Gary Whitehead

( Fort Montgomery, New York )



A night of rain, and the stalled thrall begins again
as though the lemon trees decreed it.

He strides in like wind. But shod and heavy. I grow thin
with what to do and what to do.

And in the take-two of the mute television’s blue glow,
broken glass, open door’s cool specter, slow-wept

music of the trees and kitchen sink
I see it later as night might have through the streaked glass:

his fell beaming, my left arm raised as if to shade.


Talk is morning, is a swept floor.
Talk is a blind thing that can see.
Talk is the child who will never be.
Talk is a neighbor, is a closed door.

In time, the washed world
curls around its scars;
the body wears its Easter colors
into summer. Then it happens
that he makes me laugh,
and because he’s soft again
and sitting and I mistake
the sunlight as divine,
I can stand akimbo
saying no and no and no.

We make love then and lie
in the late day’s bruise,
and while he sleeps
I watch the long clouds roll by
like evening news.


Often out of nowhere,
often out of somewhere,
I’ve set our raised ranch ablaze.

Sometimes I want for him to touch me,
sometimes I want for him to let go.



Tonight his tongue spelled something long,
like a word swirled
up out of some Old World
incantation for a queen, songlike but unsung:


Was it the moon, which was full,
or that I said no again to Naples?
That I cracked the crystal?

Backbeat of jazz on the stereo?
That I said no again to a dog
and then barked at the moon?

I go down under his grip,
down into the smoking eye
until I too am fume and magma.

And afterward, I consume
my slow way toward the sea,
leaving heaps of me as I go,

trees and children charred.
Then, of course, I grow hard.


In September, I write:

If when I am broken,
you find me featureless
and sprawled, know
that I was a woman once
and before that a little girl.
Do not pose me motionless
dressed in fall fashions.
Paint me a mouth
that I might tell all who pass
that I wear no clothes
to prove I’m whole.


In October
I stand naked at the picture window.


This morning he whispered something smooth,
like the warm breath
of some New World
entreaty to a king, a shibboleth:



For Christmas we don’t go north.

I give him a spotting scope to watch
the egrets up close stalking the silver fish

of timidity. He gives me a blank book
bound in leather and gold.

When I look through the wide end
the world is a bird’s eye.

When I thumb through the pages
I make a movie about snow.


The first thing I write in the new year:

A handful of sand—
the dividends of persistence
and wear. What can stand
with such resistance?

The dividends of persistence
hold only what is owned
with such resistance:
the time it takes to break down.

Hold only what is owned,
and wear what can stand
the time it takes to break down
a handful of sand.


Afterward and again I dream of horses and men
and the girl I was once one summer month
sitting on a rail fence with friends
watching a newborn foal get up and run,
still wet with birth, the newest thing on earth.
How glad I was—for it and for us,
all of us singing, our thin legs swinging—
until I fell and broke my arm. No one spoke.
But for weeks they ran past the house chanting verses:
…all the king’s horses and all the king’s men….


Always out of somewhere,
always out of nowhere,
I set off his rage.

Never do I want for him to touch me,
always I want for him to let me go.



I cannot bare it. I cannot bear it.
Both are true.
Except in this, and on the bright days
under the big window
of the sunporch, when I close my eyes
and turn rock-solid.
Sometimes I gaze at the sun so long
in this way—
through these twin-curtained lids,
which have risen
and fallen as often as I’ve viewed
this life anew—
that I could say in truth I have seen
the light of—what?—
God?, another day?, this world?,
a space so white
it could be the opposite of blindness?
For sight is sometimes
what we want to see: the eye-music
of shape and depth
and color playing beautifully together.
So when I see us—
him and me in the drama we do—
through that shining
blindness, we are not who we are
but only dolls
faceless and purposeless and poised
in the violent
poses of someone else’s private love.

Cheryl Dodds - Eye Music

I - Persephone in the Field
II - Debris of Dreams
III - Are You Listening?
IV - Monologues for an Apocalypse

Ace Boggess - Abuse Cycle
Marty McConnell - girl on the tracks
Julie Bonaduce - The Company Of
Alan Catlin - in the pitch of citrus

Spring Supplement 2002 Issue
Winter 2002 Issue