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IV

In the Dusky Hours



_________________________



Corrine De Winter
( Springfield, Massachusetts )
Ritual
(Day of the Dead)

How many times have I
rescued these bones 
and polished them so that they might shine,
though stained with old blood
and memories.
Plastic and velveteen, 
yellow and red flowers
adorn the graves,
a festive show
for the life beyond this one.
How many times have I heard
the chiming of these bones
settling afterward once again
in the death box?
You are gone, but here your frame,
your God architecture
in my hands,
linseed oil on the cloth
that will never come clean.
How many bones 
I have carried 
through daylight.
A picket fence I have built
from them around me.
How many hours it takes
to eclipse the past.
Although this one day
you are dragged into the light
to appease the living,
there is still a rosebud
in place of your mouth
but your limbs and heart
have wrapped around something further.
My Beloved
how often we the living confuse the here
and the hereafter,
the living
and the dead.




Marge Piercy, Three Poems
( Wellfleet, Massachusetts )
A horizon of ghosts

You know how often I think of you
ranged there on the far shore 
of nothing –with my dead friends,
my cats, all of you in a row watching.

Woody used to say he imagined 
his father in the afterlife playing
cards.  When Woody spoke his name
at Yizkhor on Yom Kippur,

Marvin would be summoned 
from the room to listen.
Returning to his buddies he’d
say, that was my son calling.  

Mother I can’t imagine an after
life, but still in dreams you march 
into my mind’s room as you used to,
clutching clippings to share,

demanding attention like a drug
to which you had been addicted
years ago, but even the wish
was dry as those clippings.

So remembering is an act
of prayer, a time when you 
wake from ashes and air
turning your face into light.



 
Cold sidles up

The gardens have been put to bed—
strange phrase as if they were 
under bedclothes, who are instead
stripped naked and shrunken.

Morning’s rain has stopped
but sparkles ice on every furrow
and the sun is a plain light blue
smock of a dental assistant.

This late in the stub end of the year
in the foreshortened afternoon
snow is falling on the mainland
while here light is thick and golden,

a pudding of honey and lemons
in the bony trees.  One crow sails
down to peck cracked corn
between the rhododendrons

whose leaves are like the hands
of a shivering girl clutching
herself. The tourists are gone
and the squirrels dance in the oaks

prancing to and fro.  Last night
coyotes and great horned owl
made music as they killed.
I feel winter entering my bones.




The house is empty

The house is empty as a cast up shell
whitened on the beach among debris
of bleach bottles, tampax inserters,
bladder wrack the waves abandoned—
a shell rubbed thin, shining
like a moon disc.

The moon is barren except 
for astronaut’s garbage.  The house
is empty of you.  I wander
through the days and rooms 
of absence, I root in the bed
for the scent of your body.

Tasks fill the hours but still
they rattle, the dry seeds
of the minutes warning me
snakelike that all presence
is temporary.  Why do we
waste any of the thinning

time apart?  Let us join
at the hip on midnight’s cusp
plastered together.  Let us
praise every meal we share,
every wine we savor, every
kiss, every fuck, every

handclasp and each conversation
that is not a quarrel.
Pull the covers up over
our sated bodies tonight
and let our sleep be melded
into one dream, hooked together.




Richard Fein
( Brooklyn, New York )
Midnight Cacophonies

Nighttime crickets are songsters of insomnia.
They disquiet my evening with their chirping choirs.
They’re master percussionists,
quickly sliding the scrapers of the first wing 
along the serrations of the second.
Wise Solomon sung his Song of Songs, 
and plucked his Canticle of Canticles on his lyre,
out of desire for union with another soul.
And in beds of grass surrounding my open window,
a chorus of bachelor crickets serenade for mates.
But there are also radios on all night 
that charge the moonlit air with other songs
of love found, or lost, or longed for.
And human voices in the dusky hours
are often about whispered seductions or sobs over seductions lost.
Summer nocturnal yearnings sound midnight cacophonies,
for along with the cold-blooded measured chirps of crickets
the warm night air also carries the sound of squeaking bedsprings,
as lovers are hard at work on sweat-soaked sheets.






Fanfare by Leslie Marcus

( Ojai, California )




David Koehn
( Foster City, California )
Millipede, Skolopendra
(A Poem in Fifty Couplets)

Luminodesmus sequoiae, self-lit, pencil child
Living fifty couplets, basement dweller.

Cucumber and cantaloupe lover, detrital swimmer,
Caterpillar likeness, never-to-be-butterfly.

Mudfish uncle, shrimp cousin, scent of bitter almond.
Mulch invader, rotten-wood, 100-leg worm.

On the floor of Penkill Castle, surpiser of Rosetti,
Not this Californian version, but another.

"I thought to pick up one millipede and behold!
I was transporting a numerous family."

Thus, "If  we cannot estimate the full bearing of action."
Then "How shall we hope to estimate the full extent of influence?"

My god you are an ugly thing full of glow and delicacy.
You know she was an antivivisectionist.

I'd vivisect you glowing section by glowing section
If touching you didn't burn my finger tips.

Nabokov pinned butterflies, still winging
To sheets of cardboard. A man and his net.

In the one hundred meter dash, Olympic sprinters
Take 41 strides in less than nine seconds.

Your one hundred steps per second move you an inch.
Time flies because it is subject to your careful passage.

This repetition through time is a manner of reality
Considered, considered again, and again only partly touched.

Forget and smile, forget and smile, forget and smile.
Side to side, sigh to sigh, walking worm moves along.

To glow with bioluminescence in the arms
Of the ancient Sequoia. Brave shine against shadow.

Remember Atari 2600's Millipede? The mushrooms? The bass
Thumping sound track? Arcade muzak. The Bee Gee's "Staying Alive"?

Sister, doctor, our mother Sappho, never told.
Lewis Caroll should have made it a millipede.

There are stories of monkeys rubbing millipedes,
Their benzoquinones, over their bodies to keep pests at bay.

Secrets, secrets, and more secrets, their legs crawling
Up and down my legs, crawling into my root cellar.

Syncopated millennium, blind and tapping its way along
The age of war, decay and the prized decadence.

An express train north of Tokyo was halted by clusters
Of millipedes crossing a section of track.

The train crushed them, their bodily fluids causing
Slip. One hundred passengers, their journeys delayed.

How many trains does it take to stop a millipede? Measure
The solar sails. Invent the millipede train.

The idea of a millipede is two lines inverting infinity.
The idea of a fly flying into a Klein Bottle.

Senators, football field, century marks, dollar's cents, degrees
Required to boil water: metaphor's misnomered millipedes.

First creature to leave the primordial soup, first breather,
Living fossil, each spiracle poetry's earliest verses.

Unrolled nautilus, derivative algorithm, extended metaphor
Of a lustrous coil: how poetry molts, how it feels.

The labrum leads the synchrony of legs at any gait.
I finger my filtrum, grooved for air and accentuals.

Rhythm echoed forward and backwards, body
Emoted along the rhythm of a line, not line to body.

Each added portico balanced to the last, not
Grand, nor meant to be chrysalis.

Its movement, a wave function; quantum mechanics
Requires wave functions to be complex,

To possess real and imaginary parts; a complex number
Is the sum of a real number and an imaginary number.

This is how I think of this. Complex math meets biology
Spliced with something not quite spirit, not quite song.

Probability of the reader intersecting with what might
Be is breeze over cliff on water into reef.

Energy emitted from the millipede is what trails rain:
Neither lost nor gained, but conserved and exchanged.

Burning luciferin, evil-sounding cold light. Light
Produced without heat. Tracers in the genes.

Under a black light my genes are crawling
With millipedes, my entire chain a ladder for its ascent.

I am the tree on the insect and the insect on the tree.
What bird will spy this glowing here?

IBM's millipede chip uses nano-levers 10 micrometers wide,
Tens of gigabytes on 7 square-millimeters. Like poetry.

I can't remember my anniversary. How many days
There are in each month of the year. Oddities.

The next millipede you see will be an electronic
Device invented by the CIA. Check it.

At last, luminous millipede, found only in California
I have come to understand design without purpose.

Beauty as its own foundation as Nabokov thought.
Kant would agree as well I suppose.

Mimetic subtlety of the wing executed beyond
The appreciation of the predator and even the prey.

A child, a millipede ride clanks and chatters through
Not quite Bertram's garden. She prefers the flying elephants.

In Finland 50 children lay on their backs, interlocked
In a long line. They pass one another along.

A millipede wriggles out of a tuna salad sandwich,
In "The House on Haunted Hill."

Imelda Marcos is a goddess in Markina, the shoe capital
Of Manila. She owned 3000 pairs. Small robotic millipedes

Have become all the rage as necklaces. In "Attack
Of the Giant Millipedes" I am eaten, then spit out in disgust.

The step from nonluminescence to luminescence,
Evolutionarily speaking, is not particularly complicated.

What am I waiting for?



I - Clenched Fists and Clouded Metaphors
II - Soleil
III - Guesting in the House
V - Finding Favor with the Muse

Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus

Featured Poet - Lynne Knight

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Current Issue - Summer 2005
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