Felino Soriano( California )Rachel LehrmanDetachedObtaining the destiny within the clarity of a found empty glass explicates a wisdom unfounded, floating amid the neoteric laughter of popular culture's sacred mode of twirling, slipping deities located atop hills donning illuminated smiles, egocentric entities across the facets of forgotten faces. The destiny of an empty glass exposed to the willing visionary expands the intellect into horizonal farness, where the thinker rests a multitude of outlined diversity, remaining amid the imaginative, antithetical to à la mode repeaters of muffled quotations.( London, England )Jon BallardUnfenced_ the house of god reverberates with the sounds of men rocking, chanting sunlight through the skylight the absence of nakedness, awareness of which is a pretext for sin we bow with our hands on our knees but only to each other the silence of wood in these hands— an altar I offer my youth but the sacrifice must be wished for _ what we thought was a landscape is a portrait eyes like mountains rising up out of fog an elongated birch— both a nose and the angular side of a face always looking towards us and away we rise from our knees, emptied palm against palm, cloaked to protect the skin in this light that is too plenty _ in our innocence, laughter my head the temple that we pray in my head on your arm I wake to you without direction without speech particles of dust float in the light always, maybe, or never to be the one hope that is everybody’s _ we set out on a whim hiding the sun— sheets of rock once subterranean the soil now serpentine anathema to the oak and forb that would live there for rebirth, a mantra: keep going we let our wounds bleed to cleanse them trails of piss and blood, a hoodoo around which, all possible imprints of a body— perhaps our own and onward something we have not yet learned the name of _ this is adam slipping through the window savage in his nakedness our bodies dying all around us our bodies on fire savasana —corpse pose— only the even rise and fall of the lungs, starlight, and then— the complete absence against which we exist _ here in this solitude I am not _ not even the sound of my breath _ (silence) a meditation: we draw up from the base of the spine opening the sacrum fingernails now at the tips of the fingers the absence of fear desert rocks burn in the afterglow of the sun the hum of a faraway highway right again becomes left the circle unbroken, the tempo now— the combined rhythm of my heart and your heart incarnate _ 400 meters into the sea darkness, a sunset— and then, regeneration: the arm emerges from the socket, raw vacuous acceleration through space our true names a constellation _ as when flame bursts into being one day I woke from a prayer( Mexico City, Mexico )Kenneth PoboOn the BusThoroughly these elements Sometimes rattle you: scalded Stars, pulp of history, the wind The trees enthrone with crows. Fear obsesses into a sort Of nobility (as in foxholes Or pulpits), but you are only Riding the bus from one stop To another, ticket-less, briefcase Full of homemade shivs. Mean- While, the whore sitting across From you smiles provincially, her Summer dress an armory of wiles, Blue-obscene eyes, fearless appetite.
( Pennsylvania )Amy Lemmon, Two PoemsBend of QuietIn the morning, a scorcher ahead, Stan still asleep, the cats play hockey with pens and 45 spindles— I’d better water. The hose lacks a snake’s stealth and surprise. Spray covers impatiens in orange leotards. Heat wraps sunflowers in a coat, yet they stand fierce. In this bend of quiet, no cars, the road already too warm for bare feet. A coral tigridia unveils her spots. A pink and white hibiscus shows her face between a culver’s root’s white spires.
( Astoria, New York )Laurel K. Dodge“The feel of your mouth on my neck—”There were so many notes, phone calls, jokes between us. After we stopped sleeping together I started to curse the downward slope of your mouth. When I saw you again, two years later, somebody had gotten you a decent haircut. When I met her, I’d gained ten pounds since I stood in your room, a morning nude, and took on a darker significance— as when you’re wakened in the night by a thunderstorm and lie in a panic until you remember that it happens all the time.Dinner with the HughesesI must be hell to live with.
—from Sylvia Plath’s JournalWhat meals these journals make! Each dinnertime, I dip into the portions of her life— her words a bilious side-dish to my pasta. Born the year she died, now I’m the woman who feels the smother of a dark scrim hiding her brilliant, too-infrequent states of grace. I wonder if you’d find me “hell to live with,” or if you’d want to live with me at all. Reading her talk of love—“I want a god”— I see my search for you. The edges blur. We star as them: you play the bearish Brit, I the shrill and shining suicide. Somehow, I force myself to shut the book, let her disease, her god Ted’s waning valor retreat from three dimensions back to two. The plot’s just plain old us. You’ll never be my own, entire. A name burns to a crystal— the heroine you’ve lost but just can’t quit.( Ohio )Cheryl SnellFor the One who Loved too Much
(from the one who didn’t)When I find my voice finally, my throat will be scalded from inhaling hot water, my mouth charred from exhaling flames. My feathers, already black, will be damp and singed. What are they good for now, these wings? What were they ever good for? After the silence— the ocean stopped turning itself inside out; my heart refrained from beating— the howling will be a refreshing change. So my neighbors will think I’m crazy. I’ll pull out all my hair and fling the curls in the air for the birds to build better nests than I could ever create. I’ll hop around the yard and flap my dumb limbs howling until I’m whispering. Clear as the moon, you’ll hear me chant your name: Icarus, Icarus, Icarus.( Maryland )Collin Kelley, Two PoemsVeinShe draws brush across canvas. Her eyes go to her hand, which is shaking slightly. The image takes shape anyway, rising by layers out of surrounding space. Is it the hand that creates it, or the eye that gives it life? What’s buried beneath: alizarin, vermillion, cadmium red wings beating everywhere at once.
( Georgia )New Car SmellMy first memory of riding in a car was in my father’s 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, sandwiched between him and my mother on the vinyl bench, before the law required belts and backseat banishment. I would pick at the yellow foam bursting from the jagged crack between my legs, my father swearing he’d fix it, my mother rolling her eyes. One day I found him in the carport, on his knees in Bermuda shorts beside the open passenger door of his beloved Belvedere, the first new car he’d ever owned, shiny white, red tail lights, mixing up a can of vinyl repair, hot and gooey like licorice. He spread the mess over the tear, smoothed it like cake icing, cursed under his breath, this shit won’t work. I used to run my fingers over the raised skin of this home remedy, differentiating texture where the old vinyl and new met, slowly picking at it, making little crumbs, being told to quit over and over again, but by then other cracks were appearing. Before my father became frail, before dialysis and blindness, he sold the car, no room in the driveway, my mother’s consolation gunboat taking up too much space. He stuffed the $300 into his pocket without counting it, watched some redneck haul it away, a carcass, a faded memory of time before me, when a new car, my young mother sitting pretty at the drive-in made him king. My father bought a new truck, we sat in the cab, admiring bells and whistles, I told him new car smell is one of the best scents in the world. He shook his head, It’s not the same.SquelchBreaker one nine, breaker one nine, 40 channels and everyone’s on, staccato slang for speed traps, Smokey and greasy spoons, but in 1977 lust came to call. Blame it on Burt and Sally, sexy souped up Trans-Am, illegal beer, thrill of the hunt, hot plastic cupped in hand, lips pressed close, and I can still hear my mother, code name Foxy Lady, whispery voice calling from house to car, my father, Plumber Man, thumb crisply clicking, ten-four. We let the devil in that day, antenna rising like white flag over boondock house, my mother’s new addiction, black box magic glowing on kitchen counter, hotter than any stove, her universe reduced to meters, huddled in a chair, castaway finally connected to civilization, her static and crackle louder than my father, extraneous noise dialed out in the squelch. We would lose meals and time in channel hopping void, disembodied voices fading in and out of our lives, except one, Desperado, whose voice sent meter into red, my mother into glittery jittery glee, her call and response like Marilyn singing Happy Birthday everyday to dead presidents, until my father’s head snapped back one night, catching their rock n’ roll hoochie coo, smashing microphone into linoleum, but by then a strange Camaro was cruising our twenty and mom was wearing lipstick again.
I - Into the Shelter of Dark Caves
III - Silhouette of a Plume
IV - The Loose Connections
Review: Desi Di Nardo
Featured Poet - Melissa Buckheit
Current Issue - Fall 2008