( San Francisco, California )
Marge PiercyProse Poems
1. [If a fork]
If a fork was a spoon, a spoon was a knife, and a knife was a napkin, you could become a bluebird. The first time you cried it was not for Babci, but for the sudden realization that your gangrenous, shrapnel-eating uncles – their bodies pitched coffin-side, dam-eyes finally cracking in proximity to their cake-covered-blue sister – were actually made of a warm, wet oatmeal. Nine years later when you cry again its your brother’s eleven-year-old whose been wrestled into a circa 1970-something Supafly Jimmy Snooka sleeper-hold, for refusing salad fourteen days in a row of eating only Milky Ways. His father choking tears out of him elicits your weeping like Christ’s Falls pulled wails from the women of Jerusalem. It was the same choke-hold he used on you to the burning point. Later, you were close-fist punched by your father who swore if you ever came home with a hickey again he’d kill you. And explaining where you got the neck mark would just get you another one: your first catch 22; your axiom of defeat.
2. [I doubt my]
I doubt my father remembers the day I sat on the red Chevy Chevette and when the hood of the car bowed from my weight he snickered “fat cheeks” to the assistant coach of our softball team. Like striking a match against a box produces…I flee to the bathtub with three Hostess apple puff pastries, leaving crumbs, thin as filo floating in my wake. Later, my mother will clean the tub crumbs thinking I have leprosy because, water-logged, flake-pastry looks like skin.
3. [Where her glasses]
Where her glasses broke into her face when she fell after gulping down a Zoloft, Buspar, Valium and White Zinfandel cocktail gave her a shiner around her left eye which made her look tough, like she’d been in a street scrap and butchly held her own. Suicide is woosy the hallucinations said, “Get up,” tough like that Roman who chided Jesus the second time. “I’ll hate your guts if you do this,” in the same tone my sister used when she was about to be taken to the poor-sleep doctor for medical answers to the disease of middle child. “Wimp,” it said, and we’re pretty sure that was the one that did it because after him there was no one else.
The human being suffers from three major conditions: the state of being dared, the state of being embarrassed, and the state of loneliness. My mother drank her Franzia WhiteZin innocently enough, expecting no more than the lemon slice’s bitter residue and a tingling in her thighs. But, three glasses in and she began to cry, which conjured the devil, like it always does. He said “Fill the hollows.”
The best trick of boxed wine is the last glass. The silver bag can be removed from the box and squeezed like a cow’s udder, eking an additional glassful. In this final drink she dissolved just enough pills and swallowed. When her body stopped working she hit her glasses on the edge of the bathroom basin, cracked them into her cheek, cut the skin, and bruised instantly. No white lights. No silhouettes. No shit.
The mind, which we often consider the one part of our body truly under our control, now aware that her legs and arms were immoveable, took over, becoming the one who brings black coffee and slings you over its shoulder to pace in circles until the stupor wears off. Your best pal. The one who says they won’t hold anything against you, forget about it – and they mean it – but that you cannot help feeling stupid around hereafter. You might even find your eggy face never wanting to talk to them again.
When she woke up, her first inclination was to scour.
4. [Soul shoot skyward]
Soul shoot skyward my desire for another’s beauty. I will rig myself with a rubber band, like the propeller of a balsawood airplane, so I will zip farther, more easily. Keep me rising like the sun, consistently present, consistently pretty. Buy me magic beans and make me powerless to answer the mathematical equation of why value’s placed on certain things. Out of eyes topaz trimmed with Navy blue, who dilate like birth canals in reverse: take more in, let me see beautiful every day. Make a flyfisher out of me, then cast and recast this body in a perfect arc skyward. Place her lips against mine in a mimic of waves, the closest earthly thing we have to perpetuity.
( Wellfleet, Massachusetts )
David Hunter Sutherland, Two PoemsWhat I Was Called in Sleep
I wake in the debris of dreams, lamb
bones and cobalt bottles marked
with Victorian remedies, a scrap
of woven red cloth, shard of a dish.
Where do they come from, the dancers
who whirl in my brain like tops,
clockwise like water down a drain.
I remember the drum throbbing.
I almost remember the music
sung by snakes and willow trees,
I almost remember the name
they called me in that place of reeds.
Now I am cast on the stony
shingle of morning, bereft
dragging skeins of unraveling
meaning that dim like beached
jellyfish and diminish into
nothing but a little stickiness
in the back of my mind
as the day irons me flat.© 2002 Marge Piercy
( Hopewell Junction, New York )
Sharon Shahan, Two PoemsVocalese in Pinks and FleshIn sudden flight, as in anger, a silence like a specter’s
Neurosis has an absolute genius for malingering.—Marcel Proust
Hand is drawn over your cheeks then is gone.
But to where the arrow or hours fly is a matter
Of silence. The listless march of troops along counter,
The coup of an overflowing drape that spills its silk
Against lips then devours its spider.
And if we hold the room as space over mass, bend
A trite, the whole picture wobbles into view,
Down past a courtyard of painted ladies, whose
Geography meets sofa, snatches the bathroom’s light
Beneath skirt, then haunts of a Helen or Demeter
Gone mad. Here between capsule and grip, passion and pain
A bevy of monks whose shaved heads spin this way or that,
The precious Danes of a madam, whose toys primped
And propped, remain tame, true, loyal bitches.
To a Jonestown, vastly ours, as I beg to
Hold the cup down the long flicker of faces that wave
Like an ocean inflating eternity.
In The Pitch of Citrus
Yellows of sunlight and citrus and orange.
With a broken pendulum of a world's balance
And a light buffet of jaw to cheekbone,
She hints of a smile, a memory that thins out
To a scar of lips, sewn (in a fancy)
Or imagined as a dagger whose cutting
Sets your hands, hips, mouth in motion against
The horizon's curve.
And I breathe in her deep scents,
And you breathe through rope and chain
Which settle against your bell-shaped dress
And weave these colors that scowl towards
A misplaced tenderness that soften
Then casts it into bone.
( Eastern Shore Maryland )
[The day follows]
The day follows
and I am seconds from being immediate
seconds from disturbing
(the tender sore he left me
a scarf from Japan on Saturday)
I touch the broken hull
heavy wrists and shoulders
surging, an ocean calling the length
of my dress a wisp or strip of green
Because it matters articulate
the bent analogy or the color
under foot when the sky
has no sync and if time is an essence
its color is a gold sphere or mealy
lips shouting out waves
or mouthfuls of jellyfish seconds
from ordinary or perhaps a french
kiss with tongues like glass slivers
tumbling inside a kaleidoscope
every second hell bent
on pressing up against the next.
[Alex dies and I find out a year later]
Alex dies and I find out a year later
I'm imperfect; (breasts) bad skin, dopey emotives.
I have heroes Alex, but I don't talk about them.
This is how far removed I am—my bones
hold no traditions. I know almost nothing.
What do we hang from the tree of semilla besada
—what offerings to bring? Locks of our hair bundled
with sinew or dandelions strung together by their stems?
I remember a photograph—you and I jumping—eyes
closed, hands twined—into a blue, much deeper
than the vein in a maple leaf. Our mouths funneled
into the shape of adios (so long) It was easier
to translate the familiar: leche, punta, lover.
Say something on the other end
(with conviction). You drove a gold Monte Carlo
because you wanted to know your Chicano side.
(With conviction) I touched Susie at a party
because I wanted to know my feminine side.
Wind (abdomen) flower (pump). Our vision
of suicide; monochrome, deliberate and hazy.
Now years later a family gathers in the center
of your living room (without me) their mouths
ready to shapeshift—into mourning, into good-bye.
And I am so far from Ojai I've forgotten the color
of poppies. So far from Los Padres
that I worship the art of an onion—jealous
that a mountain is content to stay put—not pull
from gravity or tunnel from sound. I never
talk first time—old shoe. The kiss? Marco Polo
under the pier in Ventura, years before
in Sarazotti Park. I have heroes Alex and I know
in your past life you were a Spanish warrior
—perhaps now you're a red-tailed hawk.
Cheryl Dodds - Eye Music
I - Persephone in the Field
III - Are You Listening?
IV - Monologues for an Apocalypse
Ace Boggess - Abuse Cycle
Marty McConnell - girl on the tracks
Julie Bonaduce - The Company Of
Gary Whitehead - Tableaux
Alan Catlin - in the pitch of citrus
Spring Supplement 2002 Issue
Winter 2002 Issue