Dennis Mahagin( Washington )Dante At The Foot LockerImagine— my time going off as the corkscrew tail of a tibia splinter, or limp, half cocked as Ben Hur sandal straps driving me to steal shoes off the Goodwill rack, though I do give my current pair back, always, soft moccasins with chewed buckskin laces in place of new, but then again ... not so new Hush Puppies, or stylish jet-black Skechers Leather Uppers. And even though they hurt me a bit, beginning a block past the store, a part of me says, "they'll feel more or less like mine, with time..." and in the same breath: "why not make this caper the last time?" Outside, it's always autumn, and then again not, serpentine columns of steam pour off the Couch street junipers. I shiver, I sweat, I shuck my leather jacket that still reeks of cigarettes, years after I've quit. My time you see, blows this way, exactly hot and cold enough to press the luck at an upcoming intersection, in full view of a cop cruiser, I bang the big silver crosswalk button with my good foot, vicious Ninja front kick, quashing the flashing halt palm, the Do Not Walk with my heel-to-toe, where all nerve ganglia go; halfway between what must be paid for, and getting off scot-free as Lazarus at Lent, at bus stops, incipient critical juncture spiked with paving tar stench and cement mixer racket, where every hobbler must become an instant cobbler lending jackets. It's how we put one in front of the other, steps we take as so many liberties, Mind calls out Body, says "Try to keep in time? Since you’re not a half bad good fellow, in lieu of distance, and wince: these walking blues..." Oh, I might kneel down yet, loosening the laces so as not to trip; muttering turn-around phrases ... novenas that make leather tongues slip;-- these shoes do get me 'round, they will grow on you, too.
untitled by Mary HillierPris Campbell (poem) / Mary Hillier (art)( West Palm Beach, Florida / Lafayette, Louisiana )Bob BradshawGhost WalkSometimes, when the sun hurls itself over the horizon and rain paints my yard green, you walk through my den wall. Your touch is a flutter of silk. Shadows fill the holes in your head stolen by cancer. Sadness creeps, becomes armor cloaking me. It blocks out the dancing barbies. In the kitchen my husband steams turkey with rice. Soon I will lift fork to mouth, armor clink chasing your ghost away.( California )Ann WaltersMaintaining ControlI watched as my hands fumbled for her buttons when they should have sat politely in my lap. They blundered into private areas obviously off limits. I enjoyed watching my pubescent pranks. Still, I wanted to walk away, but I tolerated my other self because he was family. I scolded him. I goaded him. He was stubborn, determined to undermine my authority. He has embarrassed me for the last time. From now on I am looking the other way when he intrudes between me and a woman. I will pretend that he doesn't exist as he heaves into her like a walrus in mating season.( Oregon )Amy RiddellStudying a Male Nude in the Anatomy TextWhat she notices are not the legs coiled tight as anacondas, not the abdomen where it ripples like sand, not even the penis starting like goldenrod in a thicket of black curls. It is the skin, soft, smooth, unbroken. The inflexible triangle of muscle at the elbow that means a fist has been formed.( Florida )Bruce LaderA New BeingWhen they opened me to bring her out, they opened me, the cut made deep, every lamp was lit to let the doctor see inside of me where she grew all those months, kindled embryo, wholesome marvel, love buoyed by simple truth. Every lamp was lit when they opened and closed me, cut so deep they recovered me, left a grin sewn in when they stitched my belly up. A new being with gentle hands, I find her, take care to tend her, keep busy with tiny fingernails to trim, clippers to steady while I snip translucent slivers, hold my mouth just so, so as not to nick tender fingertips. When she sleeps, I listen for her cry. No longer do I sort laundry or roll my husband’s socks without my ear cocked for the sound of her stopped heart or strangled breath. All my lamps are lit. What I know of love, my body taught me through muscled certainty and the contraction’s relentless grip. The lesson owns me, her life a promise kept. She flourishes even now in my cradled arms. She suckles and grows at my breast.( North Carolina )MiaHide & SeekIntuition whispers someone’s in back of you, find the redolent warmth the cloud of mist somewhere in your study behind the desk chair. You swivel this way no lover that way no wife. One thing you’re certain of this abracadabra moment ludicrous with giddy freedom after her shower in the mazy knowledge garden a pulse phosphorescent as foxfire plus the whim of exuberance in her eyes equal a heaven you can touch.( Minnesota )Joe MillsThinking about O’Hara on the Way to SundaySpring thaw brings a few surprises, least of all, the snow how one day it’s near fifty and above, and the next morning two inches of white buries the first green shoots of a peony and cloaks the trees with regalia. Mindlessly walking, the hand swinging a book, A City Winter borrowed for a time this season of indoor madness, around and around. The breadth of him now lies between the words in a sonnet to the vagaries of desire. Did you so love this world? In a window box next to the doorway of a hillside condo, a flash of yellow pierces the muted brick and gray siding, wrought iron, deco handrail leading up the steps. Withered against a compost of brown leaves and lichen and no more than a small fist of feathers, sunken breast, bones sharp against the outside that swallowed him, another lifeless elegy for a finch. Did you so love this world? Comes a time every forward motion gets lost confused in a snow of forgetfulness, its eventual demise racked by hunger. Most likely, the window above that box promised him freedom, wide open sky reflected in front, its clouded symmetry coaxed him on against the stiffening cold toward some impending plan. Do you so love this world?( North Carolina )The Fist as a Unit of MeasurementAs we read a book about the body, one chapter explains, “The heart is the size of a fist,” and another says, “The brain is the size of two fists.” So, as my daughter looks closely at drawings of organs and bones, I think about the fist as a unit of measurement and wonder if we should use it more often. Recipes could call for a fist or two of flour. I might shop for shoes in my size of three and half fists. Since we determine length by feet, it makes sense to measure volume this way, but however, gratifying it might be to have such a symbol of force and grasping, I know what would be lost, a sense of this intimate distance, a parent and child, lying on a crumb covered carpet, her ten clenched fingers, her brain, my five clenched fingers, my heart.
I - The Stone Listens
III - Like Falling Hats
Featured Poet - Marcus Speh
Current Issue - Fall 2010