Ransacked Diplomacy
Brenda Morisse

The Hole
Jennifer Ley

That Drunk
Rob Wright

Pete Smith

Ransacked Diplomacy
Brenda Morisse


That irreducible sky is taller than ever:
My ears pop just looking at it.
I should have been a window
to reach into myself.

Instead, I am all drink and down another,
my topknot of yelling scented with newsprint,
my capsized luck and whip-like pretense . . .
I mean, how many people have swallowed that rule?

Diastaltic fairy tellers themselves,
embalming failure on the wrong-numbered day,
(which could have been either) ended the yelling,
and I was back to spontaneous alphabetization.

Wrote it on a Wednesday--the "will I?" day, the
"wait" day.
Left them the date and my mentholated civility,
but This is not a malanga day or L.I. life intolerable.
"How much can you coconut?"

Sorry, what was that?
Sometimes he is so morning, other times, so don't-
"Just making conversation" he says.
The day was filled where it hurts,
his color-coded eyes, his stolen location.
"But do you?"
"Do I what?"
"You know."
If you like, we can make one out of gold lamé and
cypress trees.


It's Monday again.
Weather permitting, I will fight dirty or take money
for a dive.
Autumn has a crunch beneath its color;
everything reddish is killing itself.

The sun yields to a park bench.:
"Here, the cold. There, the fluorescent hands."
My tamper-proof future double-crossed, double-
the ocean floor against my chest.

I touch up yesterday’s outline, then jump the gun.
Now I can’t slip into Yakima. It came to me over
the meandering perforation, the hit-and-miss of my
But he wasn't a carpenter, so I won more than he.

I shop for compensation. Pollen is cheap.
This is the curb.
I said it felt like worry, like a cement day.
Pressure dome and back desaturates in a blink.

The science of blue had a look on its face;
the room was white-dress hot;
the drums repeated the undress;
the drums repeated themselves.
Draped over courtyard near-violet with sunlight,
blue sheet in the stairwell.
Sweet push hands of spirits, blue-rich angles,
drowning in my direction.


I make conversation out of nicotine,
the vinegar of my jawbone.
"Come. There are no steps."

There’s something different about my irises too,
too much red in them: a tropical give-away if ever
there was one.
Only I couldn’t see it--being on the inside looking
Posing oolong wet and hot with their Wholesome
glare and overtime Sneer;
Pond scum of tinsel, I tell them, "You have no
disaster appreciation,
your gewgaws overhead and ice hook of sight.
You're getting warm." No. Some are born cold,
the mint-manicured type,
their spiked light and magnetic pointill.i.s.m:
Pruning in Spite of themselves.

I'll show you the basin of windpipes,
my overwrought cuticles, sand.


a raindrop holds on for as long as it can the
bow-legged maple trees Tempered with gray Come
Let us

sweep through the creosote of my
veins trace the shape and inflection of swamplands
Letters Together face-to-face We
cross the street Prophecies
cross the skin I've been around
the block, The traffic of my smile. I

file the minutes from my fingertips.


The numbers on 5th are higher.
As usual, Venus is ten minutes late
her mouthful of sidekicks
the vicious foliage of their eyes
cackling line-up
the red mark of its grip
One more voice,
Kindred tongue
another pointed division.

The Hole
Jennifer Ley

The hole always aches
to fill itself
call its soft clods back
too open under sky
All those stars watching, watching
the edges of the hole
become quite shy
Give it a gift, then
A bulb plump with promise
A flag to grow and wave
declaring itself once revealed
now filled
once gutted, hollowed
never quite the same

Each summer
the memory of the hole
Yes I've been bitten and defined
by that rough spade
that cold metal knowing
but now, I am mother to the bulb child
and her changing needs
I exist, a subterranean memory
a method of growth by gardening

What will you plant, now that you have been opened?

You're naked under the sky
cupping a cautious ear
to the singing dirt
Your eyes grown deeper
in their depths
To be filled is the future talking
Ah to be easy earth
potential has not always been your friend

This is the beginning
the need for the seed
The shock of air on newly defined sides
Fill your ears
Let your eyes really see
Acid, down to the retina
the way you have been dug
Sing your pollen

That Drunk
Rob Wright

Drunk again. Drunk forever.
Not in-ditches drunk,
but drunk-on-rooftops drunk,
balanced-on-garden-fences drunk,
boxwood, lady's slipper drunk,
tap-tap on warm windows drunk.

A Taoist for the moment,
the world for me was what it was,
not tomorrow world,
not even the next moment world.
That drunk.

Through the hedges, I saw another
drunk, standing, shouting,
Find your own place to piss!
A stock character, clumsy and mean, and funny lonely.
He is the world right now, I thought.
Here's your revelation: this drunk.
His shirt was open,
an old scar ran from navel to collarbone,
younger than I thought at first,
coughing out a clot
stuck behind his eyes.

We stumbled up the stairs.
I held a finger to my lips.
But she who had waited so long,
so patiently, had gone,
and all that remained was heat,
and the smell of dried leaves.
I put my lips against the pipes below the sink
and drank.

I woke and found myself
washing feet with hair and tears,
just like the black book prescribes.
Feet, red and smelling of the sea.
Master, Son, Spiritus Sanctus,
have mercy.

He picked a coin from behind my ear,
rolled it on his knuckles;
pulled a cigarette from the air,
lit it with his open fingers.
You have a body, he said.
That's all the redemption you'll ever need,
laughing like it was a joke we shared.
You need to eat. You need to bathe.
You need to tell the truth occasionally.
Everything else . . .
If someone says he’s taken
his heavenly father into his heart
and everything’s just dandy,
well, he’s lying, or fooling himself,
or being professionally clever.

He took my face between his palms.
Theresa is stone, Joseph is wood, he said.
You came out of a woman’s body,
and just when you were ready to understand,
you got scared.
His breath mixed with mine, whiskey and wet.
Find a body, he said. Your own, this time.
He stood and stretched,
drew the smoke in deeply.
That’s your only business--
yours and the world’s.

I stood in the window:
one more naked body in the dark.
The city had lit itself for love.
Signs on rooftops flashed distant blessings.
I slept the night on the tiles.
Air and sweat covered me like a balm.
I didn’t want anything
but this.

Pete Smith

Sun moves
in cells. Black wings
beat, suspend the hollow bones
in flight.
I walk east--
I walk to the end
of this island--
descend a ladder,
balance down the rocks:
sun warming my shoulders
through my shirt.
The ocean pools in the fingers and knees
of heaps of shaggy stone--

suss hew ah
suss hew ah lee

Our houses
leer on the clifftops.
Surge/ink/ache of the sea
recedes, leaving
jagged lines,
salt on a surface,
a page.
Eighteen feet off shore
the bearded rocks
sharply slope.
An ache in my shoulder blades
wrists unsupple, stiff
--my precarious tucches
hinged above the sea--

suss hew ah
suss hew ah lee

This, Your unsayable rhythm
a syllable of Your tongue
one of the seventy-two letters
of Your perfected name
Blessed are You
King of Masks
Master of Signs and Wonders
Who has given what we stutter
and fail to understand

I, what was i,
will shout and be mute
in these eroding stones
and flesh, which has forgotten
to breathe this element
shocked into singing,
coming apart
in the dark and cold

suss hew ah
suss hew ah lee
Such you are
Such you will be

The sunlight changes
The waves converse