American Hunger

The Watcher by Cheryl Dodds


Nichole L. Shields, Three Poems

( Chicago, Illinois )
American Hunger

American hunger
would not occur
if not every
but most untruths,
malicious acts,
and un-kept promises
could be consumed

each falsetto
an appetizing morsel
fattening the nation

tipping the scale

Momma in Red

They said
that the only reason
my momma wore a red
dress to her daddy’s funeral
was because she hated him
and was just being sassy

I know she wore it
because it was
the only one she had!

Cousin Rita

My cousin Rita’s
menagerie of menfolk
always stir up talk
among family

At seasonal gatherings
my cousin Rita
is sure to be accompanied

Rita’s claimed to have
known close to a thousand men
“half true” says her sister Ruth
“she’s done over 2”

Proud peacocks
as grandma calls them
for they strut into Rita’s life,
each with a common patois
and age old African Ju Ju
leaving Rita with an excited vulva
which will soon enlarge
over month’s time.

The bastards came
year after year
each one hungrier than the last
and with different
blood lines

M.L. Liebler, Two Poems
( St. Clair Shores, Michigan )
Where Are the Songs of Spring?

     Homage to Allen Ginsberg
ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too
—John Keats

I have investigated the cryptic saxophone
Notes of wailing blues and desperate jazz.
Decoded them all into one long,
Wild barbaric yawp that I first
Remember hearing dance across the rooftops
In my neighborhood of silence.

The omnipotent shadow of nationalism
Followed me ready
To smother my dreams within
Bomb-laden clouds of dying
America. The napalm nightmares of my youth.
I stood frightened and alone as America fell,
Realizing that no one would know,
Or hear the howling prayers of the young
Chanting endless Kaddish for the tortured
Burnt spirits of Hue, Mekong, My Lai,
The dried out Midwest: Chicago, Kent.

It was you, holy soul jellyroll, Bard-
Prophet who freed me, liberated us all
From our mysterious illusions of cornerstone
Backyards in suburban new America. I found
You-brother Poet-in the drowned coil
Of America’s sleep. Where I, too, could not stand
My own mind. Where I, too, was not tamed
Or translatable. Where I, too, wanted
Only to come to the point of
Civil Rights, Viet Nam, CIA Death
Dance Politics, Dow Chemical Lament
And Plutonium Ode. I needed
To understand Che, Marx, Jesus, Buddha,
Beatnik, MC 5 stage rage, so that I could free
Myself from fitful McCarthyism doldrums,
And television eye snake dance. I needed
To understand that Fordism was fascism
To understand that Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
To understand that Father Ho was not our enemy
To understand that we were the wrong side
To understand that Malcolm X was right
To understand that America killed JFK, RFK, M.L. King,
Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner, Evers, Till, Hampton
To understand COINTELPRO’s endless attempts
To silence Fannie Lou, Rosa Parks, Oches,
Sanders, Abbie, Dillenger, Berrigans, Cleaver,
Newton, Seale, Savio, Davis, Steinem, Chavez
To understand that Lt. Calley was a murderer
To understand four dead in Ohio
To understand that for every neighbor boy killed
In Southeast Asia, for every city burned,
For every Wounded Knee, for every Jackson State
For every homosexual murdered and persecuted
on the streets of America—
America could never be
Put back together again.
Allen, you understood
This, and without hesitation
You put your queer shoulder
to the wheel...
Lord, Lord, Lord,
Caw, caw, caw,

Rereading America

America was never America to me.
—Langston Hughes

I want to reread
America. I want to
Rewrite history as my own
Hand painting my own hand,
Shadows of ink on a broken piece
Of stone that someone's left alone
By the side of a highway
Heading east away from here.

I want to redesign
America. Make it fit
Like a puzzled star
Into its burnt flag soul.

I want to tell a lie
As big as this country. A big,
Old lie that will shake
The whole world down to its roots
That have been re-planted
In the icy illusion spirit of our dead continent.

Somehow, I'd like to push reality back
With the same hard muscle of hurt
That America has forever, painfully
Carved into the generous hearts of its people.

Blaise Allen
( Boca Raton, Florida )
Howling Tempest

There are no shells to gather
they are all smashed
broken shards lie scattered on
seaweed stinking the coast
where jellyfish spawn and sting
There are no sunsets to soothe
rough wakes where mermaids
are held captive by Neptune
their Siren song
a shrill wind that whips salted
sand into the air
to bite at your eyes
This is my body
This is my low tide

Kristin Camitta Zimet, Two Poems

( Winchester, Virginia )
Sailor's Last Request

Heave my ashes into
 Angelo's paint bucket
  and roll me white
   across the ceiling,
    smooth strokes,
     like combers sliding in
      over the reef at Bali,
       or my hand on the siren hair
        of seal-bodied girls.

White suits me.
 Haven't I steered her
  disembodied into fog
   by dead reckoning,
    danced a jig with her
     in a snowblind gale,
      or laid low, squeezed flat
       between the white-hot sky
        and its smoking reflection?

Haven't I seen copepods
 like ghostly nipples,
  rising to blazes
   on a Hell-dark sea,
    making me want to dive
     overboard more than bottle-deep
      and swim in stars?
       Spread me two sheets
        of white paint to the wind

and launch me. Never mind
 what I'll do, high and dry,
  in Heaven's dock. Call it
   shore leave, overdue.
    All I expect I'll need
     is standard issue
      any sailor gets:
       comb, pocketknife,
        condom, a little change.


You painted this window shut.
You hung the curtain, rotted brown,
the shade thickened with grease
like an old woman's face with powder.
No knife-edge reason could have run
freeing the sill, though morning-glories beat
beyond, in brief blue pulses.

It was the price you settled on,
the peace you bargained for,
letting go legs that might betray,
carry you past the six-foot shrubbery
boxing you, like a boy in a cardboard fort,
beyond tongue-lash, skewering look,
the folly that would tempt you to reply.

You shrank your voice up-thread
to safe corners, where wings
no longer thrashed, and hurt was wrapped
numb beyond buzzing; blanketed your lungs
with smoke, fixed a gray seal
against seduction of the tongue,
and hazed the hungry eye.

At last you stopped the blood
that dashed like a chained hound
yelping, in spite of you, around its tree,
lunging after the easy skip and smile
of the landlord's daughter. True, they burst
your door, but you were beyond finding,
the flesh already blurred, a master stroke.

I - Like Wind From Our Aching
II - The Frame of Reckoning
IV - Rose of Whispered Rain

Featured Poet - Ruth Daigon

Winter 2001 Issue