Cathryn Shea( Mill Valley, California )Susan Terris, Three PoemsGreen IntermentMy ash may not be as fine as I’d hoped. The bay fills up with sediment from loved ones cremated. As I speak: kerplunk! Scattering at sea just became un-green. Burial in terra firma is out. Wouldn’t be green. Can’t donate every last part of me, something’s always left to dispose of. My revised will: She requests to be fed to the hogs... But I can’t disappoint my funeral seekers— A new enterprise springs forth: fake caskets to remain empty, gilt like the real thing, an array of shades, varnished papier-mâché. That truly degrades.
( California )Steve Meador, Two PoemsFly PaperSticky yellowish stuff meant to trap house flies. When my father’s swatter couldn’t murder enough, we’d hang the twisted paper from the kitchen light where I’d watch the pests, glued by one wing, shriveling as their many-eyed buzzing lives ebbed away. To catch a fly with bare hands, I learned, poise them above and clap as it rises—the only way a fly can take off— straight up. Splat! A more humane death? Perhaps. . . .Laundry ChuteMy cousin MG and I often threatened— in jest—to slide my baby sister down; but we never did. Nor did we try it. Two floors through space to the white wooden cage in the cellar seemed unwise, even to feral spirits like ours. But we used it to play a private game. Dirty laundry carried upstairs by MG and dropped again down the chute to cover me lying in the cage. Then she’d sprint to the cellar and rattle the bars until I rose up, a howling white phantom from beneath a mound of soiled sheets and underwear that smelled oddly sweet like my father’s skin, like my mother’s, like my father and mother together.VictrolaBefore I could read, I owned one, owned Tubby the Tuba, too, plus other sets of children’s purple-labeled records. My Victrola had a turntable, a mechanical arm that pinched a gold-tipped needle and played dinner- plate sized black records. Later, obsessed by Margot Fonteyn, I spun Blue Danube records, made the Hillside house rattle with arabesques and tour jetés; but back then I just wanted to kill the sound of Black Sambo. Each time a Sambo platter would— pre-literate, remember—start to play, I’d take it and break it. Not yet alert to political-correctness, I broke records, because I feared the tigers’ buttery roars, preferred, you see, Tubby or the deeply-scratched Songs of Safety, though the needle stuck when it hit the “Train Song”: Stay away from the rrrrrrrrrrr... ... away from the rrrrrrrrr... ... away from the rrrrrrrrr....
( Florida )J. Alan NelsonMuse at the MesaThe autumn sky harbors no nimbus, but rains beautiful words, and pushes mares’ tails past winter’s cold into the folly of spring's galloping winds. Stallions are grazing late summer grass.IlluminationMy neighbor hangs out Christmas lights, tacking strands along the eaves. This year he also strings the sides and back, hovering above his domain on a wooden ladder. His wife has cancer, breast, then brain, now bone. The worst has saved its best till last and wrapped a black wreath around their home. The staple gun clickitaclucks another cell from their lives. His thoughts scatter across gray shingles, drip onto the bright icicles he hopes will burn away evil. Next year he’ll string lights solely for the season.( Waco, Texas )Deborah VatcherActs Become MemoryThis brutal law of nature is known as an inverse-square law. The force of attraction between two objects depends on their two masses multiplied together, divided by the square of the distance between them. Two you can calculate, such as my wrecked mind leap-frogging forwards and backwards across the decades, my calendar and the woman in Paris, or my ticket, invalidated, and the woman’s cat lying in her lap, unaware of me, and content. Three, however, bring too much uncertainty. Three become Wilde’s Art for Art’s sake, because logic’s sake cannot predict I continually suffer from that time long ago, that clamps its static locale around this variable present, desperate that I am who I was then.( Massachusetts )Kevin CarrierBurn Outare you asking a question, or telling a story
she was impatient to know
I didn’t even knowthe ceiling lined by blood vessels of conduit and cables the circulation of powered electricity heating air conditioning what ever breathed life into the dome ran under the bone of the roof red pipes for hot blue for cold silver for pulsing volts white for air huffing blowing what sparked in the room under that arched ceiling exposed like a first-year anatomy lesson with no scalp to cover when combustion ate its way through the oxygen I was near the door but she was confused in the spark and flame and there was only bone left to identify as I held her skeleton in my arms and fixed a button see what you’re doing she said you a doctor where are your eyes( Bluff City, Tennessee )C S ReidRemnants in the DustI asked the girl If the soldiers Had ever marched Outside her windows As they had mine She never answered me Caught up in a dream A product of sunny childhood no doubt One I'd never known She came out long enough To tell me How she had taken advantage of the poets And how she had summoned the countrymen to meet To invade the city And the livestock will dance to harp music And look after the children And the children would look through their bedroom keyholes To find the moon behind their eyes And the earth on their feet She told me of a frozen A-frame house With snakes in the gutters And a lion in the window And of an empty spacesuit Floating past Mars For gravity had forgotten to kiss it goodnight She fell asleep in her father’s arms I felt the boulders Pinning my heels to the sky And my words – I spoke in an order Though not one that I’d prefer Then I felt a pinch in my stomach “No, he’s only a boy!” Cried my friend the baker as he ran to me Though I was older than most men( Los Angeles, California )Brooklyn CopelandPatterns
(Toucans in the wild)A shriek simulates a throng of wolves, cawing deliberate at the moon. Bloated underbelly─ breathing distorts the contours of shape. Tart pulp smears the mile of keratin, razored bill severs a dangling tendril snapping back at the loss of weight. Formidable muscle mimicking the silhouette of a plume. Resinous porthole─ celestial position magnifies the shrubbery unfolding: slanted pockets of green. A flock hidden amidst foliage.( Faroe Islands )Robert E. WoodMiss Tornado AlleyShe cuts a winsome figure in jeans and a Confederate print bandana headband: an hourglass along the green stalks, benign but for the hail. The Styrofoam hail, pellets too sharp to feel cold, marbling her trail. Brassy braided ponytail, and a gold chain hot and knotted within her cleavage. Wrists bleeding, she cuts through the stalks and I realize she’s just posing, and the crops are just props, and the hail too cold, and the chain is just blind leading.( Roswell, Georgia )Tammy Ho Lai-mingHyde on JekyllBreasts like twin fawns, sings Solomon. Jekyll reaches for his stethoscope evading the panopticon of Spring that finds me underneath his skin that sees his hands clenched against my heart’s arousal. Scotland is no excuse for lack of candor. Isn’t an impenetrable dialect cloak enough for what despite a winter like cold steel against the flesh arises green within us with the thaw? The doctor hoards his antidotes and dreams of lilies for the hearse. I am awake. Make haste. Desire is stronger than death.( Hong Kong, China )I Lay Curled on the SofaSunday morning, I lay half asleep, curled on the sofa. She broke eggs into the biggest bowl that we had had for years, saving the yolks for a dish she had not long ago invented. Violent stirring ensued. She called me ugly. The words were distinctive, despite the mixture of noises from the kitchen. The coffee maker burped helplessly, as if in an epileptic fit. The fan. Somewhere, outside, a football must have hit something. She said I was like a flat-faced frog when I declined to respond. She said there were two screens between us, even on the good days: the television, my laptop. Then the stirring stopped. I pretended my mother hadn’t been talking, as I lay curled on the sofa, half awake.
I - Into the Shelter of Dark Caves
II - This Bend of Quiet
IV - The Loose Connections
Review: Desi Di Nardo
Featured Poet - Melissa Buckheit
Current Issue - Fall 2008