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II

The Dust of Worry

_________________________


Vicki Hudspith, Two Poems
( New York, New York )
Forensics

I 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 Places

This 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 )
Doppler

Back 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 Poem

Europe, 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.




Diana Woodcock
( Doha, Qatar )
Sparse

Sparks 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.




Peter Pereira, Three Poems
( Seattle, Washington )
Body Talk

While 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 Space

At 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 Push

Alone 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.




Evie Shockley, Two Poems
( Jersey City, New Jersey )
the history of my breasts

first 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 speaks

i 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 )



Jordan Stempleman
( Iowa City, Iowa )
"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




Nick Bruno
( Canada )
The Gathering

How 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

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Current Issue - Fall 2006
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