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