Saturday, July 30, 2005
What, that would be helpful, can I tell a kid
whose brother was shot in the head and died? A kid
in the system for sexual abuse, born again,
struggling to envision the kind of life
the sweet, gentle, churchwomen describe,
spitting pixie dust into antiseptic air.
So, if I get wet, say I believe, I can drive a Beamer, too?
Yes, hallelujah, and go to college, and marry a nice girl
from the suburbs, and have children…just believe.
His eyes are gray with cracks
like southern porches no one sits on.
You see, life is like a fine Picasso, it depends
on how you look at it, what you know going in,
the understanding you bring to the situation…
…and if you
work hard enough everything will be alright.
This, too, shall pass, my friend. Just believe.
The drug of all he knows to be true
pushes him against the high graffiti wall
as raw winds gnaw at his new wings
twisting in the breezes made from hundreds
like him, spitting sawdust. When the wings fall off,
he becomes a carpenter ant following a trail
of fraternal pheromones.
Peggy Smith Duke lives in rural Middle Tennessee, USA, with her husband. She is a retired human resources professional and has published in newspapers, professional journals and magazines for 30 years. She has published several poems and received recognition in a number of competitions. She holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in Industrial Psychology, from Middle Tennessee State University; and an EdD from Vanderbilt University.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
life resumes again, the day after
because after all,
far away, after all, not here. we
ride carousels, eat ice cream, ignore warnings
about sun, how easy it is now
to get burnt. an afternoon of amusement park
is enough to cause damage. you would think
such a pleasantness
of air, such an idyll somehow
outside of these things. you would think
we could be safe
in the arms of the ferris wheel, rising and falling,
safe in whole. life here
as though nothing had ever
happened outside, as though
we didn’t know about bombings,
about how some people hate that
be here laughing about
nothing more than the way
we can move through air, our fingers
waving into sky so pink far away over
Alisa Gordaneer is the editor of Monday Magazine, an alternative newsweekly in Victoria, BC, Canada, where she lives and writes on an urban homestead with her family. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of poems.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
by Truth Thomas
down past glass
ground in your salt shaker
a right between
arsenic sweet tea swallows
am easy to find.
just take the fork where
kill their babies
to keep them safe from you
windows growing shotguns.
Truth Thomas is an emerging musician and poet from Washington, DC. Musically, Thomas incorporates a wide range of musical expression from the African Diaspora and beyond to form his own personal artistic expression. In his poetry, he strives to marry crafts of both "page and stage" in an introspective style that is lyrical, spiritual and political.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
WHY WE ARE LOST IN IRAQ
by James Penha
To paint Cold Mountain
in great detail
I meticulously sketch before
fine lines in pencil
as carefully as a physician
plans surgery on the emperor.
I erase and revise.
Only when the Mountain
do I ink and brush.
To paint Cold Mountain
with a free hand,
sense and soul,
in a moment,
takes a lifetime.
James Penha edits The New Verse News. He is just back from China where he took lessons from a Chinese painter.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Act 1: Scene 1
Setting: a scholar’s study, dimly lit. On the desk a computer, its screen a swirl of clouds.
(Word enters, followed by God)CHORUS: In the beginning was the Word.
That much is clear. And the Word was
with God: that seems straight forward, and
further lends to Word a dignity,
a presence beyond concept. We
are perhaps a bit surprised that
Word preceded God, entering
first and not a deferential
step behind. But then to hear, And
the Word was God: that stops our clock!
Does he mean God is just a word?
Metaphor rides to the rescue.
And yet Word was first through the door.
(God exits. Word takes his seat at the desk)
Born near the Chute River, Naples, Maine in 1926, Robert M. Chute taught and conducted research at Middlebury College, San Fernando State (CA), and Lincoln University (PA) before returning to Maine as Chair of Biology at Bates College. Now Professor Emeritus of Biology, Bates College, Chute has a record of scientific publication in Parasitology, Hibernation Physiology, General Biology, and Environmental Studies. His poetry and collage poems appear in many journals including Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, BOMB, The Cape Rock, Cafe Review, The Literary Review, Texas Review. His poetry books include a three language reissue of Thirteen Moons in English, French, and Passamaquoddy (2002), and most recently, a three chapbook boxed set, Bent Offerings, from Sheltering Pines Press (2003). He is currently working on a series of poems based on reading scientific journals such as Nature and Science.
Friday, July 15, 2005
by Sara Campos
You sit in the patio at the Auberge
overlooking trees with ripening olives and
vineyards with plump grapes ready to burst
underneath a powder blue sky.
You sip wine and dine on
fresh arugula leaves and heirloom tomatoes
drizzled with champagne vinagrette.
I stand in the kitchen,
pour scalding water on your plate.
Later I’ll press your sheets and stretch them across your
I shuck my skin, pluck out my liver
and sever my hands
for you to auction
to the highest bidder and
triple the profit for your portfolio
You want to build a cerda
preventing me from entering your land
Minutemen search me
hurling stones and epithets
as though I had
raped one of your daughters
But I ask you
if you had seen the face of my child
screaming hunger from her eyes
her chapped lips no longer moving
Would you not come?
Would you not scale a 50’ wall?
dodge thousands of bullets
risking every bone
to bring her back to life?
Or if you say you believe all those
values Americanos written in
books I cannot read
if it were shred, lost or violated as
in Rwanda, Croatia or El Mozote
would you not run across before they
searched you out
to cut off your tongue?
Would you lie still
accepting your fate
like a piece of meat to be swallowed?
Would you not want what I want?
Would you not do the same as I?
Sara Campos is an immigration lawyer who writes poetry and fiction. She has published op-ed pieces in the San Francisco Examiner, The San Francisco Daily Journal, and The Recorder. Her fiction has appeared in LongStoryShort and her poetry has appeared in Penwomanship. She has also written book reviews for www.Waterbridgereviews.org and www.BeyondChron.org.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Had the Mother lived through your ordeal
of orgiastic bloodlust of worshipping
unpantied women of seeing the last
quiver of heart, lung, and kidney—
as butcher’s do—would her sons
be different men now?
Would their hair be cut, would
Phd, MD, Esq. or just calm clarity
follow their surnames?
Would their speech be as superb as yours
you white suited devil?
Who did you call to bring you that garment?
Who loves you enough to go through the trouble?
If angels do, what fools they are.
You stand before God all white as God
and those poor boys still boys twenty five years later
mouth full of mush crying, mama! mama! mama!
come down from that cross!
Charles Harvey is a writer living in Houston Texas.
Monday, July 11, 2005
a nation of oceans slumbers, night contracts
like a black lung
leaves only space enough for this particular dream
Here in the night, there’s you
In the daytime, too
We don’t sleep well. There’s always something
out there beyond the sand dunes
across the oceans. In the dark,
a screen flickers and
we begin the Beguine again,
or Oscar Levant hunches over the piano
in an old movie about Paris
in a time before the insistence of the blues
before Zanax for depression,
Ambien for insomnia,
before this time of bodies come back
at night, disappeared
into the ground, folded
flags put away
quietly, we dream of Oscar Levant
and Gene Kelly alive
again, waving his arms,
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in Texarkana, Texas. Her most recent publications: Windhover, Cider Press Review, 2River, and Ghoti Magazine. Her book, Reading Berryman to the Dog was published by Jacaranda Press (2000).
Friday, July 08, 2005
The bottom falls out.
The middle crumbles.
The top just floats.
The dead look good.
The living look dead,
The living dead live,
The dying just die.
The Biblic@l exult:
Their number’s fixed.
The religious pray.
Their numbers swell.
"Is our number up?"
"Can we count on it?"
Bill Costley writes a "Letter from Santa Clara" for the San Francisco CALL.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Just before something happens
and right before nothing,
the process of destroying begins.
It’s something that should frighten
white shirts, wing tips, and white men
who pass legislation.
Their process is this:
Tighten the Windsor,
shine-up the wing tips
then stare into the camera
and describe the hate to anyone
who still believe their rhetoric.
Take a look around
the truth speaks,
there is no respect for destruction.
When my life ends
perhaps I’ll be lying on white sand
or in a lush tropical rainforest
near the equator,
avoiding the constriction of a large boa
watching as it digests prey.
Perhaps I’ll visit the Grand Canyon,
Niagara Falls or the Great Lakes.
Maybe I’ll be in the desert
attempting a Chinese finger puzzle
with someone’s wife, son or father.
Perhaps I’ll survive
when bricks crumble
and wood burns.
when bombs explode.
Perhaps I’ll quote Walt Whitman,
Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson
then remind my fellow man
that you cannot simultaneously prevent
and prepare for war.
Jim Abraham, born in 1955, has been writing poetry since tenth grade. Currently enrolled in The University of Pittsburgh's writing program, he worked for two years as editor of The Pendulum, a literary magazine published at Pitt's Greensburg campus.
Monday, July 04, 2005
by Walt Whitman
from "Song of Myself"
for the Fourth of July
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess
the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun...
there are many millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand...
nor look through the eyes of the dead,
nor feed on the spectres in books.
You shall not look through my eyes either,
nor take things from me.
You shall listen to all sides and filter them for yourself.
I have heard what the talkers were talking.
The talk of the beginning and the end.
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance...
Always substance and increase,
Always a knit of identity... always distinction...
always a breed of life.
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul...
and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Lack one lacks both...
And the unseen is proved by the seen
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.
Showing the best and dividing it from the worst,
age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things,
while they discuss I am silent,
and go and bathe and admire myself.
Welcome is every organ and attribute of me,
and of any man hearty and clean.
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile,
and none shall be less familiar than the rest.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm
on an impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its own sidecurved head curious
what will come next,
Both in and out of the game,
And watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days
where I sweated through fog with linguists
I have no mockings or arguments. I witness and wait.
I believe in you my soul.
The other I am must not abase itself to you.
And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me on the grass.
Loose the stop from your throat.
Not words, not music or rhyme I want.
Not custom or lecture, not even the best.
Only the lull I like. The hum of your valved voice.
I recall how we lay in June,
such a transparent summer morning.
You settled your head athwart my hips
and gently turned over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone,
and plunged your tongue to my barestript heart,
And reached till you felt my beard,
and reached till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me
the peace and joy and knowledge that
pass all the art and argument
of the earth;
And I know that the hand of God
is the elderhand of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God
is the eldest brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
And the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a product of the creation is love;
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in little wells beneath them.
Fetching it to me with full hands, a child said, What is the grass?
How can I answer? I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition,
out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark and say Whose?
And now it seems to me
the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
I wish I could translate these hints
about the dead young men and women.
and the hints about old men and mothers,
and the offspring soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of them?
They are alive and well somewhere.
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death.
All goes outward, and nothing collapses.
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
Has anyone supposed it is lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die,
and I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth
with the new-washed babe
... and am not contained between my hat and boots.
I peruse manifold objects, no two alike,
and every one good.
The earth good, the stars good,
and all their adjuncts good.
But I am not an earth nor and adjunct of an earth.
I am the mate and companion of people,
all just as immortal and fathomless as myself.
They do not know how immortal, but I know.
The press of my foot to the earth
springs a hundred affections.
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands.
They are not original with me.
If they are not yours as much as mine
they are nothing or next to nothing.
If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing.
If they are not the riddle and the undying of the riddle
they are nothing.
If they are not just as close as they are distant
they are nothing.
This is the grass that grows
wherever the land is and the water is.
This is the common air that bathes the globe.
This is the breath of laws and songs and behavior.
This is the tasteless water of souls.
This is the true sustenance.
It is for the illiterate.
It is for the judges of the supreme court.
It is for the federal capitol and state capitols.
It is for the admirable communities of literary men
and composers and singers and lecturers
and engineers and savans.
It is for the endless races of working people
and farmers and seamen.
This is the trill of a thousand clear cornets and cream of the octave flute and strike of triangles.
I play not a march for victors only.
I play great marches for conquered and slain persons.
Have your heard it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall.
Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
I sound triumphal drums for the dead.
Vivas for those who have failed, whose war vessels
and selves sank in the sea.
To all generals who lost engagements,
and all who overcome heroes.
Every kind for itself and its own...
for mine male and female,
For all that have been boys that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels
how it stings to be slighted.
For me the sweetheart and the old maid...
for me the mothers and the mothers of mothers
For me the lips that have smiled,
eyes that have shed tears,
For me the children and the begetters of children.
Who need be afraid of the merge?
you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded.
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
I can never be shaken away.
This is the press of a bashful hand...
this is the float and odor of hair,
This is the touch of my lips to yours...
this is the murmur of yearning.
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting
in my own face,
This is the thoughtful merge of myself
and the outlet again.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
One of these days this bristly bitch
is gonna shake us off like so much dirty
bathwater. It’ll be a bigger howl than
Earth Day, that day--we’ll be driving
and shitting, eating and fighting
and mating, wasting every useful thing,
when suddenly, bang! – there we’ll be,
sharing a collective view from space,
loosened from her shaggy mantle.
O! Bright Dog Star! How obedient she’ll be,
watching as we dodge ourselves, millions
of lousy particles salting the lifeless firmament,
her tongue wagging. Just another day for a dog.
And afterward, it will be our turn to watch
her stretch blue hide across the void and chew
a bone, take a nap, dig her paws deep
to bury our bones where she'll never find them.
Why wait? Witness the fetch of her infinity
while you still can: how she pants, rolls over,
plays dead, rises again behind that easy smileto chase rabbits into dusk. Nits or no nits.
Tamara Kaye Sellman is editor/publisher of MARGIN: Exploring Modern Magical Realism and the editor behind the free speech and media literacy blog:archive, Candleflame. Her work (poetry, fiction, essays) has appeared internationally and typically addresses issues of (in)tolerance, environmentalism, women's rights, censorship and other sociopolitical concerns. Her most recent work, "Peppercorns" (Gargoyle, June 2005) reflects upon mistaken cultural identity and the growing ubiquity of the skinhead youth in western Washington state.