Poetry I:
The L.A. Day Grinds On Me or I Wish I Had a River . . . R. D. Armstrong ~ The Men Loved Storms Michael Carman ~ The Real Story Miles Coon ~ Paul Espel: Giving It Time; Cicadas; third world customs ~ When Fed Silence Allen C. Fischer ~ Unsaid Dana Gioia ~ Daniela Gioseffi: In Confinement of Spirit I Wake in the Dark; The Unborn Calf; After Confinement, Sudden Blood ~ The Contortionist's Dilemma James Hale ~ Maureen Holm: Ant Haiku, Ex Natura I and II ~ Nicholas Johnson: Alone (For Admiral Byrd); One of the Monkeys ~ Polychrome Valerie Lawson ~ These Are the Pains of Roses Robin Lim

Poetry II
Between Hearts
Elaine Schwager

A heart on ice in an Igloo
picnic freezer. Three in the waiting room
sandwiches, Metrocards, toothbrushes
in hand. The one with a fever is sent away.
Another, not a good blood match
is told, "Plan for death."

Her father got the heart,
still in grief for the chest it knew.
The new heart struggled to love him,
pomegranate Photo: Barry Lazar contested not being wanted.
It was far enough from
its old self to choose

him or not, to wrestle
with a freedom it should have
never had. Her father jogged,
ate salted meats. But he could not
defeat sorrow
for the last heart

cracked open pomegranate,
muscle pulp, dry kernels of
blood glinting on ice,
in the new Igloo chest.

Curriculum Vitae
Samuel Menashe

A Prison Bus, Beige
Greggory Moore

Mark Nickels

Alice Notley

D. Nurkse

Charles Pierre

The Piano String
Terence Purtell

The Astronaut
James Ragan

Elaine Schwager
The Cold Rain Never Falls

The Revolutionary Gets Lost in the Supermarket
Jessica Stein

~ . ~

Curriculum Vitae
Samuel Menashe

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric,
but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
—W.B. Yeats


Scribe out of work
At a loss for words
Not his to begin with,
The man life passed by
Stands at the window
Biding his time


Time and again
And now once more
I climb these stairs
Unlock this door—
No name where I live
Alone in my lair
With one bone to pick
And no time to spare

(From The Niche Narrows, New and Selected
(Talisman House, 2000).)

~ . ~

A Prison Bus, Beige
Greggory Moore

A prison bus, beige
and brown, replete with starfish
logo, bars across

the windows, small and
discreet but still the message
clear: "There's no need to

panic, but, come on —
after all, they broke the law,
a little danger —

how can you avoid
it altogether?" A man
on the sidewalk squints

toward the sun, up at
the bus, through its oily smoke
as it goes by. His

first instinct is to
laugh at the expense of the

therein; he mostly
overcomes this, instead feels
sympathy, which he

wishes to evince;
and so he smiles at the bus,
giving a slight nod.

You don't know who you're
smiling at, could be the worst
murderer, rapist;

but maybe some drug
offenders — political
prisoners, really —

are looking out from
between the little bars, scared,
hopeless — the man can

only imagine;
and so his smile becomes a
little more pronounced,

almost affected;
he hopes that they can see him
and understand his

feelings, know that he
is sorry for their plight and
that they deserve his

support. He thinks he
sees a wave; but in fact the
bus is quite empty.

~ . ~

Mark Nickels

Even before the story begins, you endure
a hundred subtractions not accounted for
in this turning: a grimness coming down
that doesn't answer to your name, and wayward
urgencies of memory that have you stupefied,
engrossed. I'm thinking you don't know
how much. What do you know of it,
your spectral, green, small icehouse wound,
and under it, the wounds of others, owned
by a line of hominids with lips compressed,
concealing mossy teeth, and in the DNA,
a quiver of time defying ecstasies and ailments
gone underground for thirteen generations,
like cicadas, only to surface in you?

(From "Cicada," the 588-line title poem in the collection published by
Rattapallax Press, 2000. Reviewed in the Feb'01 issue.)

~ . ~


~ . ~ Nurkse: Special Cycle

~ . ~

Charles Pierre

On the quiet shore of deafness,
increasingly removed from the sound
and silence of the sea, with words
drifting off on the slightest breeze,

I listen as best I can, amidst mixed
and skewed expressions and quirky
water textures and a weightlessness
which follows the loss of anchoring

language, the sea's new leavings
ever-present in the air, but my ears
making odd mimicry of waves
which stretch and twist within me.

(Charles Pierre's first poetry collection, Green Vistas, was released in 1981.
Recent work has appeared in Outerbridge, Rattapallax, Manhattan Linear,
Aethlon, Long Island Quarterly, Parnassus, The Lyric, Voices International,
Big City Lit,
and elsewhere.)

~ . ~

The Piano String
Terence Purtell

do you know what it's like
to be a piano string
stretched to its limit
feeling the hammer blows every day
taut metal waiting to
but not able to cannot
just dying to break
would make it so much easier
just snap all done
there you have it the
performer performing on you
but you are metal
a tool machine computer
built for efficiency and your
fuel or whatever the hell keeps
the strings strong is exhausted now
and one hammer
could be anything any
random miniscule hammer
and the entire world's eyes upon
you hear the POP! and
murmurs through the audience
you've already lost some function
because it was so, so much easier to not have to
deal with the tightness, irritated a certain threshold
rusting coils cried overload
midway through a standard-sounding pitch
the sound breaks into static
the uproar the maestro's rage suppressed
but none of them can talk to you
because you are not you don't hear it doesn't reach
you have disconnected, not like you would have heard a thing when connected
for you were metal all along and any criticisms hit that string the hammers
hit and they bounced right off and it couldn't get through
but it can't get through anyway
either you repel and stop caring
or BWONG! there goes the freakin' concerto because no one understands
how the fuck to care for a piano string
assumed to do its job 24-7 and at an odd time recoiling FWAP!
unloosing a riot in the black-tied cummerbunded concert hall
so that amidst the brawl they forget you're the most obvious cause you the piano string not doing your job
and instead look to blame some no-name piano tuner who tweaked your peg a bit too far because you are only
a mechanism not any being or conscience with that capability of taking blame
that inhumanity may seem bad that quality exempt from moral responsibility
but it was really enough to be stretched that far
and way too easy to snap
too easy to not see it coming
and not to ever consider to not entertain the possibility because you are too in
love with and know your function too well
but (right from the start, you heard fate and its death knell)
it would not be too late
even if you endure the piercing agony when that string pops
you got about 175 disintegrations to go yet
teeth clenched all the way

(A second-year student in piano performance at Marlboro College in Vermont,
Terence Purtell has been writing poetry for four years and is editor-in-chief of
his college literary magazine. He also pursues interests in theology, philosophy,
and Modernist/Post-Modernist literature. This is his first contribution to the magazine.)

~ . ~

The Astronaut
James Ragan

No matter what hour of the day
the rocket roars in sleep,
testing space
like bodyfalls
to the earth's blue bed,
he wakes his children,
eyes like moons,
and points the sun's rise
off the cratered crib,
east to west, and watches
tails of stars fall
like toads
through memory's Black Hole,
their aureoles of light, brief
as passing conversations,
uncertain and apocryphal.

(From Womb-Weary (Pulitzer nominee, Grove Press 1990).)

(James Ragan has read for five heads of state, including Mikhail
Gorbachev and Vaclav Havel. Director of the Graduate Professional
Writing Program at USC and Summer Poet-in-Residence at Charles
University in Prague, he is a contributing editor to the magazine.)

~ . ~

Elaine Schwager


She chose to live
a life in which she may or may not turn up
later. Not sensing she was gone
barely a flutter in her body,

she rewound the reels
trying to see the young, the pretty
girl dancing, to hear the lines
she forgot when her lips opened

like faith parting from despair. By the heavy glass
door she walked into freely
over and over, letters gathered
with so much to tell. Envelopes, now in plastic

bags cracked and fogged, break into chips
of dry paper. The ink-smudged names
barely there, were once clear blue
on clean white. Tomorrow's yellow

dust of words blacken her
hands. And yesterday's bell pushed by
the mailman announces again
and again the vastness of dying

love. Proof of its presence in
the incomprehensible calm
that remains, letters delivered to limit everything
to their news.

~ .

The Cold Rain Never Falls

Beaten for wearing a skirt,
she threw herself out
her mother's

window. Her cousin, with six children, hung herself
the month before. Both husbands shrugged
and said, "It was time for God to take them."

Their other wives took care
of the dead wives'
brood. Before their suicides, these women watched

across the road — the others in skirt suits, lucent
nylons, leather bags slung over their shoulders,
go to jobs — while they changed

children's clothes, kept their green huts
neat, and their husbands
from feeling shame in the eyes of others.

History went on
stealing the golden stars from their crusty brown
years of dust and swollen clouds halted
above them and stayed. But it never rained

over the dry manure in the gardens watered
with their own streaming thirst. The moonlights
in their black hair are stone blue jewels. The darkness
in their minds: their intelligence, the only expression

for which was death. Because their words
once spoken were caskets
for others to bear
and carry away.

(Elaine Schwager is a regular contributor to the magazine. Masthead)

~ . ~

The Revolutionary Gets Lost in the Supermarket
Jessica Stein

The revolutionary gets lost
in the supermarket, wandering
for almost two hours
under the fluorescent lights, dazed
by the aisles of cans and boxes,
the insane and innumerable choices.

She has just been released
from over fifteen years in prison.
In that time, the seeds I planted
with my fifth-grade Brownie troop
have grown into pine trees
taller than my father. My little sister
was conceived and born
and learned to walk, to use
a telephone, to cut her eyes at boys
to hide her desire.

Stunning, that kind of time.
The river empties itself
into the wide mouth of the ocean,
over and over again. Her mouth open
as she wanders the aisles.

In the streets, so many people.
So many kissable lips. So many heads
filled with inaccessible thoughts.
Home with a ravenous hunger
I rattle in the cavernous apartment
like a marble in an empty cigar box.
I open and close every cabinet
knowing nothing about what I want
except that I don't have it.

(A poet and activist, Jessica Stein is on the editorial board of Bridges,
a Jewish feminist magazine. This is her first contribution to the magazine.)

~ . ~ . ~