Jun '04 [Home]

Poetry Feature

Sharing Space with Light

. . .
Early April: War Funeral in the Heartland ~ Jeffrey Alfier | Collapsed ~ Ryan Anderson | The Stunt Double in Winter ~ Robyn Art | My Father Speaks ~ E. Louise Beach | Wood Delivery ~ Ariele Brooke | Railroads ~ Leticia Escamilla Coward |Our Goal Is to Lend an Aura of Authenticity to the Home ~ Sharon Doyle | Keats, A Hard Sensation ~ Joseph Hart | Hemingway House, Key West ~ Matthew S. LaPierre | The Trickster ~ Joey Nicoletti | D183 ~ Simon Perchik | Early Colonials ~ Sjanna Solum | Mallory ~ Matthew Spireng | The Two ~ Arlene Tribbia | The House Wren ~ Marlene Vidibor

Contributor Notes

Image: Full-sky map of the oldest light in the universe. Colors indicate "warmer" (red) and "cooler" (blue) spots. The oval shape is a projection to display the whole sky similar to the way the globe of the earth can be represented. Article

~ . ~

Early April: War Funeral in the Heartland
Jeffrey Alfier

The blue shroud trimming his shiny coffin
and your black dress are brushed by a spring breeze
that finds your eyes downcast like Andromache,
when she saw the future of her city
dragged behind a chariot of madness.

Some other headstone in the field reads 'Bach,'
but who would think that Leipzig cantatas
could distill your incoherence of tears
when stock futures are up, oil prices down,
and the conquered cities drift with looters?

~ . ~

Ryan Anderson

Collapsed under the thought of one's final certainty
as all those passing shall contemplate in bathroom mirrors
deep evaluations of the eyes carefully calculating our souls
from the lines on our faces into some big scheme of things
reflective of decay and ideas —
washing over the old to return back the new
organized patterns of change constantly moving
through what I thought was obvious to tell from a dream
but now find it's not as easy to argue one and defend another
drifting through some vortex thinkin' about Hume or Buddhism
across green scenic surrealism in some car speechless —
through the blurry night hours of midnight arguing drunk possibilities
in your head convinced women were tempting you with deadly pleasures
to trade in love for this babylon
fooled to think quick fulfillments were happiness
and people were just ornaments —
so I left the abstraction of spaces
between entangled canvases of trees and lamp post horizons
painting stars with collages of radiant white skyscrapers
a mess of wires jumbled with roads diving and swerving
up and down steep oily valleys of thought rearranging with sentences
returning home to the dreary afternoon of deep grays and pale white —
the city in the rear view drifting from the green pine along black tar
highways scattering nests of trees across fields harvested in the pearl moon
motel sign where my days were recorded by the miles between gas stations
'til finally at rest home on the porch gazing off into the distance of frozen
carnival lights in the blood red dawn spilling out onto clouds like wine upon trees
lining boulevards in perfect rows tamed by the mower —
tiny holocausts against flowers where the buzzing of machinery can be heard
for miles out here in the country rising like insects devouring the suburbs,
leaving only our abandoned cars along the sides of green mossy highways.

~ . ~

The Stunt Double in Winter
Robyn Art

Because it has been without solace for some time now
it has honed its multivalent wants to a scarce
and thrifty few: A solid chair;
a finer margin to its days.
It can remember taking a lover of sorts,
long long ago,
though it feels itself to be singularly alone and this
it concurs with some relish.
Oh, it used to know so many things —
the principal exports of Guam,
how best to collect the dew.
Here it putters around the domicile
with its view of the chemical plant,
recalling its glory days in the capital,
its blacked-out, dopey fumblings
in rooms beyond repair, that time
when it was held beneath
the ruinous mantle of dusk.
Because it was once one of us,
it has a working knowledge of physics,
knows to lean into the fall
and cover its head against the blast,
erstwhile it knows what it is,
to you all it bids a fond adieu—
a bush in which birds are singing,
a window streaked in ash.

~ . ~

My Father Speaks
E. Louise Beach

Oracle is another word for moonlight through the trees.
His moon. Our moon.
For years, he held it for me in his hands, blew
it out in a final breath.

Darkness is a thick, black thing.

Dreams filter half-slant through the slats of my sleep.
In and out. Light and shade.
He says, "I am a stone."
He says, "I live in a meadow of grass and stars."

Earth is but a scruple of sand.

Heartbreak of longing, your truth is a lament.
Late night in winter,
winds low like cattle in the fields.
Coyotes moan.

And ice is a silver sliver.

Beam over beam,
I fall through the center of the well,
tumble through silent night,
crash through his reflection on frozen water.

~ . ~

Wood Delivery
Ariele Brooke

for the hearth
the truck bed is emptied little by little
from the steps and muscles
of the male hands
and the female hands
their arms weighted with
long sharp narrow pieces
and heavy dense oak
cut to the size of her woodstove
split logs of maple and ash
sleek on one side
rough on the rest
like men

she starts to fill the rectangular frame
next to the front door
while he stacks wood against the shed
she adds five pieces at a time
to the round ring on the patio
then he helps her fill up the rectangular frame
he earlier insisted on filling himself
but she told him that California friend once said,
"carrying wood is fun"
since then for her it has been so
even in the cold

a wicked wind bears down
still they stack in the dark
with only porch light
and Christmas twinkling lights
around the doorway
and a lighted angel
until the truck is done
and the two closest to the hearth are filled
this makes a warm welcome
a cozy bed
prosperity in bleak winter
at least for one more month

~ . ~

Leticia Escamilla Coward

Broken alleys.
The hitchhiker.
The bridge to the city.
The highway deciding

~ . ~

Our Goal is to Lend an Aura of Authenticity to the Home
Sharon Doyle

A special rusted finish can be applied
to give your walls that timeworn look.
Then try for a cluttered coziness.
(It's just too hard to adhere to that
clean line Feng Shui theory, don't
you think?)
A perky gingham for the sofa,
red and white perhaps, and some
thistles patterned on pale green pillows;
a small plant here or there but not
the ones 'they' all grow, and
not the tropical ones that look so gaudy outside
Hawaii, and also
not cactus (bad vibes indoors).
Exactly off center on a prism table
stand a French sapphire soup tureen with
matching Tiffany ladle, and four
egg creme glasses flown in all the way
from the Bronx.

Or, for a successful exercise in
monochromatic composition, you might
want to do it all
in gray,
you think?

~ . ~

Keats, a Hard Sensation
Joseph Hart

I was sitting at a table
With my forearm on the surface;
And I saw the objects near me,
And I felt the things I saw.
The typewriter was blue
And with nausea and love
I saw it; and the table,
Square, impermeable, hard.
The flowers on the table,
I the living room, the sofa,
And the windows, and the edge of
The piano in the room
I saw, and felt in sensing.
In this consciousness, contentment;
And I heard the traffic passing
Out of doors, and it was evening
So as usual the cars
Seemed to make a sound of darkness.
Then I saw
A photograph of Keats
on the edge of the piano
And it was a hard sensation
Unresembling all the others;
In a sense, another thing.
For the photograph had meaning
That was personal to me.
And for a moment I believed that I
Would rather see the paper
That the photograph had come in,
Sent from London long ago.

~ . ~

Hemingway House, Key West
Matthew S. LaPierre

Cats siesta on the veranda
like Pamplona revelers.
The house is a few steps
from the southermost point
of the United States, mile zero
on Route One, but is cooled
by an ocean breeze easier
on a hangover than a Bloody Mary.
Each wall has photographs:
Hemingway holds the skulls
of two kudos with curled horns,
Hemingway and Dos Passos
compare tarpon, Hemingway
stands next to a marlin larger
than the fish Santiago fought.
Out the back door, past the first
swimming pool on Key West
and a garden where beloved
cats are buried, are the stairs
up to Hemingway's office.
There's an onyx head on the wall,
woven baskets, African drums,
wall-to-wall broken-spined books.
On the writing table:
more books, a deep sea fishing reel,
and the typewriter, black and heavy
as a wildebeest's head.

~ . ~

The Trickster
Joey Nicoletti

I used to see him in my sleep:
the round mouth, drinking oleanders
from a goblet of smoke.

Whenever I lost something, I blamed him —
Chuck Mooney's Tomb of Dracula action figure,
Grandpa Joe's magnetic Bingo chips,
my broken-spined catechism book.

But this morning as I check my pockets for keys
I hear his laughter falling in drips
from the showerhead.

His fishing hat lolls in the bird bath
outside the curtainless window —
my lips curl
as if I were passing a kidney stone.

~ . ~

Simon Perchik

Disguised as mountainside
— all wing though the sky
can't let go and all evening

updraft — the sun thins out
becomes red then black
dead on the ground, choked

as every climb is made from dirt
keeps its hold till the air
takes root and you drift

without moving or water
— you hound this darkness
by mining it arm over arm

and around each stone
your arms held in
picking up speed — the sun

dangling from your teeth
and the distance
that has forgotten how.

~ . ~

Early Colonials
Sjanna Solum

New Englanders had knowledge to espouse
Pure beauty in the building of a house.
In planning, they took time to pause and study
Just where the rising sun, rotund and ruddy,
Would cast pink light on clapboard walls, and west:
What windowpanes sunset would gild the best.

In planting trees about a house, just how
The winter sun might stencil naked bough
Upon white walls, they did not care nor heed —
But planted for the shade of summer's need,
And yet an artist's sure, unhesitant hand
Would make no changes in the way they planned.

~ . ~

Matthew Spireng

They will find me, frozen,
unable even now to move
but this little, ankles crossed
to ease the pain, arms stretched out
as I try to drag myself back
from where I've fallen in the dark,
rope broken, Sandy calling out
as he falls away. But will they know
what we have done, will they find
the camera that shows — or might
if it has not broken? Can I tell them,
here alone in the dark on this
coldest of mountains with no way
to move but this little? Or is it
just in my mind? Have I
moved at all, or is it that
strangeness of thought that beset us
giving illusion its sway?
Will they know when they find me
if I found the way?

~ . ~

The Two
Arlene Tribbia

I've seen them twice
on my way home in
the night's soft middle
holding at the dark edges
of the road, bushes and trees

I believe they are two, brother
and sister, so sweet and slender
and new yet to slippery nights

I see them again: the deer hover
inside the lit headlights of my car
watching with innocent eyes my
heavy car on the road home and

I wish they know togetherness
always for I know what it is
to lose a brother to the light

~ . ~

The House Wren
Marlene Vidibor

Au jardin de mon père
Les lauries sont fleuris
Tous les oiseaux du monde
Vont y faire leur nids

(French Country Song)

Awake, I ponder sleep
In dawn's earliest light
Awaiting those first notes
Warbling clearly close by my window

As I seek the color of plumage
Which eludes my peering eyes
The song is delicacy defined
Where could such a bell perch

At dusk I bathe in the afterglow of day
The sweat of gardening cleansing my pores
My dogs lie at my feet
Dreaming chipmunk trails and squirrel holes

A twitch in the cherry tree turns my head
The wren's foothold
Sways the closeby branch
While dulcet winds emit chimes

The wren is singing, his throat bursting into a trebly tremble at every verse of his song
Singing his heart out for procreation
Singing his heart out for building a home
Singing his heart out for the time of year to sing one's heart out.

On the morrow he takes her to visit
A small bird house just right
In the midst of a white lilac
They enter and exit

He perches and sings
Twigs appear in his beak
They enter and exit, more twigs in their beaks
But no, the nest is not to her liking, perhaps too close to the ground

One day he enters a feeder
He exits and sings
He enters and eats
Twigs appear in his beak again

He enters the feeder
No longer eating
He is sprucing up the feeder for eggs
Feeder turned furnished room

Alas the other birds prove to be a noisy and nosy lot
This nest is too close to their dining room
Finally flying upward
He discovers a chink in the siding of our castle

A knothole in the knotty pine timber
High above the din of deck
High above the dining birds
High above the mower and glowering dogs

Under a clear view of the southern sky
The third nest is built
He perches and sings
Home at last

In the early dawn, landing
Atop our bedroom's open French window
His gift is revealed once again
The gift of pure tone of a tuning fork

He sings of his happiness
Their fruitfulness
Their contentment
And ours

~ . ~ . ~