Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Johannes Göransson

Softpiece for authors (traumatology):

You rawed up
the corporate material
we cut from a bull’s face
two hours ago
it was such a joy
to chalk over your iris

Ett mjukstycke för försårade författare (tramatik):

Du råade upp
företags materialen
hettan distraherade helt
det skurna tjurhuvet
två timmar sedan
det var så skönt
att krita över din irislilja


The whole being is being held together by a tough yet stretchable membrane:

Shake mute out
a woman’s
body with moths
there are more
warning signals
but none are
as chalked in
the crowded
assault display

Den hela varelsen är blindgrundad i hinnor som får plats:

Skaka stumma ut
en kvinnas
kropp med fnattfjärilar
det finns många
men ingen är lika
inkritad i det trängda


Caption the sound of film melting with insects:

The white anatomy is
arrived picked clean from
a bird’s-eye-perspective
shingles swans clash
with infected abdomens
the segments are absent
in the against-animals
the unsound is derived
from rinsed materials

Rubriken låter som filmen smälter med insekter:

Den vita anatomin är
anländen renplockad från
ett fågelperspektiv
shinglar svaner klår
ihop med infekterade
abdomen peforerad som
en monolog ar tomdriven
installerad i motdjur
och motljud kommer från
rensad material

Johannes Göransson translated Remainland: Selected Poems of Aase Berg (Action Books, 2005) and Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland (Ugly Duckling, 2007). Two books of his poems will be published next year: A New Quarantine Will Take My Place (Apostrophe Books) and Pilot (Natträngslighet) (Fairy Tale Review), from which these poems are taken. He was born in Sweden but he lives in Indiana. Johannes blogs at exoskeleton-johannes.blogspot.com.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Kathleen Rooney


Ambulatory sisters—
sister somnambulists—
sorority of sleep-hikers—
we are crossing a bridge.
We’ve crossed our uncle
& our fiancés will be cross,
but we’ve got a long list,
a lot of items to cross off.
We’ve crossed ourselves
with the sign of the cross
& we are crossing the span
to the island of Valdares.
Birds squawk aubades
with Portuguese lyrics &
cocks throw their crows
from yard to dirty yard.
Fishermen throw nets
into murky waters. Sister
sleep-walkers, we won’t
wake yet. The new church
they’re building looks like
a ship, or a Bishop’s mitre.
As the sky gets lighter,
I tell Beth, it’s beautiful.
She says, be careful—
the magic hours, twilight
& dawn, are the best times
to get beaten, raped, or robbed.
As the street-lights flick off or on,
your eyes adjust poorly to changes
in motion. It has to do with
the rods & cones in your eyes.

We are still over the river.
Can it ever be crossed?
I pop the G out of bridge
& drop it in the bay. I say
bride aloud. G is for groom,
but R is for Rooney & R
is for room. This is not
a western. This is not
a noir. Our grooms don’t
know where we are. All four
of our eyes are closed, but
I see Beth smoking, alone,
in the cone of a streetlight.
Kathy, she takes me by
the shoulder. She shakes me,
Did you listen? I’m just
the stenographer, but Beth,
the photographer, knows all
about the difference between
man’s light & God’s light.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press. Her first book is Reading With Oprah (2005), and her poems have appeared recently in AGNI On-line, Small Spiral Notebook, and Smartish Pace. Her essay "Live Nude Girl" appears in Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers (Random House, 2006).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Matthew Thorburn

—After Liu Tsung-Yuan
Used to be, my fingers were newsprinted with toner.
How smiley I was, how happy to help. But they’ve taken

away my nametag. Pushed me past the happy glass
of KINKO’S and into this new world. Oodles of time now

to roam free by bus, size up the sidewalks. Happy
go lucky as any landlocked youth could be. Sunrise finds me

still asleep, copying and collating my colored paper
dreams, and each happy night I try not to consider myself

in the yellow light reflected on my side of the bus window.
Cleaning ladies nod like fat chickens, their feet happy

to be up on the seats behind me. No one out here making
or even begging for change can say I’m not happy

as a clam as I drift all day long under my gray
shell of a sky. I say this, happily, to no one but me.

Horn of Plenty

Like this paper horn of flowers tipped
across an arm. I’m jostled, poked
with it—it’s how happiness happens
here in the subway. Asters to zinnias
and violets, deep oranges, crennelated
yellow and cream, the faint brushwork
of babies breath, miscellaneous greens
and I’m off now, past the turnstile,
the stairs, and into Astoria. How’s this
cornucopia work? One thing plus
another, and repeat. Say, a boy in a red
suit with a birdcage on one side,
a cat on the other. Like the boy is
blond, the suit too short—and what’s
in the cage, where’d that cat go?
But that’s Goya. Try Gershwin. This is
Steinway Street. Let’s say everything
green. These ladies’ saris, mint green,
sunlit against the black-green, deckled
green hedge. High in the tea-green trees
each green nest awaits a green bird.
Or like the coffee klatch of sparrows
outside my window. Each morning
they file this reminder: you’re human,
you’re human
. And everything else
I can’t shoehorn in here, piled up like
the fish, pale pink and dark pink,
stacked row upon row in this
fishmonger’s ice, beneath the swirly
frothy cherry blossoms. I’d let it go
almost, I would, almost all of it now
to have what’s next, right here, what just
makes it into my eye—that flicker, this
watery light, that bit of distant tinsel
the magpie drops everything for.

Like It’s Going Out of Style

He played hard to get. She played
harder. He stuffed ten pounds of shit
in a five-pound sack, but she wasn’t impressed.
She had her ducks in a row. He wore

a lot of different hats. She wanted to get down
to the nitty gritty, but he preferred brass tacks.
The trouble was no bee in her bonnet, no bug
up his ass. What might have been love

was a wolf content to wear wolf’s clothing.
The trouble with trying to think
outside the box, she said, is first getting in.
Old hat, Lord knows, but it fit like

a glove. They were two birds
trying to get hit with the same stone.

Matthew Thorburn’s first book is Subject to Change (New Issues, 2004). His poems have also appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, Pool and Poetry Northwest. This year he’s reading 100 books of poems at

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maggie Schwed

Quarrelling in Triolets
--To Mnemosyne

You can’t be sure what I recall.
Is certainty the point?  Perhaps
What’s vague is unintentional—
You can’t be sure.  What I recall
Will change, as I do.  Almost all
We said we were, we let elapse.
You can’t be sure what I recall.
Is certainty the point?  Perhaps.

I can’t be sure what you recall.
Is certainty the point?  Perhaps.
What’s vague is unintentional.
I can’t be sure what you recall
Won’t change, as you do.  Almost all
We said, we were.  We let elapse
“I can’t be sure.”  What you recall
Is certainty.  The point, perhaps.

She Takes the Summer’s Heat to Heart

With debt to a line from Samuel Menashe’s “The Shrine Whose Shape I Am”

On the splintered dock railing, a brief swallow
squats spread-winged, breast’s flush rising.
Scissoring the air apart, her mate
completes his work.  Summons her

To the sheltered rafter!

Tapped into place, this sipped grass, this
mud made fast, its hold small
unconscious dreams
of swallows, more swallows.

Water lilies dilate on a blue lake.

Through muck and root, the turtle skates
jaws steeled, primed for the least bait—even
the children's spit, their lips still
pursed in surprise.

Branches, meaningless semaphore.

Easily as wind may lower and lift
the sight shakes us.  No
consolation, as if we understood our arms
like the tree limbs, reaching.

No Jerusalem but this.

Margaret Peters Schwed's poems have appeared in Raritan, Nimrod, Rattapallax, River Oak Review, Ekphrasis, NYCBigCityLit.com, and Phil Miller and Gloria Vando's Chance of A Ghost anthology; she also reviews for Pleiades.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jeanne Stauffer-Merle

Fizzling Out

Reclining backwards on the ferry bleeds
into the past like sludge onto a sliding beach
beneath the sultry palm's cool diagonal.
Here slogs the duck who is clearly at odds
doesn't understand the forward
thrust of things:

for example, over there, where the homeboys are burning rubber.
On that able-bodied landscape the moments pile up
one clean point upon the other
into fiercely driving lines
like fresh tires that grind through to the end
leaving only razed intentions.

Time traveler is another word for pirate
the frenzied thief sailing clear
the rimed hours the crushing minutes
through a molecular dissolve where the world leaches softly
into skins supple and giddy
with eternity.

Light Endings

Light breaks: watch the world ascend in reverse,
like an egg cracked and opened in reverse.

Pieces of us slip through squeezed light
into still rooms that distend in reverse.

As the door locks tight, the night eats our hands
the light spreading to extend in reverse.

Scribbling lightly again perhaps then
finally I'll be truly penned in re verse.

Children bud intact, light as pregnant seeds;
our lives are well ripened in reverse.

I'm the howling lighthouse on frozen seas.
What dark work to be hidden in reverse!

The last light hangs by a dissolving thread.
We watch the day gently mend in reverse.

Jeanne used to mean a god's benevolent light, so
now I'm a toasty godsend in reverse?

Family Secret

The house is a closed box.
Inside people sleep for days at a time
eyes like closed fists
hands curling to periods.

Outside under the porch light not like light
but a glove covering a mouth
grandpa plucks the headless chicken
still acting out her life
claws wrenched toward a ground
no longer theirs
grandpa's fingers slipping through
the perforated belly
draining something too precious
to remember

Jeanne Stauffer-Merle teaches in the English Departments of Baruch College, in New York City, and at SUNY New Paltz. Her poems have appeared in Caveat Lector; Patriot Axe: Poems of Protest; and elsewhere.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Red Slider

Illegitimate Poems


My poems are
bastard words,
pheme things

I will admit
no Muse spouse
of mine. What’s more

what touched me
what moved

my lips like wings
disturb the air
over dying lamps

would have much
preferred egress
by dream

as did Seline
covet the sleep
of Endymion.


Eyeless little soul
you are no soul
of mine. Hardly

from a party
in a dark alley.

Nothing to start
a custody battle.
I was savaged,
ink spilled.

A back-street catch,
brook-songs from
a drainage ditch

walked on wings
when I was speechless
and you, you little

Muse-infected son
of a bitch, you thing.
Go pimp yourself

if you like. Prowl
your own back-streets.
Sing, if you like, to

the bent ear of
any poet-whore
who will stop to listen.

But don’t you dare say
I abandoned you. Muse
shoe, it’s you that
abandoned me.


Here, in the long
white of my escape

shed of all desire
save a nightly prowl

around the practices
of shape and wood fire

like the taste of dark
porter with its heavy after

lid, I reserve my gratitude
for those who don’t call,

who have no point to make,
or find it inconvenient

to journey out on nights
like this. Most of all,

the few intimates who know
I would not be awake in any case

whatever the hour, I huddle
deeper into the drift

and for no one’s sake but
the sheer nothingness

I take myself unaware. It is
the scent of melting snow

when the southeast sun trifles
too close to a tall blue spruce

that will burst in flame and paste
my face to the dawn window.

I’m awake again in the wash
of old blood dripping from the eaves

and one manic finch about the size
of a migraine pecking blacktop

through the blank crust while
my eyes blink out rhythms.


What is the point
of an oriole

or a rain-slicked
cab opening its doors
in front of Vanessa’s

when you know as well
as I, we just pass these notes
among ourselves, from one

thief to another.
Train your ear
to the sadness

leaving behind
a crumpled napkin
at the station, its

kisses in mustard
the precise

of everything unrhymed
in ZYZZYVA, its perfect
binding, blank smile

at the going price of
11:50. Your lips and the train
pulling away.


Why settle
on such old codes?

From here
to Walter’s farm
was spoken there

while innumerable
village fires
spread like nebulae

I studied stars
no dimmer
than the usual

above the simmer
of mad avenues
sprayed with amens

like gang graffiti.
&the kachung, kachung
of old machinery underfoot

had always thumped
indigenous — a fractal beat
repeated to the ear

dis-tuned by fractions
the prattle of tin cities,
the little cities within cities

where floral displays of cadence
poured over colonies of prayer.
Snowless shoes going nowhere

(ones that never moved
their original location)
over the soulless crust

they defined the ‘aboriginal’
as if to shuffle off
to beds of anonymity/
left the poet,
anxious as he is,
barefoot in the dust

and, for once,
the provocations of spring
left where they were
as if we’d never met.


If I had to say muse - death - poet - poem - thing
like incantations of old place holders, six times each
—invoked in unique space equipped for song—
watch them burn through the slow soles of my feet,
fountain in molten hues of blue-white fire tones,
it is an old leaf mold that inspires me to lay it down.

I’d muse the town through luncheon haze, down-side
down till death waves us on through this alley-thing
lined with poets crying their litanies of toe-tap tones,
their pockets stuffed in poem scraps, crumpled napkins
each more scarred than the one before, its feet
cut into paper robes and those again to May song.

Death is just a pile of dirt heaped with song
for us to chew like hardened crust and shuffle
off down the road on shoeless feet, in fused
half-eaten words or some disc-ouvre’d thing
to cover what we tossed; confused, oh yes,
a story by a muse won or lost in semi-tones.

By mouth he hears what the harp intones
by growl, by throat as a love-lipped song
reminds us of the commonplace, spread each
complaint, say of it, when broken down
to a final death-like aphasia, a whispered thing
muse-split into cords of dry, measured feet.

Muse-dragged it bleeds and howls on cruel feet,
poets dropping to their knees play those little tones
Gone, Gone! you can never get it back, poor thing,
poem bones clacking out the home boy’s song.
In haute couture it hangs its face and face down
wandering from ghost to ghost and each to each.

Muse, I’d invite the lot to a table set for each
poem serves them in domestic livery feet,
the poet wolfing that and garnish down
with wine, of all wine’s sweet unnoticed tones
they eat away until the flesh is stripped of song
&death’s remark: the poet is transparent thing.

Death by day comes to lay its shadow down
by muse-shoe wrapped in old leaf poem. Unfold each
tones abandonment, the poet is transparent thing.

Red Slider and Frances Kakugawa live and write quietly in Northern California, content and fully aware of the day when Death will have its dominion. His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, La Petite Zine, Milk Magazine, Lynx, Journal of Anthropology and Humanism, and elsewhere. A small sample can be found here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Evelyn Posamentier

Along for the Ride

they called it an e.r. but i knew better.
why the laying on of stones?

it's hard to get the words, numbers, figures.
somewhere outside a future lover will betray me.

brain lesions interfering like electricity.
a walk down the street, cement breathing.

brain tells chest wall to seize.
body cares not but goes along for the ride.

a lunar landscape sighs in my body.
body cares not about whereabouts of the disease.

Electric Eyes

an eleven-brained woman turns her head.
the girl in the photo shields her eyes.

the doctor made copies of her brain.
there was no one in the waiting room.

i'll go first if a gust of toxins comes.
eleven brains are better than one.

turn your head, girl in the photo.
wait for rain, hope for greater contrast.

the doctor made copies, stirred the broth:
the electric eyes of her brain did not blink

The Ceramic Bear

eleven pictures of the woman's brain in an interoffice
envelope.  who will be the recipient?

the girl in the photo is unusually quiet tonight.
this is all taken into account by the ceramic bear.

the girl in the photo doesn't mind when the people
leave the room.  the red sea parts for her.

the woman with the disease eases off the pedal.
let it coast, let it allow her to collide with god.

the girl in the photo meant to warn the woman.
the ceramic bear still struggles for breath.

Evelyn Posamentier lives and writes in California. The pieces below are part of an evolving series she thinks of as brainiography. Other pieces of brainiography have appeared in Born Magazine (in collaboration with digital artists John and Edward Harrison), Can We Have Our Ball Back?, DIAGRAM, Free Verse and the No Tell Motel.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Winsome Beers

[To the poets that have fled]

To the poets that have fled
Trees; hands upthrust in tattered black lace mitts
Two thousand years are dust and dream

We have sweat our share
We may dream of what hath been
We throw cold ashes on the stair
What if the sun comes out
What is the office of the first hour?
What time the wily robin tuggeth the worm
What, what, what

When the first larks began to soar

Where is the word of Your youth and beauty
Wind is an old wine, comrade
You, my friend, who are dead and will never awaken
You say it's this or that

[And how am I to convince you...?]

And how am I to convince you if you aren't here to

Look you've won a Ghost Town

Which left some hours ago

Yes my captain, I

Was there

But what's the use of being pretty If I won't get better?

I want to be younger than I am

I am about to recite a psalm I know

And you will know what I told you is true

When another subway came I crawled on

I am going to fail light and stars and tears

Winsome Beers lives in the Boston area. Her chapbook And how am I to convince you? was recently released from The Bunny Collective.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sarah Bartlett

Portrait w/ Birds

The mirror in my bathroom
is shaped like the bathroom window,
and in the morning I see
the backward shadows of birds
flying across my face.
Ordinarily this would be
too poemy for my poem,
but I realized anything can be
turned into art. Next it will be
potholders and their congealed
patterns of food. There is one
bird-shaped splotch
that would go nicely here.

Poem Tries to Be Good and Fails

There are too many ways to touch
another person or yourself, and this poem
cannot begin to accommodate them.
It would make more sense to skip
the poem all together, take a pen
and write: Here, Here, Here, Here
all over yourself. Leave plenty
of space for others to write notes like
Don't pinch left buttock. Hates it.
Or Monday's a good day to try this:
Maybe lover X is better at Y,
and you'll have to be amended.
It's complicated. So, this poem is
locking itself down, swearing off
missionary position and promising to
deliver a good time. 1-800-POEM ALONE.
All lines are free. Guaranteed.
Poets are standing by.

Sarah Bartlett has received a MFA from Emerson College and lives in Oregon. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Goodfoot, LIT, Free Verse, Redivider, Tin House, and Rhino.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Michael Montlack

Monday Night Mah Jongg at Marsha's

coffee-brewing coven
Formica fortress
the gals all ready
giddy on crystallized sugar
spearmint leaves
and pecan-ring goop

gliding round after round
bridge table corners:
reform temple sister
-hooded social

the rant a Long Island chant—
Harriet's eldest engaged,
Norma's youngest at Yale—
chopped with Chinese
hands, suits: North South Crack Bam!

mentholated fog
further yellowing
the yellowed ivory
tiles shifting like tarot

to spell out for their fellow
broom-less ladies
of broadloom and shag
future generations of success

each fortune conceived, conjured
in long house-coat hours
not spent noshing or wagering
mere change-purse bets

"And Wouldn't You Love To Love Her?"

like a mare on thoroughbred legs:
some towering foal
still teetering
on a previous life's terrain

    her rasp:
those boot soles
scraping sandy gravel,
lightly lapping
rain-softened leaves

lending shape
to a breezy ghostess
delighted by her own sheets,
how they billow

    the pose
of white arms extended
as sheer capes unfold
sorrows, secrets, hiding places
for the invisible

    an icon:
fairy godmother
the fairy child

Nobody's Glamorous All the Time

My Aunt Pauline was a Jersey City stunner
and nearly everyone said she should've been
the Diana Ross of the Jewish Supremes
because she and her sisters—Sylvia and my mother,
all redheads: copper, carrot, crimson—
shimmied at cocktail parties in similar sequins and sheens.
And though only my mother could actually sing,
Pauline entered a catered event,
even in her less-crimson sixties,
like she was the new bride
or mitzvah itself.

All of her husbands died died died,
each creating space for the next
so that my Aunt Pauline always had
some romance or heartache
in her small beaded clutch,
too garish for funerals, too compact
for her new man's nitroglycerin.

After the third was gone,
she moved to Fort Lauderdale
to live with her daughter,
the lesbian, whose partner
had her own live-in mom.

Four women in a man-less house,
still my aunt curled her thinning hair
and thinner lashes
before leaving her room
for breakfast
or going to the oncologist
or therapist, who prepared her for another loss:
the left breast later reconstructed
so at 80 she could wear
those strapless sundresses everyone expected
upon her fabuliferous entrances.

Like the one she had planned to make
before meeting her maker,
who would undoubtedly be a man
or in the image of one
or two or three,

and up went my Aunt Pauline,
hemline hiked for paparazzi.

Michael Montlack's work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, New York Quarterly, Cream City Review, Ledge, Gay and Lesbian Review, Skidrow Penthouse, and other journals. This year he was a Finalist for the Frank O'Hara Award, a Pushcart Nominee and a University of Connecticut Soul Mountain Retreat Fellow. In 2005 he won Gertrude's Annual Poetry Contest and was a Semi Finalist for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center's Winter Fellowship. He lives in New York City, where he teaches at Berkeley College and acts as Associate Editor for Mudfish.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

C. Dale Young

Having Some Coke With You
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience…

As white as salt, as white as flour,
whiter than the whites of your eyes—
it has been such a long time, my friend.
I know we had a bad go of it in the 80’s,

but you were so young then.  You
were a little co-dependent, so to speak.
The alleyway, the vomit, the heart
about to break free from your chest,

it was all a little misunderstanding.
We have both grown up, right?
You understand white now—
white like the lab coat you put on daily,

white like the hair in your beard
or at your temples, white like your voice
and your last name.  You are so tired.
You are so tired.  How will you ever

get everything done now?  I can
help if you would just let me.
Oh, I know you thought you put me
to rest, that you put me behind you.

But if I’m such a bad thing, why
do you keep a vial of me in
your old pea coat inside pocket?
We have never been apart, my friend.

Oh you can fool yourself into thinking
we are through, but I’m still in you.
Just look in the mirror.  You are tired.
I only want to help you.  You are

so tired.  You cannot get it all done
without my help.  You are so behind.
White like salt.  White like sugar.
White like the lies you tell yourself.

C. Dale Young practices medicine full-time, serves as poetry editor of the New England Review, and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program.  Four Way Books will publish his latest collection of poetry, The Second Person, in March 2007.  He lives in San Francisco.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Steve Mueske

4am Zoetrope

The man carrying a ladder
and a box of stars.

On a glass pond, one oar.

Three men wearing suits of leaves
and sawdust.

Buildings throwing down
their suitcases of light.

The stray dog with a milky eye.

The distant highway, or the sorrowing
of seventeen owls.

Doll's eyes, like buttons
laced in snow.

He was eaten by clouds.

The glass was full of neon
and faces.

The boat, anchored in text.

Soul boxes.

We were looking for something.

Rowing in circles.

Fog.   Then frost.

The dog was found
worrying at wires.

The man with a city on his back
fell to one knee.

Passing on highways,
the souls.

He believed in leaving
through a portal in the horse-head factory.

Torn from the earth,

They were selling
pre-packaged trees.

The ghost
had years in his palms.

She had a bag of eyes.

The edge was ragged,
like a torn page.

The living room was filling
slower than stars.

Climb (klIm) v. intr. :
to move in a specified direction
using the hands and feet.

The doll, left behind.

The trees were covered in ice,
like glass.

Lightning haloed the water.

It was a good house, but large
and unpredictable.

The books, lining much
of the back room, were sold.

The girl would peer in at him
from the garden.

The felled tree
lay in a box with flowers.

A skeleton floating in
brackish water.

One of the owls was white.

They covered the pond
with asphalt.

Though she could leave her body,
there was still a tether.

The wood was weakened
by a flood.

Mice took over
the upper rooms.

Poem That Conspicuously Avoids the Word Garden
But Just Barely

for Daniel Nester

Here at the beginning of the poem, I would like
to mention soil. All good poems have soil in them
somewhere.   Soil is good.   It makes things grow.
Everything returns to it in a grim decomposing sort
of way. I should also warn you that if you like flowers
you might not like this poem.   There are no flowers
in it. Not really.   It's fairly barren.   In fact, if you look
closely enough, you'll see a Butterfinger Crisp wrapper
drifting along the gutter.   If you look up just a little,
you'll see naked ladies.   I've decided that a poem
without naked ladies is really not a poem at all.

Steve Mueske has published poems recently in The Massachusetts Review, The Tusculum Review, Unpleasant Event Schedule, 32 Poems, Best New Poets 2005 and elsewhere. His first full-length collection is A Mnemonic for Desire (Ghost Road Press, 2006). He lives in Minnesota, where he edits three candles journal and manages three candles press. He can be reached at steve.mueske@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bill Freind

Catalogue of the Emperor’s Attic

Haloed raconteurs, stainless. Dozens of amiable screenwriters.
The missing climactic gun battles, a harkening of Polaroids.
Thousand island dressing.
Spats, an autobiography of John Phillips Souza. Glockenspiels.
Reststops with futuristic architecture on obscure highways.
Boxes of supporting roles.
Grass, valleys, milkmaids, dirndls, PR firms, refrigerator magnets from the feed store.
That which could be redeemed in the dropping.
Rose food.
Sports legends.
Blueprints for a Sno-Cone franchise.
Sketch comics.
An angrying of clapboards by the diptych.
A Magic 8-Ball. Need machines.
Daytraders in the luxury boxes, any spliffing the controls to say no one.
A variety of negative impacts. God and unused maps. Putatives. Nostalgia bags.

Bill Freind lives in South Jersey and his work has appeared in Jacket, Combo, Lipstick Eleven, and others. His chapbook An Anthology was published by housepress [sic] in 1999.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mark Yakich


* * *

I feel like biting somebody

Against the bedpost
I know a lot of people like myself

Who like myself sometimes
But it's hopeless to

Split affairs into hair
Colors I'm always thinking about

The next porn and not
The porn I'm with

If I think about it
I would say that that

Is the key to my psychology
The perfect insertion

Can't be just one insertion
Everyone has lots of insertions

Inside of him or her
But I've never been

Inside of anyone
If you know what I mean

Then explain it
Back to me please

* * *

All day and a night

I'd like to yank down my pantalones
But what's the use of abusing

You when there's no give and take
Possible for the race of

White pages I know
If I want affection

I should go to the bank
And stand underneath the cameras

If I want a good meal with friends
I should call up mother and ask her

To watch TV with me long distance
Which isn't sad

It's technological
And even since she died I don't

Believe in life or death
Sentences or these words either

* * *

Hope lied about where it came from

Tee he he what else
Is in me but queer song

In the morning I eat a lot
Of apples with their tags still on

In the afternoon I might
Steal a leaf from the neighbor's

Tree and in the night
I might climb onto the garage

Roof to get a better view
Of the neighbor he has a lot

Of friends who bring him gifts
And sometimes they play

Loud music and sometimes
They sing and I sing

And sometimes sometimes
Separates the idea

Of dying from death
If and only if I'm able

To lie daily I'm able
To kill something that isn't me

Before it kills me
This is terrible that

I have to make such rhetorical
Turns sometimes that

Turn can turn into a tune
But not a very good one

The good ones move me
And that's a shame

Because I'm moved to sing

Mark Yakich is the reality behind markyakich.com.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Donald Illich

The Watch Counter

None of the clocks beneath the glass cases
show the same times. They're minutes off,

hours behind, seconds too late to witness
the correct number that's winning the race,

running ahead of thin, colored hands on
designer watches, jumping up and down

on black digital lights unable to keep up.
The salesman could spend all day fixing

the pieces, but then when would he think
about his wasted life, selling measurers

of his weeks waiting for customers to buy,
not just look; for women to show for dates

when they say they will, not cancel them;
for friends to call nights when he needs

to hear a voice, not slowly drift away,
so years add up without even a word.

Inside the display his ticking continues,
with each device only right once a day,

when the clerk puts on his brown jacket,
fishes out keys from his deep pockets,

and walks past automotive supplies,
electronics, and cosmetics to the exit

where the moon taps him on the shoulder,
and the stars tell him it's time to leave.

Donald Illich has published poems in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, and New Zoo Poetry Review. He has poems forthcoming in several journals, including Passages North, Nimrod, LIT, The Sulphur River Literary Review, CrossConnect Magazine, Xavier Review, and Cold Mountain Review. He works as a writer in Rockville, Maryland. "The Watch Counter" is part of a series titled "Mall".

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Alexander Dickow

So it was you did it
whose hairs was
raising Abigail
of fearsome
ghost stories
in the darkness

It was you whose
hairs was busy raising
on tousled Abigail,
who you were
gotten all knotty
into the trouble with,

You who was held
real tight Abigail
and titillate her
vigorous ribbons
with hopscotch!

Shame on you.

Alexander Dickow hails from Idaho. He is currently working towards his PhD in French at Rutgers University. He writes in both French and English. His work has appeared in Can We Have Our Ball Back? and in the French journals Sitaudis, La Republique Mondiale des Lettres, and Il Particolare. He also has work forthcoming in the French journal Hapax.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dara Cerv

When I Learned to Drive

I drove our car into a lake. Before I left the house
that day I asked you: What good is it, such a hulking machine,
when we just shuttle it between air-conditioned points?

You said I learned too late in life, didn’t understand
the meaning of a vehicle, wanted it to be the speedy demon
it wasn’t—top released, ocean-side, a hair scarf billowing
up and down the coast. A place to get away in.

                                                                        Under water,
a place for breathing. Not an air-trap against the alveoli
for an asthmatic less-than-thirty seconds.
I imagined the interior of my lungs a swamp
of thickest pinky green weeds. You didn’t believe
I could be so artless—one second parked at the end
of a dock, the next, the old Caddy’s nose dropping
into the brackish water. Air came fast and clear—
small shiny pearls through the browny weeds,
bubbly chains hauling the car down. A loud suck
and the rear windows, followed by the trunk, dipped below—
over my shoulder I saw the light go.
Delight at breathing so freely made me focus
on the sweet way you always looked at me
while I learned the gas, the brake, the rearview. And your hand
over mine on the gearshift almost all the way down.

What Keeps Me Awake
-for Eric

is the hum of rumblestrips as the bus slips
right and even righter—my worst mind
imagines its nose dipping into the Hudson,
water at the windshield a white sheet of bubbles
to parachute us down. I realize that I might die
with strangers, hear what you’re supposed to hear—
screaming tires, scraping metal, in otherwise silence
a hissing sort of ticking. We’re underwater
in a bathtub, listening to the pipes.
Sometimes on these bus rides I lose it:
I might die with strangers. You might die
before I get to you. Trees fling their elbows
in the wind, tsk-tsking, lovers cannot be simply
in each other’s lives
. The bright world goes out
repeatedly to the march of the underbrush, leaves
turning brown, to knotted scraps, to nothing.
Snow pushes dust prostrate to the ground.
I watch its fat flakes fall—each one drums
loud as a sonic boom. I lose it
to the driver over the loudspeaker: We are now,
we are now, ahem, reaching, we are in…

This is: where am I? This will never end well.
There is always a lie:
red birds are a truck seen through trees—
a blaring machine steals the grace
of a cloud of robins expanding in the air.
A whole flight comes through the branches—clear
as when I hear your voice on the other end,
bent to wing me gently in. My better mind
picks up my cell phone to call you. We are almost there.
Cupping the mouthpiece so the others don’t listen.
I don’t think we’re getting out of this alive.

Dara Cerv's work has appeared in Poetry Motel, Harpur Palate, Spire, and Rainbow Curve. She recently graduated Emerson's MFA program, and continues to live and work in Boston.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snežana Žabić

The Landscape Book

cranes shift
constructed as skeletons
of extinct sacred animals
to face the silo
to stare it down

pine trees are scared;
their shadows getting longer as we speak

shadows draw out
across the park and all the way
to the curb—cars will soon run them over

background sounds: rain, whistling
freight train crossing the bridge or
Orient Express pulling into Istanbul

blue light on my fingers:
did I awaken the computer screen
or open the balcony
above a Dubrovnik cliff?

a drop of dew slides
down the stone wall, onto
my shoulder blade. chill.

their carriage passes by and
the Moon in the puddle
shatters under the hooves

tomorrow at 2 PM
local ballet academy
will perform
in the factory hall
(complimentary sandwiches and soft drinks)

cello player’s thin
physique—a tear surprised me
(he died the next year)

maybe if I knew the language of dogs
but then again, maybe not

Snežana Žabić was born in Croatia in 1974 and currently lives in Chicago. She writes in English and Serbo-Croatian and has been translated into Polish, Swedish, and Macedonian. Her poems in English appeared in Papertiger: New World Poetry, The Muse Apprentice Guild, Optimism, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Aaron Belz



I found your monster
painfully disjointed
and hard to
get through

but anyway how are
things in Cambridge
I take it
telephone wires
still block
your view of the park

I saw
your girlfriend's paintings
take wing last
Monica Lewinsky Day
it unnerved me
to picture

such visually rhapsodic


y dos

or rather should I say
it unnerved all of us
to be pictured
in such a way

I would enjoy your
Sky Festival report
much more I think
if it revealed a bit
of your girlfriend's

and not just
your outdated boots
mi gaucho


Ideally one photographs oneself
wearing red clown shoes
holding some sort of trophy
(perhaps a large fish),

but sometimes one has to settle
for photographing one's friend
holding yesterday's newspaper
and looking disappointed.

Aaron Belz lives in St. Louis where he is a college teacher, freelance writer, publisher of tiny books and curator of middle-sized readings. His poems have appeared here and there in printed journals and web zines of varying names and target demographics, but never in Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, or Atlantic Monthly.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Chad Reynolds


And when an item is covered in chalk
and stretched taut between other items
and pulled high then dropped, what it imparts
onto the two-by-four can’t be called a piece
of itself or pieces—itself is still contained
in the item covered: the rope, the line—
a conveyor of particles, a transistor
of instructions, a slingshot of signs.

A simple hieroglyph emblazoned on the board
speaks to me of direction and distance and depth.
I hear my saw buzzing in its casing, the teeth
grinding against themselves for the chance
to grind against something else, something
that gives and goes and lets go
and the only fuss is a golden flower
of pine dust that decorates the floor.

My wife likes the smell but hates the mess.
It is not unlike our bed. I take her there
and while she’s on her back I mark
her chest with the blue-green chalk.
Inside I can hear her muscle quake.
I myself am quaking. This is delicate work.

The poems of Chad Reynolds have recently appeared or are forthcoming
in Swink, Washington Square, Meridian, Puerto del Sol, Redivider, and elsewhere.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sharon Dolin

3 poems from Current Events

Who You

are,   you might have been / framer of your narrative:

inveterate   cap-wearer,   brow-furrower
weakens the tie between proper
                                                               and name

Your were whirrs inside the motor-motive are.

Action are you or memory-bundle
vicissitudes of others' longings

doesn't your pillow own you call you by
                                                                              your secret name

nomen    nombre    nomina
omen    gnomon . . .

When in Lisboa you sport a boa
board the yellow tram to the Baixa
to look for the ghost of Pessoa.

your name suffuses with suffixes: -son, -sky, -zweig, -traub

Do not ask for whom to tell unfolds:
It tells the self.
                           (It wields the wail [within the well])
It's hell to tell [for thee & me].
If I were you (and you are we)
displacement would hardly figure
in the feeling-swirl you're tempted to say
is who we be.

Westerner, you read obituaries of obscure inventors.
Indonesian, you wear a crowd. Or shroud.

Have you financed a massacre—your name is a poster.

(Reporter / killed     peerless unpurled)

Or do you go nameless: mommy    nanny    taxi
driver—the news barely grazes you in the playground or car

unless you're blown to bits or saved from fire or the collapsed mine

But who is the person to whom things happen

(scandal not a name but an outcome)

or to exclaim: Who the devil Who on earth
                                                                                          has done what?

When, Then

             It was and then it wasn't.   An hour
ago.  Two days before. That split second
             boarding the bus. (It was just before 8 a.m.)
He looked like a terrorist in his red bulgy shirt
             when he didn't pay. Then he wasn't.  Just
an exploding belt of ball bearings. Three women
             in frocks sitting there with their heads blown off.

             Why intrudes. They want to see us dead.
Now now now. Not now. Before you came.
             Before you were born. (Or he. Laughing with
the Boss at the cash machine before they crashed the plane tomorrow.)
             Mother at wounded boy's bedside while father's
home rejoicing when he hears his son's a suicide
              bomber. This when ensnares where.

Beit Safafa refugee camp. Afterwards. The next day.
             A year later in Lower Manhattan (Towers burned,
legs crushed) she is still in hospital. And you, over morning tea
             mourning the morning of the day before.
They want to kill us in the when of every
             where. Cry of why. For Ishmael's cold tears? For the when of who
was there first? For Isaac's hoarse laugh? And for what
             kind of God?

Why as in

Wherefore. Motives.
Causes that produce
unasked-for effects. (Who shall live . . .)

As in reproach. Fist-
shaking at sky. At your lover-
other. Maker. (Who shall die . . . ) Resist:

Why couldn't he have been                   elsewhere?
For what reason did I have to lose you?
Paradigm of unanswerables.

As if thinking it through
pieced the puzzle / lessened the ire—
On account of which / in spite of       new

virus discovered. Or exiles' dream-desire.
Attaches to who. Emboldens what.
And where did she. And when. Never

back where you started.
from. Secret cause. Works around
the kiss. Beetles brows.

Opens the oh-my-god mouth
into an afterimage of oh no . . . yes.
Editorials on the soul. Accounts

for wars and local turf skirmishes
in the sandbox, the West Bank.
Island no one wants

until the other side sends in tanks.
That's mine. My
Temple Mount. / My mosque.

Call it the key
to an unbuilt room
you discover—too late—

you may not enter        by asking.

Sharon Dolin is the author of Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), and Heart Work (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995), as well as four poetry chapbooks. In 2006-07, Ms. Dolin is Poet-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. She directs The Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition and is a curator for the Center Broadsides Reading Series. She also teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and at Poets House.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heather Bartlett

Scroon Lake: June 8, 2000

I should tell you how it happened:
bunk bed with only one
mattress, just springs and the outline
of a black rectangle
on top; a sleeping bag, fully open
across my unshaven legs;
a wooden chair against the wall;
no lampshade.

I should tell you
why: the sound of a belt buckle
from chair
to carpet.

I should tell you, before
we go any further
that it happened more than once –

campfire in the back yard;
smoke through bedroom
windows; I stand
legs half bent,
inhaling and then
blowing back
through the screen toward the fire and
bottles and people and
cigarettes gathered
around it.

I should say that at this moment
it is happening
again.   You ask
Can you smell
the smoke?
or maybe
Are you afraid?

One eye focuses on the springs,
the other trying
to adjust; hand against the wall
for balance; head
on mattress –
no pillow.

Ask me again.

I say, listen and
look.  Breathe in
and out and
in.  The answer is in the sound
of reading, in the voice
of the poem
that still speaks
long after you have deleted
the words.

Heather Bartlett received her MFA in Poetry from Hunter College in New York City, where she also teaches. Her recent work has appeared in California Quarterly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Joshua Marie Wilkinson

the diamond cutter speaks

The diamond cutter speaks with his mouth shut in my dream & I have to ask him for something but my teeth turn to dust.  Clocks of five cities crashed in my chest with their ticking.  His bucket of jewel cuttings smelled of pitch & I stood up slowly to begin counting aloud.  You must count backwards with your eyes shut & listen for Jupiter's little quiz to drop you into the grasses behind the toy factory.  This is Centralia, this is Sequim, these are the aphids drilling the trees in Wenatchee.  Even the swimming pool drains are clotted with moths. I am holding my brother's arm.  I am holding still like you said.  I am near the garage light again & the air is burning a soft button into my ribs.  Won't you count with my counting?

Cut Transom

White letters arrived
in the city of cardboard boxes,
dropped through the cut transom
& the twins took the letters
with the biggest swooping signatures
into the woods to assemble
the story of the city.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms (Pinball, 2005) and, most recently, Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk, which won the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize and was just released this spring. A tour documentary about the band Califone is forthcoming next year and this fall he will join the Wave Books bus tour from Denver to Chicago. He lives in Colorado where he is at work on a new book and a collaboration with poet Noah Eli Gordon.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

jeroen nieuwland


Other words have given way,
beneath the ones you read.
Were not in the right place,
had come with too few,
anyhow; became obsolete.

The paper unsuccessfully attempts
to shake the words that made it on
by pressing others through.

The word is not to blame,
its inkless form,
sometimes resists
its distilled form

but ultimately
speaks only when
on the page that
with its whiteness
immobilizes it;

muted interpreter
of some meddlesome
reader     period     context     syntax

Just beneath the surface
the word attempts
to accustom to
its new unchosen home

favouring its previous meaning.
Between all objects.
Bouncing off all objects.
The colour of objects
that angels in movies only guess at.

to pass and turn my head at you
have sat and said nothing with you

to share the arrival at a certain same place
with such frequent variations that they

the arrivals     or      the place

began to mirror general truths (like
ones that some have thought successfully

to describe with the language of their time
you know the ones you think of as you read)

when you were kind to mirror them for me
so I was able to adjust myself to them

with varying accomplishment resulting in no
more than shifting mental attitudes

to kiss with them the impossible centre of my belly

and always in approach my translucent hands
arranged themselves along your solid forms

tried to fit on a realm of shimmering reality that with
its flicker seemed at least more constant than

the outlined promise of my hands
Would they remain folded into themselves

you would have told me who you were
had I not used your body and your mind

to try the words that thereby faltered well
before I let you

tell me all about yourself.

jeroen nieuwland. writing a PhD on social commitment in modern Hindi poetry (in Leiden, Netherlands). editor of poetry magazines and poetry stage Perdu in Amsterdam.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mathias Svalina

No, Desdemona

When we fear a thing we are making what the
technicians call a love. When we fear a thing we make
it brush our lips. We're the ripped gown that snags on
the red-bricked hotel, a sickness of desire to feel
the tinny itch of sickness tickling the throat. Like
carhorns & neon, fear leads to stupor, coma, death.
Another game of truth or dare played out among the
organ pipes. The mucus settles sweetly in the corners
of your mouth as you sleep on the hotel room floor.

How lovely you to wallow like that armistice we'd
studied. No, the back of paper napkins. If you hear
the falling bowling balls bouncing on the on the
cobblestones then maybe this time by the laundromat
the moonlight through the willows won't be holding any
needles to the light-polluted sky.

The yellow gown snags on the red-bricked hotel,
dehisces like a match head on a coaster-covered table.
I was only thinking of your sicknesses, essential as
your mother. How they wrap you like a gown,
tongue-silky & formal.

This is the way I woke you on mornings that the sun
jaundiced the white wallpaper: Oh Desdemona! It's time
to meet the morning's million makers!

Creation Myth

In the beginning there was an old man with a long
beard. He gathered all the children around him to sit
at the foot of his chair & said to them:

I am going to tell you the story of how the world was

In the beginning there was light. In the beginning
there was fire. In the beginning there was the chaos
of nerves. In the beginning there was the saltiness of
skin. In the beginning there was the word. In the
beginning there were a couple of ice cubes on a piece
of sheet metal. In the beginning there were lies. In
the beginning there were only lies.

In the beginning a fox fell from the sky. In the
beginning the crow flew into a stone wall. In the
beginning a Buick backfired. In the beginning there
was silence. In the beginning there was darkness. In
the beginning there was crying. In the beginning noone
would talk to me. In the beginning there was starched
shirts & regular distribution of medicines. In the
beginning I was so lonely I bit my fingertips.

Just then the old man’s brother walked into the room
He asked his brother: What are you doing?

The old man with the beard responded: I am telling
these gathered children the story of how the world was

The brother looked at the room & back at the old man
with the beard: But brother, these are not children,
these are mimeograph machines.

It was at this point that the mimeograph machines
began to rattle & shake & began to discharge copies.

Mathias Svalina lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he co-curates The Clean Part Reading Series. He is also co-editor of Octopus Magazine. Poems of his have been recently published or are forthcoming in Jubilat, Fence, Bridge and Denver Quarterly among other journals.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Carol Peters

Along the Shore of Lake Pinewild

Fish fan in the man's shadow.
He squats and huffs

at the white geese

The stone in his shoe
is evidence.
A gander paddlewheels

on jeweled legs.

String Along

her gowned sense
a masquerade
his fool's singlet
looped with flags

a dreamer she nags
for a queen's castle
'til his staff batters
and the rafters boom

she plies the broom
a judy's fortune
grab your buttons
punch and run

Carol Peters is a graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program. Her work is forthcoming from Pembroke Magazine and Cairn. She lives in Pinehurst, NC.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Kateřina Rudčenková


I'd give anything for Akhmatova to step down
from Petrov-Vodkin's picture, and, fixing me
with that gaze … lie down by my side
in the dark.

In spring I am visited only by desires
Nothing left to do but lose myself in things.

"In spring, all the birds
return to Bibirevo."

"Do you remember me showing you that man
sitting at the head of the table at the Belvedere?"

Enchanted by direct speech.


A woman on the train, talking
to her only son as if to a lover.

Elbows touching. A brief sigh.

"Don't eat it all. We'll travel in the dark."

A visit to the sanatorium

Gertude takes me aside
entrusting me with manuscripts rescued from the fire.

An ancistrus dances on the wall
and her shadow, when she begs me
- tell him that my name is not Bertha.

Shaking off dust insects from her shoulders
- Bertha… does he ever talk to you
without raving?

A gaping window, a terrace
full of pigeons, animal vortex, then
nothing but Gertrude's charged silence
the terrace sinks, the room goes up in flames


Yes, I live inside the piano.
but there is no need for you
to come and visit me.

These poems were first published in A Fine Line: New Poetry from Central and Eastern Europe (Arc Publications, 2004) in translation by Alexandra Büchler.

Kateřina Rudčenková was born in Prague in 1976, where she still lives. Since 1998 she has published poems in Czech dailies and literary magazines, and is the author of poetry collections Ludwig (1999), No Need for You to Visit Me (2002), Ashes and Delight (2004) and the collection of stories Nights, Nights (2004). A bilingual book of her poetry, Nicht nötig, mich zu besuchen (Wieser Verlag, Austria, 2002) was awarded the Hubert Burda Award for young Eastern European poets.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nellie Bridge

Curtains for You

You say you like it when my teeth show
so I reveal smile after smile
of bright white teeth.
Until you are a little scared.

But don't worry.
It's not a dead end.
Teeth are like gates.
You can always get around them.

Nellie Bridge grew up in Washington State. Her poems are appearing
soon in Rattapallax and the New Delta Review. She works at the Authors
Guild and lives in Brooklyn.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rebecca Loudon

it is thus that she finds her aria

what is she thinking
as she unbuttons her blouse
in the photo booth loosens her bra
rouges her nipples with lipstick
leans into the black window
left breast bared for the picture
as she quickly buttons
the last three flashes capturing
the top of her head
she smokes a cigarette waiting
for the photos to drop
wet and viscous down the metal chute

Things that are bound and not bound, A Quiz

Another darling dog has died.
Yesterday you combed its blonde curls,
carried it to tea in a pill box, restless

daughters belly-slamming down a hill
in the snow, unstrapped after a night
in which they became famous.

A drunk man on a motorcycle skidded
into a group of citizens standing on the seawall.
They were pointing at the sky, careless

with their betrayals, jumpers awash with blood,
ambulance lights, festive hospital greens and reds.

There is a fur dimension. You are caught there,
licking your wife's simpering teat.
The gauntlet is large and wet inside the rings.
Your unhappiness pleases me.

Rebecca Loudon lives and writes in Seattle. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Tarantella and the forthcoming Radish King (Ravenna Press), and a chapbook, Navigate — Amelia Earhart's Letters Home (No Tell Books.) She has work forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review, Terminus, TYPO, Cranky and Elixir.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bill Knott

(to RN)
Oh I know it must feel

To be the river—
Source of that force

Each field each flower
Each fountain seeks—

And then of course
I have to shiver

Remembering how—
How few of us ever

Make it down
These mountain peaks.

The candle's blue fingers trace
a window skyline.  Its ice
an archery of needles.  I seek
the sign, the making known
to me of now.  We live in a land
we can see to disappear.
The wither-gathered wind
rivering through a grove
of non-leaved nouns: these are
the months one must cling hard
to his habits, that mean horde.
Winter.  We must lean closer now
to see in each other's eyes
the cleft of witness
gape itself to give.
Closer.  Closer.  At times
we must even haven this
our place.


I heard the abide.

How low it was.
How loud it was.

How soon it ended.
And what it said.

I heard its words
poured, pouring
from the sky.

The clouds were frauds.

The froth lost its mind in an ear.

Bill Knott has posted most of his poems from the past 30 years on his
blog. He hopes to publish all of them there, eventually.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mike Topp


Iran and Iraq have still not reached an agreement today. Saudi Arabia is still undecided whether it's going to remain neutral or not. Another mosque was bombed today and now it's just a heap of rubble. One car ran into the back of another car and both exploded. Today it's fairly sunny. The weather outside is cloudy and bright. Armed peacekeepers today went into action… Peacekeepers charged with keeping peace with arms moved into the city today. Oil was volatile and the Chicago Bulls edged the Bears 108-101 in overtime. Over time the Chicago Bears edged the Bulls 108-101 today. One car ran into another and they both exploded. They blew up another mosque and now it's just a heap of rubble. Construction has begun on another mosque. Armed peacekeepers are still keeping the peace. Oil was volatile today. Saudi Arabia and Iraq have still not reached an agreement and Iran has remained neutral. Locally, another mosque was bombed today. Virtually demolished it. There's nothing left but a heap of rubble. Iran and Iraq have still not reached an agreement. Saudi Arabia has remained neutral. The peacekeepers arrived bearing arms. None of them are unarmed. Oil was volatile according to a bulletin from OPEC or whatever it is—the organization of eleven oil-producing nations. In Saudi Arabia today one car ran into another car and both of them exploded. They blew up another mosque—virtually demolished it. There's nothing left but a heap of rubble.

Waffle House

My friend from Waffle House says if you stacked all of the sausage patties they serve in one day, it would reach the top of the Empire State Building. I say, why bother?

Mike Topp was born in Washington, D.C., and is currently living in New York City unless he has died or moved. Some books, including Own Your Own and Happy Ending, are available from Future Tense Books. Mike has a bad blog: red-boldface.blogspot.com.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Matvei Yankelevich

[from Writing in the Margin]

A man born tired. Time moves slowly inside him. Outside a whirlwind spins leaving him breathless. People dressed neatly slap his weak skin and force him to breathe in their exhaled air, to live and want to live. He is none of them. He is tired. His life is a series of naps. Between naps there are painful subcutaneous shots administered. Later there is the presence of others, inside him. The man born tired wakes up as other men in the same predicament. Smoking a pipe. Napping again. Dead branches sway slowly in the corners. He wakes into darkness moving within the folds of some dark drape, a hood to keep the light out. He examines the tiniest things, vibrations. He stutters, or rather, the life around him stutters, stops and starts. This swaying movement, like a storm, uneven and nauseating, brings him comfort and fear on one platter. He is tired. He might close his eyes, again. But the knowledge that he will have to open them again and to what sight? prevents him from napping. The venom of sleep takes its time. He waits. He cannot wait. Slowly he withers. Softness becomes pale fragility. Skin turns to china. Eyes are targets. Brittle ground breaks under foot, ice crumpets. Flaky snowcakes.

Should I tell more or is it enough? He is tired. Let him rest.

Just try moving your hand.

Matvei Yankelevich is the editor of the Eastern European Poets Series at Ugly Duckling Presse, and co-edits 6x6, a poetry periodical. He is the co-translator, with Eugene Ostashevsky, of An Invitation For Me To Think, the selected poems of Alexander Vvedensky, forthcoming from Green Integer; and of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, an anthology forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. A chapbook of his long poem, The Present Work, is forthcoming from Palm Press in Fall 2006.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Elisa Gabbert

Blogpoem for April

You can’t invent a color, only name it,
like how I just named those contrails Benjamin
and then the sky behind them Benjamin II.
Now, retronymically, I refer to Ben as Ben I.
If he becomes famous, they’ll stop calling
clouds “clouds” and call them “nonlinear
clouds” or “pre-Benjamin” for clarity.
I can think about fame all day, and
compose apologies for my friends’ friends
who I’ve variously snubbed, write them
into emails with personalized P.S.’s:
P.S. My love for you extends forever
in all directions, or sometimes seems to.
P.S. I include a swatch of Yves Klein blue.
P.S. If the sky is a piano store and clouds
are baby grands, we just hang out in the back
and listen to a Casiotone’s preprogrammeds.
P.S. This P.S. is my email’s last will
and testament. It’s leaving everything
to you. P.S. Like my love for you,
like the infinite crystalline watchface of
God of the sky, my email will never die.


Don’t walk through the path of my blank stare:
it will lase a hole in you, incorporate your body
into blankness. Nothing can come between us,

me & the not-blackness—telephone wire
across the parking lot, a line against the sky’s
unclouded plane. Where are they hiding

their dimensions? They’ve gone Polaroid:
on empty window panes were slowly reified,
settling at half their real sharpness,

their real shades. Then a crow flew in
& landed, scratched the surface of the image
like a thumbnail. The bird mars it,

the wind that makes the pole drift &
quickens the wire. It starts to look alive,
poltergeisted. It’s taking something from me,

sapping through the wick of my locked
gaze. As I lose heart, I lose focus. Don’t
move. Don’t touch it. Look away.

Elisa Gabbert lives and works as an editor in the Boston area, where she is also a reader for Ploughshares. Her poems and prose have been published or are forthcoming in journals including LIT, Redivider, Shampoo, The G.W. Review, Illya's Honey, and Poetry Motel.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

José Luís Peixoto

ars poetica

whenever i feel like writing a poem
the first word that comes to my mind is

nobody reads poetry

but who can blame them?
i would read a newspaper
if i could understand it.

poem with eight arms

as goddess durga, i have one head and eight arms.


1. this line is an arm that exists because of your eyes,
2. this line is an arm that ends with the word 'prophecy',
3. this line is an arm that has about twelve and a half words,
4. this line is an arm that doesn't tell you much about me,
5. this line is an arm that talks about blood and pain,
6. this line is an arm that ends with the word 'morality',
7. this line is an arm that disappoints most people,
8. this line is an arm that disappears when you turn away.


and i have two tiny feet, one here and the other one very far away.

José Luís Peixoto is a Portuguese-born writer, and the author of a number of novels, two plays, and two books of poetry: A Criança em Ruínas/ Child in Ruins (2001) and A Casa, a Escuridão/The House, the Darkness (2002). His work has been anthologized on all five continents and translated into 11+ languages.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Stuart Greenhouse

My Lead Hat
after two masters

As if, could I keep thoughts from
                getting in,

I'd have any,
                I make it

thick and deaf.
                At its crest

I scratch
                the sentence "who am I?"

then flush the filings.
                Now I'm safe.

Afraid to take off my lead hat as if,
if I forgot myself,
I'd cease to be.

my lead hat is useless
yet everyone recognizes
me by it

people who are afraid
do more than they know.
I am lonely

it holds me tight
so when I dream
I do so of my body
not with my body

my lead hat
my lead hat
my lead hat
there. Now
that's heavy.

I heart my lead hat
soft and heavy enough
to seep in
yet unlined;
thus we are unbroken.


You mistake acquiescence for intimacy.
Me? I don't know, I mistake understanding,
I think. Goodbye.

It takes the shape
from whatever strikes it
so I don't have to

the sin of the lead hat
upon thee my three
and four generations

when I envision my heart
it is wearing
a little lead hat.
When I cry, my tears
are heavy with theirs.
The sun and the pine
close daily
with their offer
of strings-in-air. They are learning,
they are my friends,
they are lonely.

Please don't give up on me
my hands and my shoulders are free
almost always

You think it's funny?
Today, meditating, my head
so full of light
it felt like a helium balloon.
Without you, my closest friend,
I'd be gone.

Under you,
my own hemisphere,
I am fighting my life
for my life.

It is odd.
Nothing is stranger.

Help me be myself,
surmount it, though I cry.

Haven't you ever
mistaken a thing
for belief?

Neutrinos are my ideal.
They aren't anti matter, but
they are indifferent.

Hamlet. Job. Arjuna.
Bartelby. Prufrock. Eve.
Emily. (Your name here.)

My lunch hour, and
even if I weren't wearing it
he would have said
"Are you here to visit a grave?
Then get out!"

My parents crawl on me like fleas.
There are thousands of them.
Division, and company. Rank.

Look, at least I admit
it's an option.
I'd be afraid not to.
Or rhythmic.

Sometimes it tilts
to the left, and I circle,
or to the right, and I circle,
or back, and I wonder,
or forward, and I sleep.

I was in a restaurant
and all the people had spoons
they were trying to fit into their nostrils.
One crying begged me
to ease his pain,
so I grabbed his arm and held down
against his jerking,
aided of course by the weight
of my lead hat, though not
an impossible task without it.
Weeping he thanked me, and all
clamored for me to exert myself
in their service likewise;
and I, emboldened, instructed
them to lay their spoons
down themselves; and they looked up
from their red faces to mine
and they saw my lead hat
and they laughed me out.

It's just a little joke
between me and God.

Nearly all fundamentally
unstable materials
end in lead.

Stuart Greenhouse is the author of What Remains, a chapbook
published by the PSA in December of 2005. He lives in New Jersey with
his wife, son, and daughter.

"My Lead Hat" first appeared in What Remains, copyright (c) 2005 by
The Poetry Society of America.

Monday, April 10, 2006

rob mclennan

Lise Downe's metalwork

a stretch of wire        predestined
into twelve unbroken parts               a hole
in limitless release              a broken
stool not waned

or waxed        the bleed of increase
a damp cloth excised               a solitary wash
jeweled roses, pure       the screen
the slightest sound                            explains

a bargain sense        the burning soil
burnished, cleft hook & a hole
in white        the threaded forum
hush of calm, inhales

dust & shavings, heat marks
invisible to the touch                            a stone
& then another stone                        two birds
a harness in her gold mosaics
& thrill

of boat        unnoticed in the calm
someone understands                            trees

Artie Gold’s allergies

allergic to everything, scent
of dander in, from pets
to printed matter
                            , oxygen
& solitude, fifteen years
his only study

his bodys boundaries, air
& living threshold

perhaps a line, perhaps
a poem, sometimes

a postcard through the mail

some drafts
are never final

like spicer, has no problem w/
the open end

Robin Hannah's grandfather

though days have blurred to nights,
on his christmas card knee
when he was still prime minister

& she was five years old

his stories of the lord elgin hotel in ottawa
& the socialite elizabeth smart

when she was still eighteen

before anything; her new york nights,
toronto days, a chain

that bound her

days turn into night, turn in
to other nights, carrying every night
a cigarette, a shabby mast

absorbing light

robins dictionary of cats & solitude,
& poems safe in jars

when the peace of something finally done,
old mike, sleeps wakefield breath

as days turn into other days,
she visits, ear held keeping
to his sleepy ground

a sink between them

rob mclennan lives in Ottawa, even though he was born there. The author of twelve trade collections of poetry, most recently name , an errant (Stride, 2006) & aubade (Broken Jaw Press, 2006), he is currently working on a number of projects including a non-fiction book for Arsenal Pulp Press, Ottawa: The Unknown City (2007); a poetry collection, The Ottawa City Project; & finishing a novel, Missing Persons. He often writes, reviews & rants on his clever blog – robmclennan.blogspot.com.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ilya Kaminsky


We were leaving Odessa in such a hurry that we forgot the suitcase filled with English dictionaries outside our apartment building. I came to America without a dictionary, but a few words did remain:

Forgetting: an animal of light. A small ship catches a wind and sails.

Past: figures coming to the water’s edge, carrying lamps. Water is suspiciously cold. Many are standing on the shore, the youngest throwing hats in the air.

Sanity: a barrier separating me from madness is not a barrier, really. A huge aquarium filled with water weeds, turtles, and golden fish. I see flashes: movements, names inscribed on the foreheads.

A swift laugh: she leaned over, intrigued. I drank too fast.

Dead: entering our dreams, the dead become inanimate objects: branches, teacups, door-handles. I wake and wish I could carry this clarity with me.

A Toast
If you will it, it is no dream.
—Theodore Herzl

October: grapes hung like the fists of a girl
gassed in her prayer. Memory,
I whisper, stay awake.

In my veins
long syllables tighten their ropes, rains come
right out of the eighteenth century
Yiddish or a darker language in which imagination
is the only word.

Imagination! a young girl dancing polka,
unafraid, betrayed by the Lord's death
(or his hiding under the bed when the Messiah
was postponed).

In my country, evenings bring the rain water, turning
poplars bronze in a light that sparkles on these pages
where I, my fathers,
unable to describe your dreams, drink
my silence from a cup.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. Ilya is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

PR Primeau

Casual Things

the plane floats by
one hundred
maybe one thousand

who knows?


the sun glowing
    christ white
    like a new syringe
  we walk thru
      the park swan drunk
on chi rho powder

      plastered spread
      to the victory rose
which dips so ill
        into sea-blood

No Telephone in Heaven

to suffer

hide it

  where is

? taken
  the skin

Relative Valentine

      space is curved
                    is love?
      we arrive back
      at the start
      four years later

PR Primeau is the editor of Persistencia Press. He lives in Rhode Island.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Chris Tonelli

Why Poems Can Be More Like Paintings

The present murders us for the past
having barely grazed the word.

The word—a seagull, high against
the overcast sky, winking

like a fake moustache. It thinks
the factory is the sea. A river-

bed: great depths to receive, great
depths to give away. To the ocean.

for George Mazzoni

There is a place
I can't get to
because he is dead.
I want to live at
the ocean because
he did. I will go to
his town even, his
house. But what
will I go there to
receive? The junipers
unpruned? We think
of trees as places
and as defining
places. I had never
thought of him as
defining a place.
Maybe people should
have been trees.

Bedroom in Arles

My friends say that they
would like to see different
furniture in my poems. That
after the umpteenth bird
or tree, they start to feel
less and less for them. I
think of Van Gogh and how
my friends must be right—
it is nice to see a bed
once in a while. A chair.

Chris Tonelli lives in Cambridge, MA. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Verse, LIT, GutCult, New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Sonora Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Redivider. His chapbook, Wide Tree, is available from Kitchen Press.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sawako Nakayasu

Girl Talk

We are sitting around the table eating and drinking and exchanging stories about flashers, gropers, underwear thieves, your general assortment of urban perverts. When I tell the story about the man who came up to me and opened up his bag and offered me one of a teeming million wiggling ants in his bag, the whole table goes silent and I am reminded all over again how hard it is to get along with the women in this country.

An ant in the mouth of Madonna behind locked doors
for Reiko Hagiwara

is there, is there, is there but can’t prove it to anyone, is small, is glistening and black, is determined, is hanging on, is at a loss for a good perch, is wet, is blown by the wind when she takes a breath, is happy, is uncertainly happy, is ardent, is devoted, warm and plenty full of courage, is going to write a Moby Dick-length book about this upon returning, is unsure, is still looking to perch, is unable to see its own feet, is developing a relationship, its first adult relationship, is in a wet place or a hard place, is not strong enough to hang on, not even to the backs of her teeth, is hardly noticed, is tentative, is shy, is timid, is sweet, oh if only it could prove it, is waiting for its chance, is waiting for a big break, is going to show those folks back home, is feeling the slightest bit homesick, is determined to make it, is determined to go down in history, is determined to beat the odds, is casually hoping to make it into the Guiness Book of World Records for the Longest Time Spent in Madonna’s Mouth, is an optimist at heart, is fearful at the moment when her breathing gets rough, is shaking, is shaking, is shaken, is having a once-in-a-lifetime experience, is, after all, an ant with a fairly short lifespan, is gay, is not gay, is female, is black, is uncertain, is nothing compared to the giant scale of all the people who surround her, is everything relative to the other organisms inside her mouth, is big-hearted, is open-minded, is sweet, really, all it ever wants is for her to, for her to, oh, and then she comes, and the ant is, and isn’t, and is as it ever was.

Sawako Nakayasu crosses the Pacific Ocean on a regular basis. Her new book Nothing Fictional But the Accuracy or Arrangement was recently published by Quale Press.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Teresa Ballard

Woman At the Door

Blessed art thou, woman at the door,
strange machine, empty bed,
ringless finger.

May I call you virgin?
Sleeping wonder, dark
hall, may I call you.

Light, may I alter you
woman, wrecked.
May I?

Constant, Steady

The girl dreams without hands,
a mouth still intact. Her wrists are forgetful.

There ought to be a sign, something in the mind,
red and octagon. A noise perhaps, a clear shrill
but not a hum, please not the constant steady hum.

I’d rather have my hands than ears, my eyes than toes.

There ought to be a list—
choose what you can live without.
Blue, today blue but what of tomorrow,
what of green?

When to stop loving, to say this is enough—
I have no hands, how I am to walk?
I gave my life for the color green, my eyes are aching.

Blood and seawater have identical levels
of calcium, potassium. I am the ocean,
you do not see.

Here’s the list: 206 bones exist
in the body; half are in the hands and feet;
one for reaching, one for running away.

There’s no way to leave you.

Quiet now I’m dreaming.
It’s silly really to want more,
to think that you will wake a handless girl.

What will she do, roll over and touch your face?

Teresa Ballard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in:
Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, The Drunken Boat, Comstock Review, Paumanok Review, Tryst, Three Candles, as well as other literary journals.

In December of 2005 she was chosen by the Mid-American Review as Editor’s Choice for The James Wright Poetry Award. She has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Award and is currently working on her first manuscript of poetry.