Finding Favor with the Muse


Joseph Lisowski, Two Poems
( Elizabeth City, North Carolina )
Art Lesson #16

Jingle the coins
in your pocket.
Remove the smallest.
Place it over the eye
of the first dead man
you meet.
Grab a fistful of air.
Shove it in your pocket.
Let the remaining coins
compete for space.
Wrap whatever wins
in the flag of your country.
Now make a wish.

Art Lesson #18

To find favor
with your muse,
slip her big toe
between your lips.
Gently suck,
slowly swirling
your tongue
over pad, over nail.
Trace your fingers lightly
along her calf
to the back of her knee.
Do not bite.
Do exactly
as she says.

Oswald LeWinter
( Germany )
The Synagogue of Cairo
– homage to Mahmoud Darwish

Enchanted castle amid clouds, in which sprout –
near tubes of minarets that flare in bulbs,  – the aneurysms
of a faith that wakes the skies two times each day.
Perhaps you too, who also prays, but three times more, roam
through the same heaven.  Our eyes, false as mirrors
show the world turned around, so time can’t move.
They make us to flee from ourselves to seek the darkness
that surrounds our lives as sleep, and leave
a world that has left only air on which to stand.

Who knows if we have not already sped past every God
with lightning wings, sinking to swollen knees,
without seeing him, believing we need do no more
than fire semen into shadowy desires
to create generations that will follow stones and shots
past the wrought-iron gates where worn identities
mingle for all time in guilt-seeded soil.

Have we not died already, long ago?
What if the fleshy clouds from which we ask
a different life have grown deaf from so much
noise of rage and helplessness? When air has thinned,
so thin that we can see the emptiness
where we expected a miraculous ear to hear
our supplications as they rose from stony hopes,
our breaths choked on enchanted promises
that weakened with each syllable of self-serving lies.

Paula Grenside
( Italy )

I knew the taste of his hand
a prairie with crawling insects in the cups
of future flowers
nights with panda's eyes

I slept on the back of his knee
slept on his shoulder
slept with lungs that forgot how to breathe 

the convulsion
behind the teeth
the star stuck in the throat

I have been sleeping since the deluge of
bodies with white bellies
shining tails
vulvas wide open to
solitude, solo, only, alone, lone, looney 
cocks disguised in peacocks' fan
the possibility of purity
in convulsive streams
rocky waves
and what I can't say

I slept on the back of his knee
on his shoulder hammered by the moon
woke to his mass of air without memory

Kirby Wright
( Vista, California )
Message from a Vet

I limp in ankle bandages
Across a spongy carpet.

TV advertises flags, dead Iraqis,
The President smiling

At his podium.  He orders
Fear, dining out, continental travel.

My orange cat
Snores on his saffron pillow.

Ankles are strange joints –
They attach the body

To its walking roots.
Ligaments move back and forth

Like slaves rowing
A Roman galleon.

My ligaments rebel
Against the patriarchal empire.

Andrea Potos
( Madison, Wisconsin )
Sighting Hades

Under a stunning July sun
I fingered the rhinestone-studded barrettes,
the long gauzy skirts for sale
at the flea market, fabric they warned
not to get too near to flame.

He wove through the crowd, the gold coins
of his glasses glinting,
his mouth shaped like he knew me,
his swagger like a man with his hands
on destiny.

A hum rose inside me,
would not cease.
I felt a seething below skin, I knew
the only way beyond him
was through him.

Kelley Jean White
( Philadelphia, Pennsylvania )
Talking Cure

the stone is nothing but spinning light
if I could truly stay in this one moment
there would not even be room for pain

is there any sound but the sound of water?
change comes with a little blood
I drew the king of hearts

I am told that the chrysalis holds only liquid
until that moment when the moth crawls free
to be a hawk or a hailstone?

how the invisible ropes chafe
we begin dissection with the breast
I could not be heard I gave up trying to speak

I held a cherry pit in my mouth against thirst
it is, after all, only a skin appendage
please let me do this one thing well

you called out I called you but you do not speak
yesterday I saved you three feathers
but I opened a window and they were lost

I know what I see is only a part
of the wonder I want your eyes
to see what my eyes see oh maple trees

would you come if I called you?
crow calling cricket chirp
cool wind your old white feet

I will find the box my father put away
a hornet blocked the entrance to the ant hill
the cat has not come home from the hunt

he is trying to convince me that he’s not sick
the little calf whose breathing worried me
so is gone from the pen this

is a bell that does not ring unless it strikes
another my mind will not seize emptiness
the urge to be generous will save us

the urge to perfection is our pain

Bob Bradshaw
( Redwood City, California )

I remember him this way:
he is standing there in torn sweater
and blue jeans, eyes closed,
singing into a mike. 
is as second nature as sleep
to Kurt, whose best friend
was an imaginary child 
named Boddah, who he’d shared pain
with since fourth grade. 
Had Boddah, like Kurt, 
been passed back and forth
among relatives
like an unpaid
The fans in the mosh pit
surge towards the stage;
they’re partying, as happy as surfers
at Malibu.  But a biker 
is cursing like a whore
who’s been short-changed.  
He jumps on stage, slams Kurt
down and starts pounding
on him.  It’s like watching
a child whaling away
at his drunken father, 
his mother weeping in the corner.
Kurt curls up, like a hiker
attacked by a grizzly. 
The biker’s pulled off stage
by Security.  Kurt stands
up, walks back to his mike,
and starts singing, eyes
closed.  “I don’t have a gun,
No, I don’t have a gun”
resonates inside us now
like echoes inside the chamber
of a warm gun.
But despite the enraged guitars
behind him, he was as
as his sweater.  He never wanted fame,
he wanted only to play the small clubs
around Seattle.  But fame found him
the way a big dog will pick out
the shortest trespasser
to leap on. 
Like an addict who keeps checking in
but always running away
from his treatment center,
Kurt was split:
he talked incessantly 
of quitting
yet he kept touring, 
worrying if he could come up
with new songs.   
“I don’t have a gun,
No, I don’t have a gun”
reassured us.  But an electrician
found him on a floor,
dead.  But even more than
death by shotgun, we were struck
by the pain and loneliness
of this young man.  Who
would write a suicide note
to an imaginary friend?  Dear Boddah,
it began.

Cathy McArthur, Two Poems
( Bayside, New York )
Learning to Swim
(for Martha Pallan)

If we could tumble,
throw ourselves
into air, water –
faces flushed 

or bend, heads together
plunge into glimmering
pools, float on backs
to the deep end,

or wait 
in line again
stepping out on the edge
without fear

over and over 
try different strokes –
side, breast, butterfly.
We could be twenty

again, we could be
friends in a crowd
with no boundaries
go on swimmingly

with floral caps
neon bathing suits
cheer when we passed
a test. 

We could dive in 
or drift on
an impulse into the center
without looking

for directions. We could go 
that way again – no planning
ahead of time,
no hesitation

if you were alive.

Poems Like Pie
(for Elaine)

on the table
pieces of blue

no pie in the sky
here broken
pie shell

humble pie
plum or
pudding pie

piece of mind

the whole pie
or just parts.

untitled by Claudio Parentela

( Catanzaro, Italy )

I - Clenched Fists and Clouded Metaphors
II - Soleil
III - Guesting in the House
IV - In the Dusky Hours

Featured Artist - Leslie Marcus

Featured Poet - Lynne Knight

Current Issue - Summer 2005