Silhouette of a Plume


Cathryn Shea
( Mill Valley, California )
Green Interment

My ash may not be as fine as I’d hoped.
The bay fills up with sediment
from loved ones cremated. As I speak:

Scattering at sea just became

Burial in terra firma is out.
Wouldn’t be green.
Can’t donate every last part of me,
something’s always left
to dispose of.

My revised will:
She requests to be fed
to the hogs...
But I can’t disappoint my funeral seekers—

A new enterprise springs forth:
fake caskets to remain empty,
gilt like the real thing,
an array of shades, varnished
That truly degrades.

Susan Terris, Three Poems
( California )
Fly Paper

Sticky yellowish stuff meant
to trap house flies.
When my father’s swatter
couldn’t murder enough,
we’d hang the twisted paper from 
the kitchen light
		where I’d watch
the pests, glued by one wing, 
shriveling as
their many-eyed buzzing
lives ebbed away. 
		To catch a fly
with bare hands, I learned, 
poise them above and clap 
as it rises—the only way 
a fly can take off—
straight up. Splat! A more
humane death? Perhaps. . . .

Laundry Chute

My cousin MG and I often threatened—
in jest—to slide my baby sister down;
but we never did. Nor did we try it.
Two floors through space to the white wooden cage
in the cellar seemed unwise, even to
feral spirits like ours. 
                            But we used it to play
a private game. Dirty laundry carried upstairs
by MG and dropped again down the chute to
cover me lying in the cage. Then she’d sprint
to the cellar and rattle the bars 
until I rose up, a howling white phantom from beneath
a mound of soiled sheets 
                            and underwear
that smelled oddly sweet like my father’s skin, 
like my mother’s, like my father
and mother together.


Before I could read, I owned one, owned 
Tubby the Tuba, too, plus other sets of children’s
purple-labeled records. My Victrola had 
a turntable, a mechanical arm that pinched 
a gold-tipped needle and played dinner-
plate sized black records. 
                                           Later, obsessed by
Margot Fonteyn, I spun Blue Danube 
records, made the Hillside house rattle with 
arabesques and tour jetés; but back then I 
just wanted to kill the sound of Black Sambo. 
Each time a Sambo platter would—
pre-literate, remember—start to play, 
I’d take it and break it.
			Not yet alert to
political-correctness, I broke records, 
because I feared the tigers’ buttery roars, 
preferred, you see, Tubby or the deeply-scratched 
Songs of Safety, though the needle stuck 
when it hit the “Train Song”:
			Stay away from the rrrrrrrrrrr...
			 ... away from the rrrrrrrrr...
	                     ... away from the rrrrrrrrr....

Steve Meador, Two Poems
( Florida )
Muse at the Mesa

The autumn sky
harbors no nimbus,
but rains beautiful words,
and pushes mares’ tails
past winter’s cold
into the folly 
of spring's galloping winds.
Stallions are grazing
late summer grass.


My neighbor hangs out Christmas lights,
tacking strands along the eaves. This year
he also strings the sides and back, hovering 
above his domain on a wooden ladder.
His wife has cancer, breast, then brain, now bone. 
The worst has saved its best till last and wrapped
a black wreath around their home. The staple gun
clickitaclucks another cell from their lives.
His thoughts scatter across gray shingles, drip 
onto the bright icicles he hopes will burn away evil. 
Next year he’ll string lights solely for the season.

J. Alan Nelson
( Waco, Texas )
Acts Become Memory

This brutal law of nature
is known as an inverse-square law. 
The force of attraction between two objects
depends on their two masses multiplied together,
divided by the square of the distance between them.

Two you can calculate, such as my wrecked mind
leap-frogging forwards and backwards across the decades,
my calendar and the woman in Paris, 
or my ticket, invalidated, and the woman’s cat
lying in her lap, unaware of me, and content. 

Three, however, bring too much uncertainty. 
Three become Wilde’s Art for Art’s sake, 
because logic’s sake cannot predict I continually suffer
from that time long ago, that clamps its static locale 
around this variable present, desperate that I am 
who I was then. 

Deborah Vatcher
( Massachusetts )
Burn Out
are you asking a question, or telling a story

she was impatient to know

I didn’t even know

the ceiling lined by blood
vessels of conduit and cables
the circulation of powered electricity
heating air conditioning what 
ever breathed life into the dome
ran under the bone of the roof
red pipes for hot
blue for cold
silver for pulsing volts
white for air huffing blowing
what sparked in the room
under that arched ceiling 
exposed like a first-year anatomy lesson
with no scalp to cover 
when combustion ate its
way through the oxygen
I was near the door but she was
confused in the spark and flame
and there was only bone left to identify
as I held her skeleton in my arms
and fixed a button 
see what you’re doing
she said
you a doctor
where are your eyes

Kevin Carrier
( Bluff City, Tennessee )
Remnants in the Dust

I asked the girl
If the soldiers
Had ever marched
Outside her windows
As they had mine
She never answered me
		Caught up in a dream
A product of sunny childhood no doubt
One I'd never known
She came out long enough
To tell me
How she had taken advantage of the poets
And how she had summoned the countrymen to meet
To invade the city
And the livestock will dance to harp music
And look after the children
And the children would look through their bedroom keyholes
To find the moon behind their eyes
And the earth on their feet
She told me of a frozen A-frame house
With snakes in the gutters
And a lion in the window
And of an empty spacesuit
Floating past Mars
For gravity had forgotten to kiss it goodnight
She fell asleep in her father’s arms
			I felt the boulders
			Pinning my heels to the sky
And my words – 
I spoke in an order 
Though not one that I’d prefer
Then I felt a pinch in my stomach
“No, he’s only a boy!” 
Cried my friend the baker as he ran to me
Though I was older than most men

C S Reid
( Los Angeles, California )

(Toucans in the wild)

A shriek simulates
a throng of wolves,
cawing deliberate
at the moon.
Bloated underbelly─
breathing distorts the
contours of shape.
Tart pulp
smears the mile
of keratin, razored bill
severs a dangling tendril
snapping back at the 
loss of weight.
Formidable muscle
mimicking the silhouette
of a plume.
Resinous porthole─
celestial position magnifies
the shrubbery unfolding:
slanted pockets of green.
A flock
hidden amidst foliage.

Brooklyn Copeland
( Faroe Islands )
Miss Tornado Alley

She cuts a winsome figure in jeans
and a Confederate print bandana headband:

an hourglass along the green stalks, benign
but for the hail. The Styrofoam hail, pellets too sharp

to feel cold, marbling her trail. Brassy braided ponytail,
and a gold chain hot and knotted within her cleavage.

Wrists bleeding, she cuts
through the stalks and I realize she’s just

posing, and the crops are just props,
and the hail too cold, and the chain is just blind leading.

Robert E. Wood
( Roswell, Georgia )
Hyde on Jekyll

Breasts like twin fawns, sings Solomon.
Jekyll reaches for his stethoscope
evading the panopticon of Spring
that finds me underneath his skin
that sees his hands clenched against my heart’s arousal.

Scotland is no excuse for lack of candor.
Isn’t an impenetrable dialect
cloak enough for what
despite a winter like cold steel against the flesh
arises green within us with the thaw?

The doctor hoards his antidotes
and dreams of lilies for the hearse.
I am awake. Make haste.
Desire is stronger than death.

Tammy Ho Lai-ming
( Hong Kong, China )
I Lay Curled on the Sofa

Sunday morning, I lay half asleep,
curled on the sofa.

She broke eggs into the biggest bowl
that we had had for years,
saving the yolks for a dish
she had not long ago invented.
Violent stirring ensued.

She called me ugly.
The words were distinctive,
despite the mixture of noises from the kitchen.
The coffee maker burped helplessly,
as if in an epileptic fit. The fan.
Somewhere, outside, a football
must have hit something.

She said I was like a flat-faced frog
when I declined to respond.
She said there were two screens between us,
even on the good days:
the television, my laptop.
Then the stirring stopped.

I pretended my mother hadn’t been talking,
as I lay curled on the sofa,
half awake.

I - Into the Shelter of Dark Caves
II - This Bend of Quiet
IV - The Loose Connections

Review: Desi Di Nardo

Featured Poet - Melissa Buckheit

Current Issue - Fall 2008