Amor Fati
Adam Merton Cooper

Odium Fati
Adam Merton Cooper

Mrs. Onassis is Spying on Patrons
in the Temple of Dendur
Mark Nickels

Body, an Aviary
Evan Eisman

March Voices Daphne
Tobias Deehan

Reese Thompson

Jay Chollick

Krishna Waits in the Car
Rob Wright

Amor Fati
Adam Merton Cooper

We had no choice but to work westward
God is a westward working god
Pushed out the west end of the nest
we staggered onto the solar track
that leads straight to the red
and cool and comforting western shore
So when I fucked a man I fucked him
westward, and spread my legs and bared
my womb westward to give good birth
and pushed my choking babes out
the west end of the nest. I bade
my men and babies wander westward
in my wake. These are the fruits
we pick ripe from the tree
Our god is a westward working god
who plies his rule on rotting fruit and meat
Who knows whether the sun that rises
is the same that set beneath the red
and cool and comforting western shore?

Odium Fati
Adam Merton Cooper

Lakelong they walked what used to be a swamp,
walked windward, walked against the wind and worked
against their times, their own times and the past,

although the sibyl urged them into flow,
although they loved the sibyl, loved her words,
and swallowed each word whole deeming it fine,

as fine as water flowed from Meribah,
as any cool lake craved by Leto,
they were like latticework before their times,

they strove and dared not count the cost, they spread
like willows in the swift swampwind,
desiring wishing needing to be wrong

like willows in the east swampwind.

[Adam Merton Cooper, a featured poet at Carnegie Hall, has won multiple Lyric Recovery™ awards. Ed.]

Mrs. Onassis is Spying on Patrons
in the Temple of Dendur
Mark Nickels

Mrs. Onassis looks at the museum with her telescope.

Home from the airport, she takes off her shades
and eats assorted greens, spiked like the rampion
by the rounded feet of saints in Flemish paintings.
Kindling the radio, there are concertos by Vivaldi,
the brown, the umber loneness of bassoons.
Her telescope awaits her, a gift of Templesman
the wise. To spy on those below reverses
her polarities, rhymes with the days
she wandered Washington as Inquiring Camera Girl.
She trains it on the Metropolitan below her,
the Temple of Dendur. It has a magick'd lens
with which she looks through walls and time.
Men living and men dead bourée, brocaded,
in full view, and then recede. They rally at the plinth
behind the Met, where they put on horse's clothes
and are ridden through the park.

A character in a room in that Museum, as it was in 18th Century Vienna.

A mock-up 18th c. Venetian room
has mirrors on the wall. Now, these mirrors want
resilvering, but in that room and on that day
I dipped a crust in runny yolk. Betimes the sun
exploded on the casements, signaling
the everyday ignition of the gold canals.
I rose and peed into the china pot,
the room invaded with a buttery smell.
Last night I had some cuttlefish in pastry shells,
some roasted meadowlarks, new wine.

Today, a little crowd of pimps and urchins
drift and hover, watch me sashay mirrorwards
with a rococo bounce before I shoo them out,
the offspring of domestics who extol
the virtues of their sisters with an undulating hand.
Outside, Hot Sister Venice, she both
dank and fair, a lovely ageless girl
pulled from the sea. I hear blue Zephyr
galing lust into the city, the stones like
piping loaves, the sun delving in canals.
How are you, Signore? the urchins ask.
I'm dying, how are you?--sweating blood into my silks,
shitting, drooling, spare, like a gisant.
A doctor, Viennese, is cupping me
and always whistling: basset whistling, low.
Welts surging on my flesh, like café-table rings,
Der Arzt uncorks a mincemeat of jarred leeches.

I'm dying. I'm in a lust for humankind,
and everything about them: their homely smells,
the secret places of their bodies.
In dreams I'm walking golden, stunned,
out of the picture, in a delirium for touch:
rind, not essence, the watcher who
remains obscured. Cold news billows
in my arteries.

Last night, undressing, I saw behind me
her, half curtained in the dark, in this gimcrack,
gilded gloom, a woman with black hair
who looked like Death in Cocteau's Orpheus,
the one who said, when speaking of the gods,
They go on and on, like the wind in your forests,
like the tom-toms of your Africa.
She watches as I sleep.

In truth, she comes in every night
with grosso hair, in a Cassini winding sheet
with nubby weave, and I see it all
from up there by the gilding, as though
the whole tableau were happening for someone else.
And soundlessly we talk about the ghosts
entwined around our spines in tired clothes.
And we are older than anyone.

(Prior publ. Cicada, Rattapallax Press, 2000.)

Body, an Aviary
Evan Eisman

A green ibis lifts off its stump.
Eyes adjust from the bird to the sky-reflecting swamp.
A red bird is stamped on the eyes.

Inferior-oblique muscles pull the eyeballs up,
ciliary muscles relax,
suspensory ligaments pull taut—

this is how eye lenses thin,
how we focus on the circles of a broad-winged hawk.

Flocks and flocks enter the body this way:
spermous birds swim through semen-skies,
permeate egg-like eyes;

light birds glide through millions of cones and rods,
squeeze through the optic nerves,
nest in the parietal and hatch in the frontal lobes.


As memory swoops close to these branches
piled on the chimney of the brain stem
—to pounce and lap the nestling to its tongue—

the lungs congest at the thought of a wood stork
bawling from its nest in the mid-brain.

March Voices Daphne
Tobias Deehan

Lest we forget the reasons
we are nothing but a dream
moon slide beneath linen horizon.

Reaching above was your hand
in branch climb circles
a gray static surge
hold close my body.

Interesting to understand
you in control
you tell of yourself
maybe that is why
some weary making friends
or making love.

Were I a tree
it would grow in Manhattan
hard in vigil reach
no country affair
of maybe two motor cars
all day pass.

Reese Thompson

The compass fixed to sate a sickness's need to compensate --
so they say it does not exist, and certainly I've witnessed its
absence in many -- but having also named the thing (too late
to take it back) we go on contriving at compassion in fits

far better fitted to selfishness. I love more than I love myself.
Consult a textbook if you like, charity is a privilege, far-fetched
and ultimately inconsistent with evolutionary theory -- the gulf
between us is the work of words and not loneliness, snatched

from the fondlings of hate and furthermore called 'human.'
Perhaps that's why it would be so difficult without the wealth
of your friendship, to survive on the scarce instinct of one man
in a world this relentless. I love more than I love myself.

The need that names you, thing un-existing, is reason enough
to rejoice in the lack of names for all the needs which poets bluff.

Jay Chollick

When I look up, see over me
my ceiling's broad domesticated sky--not
whole, oh no--its overwhelming
footage too forbidding--I mean
its crack, its plaster-slapped mortality, I study
it; reveal its white philosophy and
if its logic sags at epicenter.

Or looking down, this Euclid sees
rectangular, sees roofs not multifarious
but dully black; of numbing
uniformity--dead surfaces, I am my
window's lonely face--from there
I ruminate on tar.

And then, I might apostrophize: my button's
shape; its thread; a knotted rug but
just one patient inch of it, I take from eyes
a single inoffensive lash, from speech
I pluck its syllable and from my cat I swoon
and take from him, insouciance.

There is no larger part of me; I am a
continent of single grains, an office
bustling on a paperclip--and on
a rag, its insubstantial livery
of dust--add that into my blameless head where
nothing lives that
is its whole environment, but snatched
from it--how frail--a poignant winnowed

And even love--what is it,
but every day's dead ribbons tied to
spring? Or if into a languid day
I think of owls,
not of the tree its midnight sits, or feathers,
or the wisdom of its swooping or its
compact meat; oh no, again my owl only is
its stare--and with it, hung from air its chilling

Krishna Waits in the Car
Rob Wright


He drove, as agreed.
I begin to load the parking meter
spooling out the silver from pocket to palm.
He waves me on in that off-handed, too-cool,
love-child way of his.

Magic? Godliness?
If you can fox a parking meter,
why not do the other thing?
(I forget if I say, or think this.)
Can’t, he says, drumming the wheel in poly-rhythms
I am the      I am the        I am the
You know why, he continues, running over a thought.
He is all thought, I am thinking him
or he me, I forget which.

If your heart closes, breaks…
                                               Please stop! I say
…or becomes dry, he continues
                                               a light will go out of the world,
we say together.

A woman pushing a stroller passes, looking at me oddly.
Her towheaded babe, propped up in blue
stares at Krishna as if he were a cloud of electrons.


Inside, the Vet smells Vetish.
Name? a woman asks.
She is small with square eyebrows
and wisps of hair invading her temples
like nettles in a field.
Bubastis, I say.
The woman looks into the cage
Her name, not mine, I add, unnecessarily.
Tortoise Shell?
Was, I almost say, as if it were all accomplished.
And why are you here, little girl? she asks through the bars.
To be killed.

The word, the delicate word
the word used now
is 'euthanized.'
'Put down' is passé
and 'put to sleep' is quietly horrifying.

Bubastis and I are put into a side room
which smells even more like Vet.
Under the medicine and urine is something else
a something-wrong smell.
Bubastis lies down and bats my finger coyly.
I used to believe, and still do
that she was one of the ten most beautiful things
I’d ever seen
but I am trying to forget.
         a frame-by-frame examination of an eye.
         The pupil expands
         pulled by watchmaker muscles
         woven together and tied off like Flemish lace.

The Vet enters. She is pleasant and doglike
in the way that her assistant is catish.
She fills her needles, one after the other.
Looks at me and explains— I have no idea what.
I nod. The explanation takes a long time.
One needle goes in.
It’'s been ten years since I left Krishna in the car.

Bubastis’s breathing slows and at the same time becomes larger.
More oxygen, her cat-brain cleverness is true to the end,
extending itself in time as the space around it gets thick.
Her eyes close, first the false lid
then the other, the color of lips and skin.
One big breath and she sinks into herself
and lies inert, like a balloon crashed in a field.
I study for the last time the pattern of her fur,
wonderfully without reason, and unique to her.

She takes another breath
the lip flaps out.
Die, I say and kiss her head.
But this is for me.
She does not want to die.
Today we played
the first time in years
and that too was for me.
         Frame by frame:
         a cone of sodium light roving in the indigo
         plates and rivets crusted in polyps,
         muscle shells, eddies of silt, a porthole.

The Vet returns. Bubastis is feeling nothing now, she says,
interrupting the bathos.
What does her name mean? the assistant asks.
It’s a town, I say, or was.
They worshiped cats there,
on the Nile, I think.
She nods as her boss puts a long needle under Bubastis’s ribs,
now visible under the emptying fur.
Her spark becomes ash.
The electrons are still dancing
but they are no longer Bubastis.


The muddy hands I first saw as a child
pulling ducklings down into a lake.
Each day one fewer, following the mother,
one fewer,
are here again.
My mother insisted it was a snapping turtle,
but even from the bank I could see the muddy hands
grasping. And here they are again
in the shape of a needle no thicker than a whisker.

Krishna is in the hot car
still cool, tapping out his poly-rhythms
against the diddle of valves and pistons.
'No answer' is written all over his blueness.
'No answer' is not the answer
because that is an answer
and therefore illusion
like Bubastis and the baby ducks.

Krishna put the car in gear
and pulls out effortlessly into the flow of cars.
He's driving and that's all.