Allan Peterson( Gulf Breeze, Florida )Joe BalazFluentlyAwake I saw the wasp that stings hickory into a nest and helped it choose the leaf for stinging and writing saw the cracks in the page we call rivers though meaning does not run like my face flowing silently all night into and out of every window I pass( Ohio )Cathy McArthurUnfitEven if it hurts try not to look at yourself as a worn out shoe in a pile of personals left on the front lawn for all to view. There is no cause to remember the receipt that once came with a new pair polished and ready for a leisurely stroll. Those meanderings in the park have been gone for awhile long before the weeds sprouted through the cracks in the sidewalk. Used and tattered one half of a former perfect fit is now being revisited and shredded by the neighbor’s dog. Bits and pieces of leather and sole are strewn everywhere as a sprinkler watering the grass spits out a eulogy marking each second of time.( New York )Alison RossJournal6:15 this morning fog rises over lake not Sandburg’s but a mass, like people—gray parade the geese fly up, banter. Last night’s dream comes to me— a loud woman scolded about who I should be while I admired her cover-up—green jacket like the murky lake. Lost new goggles yesterday; I tried to look beneath tangled weeds while floating. Nothing there. Look here though, a purple thistle grows. Broken branch, spider web, dead leaves, a small sunny gather at the smooth edge. Light on water now—two men converse while fishing. One, drifting says, “not much.” Far out in separate boats they’re casting lines— I write, cold on the bench while crows caw. Something moves past trees. Spotted deer, or large mouth bass jumping in air, and my poem—a page before coffee; outside the lake, a blanket tossed up, a thin screen lifted.( Atlanta, Georgia )John GreySilent symmetryI crave internal symmetry. I want to drink liquid sutras smoke mirrors and exhale samsara I want to poison all clocks and regurgitate infinity I want to dream of monks who shout chants shaped like birds I want to sleep inside a scream I want to breathe clouds filled with comas and choke on karmas made of cats I want to silence all hallucinations and blind all hymns I want to die inside a symmetry of birds.( Providence, Rhode Island )Nic Sebastian, Two PoemsIsn’t That Einstein at the Bus StopHe’s been standing there a half hour already, It’s cold as nuclear winter, and he can’t even wear a toke because without that fuzzy hair he could be just anybody. The speed of light he has the perfect formula for but the speed of buses resists all equations. A brain massive enough to contain the universe bobs atop impatient aching legs. Can’t afford a taxi. Genius doesn’t pay. But he must get back to work. His head bulges with the proof that time travel is possible. But what if time is public transport?
( Arlington, Virginia )Steffen Horstmannthe aid workermy grasp on earth is choice, in searing handfuls I stalk on high legs through earth quake and moon blight marbled skin drapes on my eyeball splintered bone sings in my ear the quick threads of my feet burrow deep then tearthe mango treeso cool inside the mango tree soaring leaf dome wired for jade rustle rough bark knobs sweet along my back fugitive suns burst on my eyelids mango juice runs off my fingers the universe sways with the breeze
untitled by Dee Rimbaud
( Scotland )
( Holyoke, Massachusetts )Maurice Oliver, Two PoemsJack Kerouac in a Memphis Diner, 3:23 A.M.You sit at the counter nursing a cup of coffee, Thinking of Lucinda & your most recent vision Of fiery wheels spinning above seated mystics. The chrome jukebox silent, wind gusting debris Through the streets. You consider how even a city Has its deserts, its wastes of scrap yards With piles of rusted metal & stacks of crushed cars— Where at night the dispossessed light ashcan fires & exchange stories of travels in boxcars, of how They continue to be compelled onward by some Nameless need. Sometimes in the city's din You hear in your head mystics reciting mantras, Something you believe that has to do with The nomad's dictum—to remain always in a mode Of departure. But the thought of Lucinda Will not leave you, despite your trysts With other women in empty lots & alleyways. You see the image of her body beneath yours, Lying on a beach with wind swirling sand Through her dark hair. Lucinda, whom you left Abruptly on a crisp morning as she slept. Outside buses & semis roll by, red sparks issuing From their wheels. The black highway Stretches into the distance, your gaze fixed On the point where it melds with the night.
( Portland, Oregon )Helen Losse“Roots, Thick As Pencils” SonnetBegin with tractor threads in the snow. A train track with a flattened penny on it. Clods of regional clay. Fog rolling in over a chalky lake. A city’s lights in the far distance. Farms nestled in thickets of woodlands. A smokehouse. Rusty gardening tools. The way night birds roost in a barn’s ledges. A danger sign posted near an abandoned quarry. The word “rural” in print. Footwear suited for manual labor. Lichen hugging rock. Rain that insist on freezing by midnight. Feather beds. Tin roofs. A recently drained wetlands besieged by land developers. Kernels of loose grain in the wind. Or just a small amount of preening required.BusenfreundA cloud shaped like an elephant’s head. Birds, smitten with wings & throat-calls. Foliage with the unique ability to back-stroke. A tunnel cut through one lush green mountain. Soft pink blossoms intent on survival. The prime and painted nailheads of the moon. A complete habitat in a shoebox, beneath my bed.( North Carolina )Alison EastleyOpening the FloodgatesPerhaps, open floodgates are reason enough for the tears, having come at the end of a drought, and as the end of a drought, as a storm. We fight, war or no war: hot war or cold: (even over the weather, whether it’s good or bad, not merely needed or unneeded, as the case truly may be). Truth is, the fighting remains, as does our history of violence and our embarrassment of riches. Truth is, the money and the power empower the fight, defining one’s enemy according to his power and his money, and though the enemy may be formidable, we lack much in truth. Better breathless than dead, better tearful.( Tasmania, Australia )C. E. ChaffinThe WaitIt didn’t seem to matter how much she cried when word drifted back. She’d heard it before and there was only so much talk she could stand without crawling into bed, straightening sheets smoother than her crumpled sleep. If it wasn’t for narcotic herbs stalling her shadowy wait by the window, you’d think she was a statue by the door and as for any footsteps, twenty years wore thinner than a Salvation Army blanket given in a war.( California )Home SurgeryDaughter, when I freed the glass sliver from your heel you screamed, you shook, your foot lurched— so I gripped your ankle with all the firmness love could muster. Plucked from your sole, the fragment shone like a jewel in the bathroom light while blood streamed, mixed with water, into the white altar of the sink. At the moment you hurt more from my maneuvering, did you doubt me? That thought wounds my heart more deeply than the matador can bury his long blade.
I - The Curve of Smiles
III - Minarets, Incense, Beggars
Featured Poet - Mark DeCarteret
Current Issue - Winter 2008