Tuesday, May 31, 2005

SALT's final issue / Part 5: Metrical Poetry Feature

SALT Metrical Poetry Feature / edited by Annie Finch

K. Silem Mohammad

Two poems


The storms name them
not smartest, nor
at rest, maroon
them on no shore.

Restore them, Mars,
one ransom more:
no theme more rash,
no ears so sore.

As some men moan,
so others snore.
No one tames them,
Namor nor Thor,

no Roman son,
no orator--
stern men at arms,
at stones to roar.


Conscript fathers, how you adore your rhetor's
sweet declaiming! see how the curile aedile
tilts his chair back, not of a mind to veto
even a sparrow.

Bench by bench, a reverie tames the senate,
all Rome passed out, drunk on his eloquentia,
rococo Rome, buzzing with lyres and zithers,
goddesses bathing.

Marble columns girding the vatic dreamwork
form a ring supporting a convex awning,
Helicopters thump in the massive dome-space,
fiery searchlights

trawl the clouds, and bolts of polluted lightning
bas-relief the forum in yellow flashes.
Gazing up, the consul's opponents tremble:
Mars the avenger

rides in screaming. Faces of murder victims
rise in each conspirator's guilty conscience,
terrorized, insultingly mutilated,
slathered with lipstick.

Strip away the quaestor's oneiric bugbears:
under dead skin, honeycombs made of razors
harbor clumps of ten-in-the-evening mayflies,
terminal, flaccid.

Stony rhetor, cast in the role of the bad cop,
eulogize your laureled Italian headlands:
fields of honor, sweetened by phlox and lupine!
Watch as they vanish--

sunlit meadows brightening into evening,
crossed by horsemen, afterwards shadows of horsemen,
lastly, cankered remnants of fading twilight
spreading infection.


Arielle Greenberg


I wonder what would happen if the K in knife was said,
if part of all the Hs in the book had rubbed away,
changing up the shapes of our ancestor's good white bones.

I wonder who's been sleeping in this bale of hay before,
how many eyes adore me, how many needles here.
I wonder who is bedded, sharp and low, like any twin,
kindled by the flickering camp lantern of my name.

It doesn't happen suddenly, but with a rolling hush:
some blossom, something citric, and oh so cavalier,
moves without me, moves in chorus with the pulse of the night sky.

It's my velvet artwork, making pleasure of a peephole.
without me, it can wonder every G-note in the scale,
every Aries made of starlight. It's the whirring of my plum.


Ann Fisher-Wirth


I know how to find you.
I go where your sleeping
is filled with the shadows
of leaves, where the leaves have
bled their green,
and all that remain are
their skeletons, nearly
transparent, translucent,
and tissue gone blurred as
the moon among clouds, as
the fur on a moth's wing,
and tips as if trailing
through water--

Such leaves are not common.
In this snowy country
they cherish them, save them,
the white skelettbladen--
like us, they have died, to
become more enduring.


Ben Mazer


Her feigned indifference stung his vanity;
a small town girl with sawdust in her veins;
a modern pilgrim, who had changed her name;
a girl with glasses, thrumming in his brain;

the brazen hypocrite, she knew his name;
subscribed to Star and Screen, jumped out of cakes;
yet she had got his goat; he hit the brakes,
but felt his life was founded on a lie.

Big parties were his own familiar waters;
life took his coat; his name was on its lips;
he spent the evening in the servants' quarters,
trying to get a date, and washing cups.

He told the boss he wanted a screen test;
the studio would write him a blank check;
he told her that she never would be his,
that now she never could be like the rest.

His will was done; the out of town reviews
killed the first rushes, but the biggest news
was that her presence had eclipsed his fame;
each questionaire was filled out with her name.

Now in the afternoons when she came back
he had prepared a cozy little snack,
and they let down their hair; he didn't dare
tell her his fears, but she knew what they were.

He slapped a reporter, not the thing to do
when he had credit nowhere in the town,
except among the elder set who knew
just what it was the younger man had done.

Then finally left on his own holiday.
Prepared the picnic, but forgot the brunch.
He dropped his robe and swam out to the stars;
now you can see which one of them is hers.


Rodney Koeneke


For weeks we yo-yo'd up and down the Five.
Stopping for gas, I’d find the bill was paid.
He'd wait for me when I fell behind.
Elizabeth, my perfect family, dead . . .

Near the interchange I caught his plates.
He slowed down, leering as I roared past.
His yolky eye, the tell-tale brainpan stitch--
Is it these imperfections that I hate?

I see in you a part of what I am.
You see in me the thing you cannot be.
Some incompletion drove me to persist;

Of all my rotting parts you are the sum.
Needing a god to blame, how could you see
It's in those borrowed eyes that I exist?


C.J. Sage


Let the thousand visions fall away.
Let the sleep of reason grace our eyes
kindly with its many veils, to stay
the knowledge of the hurtful world. --Deny!
Men I know have fallen (many men)
prey to the temptations of sight and sense.
Women kept to their convictions, then
gave them all up, just to walk the fence:
pain on one side, more pain on the other.
Now let the lids of knowing take their rest;
let me close my own to the faults of brothers
and sisters in this life, difficult at best.
Let us be grateful for the wealths of boredom.
Let us, heirs of Argus, be more dumb.


Charlotte Mandel

Two poems


No, I do not envision sky-light welcome
Nor that bomb-shattered flesh evolves to angel
In Recovery, all stopped And I knew it
Spinal surgery siphons red from marrow--
Your black twin-mirror pupils distant . . . distant . . .

Blessing flows via tubes transfusing plasma
Tunnel high as you will, but take a flashlight--
Acid batteries stencil wings on darkness
Heaven stages desire and speaks in echo
Clouds like papery hymnals shuffle praise-songs

A blink rinses the eye of sorrow's visions
Windblown cirrus revolves in blades of jet smoke


Days resemble each other like sheaves of wheat
Days resemble each other like sheaves of wheat
Gathering hurt feelings I trail after your blade.
Gathering hurt feelings I trail after your blade.
I like your hurt. Feelings resemble other days
gathering sheaves of wheat after each blade trail.

Your voice like smoke surrounds me in the room
Your voice like smoke surrounds me in the room
Blurs all words of a dream I want to recall
Blurs all words of a dream I want to recall.
I smoke to recall words in a voice like the room
Your dream surrounds, blurs all want of me.

Answer the telephone although it never rings.
Answer the telephone although it never rings.
Letters sleep in this box no postman comes to.
Letters sleep in this box no postman comes to.
It comes to this: the postman rings: letters sleep
in telephone box. Never answer no.

No smoke blurs the hurt to me of your answer.
Sheaves of dream letters trail the postman.
Days sleep in this room like a telephone box.
It rings. All words come to resemble each other.
I never voice feelings--although recall surrounds
like wheat after blade. I want your gathering in.


Anand Thakore

Two poems


As if to quench the first little wisp of flame,
Rain fell in torrents when I reached the grounds,
Beating wildly upon the low tin roof,
Like a great hurt beast no will could tame.

Sweat covered your forehead, your blue sleeves wet,
As you took the hot brand into your palms,
Turning towards me before you lit the sticks,
Your brown hair drenched as when we first met.

Can I say I still loved the man I saw,
Whose loss I turned so quickly away from?
I saw you through tongues of leaping flame,
And cold eyes of ice no flame could thaw,

Your mother burning as I thought of my own,
Seeking no way into the cell of your grief;
No way out of mine as I heaped her with twigs,
Poured oil on damp wood and watched you like a stone.


I have waited all morning for this fog to clear,
Looking through its folds for stray signs of green;
Yet now that the terraced slopes and paddy-fields
And the woods that it hid draw steadily near--

The thick moss on a branch, the full height
Of a hill, and the lily-spotted weir
Shimmering insistently in late noon heat,
The eye retreats in fear from approaching light;

And I long more strongly for the fog to come down,
Covering in a single length of shroud
The bright greens it wrapped in torn scraps of grey;
And the watcher outside whom it would not drown.

Great Maker of Fog, release my eyes.
Cast them into this swirl of grey and green,
Till they come to feel at home in change.
Grant them the craft of swift goodbyes.


Mary Agner


She wears tobacco tucked in her auburn hair.
Her eyes, the hues of Chesapeake Bay distilled.
               Hilt gripped, she stands prepared to sever
                      tyranny's neck in the muddy Piedmont.

Each empty, wind-wrenched autumn, her hands in paint
that splatters whole leaf piles and the yellow winged
                forsythia for me to play in--
                      loneliness blurred by kaleidoscoped trees.

Virginia, older sister that I have lost,
I almost see her cresting and winking waves
               here, moving through the pines. My palms freeze
                      missing her hand in my hand when leaves fall.


Oliver Murray


("Taylor's men roam and kill at will. They are
dressed in shower hats and wedding dresses
The shower hats are for the rain.
No one knows what the wedding-dresses
are for" --Denis Johnson, war correspondent. )

Mind your step because of the piled up corpses.
This night's haul is over two hundred dead and
killers roaming streets in their white lace dresses.
make people fearful.

Off the sidewalk, people in lanes and alleys,
retching, think of cannibal voodoo rumour
hope that what they've eaten was not cadaver--
that's what the dogs eat.

Sharks this year are circling in shallows waiting.
Wedding dresses add to the terror, killers
drag the corpses down to the blood-frilled surf for
that's what the sharks eat.


Jerry Harp


My man showed up again, the one
Whose skin I breathed for days--appeared
Among a sidewalk's tables and chairs.
He looked my way, his perfect wave
Of hair accosting the breeze.
Savvy monks crept from his eyes.
The sidewalk voices knocked and rang
Like iron balls beaten against brick walls.
He looked my way again, and in a single sweep
Took in a crow, a cloud, his table companion,
Some handsome guy in a vanilla suit.
His half smile told a tale.
My Creature wrath and desire were razed
To the street. Where else were they to go?
The flickering streetlight cast an aureole.


Eve Adamson

Two poems



Remember the serpent from the other story?
We'd met him before, read his CV

(Part myth, part bald-faced lie), found his cream-and-coral
Complexion something admirable.

Remember how we let him crawl all over us?
That was before you had a face,

Before you taught me what I didn't know I knew
That day we crumpled into two.


I'd imagined this kind of birth before,
The inevitable yowling yellow terror,

The serpent a memory in the center,
The slicing of flesh, the bloody armor,

But nothing ever actually changed.
The severing and rearrangement

Birth requires offended me.
Then one afternoon, white sky,

Smack in the middle of the long light,
A stash of tools in the window seat

I found and told myself to get to work.
What I dug out squirmed in its own dark.

What I let loose struggled to stand
And as I squinted, held out my hand

For the thing to take, I knew it well.
It lived and grew and opened a hole

And there I was, straight out of my head,
Carrying on, armadillo-armored,

Helmeted and defying protection,
Challenging myself to a dual of dissection,

My wise assumptions on their knees.
Here swarms the yellow curtain of bees,

Folding in the warrior's wake,
Piqued and blushing, thundering in Greek,

Veiling with honey vapor the mother's eye.
Let's tell it like it is: relinquished "I,"

And Once there lived a snake, wise as dirt,
Stacking the bones to cage the throbbing heart,

But now his shredded skin is rent,
And where one waited, two contend:

The girl compelled to brandish a sword,
Scratching in stone them fightin' words;

The father whose immortal, gasping wound
Makes of his brow a portal; a jagged crown.


Wrapped in a wrinkled sheet, beside
           The window's senseless whisper,
Close to the weed-infested yard,
           Close to the pond's soft chatter,
           Loud in her cries and louder,
Erect above her gentleman,
           Sways the nocturnal lover,
           Sings the sirenical tongue.

Beneath the hot, mismanaged man,
           Past shriller groans and ranker,
She rolls her prey, a whirling fan,
           With blades and switch and cable,
           A sexual inspirer,
The fawn, the fay, the devotee,
           The decadent, the noble,
           Noble at least today.

The loveless and unlovely skin
           Reclined around about her,
The Nuzzled One, the Not-at-Home,
           The nuzzled and the sated,
           Her watchings-close have turned her eye,
She kicks against the weak and pale
           The careless and the fated
           With tongue and arch and nail.


Landis Everson

Three poems

Note: Landis Everson was part of the original "Berkeley Renaissance" in the late '40s, an intimate of the Duncan-Spicer-Blaser circle (Spicer was in love with him, and to Duncan he was the "Poet-King"), and later (circa 1960) a member of the Spicer-Blaser-Jim Herndon-Landis Everson Sunday reading group in San Francisco. Ashbery printed some of his things in Locus Solus in 1962, but Landis did not appear in print until two sequences (Postcard from Eden and "The Little Ghosts I Played With") were printed in their entirety last year in Ben Mazer's anthology of the Berkeley Renaissance in Fulcrum 3 (2004), Everson's first appearance in print in more than 40 years. He is now in his mid-70s, alive and well in San Luis Obispo, and has started writing poetry again. This spring, A volume of new and collected poems, Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005, edited by Ben Mazer, is forthcoming.


The morning snapped up like a window shade
When dogs came barking down the hill
Filling memories and the sleeping rooms
With savagery. Not hard to tell
What puny prize they chased or why a day
That warmed its fingers on my chest
Was busy elsewhere cheering life and death.

An egg and bacon regularity
The minutes calm as coffee passed
And stuck. I waited for the cry of fate
Outside the house and thought, this world
Of love pretends no modesty--hope
And fear like rancid habits bound
Across the apple seeds and dust of danger.


Things he had discovered,
A watch, a gold tooth, a diary,
Lay before him in the box
After sixty years of death.

The elephant was also there
Something like a rose leaf
Jammed in, pressed and faded
After sixty years of death.

Things he had discovered
Jammed in pressed and faded
Something like a rose leaf--
What else had he expected?

The elephant was also there
Lay before him in the box.
A watch, a gold tooth, a diary--
What else had he expected?

After sixty years of death
What else had he expected?
He jammed himself within the box
And hugged the dead-set elephant.


Hunger led him to discover
(That ancient enemy of the belly)
Starving on a mountain top
The form that trembled in the thickets.

That ancient enemy of the belly
Told its knowledge to the heart.
The form that trembled in the thickets,
Something love and hate could eat,

Told its knowledge to the heart--
All is prey that can be swallowed.
Something love and hate could eat
The eye was well trained to remember.

All is prey that can be swallowed
The earth exceeds itself in offering
The eye was well trained to remember
Beauty has a double shape.

The earth exceeds itself in offering
Both the beauty and the flesh.
Beauty has a double shape--
One the bow kills one the heart.

Both the beauty and the flesh
(One the bow kills one the heart)
Leapt up stricken from his fancy--
He ate the world up with his eyes.

One the bow kills one the heart
Hunger led him to discover--
He ate the world up with his eyes
Starving on the mountain top.


Michael Ladd


You notice which lights have gone out in which signs,
and Time, Time, how you paw over Time.
The sound, in your mind, of closing doors
is a distant, ominous roar
like the sea heard in a rented shack, late at night.
You pace, you fret on what might
or might not have been.
The thousand life possibilities that you saw
have come down now to three or four.
You follow the streets of this moonless town,
feeling youth come back like heat stored
in the day, released now from the night's brick walls.
In a shop window--an LP sleeve, a mirror ball,
tawdry things invested with such sweet aching;
a life once yours.
The past: chew on it, gnaw
the rancid bone, that's what it's for.


Regina Derieva

Two poems

Translated from the Russian by Alan Shaw


Consisting as I do of scraps of dreams,
of lands I've never seen, of underpinnings,
of air and salt, of elemental things
unmeddled with by endings or beginnings,

of clay and iron, and of ocean wave
and shingle crowds of feet have trod upon,
of faith and hope, stood at the wall, to brave
the rifles, turning into heavenly stone,

of quiet and simplicity, bestowed
upon us by a woman among women,
of emptiness that stretches like a road
into a vastness where things lose their meaning,

of whisperings, of looking long at that
which goes among us by the name of God,
at death, which never was, and now is not,
at life, of which so little can be had.


The age was iron: it's gone to rust,
corroded over like a knife,
the edge of naked power lost
that had worlds trembling for their life.
A shard of dingy steel remains.
they carefully polish it with sand,
and the awful muscle strains,
with primal impulse, at the hand.


Gwyn McVay


Put your ears back
Put your eyes back
Put your mouth back
Put your mind back

You won't need them
Throw your arms down
Throw your legs down,
jump in after

        after falling

you'll hear voices
These are demons
Listen closely,

imitate them
with your shining
Put your ears back
Put your mind back


Harriet Zinnes


Pink--the very sound is odd.
Why "p" and "k" together?
The gentle and the harsh,
the melodious and the rugged?
Nothing is, after all,
that cannot be together,
and yet, and yet,
the marriage of the gentle and the harsh
is a combination questionable though real
Let the word resound anyway.
Let the child laugh at the pink hair on her doll,
and the servant in the kitchen
recall the pink undies of her fallen mistress.


Henry Gould

A man becomes the song he sings.
--Irish proverb

You won't find it in the newspaper;
nor in some Caribbean hideaway.
Not in the careful phrases of professors, nor
the alcoholic dénouement of a working day.

Deep in the framed confusion of a window,
a bird's rehearsing (hidden in a tree).
Warbling the only song he knows,
with aching slowness, tenderly.

Only the bird knows it's an imitation.
Echo of a sound heard once, far off . . .
creak of a swing, or distant train . . . oh
grave, earthbound tune-freighted with love!


John Hennessey


I'm jumping ship. We've keeled the shallows, beached
Along pacific rims that idle east
Of urgency, and old idioms won't work here.
The tide is always changing in the Berkshires.

We've measured quite a bit more mass than weight--
And run aground where steeples prick the nape
Of dusk beyond the bridge. The law's mosaic,
An orthodoxy of bits and pieces, cracked

Contingencies a sort of sexy gear.
The tightest seal's on the subliminal here:
An astronaut turned poet laureate snaps
His boots across the sky, his leather chaps

And halter burning. His death is comedy,
One side effect of zero gravity.


Lyn McCredden

Two poems


Years from now, standing in the sunny air,
you're holding something precious in your hands.
Leaning, contented, by your side there,
someone's smiling; around you light expands.
The camera's keen, but it's unprophetic
and cannot tell me what it is you hold
so tenderly. It's your fragile secret
furled in the future. But it makes you bold:
those bright blue eyes look back, direct, assured,
reflecting open skies, a blessedness
you share with all you touch, unconfused
by tawdry prizes, this world's injustice.
The treasure you hold in the sunny air
is what I will never see, with you, there.


I choose to live in a mongrel suburb,
my scruffy street a united nations.
You live on the leafy side, unperturbed
by sameness, your own face, your relations.
You tell me, over coffee and éclair,
that on a rare train trip last week you'd seen
a boy from Footscray, or somewhere out there,
you know, tats, moccasins and stove pipe jeans.
He'd vomited in the carriage, right there
in front of everyone. Didn't clean up,
just stared round with a stupid grin. Who cares?
The look on your face was not quite disgust,
telling your little Western suburb story,
but unamused, self-congratulatory.


Charles O. Hartman


I. Miles

Still fall
Another drift of sunshine
A day, and then some
No need for snow

Strange creatures scaled down
We tune a canny ear to the unmoved hour

Strung high, the icy cloud sings of a blue trapped
in a blue
And so: too

Off on one hand the rind of an undiscarded moon
Off-season fields lie paralyzed for some Persephone
Her place held firm by a zero
Between's return

Then again, the spring's wound one way

Ideally, the poem's rhythmic regime should need no explanation at all, because it means to be compulsory: granting only the need to speak slowly, a reader speaking these lines aloud should reproduce the exact rhythm of Miles's solo on the last track from Kind of Blue. [Note: the originally released cut, not the alternate take also available on current CDs.]

The principles are simple in the abstract: one syllable per note of course (though here and there identifying either one can be tricky), composed into lexical and syntactical strings that, aside from making sense locally and globally, enlist the intonation and rhythmic patterns of English to approximate the musical rhythms of the solo. Because syllable-length is audible in English (though not semantic as in Classical languages), it's possible to mimic musical notes' combination of duration and distribution within the bar. Consonant clusters can be used to slow down the speech, clitics to speed it up, assonance to foreground it. Line-breaks can enforce the boundaries of musical phrases and not merely indicate them. Denser and looser syntax, more and less figurative language, modulate the rhythm as much as word- and phrase-stress do. Rhythm concerns emphasis as well as speed.

In practice the application is difficult because features on all levels of the linguistic hierarchy from phoneme to clause are in play jointly and continuously--drawing to a four-dimensional inside straight.

This explains why section I is not yet accompanied by section II, "Coltrane" or section III "Cannonball." Miles, for instance, distributes just 97 notes over the 95 seconds of his solo; the densest of Coltrane's 25 measures contains 24 notes.

In this passage, italics are used to indicate the point in his solo where Miles moves closer to the microphone.


Tom See


And dhoe dhe niit iz gadhring
and dhu skii groez daak,
uhed dhoez klaodz aar blaizing
and dhaer singing tou mii haat:

you--yaur daiy iz throu--
mai yau rest bee trouw!
And dhen niit staats:

Giv mee yaur weerines
--dhu haat uv aul mii loenlines--
iil giv you miin
soe wee boeth riim
in good tiim.


Rachel Loden

Kuyunjik, palace mound

Nineveh fallen. My
Ghostly battalion
Silver-bell ankle rings

Babylon Cadillac. Black
Candle guttering
Nettle-leav'd bellflowers
Sweet-faced American

Elvis in Cuneiform
Black-winged deity
Fifteen-gate city of
Mooncalf & talisman

Nineveh fallen. My
Ghostly battalion
Daughters of Sargon
Be carried away


Mike Smith



Snowfall after a softening week of rain.
We say the season's going, then it‚s gone.
Waking in the night, I feel the after-pain
of something broken, nothing to be done.

Something broken or something torn. Outside,
I hear the grate of a paw on muffled ground
and think, Pointless to resist the dark's sure slide;
binders of the dark, we are by darkness bound.

Then I think how often and against what odds
the poem gets written. Common as breath,
or the breath's slow ceasing. (The great head nods
toward the sudden figure at the door.) One wish:

To wake in the night and find the night has passed,
the world around us itching like a cast.


One stopped his walk to watch the headlights grow.
One left the engine running in a grove.
One, by thirty, knew all there was to know
then happened on her lover with his love.
One learned to find her name carved in the sky.
One died to reach the wisdom of the bone.
One lived to get his own back in the eye.
One to this very day remains unknown--

Not pain, but after-pain, pain's reprobate.
(For they say it‚s winter and we‚ve come too late.)
Yet who among us, taking the moment‚s measure,
wouldn't mortgage fully the unglittering end?
Who among us could resist the ancient wager,
waking from its lair the hibernating fiend?


Amy King

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.

These are the things you think you said.
It's just that I have no way of knowing
what to tell you. I fill you full
of roots and prefixes, signifiers and
the dialectic, and still my company mixes
with the party. I won't tow the line
though. Better the diagnoses than
prescriptions. Herein, my drink remains
displaced. She ambles along in
her careful constructions. Against
the wall, she overlaps her shadow upright.
The table over there offers refreshments.
When I say I am of does that follow
with good riddance? The end of man
often lies at hand, but whereof can one
not speak? It is on the table; it is in my grasp;
it has soaked into the carpet. As a woman,
my permission opens me aimlessly:
I move my mouth and walk therein.


Mimi Khalvati


When you wake to jitters every day, it's heartache.
Ignore it, explore it, either way, it's heartache.

Youth's a map you can never refold,
from Yokohama to Hudson Bay, it's heartache.

The moon in a swoon, you're in his arms,
the fandango starts, the palm trees sway, it's heartache.

Oh love, love, who are centuries old.
It's not time or absence I can't weigh, it's heartache.

Heartache with women, heartache with men.
Call myself straight or call myself gay, it's heartache.

Stop at the wayside, name each flower,
the loveliness that will always stay: it's heartache.

Wherever I am, I'm elsewhere too
in a cloud you'd think, but isn't, grey. It's heartache.

Why do nightingales sing in the dark?
What the eye can't see, the soul will say, it's heartache.

Who would dare to call their pain despair?
As long as faith holds true, men can pray, it's heartache.

Let the Sufi meaning of my name,
'a quiet retreat', heal as it may its heartache.


Michael Helsem


Distances I never chose
and those to come
converse together where I stand
abandoned and dumb.
The birds sing shrill and very loud
in a crowded tree;
I wonder what it takes to cure
that sings within my bloodstream like
a psychic gale,
and yet allows no single bare
airt to prevail . . .
So I remain, and cobble whims
of crimson from
distances I never chose,
and those to come.


Nikia Billingslea

Two poems


Nappy heads make for strong minds against bullshit.
Dreadlocks are not so dreadful when they conduct
Ra energy, divine, on naked gray streets
strewn with blood money.


With long bony fingers tugging reddish brown
goatee, he sits at the bar‚s end watching
caffeine-stimulated drama; his onyx
eyes look straight through me.


Caramel and Chocolate, Sappho‚s daughters.
When they speak, echoes of African drums beat
trance-inducing rhythm while they extol the
virtues of the P.


Crescent and star on Black fingers pluck bass strings
under trapped sun, shining brilliant gold for
people who can afford to buy some sol on
an overcast night.


There are Taoist monks in our midst. Quietly
they walk concrete streets, flowing with the tide of
the masses, but impenetrable. With minds
of stone, hearts of clouds.


The crimson juice of strange fruit stains my white gown.
Head raised--not bowed--at the candle-lit alter
in reverence to ancestors who give me
strength when I falter.


The vibe collective, descendent of the tribe.
Not daisies and free love, it's how we survive.
Star babies left to die come in the cipher
and get loved alive.


The desert's share of elves
Alluringly recedes, a highway night
Disclosed in orbs that flicker, hover, melt
And leaving, jab with knives:
The desert's share of elves.

The thievish dealer says
One day you too shall vanquish with the moth;
Anything to lose this daily death.
You hazard it, because
The thievish dealer says.

The desert's share of elves,
The thievish dealer says,
Is more yours with the fading felth.


Sharon Dolin


Sore pity her   so pithy here
   pour hints to her   for
Cynthia   (seen rhymier   far
rheumier) nor rent to her   for
scent to her   fear soothing her   tore loose with her   more
ruth with her   worn
tooth with myrrh  withal
beware  forbear the ear
far worthier  so soiled there   ur springier  forcing the air
poor thing her hair  ignored a year
see farther err ere
warring rear  now firth in we're

  unpetalling here    [forsythia]
(sith he forswears).


Robert Stanton

natter quicker


fame, the wanted

latent fuss

Monday, May 30, 2005

SALT's final issue / Part 4 [Reginald Shepherd, Gabrielle Fletcher]

[edited by John Kinsella]

Reginald Shepherd

Five poems


Can't move can't speak can't think to wonder
why that's so. Song says I still
, can't think of what, who
that might be. Their faces gather

blackness, can't be seen. Song says I
and I and I. It sounds like cry,
like someone crying in the woods
by Stewart Park (the dirty woods, let me

be filthy, stain me, let the bones
come together, bone
to its bone and tainted too):
like someone crying but he has

no eyes no ears no mouth no
voice to speak of. Speak to me.
Can't hear you anymore, can't ask
for more. Song keeps repeating

shit where you eat, don't shit
where you eat
. The day
begins with burning, then remembers
to wake up: sweetbitter resins,

pollens, dripping cum smells
flower, white. Highway's haunted
by remembered men and boys, no light
but passing pickup trucks, Nero burning

in the Tiber's unmade bed:
ecology of lack and want
and never lack of want, no never
want. Want to go home. Not yet

a you, or he, an it (no want
of want), a something to be seen
and see what comes
of it (can't see anything now, walking

past black woods). Here he comes.
Song litters upstate New York maps
with classical towns, Attica, Utica, Syracuse,
Troy, lining the throughways with Latin

and Greek: Ithaca and the other islands
fingering slim lakes. Seneca
slits his wrists in the bath,
too late for life in ancient Rome.

For Amy England

And “I” is a conjecture,
simile that's become science:
calyx torn down both sides, the only
decipherable word among five

Bird nest supplied by paraphrase,
some spurious other, much restored:
talents are money, two mutilated words
hence the extension beyond lexicography

Death as a gift, a ruin of paper
for the opulence of Gyges:
“calamitous” perhaps sounds like
opening the right-hand half

You have taken a cricket
by the wing, mixed thighs and
courtly love: papyrus burned at the top
a black-butted fellow, badly damaged

The meaning is obscene, Eros' red balls
earlier than arrows: they vomited
their mass of pride from a pottery shard
The same papyrus gives “ear dripping blood”

Note: This poem is comprised entirely of phrases from Guy Davenport's notes for his volume of translations 7 Greeks (New Directions). They have been rather drastically selected, condensed, and rearranged, but only one word has been altered.


They took the young men to grind
like ostriches in the wilderness, a river
more ruddy than rubies. His footstool
overcame them between the straits.

Princes among the provinces made the rampart
and the wall lament, even the sea monsters
fell under the wood. My virgins in the midst of me
embrace dunghills in scarlet for meat.

My breach is like the sea, the foxes walk upon it
as if it were a garden. Who is he that saith
My liver is poured upon the earth
because of the arrows of his quiver?

My mighty men remembered not her gates
sunk into the ground, mouth in the dust
we have swallowed up a cloud. Our water
for money, I am their music among the heathen,

polishing sapphire: the yoke
of our transgressions, a net for my feet.

Note: This poem is comprised entirely of phrases from the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the King James Version. Though they have been condensed and rearranged, only two pronouns have been changed.

For Gene Tanta

He's sleeplessness pulled through
a sieve, snake branch beliefs
dangle from, overgrown
with flourishing abjections. Glance

wears down grass to gravel, lamb
to less than sacrifice, night contours
weather with its full vocabulary
of line. Night and hunting made a pledge

to stay the shape of sundriness,
waxing lunatic with blood and pride,
part of light's rhetoric decayed
to prey. (Predictably stained

verdigris, the wall of what he was
where grass blades cut me green
as clinging vines, climbed me verdant
with impossibility.) Wind fingered

sky to azurite (blue-basic carbonate
of copper, a semi-precious stone
derived therefrom), weather
wondered how much longer

he would wait beneath the abalone
shell iridescent against question's
kiss, awake to any irony. The ghost
is ready but the meat is raw, so

many salted handfuls tossed like rain
across the shoulder. Downpours of place
align the seen, the happiness worn away
to damp sidewalks, spring-colored

cures for love. He sleeps away each day
all night, failed carnivore, blank axiom.


Broke the glass and cut my hand
again, the water looks like shards
churned up, not enough world
to come clean, wash my hands

of me. Here comes the blood, lukewarm,
dilute, and insufficient: contaminated
anyway. So let the water overtake
myself, so let me disappear in drown;

I heard the sibyl said I want to die.
After a lost squall, sea sung slowly
wrong, the poisoned moon
goes gray, standing at the threshold

of whiteness, witness: even
the purest winter sullies me, clouded
over with denial. And the others
more sure of salvation, salve on

the ragged wound? They watch
while I am leaked ashore
with faces of wonder why
and what I must have done. Blood

seeps into the dirty sand of personhood
and paints it black, my song
gone wrong again, capsized, toxic
by-product of me. They say I made myself

my fate, and make it sad; concern
evaporates like morning mist.
Whatever is a hand
must want to harvest me, thresh me

grain-like, husk crumbled small enough
to fertilize its fields of virtue, sheer
virginity, if there should come to be
some water. I might have been a

somewhere, I might be something
you need to destroy.


Gabrielle Fletcher


She has a face like an old fruit scone. Observing from the small corner at the left of the coffee machine, it would be easier to say she is Beautiful. No need to force imagery out of the kitchen. She could just sit and let her allure hang. Instead she has strung cloves of old invective around her neck to clear some space. She doesn't know how hard she is making subtlety work to absorb her. It. Whatever this seems to be.

I'm sitting with a napkin and a pencil, trying to draw a fan-forced oven. I realise later I'm wondering if I'd eat this woman. It's better to state this now rather than let it rupture the dynamic, further to the nearness of the end. I could have had myself trying to sketch moistened dough instead. Flour, water and eggs are easy to represent on any small white surface. But the combination of such basic ingredients is beyond prediction. Finally. So I pledge more general symbolism and slide into the table facing her.

Leaning over I ask 'Is this seat free?' I'm so close I could glide my tongue across her nose. But she would notice, and either scream, or lick back. I don't want extreme response of any kind. Not yet. My mouth is focused only on thinking taste.

She doesn't look up. Just says 'Nothing is free. Piss off,' trying to add me to her lumpy necklace. My ends are wet by the sharpness of her rejection. So direct and knowing in her own lack of appeal. It's a self-cradling reaction. Wanting to make me feel like grit because I'm curious. She thinks she's seen me a thousand times before. Is sure I won't get in. But she is wrong.

The morning sun is shafting the muffin display with that fierce light that shows the age of things. Still she won't look at me. I study her hands and note she is younger than I thought. Fingers like shortbread. Stacked upon a book about fish, pretending to read. Occasionally buttering her hair behind her ear. I eye the waiter and signal for some service.

'I'm not very hungry,' I lie. 'I'll just have a short black with cream on the side.' I am staring, daring darkly into the top of her head.

'And what would you like, honey?' I ask. There is a hefty pause between us. Biscuit hand poised with indecision above the wordy entrée. I know I have the advantage. The café is full and she is wedged into the side of it. Her body is a mass of roughly packaged doughnuts. I say 'You know a good breakfast will fill the holes. There is no shame in meeting your needs. Don't be shy.'

She doesn't flinch. Her eyes still pretending. The tiny dimples in her crusty hands seem steady. But I know her. She is trying to hide the signs of discomfort. I have taken the slightness of the pause as initial dilation. She shouldn't be hard to lever open.

I am aware that the waiter is there. Waiting. I dismiss him with an order of four croissants and a large hot chocolate, with marshmallows. I would rather not cultivate an active audience. The fleshy ornaments hunched at the other tables intent on empty talk are an exposure that insulates us. This woman and what I am doing to her. They won't look.

'What do you fucking want?' she says. Sounds like custard diving onto a platter of teacake. There is a delicate fury in the abnormal blinking rate. That's all she is giving me to read. Sense takes what is convenient.

'You,' I state simply. I feel like I'm seven and in the slaughter shed at my uncle's pig farm. He is cutting open a carcass in his technical way and splices through a clot the colour of deepest liver. Not everyone has seen a bruise from the inside. It is winter and the wind ripples through the paddock grass and smacks the cheeks. The bracing sensation is keen again on my lips. Full and parted ready to taste the gorge, not afraid like I was then.

She shifts her weight. Not happy with my answer. 'Why?' her voice splashes to the back. This is the moment my patience has been aching for. She is engaged. Now I can pinch for ripeness. Hold and start to palpate. Make her want to look at me.

I close my eyes and inhale one long stroke of spine. The nutty pressure jostles with my lungs. Then wraps around itself. Fused and rocking. A mammoth, probing surge that could blow through the lid of my skull. If I let it. I would never be that artless.

'Because you're here,' I say, watching her hair. Like random toffee strings slipping off a spoon.

'What's that supposed to mean?' She's still not happy.

'What would you like it to mean?' I give her a slender slice. If only she would pick it up off the plate. I refuse to feel guilty for the fairy bread she is trying to feed me. I expect a woman like this to roll her fingertips along her mouth, and glue the crumbs in the creases to know the feast is over. There is no more. She is the last.

I suppose she enjoys denying such an intangible, calculated serving. I am twenty-two drinking all night at a pub near a railway station. It's 6.00am and there are two men, old jockey types, sucking on stout to start their day. I talk about punting. Ignore the cataracts pulled over their hearts. One tells me I am ugly. Then I look down and see he has no fingers. Maybe a horse confused them for sugar cubes, and he cauterised the edges with a farrier's iron. Rounded the nubs with sunrise glass. This is how it happened. It wasn't the other way round, be clear about it. I could have understood that. No sense of contrast. This is what she is like. I can't feel sorry for her. I won't.

The croissants and chocolate appear. Her greed crawls along the interruption and she grabs. Retreats to her ample bunker. I've seen her breasts. Lumbering apple flapjacks. With a cinnamon rash flaking into lacy apron pans. My coffee arrives. She is disinterested. There is no useful bulk in liquid, although the cream could have semi-solid appeal, if there was nothing else. This is the problem with choice. Comparison points at what is easy. Details make it longer than it needs to be. She had no problem taking what she could bite, a minute ago. I am offering her a substantive meal, from a thoughtful bowl. She thinks the concrete is less confronting. She can break her jaw.

It is not necessary to point out that I am angry with her. This whole thing is pitched with fever. I need to centre it. I swivel the coffee cup in my hand and look at the arcing croissants. Made for a well-shod beast, to cushion the sole. The frame is full of starry nights. Vanilla bleeds into blueberry cheesecake. Swirls lubricate arid palettes. Mouth is a river of jam.

She fondles the cup. Traces the rim. She is sickened by the debit that sits across from her. She knows I will collect. Withholds a direct gaze, won't shift it. She thinks it hurts me. Because I want to confirm what she is. She considers what is least expensive on my menu. She hasn't felt the bill inserted yet.

'I'm here because I have a right to walk the world,' she says. I have counted every gram of fat she has ever chewed. Refrained from pushing words into saliva. I don't move as she turns breakfast into bubbles that float her high above the jeering pricks of life. I am waiting with a nickel-plated needle. And she believes that she has rights.
'I have walked your mouth,' I say. She has sought shelter on the waffle banks above the seedy stream. Or lashed her gums on peanut brittle, depending on the fare.

'Just fuck off,' she says. 'I'll give you the money for the food.' The doughnuts nudge the table. She is reaching for her purse.

'When was the last time anybody wanted you?' I ask. I am twenty-nine. My father is loading wet socks down my throat because I am noisy and won't stop crying. He is burning my mother's pregnant stomach with cigarettes, drawing a picture of a chef with my older brother's foetus still inside. I can't breathe and my shirtsleeves are full of bread knives. There are dark-haired uniformed people in the background, sipping on Drano martinis. Laughing.

'You aren't the only one with pain,' I say. 'Heat rises.'

The steam unfolds my flesh. Every pore is open, suckling on her massive form. Fluids filling every vessel, soaking every crack. Eyes a blade to cut her face, if only she would look. Just a glimpse would do it. Enough to start the split. My fingerprints are screaming.

She is clutching at her bag. Scrambling like an egg to get away. I move to block her. She tries to shovel past. My hands move up, around her spongy stalk. I'm kneading hard. The batter slaps against the moderate oven door. It's a pleasing sound. She can't complain. Who else would squeeze her flavours with such passion?


The recurring dream that Jacob is having about teeth crumbling and falling away is at the heart of his resistance. He checks the weekly magazines that say it is a sign of vulnerability, and agrees that this is probably true. But the words don't explain the aching gums or the bleeding tongue in the morning.

He runs to the medical centre after he spits the images into the steel sink and wipes the iron from his lips in exasperation.

The doctor is weary and desperate to write his memoirs in a sunny room. Impatient for his evening pipe and bridge game, the doctor is dismissive but adequately human.
'You're fine, Jacob. Just too much grinding and a touch of neuralgia. Common enough stress symptoms. Nothing to worry about. You could change your life and try to avoid oral sex. In the meantime, go home and relax.'

Jacob goes. The doctor knows nothing about life or change. Jacob is quietly furious with no time to waste. And the doctor has no fucking right to pretend everything is okay. Jacob knows he is a wreck. He thinks of drinking vinegar for relief, and by now his ears are pulsing.

Jacob moves down the steps of the ailment factory and feels he needs friendship to swab his mouth. He crosses the street, the railroad tracks, the timber yard and stops at the milk depot. The thought of refrigerated yoghurt is soothing to Jacob's tastebuds, and a culture he admires. He pulls the suctioned door at the side of the main building, and for a moment feels like God creating protein.

Boris and Ana Sinikoski are tinkering with the generator in the third cool room. They have been working since 3.00am. Milk is their life. They wouldn't have it any other way. They have always liked to contribute to bones and see it as a preserving act. They were Polish before milk, but too much brittleness and shrinkage of social order makes people think of other pastures. So they escaped on a cow's back, and they are happy. They have sidelined into vegetables and juices lately to compete with big business, but they remain sincere people who Jacob truly loves. And they love him.

Jacob follows the thrumming of the generators. Hears the echo of tinker and smiles, anticipating the pearling gestures of his friends. Boris and Ana hug him warmly, comment on his blanched complexion with utmost compassion, and usher him into the office.

These three understand each other. It is obvious in the affectionate tones and honest engagement. A friendship like cream that never goes rancid, Jacob pours himself into their ears. And they homogenize with care.

They know he wants to write, until he dies he will have stories. They know he worries everything is about himself, and words are maps to his missing pieces.

They also know that once he went three and a half weeks without speaking to anybody, not by choice. He hadn't avoided anything, he'd gone about his business as usual. He realised afterwards it just was. A little later the dream had started, with the teeth. And because of their belief in the goodness of milk, Boris and Ana are particularly concerned.

'How can I speak with my tongue so swollen? What value is there in thick sentences?' Jacob asks.

Boris looks at Jacob and says 'You eat pins, you will bleed,' and feels guilty for being direct. Ana is always more subtle, and not because she is female. 'Dreams are not kind to questions,' she says, and feels guilty for being oblique. Jacob is not sure they are right. He forgives their perspectives and they turn to dairy talk.

Boris wants Jacob to give up ideas and join Ana and himself at the depot. Ana sees Jacob reeling. She wants to say slow down, because his mind is fevered by the lure, and empty lines can strain the flesh and flood the heart.
Instead, Boris says that milk is upright.

Jacob would normally stay longer, but decides to leave so he can think. The three part with warm sadness, assuring each other they are there for themselves. As Jacob turns to go, Ana places a business card in his hand. 'Thresholds - Sandplay Studio for a Powerful Path to the Inner Self. Estelle D. Shepherd, PhD.' In the corner there is a logo of a butterfly emerging from a child's plastic bucket.

Jacob puts the card inside his pocket. Boris and Ana are decent people, but mis-en-scene is not the play. They can only relieve his bloodied mouth. So now Jacob feels guilty for making excuses and placing too much expectation upon friendship as a cure.

Jacob fingers the card that Ana slipped into his hand. He extracts it from his pocket and lingers on the imagery. He was not a child to pull the wings off insects. And he has never liked the beach. But the butterfly inside his bucket body is close to sinking to the bottom of his feet and rolling over, dead. So Jacob moves in marathon. He directs his cells to take the path across the synapse dunes to E. D. Shepherd. Jacob thinks that maybe she can put his teeth back where they belong. It would be nice to chew on life again. And for it not to chew on him.

Jacob knows his talent lives beyond his nerves, as he turns left, then right, then through the school, the park, the further on. Towards the leafy greens of lofts and private practice. The pain to make a sentence work insinuates exquisite scales, and Jacob weighs each letter gingerly, mindful of the balance. He sees himself in alchemy, with the potential of the perfect formula justifying anguish. But since the dream about the teeth, the triumph sinks from Jacob's lips. Assuming it was there at all.

It's been an hour now. Jacob notes the changes in the architecture. How knowledges and money expand the spaces people fill. Broader. Taller. Styled. Like permission to forget the stencilled cave. Jacob stands outside the number on the card. His tongue is aching, his head is numb, his body small and coarse. The butterfly is falling to his ankles.

Estelle D. Shepherd, PhD, is in the studio. Cleaning symbols. It's an important ritual after every client, wiping the energy off. The unconscious sticks like fingerprints, and clarity is hard enough to touch. She keeps it simple. Tepid water traced with salt, and a soft disposable cloth. She rakes the sand tray level and turns off the light, wiping the doorframe as she goes. Twenty years of sandplay leaves its mark, and Estelle D. Shepherd knows the walls between worlds are thin. Unblocking the depths of non-verbal potential is understandably draining, and sometimes she is frightened she will end up in the thinness, unable to talk herself. It's not as if she has never been hurt. Her therapist friends laugh and say she is balanced, and it would have happened by now anyway. But just in case, she takes a session with her consultant once a week to keep her plumbing clear.

Jacob is on the other side of Estelle's walls, trying to fend off the ether threatening his feet. Transfixed for the longest seconds, it is the Sinikoski faith in milk that finally propels him forward. Along with their upright compassion and his own desperation.

The concrete path falls away as Jacob purls towards the door like the graceless grub he feels. The doorbell rings and wall meets wall. Jacob and Estelle find themselves within the thinness. She sees, he needs. Pain has a way of direct introduction.

Jacob is escorted directly to the studio. He sits on a comfortable black sofa, with white scatter pillows tossed artfully about. Estelle suggests coffee before they talk, and when she leaves to make it, Jacob is free to look at what he's done. His eyes walk along the floor to the bookcase. Volumes on insecure attachments and Madonna symbolism. And an amazing array of miniature artefacts line customised cabinets. Whales. Moons. Eyes in hands. Then Estelle is back. He tells her about his dream, with the teeth. And about the words and ideas that torment his bloodied, swollen tongue.

'Jacob,' she says. 'Sandplay is about the between of the sleep and the wake.'

E. D. Shepherd moves towards one of the customised cupboards and returns with an object. Jacob sees a single tooth.

'Here is your dream. Your eyes are open. I have brought it to the surface and we can talk about what it means.'

Jacob peers into the clear grey eyes of the mind-comber.

'It is fraught with interpretation,' he says.

The Estelle in her wants to cradle Jacob's exhaustion; the PhD insists upon agreed symbolic meaning. So she invites Jacob to make two selections from any of the objects in the customised cupboards, to demonstrate that what is there is clear to both of them. And she hopes that he won't notice how much they speak of her.

Jacob is quick with his selection. Images grab at blood, and he is sitting in the blackness of the sofa promptly. He places them on a white scatter pillow for Estelle to view.

'The Cosmic Egg,' she says. 'Symbol of sun and re-birth. An eclipse of identity. A nourishing image.'

Jacob agrees. Then asks after the second.

'A gold nugget. Symbol of value and rarity. An image of self-belief.'

Jacob looks at the nugget. He had believed it to be a cornflake. He tells Estelle it is easy to argue that he simply hasn't eaten.

'Interpretation is fraught,' he says.

She massages the pen that wrote her dissertation, feeling somewhat fraught herself. They decide that his thinness is caught between walls that are thick, like his tongue. And that money and time will leave tracks on the beach. Eventually. Or sooner. They arrange for a session the next day, acknowledging the struggle for self. They shake hands, as much an exchange of energy as a binding symbol of the partnership. Firm. Connected. Sensing. Then Estelle D. Shepherd, PhD, wipes her hand along her leg, because twenty years of sandplay leaves its mark. Jacob sees the gesture. And knows the smear. He feels as if Estelle has knocked his teeth out. His open eyes are shut in reflex. Jacob is sick of empty mouths. He will never trust knowledge again. He thinks of putting the sandplay business card in his shoe, pissing in it, then putting it in Estelle's pocket. And watching. In stillness is dance, they say. And in darkness is light.

By now the uncomfortable architecture is a reflux of space. Jacob is crossing the park to the school. Maybe the butterfly inside his toe-ends is right: maybe he isn't worth the rescue. Just ahead he sees a vagrant, sitting on a grassy nub alone. Life has a way of sucking at rainbows leaving fleabites, and Jacob puts his head down to avoid the view he feels. The vagrant offers up a jagged homily, reminding Jacob of his dream:
'Don't put all of your eggs in one bucket, friend. Maybe they'll crack.' Jacob is startled by the flash of PhD. His head still lowered, he can only see the vagrant's feet. The shoes are blisters. From too much stillness, probably. Jacob wants to take a salty, tepid bath to cleanse the beading fingerprints. He needs some walls to light his way, but doesn't have the heels to hike back home.

The cabbie is a large man. The capillaries on his cheeks are from too many working class burgers washed down with Beam. He has the kids every second week, and won't admit he visits Lottah's Relaxation Centre for excitement. But he does. When the tension mounts he finds a vacant saddle helps. So between the bourbon, beef and banging, the cabbie squeezes work. And although the vinyl of the taxi seat makes him sweat and stick in summer, the cabbie knows it could be worse. His job is to drive along the intervals, and deliver lives safely to their chosen doors. He listens like a backstage pass and forces talk when necessary. He sees a fare hailing from the kerb, and idles in.

Jacob is sitting awkwardly in the back seat. He gives directions and the cabbie eases into drive.

'So you like the beach?' the cabbie asks the quiet rear-view mirror. Jacob thinks the cabbie may be over-reaching, and turns his head to look outside. The prospect of this conversation stings.

'Now me, I love the beach. That salty crunch. I'm building my own boat, you know. And when I retire, I'll get out of this bloody insect jar. And fly.' The cabbie elaborates heavily on the design and construction of his escape.

'I'm even doing my own wiring,' the cabbie continues.

'Stop,' says Jacob. 'This is far enough.'

The cabbie brakes and swings into the gutter. He asks no questions. Just accepts the fare produced, and the something for the inconvenience. Jacob opens up the door and puts one foot down on the pavement. The cabbie wants to thank him for the bonus.

'Hey,' the cabbie says. 'If you ever need to light your life, just say. I've got enough wire to string up a cow.'

Thursday, May 26, 2005

SALT's final issue / Part 3 [Rosmarie Waldrop, John Mateer, Chris McDermott, Susan Bradley Smith]

[edited by John Kinsella]

Rosmarie Waldrop


What goes on in my mind? A hidden music? Not yet audible. Or only with large gaps. The winds imprisoned in the bag drown out the sirens.

When I expect you to come does the whole system vibrate? Does your entrance show dust moving, phosphorescent nothings in the light of dream? I’ll watch your lips as if I were deaf.

Embedded in Christianity is the view of woman as either mother or whore. The idea of a Pagan goddess produces an electric difficulty to integrate. A well poisoned by a dead animal?

The expectation of your kiss seems like a shadow of feeling your mouth just as this sentence seems like a shadow of love is never what we expect, but like pain makes no detour.

If we exchange smile for smile and a stare for the hypnotist is an explosion likely to follow?

Can I spotcheck whether I’m in love? In the temporal lobe? In Anna Karenina?

Psychology has neglected the role of elbows in a woman’s identity. Unlike the wings that are removed at birth. Or the sense of death that music arouses even as it forms.

It seems we want to exhibit our love. As if it were something outside us. A wolf come out of the forest whistling? A tune we need to translate tongue to tongue?

If I am asked, do I understand its long drawn-out arcs all promise? I have to say, Not yet.


John Mateer


3. Nanzen-ji

The crouching amateur photographers, with that enthusiasm,
have set up their cameras, telescopic lenses tilted skyward targeting
the small maple, that one branch overhanging
the canal of white noise that's streaming down from the mountain.

Its leaves are a vermilion incandescence,
blood vessels in a blushing, transparent face.

The colour of the momentary,
that's what they're fixing out there in the blinding world.
Could you do that?

Behind my eyes,
         a geisha in the crowd at the Saturday night traffic-lights,
her kimono a golden brocade landscape, her skin a primal white.
The sexual is a binding, a garden behind thick stone walls.

         And also behind my eyelids,
kidnapped by the visible--a strobelight's staccato,
the ochre-white Aboriginal man
         stamping in the talc dust.
You are nearing the Place of Nothingness,

         (the Ancient Capital before its fires,
a world floating on the canals and rivers
that pull our images away)

Go further--

4. Shijo-dori

The crouching amateur photographers, with that enthusiasm,
have set up their cameras, telescopic lenses tilted skyward targeting
the small maple, that one branch overhanging
the canal of white noise that's streaming down the mountain.

Its leaves are a vermillion incandescence,
blood vessels in a blushing, transparent face.

The colour of the momentary,
that's what they're photographing out there in the blinding world.
Would you dare do that?

Behind my eyes,
         the geisha in the crowd at the Saturday night traffic-lights,
her kimono a golden brocade landscape, her skin a primal white.
The sexual is a binding, the garden behind ancient stone walls,

a place of emptiness,

         (the Ancient Capital before its fires,
a world floating on the canals and rivers
that pull our images away)

5. Ponto-cho

She's refilling my glass with Jinro while the proprietor is mashing
the raw egg and spicy sauce into the rice for me. Outside
the neon signs are looking for their reflections on the sides of polished taxis
and the unlit shrine for a beheaded family withdraws from street-side conversation.

She's talking to me: 'Kampai!' The quiet proprietor returns my
bowl. She's saying: 'This is her way: from Korea . . .'
They nod, would say other things.

         The two men at the counter speak better English.

An everyday thing, how to eat your food.
They would have said--.

With the metal chopsticks, with restful deliberation,
I eat as though

         (the Ancient Capital had never been on fire,
had always been that world on the canals and rivers
pulling our images away)


Chris McDermott


Throughout Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters and Howls & Whispers, his subsequent collection of eleven poems about his relationship with Sylvia Plath, Hughes struggles to understand whether or not Plath's death could have been prevented. That Hughes had pondered, for decades, his role in her death came as a surprise to some readers who saw Hughes as a callous and domineering prison guard, responsible for driving Plath to her suicide yet unwilling to admit culpability. However, many such critics were by no means appeased by Birthday Letters, which overwhelmingly suggests that the ultimate responsibility lies in the hands of fate. With Howls & Whispers, Hughes does little to challenge that view. In fact, he addresses possible inconsistencies or ambiguities in Birthday Letters, revising them to bring them more clearly in concert with the rest of the volume.

A telling example of this effort appears in both manuscript and published versions of “The Minotaur 2,” the Howls & Whispers sequel to “The Minotaur” in Birthday Letters. Hughes, who often wrote about the poet as a kind of shaman or witch doctor, and about poetry as a medium for achieving healing, changes his view of Plath's potential to cure herself through her art. As such, he no longer portrays her as a failure in this regard, but as a victim, helpless to alter her destiny. Poetry as catharsis was an important concept to Hughes throughout his entire career. His 1962 essay, “Primitive Song,” for example, compares poetry to “power-charms, tools and practical agents in the business of gaining desired ends, or deflecting the spirits of misfortune from planting their larvae in the psyche . . .” (Faas, 168). Near the end of his life, in a Paris Review interview published in the spring of 1995, Hughes gets asked his opinion of the label “confessional poetry,” and gives his view of the damaging consequences of avoiding the confessional:
. . . Maybe all poetry, insofar as it moves us and connects with us, is a revealing of something that the writer doesn't actually want to say, but desperately needs to communicate, to be delivered of…The real mystery is this strange need . . . Why do human beings need to confess? Maybe, if you don't have that secret confession, you don't have a poem--don't even have a story. Don't have a writer . . . [Plath] had to write those things--even against her most vital interests. She died before she knew what The Bell Jar and the Ariel poems were going to do to her life, but she had to get them out. She had to tell everybody, like those Native American groups who periodically told everything that was wrong and painful in their lives in the presence of the whole tribe. It was no good doing it in secret; it had to be done in front of everybody else. Maybe that's why poets go to such lengths to get their poems published. It's no good whispering them to a priest or a confessional. And it's not for fame, because they go on doing it after they've learned what fame amounts to. No, until the revelation's actually published, the poet feels no release . . .

The statement that Plath “died before she knew what [her later confessional writings] were going to do to her life” suggests that they would have been damaging for her, “against her most vital interests,” but that she might have been “released” if she had survived to see them published. If one were to look for evidence in Birthday Letters to support the claim that Hughes believed Plath was responsible for her death--due to a withholding of what she should have confessed earlier--“The Minotaur” offers an excellent place to start. The poem describes Plath's outburst after Hughes arrives “Twenty minutes late for baby-minding.” She smashes an heirloom of his mother's--a mahogany table-top--to which Hughes answers, “'Marvellous!' I shouted. 'Go on, / Smash it into kindling. / That's the stuff you're keeping out of your poems!'” Perhaps, Hughes suggests, such violent acts could be made unnecessary if poetry can intervene and shift the impetus for violence out of the realm of the repressed. Hughes further suggests that once one creates the walls of one's own labyrinth, similar to William Blake's “mind-forg'd manacles,” death at the hands of the Minotaur cannot be far behind.

In “The Minotaur 2,” however, Hughes absolves Plath of the responsibility for creating the walls of the labyrinth. This can most clearly be seen in the revision from the manuscript draft to the final published version. In the draft, Hughes tells Plath that she was led by a skein of blood “To the centre of your labyrinth,” whereas she was never out of the labyrinth in the final version, which says she was led “Not out of the labyrinth / But to the very centre.” The distinction is crucial and consistent with other revisions Hughes makes throughout the poem. The draft version contains the phrase “Our secret quarrel,” which suggests that the couple shared private knowledge of its origins. This, however, becomes “The surreal mystery of our picnic quarrel” in the final version, where presumably only the gods know the cause. This is consistent with “St Botolph's” in Birthday Letters, for example, where Hughes refers to “That day the solar system married us / Whether we knew it or not.” Whether their relationship takes a turn for the better or for the worse, Hughes indicates, neither the beneficiaries nor the victims of fate can do much about it, and in fact might not even sense it happening. In draft, Hughes has also crossed out the phrase “Your opening performance,” which could be interpreted as suggesting that Plath was merely an actress in a display of inauthenticity. The final version, however, tells her that it was “The surreal mystery” of their quarrel that “Opened your performance quietly.” Plath thus becomes the recipient of the action, and not the originator. The line “That was how your whole tragedy opened” is also crossed out, and it does not seem a stretch to assume, in light of the other changes in the poem, that Hughes probably felt uncomfortable with the omniscience assumed by such a statement.

In the third stanza of the draft, “For a while I never even noticed” replaces “That first night,” which Hughes has crossed out. Just as with “secret quarrel” becoming “surreal mystery,” Hughes continues to revise toward a state of less knowing. In fact, Hughes has entirely omitted the line in the published version, offering the possibility that he may never have noticed. The same stanza has the word “twisted” crossed out, most likely because of its extremely negative connotation and association with a state of mind that could be untwisted, if only through an act of will.

In the final stanza, Hughes makes a critical revision in verb tense. The draft reads “Where the Minotaur / Which waited to kill you, would kill you.” In the final version, this becomes “Where the Minotaur, which was waiting to kill you, / Killed you.” It appears as if Hughes wanted to avoid an interpretation of “would kill you” that would focus not on the future subjunctive, but on the conditional. If Plath's fate were already waiting for her, like the Minotaur, and if she was helpless to take down the predetermined walls of her labyrinth, then there were no conditions under which she might be saved. It was not a question of if, therefore, but only of when.

The final version of “The Minotaur 2” revises not only its manuscript draft and not only its predecessor in Birthday Letters, but also statements Hughes made about Plath on numerous occasions after her death, and even statements Plath herself made about her own inability to free herself of what she felt were unbearable constraints. As Erica Wagner quotes in Ariel's Gift, Hughes wrote the following regarding Plath's method of writing:
Nothing refreshed her more than sitting for hours in front of some intricate pile of things laboriously delineating each one. But that was also a helplessness. The blunt fact killed any power or inclination to rearrange it or see it differently.
(Wagner, 21)

And this helplessness was also apparent to Plath, who wrote the following in her journal in 1959:
I shall perish if I can write about noone [sic] but myself. Where is my old bawdy vigor and interest in the world around me? I am not meant for this monastery living. Find always traces of passive dependence: on Ted, on people around me. A desire even while I write poems about it, to have someone decide my life, tell me what to do, praise me for doing it. I know this is absurd. Yet what can I do about it?
(Plath, 523)

Ultimately, Hughes appears to view his role not as someone who might have been a catalyst for Plath's suicide, but as someone who believed he might have had the means to prevent it, only to determine, ultimately, that there was nothing anyone could have done.

Hughes' interest in mythology often led him to search for parallels in human lives, and he strongly believed that Plath's life resembled the story of the Minotaur. In his 1976 essay, “Myth and Education,” Hughes writes about how people throughout the world have developed mythologies incredibly similar at their core. He says, “They are as alike as the lines on the palm of the human hand . . .” (Faas, 193). This statement has a stunning connection to the final poem in Howls & Whispers, “Superstitions,” which concludes
                   Let them laugh
At your superstition.

(Remembering it will make your palms sweat,
The skin lift blistering, both your lifelines bleed.)

The two lifelines, it appears, could be the facts of Plath's life and Hughes' attempts to understand them in terms of mythology and fate. They are both part of the same hand, with inseparable destinies.

“On all points of uncertainty, we give the Universe the benefit of the doubt,” Hughes writes in an essay titled “Superstitions,” published in 1964, the year after Plath's death. That essay includes Hughes' belief that “a purely electrical Creation is one without walls, where everything, being an electrical power, can have an electrical effect on every other thing, and where electrical effects are vital effects” (Faas, 172). It may be that Hughes came to understand Plath's life in terms of the prohibitive walls of an inescapable, preordained labyrinth as the one explanation that would absolve both of responsibility and a sense of failure to allow such vital effects to keep her alive. Perhaps that allowed him, in his dying days, the release he sought in poetry.


Faas, Ekbert. Ted Hughes: The Unaccomodated Universe. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1980.

Feinstein, Elaine. Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet. New York. W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.

Heinz, Drue, “Ted Hughes. The Art of Poetry LXXI.” In The Paris Review, Vol 37, No. 134, Spring 1995, pp. 54-94.

Hughes, Ted. Birthday Letters. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
---. Howls & Whispers. Northampton: Gehenna Press, 1998.
---. Manuscript draft of “The Minotaur 2.” Emory University Special Collections & Archives.

Myers, Lucas. Crow Steered Bergs Appeared: A Memoir of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Sewanee: Proctor's Hall Press, 2001.

Plath, Sylvia. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, ed. Karen V. Kukil. New York: Anchor Books, 2000.

Wagner, Erica. Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.


Susan Bradley Smith

Four poems


On her beautiful, betraying hands
twist twist twisted
are her husband's rings
soapy still from the rushed bath
remnants all
from last night.

Trophies, she twirls them.

The traffic has stopped at the Strand.
They are late, the colleagues, for an important date.
She is sick,
he is very, very sorry beside her
in their black taxi coffin.

Suddenly they are speeding along Waterloo Bridge and with a
dirty nimbleness
they manage to hold hands.
Sweet liberty sparks anew,
the twenty seven hundred bottles of wine
the husband wife and children certain to be
But not now.

Now, since the gods sent them their storm,
he has three women he kisses
(lucky lonely man).
She, on the other hand,
loves her daughter with a foreign surprise
and has no need to recall the duties of contracepting.

Until now.
Until too late.
Until the heavens delivered the sewer swelling in her heart.
For this is the taste of love that must first destroy before it can irrigate.

They turn a final corner.
The eyes of the knowing will do
nothing to stop her,
for she is her own sleepwalker
and has chosen her bed to lie in.
Whether or not he
will choose,
will be there when she awakes,
will require surgery,
may even undo them,
may after all bring the same old sorry end
That she was always planning.

they will walk towards home,
back across the mighty Thames,
completely insane
with the late summer night and what is it about London anyway?
But for now
(and perhaps forever)
they travel through a filthy place.

The whole world is falling
They sit,
without touching,
the two of them going nowhere.


I know I'm in trouble.
This has happened to me once before
is still happening.
With the clarity of ice I can recall the bed,
the hand, the question
'Do you know what you're doing?'
barely heard through the trail his finger
on my back.
I was away from home,
away from love.
We had spilt it, ours, my husband and I,
and there he was, that man,
mopping me up.

There is a corner on a country road
leading out from Lismore to the beach
that I am forced to travel past often,
that is well-covered with blood.
It was a Thursday night and
was coming to get
when suddenly I was seventeen and he was dead and
who wants to hear that old story now
the one that, still,
twenty years later
tells me how to love?
He's OK now, I know, but I am not.

It is as if
the man who knows everything,
the one who showed me peace and took me there to be his wife,
is to be rewarded not in kind but with the currency of the gutter.
He, who deserves angels,
husband of a wolverine.

When my daughter was born he held her for five hours straight
and I,
I forgot to ask.
It is impossible to ever recover from such a sin.

For nine long years since the first betrayal
I have practiced love and am
So scarred from the trying that
I gave up.

Imagine my surprise, then,
To be taken back to that ugly place
By you.
Love swamp.
As I said, I am in trouble.
And you are not even fit to save me.


In seventy three days
we'll be in Denmark
being smart together at some conference
phoning spouses and singing lullabies to children.
I hope to be doing this
from the epic grief of you having
first taken me in your arms
then never forgetting me.

The thing about you is this,
(stop looking at me like that to start with),
it is, and I know this to be true because
I've never read your book and even though king tides
can thrash three hundred seasons long between like finding love
and sweet charity letting us visit each other once a decade until we can finally see
the gift, delayed,
It is not destiny
It is not lust
It is just the impossibility of
Touching you.

This morning
You showed me your new coat, uncertain
(She doesn't like it)
I promised (you laughed) to embrace you
each time
in every corridor
of every university
I saw you wearing it. Cheek.
(Is it time, now, to tell you?)
I touched the cloth.
You were so
still and then I said
Maybe I like different things about you than she does.
'Maybe you do'.

The thing about me is this.
When my baby died last year I cut a hole in my breast and willed it never to heal.
And when I came back home from grief I was nobody's
So if it is sad for you that our affair would harm
small worlds
then it is a tragedy
for me
to return
to love
so badly.

The first time we kissed
It was your birthday
The gods had put our small children between us
to stop me from spilling blood,
for without them,
risk would be an ancient memory
and we would both
be well slaughtered with love.
It was your decision to trespass me with your lips.
Thank you, you said, for the present.
My hand was on the back of your neck, solid desire.
I walked away.

We're on the radio, in the newspapers,
current affairs,
doing our job and changing the world
yet I am paralysed, unable to say the one thing I know:
That once upon a time in Surry Hills I passed you in a crowded pub
and shuddered perhaps but saw no reason to
turn around
nor suspect
the long black thread of surgery that unites me
forever putrid
to you.
And the band played on, and the moon shone down,
last Friday night, my friend,
in Bloomsbury.
It caught me, in love, on the footpath, sharing a cigarette,
your family's groceries at our feet.

I dare to ask you out.
No, you said. You won't come.
My sentence will never finish.

And now
You're out to lunch. With your wife.
Somewhere in London.


Fuck you I say
Drink all day
Piss your life away
Unhappy forget you're with me
Read my smart books
Kiss me back with stale
Me query you query every fucking thing
Make me late for my lectures
Make me hum
Good one
That night cost four hundred and fifty pounds
Who couldn't come
I do your washing
You're home with your wife
This is the twenty first century
Where are the Gods to deny
Can you read me back home
To metaphysics
To a new metropolis
Where lipstick and women are both
And the talk is forever
Can you convince me that all the truths that beguiled our old worlds
With that greatest of heroins
Have not limped back to the losers shed
Nil all for eternity
But for now
You stroke me to sleep and
Write an entire book on my back
It enters my blood
(Knowledge becomes me)
I glow I deliver I quiver with the memory
Of you
As I talk theory to babies
They are (fuck) the future and I am their trust
In you
I aint no feminist fuck theory
Kiss me better
Monograph me
Let me write my lies
Do your own fucking washing
Too late
I have already sucked your collars clean leeching
Memory from inanimacy
Meanwhile, you talk divorce in the city of dark tides
And me,
(Southern desire)
I wipe my baby girl's bum
And whisper to her
Love love love love
(The promise of)

Monday, May 23, 2005

SALT's final issue / Part 2 [Tara Rebele, Jill Jones, David Hamilton]

[edited by John Kinsella]

Tara Rebele

Five poems


something happened
in the courtyard
but that was then
there was concrete

and now
the courtyard is a corridor
or bedroom
and the rabble

“Digestion is transformative!”

so too
the woman in her stairwell
she calls the threshold
while sweeping away
the mice
almost human in their chatter
and gingham aprons

“Get off my landing!”

{on       in
the thick
a thought and once}

lately everything
in the parlor

how nice for the
the comforts
of home
and a pipe


the snoop

and the mice know
a thing or two
yet care little
for sensibility

the door opens



another passed
and another
and       so

hard to keep
up up and

she has
a way with them

all roots and
even before

all growed up
a fine bloom
in the flush

a rush
a red cheeked
(>) straight but not
full or rowed

rowdy girl in the mirror
looking for a suitable
and finding fractures

left and right
are directions
do you follow

two parts
one part
mix thoroughly
a part

in the middle
makes all
the difference

when tidiness
is the desired

come out of that
and sit a spell

and does
or did
and the fruit was ripe

how cliché
but what else could she call it
all plump
and suppurated
and ready to fuck

oh wait
that was yesterday
or two weeks from


(and fall)
so spins

on her
head axis tail thumb
whirling and giddy


x is the x in the x but not in the x of
one really ought

“this teacup does not own me”
she squabbles
bathing in it
and scrubbing good

tea is nice

days call for hot
and if she gets out she gets into
and together
impoverished little
bather that she isn't

it funny
that the dog is a paw
and not the other way around
or a cat
or pig, really

why not a teacup

why not

motion makes for a
blurry shot
who's to know
if it is or
or wasn't

who's to know


spanning limit-
less void
than   offense

idol blindly

visible yet
and turgescent

of lilac
on a hot

and short

is all the rage
reversible and

kith        less
(sense{ }being)
once thought

maybe just
did and

all / none / some
of the

above the hot tin
summer                actual or acted

limit less
and only

is there an alibi for       ?


But if    when
ate        eat

(a transgression)

would     will
the mirror

(reflect        capture)

image imagine


< = >    }

cow is to corn as . . .

and if traced
upon white wall
would                recognize shape
an ill fitted shoe
or know

what ya gonna do
when pre-symbolic
comes a knockin

you down
skin on milk
and these breasts
are victims of


the sight of blood makes    :

A)         sick
B)         remember
C)         dangerous
D)         optimistic
%)         all of the above
^)         none of the above

oh F,

already castrated
threats to the nose
nothing                now

and a few
seem to have been
in the museum

All this going


the fallen



laugh      ?


and       haven't swallowed
a birth

so ambivalent are the

body    (every) bodies

and the shit
just isn't even
funny              any

(ed) in the


Jill Jones

Three poems

'This is not sport, it's war' --Alan Bond, 1983

on thresholds of grass
in the short tender time
beyond splays and ranks of bodies

honour stands at ease
hands across its vitals
--en garde--

encounters of skin and stones
kicked up by leg theories
a sharply rising ball

tackle, off break, volley
the language knows its bruises
playing the concept not the ball

seats are hard
and angels are sticky
squinting from on high

all you need is rain
all you want is hidden
but play confused by lights

`'Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.
--Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy

Now in the fringe of Change
burdened, varnished

Courage destined for bullies
leaves torn of shine

Under fountains of Definition
stranger than seas and fuzzy Elsewheres

Keeping belly up, whitened
washed by Danger

Seals, ports, indent, cargo alien
would we fear

Who have hugged Danger in wars
prayed like sinking ships

Mine are the Terrors now
that children feel unsaid

The stream is never still
it is, more or less, fresh

Wavelike in variance, in Presence
not the Nation, or the dream

Forbidding, deep seeded
source of same

To go on as if
part of the sky is missing

Stars blunt as the moon
the force of Reason

As though we'd got past Heaven
what to do now

Discover suicides and choosing
sterile as a secret past

Much stronger than anyone
colour red a wild High

So it's still written after
all envelopes have been pushed

Attempted centre but uncalmed
more violent than anyone said

Caught in the flagrance of Fraud
that slippy grin, Hypocrisy

Not unlike decent figures
painted against horizons

The guards of our lives
warring and telling us

Waiting for the living storm
morning's quick Doctrines

With a slight cough of apology
the State flecks time

More than can ever be said
that friends die in the days

Lost as angels gathering up
something cold and flashy

The rose, the shadow secret
knocked up in bushes

Depending on what is to do
or be thrown away

Black and silver bodies
their clicking machinery of Record

To catch the Meaning of Things
but things lie back

Trees swing, leaves rattle
electric road thumps hop

Edging near the smell of music
Wild Thing Fantastique

Lost ignorance in daily blizzards
blind in glassy fastness

Sticky, magnetic as Wealth
hope of men and women

The boutique caress
a sexy and scary vampire

Suspicion, again we fail
release being Virtue unknown

Pressure of the Goal
imprisoned as a nation and nothing else

To avoid the crazy stacks
and furious car parks

So the lonely piss christs
take up the bench

Because we fail
and the leaves burn in summer

Destiny's Child sings
a screen on a pivot

Percussion on faulty playback
chiming spoon in a cup

Moon hides above night cloud
violates the whispering--wakes

Landlocked screams
at night in bed

The work we undo
lustily, like a love Victory

Frightened and strong, two by two
the key, the Enemy

Alien prints--a blood taste
the Thing has fled

Locked ourselves into labouring long
to be brave, to flail

A wrap for the story tomorrow
like the breeze

Great slabs of concrete thunder
crumble slumbering city

Dust of surface and planet
risen in the breeze

Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar

Covers the living and the dead
can be disturbed

A notion believed by millions
forces resolve--but to be free

Among courtesies, the incoming tide
the rub of Love's salty wounds

Bloom a glowing dress
though bent in a sweeping storm

Beautiful, the velvet gate
without burning faces

How much more leftovers
sequin the casinos of Indecision

Put on the Marvellous, electric fabric
shine in the long night

Kisses are no longer mute
if they do not let us slumber

Despite hulks the questions pour
until no-one can stop you dancing

To assert at least one dawn
without great pleasures of Anxiety

Beyond the fractures and beside
tremors, diggings, histories

The flight, the change, readiness
instead of a wall


As war is told a suspect laments
what certain people exterminate
a bloody search--fleeing
irrational treatment
exceeded in grief
the sorrowful wheel
which war works
excessive, uninhibited
the beginning--as anybody explains
of rue-filled work.

Thanks directly the inhuman
discrediting time's bad reputation
troublesome army songs
talks of world-wide electrification
a business war
in each quarter exceeds
this type of feeling.

Ticket the pleasure in force of arms
jam their system effect
methods which positively remove
where it is bloody
(I am like this though more on edge
level inside the child
if I listen)
early with a sense of necessity
do the uninhibited map
transition which is cruel
discredit as it is used.


David Hamilton

Three poems


take wing, wings of the most lightly vertebrate:
after the car passes, the painter, from shadows, pounces
on a back fence or a window box--stencils, sprays,
then an arts grant, a catalog, and map for a walking tour.
I found the evidence in the Strand and soon gave
the book away, saving the idea for later, in Iowa City.


like one heart unfrozen, quickening your own,
like the apt word on your lips when you thought
to say exactly what you exactly thought:
the high cardinal singing, you note it now,
on his tree, no leaf, snow loads the ground;
like one coal in the grate and from somewhere
breath enough to blow it into spring.


to the thistle feeder. They'd ignored it all winter
but now, as the first smudge of gold shows in their coats
they light in the birch and test thistle gone stale.
Ramón lolls underneath on melting crusts of snow.
I'm behind an upstairs window, wavering on one
leg, doing "tree," trying to forget looking on.