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,, 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.