Nathan Baker( Tennessee )Dianna HenningFinal ActWe used to watch Clouds as kids In an open field Where a traveling circus Would set up every autumn With brown straw grass As a mattress we’d lay down Beneath the blue Of a late summer sky And watch cloud formations Perform for us our very own Magic circus in gray and white Animals of an enormous variety Rode the skies of our youth But not one hint of a cloud Not one wisp appeared In autumn’s blue sky When he sat down Sun-bleached like a seed Clinging to the flowering end Of life’s dried stalk And took pistol in hand… Windblown the tips of straw grass Shimmered silver in the mid-day sun( California )Corrine De WinterThe Book of WingsThe inside is always told from the outside, from some vantage point of supposed superiority on a day when birds fail to return with their signature song. I’m talking about the way we crush each other with: She was always his favorite, first-born and fair; baby of the family. Where we live buzzards return each year on exactly March fifteenth, with the same exactitude we’d learned for one-up-man-ship. I don’t care if you cried because of my words. You needed to hear that the book of wings, meaning poetry, is only fancy. Get real.( Massachusetts )Oliver RiceIcarus TooIcarus closing in on the sun. Birds, blood and fire studding your eyes. I felt very old and full of fear when you took flight. I stood in the middle of the meadow, listening, as if you had said something else I did not hear.
Lotus Lady 2 by Leslie Marcus
( California )
( Naples, Florida )Alan Britt, Two PoemsMinarets, Incense, BeggarsAny day these months, Sam, a Blackfoot from Missoula, sometime student at the university --- the era of globalization impending --- in his fringed leggings and feathered head band, squats at a hub or marketplace or shrine in Bombay, New Delhi, Calcutta --- their graffiti in a thousand tongues --- known in these mystic precincts as Hiawatha, the Amerindian guru, curio, enigma, deliverer --- ogler of saris, bangles, veils --- on tentative largess from a wily uncle in Reno, sheltering among the needy with courtesies and a Hindi phrase book --- karma brooding among the rickshaws --- for a few rupees, he offers to relieve a Muslim or Sikh or Jain of all anxiety on the spot --- officers of the Embassy surveilling --- from a spool in his beaded wallet, ceremonially draws string to the length of a handspan --- flowers in the stalls, gory meat, flies --- severs it with a hunting knife, solemnly twists it into a knot, murmuring spirit is lifted on the wind --- the cultures, the credulities forever mingling --- murmuring now it is as I have said , ignites it with a match flicked off his thumb nail, scatters the ashes with his bare hands --- the efficacy of symbolism and cunning confirmed.
( Reisterstown, Maryland )M. E. SilvermanBreezeOur streetlight cries her eyes out all night long. A sudden breeze lifts the heads of the dead. The recently dead, beloved Aunts, Uncles, Grandmothers who’ve been missing for years. Their cool bodies, infinite-celled now, soothe my neck & arms in the first hours of morning. Our streetlight cries just like a baby abandoned on this earth.The Older WomanThe older woman does not remember the Roman Empire as she drags her blonde hair of dirty sunlight through a glass of iced-tea across the Italian restaurant’s Formica table. But the Roman Empire preached the gospel of clocks, mechanical clocks, clocks that shattered darkness, clocks forever flattening seconds into metallic spots on retinas. But by then large, ornate, Chinese water clocks were already relics. The older woman, black watchband coiled around her pale wrist like a garter snake aroused in the Garden of Eden, hardly notices her sunlit hair reflected in the younger man’s eyes.( Georgia )Talia ReedFirst FlowersWhen we were young at summer’s end, younger than I thought possible, I brought you flowers from Winn Dixie— carnations or daisies, one of your favorites— I cannot remember which except I paid extra for baby’s breath, and wrapped their tips within a damp paper towel. Vocal chords stretched high at the checkout: some strawberries and a pack of parachutes lay by the blossoms. Funny what I photograph in my head: the coffee-colored pick-up, washed and vacuumed, the smell of musk, pine from a tree-shaped car freshener, green and swaying to the beat of Lynyrd Skynyrd, how the first line of “Free Bird” was a question from Allen Collins’ girlfriend, and why I switched to the swing of Ella when I pulled into your driveway, lit with what your mother called July Fourth liberty lights. On the way to the planetarium, a family of bright brown deer dashed into view. You cried out, I swerved and shouldered the gray gravel road, spun into mud thick as laughter. Our bodies tangled together like a rose vine. We had to exit through the side door. Tousled briar and scrub brush bordered a beautiful body of water. A brushstroke moon smeared in sky like a painter’s slip. A displeased owl screeched and flew from the first branch of an oak. I wondered what to say, what to do. My hand propped on a paperbark tree, peeling like sun-burnt skin. Blood rushed through my heart. Crickets jazzed and frogs networked in the night. We were bruised and stuck but you smiled, touched my left shoulder and flung your auburn curls as you leaned your head right, toward the tempting water. Seeing me hesitate, you said, Come on like a request or promise. With the moon slight like a door ajar, I turned on the headlights, grabbed a yellow flashlight from behind the seat. I heard the lap of bats behind me and above, taking advantage of the light and the bugs drawn to. I pass a raccoon or large rat, eyes like two golden coins. Nothing can catch you. I gazed ahead at the hollow-eyed darkness. I almost ran as I thought no suits and a swim within open shadows. Now that we are old, I sometimes think about that bucolic evening. I listen to the tender touch and full-bodied notes of Giant Steps. How you move like every moment is an unwrapped gift ready to be opened— my God, my God! You are the same summer girl! But this is the way you are— first to immerse deep into the pond or black lake, wild with water and weed, when you do not know how to swim.( Indiana )Josef LesserMarriage LullabyOf the grabbing of my heel, in the coconut of my hair— there lay the concrete of it. I don’t have to make a mark. I see it: the green springing up in the auburn-dead overburn where you’ve been sick, have bled and wanted rest. I breathed in the bits of you ambling about the room and it vanished, ventilated. The You and I that wakes and moves, the conversations worth a dime after all the trash is drug outside, after the draughty house is dry: There is the pocket well-lined, stuffed thick with it in this thin instant. A wide cut, though wane, moment.( New South Wales, Australia )here in silence are twenty more:
(from the war in Iraq)
the noise pandemic snakes through streets of middle earth blasé and blatant creeping upon its citizens without a warning sign without that orange waving flicker found in union traffic lights where industrial deafness hides in fear of insurance payouts, hostile aggressive this ear-splitting lodger slides and twists leaving land mines of noise tracked in the gullies of suburban driveways where it guests itself uninvited to the family dinner and without asking unzips the barking dogs lets loose loud gunshots (was that from the new folk in 35 or thunderous fireworks again from Bill’s backyard?) noisemakers united by decibels rev junky cars dragging mufflers hanging loose like unwanted appendages, emergency vehicles scream to the screaming shrouded only by the boom boom bass dropped from drag car racers seeking attention as rumbling motorcyclists rumble for glory, idle talk succumbs to the high pitch fever of glossolalia while grandpa minus hearing aid tunes the telly, here in silence are twenty more: silent night and silent days twenty ways to read a silent telegram where repentant inside the house of thesaurus lies down beside sorry and duty for god queen and country sips tea with the young too young --------- too soon muffled reply as the dogs aroused encore once more to the siren in the moon flight path bifurcations dominate football results open debate and the white cane tapping taps out the century in numerical code.
I - The Curve of Smiles
II - To Sleep Inside a Scream
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Current Issue - Winter 2008