Laurel K. Dodge( Ohio )Marge Piercy, Three PoemsLines(for Jenni)What if the hummingbird does not hover and the sky is not cracked in half by lightning jags and the sunflower doesn’t bend over— you never suckled at your mother’s breast— and you open a broken umbrella even though the street’s not wet and glass bells sound the same whether rung or shattered, and the duck gives up its neck without so much as a flutter or quack, and the impact of a pin dropped on the floor is absorbed by the house’s silence. The ruby throat is not lured by your false nectar, the sky is not an eggshell, the sunflower is not calcium-deficient hag, and vodka is not water in the glass. You will turn on the gas. You will turn off the lamp. The flash will remind you of your grandfather wielding his camera Smile! he always demanded. The goddammit, implied, was never uttered. You will hear a buzz but the maggots can’t fly yet.
( Wellfleet, Massachusetts )Alan BrittOctober nor’easterLeaves rip from the trees still green as rain scuds off the ocean in broad grey scimitars of water hard as granite pebbles flung in my face. Sometimes my days are torn from the calendar, hardly touched and gone, like leaves too fresh still to fall littering sodden on the bricks. But I have had them – torrents of days. Who am I to complain they shorten? I used them hard, wore them out and down, grabbed at what chance offered. If I stand stripped and bare, my bones still shine like opals where love rubbed sweetly, hard, against them.Many, many lovesSo many things we can love: a man, a woman, a friend, a cat. We can love a sugar maple turning orange from the bottom up; we can love a weeping beech with its twisting arms, the lush tent branches make sweeping the ground. We can love a pond, a shore, a boat. We can love a painting, a flag, abstractions like honor and country. We can love icons and temples. A house, a yard, a woods, a path that leads us wandering toward the place we’d most like to be. Some can love a car – I never could – a book, a doll, a necklace or ring. Some can love family and some can’t. Some – the luckiest – can love themselves without narcissism just saying, well I am this, I could do better now and probably I will.Bread dreamsThe slow rise of the dough is a breast forming on a young girl, as if we were watching years ripen her body. The yeasty smell’s a bit like sex, a little like fruit. The seeds wink from dough the color of chocolate milk. The seeds are slender like black crescent moons but are many as stars. I bite down hard on a caraway to devour its sharp savor. I bury my hands in the dough and then slap it, bang it, divide it only to marry it to itself, punched down. Now I am folding it over and over. I imagine sleeping in warm dough. I imagine I’m kneaded into it to dream oh, soundly, sweetly, with seeds in my hair. I rise, I enlarge, I am four times what I was and ready to bake.( Reisterstown, Maryland )Aleah SatoIdea That Became a CreatureIs this about an idea that became a creature? Not exactly. But I thought… That’s well documented. Your theories have swirled like dust devils through the empty halls of academia for millennia. Now it’s time to place your brain in a hammock, a chrysalis if you like, but a swaying reality, nonetheless. And after you release your gaze from the largest hornets’ nest this side of these Mid-Atlantic states, we’ll visit a vivid yellow and black garden spider hovering in the breeze barely three nervous twitches from her two thousand and one quivering eggs.( Toronto, Canada )Robert PersonsVoicemailThis is not me. This is not faithless poison. This is not your arms around my plethora. This is not my aching. These are not your words on the receiver. This is not my ticking bomb, the eating out of someone's heart. This is not you or your god blinking through mutation. This is not white Christmas with me in your kitchen. This is me breaking the dishes. These are not greasy excuses. This is you in the doorway thinking about us bending into something ugly. This is me watching you enter and leave like a magician.( Madison, Wisconsin )T. E. Ballard, Three PoemsSkinsWhen the machinist leaves his instruments of measure and cuts in bronze, to cool in his cozy home, what do his machines begin to think? as they stand (how do they stand?) in a slinking relax of springs, grinding unmesh of gears, pop of warm metal skins in the cooling air? And what thinks the man, in his cozy home, of his muscles slunk before the TV tube, his breath unwound from grinding routine, fingers curled about a cool glass or a warm and yielding breast? Do they ever think, the man and his machine - in their hours freed from the business of living - of wasp skins, say, cracking like bones, or continents rippling like scales on the gilling fish? Sailors slicing like knives through the tapes that wrap their mistress, or astronauts erupting like slivers from the planet's gossamer sheath? Or have they thought even grander, of great telescopes from vacant light years away watching and puzzling out the mystery of our many skins cooling shrinking about our beers and bearings or squeezing on our pliant boobs?
( Minneapolis, Minnesota )Barbara A TaylorSeagullsSwoop down between carts at Kmart— eyes flashing. Even in the rows of corn in Iowa I’ve seen their white bodies rise like foam from a green sea. A lover once said she bought her house for this reason because even twenty miles out from the Atlantic, seagulls found her door. I knew nothing of corn. I knew nothing of the way it rattles with white birds. Answer the questions: How far to travel for the taste of salt? Do you carry the sea in your yellow beak? I have two loves one is day, one night--- What do I call you then? Wind moving the carts to their corral. One is a silver bird. One has mated with a crow.Birds Are Skimming The WindowI tell them this is not a good life choice even though the birds are sidestepping, glazing their right wing over the rhododendrons, their left on the glass. My daughter and I are putting together the skeleton of a sparrow, carefully we are trying to construct the impossible flight. Olivia says she wants to die first please don’t go before me. We are selfish in this act of loving. We are selfish in laying down bones. I want to tell her, I am older it is my right. I will open the window. The baby is sleeping and my sister’s son died blue. There are photographs in the morning paper of children without hands and I do not wonder how they eat or bathe but simply, how their mother explains what is lost will never return. Because my daughter wouldn't accept she’d say everything will come back. She has said this to the bird.Already The Dead Are Beginning To Speak Our NamesYou say wind, I say tree. The pit of a peach has no flesh. Yes, stone. There’s only one way to open a lid, the opposite of time. Travel the road of a clock, everything will tighten, nothing escapes. You say cold, I say prison. Together two hands form a bowl. Whisper your word here and my thumb will be the handle to your mouth. You say drink, I say now. The opposite of the fear is patience. A hand is not meant to be a cup, in the instrument of language it’s merely a tool for saying hello, goodbye.( Australia )Kelley J. WhitePerspectivesForget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair
—Kahlil GibranWe listen to Earth beat but our sounds skip to different rhythms. You look at this landscape but do not hear, do not feel or see the same. Like lava, sticky sap flows, oozes in treacle marbles from ancient lichen-covered limbs. Anurous skinks scurry. A small lace monitor makes scratchy sounds in streaks across silky-oak floors. Flocks of scarlet-headed finches flit in frenzied flecks of color. Green frog croaks like a distant didgeridoo; goanna races in rustling sprints up high-rise trees. Slender hooded orchids greet light, stretch tall in waving, shaking shadows—stirred, mottled perspectives. Yet, you say that you feel quite alone, unmoved by friendly calls of the crickets or cicadas.( Philadelphia, Pennsylvania )Oswald LeWinterDaedalusHis thoughts were ants seeking breadcrumbs. They carried nineteen times their weight: charcoal ashes, hot raindrops, crystalline sugar, and salt. Did they taste sunlight? In Buenos Aires Tupac strikes a match against this footsole. Girl, you will tie that knot tomorrow, its greasy ribbons, todos anos, bind the scepters of the forgotten— his memory’s a net. Signifying monkey, when will the spider forget? If he says it it must be true— bees need sea breeze, the jaguar’s pajamas, singe the hot iron of animosity, boil the wax face of truth. This nail recalls the whispers of childbirth. El condor pasa. They have threaded the chambered nautilus with wheat spun to gold.( Germany )G. F. DiazThe Dog Daysfor Tom ForstenzerThe limp trees and dried streambeds are common and require no comments. What lies heavily on our worries like leaden leaves the trees shed, is our inhuman condition, thinkers exhausted, armies bathed in sweat, lying about, among used beer cans and legislators mute as granite, their swollen tongues soldered to dry lips. The city gates are ajar! The desert outside shimmers below fumes rising from fried sediment. Ragged cavalry on scrawny geldings gallop the distance of the walls in ever- diminishing circles. Their mounts cast no shadows and throw no sprays of sand behind them. Should we fear these harbingers of flimsiness? We ourselves have nothing but rot in our silos, and can offer only the comradeship of hopeless want. Hunger huddles in the city’s doorways, illegal squatters from a future none of us envisions, in our stupor. If only an Apocalypse would descend from over the smudged clouds, a Deus Ex Machina, to proclaim a caesura, rain to change the vast desert back into the ocean it was before the climate avenged the rape of Nature by her mad sons. Against all wisdom and experience, instincts convince us to set stone on stone, to raise shelters for unborn children whose mothers will squeeze milk from dried breasts, and find clichés to chisel into the brow of mountains to warn the Epigoni that change is life.( Denver, Colorado )....to match the strut"In life, I am working my way up to owning a pair of red shoes" – The world will end: soon after, but not before the monks erase her initials off every sidewalk, bar, men's room, pool table, and church pew - Forever vanishing the tale of a woman immortalized by a pair of sling-backs.
II - The Dust of Worry
III - Windy Vowels, Consonant Doors
IV - To Carry Emptiness
Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus
Featured Poet - Robert Lietz
Current Issue - Fall 2006