The Stone Listens


Julia Elizabeth Guez
( New York )
The Onliest Monk

Without well-stitched new bars on every buttonhole,
reweaving to repair the moth-eaten,
the wine-stained,
the ash ring still smelling of smoke,
without the artful movement of thimble, needle and thread
to render all flaws invisible to anyone but a tailor,
without a heavy wool overcoat,
shoulders tighten and lift
in the cold. White
sleeves, rolled-up to practice, reveal
a bare stretch of skin,
tiny black hair standing on end,
a visible chill wrist to elbow.
Pressed Pinpoint Oxford
smelling of starch,
smelling of home,
smells of a seamstress with Cocoa Butter hands.
Without soul food at Mintonís Playhouse
every Monday in Morningside Heights,
without cornbread and cracklins,
without black-eyed peas,
chow-chow, catfish, and collard greens,
even playing alongside Parker, Gillespie or Coltrane
lacks luster, nowness, and pop,
the essence of be-bop.
Without the s-shaped contour of a woman,
wifely, loving, unable to sleep
until the music man slips musically between the sheets,
humming, home, safe,
to rest after two long sets at The Five Spot,
no crepuscule, no ballad, no love song.
Without Nellie Smith Monk,
no Thelonious,
no legend, no Juilliard, no jazz,
the artist would stand alone and shivering,
meek, hungry, mad, smoking
before a door,
only a man,
mumbling and pacing,
waiting for the sound of high heels
to clickety click uxorially down the sidewalk,
a syncopation, unmistakable, Nellie, no doubt,
key in hand.
Hip, shoulder, and hinge squeal.
The future, unlocked, will open
to the keyless and crazy
piano man who never ever plays
solo. Even when there is no orchestra,
no band,
only Monk and a long sleek Steinway & Sons,
she is there,
behind the red and gold satin folds,
backstage, as always, backstage.

Mark DeCarteret
( New Hampshire )
st benet biscop

the stone listens in: 
my skin tattooed by stained glass,
saga of us saints

Charles Rammelkamp
( Maryland )
Letís Turn Back the Clock, Starting Now

The yoga instructor advises us
that bending our spines
forward and back,
breathing rhythmically as a metronome,
will restore our youth and vitality.

ďBe like a great white bird,Ē
he urges in that calm voice,
persuasive as a hypnotist,
as we sit cross-legged on our mats,
hands on our shoulders,
elbows thrust out like great wings,
throwing our heads back,
then bowing to our knees,
flexing our backs.

I picture Ponce de Leon
dipping his toe
into the Fountain of Youth,
the wrinkles in his face
evaporating like dew,
scars disappearing
as if erased with an airbrush,
the hair on his head turning darker,
thick as coiled snakes.

I spread my wings wide,
point my beak to the sky.

David Wolach
( Washington )
Ė for Thom Donovan

         Amplitude of the needle that is to be
         Aware when just under just there beneath
         Nancy Grace is on in the Clean Room 
         I feel my mouth Iím sure of my mouth
         Finding a sentence, you watch her too
         You watch her while you scope my asshole
         Shit, I love you you amplify so well the myth
         Of the island of nations, were we to become
         Then you bring him to our telethon pity
         When Iím resting in the linoleum palace then
         Imagined paradises mine these islands gang up
         Their metaphors are vibrating beds and grow 
         Louder in my penis hole, his smear across water
         Becomes a love for particulate dreams of other 
         Flesh, so goes your desperate salvos, shapes of
         Men or of the island-bed of the island-room 
         That we steal from, and he (who) leaves the soap 
         For me, or you, and the flavored coffees, outlines
         Quietly every island metaphor need, amplifies (how)
         The simple during our amplified lonlinesses I said
         For now, images, letís not talk about trade agreements

Tree Riesener
( Pennsylvania )
the old courtesan
(she who was once the helmet maker's beautiful wife)
    auguste rodin, bronze, metropolitan museum, new york city

on display 

like the women 
with no passports 
in amsterdam

a grotesque 
some might say
slumped over  
shrunken breasts
swollen stomach

only to those
who seek the crippled
the pregnant the old

on the right side  
of the aisle leading to byzantium
a glass anchorite's cell

downcast nun's face collapsed over prayer
beatified uncorrupt relic in her last beauty

Andrea Potos
( Wisconsin )
My Father Tells Me To Cut My Hair

A woman your age
wear that long
swath of

like a serpent
your backó

not that siren
sweep of those dark
falls swooning

to swine

Tova Gardner
( Vermont )
Last Call

I want to be
a garden,
but dirty,
with no stones
to hold back 
my mud
when it rains.
I want my
if there are any,
to be bruised
with waiting.
I want to be
the flesh island
you swim for.

Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
( California )
Burst of a Female Situation

Some people, they just donít know.
Only half the population can relate.

A burst of a female situation 
made me late.

Iím on my way 
to a gig 
or a meeting
wearing off-white
and suddenlyĖ 

A burst of a female situation
and Iím twenty minutes late.

Only half the population can relate.

A burst of a female situation 
made me late

to brunch at the Four Seasons
(and what an expensive brunch was THAT!)
to a meeting with my manager
to stalk Ewan McGregor
to get my movie made
about a subject men THINK only half the population can relate

A burst of a female situation
made me late.

But a burst of a female situation
CLEARLY wonít get my movie madeĖ
as if THATís what was about!

Women go to films about anybody
But make women the main characters 
and suddenly itís as if itís the Ladiesí Room
and MEN wonít go in!
I think they FEAR
a burst of our female situation
all over the place.

The same burst of a female situation
that made me late!

Whatís to be afraid of!
It means that Iím NOT late!

A burst of a female situation 
can alter your fate!

I should know!

A burst of my female situation 
six weeks too late
then my daughter came nine months LATER!

A burst of a female situation 
made me later than late!

Only half the population 
can relate
(thatís the half most often taking RESPONSIBILITY if itís late)

The same burst of a female situation
that made me late.

Two days of ovulation pain,
one week of PMS, now THIS!

A burst of a female situation
is the grand bloody red finale 
to my 28 daysĖ

now THATís what I call a FULL moon!
Bring back the menstrual lodges!
If society were constructed by women we would HAVE them,
On every street corner, at the shops. 
And theyíd be PLENTY of bathrooms!

A burst of a female situation 
all over the place.

So now I gotta HIDE it?
Like if I wear a tamponĖ what?
No one will know?!

A burst of a female situation 
is a perfectly natural phenomenon 
whereby the uterus of 
the female of the species
sheds its lining 
approximately twelve times per year.

Whatís wrong with that?
Itís a good SIGN!
It means all my parts are working right!

A burst of a female situation
can keep you up all night.

With headaches
and backaches
and cramps
and nausea
and NOW 
you want ME to cover it up,
so I donít offend YOU?!

And men wonder why weíre PISSED!

A burst of my female situation 
all over your face!

Iíll pull a Jackie Gleason
and hurl you up in space!
A burst of a female situation
is the salvation of the human race.

Weíre talking 
about the process
from ovulation
without fertilization
resulting in

People! This is the solution to overpopulation!

A burst of a female situation
is the salvation of the human race.

Itís cool!
Itís wet!
Itís metaphysical,
red gold 
all over the place!

Just ask the alchemists!
Just ask the Native Americans!

A burst of a female situation
is the salvation of the human race.

A burst of a female situation
is my saving grace.

A burst of a female situation
is female power IN YOUR FACE!

II - Clouded Symmetry
III - Like Falling Hats

Featured Poet - Marcus Speh

Current Issue - Fall 2010