A Wrinkle in the Trees

Placid Harbor; Zurich, Swizerland by Toni La Ree Bennett
( Seattle, Washington )


Alison Daniel
( Tasmania, Australia )
42 Negative Confessions

Hieroglyphics are not always silent kisses
of stone. They're a bit like Isis. Her tongue
is perfect, even when she isn't sure or staggers
into a swoon, when all she, she has to do
to remember Osiris has 158 versions of his
name is rise with the moon and drown
in metaphysical talk. And I wonder if you know
your initials are scribed on my thigh. I hope
you don't mind your fingers aren't here
to trace stories of impossible returns,
that I don't have time to write 42 negative
confessions about living a blameless life.

Shelley Ettinger
( New York City )

A century ago, the Kishinev pogrom. My grandmother, at 5, survived. A year ago,
Jenin, in Palestine. Scores of innocents dead—their own fault, Sharon said. And
Baghdad now. Basra, Nasariya. What is it about April, about spring?

But no, that's faulty reasoning. No seasonal logic to imperial slaughter. Racist
marauders don't plan massacres based on tallies of fledgling flowers, blades of
sprightly green grass about to sprout, or, for this desert attack, how sharp, how
desiccated the prickers on succulent plants. Look back. History offers endless
attacks. Mounted year round. Some lasted centuries. The Middle Passage, 20
million killed.

We bear the Iraqi people no ill will, Bush says. Palestine is ours by right—
Sharon. Passover rites require Gentile children's blood: the czar's men spread
this lie a hundred years ago, my grandmother nearly died.

Nature progresses in cycles. Oppression advances in waves. Anniversaries are
artifice, contrivances calibrated to the passage of time. Century? Year? Day? A
counter-mathematic drill: don't enumerate the toll. Let spring rains wash it away.
Face reality. The mighty rule.

But no, that's hubris. No law to life but change. The conquerors fail to see that
pain doesn't fade. It gestates. Heats. And blossoms red with rage. Power will 
pass from the subjugators' hands. This summer, or next, some season after that.

Maybe on an April anniversary. When the lowly rise and take everything back.

Fernand Roqueplan
( Olympia, Washington )

        A diet of dream-chaff & circumscribed wishes; 
the glorification of moving on to receive 
something less better than nothing at all— 
then when dead perhaps a heavenly hand-out: 
here we moor our listing scow, fishless 
& there park the blood enameled craft 
reeking of the entrails we cooked to live— 
I no longer crave society’s time, approval, news; 
having wasted body & soul as a Marine I’m 
desperately happy to avoid moronic excess: 

             my grandfather cleaned their stables, hauled garbage. 

In my dreams he stoops with eviction notices nailed 
to his face—dreaming of riches, beer his music—our 
ancestors kissed their hands to those waving them off 
ashore, never to be seen again, yet hope was the pivot 
then the raveled sea dumped them into America 
with cattle’s lows & servant’s vows. Fields crops streets 
factories lines dens gangs prisons & breeding 
like a pack of dogs to swell with pride 
when one of us was knighted for acting dancing fighting 

             playing ball; hurtling through opened doors 

opened out. My family remained faithful to need, want, 
despair, duty, service, the church I left, gaining everything; 
when you are treated as disabled because you are insane 
you become loathsome surpassing your enemies—they knew 
nothing of life and so this poem is to you, whoever you are: 
crazed with hope, we paper our cells with lotto tickets, genuflect 
in the temple of the Dead Bearded One, pray for luck for jobs 
for love for life—I’ve never had an answered prayer until now 
and then it comes huge with hunger when I prayed for love. 

Corey Mesler, Two Poems
( Memphis, Tennessee )
Autobiography, Briefly
Even damnation now is poisoned with rainbows.
—Leonard Cohen
Out of the cradle
I come
a weanling who
will always
be hungry.
Out of the riot
a brief blank spot
It is here
I rest my head.
Inside the nothing is
which is nothingness.
Reading at Burke’s Book Store, August, 2002

They all came to hear me read.
I was a monkey; I was a protuberance.
I turned myself on like a bulb
in Spring.  They clapped.
I said something about God, of course,
something about my dead
father.  They clapped.
When I was through there was only
one question: what do you mean?
No one could answer. 

Fred Johnston
( Galway, Ireland )

Snapping up out of a farmer’s trough, hills behind feral-goated,
every branch striped, fragile as a Japanese drawing on parchment
sky; this surprise, what you caused, in the ruptured quiet with
every city, boat, village, tractor, far beneath in the liquid hanging
horizons; walking upwards is disappearing, being dissolved  in,
a sky of  incarnate whiteness speckled, like a duck’s egg, a period
of remembering or forgetting, what is, when points of known
reference shut down; up you go, hieroglyphic scrawl over all of this,
easily followed in the mute distances by the open eye, until nothing
more than a comma, a semicolon, a space: but later, the same? who 
knits earth, water, air by the city bridge, steady as a royal signature,
a sacred name, maybe; waiting in an extreme of waiting, inscrutable
and vaguely intimidating, under the dubious brilliance of street lamps, 
harsh yellow burrs, this huddle of solstice people bundling, bantering 
over the  sleek wet footpath into a web of streets, like your splayed 
foot this intricacy, you never move, not once, not a feather in their 
going breeze; or when the broken boy leans on the Pythagorean
river-wind, holds, throws himself, last-thinking of God knows what, 
into that swollen, festering river, you a last witness, see how far he’d 
changed his mind when the water struck him, carried drowned and 
rock-shattered to the far suburban fat-bungalowed shores of the bay; 
unable, or unwilling, to say what you saw, the boy behind the boy 
within the boy, the no-world he inhabited: or the girl, barely a girl, 
lifting this half-parented infant to the bridge wall to view you, might 
you speak to her? say what, exactly? this current pushing past
you, not a word, sound, ruffle: the city of no interest, in water 
the sky twinned, equal.

r. l. swihart, Two Poems
( Los Angeles, California )
Nottiteln #18

Barely a wrinkle
in the trees
on the lawn
filligreed on window 
or gate
The bowed head 
and glistening lapels
of a red camellia
In between breath
and cessation 


Nottiteln #19

In this instance
the parenthetical Landeinwärts 
should be translated as 
Klee—seeing what
was given to him and no other—
found near Tunis building blocks 
of evanescent color
Brooding in the background
are the crumbling

F. J. Bergmann
( Wisconsin )
Grand Tour

First the atlas began to fret, and wheedled in a low voice. Then one
of the Lonely Planet books egged on the National Geographics
until they ruffled their pages in hysteria and the Michelin Guides
started slapping their covers rhythmically against the bookends.

When the Club Med brochures folded themselves into airfoils
and began dive-bombing us, we made a break for the carport,
dragging our hastily-packed luggage behind us, a litter
of outdated and dilapidated maps snapping at our heels.

We found that all roads lead to more roads, with similar
billboards. We drive all day long. Each evening
we arrive at a different city before its gates close
and rent a room filled with clear water.

The video camera runs all night, and prepares
a nutritious breakfast. If a museum opens early,
we spend the morning gliding from room
to room, leaving nothing as we found it.

Even the guards have uniforms of a different hue
when we are finished with them, and all the visitors
have come to believe that Surrealism is the manifesto
of a concealed desire for economic instability and wear
faint greenish halos which they will never see.

I - Trinkets in a Closed Drawer
III - Becoming a Fish
IV - Closer to the Cosmos

Featured Poet - Eleni Sikelianos
Sikelianos Feature, Page 2

Afterword - A Poem by Nell Maiden

Current Issue - Summer 2003