Blaise Allen( Boca Raton, Florida )Jessicca VidrineRorschachIt’s an old story better told than I tell,
How artists shape what hurts like hell
—Dianne AckermanI wonder what my therapist Would say if I told him Every month I analyze rectangles Stained with bloody images Just like my grandmother taught Me to read tea leaves Just like a course in diagnostics Taught me to decipher ink blotches Each hour provides new data Morse code oracles Dot dash dot A crescent moon I’ll have many lovers A butterfly A meteor shower A semicolon I won’t have children A star Harbinger of good fortune A period( Louisiana )Patrick CarringtonDespedidaThe man I love is in the kitchen. It's dusk outside, clouds loom like plumes of red smoke above our house. He's swishing pots around in a sink of soapy water, hands hidden beneath pale white purls of suds. The pots clatter from the force of being put away, as sauce simmers on the stove, little red eddies pop, land on the ceramic surface, the backsplash, the floor. He throws his hands above his head in defeat – angry, he had to walk away from the television to scrub hardened rice from a pot. Just last night he touched me with those same hands – brushed my hair ran a finger down my arm connecting my freckles, there was a tenderness I didn't recognize. The last time we made love was in Tijuana, during the trip that was supposed to help us remember that we were in love. But it was hard to remember what love was when we were in that alley, my back against the brick, my legs around his waist, the backdrop of a mother's voice calling to her son, "Di la verdad."( Wildwood Crest, New Jersey )Sheema KalbasiThe Taste of Apples UndergroundIn winter, they fashion paradise in fancy wool. Multitudes make vows, horse-and-buggied in leather pews through the Eden of Central Park. Wait for evening white, innocent ones. Meet it there—where they look to liars, their blankets and their love, for warmth, for something to believe. The setting sun will show you truths they deny, how oaths are really taken in big cold cities. To know the frozen lowdown of this church you must descend, to prophets propped on corners, numb eyes upward with a distant grief, to apostles snoring in doorways, drooling penance, confessing weakness in white bursts, to women who men worship beneath the cross of their thighs. Legs are spread, hands are spread, knees are bruised, clouds of prayers dissipate in subway steam. Wait for night—and follow stained steps down to the echoes of dead faithful turning in their sleep. Descend, until you hear the scattered rattles of fallen angels, until you see souls scurry into tunnels chasing the sins of whispering snakes. Have they bled enough to forget the suffering, to long for it once more? Nothing captures religion better than temptation—it’s like the garden. There is a lure, a red offering, reminders you have teeth. And then a bite, a promise that even hell is temperate and green.( USA )Donald Illich, Two PoemsChristmas Evefor my daughterif Europeans’ torment was not my dark color if my girl was a year older And my husband had lighter skin if my kindness was not misread perhaps wordless in porous lines... Look! Look! What a lovely world! We can fly, feather for arms... Beautiful pearl, take your mamma’s hand And remember when nothing stops the cold Shout: Where is my fishing boots? I want to find the lighthouse.
( Rockville, Maryland )Melissa PetrakisMy HouseThe basement’s dirty laundry misses me. Crusty dishes stack themselves together, for comfort, while I read my books instead of piling them in the washer, the hot water cleansing their surfaces of sins, greasy meals only I can forgive. The TV, too, forgets what my eyes feel like in the evening, a voyeur its been accustomed to, showing flesh and bombs for the creepy man with thousand mile electronic binoculars. The microwave notices I cook my own food instead of inserting frozen meals. It cries to the toaster, which fears I’ll never eat blueberry waffles again. All of them want me to return, as I try to live inconveniently, not looking at the time it takes to boil eggs, neglecting networks for works of literature, writing so much I don’t have time for housework, making changes in my life’s compass, so east becomes west, and exploiters seeking a Northwest Passage to my soul find icy indifference, fiery desire. I know, though, the channel selector’s whisper, the Hungryman’s jolly call. "Let us do the driving, Don, don’t mind the crash on the other side of your life." I see my poems burning in the wreckage.CluesGuess what it is? Come on, try. It’s bigger than a breadbox but smaller than the universe. No? Not sure? It rhymes with “superfragilicious.” O.K., it actually rhymes with “tree.” Or maybe with “big, scary tree that eats children and lives outside their windows.” Still too hard for you? It’s an animal, vegetable, and mineral. And a robot. It’s been voted to the Senate since 1796, and it’s allergic to garlic, crosses, and charity. Another clue? A baby’s first word. A teenager’s second time. A divorcee’s third marriage. A lawyer’s fourth and final heart attack. A zombie’s fifth return from the grave. Ready to give up? Down pi letters, Sisyphus’ stone. Infinity across, the only sure way to determine if God exists. You must use a pen to finish this crossword. Sick of this? Your last conversation on earth. How you’re going to die. What you’ll think of, when. Giving up? One more try? Yes?( Melbourne, Australia )Eye ColourIf I were to change one thing it would be your eyes, he tells her. I’d make them green. No, he says. I love your Greek gaze; the way you look at me, so dark. And well enough is left alone. At this her irises expand.
Into the Light by Gerhardt Thompson
( Australia )Karyna McGlynn, Two Poems
( Ann Arbor, Michigan )Robert Klein EnglerJulyWhat July hasn’t fogged with a modicum of lemon powder where girls pull the foil from plastic cups warranting a quick huff, sour asphyxiation— add ice and stir vigorously? July with its thirty-one fingers jumping hiccups in succession, a gently flawed glissando. The boy who made you drop your cereal spoon rushing through breakfast that way— dark-mouthed mud god of the tire swing donning tan ankles of colored string, daring hand on your gravel knee— late July always ending this way, lowering itself over you in the rasp of lengthening childhood, forever presenting its chest— little thumbprints, burgeoning manhood loosened from a yellow t-shirt, like a crab to be broken.Kiss Goodnight-from the Sally Mann photo, 1988Just before you go to sleep all the silver shavings gather to slide through the bedroom’s large windy vein. They gather in dark crescents here, and broad magnetic icecaps there, shade everything with a sketcher’s ease, the most pronounced palm turning the page, the subtle black bear eye, the precious artifacts of a certain hour. We know this routine, this smell, jaw unlocking in safety, sheets pulled up and over the bodies, a long white summer tongue to fish the memory of infancy’s unconditional love from the mouth bidding brief departure.( Chicago and New Orleans )Steve TimmCrossroads at Grant ParkThe trees fan bare branches against the cold air of this late, March morning. Some say they are dead, others say they just sleep their old, arboreal sleep, and wait, the way saints wait, to later have their gowns of green unfold. Such mysteries appear to the solitary soul. Sunlight pulls up the tulips and hyacinths, or do they push like sores from down below? The flesh on my bones is as soft as yours, yet my motives were bent to father zero. I see you ahead, holding hands with the shade of love, counting coins of grief to measure what candle to burn. Like you, I held a comrade who's gone to earth. We worked hard, too, but nothing much remains of what we made. Some say our rest is just eternal night where dusty fingers scratch the lids of dust. Others marvel how the cold air turns bright, ready to be broken again. It is as easy today to carry emptiness as it is to carry light.( Wisconsin )Dianna Henning, Two PoemsThe 5000 Fingers of Dr. TIt says December. Yes the leaves are down where the grass is green where mowed and the creeping Charley or whatever it is is too. Illness like lameness is is despotic. Whether the grammar of that is gotten away with is too soon to tell since no one has seen it. Not even a chance. . The bridge young Nabeel told me about the righteous have to walk to get to Allah. As I recall it you’re already dead and still you go. But maybe it was alive. If you fell it was hell you did down into. Most of us feel that’s most of us. One thin ascending footpath and all around. Nabeel was so earnest I lost my patience even as I kept it sort of just enough saying I wouldn’t convert that night which was no problem—roughly—for him but he would just finish so I knew and he did. These beings here, the lame, the ones that walk on their own, the one who almost never any more. It says December. The greenness of the ground cover. The leaves dropped or gone camouflage to let the stars shine through. Illness, lameness; despots. If it did snow. If indeed identity were legitimate. I’m telling you, no, I’m saying to myself, humility is within reach. In letting go. Letting go of. Of of.
( California )DistanceDroplets plummet from the freshly watered planter hung underneath the roof’s eaves; oncoming night pregnant with silence, and only a hushed plop, plop of water speaks as it drips from the swollen pot, pearls of moisture eking between flush seams. Night comes on like a snake, devious in its side- winding efforts to shadow up trees, charcoaling what previously glowed distinct. Our pink geranium hangs mute in the window. The man who is my husband remains a mystery— he waters, rewinds the hose, a green tightening that writhes in his distant hands.RetrospectI would have, at one time, traded all my prize potatoes for some other good fortune – how quickly the starchy stars fade, sprout their oblique waste, one thing turned into another in a matter of minutes – –and who dare argue that an arrangement of potatoes in a bowl does not equal a vase filled with long stem roses? Deep inside the earth even the lowly worms understand their worth, how silence is the truancy of angels, luck a dark birthmark.
I - Kneaded
II - The Dust of Worry
III - Windy Vowels, Consonant Doors
Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus
Featured Poet - Robert Lietz
Current Issue - Fall 2006