Alison Daniel( Tasmania, Australia )Shelley Ettinger42 Negative ConfessionsHieroglyphics are not always silent kisses of stone. They're a bit like Isis. Her tongue is perfect, even when she isn't sure or staggers into a swoon, when all she, she has to do to remember Osiris has 158 versions of his name is rise with the moon and drown in metaphysical talk. And I wonder if you know your initials are scribed on my thigh. I hope you don't mind your fingers aren't here to trace stories of impossible returns, that I don't have time to write 42 negative confessions about living a blameless life.( New York City )Fernand RoqueplanAnniversariesA century ago, the Kishinev pogrom. My grandmother, at 5, survived. A year ago, Jenin, in Palestine. Scores of innocents dead—their own fault, Sharon said. And Baghdad now. Basra, Nasariya. What is it about April, about spring? But no, that's faulty reasoning. No seasonal logic to imperial slaughter. Racist marauders don't plan massacres based on tallies of fledgling flowers, blades of sprightly green grass about to sprout, or, for this desert attack, how sharp, how desiccated the prickers on succulent plants. Look back. History offers endless attacks. Mounted year round. Some lasted centuries. The Middle Passage, 20 million killed. We bear the Iraqi people no ill will, Bush says. Palestine is ours by right— Sharon. Passover rites require Gentile children's blood: the czar's men spread this lie a hundred years ago, my grandmother nearly died. Nature progresses in cycles. Oppression advances in waves. Anniversaries are artifice, contrivances calibrated to the passage of time. Century? Year? Day? A counter-mathematic drill: don't enumerate the toll. Let spring rains wash it away. Face reality. The mighty rule. But no, that's hubris. No law to life but change. The conquerors fail to see that pain doesn't fade. It gestates. Heats. And blossoms red with rage. Power will pass from the subjugators' hands. This summer, or next, some season after that. Maybe on an April anniversary. When the lowly rise and take everything back.( Olympia, Washington )Corey Mesler, Two PoemsImmigrationA diet of dream-chaff & circumscribed wishes; the glorification of moving on to receive something less better than nothing at all— then when dead perhaps a heavenly hand-out: here we moor our listing scow, fishless & there park the blood enameled craft reeking of the entrails we cooked to live— I no longer crave society’s time, approval, news; having wasted body & soul as a Marine I’m desperately happy to avoid moronic excess: my grandfather cleaned their stables, hauled garbage. In my dreams he stoops with eviction notices nailed to his face—dreaming of riches, beer his music—our ancestors kissed their hands to those waving them off ashore, never to be seen again, yet hope was the pivot then the raveled sea dumped them into America with cattle’s lows & servant’s vows. Fields crops streets factories lines dens gangs prisons & breeding like a pack of dogs to swell with pride when one of us was knighted for acting dancing fighting playing ball; hurtling through opened doors opened out. My family remained faithful to need, want, despair, duty, service, the church I left, gaining everything; when you are treated as disabled because you are insane you become loathsome surpassing your enemies—they knew nothing of life and so this poem is to you, whoever you are: crazed with hope, we paper our cells with lotto tickets, genuflect in the temple of the Dead Bearded One, pray for luck for jobs for love for life—I’ve never had an answered prayer until now and then it comes huge with hunger when I prayed for love.
( Memphis, Tennessee )Fred JohnstonAutobiography, BrieflyEven damnation now is poisoned with rainbows.—Leonard CohenOut of the cradle endlessly confusing I come a weanling who will always be hungry. Out of the riot endlessly occurring a brief blank spot appears. It is here I rest my head. Inside the nothing is something which is nothingness.Reading at Burke’s Book Store, August, 2002They all came to hear me read. I was a monkey; I was a protuberance. I turned myself on like a bulb in Spring. They clapped. I said something about God, of course, something about my dead father. They clapped. When I was through there was only one question: what do you mean? No one could answer.( Galway, Ireland )r. l. swihart, Two PoemsHeronSnapping up out of a farmer’s trough, hills behind feral-goated, every branch striped, fragile as a Japanese drawing on parchment sky; this surprise, what you caused, in the ruptured quiet with every city, boat, village, tractor, far beneath in the liquid hanging horizons; walking upwards is disappearing, being dissolved in, a sky of incarnate whiteness speckled, like a duck’s egg, a period of remembering or forgetting, what is, when points of known reference shut down; up you go, hieroglyphic scrawl over all of this, easily followed in the mute distances by the open eye, until nothing more than a comma, a semicolon, a space: but later, the same? who knits earth, water, air by the city bridge, steady as a royal signature, a sacred name, maybe; waiting in an extreme of waiting, inscrutable and vaguely intimidating, under the dubious brilliance of street lamps, harsh yellow burrs, this huddle of solstice people bundling, bantering over the sleek wet footpath into a web of streets, like your splayed foot this intricacy, you never move, not once, not a feather in their going breeze; or when the broken boy leans on the Pythagorean river-wind, holds, throws himself, last-thinking of God knows what, into that swollen, festering river, you a last witness, see how far he’d changed his mind when the water struck him, carried drowned and rock-shattered to the far suburban fat-bungalowed shores of the bay; unable, or unwilling, to say what you saw, the boy behind the boy within the boy, the no-world he inhabited: or the girl, barely a girl, lifting this half-parented infant to the bridge wall to view you, might you speak to her? say what, exactly? this current pushing past you, not a word, sound, ruffle: the city of no interest, in water the sky twinned, equal.
( Los Angeles, California )F. J. BergmannNottiteln #18Barely a wrinkle in the trees Dew on the lawn Hoarfrost filligreed on window or gate The bowed head and glistening lapels of a red camellia In between breath and cessation ofNottiteln #19In this instance the parenthetical Landeinwärts should be translated as Innigkeit Klee—seeing what was given to him and no other— found near Tunis building blocks of evanescent color Brooding in the background are the crumbling pyramids( Wisconsin )Grand TourFirst the atlas began to fret, and wheedled in a low voice. Then one of the Lonely Planet books egged on the National Geographics until they ruffled their pages in hysteria and the Michelin Guides started slapping their covers rhythmically against the bookends. When the Club Med brochures folded themselves into airfoils and began dive-bombing us, we made a break for the carport, dragging our hastily-packed luggage behind us, a litter of outdated and dilapidated maps snapping at our heels. We found that all roads lead to more roads, with similar billboards. We drive all day long. Each evening we arrive at a different city before its gates close and rent a room filled with clear water. The video camera runs all night, and prepares a nutritious breakfast. If a museum opens early, we spend the morning gliding from room to room, leaving nothing as we found it. Even the guards have uniforms of a different hue when we are finished with them, and all the visitors have come to believe that Surrealism is the manifesto of a concealed desire for economic instability and wear faint greenish halos which they will never see.
I - Trinkets in a Closed Drawer
III - Becoming a Fish
IV - Closer to the Cosmos
Featured Poet - Eleni Sikelianos
Sikelianos Feature, Page 2
Afterword - A Poem by Nell Maiden
Current Issue - Summer 2003