Persephone in the Field

metallic daymares of an unwoman by Cheryl Dodds


Andrea Potos, Three Poems
( Madison, Wisconsin )
When He Looked at Her

She remembered her child self:
an arrangement of black dots
on the activity book pages. Her father’s eyes,
the hand that held the pen,
the ink that connected the dots
to reveal the invisible figure.

She imagined his open palms
laden with crayons: rows of sunrise orange,
emerald, vermillion,
the twilight blue he would use
to color her in;

or the lines formed on the silver surface
of the etch-a-sketch
as his fingers twirled the dials –
how carefully the screen must be held,
the seconds it would take
for the picture to be erased.

Persephone in the Field

I never dreamed this field
contained anything but flowers,
that the ground had a mouth,
that a horned god
could loiter beneath roots
of tall grasses, weeds,
stalk me through the scope
of his greed,
with a hunter’s stone patience
he could watch my movements – wait
for the angles of my imbalance
as I leaned to pick my mother’s lilies.

Body Work

I am not like the others,
lounging in the easy
space of their skin.

Inside this flesh fortress, dread
is a fume leaking
through the cracks.
What will I find, crawling
the dry, chipped steps like the stairwell
of Bluebeard's castle,
the cellar where the bones
of the women are stashed.

Our leader instructs us to find
our root,
and my body – that surprise – pushes
beyond me – pulses
just above the tunnel where my daughter
climbed out wailing for her life.
There, I feel a small burning,
a lost pyramid scorched by light.

James Owens
( Northport, Alabama )
Movement Toward and Away From:
An Extrapolation for the Boy Observed Last Weekend at Winn-Dixie


Loud, and a ragged hitch in the middle of the cycle, there is breathing, no other sound, in the room, but only his own breath, wet in his mouth, branching cold behind his chest, and the other self he is and who lives here doesn't breathe, waits silent, for what? Terrified. He has just stepped back into this house for the first time in twenty years. Now his breath smoothes, quietens. No one here, as he could have seen from the broken windows, from the darkness, from the still unvisited grave just miles distant. Glass cracks underfoot, from the windows, and he wishes he had thrown those stones, doesn't try the lights, remembers: in the dark it is easiest to pretend you aren't there, aren't anywhere, anything. Then, the reason he has come in the middle of the night, drunken impulse, except he isn't drunk, he fumbles, waits, shudders, and a stream arches invisible in the dark, hot and live in the cold room, spatters in the middle of the floor, what he can never tell anyone, because this victory comes beyond reason or explanation, victory's own piss-smell that will simmer in the room again and again, every visit, until he decides to burn it all down, planning that even now....


Suppose you are five years old at the supermarket, and you have to go to the restroom, can't hold it, can't, toilet out of order, your father's fingers steel warning rings around your wrist, then you are spraddle-legged in the cereal aisle, dark hot stain spreading down inside both thighs, all the customers buying cereal, and you wanted cereal, too, all turning to you, turning away, disgusted, little broken squeals in your mouth, you tried....

When that happens, and your father's fist, blood-taste, and you are lying on the supermarket tile, tears starting, don't you know, who do you think you are, don't you know you will lift trembling and crawl toward him, toward?

There is nowhere else to go.

This is the orbit where you live.

Lots of things happen after that, but you can't leave, can't crawl away.

Even when you do leave, you can't leave.

Even when you come back, you were never gone.

Eve Stern
( Cambridge, Massachusetts )
Sick Day

after “The Very Same” by Paul Monette

When the fever really hits it is like i am
a tourist in hawaii bodysurf
ing stupid and the largest wave comes along and
breaks my spine like so much starfish dust when
there is nothing to do but lie
crumpled or lie still or lie tousled
but the one thing i cannot do right then is
lie about my childhood when
i am in that kind of state of mind when i cannot get
away from being sick when i was small and the
state of fear like no other state i've ever visited wait
ing for the visit from my father his footsteps
coming down the hall not
the precise clicks of my mother's pity
ing stilettoes but the purposeful walk of teach
ing me a lesson i am now 36 and i am still stick
ing the thermometer in my mouth every five or six
minutes to say look it says i have a fever because i
know what will happen if it says i do not have
one i have tried the putting of the mercury ruler inside
the vaporizer til it burst i have bitten down
upon the glass to make it crack open to rid myself
of quicksilver proof can i tell a dead man that it took a
doctor a few years ago to tell me that my normal body
temp is way below normal and that 98.6 is
a fever for my body would it have made
that dead man say i'm sorry or would he still have
done the thing he thought was
right the thing he did for love the yank
ing of the covers from the
tiny frightened body the haul
ing of the uncivil disobedient down
the stairs and out the door in nightgown bathrobe fuzzy
slippers pink and if my brother was sick too but
without fever as if fever were the only proof of fire
as if flame were the only proof of heat then my brother
was in his racing car pyjamas and the red vinyl
slippers with the elastic near
his ankles and we were shoved into the back of the car scream
ing for our lives and so so so imperfect in
the perfect car with its red leather
seats and ivory steer
ing wheel and its righteous driver who never
ever got sick and the thermometer was the
ruler against which all things were judged
his love was measured by the heat that was passed
through the mercury our love for him as well and if
we did not love him in a feverish state then
it was off to school with us in these humiliating clothes on
as proof of love not punishment and we sobbed until
we drooled all the way to the edge of Edgemoor Place
and then the hydrants stopped
the very second our bodies were shoved out
the door closed behind us the locks click
ing into place and my brother and i took hold of that door
and held and held and pleaded and held and yelled and i
would take my brother by the waist while he would
hold the door and he would try to reason with the window
closed the father's face in grimace
behind glass and the wheels would
begin to move and our feet moved with them
as long as they could until the wheels and the car and
the loving grimaced father were gone and
there was nothing hiding us from the
other side of Edgemoor Place no
car no wheels no father just
us in our pyjamas and the silence of the stares
from the teachers and the parents and the kids no
words said just open mouths and it was
then we shut our own it was then we held hands and
calmly walked as if it meant nothing across the street up
the widest stairs and into the building my brother walk
ing me to my classroom because i was
the smaller of the two and only break
ing handhold at the door and we would
pass each other in the halls between
classes and say absolutely nothing like
twins with secret language like
refugees who speak the arcane tongue of a tiny
duchy long defeated there was once just once a
teacher who took me to the locker room and
had me change into my gym uniform because she
couldn't stand to see it anymore there was one just
one adult i think who challenged my father's love
the way they should have by crack
ing the ruler
across his knuckles by send
ing him home without any lunch i remember
the note be
ing pinned to my bathrobe please have her
bring a set of clothes
for school next time
because we all knew
there would be a next time
we all knew my father wanted us to be that
good and this was the way
he would work for our goodness
through this crucible of shame when i saw
him in the hospital bed with his head sewn like
an awful doll's it is a testament to
something that i did not
want him to put on his clothes i did
not want to drive him to his job in his hospital
johnny only when he was dying that large and he
forced himself to go to work in his bathrobe driving
his motorscooter in his pyjamas and his sneakers
did i understand that he had not done to us
anything worse than he would do
to himself and that was more awful
than anything the never rest
ing the never good enough the never say
ing there there it's all okay or at least at some
point it will be because it never was with him it
never was enough
not until the last two hours of his life when
everything was so enough it was a lifetime of
enough it was the very birth of enough itself
and i laughed out loud it was so
enough and he cooed like a baby with enough
and he lived it and then he died and i was still
alive and i laughed and cried
and put him in my heart and he lives there
peaceful most days until the fevers come and
then he rises from the vaporizer steam
ing like a hungry loving ghost

David Citino
( Columbus, Ohio )
Peter Pan

What surprises this world holds for children. 
       Closets, cupboards, night stands, drawers. 
              Small hands, prying eyes, fingers that try
and try to pull with all their might

before the trigger clicks and then the jolt
       that travels back from little hands 
              up two arms all the way to the heart. 
Take Taniqua, for example. She pushes 

a kitchen chair over to the high cabinet, 
       steps up and reaches to the very top shelf, 
              knowing it’s where her father hides 
his Peter Pan Crunchy, so the children 

don’t mess with his stash. She’s been hungry 
       all day, most days. What her hand grabs 
              and brings down fast is not a meal 
but heavy steel, a .22 concealed 
by a cousin, half-brother or someone
       in the right colors who hangs with mother’s 
              boyfriend. Mother this moment is on 
her knees at the side of the bed

where the landlord sits, pants 
       around his ankles, when the child 
              walks in the room and, thinking Mama 
is being hurt, the moans she’s making—

he’s ordered her to make him hear 
       how much she loves what she’s doing 
              to him—and his groans, real enough, 
and the girl, as she’s seen TV people fire, 

fires, hitting her mother in the side 
       of the head. This is no scolding, 
              cautionary tale about leaving guns where 
kids stumble on them, or landlords 

who screw the poor, just a trick played 
       on a girl pulled by hunger from her bed 
              one night from dreams of peanut butter 
to wear the veil of matricide—Surprise, 

surprise, O little pretty one, darling girl 
       who won’t, who won’t grow up because 
              you put a bullet in your mother’s brain.

Cheryl Dodds - Eye Music

II - Debris of Dreams
III - Are You Listening?
IV - Monologues for an Apocalypse

Ace Boggess - Abuse Cycle
Marty McConnell - girl on the tracks
Julie Bonaduce - The Company Of
Gary Whitehead - Tableaux
Alan Catlin - in the pitch of Citrus

Spring Supplement 2002 Issue
Winter 2002 Issue