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.