Featured Poet

Evie Shockley

( Winston-Salem, North Carolina )



             is every fire in the sky already yoked
to tragedy? surely we can spare some
	stars to mark this mourning. find two
so close they share oxygen. follow
	with your eye the trail from west

to east, their flight from news of ruin 
	towards the metal wreckage. no sun
is bright enough to stand for who they
	lost. no glare could blind us to her
absence. don't look for a star there

	where she was. stare until you see
the lights ringing the space she left,
	hear the lights singing the grace
she left to ease our mourning into 
	morning after morning after morning.

		 -- maiisha moore (1982-2004)

received in spring

a postcard     postmarked
from the snow-blanched mountains
of my before     its sloping
cursive recalls     having
funk     here you were wish

		-- for stéphane

stigma: a botany lesson

the mountain laurel flowers in
          clusters of cups. not round-rimmed,
but starry, five-pointed. pale pink

          to almost rosy. he pulled the branch
down to eye-level to show us.
          bunches. from the heart emerge ten

thin strands – stamens radiating like
          the flung arms of an asterisk. arched
back, tucked into reddish pouches

          that ring the bottom. spring-loaded.
as if structural, bolstering petal
          walls. barely fingertip one strand.

watch it burst into a whisper-
          frenzy of pollen, a visible fragment.
then gone. we touched and gasped

          and touched, surfeiting on deaths
that came too easy for shame.

			-- for john


for two weeks, the whole time you were
          here, the halogen lamp refused to light, met

          our futile switch-clicking with indifference, held
its brightness in a deep no somewhere

in its lean black trunk, between base and halo.
          we worked in the dimmer glow of a sixty-

          watt bulb, hoping our eyes would forgive us,
shivering as the cold shimmied under closed

windows and covered the hardwood floors
          of this old apartment like a thin blue rug. you

          kissed me over and over, painting my lips
till we panted, our books and papers slipping

to settle in little drifts at our feet. the heat, set
          at eighty, was useless: igloo. we dressed and slept

          in flannel, kept each other abreast of our glacial
progress, words trickling from our pens like

water from an icicle’s melting tip. i kissed you as
          as if mouths pressed to bruising bore fruit. today

          you left, the clouds so low they crowned
your head in mist. tonight, i will awake in

the soundless hour between twelve and one,
          reach for you, see you’re gone, see that i can see

          faintly, and inch my way down the hall to find
the halogen light on, shining now, unbidden,

where it had resisted even a flicker before,
          flooding the emptiness with a humming fever.

the atlantic

if the sun can rise
from this wet, forgetful grave
some dawn will raise blood

under night’s white eye
i bathe in your cool black milk
as if without fear

i’d trade you all my
seashells for one small skull or
cache of vertebrae

not inhumane — its
conch-whispered refrain protests — 
simply unhuman

i open my eyes
slowly to the red sting of
its wretched blue truths


Current Issue - Winter 2005