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II

This Bend of Quiet

_________________________


Felino Soriano
( California )
Detached

Obtaining 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.




Rachel Lehrman
( London, England )
Unfenced


	_

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




Jon Ballard
( Mexico City, Mexico )
On the Bus

Thoroughly 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.    




Kenneth Pobo
( Pennsylvania )
Bend of Quiet

In 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. 




Amy Lemmon, Two Poems
( Astoria, New York )
“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 Hugheses
I must be hell to live with.
       —from Sylvia Plath’s Journal

What 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.




Laurel K. Dodge
( Ohio )
For 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.




Cheryl Snell
( Maryland )
Vein

She 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.




Collin Kelley, Two Poems
( Georgia )
New Car Smell

My 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.




Squelch

Breaker 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

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Current Issue - Fall 2008
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