Roads Create Probability


Changming Yuan
( Vancouver, Canada )

South: like a raindrop
on a small lotus leaf
unable to find the spot
to settle itself down
in an early autumn shower
my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
beyond the bare bay

East: in her beehive-like room
so small that a yawning stretch
would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
she draws a picture on the wall
of a tremendous tree
that keeps growing
until it shoots up
from the cemented roof

West: not unlike a giddy goat
wandering among the ruins
of a long lost civilization
you keep searching
in the central park
a way out of the tall weeds
as nature makes new york
into a mummy blue

North: after the storm
all dust hung up
in the crowded air
with his human face
frozen into a dot of dust
and a rising speckle of dust
melted into his face
to avoid this cold climate
of his antarctic dream
he relocated his naked soul
at the dawn of summer

Oliver Rice
( Naples, Florida )
Behind the Disguise of the Mores

At the breakfast stops, the market stalls,
from the windows of the commuter trains,
on the faces of the clocks, the jeweled watches,
dailiness wakes,

to the season,
the news,

the best case, worst case, probable.

Obeying the arc of the sun,
office to office,
shop to shop,
home to home,
behind the disguise of the mores
dailiness reinstalls without scruple
their utter circumstance

who, elated, restive, irate,
have a dissidence in their smiles,
do not care why the sky is blue,

who, complacent, baffled, symptomatic,
value themselves for questionable reasons,
wonder if they have ever been in love.

Bryan Christopher Murray
( Bronx, New York )
Please consider

I swear this is really my face, pimpled,
with these veins under my eyes. All the features

have been getting bigger, & I can tell the doubling
starts from my chin, but I doubt the cleft trouble maker

can expand anymore; elasticity
means exactly that: come back to me.

My old face, decoratively black, a deep black,
holes triangled above the cheeks, beige strokes running

from the dark sockets, a smile
carved across the mask without the wrinkles

that make you believe, hangs on the wall
above the bathroom door,

like a medal, like I purposefully graduated
to something ugly, but despite the stains painted

on the mirror from popped boils, the lumps protruding
from the bones of this soft face demand angles,

hand mirrors, over the shoulder poses, teeth
from under layers of lip

& overlip, & they insist I stop touching that mask,
stroking it when I pass the door frame

like it taught me something.

marcia arrieta
( Pasadena, California )

10 seconds. no seconds.
the clock floats away.
footsteps in snow. imaginary beings. 
the trees do not seem kind today.
houses built of straw.
velocity in the basement.
instantaneous nothing.
roads create probability.

Elizabeth Kate Switaj
( Belfast, Ireland )
Kannon & the Pendulum

            over Nagasaki, among the graves
                         a tram ride from the bomb
                         from bridge river mirror makes spectacle
                         s  from temple row & Catholic martyrs
                         & hut of one doctor
                              poisoned by radiation before
                                  shadows were bound to concrete
                              who saved survivors & advised
                               us not to hold a needle in defense
                                  against peace for which we pray
            over ekimae   business hotels
           Goddess of Mercy
                            big as Godzilla
           stands upon a turtle
                                which stands upon the turning Earth

                     & from top inside her skull
                                        hangs heavy proof of our spinning

since before a torii stood   w/ one leg flashed away 
before they built an island
                                  for foreign trade
                                                               rs to live
before shrines were built to contain
      shamans & wise 
women gave way
                     to religion for war & reign

Ben Nardolilli
( Arlington, Virginia )
Sill, Lintel, and Jambs

These make up my world,
No island, but straddling
A strait that others use.
Home holds no friends, family,
Or lovers, only crumbs, 
Dust, and books already read.
In home there is only amusement
In sleep, the only ride 
Is stretching out in slumber.
But out there, on the streets,
Are puddles, stains, and faces
Which look away from me.
Out there are the buildings 
Which are never comfortable,
Constant demolition and rubble.
So here is my world, 
Where I greet those leaving
To find excitement 
And greet those who have returned,
With mascara dripping 
And shoes filled with blisters.

Donal Mahoney
( St. Louis, Missouri )
Thirty Years Of Service

Six a.m.  
The alarm jigs 
into him.  
He, huge 
on that huge bed, jerks,
rolls to the edge, 
detonates his chest, 
pours to the basin 
on the floor
maroon and gray collections.

Christina Murphy
( Huntington, West Virginia )
Fellini and I Go to Dinner

Fellini and I go to dinner. The menu holds his attention for a brief while.
   Quite promising at first, he says, but ultimately only a list of food by categories. Too
        Aristotelian for my tastes.
He drops the menu, takes my hand, and says we must leave.
On the streets are hot dog carts with sauerkraut and yellow mustard.
   No, no, he says. Not enough opportunities for creativity and design.
He looks at the sky. We must go to your place, he says.
   You have food, don’t you?
Yes, but I don’t cook.
   Nor do I. It’s better that way.
We take the subway, enter my apartment, he opens my cabinets, my refrigerator.
   Fine, he says, but it is all illusions. Buddhists, physicists, ask them—they will tell
        you. Everything is energy taking illusory forms—the universe’s little joke.
He grabs a can of diced tomatoes. Speed this can up through space and time and it
        will become pure energy. No can, no tomatoes, nothing we could see. It is true for
        everything, your mind, your heart, even your lips, he says, kissing me gently.
        What we must do is make an illusion of the illusion. Open your refrigerator, hand
        me anything and everything.
And I do. Shrimp in a plastic ring, an opened can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, golden
delicious apples, a bag of chopped lettuce, cold cuts, limes—more food than I realized I
had. I hand it and hand it to him, and still it keeps coming. 
He is intrigued by a red onion. You must juggle, he says. I will toss to you.
The onion comes my way, then two limes, an apple, the can. I am doing my best and have
created a small arc in the air of food rising and falling into my hands. 
   Yes, he says. Wonderful. He is pouring chocolate syrup on the shrimp,
and he tosses them to me. I grab for them, a spray of chocolate covers my shirt, my hair,
finds its way to the bridge of my nose. I try not to be distracted but I drop the red onion.
   No, no, he says. You can only eat what you do not drop.
I am juggling, juggling, the shrimp growing clammy in my hands, the can hard against
my palm on each catch. My shoulders ache, my wrists hurt. He is puzzled watching me.
   Ah, what we need most, he says, taking a loaf of bread from the shelf. He tosses it
into the air and catches it. 
   Gravity, he says. Another illusion, but a necessary one. 
He tosses the bread, I continue to juggle. With his free hand, he pours the chocolate syrup
onto my collarbones and watches as it wends its way between my breasts, leaving a
sludge of stains along the way. 
   I am not painting, he says. I am learning to cook. And so are you. He looks at me for a brief
moment. Faster, he says, and tosses the loaf of bread to me.
I cannot catch it but do manage to wedge it between my elbows while I juggle in an even
tighter circle, my hands looking like small fins responding to some unseen current.
He laughs. Very good, he says. You are a collage. A collage of illusions. It is all we have to
   store against our ruins. No more, no less. Not even a dream, and certainly not a mythology.
He is smiling at me.
   You may stop now, but abruptly, he says.
I do, and the can of tomatoes comes down first, rattling hard against the floor. The limes
and the apple roll away, and the shrimp land in a glob.
He looks at me, then the floor.
   Do you see what I mean about illusions? he says. 
I nod, though I am not sure.
   There is nothing here to eat. So-called food scattered all about, but nothing to eat.
        Pretenses and pretenders all, but speaking a certain truth. As Shakespeare would say,
        “So I have heard, and do in part believe it.”
He takes a paper towel and wipes the chocolate smudges from my face.
   You must never be a juggler, he says. You are of the Romantic era, as am I. No jugglers.
        Stillness—all emotions ideationally contained. As the Ancient Mariner would say, you
        and I must be “as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.”
He does a small turn, then a little dance. Yes, yes, he says, we must vanquish illusions
        with an illusion. We must go in search of painted food upon a painted table. Only then
        will our hunger truly be satisfied.
I wipe a strand of hair from my eyes.
   You look hungry, he says.
   Well, let us go then, you and I, to find the painted image on the painted plate that will
        satisfy our needs and our all too human longings.
Where do we find that? I ask.
   Here, he says, pointing to his heart. The greatest painted ocean of all.

I - Desperate To Tell
III - Like Violets on the Wind

Featured Poet - George Moore

Current Issue - Fall 2009