The Frame of Reckoning


Nell Maiden

( Washington, D.C. )
After Whitman

Not a mirror for reflection
but a clean space
where you can reform.

Walk in white shoes through
a gallery
of white paintings.

Cavort with ghosts
that never fail to come
as yesterdays rebound
and strike your eyes.

Watch shadows pleat and unpleat,
coupling you with continuum.

Dance like Klein's dancers
who brushed
their naked blue bodies
into art history.

Roll your fingers and toes
in the music—it's there—of water.
See yourself wheel.

Stand between sunlight
and the transparent frame
of reckoning.

Know your every breath Advent,
your each foot forward and verb,
your every move parade . . .
here . . . there . . . here.

David Citino

( Columbus, Ohio )
Corpse of Recluse Found a Year After Her Death

There is no recluse like a corpse. We all
are bound for the sublime isolation

of our own company, the kitchen in chaos,
no time to tidy up. Shadow and Bubba

dissolve at our feet, a geometry of bones
spelling out the last letter home. I can’t

close my eyes or stop grinning. It doesn’t
matter. The cop walks slow, kneels

beside me, leather of his belt and holster
creaking, both knees. Eyes like coins,

face full of dread and awe, he must think
that I’m a god.

Laura Cross

( Boston, Massachusetts )
Weekend with B. B. King

Peering into the vast Mississippi at 2 AM
thinking about the footprints I left
to linger on Beale Street
to mingle with the "haves" and "have nots"
of Memphis blues
and the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

The voodoo daddy on the corner of
Beale and Third coaxes me to peek inside
the Elvis shrine...homage for 25 cents.
Neon pink outlines the cardboard king
and gold glitter proclaims the
World's Youngest Elvis Impersonator (1 1/2 years).

Behind the far wall of Java Cabana
legend of a Vietnamese Elvis minister finds me
and 2 Geminis
venting about contradiction and hypocrisy
in the art world
freedom of form— and
"What is poetry?"
over 2 iced mochas and the stars.

Lyn Lifshin, Two Poems
( Vienna, Virginia )
Emily Dickinson

upstairs her mother
fills the room like
a child in her belly,
a poem aching to
break thru her wrists.

I cannot live with
you, that would
be life
, she writes,
smoothing hair in
the mirror black

creeps into, wonders
if her eyes really
are the color of
sherry a guest
leaves in the glass

Newspaper on the Steps

a sales promotion, clumped
in rubber bands. Not flapping
like terror was inside me last
April, my mother here for what
I was sure would be her last
visit after the biopsy. Too tired
to prowl the malls as used to,
we subscribed to two papers
that never came until it was too
late nearly. There, on the day I
rushed, not sure she'd even make
it, the April heat wave gone,
wind blowing the white sheets
wildly, like lost birds on a sea of
white, my face already sunken,
the leaves just opening as dog
wood and forsythia I cut in close
to zero February wind do now
in a clear jar, starved as she was
for something green, growing.

Duane Locke, Two Poems

( Tampa, Florida )
An Ordinary Day in the Tampa Slums

I arranged my room,
So I can feel like a Rembrandt painting
When reading the Bible.

But reading the Bible,
I was appalled by the cruelty;
God-chosen man Samson
Setting fire to foxes tails.
I wished God had better taste,
Had chosen someone else.

Now, I depressed, want to sin,
But the concept of sin,
Unless it is poverty,
Has vanished from the our capitalist world.

I started to read what a professor recommended,
Robert Frost,
I again was appalled by the cruelty:
Bending all those birch branches,
Picking all those apples.
I felt sorrow for the trees that human beings abuse.
I was disgusted with Robert Frost's cowardice,
His being afraid
To go into the snowy wood.

There seems to be no sensitivity or sweetness
In popular religion or popular poetry.

So I had decided to no longer to read what the insensitive world
Has sanctioned as what should be read,
So I went outside into the cold.
I was happy as I saw a palm warbler in winter plumage
Wagging his tail as he stood on a bare cedar branch.

The Golden Years in a Florida Nursing Home

Now I, a cumbersome octogenarian, or a superannuation,
Polysyllabic in a monosyllabic nursing home, I wheel
My unburied life among water lilies. I think how Monet
Saw spots, splashes, disconnected fragments instead of the mythic
Unified whole. I love the gloss, the green of water lily's
Serrated, warped circular leaves. I notice how a green
Slanting stem with copper colored streaks leaps out
Of a place where it was not expected to leap.
I am also momentarily thrilled by the flimsy green dress
That clings to and accentuates the contours of the indifferent nurse
Who brings the chemicals that are rumored
To subdue the pain I feel. While administering this postmoden magic,
She looks at her Swiss wristwatch. These concoctions
Are gossiped to reduce the physical pains, but the pain
Of my living a misdirected and wasted life
With the wrong woman cannot be quelled
By the nurse's portions in the plastic cups. Only
These water lilies can put the hypodermic
In my brain that eases the mental pain.

Suzanne U. Clark

( Bristol, Tennessee )

Worn windowsill,
the grain sealed with paint.

Twelve panes
without apostles.

Glass filmy
as old sight.

A moth resting,
wings drawn like drapes.

A cobweb,
scrap of a ghost.

Window shade scrolled,
the cord dangling.

Absence too large
to let out.

I - Like Wind From Our Aching
III - American Hunger
IV - Rose of Whispered Rain

Featured Poet - Ruth Daigon

Winter 2001 Issue