( Eastern Shore Maryland )Ward KelleyThree Acts of Love In the Beginning: as it was told to me
His fingers do as they please in this landscape
—touching all sides; clavicle, belly, her hip.
It's true he has known her body since birth
—in the time before he was yet man or Heaven.
She offers her monarch tongue—her tit to his mouth (opens his sex
like an amulet). Oh but she does not forget how he killed
her other children. The ground heavy with her thoughts, the trees
rigid in their waiting and she calls upon time to avenge her.
When next Uranus comes to lie with her, he will bring the seed.
He sleeps through the long winter inside his mother's womb,
dreaming of nymphs, of furies, of Aphrodite rising from the ocean
—sea foam trailing the curve below his father's horizon.
Wind-swept boy, Gaea's little one—his mother croons, content
in her nature, separating her breath from the heavens. She curls
her plump body next to Uranus and waits for his neck to goose-flesh.
( Greencastle, Indiana )Melissa FondakowskiClothed
We should appear in each other's dreams,
but I would like them to be different ones.
You could dream about the time we found
ourselves in the brown river of time, and
perhaps I could appear as a great fish, intent
on taking you on my back, one brown leg on
each side of me, your tan breasts split by my fin.
While this occurs, I will dream a story about
a herd of wild horses. You are in the lead, your
mane waving crazily, your great eyes scanning
the horizon for an arroyo. I am galloping as
fast as I can, trying, trying, to reach your side.
When we awake, we find ourselves on different
continents, in entirely differently bodies, clothed.
( San Francisco, California )Kenneth WolmanThe Special
Week after week, my doctor holds her head
so close I feel her hair on my hair. She
whispers to my murky self, the sleeping girl
just before twisting and cracking my neck
which softens me, like a pillow
re-stuffed, or clothes fresh from the dryer,
and for some reason, this makes me listen
as if I am water, who fits itself to all
it does not know. I hear things
that don't make sounds:
the hazel eyes of the girl
who serves me coffee; the notion
you might want me — all resounding
within like a refrigerator
turning off. Before I know it
she's grown fingers through my skull,
her wishes becoming my wishes,
her hope a fecund vine creeping
through the folds
where rancor lives.
( Sea Bright, New Jersey )Lori WilliamsFifteen Measures of Sonya’s Voice
Sonya sings to Buddy the dog in the kitchen,
then walks the Esplanade at Sheepshead Bay
while her husband loses their money and his mind.
She tells me how she discovered her voice,
how once she was offered the reward of her vocation
by the Westminster Chorale.
Children may question why the sky is blue,
but not the world of choices.
In standing room, Sonya hears Slezak in Lohengrin.
The tenor has been chain-smoking since afternoon,
and smells of his drunken fornication
with an alto in the chorus.
But when he enters in his swan-drawn boat,
his armor shines.
Sonya becomes Leda, Slezak is her swan.
There are truths,
and then there are truths that surpass truth.
This is mythology.
Reality does not matter.
In the Brooklyn Academy on Fulton Street
Caruso in L’Elisir d’Amore sings
and spits blood into concealed handkerchiefs.
Sonya in standing room floats across the theater
in a bubble of pulmonary blood,
is lifted into the music, the elixir of love.
When Caruso sails for Naples to die in the sunlight,
Sonya works double shifts running a sewing machine.
One shift pays her share to the family,
one shift pays her voice teacher.
Sonya learns Saint-Sæn’s “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix.”
She tells me she used it to show off her voice,
and I can never listen to Samson et Dalila
without thinking of my aunt.
Even Jackie Wilson’s version, invoking Night,
begins to sound like Sonya.
Sonya falls in love.
When the Chorale beckons with its reward for sacrifice and duty,
she refuses, because the vigorous furrier
with diamond rings and brilliantined hair has come for her.
He floats in his own vision, of this lithe woman
singing to their children in the nursery of a house
he will never build for them.
And her father says “This is a substantial man.”
Sonya learns to sing in her chains,
clank them together like a child playing
in a nursery,
make something that sounds like music.
At night she comes home from the opera,
sits in the Sea Beach express and cries.
Her husband wanders the house,
their daughter tries to understand a loving ghost,
and so discovers God afloat
in her mother’s red bubble.
Her husband sinks money into Mafioso crooners
whose careers float face-down like unlucky loan sharks.
Their daughter grows to marry a rabbi from Long Island,
covers her head, comes to visit on Sundays
bringing bagels, her children, and condescension.
Sitting across from me, sipping her tea,
her tale told, Sonya sings sotto voce
“Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix”
and her heart opens to the sound she remembered,
self-seduced by the memory
of the parallel universe of dreams.
Starwoman by Jena Cardwell
( Los Angeles, California )
( New York, New York )Tim SuermondtBack
I remember the tearing heat, release of ache, spinal labor oh it split bone and gut, but joy blood gush under shaking thighs (spread big) in supplication. Always down there some man poring over a thesaurus for another way to say cunt. Shallow perturbed breaths were for everyone else. I screamed until my vocal chords popped out with him. Both were red, homely, shriveled ends of me by then. So many couples try and try— temperatures, tubes and trips to Asia. Had I known, I might have paid them. He'd be on the honor roll now but no, his father is illiterate, a caricature of beer bellied ne'er do-wells and the apple tree is firmly rooted. A fact. And I haven't stopped screaming. Things grow. Back. But never far enough.
( Jamaica, New York )Paul LomaxWisdom When You Need It
My father had this notion
that “the best person to borrow from
is the person who has little.”
So, like a dutiful son,
I knock on the door
of this beautiful woman
I know has been unemployed for months,
the woman I ask
if I might borrow her love.
Tightening her robe and brushing
blond hair out of her face
she says: “Are you the crazy poet
everybody’s warned me about?”
I boldly admit I am
and she tells me to come right in.
“Well now, I’ll put my hands
on your shoulders and you
put your hands on my hips
and let’s bump and grind.”
As we sway through her apartment
she apologizes “for the mess,” swears
to have it cleaned up by Friday,
says she’s been preoccupied with a long,
rambling letter “from my Ex
who’s somewhere in Mexico, drunk,
hopeless as ever.”
Scraping along the walls to the bedroom
We half glide, half fall on her bed.
“One cup or two is all I want,”
I say, “Whatever you can spare.”
She stands, takes off her robe
and hands it to me
unblushing in her nakedness,
telling me “Whatever I can give
is damn sure yours.”
I can’t help but think of
Casanova’s Big Night
Children of Paradise,
and my father in his later loneliness,
wishing he could be here to grab a peek,
see for himself how right he was.
( Duluth, Georgia )Although Short and Sensitive
Although short and sensitive, we dick in the bowl of sapphire memories.
Wormwood songs. Of blood boiling over like coagulated orchids waiting
with feckless lips for our proboscis to sticky lick its solar sweet
and pollinate beyond.
Although short and sensitive, we stand six feet down a gargling trachea
spitting earth wind and broken fire like Vulcan petals pulsing in hourglass
Don’t speak to us about our Nicki Hill gyri. Guilelessly worn like
therapeutic togas storming down sharp and slow-wave catwalks. No
revelations about sacred diseases Julius Caesar, Dostoevski, Mozart,
Napoleon, Socrates paraded as complex-partial shells. Instead, we ask
that you speak to us about astrocytic salt – Betty, Black Beauty, Delilah,
Mary Jane, cocaine, crack, horse, Long Islands, meth, opium – shaking
young girls up and out from Purple Haze gardens flitting with need-me
throbs.Although short and sensitive, we flicker and salivate tar and nicotineO Doctor, have you fallen on your caduceus?
bends like blips of Nascars cresting. Nearly immured. Possibly halved.
Nonetheless, a vanilla timbre of halcyon plays. And in the haplessness
of it all, we awake as one propositus of hillocks sailing aboard a bed
wetting dream. Dripping. Drooling. Drowning.And although flowers from the dawn now speak with brain fumingWhere is Oz?
postcards – panting, pouting, wasting, whining - we still hear Billie
Holiday songs wailing from our yellow brick heaven. Flawlessly.
Listening. Cursing the silence declined.
Everywhere a new song begins before the last one ends.
I - Old Dance, New Paint
II - A Most Inconvenient Appetite
IV - At the World's Well
Featured Poet - E. Ethelbert Miller
Credo - Tim Scannell
A Review - Nell Maiden
Summer 2002 Issue