirov

Published in Pank Magazine, June 15, 2011.
        (written for 'Keepsake')

The Ukrainian egg sits on the shelf
of a bookcase. A byzantine
lost wax form of geometrics,
crimson, azure, black, mustard.

Hours of design and submergence.
The blown out essence leaves this:
a dense fragility of perfection
you learned as a child

at your father’s side. This was before
vodka trembled his hands. Yours
were dutiful. You forgave how he
called you a whore, how he

raged and shattered some of the best.
You sought to preserve
the technique and the memory,
the exquisite patterns he knew by heart.

~ ~ Joan Colby

From Houseboat, January 2012, with permission.

Winter into Birch- Artist: Amy Komar


The storm
comes for the throat,

a sidewinder in darkness.
Wind works its mutinies

in storm-snarled trees. Water
hammers houses from their roots,

a bus shoots under a bridge.
A man in a tattered T-shirt

floats downriver like a page
torn from a book.

~ ~ Ruth Bavetta
In Zone International Journal of Poems and Prose,   April 2010.

Free verse

trying to
play bass -

he says,