Villa Giols Pond by Paula Grenside

( Italy )


Laurel K. Dodge
( Ohio )
(for Jenni)

What if the hummingbird does not hover
and the sky is not cracked in half by lightning 
jags  and the sunflower  doesn’t bend over—
you never suckled at your mother’s breast—
and you open a broken umbrella
even though the street’s not wet
and glass bells sound the same whether rung 
or shattered, and the duck gives up its neck
without so much as a flutter or quack,
and the impact of a pin dropped on the floor
is absorbed by the house’s silence.

The ruby throat is not lured by your false
nectar, the sky is not an eggshell,
the sunflower is not calcium-deficient hag,
and vodka is not water in the glass.
You will turn on the gas. You will turn off 
the lamp. The flash will remind you
of your grandfather wielding his camera
Smile! he always demanded. The goddammit, 
implied,  was never uttered. You will hear 
a buzz but the maggots can’t fly yet.

Marge Piercy, Three Poems
( Wellfleet, Massachusetts )
October nor’easter

Leaves rip from the trees
still green as rain scuds
off the ocean in broad grey
scimitars of water hard
as granite pebbles flung
in my face.

Sometimes my days are torn
from the calendar, 
hardly touched and gone, 
like leaves too fresh
still to fall littering
sodden on the bricks.

But I have had them –
torrents of days.  Who
am I to complain they
shorten?  I used them
hard, wore them out
and down, grabbed

at what chance offered.
If I stand stripped 
and bare, my bones
still shine like opals
where love rubbed sweetly,
hard, against them.


Many, many loves

So many things we can love:
a man, a woman, a friend, a cat. 
We can love a sugar maple
turning orange from the bottom up;
we can love a weeping beech
with its twisting arms, the lush tent
branches make sweeping the ground.

We can love a pond, a shore, a boat.
We can love a painting, a flag, 
abstractions like honor and country.
We can love icons and temples.
A house, a yard, a woods, a path
that leads us wandering toward
the place we’d most like to be.

Some can love a car – I never could –
a book, a doll, a necklace or ring.
Some can love family and some can’t.
Some – the luckiest – can love 
themselves without narcissism
just saying, well I am this, I could 
do better now and probably I will.

Bread dreams

The slow rise of the dough
is a breast forming on a young
girl, as if we were watching years
ripen her body.

The yeasty smell’s a bit like sex,
a little like fruit.  The seeds
wink from dough the color
of chocolate milk.  The seeds

are slender like black crescent
moons but are many as stars.
I bite down hard on a caraway
to devour its sharp savor.

I bury my hands in the dough
and then slap it, bang it,
divide it only to marry it
to itself, punched down.

Now I am folding it over and 
over.  I imagine sleeping
in warm dough.  I imagine
I’m kneaded into it to dream

oh, soundly, sweetly, with
seeds in my hair.  I rise, 
I enlarge, I am four times
what I was and ready to bake.

Alan Britt
( Reisterstown, Maryland )
Idea That Became a Creature

Is this about an idea
that became a creature?

Not exactly.

But I thought…

That’s well documented.
Your theories have swirled
like dust devils
through the empty halls
of academia
for millennia.
Now it’s time
to place your brain
in a hammock,
a chrysalis
if you like,
but a swaying reality,

And after you release your gaze
from the largest hornets’ nest
this side of these Mid-Atlantic states,
we’ll visit
a vivid
yellow and black
garden spider
hovering in the breeze
barely three nervous twitches
from her two thousand
and one
quivering eggs.

Aleah Sato
( Toronto, Canada )

This is not me.
This is not faithless poison.
This is not your arms around my
This is not my aching.

These are not your words
on the receiver.
This is not my ticking bomb,
the eating out of someone's heart.

This is not you or
your god blinking through
This is not white Christmas

with me in your kitchen.
This is me breaking the dishes.
These are not greasy

This is you in the doorway
thinking about us
bending into
something ugly.

This is me watching you
and leave
like a magician.

Robert Persons
( Madison, Wisconsin )

When the machinist leaves
his instruments of measure
and cuts in bronze, to cool
in his cozy home,
what do his machines begin to think?
as they stand (how
do they stand?) in a slinking relax
of springs, grinding unmesh
of gears, pop
of warm metal skins in the cooling air?

And what thinks the man,
in his cozy home,
of his muscles slunk before the TV tube,
his breath unwound from grinding
routine, fingers curled
about a cool glass or
a warm and yielding breast?

Do they ever think, the man
and his machine - in their hours freed
from the business of living -
of wasp skins, say, cracking like bones,
or continents rippling
like scales on the gilling fish?
Sailors slicing like knives through the tapes
that wrap their mistress, or
astronauts erupting
like slivers from the planet's gossamer sheath?

Or have they thought even grander,
of great telescopes from vacant
light years away watching
and puzzling out the mystery
of our many skins cooling
shrinking about our beers and bearings
or squeezing on our pliant boobs?

T. E. Ballard, Three Poems
( Minneapolis, Minnesota )

Swoop down between carts at Kmart—
eyes flashing. 

Even in the rows of corn in Iowa
I’ve seen their white bodies rise like foam 
from a green sea. 

A lover once said she bought her house
for this reason 
because even twenty miles out

from the Atlantic, seagulls found her door.

I knew nothing of corn.
I knew nothing of the way it rattles with white birds.

Answer the questions: 

How far to travel for the taste of salt?
Do you carry the sea in your yellow beak?

I have two loves
one is day, one night---
What do I call you then? Wind

moving the carts to their corral.
One is a silver bird. One has mated with a crow.


Birds Are Skimming The Window

I tell them this is not a good life choice
even though the birds are sidestepping, glazing their right wing 
over the rhododendrons, their left on the glass.

My daughter and I are putting together the skeleton of a sparrow,
carefully we are trying to construct the impossible flight.

Olivia says she wants to die first
please don’t go before me.
We are selfish in this act of loving.
We are selfish in laying down bones.

I want to tell her, I am older it is my right.
I will open the window.

The baby is sleeping and my sister’s son died blue. 
There are photographs in the morning paper
of children without hands

and I do not wonder 
how they eat or bathe
but simply, how their mother explains
what is lost will never return.

Because my daughter wouldn't accept
she’d say everything will come back. 

She has said this to the bird.

Already The Dead Are Beginning To Speak Our Names

You say wind, I say tree.  The pit of a peach has no flesh. Yes, stone.  
There’s only one way to open a lid, the opposite of time.  
Travel the road of a clock, everything will tighten, nothing escapes.  
You say cold, I say prison. Together two hands form a bowl.  
Whisper your word here and my thumb will be the handle to your mouth.  
You say drink, I say now.  The opposite of the fear is patience. 
A hand is not meant to be a cup, in the instrument of language
it’s merely a tool for saying hello, goodbye.

Barbara A Taylor
( Australia )
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair

                                        —Kahlil Gibran

We listen to Earth beat but our sounds
skip to different rhythms. You look at this
landscape but do not hear, do not feel or
see the same. Like lava, sticky sap flows, 
oozes in treacle marbles from ancient 
lichen-covered limbs. Anurous skinks scurry.
A small lace monitor makes scratchy sounds 
in streaks across silky-oak floors. Flocks
of scarlet-headed finches flit in frenzied 
flecks of color. Green frog croaks like a 
distant didgeridoo; goanna races in rustling
sprints up high-rise trees. Slender hooded 
orchids greet light, stretch tall in waving, 
shaking shadows—stirred, mottled
perspectives. Yet, you say that you feel
quite alone, unmoved by friendly calls
of the crickets or cicadas.

Kelley J. White
( Philadelphia, Pennsylvania )

His thoughts were ants seeking breadcrumbs.
They carried nineteen times their weight: charcoal
ashes, hot raindrops, crystalline sugar, and salt.

Did they taste sunlight?  In Buenos Aires Tupac
strikes a match against this footsole.  Girl,
you will tie that knot tomorrow, its greasy ribbons,

todos anos, bind the scepters of the forgotten—
his memory’s a net.  Signifying monkey, when
will the spider forget? If he says it it must be true—

bees need sea breeze, the jaguar’s pajamas,
singe the hot iron of animosity, boil the wax face
of truth.  This nail recalls the whispers

of childbirth. El condor pasa. They have threaded
the chambered nautilus with wheat spun to gold.

Oswald LeWinter
( Germany )
The Dog Days
for Tom Forstenzer

The limp trees and dried streambeds
are common and require no comments.
What lies heavily on our worries
like leaden leaves the trees shed,
is our inhuman condition, thinkers
exhausted, armies bathed in sweat,
lying about, among used beer cans
and legislators mute as granite,
their swollen tongues soldered
to dry lips. The city gates are ajar!
The desert outside shimmers below
fumes rising from fried sediment.

Ragged cavalry on scrawny geldings
gallop the distance of the walls in ever-
diminishing circles. Their mounts
cast no shadows and throw no sprays
of sand behind them. Should we fear
these harbingers of flimsiness?
We ourselves have nothing but rot
in our silos, and can offer only
the comradeship of hopeless want.
Hunger huddles in the city’s doorways,
illegal squatters from a future
none of us envisions, in our stupor.

If only an Apocalypse would descend
from over the smudged clouds, a Deus
Ex Machina, to proclaim a caesura, rain
to change the vast desert back into the ocean
it was before the climate avenged the rape
of Nature by her mad sons. Against all
wisdom and experience, instincts convince
us to set stone on stone, to raise shelters
for unborn children whose mothers will
squeeze milk from dried breasts, and find
clichés to chisel into the brow of mountains
to warn the Epigoni that change is life.

G. F. Diaz
( Denver, Colorado )
....to match the strut

"In life, I am working my way up to 
owning a pair of red shoes" –
The world will end: soon after, but not before
the monks erase her initials off every sidewalk, bar,
men's room, pool table, and church pew -
Forever vanishing the tale of a woman immortalized
by a pair of sling-backs.

II - The Dust of Worry
III - Windy Vowels, Consonant Doors
IV - To Carry Emptiness

Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus

Featured Poet - Robert Lietz

Current Issue - Fall 2006