Driving With Strangers


Janet I. Buck, Three Poems
( Medford, Oregon )
The Wet Dream

I wander down the dim-lit hall,
running my fingers over heirlooms
of bronze sepia framed in
the cheap glass of time,
its thickness understood but retreating
in its own relentless way.
Your face seems almost pasted on
above the camel's hair coat,
waxed pink lips, high heels
to dig up shifting dirt.
Gray in wisps of baby's breath
around the fading of the rose.
A pointed chin aimed upward
at cropped and ivory clouds.
You look, at first glance,
snooty and poised,
foundation over oatmeal flesh.

But now that I am getting old,
I understand you stretched your neck
to calm the ocean's wrinkled foam,
a tired, scored black tire flap
to hide from mirrors of these storms.
Our youth, a wet dream there,
then gone, in quick seizure of blink
or shutter's click.
Much the same as fish in lakes
that cast their marble eyes at suns
and disappear into the cold.
I wonder now if hours had orgasmic rites
worth writing down, living again—
how much our paltry jaded souls
recall the coming of the joy.

Scar to Scar

Laughing in the locker room,
we waddle in puddles left
comparing scars
like wet pubescent teens
wave keys to engines
sitting in the steaming drive.
Pregnant with our unmet dawns,
daffodils that haven't bloomed.
All the questions that we ask
in harbors of this mortal sea
have cautionary fear instilled.
Simple gestures of a bend
to tie a shoe or roll a sock
creak on floorboards, reek
with night's enveloping.

Wind and rain will lift
our wigs like witch's brooms;
soon skeletons shall peck at us
until what's left of smugness fades
into the void of gathered tomb.
Our bodies are those foamy dice
hanging from a rearview mirror,
losing color in the sun,
but chasing lumination's ray.
Strength, a leaning lattice now
grabbing at the one last rose,
whose color keeps us prisoner.
I hear the baldness rumbling,
aphids lining up to eat.
Their tiny wings have clarity,
devouring the beautiful.

Sober in the Center of Drunk

I am fine for nine long months
at home, no urge to drink
or grab a bottle to sit on nerves
and hold them down
like tickled children of my pain.
All at once, our family gathers
in a house no different
in its center meat—
just longer walls and wider aisles,
flocked and soused upholstery.
Corks and caps are everywhere.
These are the serpents I shot—
and I hate looking into their eyes.

Sober sits in the middle of drunk
wanting clothes to cover up—
reaching for whatever's thick,
a tongue, a glass, a sippable lie.
I am ashamed of consummate urge;
my fingers sweat at promise rings
that might slide off, slip down drains
never to emerge again.
I wish to turn myself down
like a bed and crawl
between the smashed sheets.
I loved our liquor centrifuge
that floated tears above spun grime.

Edison Jennings
( Abingdon, Virginia )
Sun Driver

Where are the horses of the sun?
—James Merrill, “The Charioteer of Delphi”

And where is Phaeton?

Being only half god, he will not venture
on notions of such magnitude again

as when, with fire harnessed to his hand,
he drove the sun, and white-hot horses,

sensing weakness, clamped their bits,
ran wild, and scorched the world.

Lightning struck. The sun-child fell
in a grove of poplars by the Eridanus

where horses of the zodiac, gentled by
a full day's run, crop the grass around his bones,

charred and broken from the fall.

Terry Lowenstein
( Charlotte, North Carolina )
Heloise and Abelard

It appeared to them,
that they were indeed blessed.
Heaven herself,
had shown mercy to the lovers?
But the attentions,
of the gods are fickle.

For they descended
into a darkness of separation,
that only caused the intensity
of their love to grow.
As horrors unimaginable
were thrust upon them.
And anger grown wild
sought revenge.

At Pere Lachaise
their final abode,
the moonlight
shines down
upon the lovers,
whose very love,
echoes yet
with the utterance
of their names.

Nichole L. Shields
( Chicago, Illinois )
Southern Hospitality #2

for Arthur and Billie

Not mangos
blue or

Not Mimosa
cous cous
bay or
Afrikan dew

But Black fathers, brothers, sons,
uncles and grandfathers

Mothers, yes, mothers too,
as well as sisters, aunts and daughters

Hanging as loose from the noose
as Strange Fruit from its vine

Janaka Stucky, Two Poems
( Boston, Massachusetts )
American Type Writer in Bold

What truth can I speak
to you of swans or love lost
like schizophrenic?

This haiku fails me
somewhere before my heart and
after my brain has.

A death so darling
I slobber all over it
til death runs away.

My novel is a
cemetery vandalized
by its epitaphs.

Sometimes I stroll it,
or drink beer and fuck in it––
rarely do I mourn.

Now only earthworms
and wilting lilies live here:
needing each other.

I am a squatter
stumbling through bars and bags
of glue for a home.

A mausoleum
with no one inside is an

her blossom hurts like switchblade

some red shadow worship
by the lake
she still an easy ache

I stand to go
a winter away
a thousand white gardens of want

show you
fast flooding shadows
placing the want

frantic blue smear

essential beauty
did over
that woman

Linda Hutchison
( San Diego, California )
Driving with Strangers

for Laurel Ballou

he's okay, you said
so we stopped in the dark
for the light-haired stranger
whose head glowed

in those days, we all glowed
we wore the earth's aura
without any doubt
that it would protect us

our feet seldom hit cement
or sank into mud
we drove on weightlessly,
with strangers

II - Water Bird Practicing On Concrete
III - Double Layers
IV - Weary With Desire

Featured Poet - Virgil Suárez

Summer 2001 Issue