Featured Poet

Lisa Katz


( Israel )


Suppose an evil king is killing children
and a handsome young man wants him to stop.

Suppose a woman gives the man
a domestic solution
made of thread.
Thatís all. No minotaurs.
See for yourself. But
what happens to the woman?

Perhaps the blood on his soldierís uniform
attracted her.
Yet he left her
on some other island.

Or, he had another girl.
Or she embarrassed him.
Or someone more powerful wanted her.

Perhaps Ariadne only admired his wrestling.
They were friends.

Perhaps they got married for political reasons.
She died in childbirth.

Or a jealous woman killed her.
Or she killed herself.
Maybe she took revenge.
Maybe not.

Now thereís a holiday in Crete
and a few stone walls.
Can you find your way out?

Ann Arbor, 1969

The three of us in one room
and she has to get undressed.
I am her roommate.
You are the lover.
If you leave
it will be unnatural.
If I leave you will feel forced
to commit natural acts.

In front of me
she is too efficient,
hanging up one item
even as she pulls another
over her head.

For you
she is more skillful.
The skirt and the sweater
lie over a chair.
She pauses in her slip
for a kiss.

We laugh
and I turn away
to find my red, wet heart
beating, in my shaken hands.

The Building Contractor

I understand your specialty
is the pouring of cement.
You are also an artist.
You are here
because this is an artistís bar
and these people are like your family.
You want to leave them now.
You want to show me historic Brooklyn, where you live.

We drive past the waterfront, the landfill,
and the row of Colonial houses.
One of them is yours.

Outside, the steps are broken.
Inside there are models of ships on the fireplaces
and paintings of ships on the walls.
We continue to climb
three floors
to the attic.

You have heat, but you have no light.
The wall over your bed has a crack in it.
When I begin to peel the paint from the wall
you make love to me, then you fall asleep.
I get dressed but I leave you one earring.

I want you to dream you are a pirate.
I want you to die violently at sea.


1. Earth and Air

You tell me about butterflies
on a tree in Brazil,
so many they look like leaves,
and this one like a bee,
and that one like its cousin.
With patterns copied from nature
they cry out to their own
and scare off the others.
What are those patches on your skin?
Cactus, mango, pomegranate,
when you hover over me,
the butterflies lose their leaves,
trees shake their wings,
your skin heals smooth as a tabletop.

2. Fire

Sleeping woman
tied to my bed
dreams about the carnival.
People with wings of birds
samba in the streets.
Those who donít have feathers
parade their sex.
Blond hair black hair
black hair blond hair,
men with ropes and men with harps,
men with heads and men with hearts.

3. Water

There is nothing between us
but ocean:
whatís water to us.
In the photograph
you are about to throw your arm around me.
A hand moves toward my shoulder
and never lands.

A Report of You

The people in the bar are watching you.
Later, I will interview these people, on tape.
I will take photographs.

A young woman with straight hair and small breasts
says that you had a good time.
She says you smiled,
especially when your friend reached out to you
and fell off a chair.
An old man, who is also an artist,
says that you were very thoughtful
and drew pictures on napkins.
He says you drew a modern woman
with snaky hair and square glasses.
A gay man says he stared at you
and wanted to pick you up.
A woman in her forties
says you reminded her of a son.
She says she thought you looked
almost too young to be at the bar.
Your friends will only say
you werenít drunk enough.
The bartender agrees.
He thinks you are too poor
to sit at a bar all night.
Some people didnít know that you were there at all.

Tonight, when you arrive,
I am not going to be at home.
I will be at the bar.
But you may have my notes and film.
I am not bringing any equipment tonight.
I want to see what it is like
to be in one place
and bring the memory home later, like a man.

Next - Ikuyo Yoshimura

Current Issue - Winter 2003