( Hopewell Junction, New York )
Dedication, at best, is an overfed heifer,
Tug at its udder and the come-hither darling
Lolls in a hoarfrost of milk, cream or climax.
Sort of like, rainy days, anchovies, valium, divorce.
Let us stroll then to the market, fill our cart
With today's lettuce or fruit, take in a show.
Love should be more than a two drink minimum,
Less than the cover. For surely the bouncer knew
The slightest breeze caught in your hair
Now garden, turns jungle.
Or the soft down of your pillow, light as helium,
Owed no affection. Sweetheart, let the world
As it is stay home, recline in the comfy nest
Of its armchair, roll in the hazy torpor
Of today's sun; collapse. We are no match
For its heat, cannot cross this divide, burrow
Or fly south for the season. What even then?
Birds drown in flight.
Saint-Domingue, an appendage blown chafe in a wind
of tyrannical sweets. Where vanity is promise
and yesteryears’ big gamers haunt La Fair with
the pretty boys of Martine.
Here where the world navigates in perpetual wobble
and its captain, drunk on his crosshair
sips his marnier with parched tongue.
Privy to a noun of darkness and despair,
where natives on pin and stake announce the score
between setup and target, where bedlam and Madness
slips past a guard remiss for a last dance, a last chance
before confession ends.
( San Francisco, California )
Angelo VergaAfter Reading Giovanni's Room
My chest swings open
like church doors
washing the street in sheets of light.
I touch the needle down on kd lang,
sing into a blow dryer
try on my father's suits,
hair parted in the center
like blackbird's wings.
I want to have you; I want to be you—
When the song fades
so do I.
I want to show love
like a lilac bush in May
but I have always been a late bloomer:
the warm black oil
of a crow's heart,
his singular touchdown,
I'm mighty on Mount Davidson
watching a crow tear a snail apart.
You kiss me—
everything is possible
a snake slides down my throat.
You douse me with patchouli
and pass me a joint
to make me some kind of lover.
Then from between my thighs
you say of course you'll marry me
wearing wedding maquillage on your eyes.
You say I can eat your cucumber
and like a magician's scarf
I pull it from the crisper.
Who are you
to be pressing buttons;
Are they called butterflies
because their wings evanesce
at the mere thought
of human touch,
how butter clarifies
in heat? I roast
when you watch me
through your magnifying glasses,
Your décolletage has sucked me in—
not the crass breasts themselves
but that you bear them with a fly fisher's brio,
with aplomb in my doorjamb, hands on hips:
I wouldn’t call myself a breast man; yet—
You must know
about the ears,
how the indentured body
answers only to them,
those human feelers.
When a woman puts her hands on me
I hope to God I'm clean.
You put me in odd positions and crack me.
In the applied kinesiology office
more of me gushes, an egg opening,
my saddened skin shedding
its salt scurf. How easy
it is to mis-take well-placed hands,
imagine my palms against your ears,
heat raking my lifelines.
Our dogs sniff snout to ass
while we twinkle,
talk with marbles in our mouths; overhead
Queen Wilhelmina's puissant
windmill looms, same
as the sky that scared my mother
to the cellar. You stand,
waiting for my pulsar mouth,
one worryless leg up:
close your eyes,
I've closed mine.
( New York, New York )
from In the Woods# 28
God hovered over my pond in the half dark
I recognized him from Blake’s engravings
Bearded, arms cut, muscled, floating
Over the mud, breathing life into it
& Frogs jumping from the bull rushes
Noisy but invisible, the little bastards
I never get to see them only the ripples
That prove they exist, like electricity, like microchips.
This was before the sun broke over the trees
And brought back the material world.
I bit something and spit it out
But I can’t remember what.
Then morning became cloudless
And the blue girls changed the pillows, linen
And sheets, I watched them lean over my bed
Elongating the tendons in the back of their legs
Without turning my gamma ray eyes away
Such a state of bodily grace
Came over me, I would have taken them
Then & there, if either,
With cerulean tongue, had asked me.
( Sydney, Australia )
Paulo da CostaSpell for Love
Long hair, white wrist
Pool table, or snooker (for longer lasting desire)
An item fashioned from leather.
Lean on the bar
leg half hanging from stool, cool,
make talk with small talkers
until the object of your desire arrives.
Don't be late.
Chit small change for brown ale
(not amber with belches) when she arrives.
Don't forget to smile. Especially
when she flicks her hair in your direction.
Stride from bar to felted tables,
thumb hooked in a belt strap, guide her waist
smiling, not clammy remember.
Rack 'em up with a quick joke,
something inane from small talkers.
Just before she breaks
catch the light from her white wrist
in your open mouth, save it,
and she's yours.
( Calgary, Canada )
Cheryl Townsend[el dia del diablo,]
el dia del diablo,
djun-djuns and spoons
open the lid to the night
under warmer skies
and older villages
tradition springs as far
as burning betrayed beds
and beads of bad luck
here we are a larger country
and stars escape the bonfire
with acquiescent gestures
i walk inside, join the chorus
of bodies tossing diamonds
of sweat on the floor,
this is how rich we are
on my ticket, i finally
scribble meek words
intrinsic to the culture
i forget what now
we don't want private sins
under public scrutiny
we wish to forget seduction,
shame, plague of lies
i imagine a petty list
vanishing in smoke
never to be seen
my karma steam cleaned
outside, coals smoulder
under a mantle of snow,
this is the unpredictable
future up north
my list spirals down,
a crumb on snow, i
remember nothing truly vanishes
riding on a bruised cloud
smoke returns as cold as hail
in the mornings my face washed
with sprinkles of the past
for even water has memory
( Stow, Ohio )
Rebecca Lu Kiernan, Two PoemsBindings
When I heard him call my name, it was as soft as a baby's yawn in my ear
before it faded into the rush of traffic up and down Milwaukee Avenue. The
gray overcast Sunday afternoon left shadows where nothing stood and
created the mirage of his being everywhere that I looked for him... but he
was not. I got on the rail car half expecting to see him, half knowing how
impossible that was and sat as alluringly as I could, for the illusion, if
nothing else, and I knew wherever he was, he probably was not thinking
( on the Gulf of Mexico )
Alan BrittStill Life
Sometimes I close my eyes suicidal seconds
While driving the curves I trust my hands to
Know, and conjure him, strong, chiseled jaw,
Wide emerald eyes, bronze hand carelessly
Raking through his honey blonde hair, the
Pout of his swollen lips, his kiss on the backs
Of my thighs, his fingers strumming my neck.
When I get this apparition just right I bite into
His heart like a peach. He still wants a kiss
After this and comments on the honey taste
Of his own blood. I swallow his stone.
You will turn to me some night
In my new invisibility, whisper
My name, breathlessly offer
Your neck, ask the question
That danced imperceptibly in
Your unblinking eyes.
Shardlike, the sound of your
Broken voice on the taut
Fishing hook through the
Soup of space and time.
You will touch the anti-face
Of a platinum print, a flash
Of my averted eyes over
Silent dinners, my parting
Mouth in a claw footed tub.
You know I rose for your
Tongue, crawled to you
Dizzy with hunger, opening
In secret new ways. Such a
Erased by tightly practiced
Tangos and unblinking
Games of chess.
( Reisterstown, Maryland )
Roland Trades His Horn for Red Wine
in Tampa, though.
in our dreams,
in our unconscious.
from the tropical storm.
beside a black
I - Writing Inside the Motherskin
II - In the Kafka Labyrinths
IV - Archeology
Featured Poet - Daphne Gottlieb
Winter 2002 Issue