10 November, 2011


As a child I hunted the weak
members of the playground,
striking with whatever words
would wound most deeply.
There was no place for sympathy
in this most elementary of food chains.
Of the four chambers
in the human heart, mercy
ought to squeeze into one of them.
I never felt guilty trying kill the human spirit.

When my dad shot the elk and broke her back
we hustled through the snow to make her ending quick.
She looked at us with fearful, wild forfeit
and I wished we weren’t there.
He tenderly slit her throat and her wildness
seeped onto the sagebrush, melted the snow—
her eyes dim, dark, marble.
Why should I care more for her suffering
than for my own kind?

We hide in revenge and terror,
numb to the ripped esophagus
of our bleeding brothers.

~ ~ Joel E. Jacobson

Catapault Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 18 (October, 2010).

Even if the mountain I climbed
Proved to be a duncecap really,
It was only on gaining its peak
That that knowledge reached me.

~ ~ Bill Knott

From The Moon’s Memoirs, Collected Short Poems, 2011

Shirt Collar

You’re standing by the mirror,
and I watch your fingers
slip cufflinks through buttonholes.
Your shoulders ease back,
as if the world finally had room for them,
as if your skin fit differently
under this shirt. Your small breasts
press out, unexpected
in these starched folds.

For you I would learn
the forgotten motions of my father’s hands,
the foreign ritual of folding a tie
in on itself, anything
for an excuse to reach behind your neck,
slide my fingers up under your shirt collar,
that sharp cool crease.

~ ~ Anna Swanson

The Nights Also (Tightrope Books, 2010).
There is a stillness
in snow
that the summer
never understands.

~ ~   Joel E. Jacobson

La Nuit..  Artist: Jean-Michel Ripaud

The moon of magpies quarrelling

shimmers in the pale sky of early morning
like a court reporter's screen. It records
the magpies' proceedings - litigious birds
with ermine draped across their glossy shoulders,
their bellies drooped in prosperous curves.
They introduce their offspring to the court's
attention in harsh, good-natured voices.
They teach their fledglings legalese, the value
of bright shiny objects and their importance
in the scheme of branches.
They do not mean to be
so handsome, so much bigger than the other
birds, or to have such clever eyes. It's just
the way things are, they tell
judiciously brightening skies.

 ~ ~  Alice Major

From: Tales for an Urban Sky (Broken Jaw Press, 2001).
 "Water" - Photographer:  Jonathan, of  Beeps and Chirps


Imagine a world disguised as art,
or one in which art masquerades
as you, so your face is just a portrait,
your legs a landscape. Your hair
abstract expressionism. And when
you go to the window each morning
you glimpse in its transfiguring pane
a streak of the vein source of things:
that your eyelashes remain nothing
but brushstrokes, that your feet
beneath it all are woodcuts. And when
you open the door to inquire how
a rose can limp between the breasts
of the dawn, you feel like a collage
snipped from the pages of a novel
whose words have always remained
immune to meaning, whose plot is
not subject to that mute truthserum.

~ ~ Bill Knott

We should have stayed in the forest, watching woodpeckers.
A knock on hollow wood and air rattles in the tree’s chambers
like a voice trying to remember where to put its tongue.

Wingbeats echo on the inside of a skull. A stutter slides in parallax
between two birds translating early autumn into insect drone,
sky into raised voices, mushrooms into footsteps on mud.

We should have stayed in the forest, drowned out
by hiss between the branches, but even there you can’t be sure
that what you hear as morse might not be scattershot. And now

you’re speaking. Hover and balance. Hover and stop : hold it.
We could have stayed in the forest and I could have said -
but I didn’t. And you could have heard something different.

~ ~ Zoe Skoulding
"Hiding Out" - Artist: Anthony Duce


Chunnaic mi eadar-theangachadh de dhàn agam
ann an duanaire de bhàrdachd ghaoil à Alba,
agus bu neònach leam gun robh an càirdeas
nach do mhair agamsa ach trì seachdainean,
ged a luidir an t-uisge-stiùir mi fad bhliadhnachan,
an sin an ainm a’ ghaoil a mhaireas.

Bu neònaiche buileach na h-ìomhaighean,
cuid a ghineadh ann an òrain Ghàidhlig eile,
cuid a tharraing saighead a’ chomhardaidh a-nuas,
is iad nan seasamh gu borb sa Bheurla,
gun iomradh fiù ’s gum b’i a’ Ghàidhlig
a’ bhean-ghlùine no am bogha.

Bitheadh an tàcharan ag imeachd -
tha a chaolan dhomhsa air a sgaoileadh;
ma labhras e ri feadhainn mun ghaol shìorraidh
gach beannachd leotha ’s guma fada beò an gaol ac’,
ach gur leamsa an taisbeanadh cinnteach àraid
nach ionann fìrinn na beatha is fìrinn na bàrdachd.


         I saw one of my poems translated
         in a book of love poems from Scotland,
         and it felt strange that an affair
         that lasted only three weeks
         (but in whose wake I floundered long after)
         was there in the name of eternal commitment.

         It was stranger yet to see the images,
         some born of other Gaelic songs,
         some brought down by the arrow of rhyme,
         standing naked and incongruous in English,
         with no mention that Gaelic
         was either the midwife or the bow.

         But let the changeling make its way –
         its umbilical cord with me is cut;
         if it speaks to some of enduring love
         may theirs be the blessing of love that lasts,
         but let this particular revelation be mine
         that reality and poetic truth are not the same.

 ~ ~ Meg Bateman
the rabbit

it is dark there
but we are collecting our toys we aren't scared
well maybe just a tiny bit
they promised there will be nothing there
to be scared of

we are collecting our dolls and teddies
and all the toy cars even the broken ones
because we feel sorry for them
we are collecting the scattered puzzle pieces
there's one under the bed but it is dark there
better not to look for it

the puzzle pieces when collected correctly
make pictures a squirrel
a ball or a funny clown
but they say we have no time anymore
and so we are collecting them any old way
it is just that the rabbit is nowhere to be found
the one with an ear torn away
no one has played with it recently

they say there's no need
we will not play where we are going
but how do they know they hurry us up
and we are doing our best but why
don't they have time for us anymore
what have they done with all our time

they say we mustn't be scared but we know
it will be dark there all the time
perhaps we are scared after all
but no one wants to start bawling first
there will be no stopping us then

well here it is the doggone rabbit
how stupid of me not to have noticed
they shouldn't say we don't need it anymore
there where we are all going
where are we all going

~ ~ Aleksei Tsvetkov
Artwork by Bill Knott


Hope  .  .  .  goosestep.

~ ~ Bill Knott

combien de dormeurs du Val
      nous faut-il
pour comprendre enfin
qu’on n’a pas besoin
de la guerre et de son venin?

how many sleepers in the Valley
                 do we need
        finally to understand
     that we don’t have need
      of war and its venom?

~ ~ Sedley Richard Assonne

"Les dormeurs du Val"
Artist: Jean-Michel Ripaud


Nature doesn't need
a mountain to show
it exists; mist will
suffice.  But the poet
must painfully pile
up every pebble of
his absent summit.

~ ~  Bill Knott

"Bird" - Artist:  Bill Knott

Temple of the Buddha's Footprint

They surround him
with carved ivory
apply gold-leaf
to the image of one
whose palms
were inlaid with rebirth
whose toes
were all the same length
whose earlobes
sagged with long life
but only those
who have felt the knife
of his inward gaze
his fire
that burns up suffering
but throws neither light
nor heat
know him
as peace calling out
to peace ...

the smile of an empty bowl.

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).

an itinerant dons his woolens his furs and felt
daubs smelly seal fat all over his face
and sets off across the universe of ice
the seamless plain of snows that never melt

there are things in his knapsack that may turn out
useful and to make sure he took one of each
and cast an arbuscle twig to inquire about
direction if not the point he set out to reach

off you wander into the light that cannot fade
though faint since the sun is smeared with lard
so what if the ice underfoot is always hard
isn’t the rock and no one ever complained
follow the faithful twig never stray from the course
we all are natives and i am one of yours

fall asleep and blotches of green and blue and pink
pierce the ice like pale incunabulum ink
somewhere else not in this world of ours
bursting up like that from the dirt
you would make an effort and call them flowers
if you knew what they were and possessed the proper word
you could try and smell them sleeping late
but the blubber stinks awful
and the ice is as hard as fate

~ ~ Alexei Tsvetkov

 Cardinal Points Journal, Vol. 4, 2011

line the mountain
down which we melt—
stones that wore our
trickle tongues away

~ ~  Bill Knott
"Melting Men" - Artist:  Néle Azevedo

I'll never understand
the Universe as music

planets and glands
like notes
on a diatonic scale

the sound of wind
through leaves

tumors in my bloodline

what Pythagoras
listened for until
he found the perfect ratio...

all those years
without so much as a whisper

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).
Becoming Art
for T.W.

The picture won’t paint itself.
The idea won’t self-reveal
without forcing itself
through the prism of the artist.

Thick, grieving strokes black out
the self (a penciled-in outline)
and the subsequent colors,
however sad or beautiful
are no longer sensible or appealing.

What it takes to sit there
and let each brush be felt
each piece be placed
until the picture holds depth.

Things used to inspire eventually expire,
end up in the back corner of a tired thrift store
on sale for 25 cents. It becomes difficult to tell
which is heavier,

the dust or the paint.

~ ~ Joel E. Jacobson

From: Water the Mud (A Poetic Matter, 2011).

Doesn't each tree throw
its shade to show
boundary to the others’
thirsting thrust?
Only the roots are brothers;
the roots are the forest.

~ ~ Bill Knott

From The Moon’s Memoirs, Collected Short Poems, 2011

"The Horses of Time" - Artist:  Bill Knott
A little girl
in a red dress
falls down
in dandelions
laughing at
her own clumsiness ...

at first
I think her an image
among images, then
see she's the whole poem.

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).

02 October, 2011


When she objected that the bedroom
was too hot that summer day
for what I had proposed and suggested
we create a spectacle of ourselves
for the audience of trees and shrubs
in our backyard, I had forgotten
about the apples.

And when we spread wide open
the sheet and sleeping bag on the grass,
out of sight (mostly) of the road,
and released our entire bodies,
piece by piece of clothing,
into the arms of the air
(which, unaccustomed to such
an opportunity, puffed excitedly),
I was not thinking at all
of the apples.

And even when we laid ourselves down
and sanctified that country acre as it had
long deserved to be sanctified,
sending birds racing between trees
while the whole world gathered itself
in her eyes, into which I looked and looked,
I did not see the apples.

But later that afternoon,
as I carried our clothes toward the house,
and she, walking ahead of me, stopped
to pick up a windfall apple and tasted it,
declaring it delicious and urging me
to take a bite, I most certainly noticed
not only the apple but the garden
surrounding it, like a scene
from a familiar story, one including
a man happy in his skin and a woman as
tall and shapely as she was naked--

naked, that is, except for the Raybans,
which she'd slipped on when she went
to get us each a beer after our holy
expense of energy and which,
with their Vogue-like stylish incongruity,
saved me from an insufferably poetic moment
and let me enjoy the very apple
that the apple was.

~ ~ Philip Dacey

First published in Cider Press Review, 2004


"Windy Lake"
Photographer Rezi Vasiri

Night draws me open ::    I work like a seed ::
building my tree through the depths

Stage Directions

Place setting
Sun left

Enter full
Moon right

No dialogue


~ ~ Vassilis Zambaras
Golden Rule

In a forgotten drawer
my father’s wooden rule,
brass-hinged to unfold
sideways and lengthways
for measuring boat timbers.

I hear the slap and click
of its closing,
before I can say ‘lifeboat’,
see it vanish
into that long pocket
on the thigh of blue overalls.

Indicator of his precision
love of numbers
a life measured
in feet and inches
business takings
cricket scores
football pools
bingo calls.

His emotions kept in check,
marked off by pencil,
held in columns,
buttoned up in cardigans,
till an outburst
a sea-squall soon past.

Now he’s gone to talk
spans and cubits
and dead-reckoning with Noah.

Margaret Eddershaw

First published in Iota, 2007

broken wheel
the drunken rounds we sing
to celebrate life

~ ~ Rick Daddario
Poets Nova

Our thoughts are like dancers, two
inter-mingled, co-existing electrons
spinning around the same nucleus.
Our hearts, the pulsars at the center of
this rich, red, universe.  Roses clinched
between orbiting lips that circle a black
planet obscured by an eclipsing moon.
I wonder if wishing sets thoughts in motion,
causing invisible ripples in the unseen.
Ripples that carry our secrets to God.

I consider all these things from my bar stool,
the poet's throne.  A magical chair with roots
that grows limbs and a mind of its own.

~ ~ Charles P. Ries
There is water to be found ::
               where the tired self sleeps ::
                              we are made of faraway places

Autumn of a Lepidopterist

On edge

Of buckling, weathered
Red-tiled roof,

Orange-brown and black
Veined monarch trembling,

Like a leaf.

~ ~ Vassilis Zambaras
Photographer:   Sue McDonagh

Ana Becho'ach

I say a prayer in a language I can't read
from a world in which I struggle
to a god,
that I wish to understand.

Listening from left to right
I repeat and repeat
until the words link,
until each belong to each other.

Perhaps I have just understood my solitude
and like the words and god
we are,
all part of each other

~ ~ Simon Bridges

, July 2011
Dying before the leaves of autumn ::
I shall grow stronger in forgotten lands


Dance of death :: sound of the flute ::
the fields swept bare of me

~ ~ Grant Hackett

What if the word that I want,
the word so precise in its meaning,
the one that I need
for the thought I am wanting to think,
does not exist?
What then?
Can I still think it?
Or will I be able
to improvise?

And what if words that I want do exist,
but harbour insurgents,
harsh malcontents and saboteurs
who use innuendo
subverting the meanings,
gathering round them
the most undesirable words,
can it be there's a way
to improvise truth from their lies,

creating my meanings
from new combinations,
making it up
whilst I'm making my way?
And what if the thought
has the shape of a word
but is empty of meaning,
cuts a space for new thinking,
can I satisfy it with my makeshift devices?

~ ~ Dave King
Untitled 2001
Artist:  Graham Lambkin


To some
death is freedom.
To others
breath is.

~ ~  Alaka Yeravadekar

19 July, 2011

Poem to Poetry

you are an electric,
a magic, field--like the space
between a sleepwalker's outheld arms!

~ ~ Bill Knott

"Arcane Figure" by Bill Knott
Ossabaw Island Dream

Think of yourself as an idea
Through which time is crystallized

Say you have occurred to yourself
As an idea and time as the silent

Architect of its outlines,
Say further that you fear

Its shape still conforms
To numerous things no longer here

Consider yourself contained
by a form that seems determined

by absences, to depend upon them.
You ask yourself, "What am I

doing in this abstraction as if
it were my experience

and I were just an activity
of time trying to make itself clear?"

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light, Ikon, 2003.
Lindos, March 17, 1969, 3:15 a.m.

Artist:  Ed Baker
From my window
I can smell the lemon tree
& I can hear a ship's bell

I listen to the rain drop from
the eaves of my house

                    & what if I
                    thin-blooded as I am

                    sit out the whole man

~ ~ Ed Baker

Published in Butcher of Oxen (Doxie Press, 1970).

mistake after mistake
after mistake, adding up
to just the right thing

~ ~ Don Wentworth

Past All Traps, Six Gallery Press, 2011

                                                  pine trees or palms,
                                                       everywhere I travel,
                                                  the moon follows

                                                  ~ ~ Art Durkee

"Cloud Wisps" by Art Durkee

singing to no one in particular

there are birds that sing with two voices
blessed with a divided larynx
were they people they could hold
two conversations simultaneously
and both turn out right in the end

now i am expediently perched
for precisely such an attempt
except that there is no interlocutor
similarly gifted and the two songs
are not aimed at each other

such an animal is split in the middle
by an impenetrable plane
cutting off its left hand voice
from its right hand voice and the heart
from the heartless yet also singing side

but if we possessed two hearts
our blood would flow against itself
better stay as you are a useless warbler
whose two discourses addressed to the void
receive no response to either

~ ~ Alexei Tsvetkov

Cardinal Points Journal, Vol. 4, 2011
I was in
another place
all the way

      my way home -

      the lovely

      of uncertainty

~ ~ Tom Montag
One Man's Wake

He goes around concerned more than usual
about time, life, other minor things like being,
dying without having found himself.

He was single-minded about this and on rainy days
he would go out and start asking if they had seen him
aboard some woman's eyes or somewhere along
the Brazilian coast in love with its pounding surf
or most likely at the funeral of his innocence.

He always had words or pale and miserable pieces
of love and of violent winds in reserve,
he had been about to enter death thirteen times
but came back from force of habit, he said.

Among other things he wanted
someone else to understand the world,
and this terrified loneliness itself.
Now they're holding this scary wake here
inside these walls on which his curses still come rolling off,

the rustle of his beard, still full of life, falls from his face
and no one who can smell him
will ever guess how much he wanted to enjoy the mystery of innocent love
and give water to his children.

As he returns his borrowed skin and bones to neglect,
he makes out his own figure in the distance and runs after himself,
so there's no doubt now
that it will soon begin to rain.

~ ~ Juan Gelman

Translated by Hardie St. Martin

Big Bridge, Issue #15 (Spring 2011).
Way of the Warrior

I planted my madness
in the world

watched it grow
            and fade

                                      like a wildflower
                                      on a hillside

~ ~  Paul Pines
Takidancing, Ikon, 2007.

where will you
take me next when
the winds
change and what i
know turns to ash?

~ ~ robert d. wilson

Wild Orchid
with my mind

~ ~ Ed Baker

Wild Orchard, tel-net (2002).

19 June, 2011

 Sons and Fathers – Brighton Beach

In the palm of his hand
I tried to be perfect and I was. My two sandled feet
the width of his one great hand – my soles rooted
to his life line, mound of Venus, mound of Mars.
Held high, an acrobat stunt, or an offering to the Gods,
I was not afraid of him but perfect in his hand, face, smile -
our same curly hair -
my baby coat buttoned high with one round collar scalloping
my fat cheek. I grew and he had to use two hands
to keep me – one foot in each hand – his balance was my balance.
I grew and he used his feet on my hip bones
to suspend me above him.
I grew and his hand supported my back to push me forward.
I grew and he placed his hands on my shoulders to slow me down.

We have the same ears but it was his brown eyes that held me
brought joy, sorrow, sharpness and obsidian anger. Taller, I grew,
still trying to be approved, to be perfect, always wanting
to be held high again held that sacred again
but I know
if I stood on his hands now
I would crush him.

~ ~ Suzanne S. Rancourt

From Muddy River Review Issue #3 (Fall, 2010).

"Father and Son"
Photo by Rosemarie Hayes of LifeUnfoldsPhotography
Today's Lesson

I do not have much
of my father left:
a hat, a coat, and some gloves.

They are not him though.
They belonged to him;
they have learned his shape by rote

(tried and true is best)
so when I wear them
I can feel him again and

again. Again, that
is the key word here.
And it should not be a verb.

~ ~ Jim Murdoch

Published in  This Is Not About What You Think   (Fandango Virtual, 2010).  


When I saw
the photo of myself
I squirmed
for only a moment
then looked straight at it.

I saw a gray man
with a crooked smile,
my father’s face looking back at me,
sporting a half-mouth grin
I’d only ever seen in one photograph
from Korea, green before first combat
in his uniform,
his whole platoon around him,
his hair short, his eyes bright,
nine years before my birth.

In the picture he’s smirking
as if he knew even then
that his son would someday come
to a similar moment of recognition
and amused resignation,
a moment of humor
before a terrifying future,
that my face
would inevitably become his
in spite of all my years of being certain
that if I just kept my head down
and did everything he never did,
I could keep such a thing
from ever happening.

I wonder if he knew
that it would take this long.

~ ~ Tony Brown
Whose Mouth Do I Speak With

I can remember my father bringing home spruce gum.
He worked in the woods and filled his pockets
with golden chunks of pitch.
For his children
he provided this special sacrament
and we'd gather at this feet, around his legs,
bumping his lunchbox, and his empty thermos rattled inside.
Our skin would stick to Daddy's gluey clothing
and we'd smell like Mumma's Pine Sol.
We had no money for store bought gum
but that's all right.
The spruce gum
was so close to chewing amber
as though in our mouths we held the eyes of Coyote
and how many other children had fathers
that placed on their innocent, anxious tongue
the blood of tree?

~ ~ Suzanne S. Rancourt

From Billboard in the Clouds  (Northwestern University Press, 2010);
first published by Curbstone Press, 2004. 

home from the steel warehouse
dad's lunch box filled
with wildflowers
                              prayers over
                              dad’s casket descends
                              through a maze of severed roots


“Red Hots!”
 for an instant i’m ten

 father’s still alive

~ ~ Ed Markowski

"Steel Warehouse"  was published in tinywords, October 26, 2005.
"Prayers Over" was first published on David Giacalone's blog f/k/a June 19, 2005.
"Red Hots" was published in Haiku Sun Magazine, Issue #10, 2004.
The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

~ ~ Stanley Kunitz

From Next to Last Things: New Poems and Essays
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1985.

dad’s grave





~ ~ Ed Markowski

Published in tinywords, July 24, 2006.
For My Father

After you've been gone,
I've been flying alone back and forth
above the waters and the continents.
Both of us: me here and you there
know too well that this is a waste of time
and space.
I may be flying, looking for you
for the rest of my life
or death, and still never see you.

Nothing can be undone,
and I can't take it.
Nor I can take the fact
that every time I see my close ones, I know,
it may be the last time I see them.

Don't worry about me. While I fly,
an angel in uniform attends me,
gives me some water and bread,
and smiles to me.
She takes care of me
until it's time to get out,
get in line for the luggage
and then to disappear into crowd
which lives on the exhaust,
cyclic persistence
and canned expectations.

The latter is something
I live on myself, expectation
melting slowly into waiting
as I keep on flying
in the space given

~ ~ Andrey Gritsman

From: Live Landscape, Cervená Barva Press, 2010.
A Thought On Father's Day

        I read this poem at my father's funeral on April 23, 2003. 
        Lawrence J. Holder was 86, and one helluva guy.

And yes
it has come to the time
when I see my father's face
in the mirror,
my squint is his
the nascent crow's feet
stretching into laugh lines
my angry brow
solicits the always surprising question
"What's wrong?"
Didn't I always ask him the same question?
Do I find myself
praying over the New York Times
like a scholar over a sacred text?
A drink to my side
my legs crossed right to left
just like him?
Was that him the other day
that reflection in the store window
slightly hunched
arms stiff
swinging robotically
clothed in Seersucker?
I looked back
but he was gone.
Was I chasing a hallucination?
Like him
I am drawn to the sea
to the sound of breaking waves,
on the shore-
to the eternal ebb and flow
to the primal smell of death and life
to the gulls sitting shiva
on the rocks
to the purple death
of the sun each evening
its bright rebirth
from the portals of the sea's horizon.
Who is this man I see?
It is my father
and it is me.

~ ~ Doug Holder

The Somerville Journal, April 27, 2003.

Pinching the bridge
of my glasses
for cleaning –

my father’s

~ ~ Don Wentworth

The New Yinzer, Invisible Cities (Spring, 2009).
Riddles for My Father

Whatever we see when awake is death;
when asleep, dreams.

               — Heraclitus

He began in Colorado.
Anyplace he loved was home.
His breath scarred by cigarettes
was a rough-barked branch;
an orphaned owl hunched there,
amber eyes cradling a banked fire.

The moon was new all of his life.
The stars trafficked in secrets.

Only the earth woke in his hands
that were strong as barn-door hinges,
and he savored the give and take
of seed and harvest. His nightmare:
an upright pitchfork forgotten
deep in a mound of hay.

But always there was a horse
snorting in its damp stall,
and a saddle on the stall rail,
and not far off some mountains,
and canyons a man might live
another life in, and rivers he might
step into and out of at will....

(He’d never have heard Heraclitus
in those lines, for who in our family
would have loved such riddles
but me? I knew he’d declare them
dark and not to be trusted—so
I always held my tongue.)

Now he sleeps in the earth,
in that long dreamless house
clods drummed down on
like hooves. His face
is a new moon, and all
that was starry in him flies
like a dry beam of light
away from me. His hands
lay like broken sheaves
at his sides.

I’m awake.
And Heraclitus
is ashes in my mouth.

~ ~ Joseph Hutchison

 The Rattling Wall, Issue 1 (Spring 2011).  
Father-Son Conversation

To J.V.P.
Born 24 January 2006 - Died 27 January 2006

Dear imagination of a boy, my round idea,
you will not know the calluses on my hand,
I will not teach you to wave hello.

You came in waving goodbye, in your way,
and the sound of your own music filled
the hallway between this place and another.

Beauty is not for everyone, but you gathered
the light from the hospital into your face.
To be brutally honest, I loved you.

I tried to hold you carefully by the stem,
But you were determined to fall, and falling,
blaze up like an evening populated with cloud.

You wore your mother's womanly lips, pursed
in a pleasant smile, but your eyes you protected
from the too-bright world we learn to call home.

The music within me is quiet, but persistent.
One day, like you, I will return to being the song.
Beneath my eyelids, too, runs the sound of water.

Beneath this world, another, and another.
Who would give me a map to find you, the paper
superimposed with a constantly moving "X"?

To me, you were first a synapse, then a son.
Now grief sparks again in my dome-covered brain.
I row the underground waters, lantern in hand.

I tried to hold you carefully, but goodbye
was already on your lips, a silent prayer.
I will go on speaking to you as long as I live.

~ ~ Robert Peake

From: Human Shade (Lost Horse Press, 2011).

25 May, 2011

The Piano

All it took was one light note
One finger pressed
By one calm slave

A single note a supple instant
For the muffled clamor of offense
Tucked at the back of black veins
To rise and burst into the stirless air

The master knowing not what to do
Before such tumult
Commands that the piano be closed

~ ~  Anne Hébert

Translated by A. Z. Foreman

Le Piano

Il a suffi d'une note légère
D'un seul doigt frappée
Par un esclave tranquille

Une seule note un instant tenue
Pour que la clameur sourde des outrages
Enfouis au creux des veines noires
Monte et se décharge dans l'air immobile

Le maître ne sachant que faire
Devant ce tumulte
Ordonne qu'on ferme le piano
A jamais

~ ~  Anne Hébert

 From:   Oeuvre Poétique 1950-1990  (Paris:  Ed. Boréal/Seuil, 1992).
Saint John of the Cross in Prison

Saint John of the Cross stood up in his
prison cell and the stones became


He knew it was from the devil so he
did not eat.

He knew if he ate his state could go dark
the radiant escalators of his

innermost sunlight would vanish
the skies of black brilliance in which he

dwelt showered by God direct would
congeal in a sodden cloud

He turned and glanced out the
shimmering licorice bars of the window onto the

vague milky daylight and
swallowed his dry swallow in which

the fresh cascades of Andalusia
splashed refreshingly into his heart

and sat down again this time on his
hard bed which by Divine Grace had become

a donkey riding him across green
mountainsides aglitter with sparrows

above the churning sea of God’s Good Pleasure
crashing against the

rocks of his heartbeats below

~ ~ Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

From The Caged Bear Spies the Angel, in preparation.

                    "Dancing Tale" by Baghdad artist Vian Sora


What's the use
of something
as unstable
and diffuse as hope -
the almost twin
of making-do,
the isotope
of going on:
what isn't in
the envelope
just before
it isn't:
the always tabled
righting of the present.

~ ~ Kay Ryan

From Elephant Rocks (New York: Grove Press, 1996).
          What I've wanted most not to govern my life—
          the sun's short stride
          the forfeited sight of human eyes     ~ ~

          Why threaten a singing man with the stones of existence ~ ~

          How shall the heart cling to its tree ::  when the wing is
          underground ~ ~

          Will one leaf on the last tree be time enough   ~ ~            

~~ Grant Hackett

I have a feeling
they will sing right up
to the moment
the world

~ ~ William Michaelian

First published February 5, 2008, in Songs and Letters.

10 April, 2011

Before Saying Any of the Great Words

We already know: first we must agree
on which they are; but let us acknowledge that they exist:

they resound in all their weight and gravity
down Nevsky Prospekt, in the muttering of Raskolnikov,

and Cortázar mocks them at every opportunity,
lightens them up, musses their hair, reconciles them

with the rest of the vocabulary so that they may rub benignly
against one another and liberty won't do too much harm

with its tonnage of Greek marble
and its whiff of existentialism and its undeniable tragic greatness

to janitor, tenedor, bibelot--although the greatness of this last one
is suspect, for which we have Mallormé to blame,

there are also the short and decisive words: yes, no, now, never,
turbid love, clean death, rattled poetry,

other words that are like art for art' sake: sandalwood
for instance, and words like deoxyribonucleic, telescopic

and possessing an undeniably scientific elegance, a diffuse,
intense, and labyrinthine character, all at once, linked

to that other word, life, and of course there are the combinations,

your mouth, this letter, dozens of verbal objects,
that are only important for inexplicable reasons,

spoken at night or during the day, said

or held in silence, in the velvety net
of memory, in the transparent and energetic fortress

of forgetting, that body or fabric from which
are also made the great words, time, so many things.

~ ~ David Huerta

Translated from the Spanish by Mark Schafer.
From:   Before Saying Any of the Great Words  (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). 
With permission.
Why Must It Be Beautiful?

What is it for, all this
beauty? The curve
of the spiral

from the laddered
twist of DNA
to the vast wave

of galaxies; the green
luna moth, breath-
taking & ordinary.

Does the prey see
beauty in its predator?
Do gazelles admire

the leopard? Does
the seal lift
its sleek head

to gaze in wonder
at the bumbling,
lethal polar bear?

Our science tells us
how. Our science
gives us reason.

But why must it be
beautiful? The aero-
nautic miracle

of the bumble bee;
the passing brilliance
of the butterfly. Surely

predators would be
more deterred by
ugliness. The hideous

and the platypus
have their own glory.
Humans have our

own glory. Do other
creatures adore
the useless,

the only gorgeous,
the green wave
of Northern Lights

dimming the stars?
The indented shadow
of the heron's bath

in a snowdrift? Why
must it be beautiful?
When we pass, with

the bee, with
the butterfly,
with the polar bear,

the leopard,
the gazelle,
who will grieve

this deep and terrible
loss? Who will delight
in what comes next?

~ ~ Sharon Brogan

Escarcha sucia del audio
en la penumbra nómada
del automóvil;
ciénaga de sonidos
en donde la aguja del oído
apenas puede moverse.
De pronto, una torch singer
desmenuza a Wittgenstein
con tenedores de Cante...
¿Cómo lo hace? ¿Cómo
desenlaza, destraba los lenguajes,
hace fluir el mundo - y por añadidura
suma la gracia
y la tragedia?
El automóvil
entra en la noche
ungido por la música.


               Gritty frost from
               the radio speaker
               in the car's
               nomadic shadows:
               a swamp of sounds
               in which hearing's
               needle can
               barely move.
               Out of nowhere,
               a torch singer
               slices through Wittgenstein
               with the cutlery
               of cante jondo...
               How does she do it? -
               unstitch, unseam
               language itself,
               make the world flow and
               if that wasn't enough
               hit the twin peaks
               of grace and tragedy?
               The car
               anointed with music
               slips into the night.

~ ~  David Huerta

Translated from the Spanish by Jamie McKendrick.

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