The Parenthetical Body


P. J. Nights
( Maine )
if we were science
Thirteen years after the discovery of the electron,
JJ Thomson’s thoughts turned to the physics of golf.

stunted grass
applauds a performance

on the pencil tip
of purple and yellow crocuses

the wise catching of black pine boughs
above a pump handle

brings up dark waters
and insecurities from bedrock

blossoms! after what I have done..
dare I navigate

the tender underbelly of the morning
you purr forgiveness

in lilies-of-the-valley
every poem a glass triangle

its sides from gargoyle to horizon
to your left ear

the languorousness of the river
is no excuse

for words catapulted your way
in a procession of white flowers

my eager arms are flung down in defeat
I steep in bones as words

breath into a harmonica
that completely re-letters tomorrow

Mark DeCarteret, Two Poems
( Stratham, New Hampshire )

most of my struggling w/the gods
was done in my sweats
but then came the much talked about exile   
the one too many run-ins w/the wives

are upper cases safe for consumption?
even the garbage here's golden-hued:
a rind or empty carton of milk
turning somehow heroic & bestial

as a boy I’d imagined myself raised by wolves
saw to visions of ringlets & urns always urns 
to fend off the glut of fiber optics
the vacant lots & weapon shows

yes it’s no wonder I am off now
tsked tsked by those softest of palettes 
where I cross myself again & again
best thinking I’ve slept off a century



why is it w/my pen
finally finding its groove
this century of orphans
has alighted on my sill?
o the parenthetical body!
the heart inflamed like a monkey’s butt!
if only this grinding of teeth 
would bestow us more elixirs:
the world somehow finding it 
in itself to once again mind us 

Rebecca Lu Kiernan
( on the Gulf Coast )
The Psychiatrist

This angelic tenderness is too much.
Your office, too burgundy, too leather.
Your desk is too cherrywood.
You have gone overboard in decoration.
I am sick of your x-ray vision,
Your unnerving telepathy
And irresponsible precognition,
The way you try to medicate my ghosts away
Because they are such stiff competition.
Your hands and eyes are too soft.
Your mouth opens mine without warning.
You taste like butterscotch and Red Bull.
I rake my hand through your stylishly graying hair,
Your fingers, so deep inside me
Making circles, wide and wider
Preparing me for the thickness of you.
I straddle you,
One berry brown nipple in your mouth
And milk your one o’clock erection
With my Kegel muscles
Because the wingback chair
Creaks guiltily when we move.
As you climax, I stretch your mouth,
Forcing my whole breast inside
So your waiting patients cannot hear
The way you cry out when you come.
That’s what you say my dream meant,
The two of us playing chess in the storm
After missing the train,
Never getting wet
Because we don’t believe in rain.

Laurel K. Dodge
( Ohio )
Archaic Torso of a Daughter

My muscles are singing right now. Wherever
you are right now, consider your hand
gently squeezed. So gently, you might
not notice the slight pressure. I never was
much of a hugger. Like father, like daughter.
Like two flightless birds, we’d approach
each other uneasily. We had no clue
what to do with our beaks, our wings. 
The space between us (call it air, call it silence)
was always the friend and enemy. My muscles
are singing right now. Someday, I will lose
my head and my limbs and you won’t be able
to see that my mouth and my eyes and my arms
were wide open. I will be a torso, bleached
white by the waves, a piece of driftwood
floating in the water. Wherever you are right now,
consider your hand, father. I was afraid to hold
that cold appendage. It wasn’t made of stone.
It wasn’t a piece of art that would survive the ages.
On the last day, I held it, even though by then
you’d lost that most basic instinct, to grip,
to cling. Someday, none of this will matter.
But right now, my muscles are singing
as I consider your hand. My hand, my hand. 

Tree Riesener
( Wayne, Pennsylvania )
no one night stand

scientists say the two fossils
swarm cells
a stage in the development
of the fungus myxomycetes
also known as slime molds
have been fused together in sexual union 
for thirty-five million years
at the bottom of a thirty-foot-deep dry well
deep in the ground
below upper paleolithic caves
in the state of madhya pradesh india
the first time sexual copulation
has been discovered in the fossil state

the lovers were aged 
thirty-six and thirty-eight
in a state of perfect preservation
her skin a little rough and freckled
the condition of her hands
leading to speculation 
of an outdoor occupation
his hands contrastively
callused only on the left fingers
perhaps typical of a musician
who played a stringed instrument
around her waist she wore 
a fine golden chain with no visible clasp 
a perfect circle of linked gold

the sexual organs were delicate
and the time of conjugation short-lived
according to the october edition 
of the indian journal current science.

Martin Willitts
( New York )
The Journey

Now it begins, 
this journey towards wellness 
through countryside’s of pain, 
days knuckling under, 
whiteness flashes thunder in the nerves. 

The passage is difficult, 
full of words we do not understand. 
If you look up twinge it also means tenderness. 
There is no tenderness in pain. 
It does not care. 

----it only cares to make you tender 
so you do not want to get up again. 
It twitches several locations as earthquakes. 

You try to prepare for the expedition. 
You take rice paper the color of hurt, 
a Raven’s feather to write memories, 
and prayer clinched in fists of lightning.

Nicholas Messenger
( Hokitika, New Zealand )

The autumn sun pools on the bottom of the steps
that lead up to the shrine.  A silver cat has crept
up to the corner of the lane.  He’s spying on a school
girl, crouching in the sunlight, cribbing homework
in a quiet hurry beside her tilted bicycle.
Although the early classes have already started
there are still some children out.  And in the frameworks
of the trees some leaves still left to pluck.
The girl shifts on her haunches, works with parted
lips; the cat, perhaps in harmony of feeling,
shifts on, and licks his.  The old man going past is struck
by the thought that there is more than mathematics
on the dazzled page before her, and he steals
a glance.  And sees from underneath her bunched, erratic
fingers, trickling sentences are spreading out.
Around her, sparkling midges dance a rout.

Pui Ying Wong
( Brooklyn, New York )
Visiting my sister in Australia

Smog in the sky, bushfire burning outside
the city. The constellation has changed.
I’m under. The years peel off like old skin.
My sister sipping coffee, her eyes wide;
between us, a blooming walnut tree. Strange
all these fruits, maybe spring won’t go to ruin
after all.  December, this side of world,
sprigs of green fruits round into each other.
It took us forever to count, moments
long enough to freeze a heartache – unfurl
and release. If memories can sever
from their roots, will they become sacrament
too like harvest fruits we put in a dish?
Cut one open, the meat is babyish.     

Maureen McHugh
( Maryland )

Deliriously dropping the hoops
over their heads, hands dishing-
out, they smile with satellite eyes,
black-pupiled, keep sharp count by
the swish of the hoop, plastic and
perfect. Around them it orbits: hair
flying out soft and atmospheric. 45,
46, 47, 48— Olivia gone down to the
store to get more chalk— Amy stays,
inside herself, haloed and planetary.

Jeff Crouch
( Grand Prairie, Texas )
Ghost Town

abandoned on asphalt 
large heat its own friend

an airy glass sheen beckons
wafting chemical noon

wears on the mute button –
a receipt escapes your hand

whose carriage returns
. . .  the rain rolling slowly

canned corn, tomorrow
for trout, and piano, pack a gun

tumble in, trysting, tries
a mix of lie, freedom souped

up the dinosaur rubs shoe
against shoe, shoe leather

let her go, whose skin
pterodactyl; lips glisten

hides belly, belly hides
twin boot natal (ore) fatal

purse is the camera bone
to is the watch part

of a corpse gold ticking
abandoned time, keeper

shaft opens mine snatch
water drips drunkly a mine echo

green useless museums green
keep putting on cologne

ripe now with melons backyard
wells far go between page

after page, spot of a taste
flipping thanks train ride

bridal remember insisting
weeds grow from the end 

until now it spilled spot of
lightning rice seed spilled

folding chair and coffee stain
the guests are leaving

1 - Thrum of Wings
II - Eclipsed by the Whirr and Squeak
III - Raw Silk in the Mouth

Review - Suzanne Frischkorn
Review - Nicole Cartwright Denison
Essay - C. E. Chaffin

Featured Poet - Sandra Beasley

Current Issue - Summer 2007