Vicki Hudspith, Two Poems
( New York, New York )ForensicsI leave my DNA everywhere A single hair drifts off my shoulder To be left on a chair in the dentistís office Later today, if the dentist is murdered Will that be an incriminating strand? Or the Chock Full Oí Nuts paper coffee cup Which I left on the Myrtle Avenue subway platform After I put it down to get my headphones out The cupís edge was saturated in chap stick prints Years from now will litterers be caught this way? Like now, you get a photo of yourself speeding through a red light Then, will you receive your dirty cup in the mail with a $100. ticket? What about the water bottle I left on the seat of the J train? The kiss I left on your cheek? The card of mine loaded with fingerprints You put in your back pocket? What if something happens to you? When we shook hands, I left a few cells against your palm And donít even try to sweep the sheets clear of my genetics! The rebate form I mailed in and licked the envelope. The dental floss I dropped in the elevator. Iím a DNA crime wave! A cell dropping pig! I admit it. The hand I rested on the escalator at 59th Street and Lexington Because I was too tired to vault up the stairs. The keys you dropped and I picked up for you. The hair I brushed away from your face and which stuck to my hand So I could whisper to you during someoneís poetry reading The cd I handed you. The pen I lent you and you kept for a week, Chewed on the top, then gave back, loaded with your DNA. My lipstick, toothbrush, hairbrush, ring, bracelet and Bras of course, not to mention underwear. The left side of your neck where we hugged and said hello. The poems I sent for publication The mixed product they came back as. The hand print on the wall where I leaned As I listened to your break up story. Notes, birthday cards, announcements of momentary happiness. When you tried on my watch and it pinched you The gum I threw at a garbage can on Canal Street Only to watch it roll across the street loaded with DNA rich saliva Carried away on the tire of a giant SUV to New Jersey. These are my little droppings, my world gifts The mementos of me, the secret pleasure you knew nothing of The fragrance of crimes past and my future indictments.Falling in Love in Public PlacesThis morning Before the train even arrived I fell in love With a blonde in a khaki business suit and ponytail A brother with the longest, nicest dreads And a messenger with amazing calves Carrying his bike on his shoulder It was so hot down there In the station I was dripping with sweat Everyone got into different cars Lucky thing the train was air conditioned So I could cool down.
Alert by Gerhardt Thompson
( Australia )Will Roby, Two Poems
( Texas )Diana WoodcockDopplerBack here, where the power lines make waves, I am taking a break from blinding myself on clouds. I have heard my colleagues who suggest it is possible to find the entire alphabet there, 10,000 feet above the airplanes. Some things I miss after all these years: using a pay phone, visiting the butcher to fetch bones for my god. Everything has died. Skywriting is so rare as to be religious. This age I'm at, the thin black mortar of a firehouse, the freezing cough at the end of a meow Ė everything becomes impermanent in the hazy hangover of weather prediction. But what a profession; not professor or doctor but the hush-marked church gossip of WEATHERMAN. An art, you know, and many would refuse but give me coffee, give me dew points, give me any color suit but green and I will teach you the bend of a perfect line. When you are the poet and you are forced to write the first line, you give it a go with your cold fingers reaching in toward the lined paper and your eyes numb with prozac or whatever; now suppose you are the artist and someone has purchased your supplies for you Ė the doppler, the green screen, the mid-range haircut. Suppose someone is there, and teaching you and they have set it all up neatly; suppose someone has posed the model; would any one of you be brave enough to brush a blip? This is what the poet is up against, this is the work of weathermen. And I am positive there are forces at work on the cello. Oh sure, for some people it is firecrackers or Nietzche but I am a simple weatherman who sits in the still-warm lump reading poems. Who considers purchasing a magazine containing poems; who swallows whole the slave trade poison coffee; who reads aloud but cannot get at poetry; so I am writing this to leave under your pillow and I'm considering including details of the weather; how the wind is making leaves learn languages, how rain is forming at the peaks of the roofs, and how this rain is freezing and turning everything blue.Your Basic, Antiseptic Travel Breakup PoemEurope, barefoot, backpacks, that whole dig and then one bottle of wine goes poorly. Home: a west wind winding quirkily behind a news truck gathering the facts behind a blight of hail, a cool cutting rain; all this behind the plain name of a storm. Underneath a sagging wet umbrella your face fills the square mouth of a camera and traveling this many miles the art is all that's missing. On the tipping train sleeping side by side in the dark you mistake me for a knife rack; we can hardly walk together like two old drunks nearly knocking down a tower. Or two pool balls all a mess along the table; such a universe impossible Ė what games we globes are forced into! An arc, a digit, a compass, a sextant. And all you can talk about is the flight home. America. The air there. Your conditioner snug in a crystal packet, your hair the color of fences streaking up Kentucky's tobacco farms, that quick American fix, that boredom-innocent alarmingly cheap and forensic bit of whatever. Your eyes go up one half a notch and back the same, and back again, and when your hands meet Ė a basket of broken glass or a bag of burning hair. That sudden, large-eyed stare.( Doha, Qatar )Peter Pereira, Three PoemsSparseSparks scattered in the ground, the seed begins its journey. The dew grows cold while the Hunter's Moon stalks fallow fields, rotting gourds. Beside it, solitary Fomalhaut shines. Gates between the realms of life and death swing open. Today a sleepy orange, last sulphur of the season, dartles between three lingering lantana blossoms on the wood edgeómy days just as numbered. Titmice and blue jays squabble at the birdbath as the one cloud in the sky becomes the baby wrapped in white, floating down Lhasa's river toward her burial. Unable to turn away that day years ago, I chose to stay and watch the white bundle diminish to a mere speck, then vanish. On the riverbank, homeless peasants and pilgrims with their yaks meandered among tents and cooking fires, their children playing games as the corpse passed by. Too old for water burials, they all would be given the sky. In the east before dawn, Venus and elusive Mercury side by side. I am a seed, a spark, a speck.
( Seattle, Washington )Evie Shockley, Two PoemsBody TalkWhile the ear may hear what the head heard, lips can slip or lisp. Wrists will twist or twirl while the hand writes the wriest writs ó lamps-lit palms opening to psalms. But when the spine is supine and the penis ripens, the mind neither snipes nor opines. Inside the headís a shade minding its own brainy binary ways. Its nervy image of a mouth will hum to itself. With no I inside, merely a barn housing bran. * Do you hear how the scalp claps? How the heart contains the earth, yet can sometimes be a hater? How saliva is lava, when testicles sit elect for their slice test. Do knees need to kneel? Do toes toe or tow the line? Are hands made to handle our fingersí fringes? The veins vines climb. It takes guts to tug at the pancreasí pear cans, the pinealís spaniel, the liverís silver sliver. Arms and legs almost a gnarled mess, foot & ankle asleep in their fetal nook, the shoulder a holder of us. * Iím tangles, my ligaments are out of alignment! Be gentle with my genitals, theyíre not made of gelatin. They give me a tingle when I tango, with its angle all aglisten. Look ó his eyelids hid lies, yes. The prostate a protest, a tart pose, Ďcos umbilicus makes a bilious music. Keep your elbow below your bowel. Our bone marrow a maroon brew, like a warm robe on. Remember hips are the ship of the pelvisí lives. A breast can be a star. Ovaries make a via eros, or so I rave. But itís the uterus contains the true us.Dennis Tito in SpaceAt first it was marvelous ó how he floated weightless as a soap bubble, turning somersaults in mid-air, munching space rations with the cosmonauts, gazing out the porthole to heavenly scenery. But after a couple days it started to get cold. Confining. Caged like a fly inside a giant tin can thousands of miles from anywhere. Sickened by the stale cockpit air and the endless static of earthís radio transmissions. Amid the boredom of another orbit, the occasional ping of the shifting fuselage, his face gone puffy minus the pull of gravity, legs weak from nothing solid to push against, he wondered why heíd done it. Oh how he wanted to step outside the spacecraft then, feel the great void envelop him. A great buzzing in his head as he drifted alone into space. Like a bee drunk with honey, asleep on the last blue poppy.The PushAlone in ER 4, curtain pulled, Iím suturing the head lac of another drunk whoís cussing at me and the world, the reek of his breath penetrating even the fenestrated drape, my mask. I ask him nicely to please hold still sir so I can clean the wound, inject the lidocaine, please hold still sir, donít touch that itís sterile, even through the four-point restraints heís thrashing, damn I have to reglove now, hold still, please keep your head on the pillow sir, doesnít he understand Iím trying to help? Itís late, Iím tired, and thereís three more to see after him, damn it, hold still! And then that moment ó where I grasp his shoulders perhaps a little too firmly, rip the drape from his face so he can see me: Iím not going to say this one more time. Do you understand? And even through his drunken stupor he understands. I know he understands. The ugly part of this relationship. This potential to do harm. And he laughs, almost mocking. And lets me continue.
( Jersey City, New Jersey )Jordan Stemplemanthe history of my breastsfirst spotted in my motherís kitchen sink, just above the water, glistening like wet earth against the turquoise enamel, a single chubby fold not far beneath my lower lip, in a similar pout. * they melted back into my chest for years, then condescended to peak out again, little horizontal rockies no boy would soon scale. * shunning underwire, they asserted independence, but were unable to hold the attention of a strapless dress. * frosty were the windows, warm was his tongue. * folded again last year, pressed into wedges like cheese, for photos. a needle drew a question mark on the leftóthe right was left out. * you brush from them the dust of worry with unmedical thumbs and lick them until they glisten again like new.prohibition: the call girl speaksi have been the trader and the trade. i know my business: to track this fast traffic as it circulates, on foot, by plane, train, and auto (always hand to hand); not to get distracted by the signs, the wires, the guns, or the crooks (whether outlaw or above it), and certainly not by the damn liquor. i keep my right eye on the money. ( after thomas hart bentonís bootleggers, 1927 )( Iowa City, Iowa )Nick Bruno"Untitled"the details from what's lost then the enormous explanation at the point from what seems to sound of the urgent ring the available stretch towards the liable the innocent and remembered faint forms for what seems fixed to remain certain and told and older by the revived stays that no longer announce what isnít for now( Canada )The GatheringHow quickly the mind turns from antechamber to attic, cluttered with boxes of must- filled memories of life that cannot be expunged by that scythed mannequin which at first appears Ė the figure of a scarecrow in an open field with no sky. Open the cartons in search of the picture of my mother doubled over with a group of paesani I do not recognize Ė figures bent like in a Millet painting by the train tracks picking dandelion greens before they flower Ė a side-dish of my mother curtsying to her youth Ė now unable to toss a crumpled napkin across to me even if her life depended on it.
I - Kneaded
III - Windy Vowels, Consonant Doors
IV - To Carry Emptiness
Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus
Featured Poet - Robert Lietz
Current Issue - Fall 2006