Water Bird Practicing On Concrete

bread and circuses by Cheryl Dodds


Gary J. Whitehead
( Warwick, New York )

Not really like gloves, but like bells without clappers,
the jaundiced blossoms, having rung their silent pleas,

waited for the honeybees to come. A boy came
instead. He was safe still, and clumsy. He was blessed

with a murderous curiosity, and dressed
in the rough skin of a boy. And when he saw them

he didn’t know their name, but didn’t think of gloves.
He thought of bells and how they hung there like a string

of fish, and how, if he broke one low at the stem,
he would have a kind of arrow, an offering.

He would have caught a string of bells. So he broke one
and it bled. The field was as quiet as a church

or a battlefield when the only thing moving
is blood and flies. He didn’t see what was above

him, but he would have understood their banishment
though perhaps not their need to keep close to the queen.

And though he couldn’t hear the bells calling, he felt
something pending. Now his house was out of earshot.

The foxgloves were calling. The invisible wings
were beating. Something mean had moved into the field,

and it watched him, and though he didn’t know it, stood
behind the tree. The field held its breath, the foxgloves

were calling, the bees sensed that something was amiss.
High up in the tree his pinwheeling must have seemed

like a strange gesticulation, the boy’s laughter
ringing out of the sparks of pollen blossoming

all around him, so that when a shadow detached
itself from the tree the first bee dropped. And after

he was done screaming, the boy threw down the foxgloves,
which had ceased with their calling, and so he walked off

without the sting of anything he’d ever know.

Lyn Lifshin

( Vienna, Virginia )
Geese in the Night

after midnight the
lake's black glass
only a full moon

like Venetian glass
rippling, only car
lights slithering

over beavers,
a flash and back
to the dark.

You can't see a
feather, only the
sound in licorice

wind, a moan
made of every
thing you lost,

hanging in
the air, coming
back to you

M.L. Liebler, Two Poems

( St. Clair Shores, Michigan )
Waiting for the Green Moon
for Peter Green, founder of The Fleetwood Mac Blues Band

I am waiting and I am waiting
For the green moon to rise
Above the din and smoke
Of this dank cosmic bar planted
Delicately in the dark forest
Of sweet scent magnolia dreams
And wafting winter pine, an incense
Offered to the blues heaven of my youth.
Transfigured soulful twelve bar, 4/4 beat rock'n'roll.

It is, indeed, a green moon
That has lit me tonight—Shone
High as a skyrocket shot up
Through the long neck electric
Music of old Willie Dixon's ghost guitar,
From behind once he said to me
"I know you," and gave a knowing smile.

Like a big broken heart mended,
My blue soul beats enlightened,
Painless love—brought together
At that right moment
When we all will wait
No more.

Lake of Lonely Dreams

In the Lake of Lonely Dreams,
A fish is just another wave—
A crashing illusion—hitting
Against the hardness
Of itself.

Yvonne Morris, Two Poems
( Elizabethtown, Kentucky )
Hemingway's Place

The old man's sea—
A leg of sand—
One orange sail the sun
Slips down the sky—
And the Keys, petite paw prints of land
Stretch toward women
Who lap their tequila and their men
Who fish


The world is big.
Be giant.
You know what to learn.
Many things have petals like flowers.
Green is important.

James Owens

( Northport, Alabama )


Pear limbs droop and sway, ache for release.
Leaves curl and brown at the edges, poor copies
of leaves from the world where we meant to stand.

Everything tenses. Light tightens against the grass
like skin. Stones tick under the sun.
What if you turn a corner of hardening air

and there is nothing, void falling straight from your toes,
great sack of absence shaken out over you?
You forget the flushed sides of the pears,

stare into the black wind lifting by your feet,
and the formless depth stirs, swirls,
wings rising to you, finding shape as they rise.


Contagion of images. Grappling. As if.
As if there were hooks in the landscape
to snag attention, pull you in.

Look: the hillside falls away in clumps of poplar,
sweet yellow at this season, which stands for happiness,
or disease, according to the taste of the period,

and cattle in the distance, hear them, perspective-shrunken,
bedding down as shadow dribbles
over the lip of the world and stars hit their stride.

Or you wake in an alley, breathing grit,
the castoff world slinking back to nuzzle your hand:
coughing from the buildings, broken glass, used condoms.


Those are examples --- this is a story. When
the day opened its mouth to drag him down among the weeds,
he thought he was falling for a long time,

then judgment sifted through the grass,
lighting fragments of stick and odd-figured pebbles,
live things rooted and gripping.

He didn't know how long he crouched---
partway through a sermon by the locusts.
The sun was black and then red.

And all this time, unsuspected behind him,
The world was slipping closer, like a knife
raised between a curtain and a lamp.


What if your life is that bird rising out of nowhere?
You lift words like small, cool stones, polished,
to set down one by one, syntax a tap of emphasis.

What waits, heavy in the assembly of day,
as locust whine tangles in the fibers of weather?
You could turn away, go back in the house

and walk through a room, touching everyday things, weighing,
accumulating ballast, images, balance.
Or you could dismantle the air,

step through a tear in the sunlight
and fight up through the dirt and leaf litter of another wood.
Now the pear tree groans and swings like a door.

Maureen Solomon
( Monson, Massachusetts )

Give it

Skimming black

basalt, lucky piece


in the center.

Be fierce.

A water bird practicing on


I - Driving With Strangers
III - Double Layers
IV - Weary With Desire

Featured Poet - Virgil Suárez

Summer 2001 Issue