At the World's Well


Corrine De Winter
( Springfield, Massachusetts )
Wrestling Desire

It was your face, came from some past life
Where you were a suave minister
Handling snakes on Saturday nights
And I was the town whore.
Secretly you wanted me,
Dreamed of sliding those serpents
Between my thighs
To see if I would suffer
Or be lit with ecstasy.

When you look at me
Is she ready to dive, does she
Swallow you in her smile?

All morning I lay awake
Thinking of those 40 Proof confessions,
Touching my mouth
And wanting you there.

It was your face, until you spoke
That blew around me
From out of nowhere,
Settling like snow
In my brain.

"Men cannot stop," you said.
So, how deep are you willing to go?
This is a foreign country—
Need a passport, good reason to visit,
Friends waiting when you arrive.
Without directions
Could get messy.

Sex is cryology.
Sex is a stray cat
Looking for a home.
Sex is everything
You've ever read.
Sex is high,
White noise,
Kite caught in the branches.
Sex is alleyways,
Dark corners.
Sex is snow trying
To stay whole in June.

Everything I touched last night
And this morning was tender.
My own skin.
Fractals of you.

Why don't you say it?

1. Warm your hands as if preparing to sculpt.
2. Place your hand above the left breast to feel the heart.
3. Remember it's there.
4. With both hands feel the curve of my hips, down to my thighs.
5. Two ways you can go from here.

It was the first time I saw you
In that February attic,
Which proved how I could
Wrestle with desire all night
And never win.

I just wanted to look.

Did I cut too deep,
Does it hurt?

Yes, it hurts.

Did I press too hard,
Do you want me to stop?

Keep going.

We all have that fear in the dark
At times that we don't exist.
That we have finally become
A little swirl of dust
In the vast universe.

I want to be everything,
To be everywhere.
You've read me, you should know.
But what's real and what's bullshit?
Am I faithful
Or do I
Open up for anyone?

A fortune teller once told me
I was a nun in my past life.
I'd first become one after my lover
Was lanced through the heart and killed.
I vowed never to love another, she said.

I was a nun four times

& a priest in France once.
Then she leaned over and said:
"There's no need to be celibate in this lifetime."

If you stare at a flower
It will never bloom.
If you stare at the moon
You will go mad.
If you come for me
I'll write about you
And everyone who reads it will know—
So, tell me, what part of you
Don't you want me
To turn into prose?

Sentimental- sordid- Sweet stuff.
Sweetheart I want to

Tell you

Like honey

That you are beautiful,
That when we stand close
I feel that pull,
Those butterflies urgent for freedom.
And talking to you
Is like dancing, on and on
When all I want is to stop
And taste you.

Passion trips me.

Do I press too hard,
Do you want me
To stop?

To lie on black water by Cheryl Dodds

( Mansfield, Ohio )

Annette Marie Hyder
( Apple Valley, Minnesota )
Dancing With The Minotaur

We flash, white moths through dark corridors,
growing more substantial with every wing-step we take.
This maze that so confounds us is of our own construction
and as we lose ourselves we find what's really there.

We coalesce into dancers, balletic athletes straining,
fluttering our hands like graceful birds, like messengers of meaning.
If we are toe-steppers eager to flip over horns,
it is because our feet cannot help arching—

our backs remember wings
and our arms cradle Grace as if she were a child
whom we press to our bare bosoms as we leave
bell-shaped skirts behind as signs, as markers,
as a thread to find the way
back out.

If there are snakes
we carry them with us, coil them with our own hands
around our throats and wear them now as jewelry.
We are unclothed and glisten in our readiness
to grip the Minotaur; to sway and leap to celebrate

our reckless triumph over its broad back and black gaze.
We laugh with giddy pleasure for knowing this is what we do best,
even with the goring horn there is the sweet gained knowledge
that we can contest with the monster; dance with the Minotaur.

Fred Johnston, Two Poems
( Galway, Ireland )
In Situ

(for David Hogan)

A middle-aged woman
Lifts her hand, 
Points a finger
At a boat in the bay—
You can take it she’s marking
            A new land
                        A breath away.


The botanist’s poems
            Are full of flowers. 


Are the pub walls full of the music?
Does a guitar receive the songs it plays—
Does the guitar sing them?
Is the fiddle where the tunes go— 
Can we see in pub mirrors
All the faces that went before? 


As she rises
From the yellow fire
She is all light to the rim
Of her face:
This is how poetry works,
                        The familiar.

The Romantics
: for Mike and Petra :

By the coachload they pilgrimage
Into the postcards and watercolours
       Of early retirement dreams. 

On a stone wall a man leans
The day away, full of stones,
       Stones in his head and heart.

On a laptop computer a woman
Begins her novel —  An American
       Girl Touring Ireland Finds Love.

Thin-boned sheep settle in ditches,
Fleece yellowing, wild, uncared for:
       The fields fold away into mountains.

A big loud man in tartan trousers
Poses his wife against a stone bridge,
       Crying: John Wayne stood here!

Rain comes off the Atlantic,
A scarf of black salt dragged over
       The scalp of the hag at the world's well.

Rebecca Lu Kiernan
( on the Gulf of Mexico )

The painting, Persuasion looms over his waterbed
Nude female back in torn jeans, entangled alabaster
Male dropping a rose, left half of the closet bare, two
Drawers of the cherry dresser empty, kitchen scrubbed
Smelling of bleach and blueberry pie. Leftover shrimp
Fettuccine from last night's dark Italian restaurant boxed
In refrigerator, cobalt Mustang erased from cobblestone
Drive. There must have been signs. Soft spoken, polite
Scorpion ferrying guest across silver river cannot fight its
Nature. Perhaps this engineer in his fragile elegance
Designed a woman who could sparkle ghostlike against
Flesh, bone, chose to cross the water at any price, easier
Than pills or a bullet to the head, nine wet nights of movie
Quality sex, the cul-de-sac people slapping his back for the
Trophy snatched from emerald neon waves, a sugar
Beach paradise. One gets what one deserves, traveling
Back in time to the Gulf of Mexico for the one that got
Away. Beware the fish brought up too quickly without
Struggle, insides explode from the change in pressure, any
Head that fails to fight is already damaged, must not be
Consumed. But this kind of seed is delicious, somehow
Has a prescience for the hunter's craving, his missing rib.
A mermaid cut wedding dress is missing. She will wear it
With wings on Halloween with a bee keeper who took her
On a single sailboat journey under a full crimson moon and
Let the pre-hurricane wind decide, moving slowly as one
Who had salved enough stings, cradling her dizzy head in his
Hands, gliding her across the Gulf, showing her the curve of
The earth as no man had dared. Pity the soul who relies on
Acts of persuasion, he will be forever sliced by one who
Waits for destiny's haphazard strike, turns against the card
Cut prophecy, this woman is a hornet's nest, flicks his tongue
Expecting honey, wrings his stinging hands as her raven hair
Cuts like glass fragments, finds his knees in an uncharted
Forest and wills the angel, "Come to me."

Chuck Forester
( San Francisco, California )
Reading Men’s Poetry

Tonight you offer me vodka
and the chance to read poems about the body,
written by men. Poems to bellies and noses,
to manhood and spleen.

I don't think I have much
to offer until you get
to the poem in which the body is a donkey
pulling a cart down Time's dusty road

with the brain asleep at the reins.
I read it a second time, fascinated
by the perfect details, like watching
Christmas windows at Marshall Field’s,

but I don't buy the argument, so I lean over
and announce that my body has won
twenty-two successive survival medals since
entering the HIV Jamboree and a sash

of merit badges in Pharmacology.
And you smile, a little amazed
at either my clumsy arrogance or being
willing to laugh at a wretched disease.

When we read a poem on sexual desire
I feel like the madam who says, yes,
your dick has a mind of its own
and a wisdom, too, then whisper

that you could be missing out on the aching joy
of allowing yourself to be swallowed whole
like a snake that swallows another snake, inch by inch.
You writhe inside yourself stripping inhibitions

and let the consequences waltz down
the hallway where maybe you'll want your ass
slapped 'til its red, or play with yourself like a teenager,
drunk on losing control. And at the end

of the day, you crawl back into bed with
the echo of pain and release in your loins,
thank your body for such a good time
and leave the shade open so you don't miss a thing.

Kirby Wright
( Vista, California )

Material matters will be destroyed
by spiritual beings who will remain
to create one world and one nation.
Hopi Prophecy

Things spill out with frequency,
especially childhood beatings and secrets.
Remember when you used to lie
on your back on grass
and play with the clouds?

   Now find a seat on the salt train and
   watch your face get pulled by wires across a cloudless sky.

These gray heavens
shower my accomplishments,
but beyond the quivering magnolias
the ocean laughs.  I fill my life with little miseries,
trying to disguise surface weaknesses.
Does what's on the inside trickle out
and spill into morning coffee,
me drinking my reflection
again and again?

See the skeletons dance their dance for flesh.
They move like the rivers move
beneath this city, quiet and desperate.
Overhead, a plane does its mock planet routine.
The moon pulls our bodies over walls,
joins our shadows.  Horizon bleeds, spills twilight.
The sky?  In pain.

   I hurry my crabmeat self
   over the bones of the forgotten,
   foraging for things I don't understand,
   things that won't resist my claws.

I - Old Dance, New Paint
II - A Most Inconvenient Appetite
III - Ground Heavy With Thought

Featured Poet - E. Ethelbert Miller

Credo - Tim Scannell

A Review - Nell Maiden

Summer 2002 Issue
Submission Guidelines