Cathryn Shea( Mill Valley, California )C. E. ChaffinSome EctomyA turkey hadn’t burst into flames, I hadn’t served my children raw giblets. “Give her oxygen,” I heard. “OK, you can hold the mask. It’s over.” I was startled. Books I’d seen waving as if flags weren’t real. Joy of Cooking, Irish Food and Folklore and my sepia Escoffier. Propped up on a gurney, my left breast feeling on fire, I journeyed down a hall, slid into a space without shadows. Nurses slathered in white light pushed stainless steel carts, monitors chorused tweet, tweet. An attendant asked, “How’s your comfort zone?” I signaled: Almost not unbearable. And like a bad inflight meal, a green tray slithered under my chin. Crumbled saltines, thimble of Gatorade, two insipid pills. Arms like my mother’s coaxed me to reenter snap-front shirt and sweat pants. “Doin’ great,” I heard…. Electrodes attached to my skin peeled off. (Except one. A fleshy vinyl disk with a metal areola clung to my thigh.) Hours later, a wheelchair pushed me to the curb of Howe Street, my husband’s blue van waiting there. The freeway home shimmered not far away. The onramp escaped us.( California )CurrentsThe wind scours the sky and scrubs the stars so clear it hurts my eyes. It comes from everywhere at once making the Bishop pines lean, the eucalypti sift and zither as the wind caroms north and south and east in a forested cup on the headlands. To listen to the wind is dangerous for it tells us nothing in a way that seems a something, insinuations distant and sibilant. If you do listen to the wind try to shape a shape within it, something to talk to, something familiar with the currents that keep us talking to each other.
scratches on the princess mirror by Cheryl McPeek Dodds
( Lebanon, Oregon )Jessie Carty( Charlotte, North Carolina )Marilyn KalletWoman of WillendorfNothing that is not there, and the nothing that is
– Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man”The Venus of Willendorf, tinted in red was misnamed. She predated Venus mythology by millennia. Her pronounced belly, breasts and vulva suggest something fertile yet how could she hold up an infant? Her tiny arms – crossed over her chest – have no palms. She has no apparent face with which to watch a child. Without feet she wouldn’t run. She would instead be present, provocative, always available for procreation. Perhaps that’s why she had time to have plaits put in her hair. Braids that remind me of the weaving of baskets and I wonder what if I put you in basket, could I then crack you, egg like for Easter to see what is inside; what you are and aren’t.( Tennessee )Sergio A. OrtizElegy for the HiddenNorwood, VirginiaThe slave graveyard didn’t want to be found. (Means I couldn’t find.) The poet at Squaw said, “That’s not your poem to write." Climb again toward stones, penciled map in hand, to the promontory. Graves won’t begrudge me a lullaby. Nothing about you was mine, song won’t hurt now. Distant lament. Shoes off at your threshhold. My mother and “the girl”—her cleaning ladies, the trips back to Alabama, through shanty towns. Some of those shacks were slave shacks. From the train, poverty looked exotic. Montgomery, Alabama, new Civil Rights Museum. Waterfall of names, Mighty Waters. You and I weren’t friends enough. The blood has dried and I don’t care about the writers who owned the dining room. Big fucking deal. They can pen the haunted carpet poem. Did they sell the house? I will find the hidden graveyard. Sing a few lines for you and your son. “Mine” doesn’t figure in. I too have a child. You were my friend. Deeper in the woods. Or more obvious. If this is someone’s else’s poem, I am someone else. Voice strike.–In Memory, Reetika and Jehan
( San Juan, Puerto Rico )Robert Klein EnglerHard Shove into the VoidThe cheapest quest is a boy walking behind another boy, holding his father and mother’s perfect hands, with round spangled eyes, like those he dreamed in his recurring dream. A boy watching another boy swing in air gets an ache that is a hard shove into the void. There is such an animal in me, I remember him in places like Paris, with such a hunger.( Oak Park, Illinois )Danna Jae NordinTransfer PointOnce upon a time we knew little of wounds. We loved flat stomachs and firm breasts. We ran fingers through our lover's hair like fingers through the long grass of the field. The young man next to me on the L train plans a seduction. Years from now he will remember his wound as a cut so sharp at first it did not bleed. Wait. The beautiful get hurt that way. A Mexican girl who works at the Korean dry cleaners goes home with a bag of bruised apples for her mother. Her wound begs like pigeons on the platform. Only the heart relives its pain. The newspaper claims someone stole Michael Jackson’s prosthetic nose. The guy with skull tattoos says it’s not true. The train lurches. Go. Stop. Go. Crews are working on the track ahead.( Las Vegas, Nevada )Jeff MannClick. Release.Cryptic verse: My voice, my message in a bottle. Cryptogrammic clicks and smoke signals. The massage pushes inward while I try to push worries outward through my lungs. I reassure myself that smoke does not always indicate fire… ....---... He pushes the oil down my forearm into the pale underside of wrist. My palm, upturned, curls around his approaching fingers. The oil is almost too hot, the pressure almost too deep. Curl, release Curl, release ....---... This is my message, my Morse Code. Ballads and spice fill the room as I write poems in my head, lips silent. He pulls my toes, rubs my scalp, brushes the scratch on my thigh and comments. Curl, release Curl, release ....---... Poems in my head: No voice. Only code. I click, “What do you want from me?” to no one in particular. I click, “People don’t change,” while my husband waits at home for the best of me. Curl. Release.( Pulaski, Virginia )The Angel of Royal StreetI doubt a Whitman allusion’s witty use is sufficient to woo him – Passing stranger! You do not know how longingly I look upon you – this eminently fuckable boy in his mid-twenties I pass near Brennan’s. He’s sporting big shoulders and thick round mounds of pecs a tight t-shirt shows off, cargo shorts and furry calves, the black curly hair and beard that always hone my hunger, with the obligatory blonde tramp in tow. As usual, good manners veil my fascination, leave me conjecturing what cosmic rules or karma obviate a sweaty, lengthy Daddy/boy scene. What have I been or done to determine that all I most want is denied? In what I mutter, stopping, turning to watch him stroll off – Holy Gawd! – is wonder at least, wonder and passion I can remember if not fully savor. What’s left of him is to imagine what sort of sweet slavery I might arrange for a submissive angel, meanwhile gobbling crawfish and gratined oysters, swilling sublimations of Abita Amber, toasting to the few creations left that stun, as I lunch overmuch with my heat-weary husband at Acme Oyster House.
I - Out-of-body
II - Eyes That Cover Us
Featured Poet - Matthew Hittinger
Current Issue - Winter 2010