Clenched Fists and Clouded Metaphors

untitled by Claudio Parentela

( Catanzaro, Italy )


Patricia Gomes
( Massachusetts )
Disgrace for the Surrealistically Modern Poet

It was no great riddle
that his poetry contained Jesus,
No puzzle in
cedar blocks, or chips 
of Candy-apple Red metal flake.
His secret lay between the lines
and was spelled
An embarrassment for one who claimed
Oh, it was never screamed, never
heralded, never proclaimed,
but there it was all the same;
the critics saw it and were scandalized—
where was the brilliance, where was the genius,
the clenched fist and clouded metaphor?  
To alleviate its weight, he tied Love to a kite string, 
flew it on a windless day, cocksure it would anchor.
It denied him three times, mocking
as it bounced over stones and flotsam.
Three times 
his hopes were elevated—
then dropped.
Dropped he could handle, it was the elevation
that drove him mad.
Love had come to him in a dream,
though he prayed for nouns
with more substance.
permanently scarred, he shrunk back to embryo
and wrote frenziedly of Mother's milk and infertile eggs
until his suicide. 
To die a jaded poet
is far nobler
than to live 
as one
who writes of Love.     

r. l. swihart, Three Poems
( California )

Outside in the yard
I stretch my legs on a macadam
of pureed pulchritude and blood

Led back to my cell
I continue to sort through
the blue days and the gold

Coming from nowhere
a bird whistles down the corridor

I reach through the bars
and throttle it by the neck

Half-aghast half-enthralled
I see life ebbing away
in my hand

The nail of my right pinky
is the only knife I have

I search and search
but never find the genesis
of your song


Two Operations And An Impossible Third


Deftly digging amid shells and sticks
the doctor exchanged his Prague for mine–
He lit a candle beneath Lennon
I placed a pebble on Kafka's stone


Father forgive me–
While your room blurred above a table
I looked through a pelt of rain
seeing neither heaven
nor horizon


the patient nevertheless
sees through the contagion
to a cure–

Word from Flesh
Light from Word
until Light is only Light


When they hit the malls en masse
she begins ringing her hands

The carol lifts the first teardrop
over the dam

Even when the locals scatter
Hegel sits serenely on the shore
scribbling his addenda

The system begs the question
panzers over answers

As it were
As little as this
As many as that

Duck-rabbit or rabbit-duck

On the day after the day marked for joy
On the day earmarked for death

Susan Terris, Three Poems
( San Francisco, California )
In the Bell Jar

Here, under glass, the sky is always clear
No rogue wind stirs the air
And she doesn’t have to talk to anyone but him
Here no ex-husband or ex-wife
Here no similes
No teenaged children
Under the dome the tongues of fame cannot burn
Here no one whispers of money or ill health
Here no negative capability
No mothers or fathers
No faucets to leak or cars to break down
No liquor or pills
No one has to write a word
No one is measuring or taking her temperature
She’s not tired here
Here no objective correlative
Not even a pathetic fallacy
His friends don’t gossip about her
Her friends don’t offer advice
Flights of fancy bump against the dome
And fall without sound to the dewy grass below
He thinks the bell jar will protect them
She thinks it’s nice not to have to think 
He forgets that emotion recollected
In tranquility offers only false tranquility
One false move
One misplaced modifier
One fist against the glass and well…
It’s broken again and again broken

What’s There Is Chert

                          She misheard
what he said, alien moss-green stone 
of a metaphor. A quote from Tracy 
or Hepburn, from back before—
as gates creaked 
and a door admitted 
only candied chinks of light—
in the dark of the moon,
when secrets were still secret.
You never saw those lovers,
on heat-pleated linens 
redolent with musk of fused 
bodies. In that tinseled place,
toilets didn’t flush, 
softened flesh didn’t sweat,
bottles didn’t fill the trashcan.

 		Foreign territory
where smoke was visible 
but not whiskey. Only the glacial 
clink of ice calving 
suggested highball glasses 
with cherries in them or stenciled 
on them, plotted tones,
satin laughter, the hot eyes of 
Camels blinking 
meaningfully after
sex you were not allowed to see.  
Fire and ice, like the Revlon
lipstick, a paisley robe, 
pongee negligée,
a hearth with hidden fire.
Not granite or quartz.  Only chert.

What Happened to Circe

I make him laugh, he says.

Voice arumble, he's an island rising from the sea
and speaks with the pull of undertow,

takes laughter, waves it, shakes it inside out,
then forgets

how he has laughed and what he's said.

His wit cuts deep.  In furious light, he draws
brine from my skin, acknowledges the roar of the surf

and welcomes it.  Yet, still, his voice is the voice of 
an undrownable who cries out for help.

Because I know how to swim through rough water,

know the lifts, the carries, how to hold bodies
safe, how not to go under, I respond.

But, look, his wild siren call has reversed the myth.
I should have lashed my body to the mast.

Today Circe is a man, telling tales,

playing his silver pipe and me—
Circe, dark seducer who smiles, collects,

and then asks for more.  This is an old, old song.  
Ask Nausicaa.  Seek out Penelope.

Hear their salty tones carried on the wind.

Eileen Tabios, Two Poems
( St. Helena, California )
; To Study Art Is To Become Thin

; despite Cezanne's desire, the world is never unclad

; to peruse a painting (intently) and see only one's uncertainty over where to look

; mistaking science for "bathroom graffiti"

; why flinch when penetration results from the swish of a kilt

; figuration, not abstraction, the synonym for ambiguity

; white velvet ribbon become bookmark

; lace

; Writing Past Margin

; but all side streets point to wrong directions

; violence via the infant shrieking

; nothing behind a corner, really

; seduction as wet cobblestones

; scent of a lunatic negative

; a god envying decay

; math

Helen Losse
( Winston-Salem, North Carolina )
If a Tree,

blown down by the wind in the forest
with no person to hear, kills a small gray squirrel
whose flattened body will lie and rot before spring
like the leaves that—once orange—go missing
only to become dirt, while hidden under ice and snow,
who dares to pretend that when the tree fell
there was no thud, as if startling a deer doesn’t
count?  Gathering birds fly south from the forest, are
adverbs of great honesty.  But will they bear witness? 
If a tree, felled by wind is still down when the crocus
offer color—yellow and purple—consider how the
mushroom—alive for a only day—was torn, decapitated
by the act, how a sound, un-provable, is more probable
than the likelihood of creation as 7-day wonder.
How little thought for the others.  If, however, a tree,
is the maker of something inexplicable—falling—
are we, perhaps, coming closer to an understanding?
The squirrel, the deer, the mushroom.  Tree in creation.
The leaves.  Humankind, in the fall.  The fall and the winter.
See, we need our birds as modifiers here
with only seven days to get us going.

John Bryan
( Canberra, Australia )
A letter's life vision, 20 / 20

spring warms ink to paper
with varieties of love from
a stalkers' garden stuck fast
to the tentacles of the sundew
Yes, you were Manatee to my dugong
Apatosaurus to my Brontosaurus
Bene Gesserit to my Bene Tleilax
Duran to my Duran
Stonehenge to my Woodhenge
summer played with me
going down the pants
blown me to the gaping mailbox
spread-eagled hard boiled message on
Aurora Borealis to my Aurora Australis
Andre Breton to my Tristan Tzara
Beaded Lizard to my Gilam Monster
Baluchitherium to my Indricotherium
Pulsar to my Quasar
autumn was her heart
pains that struck the
body whole the words
of course all fell as
brown leaves
Laurasia to my Gondwanaland
Chimpanzee to my Bonobo
Pere Ubu to my Dr. Faustroll
Eleven to my eleven
The Road Warrior to my Mad Max 2
winter migrates the remains
my body of work abducted
last seen in her hand
later stuffed in a suitcase
discovered in dumpster
Mt. Everest to my Mauna Kea
Terence Hill to my Bud Spencer
Sam Raimi to my Bruce Campbell
Bulimic to my anorexic
Interstellar to my intergalactic
decomposition: from letters to pubescent carrion
Now subtraction to my addition: 0

II - Soleil
III - Guesting in the House
IV - In the Dusky Hours
V - Finding Favor with the Muse

Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus

Featured Poet - Lynne Knight

Current Issue - Summer 2005