Anne Whitehouse
( New York )
from Blessings and Curses


I am keeping silent,
spending the summer day
in solitude in the country.
Listening to the birds call,
I recognize only a few.
How have I lived so long
without learning to name them?

I touch a porch column
and am caught in a spider’s web.
Last night, in the porch light,
I watched one casting 
such a vivid shadow 
against the house I thought
I was seeing double.
I couldn’t spot the web at night,
but I watched the dance that made it,
the spider flinging itself across space,
catching itself on a thread,
spinning out more, 
its forelegs knitting rapidly
as it braced itself for the next leap.

At the top point of the barn roof,
the wasps have built a nest.
I watch them fly in and out.


I am thinking of Eleanor
who lived here twenty-eight years,
first with Mark, then without him.
When she was alive,
piano music issued from this house
for several hours every day,
louder in summer
when the windows were flung open,
but also in winter, 
muffled by panes of glass, 
sinking soft as lamplight 
on the snow.

A house with music is a blessing.
For Eleanor, cursed by deafness,
music came to live inside her.
Through a great effort of will,
she listened with her fingers.
How she did it I do not know,
but I watched her succeed
at the end of her long, blessed life.
Her love of the art
and the instrument,
the pleasure she took 
in its difficulty and mastery
kept her at it day after day. 
She surrounded herself
with images of angels.
Her abiding wish 
was to instruct by delight.

Janann Dawkins
( Ann Arbor, Michigan )


It is your breath
that rises like eighth notes,
in the surrounding silence;
like the current of a newborn,
untainted by desire;
like flaked calligraphy:
broad and sweeping,
meaning lost to time.


I watch you as you sleep,
your face relaxed, your body limp
against the dark of your linen,
see your chest rise and fill
with the heat of your room.
I watch you stir, your eyes aflutter,
your skin perspiring, your breathing rushed.
A twitch travels your muscles.
You turn yourself right, then left,
immerging your moans within yourself
as dark claims your mind.
I watch you as you turn towards me, 
eyes closed, as I touch the curve of your cheek.


I keep your black and white photos,
snapshots of stills: nudes, children,
irregular, naked fruit;
I keep your amber cologne, half-full,
its cork a six-sided stopper;
your crisp Napa pinot, one-fifth our age;
your collection of postcards; your clothbound journal.
I keep your calligraphy, to guard against time.

Martin Willitts, Jr.
( Syracuse, New York )
The Midday Nap
Based on the painting, The Midday Nap by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Not so fast, world. Not so fast. There is time 
for things both pleasurable and work 
so tiring, your arms are ropes of pain.

Our lives are in constant motion. 
Each seed knows its own voice
like a horse pulling a hay wagon.

We need to find that moment when things rest
in a field of cut hay, under a triangle shade,
far from the fall harvest, far from exhaustion.

I have learned to take these short siestas, 
while the sun plods as a horse never stopping. 
A few minutes are all I need.

I am more with the shadows than not. I squint 
under a straw hat into what needs to be done.
These are seasons of endless roped haystacks.

I shrug muscles already feeling the swinging scythe. 
Already gone to where things are never interrupted.
Gone like peaches canned. Or fences mended and breaking.

What is held? The sky is yellow felled grains. 
It always will be planted and harvest again.
Always will be this way. Always was.

There will always be couples resting in shade.
They will work until the day is bundled as the hay,
where love is always beginning and ending.

Scott Owens
( North Carolina )
After a painting by Caitin Propst

You lie beneath a humanized sun
in a yellow sky, mouth agape
as if it might be shocked,
amazed, longing, your pregnancy
the plainest thing to see
in a cartoon world of psychedelic
exaggeration, your hand as alien
as heart-shaped trees leaning
against each other and bent
at the wrist as if to say
kiss this in deference to perfection
of days beneath a Southern sun,
your hair a lamp shade
concealing eyes, mouth, tongue
that might say whose absent form 
creates the wonderland world of your ample
left leg, the only thing here
with intimations towards reality.

Nanette Rayman Rivera
( New York )

I can’t recall
my tongue growing long to please		
you, my man
whose tongue is licking for walls 

I can’t recall,			 
that I dropped on Broadway and Reade
and you read me as susceptible desire, 
a chamber erect of scent, 
a moment to pick me up	
followed by a sweeter moment
and a fever to return.  It would 

last.  blood 

flowed lavally from my arm and knee wounds in the dark— 
pinned me to you like a prom corsage orchid 
Don’t recall, don’t recall 
where crack heads, pigs and paupers sweated in line for chickens, 
when on the end of the line, tied to a strong voice you 
elbowed me—help me please—were hauled, pumped head 
to penis with colossals of anti-psychotics.  Heart and hallucinations 
parted, length of your sorrow spilling sandpiper fawn 

I don’t recall, can’t recall 
what the skyhooves of life do— 
nixed me like a niagra 
and he was the branches that stung my face up-to 
that I rode him like a stallion 
and his hallucinations and voices arrested my bullwork 

I knew men’s bodies as meal 
tickets and my body as hungry and easily lost 

I knew that women’s livers are tannic fluxes 
I had to swim around threshing, for any job’s 
gold is fool’s gold like that 

I know my life is sundered from barracudas lochnessed 
and quickly guessed my dreams were assured 
cauterization, some gash in the air 
so the spirit can soar 
from this wicked world wildly 

I never knew a man 
who could turn me to feeling 
something for pearls or swine strung 
like beads on dank homeless cob hair, 
even when they were in the same temporary damage. 
I knew how to forget their unemployment, evictions— 
saw them as slime spooling round and round once 
and ever in the dark’s dank moiling. 
Until I was one. 

I remember now.  I do. 
Body reborn in hoverfly of homeless man marveled dark 
out-of-body body hoofed. 

Veilless Woman by Divya Rajan

( California )

Thomas Zimmerman
( Ann Arbor Michigan )
Eternal Surf
Marco Island, Florida

The outdoor pool’s a heated 81 –
about the normal mood and age round here –
and on the beach, bikini top undone, 
a spray-tanned coed’s drunk on sun and beer.

I walk the sand with eyes cast down for shells,
but see just scales and fronds and blobs; a mat-
furred quadruped; a flesh-pink hunk that swells
then shrinks in sun. I loathe my belly-fat.

The blue waves ripple white, a Quaker’s beard;
at night, the surf’s a birthing mother’s moan, 
and all that buried life’s still there, still feared,
despite the scotch, the iPod’s soothing drone.

At times, the ocean smells of death, so old,
so choked. But never dead – no, not that cold.

Ivy Alvarez
( Cardiff, United Kingdom )

	   the blameless one        watching while I              tried to swim
	   its gills opening             closing                             to filter water
	   feel the rising tide	     press against me	        like a current
	   dull scales                      a small weight	        a dark hand against my back

	   a tower of cloud	                remote as spun sugar
	   pieces picked off and eaten by the wind
	   the air                                        was another piece of clothing
	   within running distance	   my home again

	   copper-coloured leather                   laced up and ready
	   kick steps	      kick kept                 promise nothing
	   lunchtime flirt    bookside rebel	scuffed tongues
	   all soles gave out


              night’s warm cloak
              sharp perfume
              piercing as flowers
              climb the iron trellis

	  only brown wiry men
	  can lift the heaviest weight	     of other men
	  pulling their burdens across my street

jole, jowl:
	  my mother’s     will become my own
	  how gravity loves to trick us all

	  ferment of rice               steeps in an oil can
	  she doles out scoopfuls in small glasses
	  while red-eyed men wait           with slurred breath

	  amo      amas      amat
	  sometimes         eyes       meet eyes
	  words exchanged             years pass
	  one kiss leads to another 


	  is she smiling?
	  who to tell
	  what she thinks

	  in the wood’s eye
	  a weakness         that breaks
	  a couch in half

	  snap chicken bones
	  for savoury marrow-suck

	  perhaps a mace
	  would be kinder
	  to face

	  skin can’t take
	  sheer physics
	  of hard-crack leather

kyanise, kyanize:
	  burning off
	  the surface layer
	  preserves the wood                keeps it safe

Andrea Potos
( Madison, Wisconsin )
On Finding One Long Hair On My Chin

I could be the witch,
wart-pocked and wizening on the vine,
a polished apple stashed
against my breast.

Mirror mirror you tell me well –

I’m on the ebbing side of that girl
who shrieked with glee
at the first dark
sprout of a forest between her legs.

II - Eyes That Cover Us
III - Elegy for the Hidden

Featured Poet - Matthew Hittinger

Current Issue - Winter 2010