Becoming a Fish


Yvonna Rousseva
( St. Croix, US Virgin Islands )
I Have Become Fish

I am trying to say.
I am trying to utter
but my lips move
with no sound.
Have I become fish?

I am trying to walk.
I toddle and trip and
scrape my knees. It hurts.
Will they pick me up?
Will they help me walk?

What misfortune to have
to rely on grownups
well versed in history,
yet needing explanations
and never comprehending.

Did history forget the brave?
Did history forgive the oppressors?
And if neither, why have adults
turned into rancid, mean, impotent men,
barely thirty yet talking, talking in fear.

Laurence Overmire
( Portland, Oregon )
Sunrise at Garibaldi

The timbers rise out of the bay
On a clouded, sunlit morning
Reflection’s pier in the water
An old weather-worn shack
Five white windows to see the day
The seagull dips and glides
This photograph makes
A stop of time
I want to get off
Walk the platform
Drop my line in the water
And wait
Watch, the sun’s slow
Mount from valley to crest, hear
The wind telling tales:
Of wise old men
And the daunting sea.

Apryl Fox
( Michigan )

All great artists work with matter—the un-matter,
which is used in paintings and murals.  I don't mean
with murals, you misunderstood; the murals of words,
painting pictures in your mind.  That's what I meant.
I've seen those paintings in museums:  "The Scream," 
and "Mona Lisa."  She was a good looking woman,
Mona Lisa, with a sensual smile and a half-quirked eyebrow.

She is unmatter, just as all paintings are, just as all
words are; so I propose that artists—including poets and
pianists—become scientists,
and scientists remain as they are.  They know about
unmatter.  Einstein was the first to discover it.

Kelley White
( Philadelphia, Pennsylvania )
The Gilford Community Band Concert
July 15, 1998
—our twenty-first season–

All rise for

 My mother was against it.
 Five thousand dollar bicentennial grant
 used to build a bandstand
 on the village field.
 Better spent: books for the library.
 She and Polly, two middle-aged library aides, considered
 graffiti, shook cans of red spray paint:
 “This Bicentennial Gazebo Sucks.”

 (now the band has overflowed the stand;
 the percussionists stand under an awning off the back.)

I throw a worn quilt down for the children.

 The heads around me are white–
 white as my father’s; I search for him
 in the crowd.  I recognize no one,
 no face, his generation (or mine.)

Feet move, canes rap.

 Mother’s dance a twisting dance
 holding their babies’ hands.
 A stooped woman takes a toddler’s hand,
 twirl and laugh, twirl and laugh.
 There are more couples here,
 more old men than one might expect.

Light changes, gold.

 A young girl, hair the color
 of an Irish setter, falling to her waist,
 skin the color of skim milk,
 steps away with a black and white dog
 and a boy whose head just reaches her shoulder.
 They go the edge of the field to smoke.
 She returns with a small bouquet
 of wildflowers, curtsies,
 presents them to a woman with
 a copper bowl of hair.

Coughs, paper flutter.

 A man runs, pulling a small daughter by the hand.
 A toddler runs, laughing, ahead.
 Scurry, scurry, scoot.
 Scoop up a laugh.

Salmon sky–blue and pink–no moments unchanged.

 Sun falls through branches beside the brook.
 Clouds light, flicker, wait for stars.
 White birch limbs, bared by last year’s ice
 frame the steeple beyond the field.

Up, up, up, teach the children to lift their knees.

 Girls do bent-leg cartwheels behind the drums. 
 A gold puppy, arriving late, pulls
 his children around the bandstand
 in the quick-step parade.

“It’ll cool off, sure,
and then the bugs’ll come out.”


"Try this, it works pretty good,
put some on your ankles, there, wrist, neck.”

The field hockey team arrives clattering.

 Hockey sticks and tennis rackets,
 boys with coke and chips.
 Chairs fill for a moment,
 then all race to run and climb
 on each other’s backs in the 
 the settling light.

Stillness, distant voices.

 The girl with milk white hands
 presses a bundle of ferns
 and daisies into the hands
 of the grandmother

Dark, chill.

 Children bundle down,
 thumbs and blankets,
 blue-black sky.

Wind, flickers, crying, gone.

 Alan, who is 38 and cannot read,
 waits by his bike to give a program
 to any last stragglers in.

A hand clasps my shoulder

 Welcome home.

The children begin the circling lope around the bandstand.


March, run, march, clap in rhythm, clap.


Stand, clap, march, run.

 Struggle, fold blanket, chairs, gather cups;
 little street a moment busy;

 let the too friendly cat out of
 the barn.  

Alan Catlin, Two Poems
( Schenectady, New York )
"Outside the rain has brought up worms"

after a line by Ruth Stone
Rising as black fingers escaping the night soiled earth, hydrotropic no more, they squirm as if shocked awake in their collapsing tunnels by an unseen force, galvanic energies, stimulating new nerve endings, attachments to a shed of skin, elapsed in their collective terrors under ground; the remaining stumps of deserted hands are relinquished in their graves, unencumbered by needs that may easily be grasped, their futures becoming hard, immovable as rock.
Sebald's Rings of Saturn

In the end perhaps a flow of unsupported brightness is more painful than a circle. —Medbh McGuckian
illuminate skies tinged by melancholic fires, acidic smoke, emanations from sprung open, sulfurous pits, locked rooms the dead were herded into; oh! poisonous skies, jaundiced, gangrenous, suppurating flesh peeled from an unhealable wound; black planets, dead stars, the rasping edges of comet flame, each infected part of the inexplicable celestial event, horizons crossed, physical pain and eternal unrest met at the apex of no longer imploring worlds, impulsive, implosive debt collected along a wanderer's terminal beach, that theater in the round created for drowning sailor's resurrective feasts; then the vacuum tubes are lowered, glass bells rung for the no longer living will have said their piece and the enemy bombers are forever coming, primary targets marked; no one is ever truly saved, it is a proven, a historical fact.
Cathy McArthur
( Bayside, New York )
The heliotrope

appeared in my yard.
How I wanted you;

words planted, green leafed
wall climbers, looped in air.
This holding pattern—

purple wake-up call
at night; field site opened,
planes circled the blue

unexpected sky—
messages surfaced—
evidence we knew.

Over my head now
in whirling, dizzy 

Quiet by Fred Johnston
( Galway, Ireland )

I - Trinkets in a Closed Drawer
II - A Wrinkle in the Trees
IV - Closer to the Cosmos

Featured Poet - Eleni Sikelianos
Sikelianos Feature, Page 2

Afterword - A Poem by Nell Maiden

Current Issue - Summer 2003