( Sydney, Australia )
James Owens, Two PoemsIn Reply to a Chinese Poet
In shade and solitude,
a mouse-haired girl fritters pages and pages
in vain attempts to catch the love that weaves
mist-like and vaporous through her garden.
Across the room
a cricket lies hidden in a curtain fold across the window
singing his ardent fullness to her sleeping ears,
wishing at once he were human and could calm her woe.
( Northport, Alabama )Danna Jae BotwickError
Alfred Jarry wrote: "The soul is a tic."
At first I misread that line,
thinking he had written "tick,"
and I saw what he would have meant:
the soul grown fat and parasitic
on the body’s juices, hanging lazy
and bloated, from the back of the knee,
or eager, drilling for the jugular.
As if the body
might give one pest-crazed, canine shake
and be free, the dislodged soul
a thing to be stepped on but
remember your death-vision in the mountains
last spring, birdsong fading,
new leaves fading from your numbed eyes.
You wanted to run, but your legs
were gone, or became legs of snow.
Hansel in the Cage
Don’t go in the woods!
The woods are in the woods!—Gunter Grass
At the crux of the pathless,
we lay down and wept
when our footprints deserted us.
A shade among shadows
before her, a sword, a flame
candling our bones.
The sky cowered,
leaves hid their eyes.
The tracks refused to follow.
with a wet tearing,
they flew off in squads,
chittering and squawking,
the past tumbling
like wind from our aching,
( Las Vegas, Nevada )Robert Klein Engler, Three PoemsBody Parts
to write of parts
than the whole
to separate your hand
cupping my breast
from the cloud moving, subtle
grey across my brain
It is easier to feel you inside
than to feel you
I can imagine lust
easier than love
Cliché movie plots
plotting against me
like your parts
like a man
I can separate
from my thoughts
It acts and reacts
voluntary and in
It wants you inside
a leg wrapped
an arm cradled
a breath between
my pulse here
I do not have to look
to know your
And the rest is an
( Chicago, Illinois / New Orleans, Louisiana )The Cliff Divers of Acapulco: Thanksgiving DayFor A. N.
Tonight we share the chronic sore of kinship.
A tired family from America sits down to eat.
In this soap opera, they sip the soup of convention,
stuff their hearts with cranberry blood,
then unbutton their pants to sleep on the couch.
Disappointment clouds their eyes
the way fog turns to frost on the trees.
The cats, asleep on their breast,
rise and fall with the tide of breathing.
Amber light from the fireplace licks the leather chairs.
For special effects, a design of brads on each arm
curves to brass question marks.
Outside, raw Minnesota air congeals
around one suburban house after another.
How can I be hard on them?
I come from this stock, too, yet thirty years of work
has not made a dimple in the tin ceiling of the world.
The old lesson that love is suffering slides
beneath the ice of the lake like a car used in a kidnapping.
Come midnight, the crime freezes over, and the beast
snarls the steam of its clotted breath into winter.
Be quiet! Maybe it will not know we are here.
Pretend to dress in the humid cotton of a tropic night.
Say this prayer: "Meditation is betrayal."
Please, let someone else tell us about our spoiled
lives in symbols that fall like glitter from above.
We want this gay melodrama to give glory
to all the gauze of winter and the grave.
The sharp light off sheets of ice teaches us
that most marriages mature to grumbles.
Beauty lies with its momentary eternity.
Let's promise instead intimacy to merchants
and later push shopping carts
through chrome rows of frozen food.
How do you tell a young man about our past,
or why some men flame on even in abandonment?
Youth does not see in the candlelight of memory.
"Why would a man spend a lifetime waiting for another
air to fill the room," he asks? "I mean, life is music video!"
The circuit world of romance is given, never taken away.
Because our love is queer, we learn to wait.
He stands behind the cash register looking at me.
I am the only one who comes here alone to eat.
We are alike. He knows it. He is afraid.
From another hall a melody lingers like incense.
Then I imagine I leave off writing and go up to my room.
He is there combing the oiled mahogany of his hair.
I hear the sweet company of his voice
and move around his body like a moon.
We watch the sun set behind rooftop vents,
and then slip behind a ridge with its picket of trees.
Here the Gnostics preach their cure to live removed.
Forgive me, I still approve the fire above the frost.
The ice of a morning walk alone to the supermarket
focuses my mind. Already, the slow dip of hills
wears the glass shawl of new office buildings.
I buy what I need and then sit close to them
as we drive to the train station.
In the winter of our settlement, they hope
we can slide by on a sullen sled of silence.
Last month the doctors cut my brother's chest
open and played with his failing heart.
It takes courage to be patient with such techniques.
Yet who awards the "confirmed bachelor" a medal?
The sponge of liberalism has soaked
their minds so that we still remain invisible.
Heat and odor from all that is human perfumes the car.
The old familiarity from our common childhood rides
as a ghost beside us. Odd man out without a wife,
I try to encourage them to a life of reason,
on earth as it is in heaven. They know me too well,
for even now I pretend I have no longing, but I do.
It is an up hill walk along Calle Quebrada, and then below
we see La Plancha, with waves crashing around it.
Hope burns in me. They leap, before my heart melts.
French Quarter Coffeehouse BluesFor David
Listen to the rain run its laughter down the gutters.
I wanted this careless music and the flicker
of gas lamps above the damp flagstones.
The twin doors swing open with a breath of wind.
Can he hear them unlock, high flying to the north?
Listen to the glide of rain like silk on wands of glass.
Work and Love
It happens that snow melts,
even as graves hollow the bones
they hold in the dark box
of shadow and soil, it happens
that the sun warms abandoned seeds
and they swell through moist loam,
even as the widow opens her coat
and follows with her eyes a flight
of birds, coming or going, high above
the countryside of absence and renewal.
This is the work of love that happens,
as we talk and talk, believe it or not.
II - The Frame Of Reckoning
III - American Hunger
IV - Rose of Whispered Rain
Featured Poet - Ruth Daigon
Winter 2001 Issue