Writing Inside the Motherskin


David Chorlton
( Phoenix, Arizona )
Doors Open Without Warning


Behind the first
weavers move through the shadows,
and from a narrow window
light catches the edge
of a wooden frame,
strumming the wool
stretched tight on its loom.


The second leads from a dormant street
into a café
where the ceiling fan purrs
as it slices through the coffee scented air
in which every dust mote
floats with its aura of gold.


The heaviest door
is that to the church
where faces are hidden
in the walls, gaunt and straining
beneath layers of black, and when
the priest drags his cumbersome skirt
to the icon screen
lightning flashes from his hand
as he makes the sign of the cross.


The final door opens to the room
in which mosquitoes live
and die. The plaster bears fingerprints
of former occupants,
each with the wings spread
from a drop of dry blood. This door
spits out the hotel’s key
when we enter.

E. Ethelbert Miller
( Washington, D.C. )
Speechless in September

it was the first day of science fiction
so i expected a second moon or sun to appear

those of us who claimed to be people of the book
wept after the destruction of borders and barnes and noble

vendors sold masks and bottle water to strangers
who walked out of the dust holding cell phones and palm pilots

i took this to be an omen of things to come
the answer to the great riddles of our time:

why do they hate us?
who let the dogs out?

i am a survivor among the missing
hold my photograph against the light

do you notice my halo?
is it too angry for words?

Corrine De Winter, Two Poems
( Springfield, Massachusetts )
The Birdhouses of Port Lligat

Gala writes to Salvador

Dali, I have always been
your partial virgin, deaf
to the rumors
of madness.

I can see beyond
the crucifixion, this Jesus
on our shore dying,
floating above the sunflowers
birds come to feed on.

I can see your brother,
23 years dead,
his shadow
still in pursuit of you.
Time, hung over,
draped on broken cedar limbs
like damp laundry.

Your landscapes hummed
with the dichotomy
of all wilderness.

And the cardinals
Still waiting for you
To color them in.

After Desire

The veils are moth-eaten
after the end of desire.
Strange animal.
No more wanting. Exile.

Pieridae-poison mimic.
The white noise
of their wings
is you.

Sparrows squeeze through
the ceiling,
their feathery heart size bodies
full of warning.
Remember the deer running
against the gunfire.

Remember you run deep,
how love is so like sleep
when it takes you under.

Contrast by Julia Spantchak
( Boston, Massachusetts )

r l swihart, Two Poems
( Long Beach, California )
Caryatid Shouldering Sky


Chattering teeth
Her tether to him
A world always teetering
on the brink of some
madness or other—

What wasn’t in her head
that night
as she
stepped to the curb
hailed a cab
got in
inverted-V of legs
striding over guttering
rainwater beneath


Around 23rd Street
a morose child extended
its left arm and let go
of the grimy yellow balloon

Contrary to popular physics
the balloon escaped along
a horizontal path
ratcheting along tree-lined
streets and fleeing
deeper and deeper into
a low-budget galaxy of
chintzy stars

Around 40-something
the insoluble dissolved
in distance



Torpor of insensate
otiose sea
unreadable text


Our shared
of skipping
from isle to isle
in a sentence

making the connections

Andrea Potos, Two Poems
( Madison, Wisconsin )
First Fame

On the oil-spotted garage stage, I sprang
from my best friend's hoop skirt

batton whirling in my bare arms,
lipsticked mouth screaming in song

while the neighbors' hands clattered
and lawn chairs quivered

under their praising bodies.
For them I tap-danced

in my sequined leotard
and black patent leathers—

first mirrors—dark sheen
of that terrible wanting.

Contributor’s Note
with thanks to William Stafford
I live and write inside
this motherskin.

On good days, words beach up
like starfish splaying new arms;
my child laughs beside me.

Amber speckles her wide brown eyes—
a mural of lost mammals
whose leaps I can believe in.

John Amen
( Charlotte, North Carolina )

Single moment
like a twitching eye.
Broken wing
beating against the sky’s pale hand.

Water funneled
into the belly of the maple
disappears without a story.

The cocoon grows tired
of the miracle it houses.
Fire vomits oxygen.
See the blade of grass
in the morning,
hands outstretched,
to keep the dew at bay.

What is this now,
that even light
looks over its shoulder
as it races through darkness?

Eleni Sikelianos
( New York, New York )
from The California Poem
dream music with holes in it

At the bottom of the sky, thinking
curves space, makes
rocks look
rubber;  my eyes
cared about color, not
heat;   my heart, however
cared about heat.  The same story turns

to another end when I said

They are carving me into a shape, maybe a boat, now
I am licking a frozen stone.  This is how the


is thawed from its cryogenic state, born
from a divinely created eater of granite    in my universal soul-fire-Heraclitus
     with a face
made of wood	    combustible     smile carved

right in	           back made of rocks 	   
precipice, spine made of flint         
igneous trunk  
     at the collision of ardent clouds, head formed	 
        my reefy iliac crest		bursting 
into flame like  burning
seas sprung from the blood like

tear a live [California] apart with your teeth

Strip it

to its animal/vegetable/mineral husk

to its last residuum;   
or other ways to make a world, like:

putting honey on a fly’s wings to deepen the buzzing
trimming a bird’s wings to deepen the buzzing
make sea-side cockroaches with human faces

When California had divested itself of its animal nature (a mountain lion 
with its chest full of lilies) I pissed on a dead cow & begot a god thus 
urine becomes 
Orion. —
       Guide me.

II - In the Kafka Labyrinths
III - Opening the Lid of Night
IV - Archeology

Featured Poet - Daphne Gottlieb

Winter 2002 Issue