Nov '03 [Home]
Showcasing Spring-Summer 2003 Contest Sample Poems
Bohemian Pansy ("Think of Me") Glass, Zwischengoldglas Technique
Logic at Seventeen
Next We Should Try a Monkey
~ . ~
The white curtain drapes
onto the varnished floor.
Swollen wooden planks, a fan.
It is uncluttered, and once inside
fear carries itself
like an ordinary guest
paying a visit to a friend.
Sound of footsteps, then a voice
inquiring about the tea.
The kitchen is painted
a curious ocher, pale as filtered
evening light, insects
against the screens. What
won't happen now is this:
clutch of fissure, consequence.
From the door, he's
calling my name
while I cut a bird from paper.
Dark is here and moths.
Porch stairs, still green,
their paint bought on sale
before my birth --
the moon has risen. He's
calling as if
I will answer. Not
this house, these dishes, chipped
on the waiting table.
~ . ~
I am the oddity that is unange.
I'm the silver that rhymes with orange.
I am the obstinate, slow-
metabolic plant that grows
at the rate of sediments
and influoresces extravagantly about once
a decade. To the sphinx
my question made for raised wings,
squawks, and flight
into a bedroom mirror, in the light
of which was another face, another
woman, whose rhyme of course we need not further
search for. Her wavering look: enraged,
triste, and disengaged.
That her silver and orange but subfuse
longings could not be entirely masked
by her marriage and her dire pretenses,
I am the living evidence.
Justice, then, I am a form of,
since I am the shove
of hidden desire into egregious shape:
the moon's dark side that rotates
into view; the glare
of Is rather than the glare
of Seems; a minor-key
and irritating line of melody
following a two-generational family lie
that was cacaphony: Who am I?
Logic at Seventeen
Tulsa, early 1960's
There is this
world. Which, they say, is
women unite with men, A with Z.
No A-B or M-X combinations
can last, not in the congregations
of love. But that was the history, if true,
of the world up to now. I'm new
and there might be, somewhere, a chorus
of new people, everything more porous
than what anyone admits or knows. Whole
groups might be acting freshly on what they feel
and anyone might approach anyone:
meet somehow and talk and then
go off into a laugh or a kiss
or a life—because the world is
hard but not just hard, not just concrete
slabs on the heart.
The world is also soft, it has to be
to make sense. It's the ice-green of baby
lichen on limestone stacked like log-wood
by a poolčninebark and dogwood
on the bank; a turtle noses up in the watercress
and sunfish make C's and S's
between the stems; in the beech
woods there are dots of light on the deeps
of fallen leaves. The world is huge.
~ . ~
I will haunt you
in the small, dark type of
And the eyes of large dogs.
I am the hideous ghost of
I clang with the force of several old
I know this is a terrible thing to be
what with all the aunts and uncles
doing the electric slide.
So I am sorry
but I wish it nonetheless.
For we cannot question our destiny.
If so, we'd all be living in
with high snow and corn and
And so my life wrecks like a truck.
Dark choppers hover over it,
desperate to see blood: maroon and
grey, brushed on the pavement
like paintings of Rome.
Next We Should Try A Monkey (But That Would Be The Nuts)
The Soviets dispatched the canine Laika (which means "Barker") in Sputnik 2 in November 1957, one month after performing another technological feat that stunned the world, launching the first artificial satellite into orbit, Sputnik. Laika overheated, panicked and died within hours of launch in the second spacecraft to circle the planet, contrary to Soviet reports that the dog had lived for up to a week, said Dmitri Malashenkov of the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow. The 1,120-pound (508-kilogram) space crypt remained in orbit a total of 162 days, then burned up in the atmosphere on April 14, 1958.
—Richard Stenger, CNN News
The steel cylinder is pretty
perfect: no holes, no corners
and not the best for paws
that go sliding up and down over
Greece, Turkey, Pan-Asia.
And no hard snacks but a
thin liquid gel
through a tube.
This takes all the fun out of it.
There is no need for a tail.
In a craft that turns slowly
like hissing meat
you chase it anyways
a hundred million times
till the wires are a mess
like the organs of baseballs.
So the sharp array
taped to the State
gets a confused signal.
Because it's all black and white:
the faded photos of Life,
lest we forget,
in the canine optic nerve
that leads to the brain
like a long, slow walk
through the afternoon leaves.
~ . ~
The sky is crinolined and fluted; lacy
feminine anger. Everywhere palms turn upward
feeling. Marry me, one
is inclined to say to anyone. In case
this is it: the end of summers.
As though the old Abelard
on the corner, shielding his newspaper
like a love letter inside a big coat,
were the last sentient being.
A promise of showers and war
warming on his ashen languor.
It goes like this more often than I'd like.
A mild grade condition of some
sort. Brain is a weapon of mass
deconstruction. The heart lingers beneath,
doodling away the ache.
From somewhere over there
the monotonous people-screams
of pigs are cut with pops
innocent as firecrackers.
from the cows, the stoics,
who swallow their fear
with soft oboe moans.
I've been invited to the Kill Floor
for a special task. 10,000 sealed packs of bologna
forgotten and spoiled. A few are chosen,
assigned to crouch around The Pit
and empty the units of meat
one-by-creamy-one; but after an hour,
only two of us have not run off
to empty ourselves.
The stench, having nowhere to go, crawls
into my mouth, while my eyes and ears
get busy arguing ontology. Without their hair
save a few sprigs missed by the flame gun
animals have no race; beneath their browns
reds and calicos, they are all plain as white men,
severely deformed white men: best to eat them.
The freshly deceased.
Slung cheek to cheek they
glide overhead on hooked tracks.
Spilling onto the beetle heads of men.
My meatmate and I work silently
avoid the hazards of open mouths
toss the rotten meat into the hole
for dog food, fertilizer.
Across the gorge a face
beneath a hair net, the rubbery surface of her skin
now thick with the oily atmosphere and that hardhat
spilling red from above and down her neck
The woman on the other side
works out the day with me, until at last:
the sudden, boorish beauty of the horn whistle.
It urges us to the exit.
The bang of the card clock
triggers talk about the blueglow and beer to come
as hardhats and smocks
purple from brush strokes with flesh
weave out through the less soiled
(Runner-Up in Sub-TERRAIN Magazine's 2000 Last Poems contest)
Joan Fiset lives in Seattle, Washington. Now the Day is Over, her book of memoir prose poems, was published by Blue Begonia Press in 1997 and won the King County Arts Commission's Publication Award. Her poems and prose have appeared in many literary journals including Ploughshares, Calyx, The Bitter Oleander, and Under the Sun. She is a psychotherapist in private practice and also works with Vietnam veterans and their families as a PTSD Counselor with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.
Diane Furtney is a poet, mystery novelist, and translator (French, Japanese) whose work has appeared in a wide range of literary journals.† She is the author of two award-winning chapbooks and (under the pseudonym D.J.H. Jones) two comic mysteries, Murder at the MLA and Murder in the New Age.† More poems will appear soon in Rhino and in Stand (England).† Currently she works in the plant biology department at The Ohio State University.
Brad Ricca's poems have appeared in 6ix, The Coe Review, Black Dirt, The Case Reserve Review, Albatross, The Kerf and Big City Lit [JulAug'03]. He lives in Cleveland.
Leanne Averbach is a Canadian poet and short story writer who divides her time between Vancouver and New York City. She has read and performed her work with and without jazz musicians in Italy, New York City, and across Canada. Averbach has worked in a slaughterhouse, fish-packing trough, office cubicle, and been intimate with the inside of jail cells while a left-wing activist in the Seventies.