When Words Are More Than Enough: September 2005 Poetry Selections

When things happen with the terrifying displacement
and death of a war or natural disaster, we seek
answers for our misfortune through spiritual guidance
or human logic.

We look for some tool that will dig us out from under
the terror and help us reconstruct a more familiar and
friendly world.

Internationally known and award-winning poet Hayden
Carruth reminds us where such a life-giving tool can
be found. His haiku says it all:

"Why speak of the use
of poetry? Poetry
is what uses us."

Three lines, 17 syllables and a world of possibility.
Language births reality and sustains us on our journey
through life. Words make up poetry, and poetry makes
up all we hold dear.


Charles H. Johnson
Poetry Editor
Identity Theory

 

TOAD

A poem by J.A. Pak

What do you say to an impaled toad? A toad you’ve
impaled? A toad you thought was a clump of dirt until
the dirt metamorphosed into limbs, and then a face,
the brown clump shaping into a body before
your disbelieving eyes. Strangely bloodless and so
alive, eye to eye we’ve merged into one and you see
that life is the blood, so red, so hot, the world a
dizzying haze as life is magnetized, pooling
itself from all its droplets like the balling sun.
Defragment. Pull back your life. Scrape the toad from
the prongs of the garden fork. The toad feeds the
birds, and later, when the cloud of insects
nips away at you, do you believe, or does it matter,
what belief, traveling inside the karmic tide?


J.A. Pak – www.ja-pak.com — lives in Witney, United Kingdom, and has work in a variety of magazines, including Speak, Quarterly West, Taitlin’s Tower and Taint.

September 2005 Featured Poet: Duane Locke

AL FRESCO CAFÉ POEM #226
RENATA’S POEM: BIRTH OF THE AUTHOR #63

Who was
Lot’s wife, who wore a red dress,
Walked behind her spouse?

She liked to see the ice slip
As it dissolved
In an empty cocktail glass.

She would look through the frozen water
And the unfrozen water of the cocktail glass

To gaze at the hummingbird,
This green ghost, his red cowl, a priest who married
red flowers.

She would whisper “No one should speak of ‘ought’ at
all,”
A tear would fall on the closed eyelids of her wedding
ring.

She had removed her husband’s pearls and rubies,
Wore a memory of an owl for a bracelet.

She is happy as a pillar of salt,
As she is kissed by the lips of bird songs in the
south wind.

AL FRESCO CAFÉ POEMS #227
RENATA’S POEM: BIRTH OF THE AUTHOR #64

I watch from my a window, a buzzard soaring,
His wings, a floating piano keyboard,
The fingers of the wind playing celestial music.
Oh buzzard, you are magnificent.

But down below your mystery and wonder,
People cruising in the cells of their egos;
People sniffing the crack cocaine of their beliefs.

I see you, buzzard, drifting through the present,
Not like people, fleeing from the present
Into the lies of their self-deceptions, the lies
Of their cherished, revered, beloved beliefs.

Oh buzzard, who naturally understands
The transcendental ego of Husserl,
The being of Martin Heidegger,
The difference of Jacques Derrida,
Without reading these philosophers.

Oh buzzard, oh buzzard.
I wish I had been born a buzzard,
And not born one of these
Ego-imprisoned, self-deceiving human beings.

AL FRESCO CAFÉ POEM #228
RENATA’S POEM: THE BIRTH OF THE AUTHOR #65

Fingers, close together, raised
Upwards, some of the blue above disappeared, fingers
bent
Downward and then upward, the movement repeated,
Some of the sky returned, vanished, returned.

It was a good-bye.

The departing eyes were epaulets, gave orders
For close-order drills.

Her wristwatch with the opal body and black-gloved
arms
Ordered the minutes to depart.

It was impossible to be more rapturous
And more detached from people than she was
At this privileged moment.


Duane Locke — duanelocke@netzero.net — Doctor of Philosophy, English Renaissance literature, Professor Emeritus of the Humanities was Poet in Residence at the University of Tampa for over 20 years. He has had over 5,000 poems published in print magazines, including American Poetry Review, Nation, and Bitter Oleander. In September 1999, he became a cyberpoet and added more than 3,000 poems published in e-zines. He Is the author of 14 print books of poetry and in 2002, added three e-books,The Squids Dark Ink, From a Tiny Room, and The Death of Daphne.. He is also a painter, having many exhibitions, his latest at the city art museum in Gainesville, Florida. A recent book, Extraordinary Interpretations by Gary Monroe, published by University of Florida Press, has a discussion of Locke’s paintings. Also, a photographer, he has over 237 photos in e-zines. He does close-ups of trash tossed away in alleys and on sidewalks. Now, he is doing a series called mystic vegetation.


Editor’s Choice

Tanka by Beth L. Block

Tanka 1

Friends
were plentiful
until I spoke.
Now it is clear
that I am alone.

Tanka 2

Spring flowers.
He brings a bouquet
to me,
but
my eyes
turn them old


Beth L. Block – HaikuPoet3@aol.com — is a retired attorney and high school teacher of American history and constitutional law. A self-taught musician and singer/songwriter, her work has been published in cautionarytale.com and is forthcoming in the pink chameleon. "Tanka 1" was originally accepted for publication by Pemmican Press.


LAND REFORM MEETING, ESTREMEDURA
(photograph by Seymour David)

A poem by Leonore Wilson

Her face looking upward as the child nurses      her
face half in light
her face focusing on authority as if authority
could be        a miraculous revelation
as if the figure who is speaking
could save her    save her family  her flock
gathered round her
as if those who work the land    those whose  flesh
are part land  dry  as a hard sack of bread
are never
entitled to a basket of provisions   of cold peaches
dipped in sugar
a fortune of grapes and cabbage-heads    eggs that
reflect in the eye
like a scrapbook of    ribbons
simple provisions
like the light on shack boards   or the ready-made
moon
but no    not now
in this year there is the declaration of powers
Franco’s Spain depletes into shadow     burning itself
down
as carpets are rolled up after the dead
and yet in the face of the mother    dawn is always
reconstructed
she the pulse of escape    of what cannot be broken
she who wakes    with her lantern
faint as a web in dew
she who finds the scraps in the cupboard    finds the
preserved roots
in the attic   wrings them  like the necks of chickens
pierces the black soil
she who heats the kettle
she with her survival   her washbasin of    measured
order
though  there are those who whisper
sit at her table drinking coffee        and finger her
with scorn.


Leonore Wilson – poet707@aol.com — has had work featured in suchplaces as 13th Moon, Third Coast, Quarterly West, Sing Heavenly Muse, Madison Review, Poets Against the War, Pedestal, and Kimera. She lives and teaches in Northern California.

September selections

AMERICAN DREAM

A poem by Tim Connelly

A small house.
A quiet street.
Colors balance.
Chi flows.
A childhood dream
come true.
Harmony abounds.
All seems wonderful.
Life in full bloom.
Day,
after day,
after day.

Tim Connelly – tconnely@earthlink.net — has been a
soldier, a reporter, and without a home. He now has a
home and has discovered poetry as a way of expressing
his feelings about war, poverty and the human
condition

WESLYAN STREET PROJECTS

A poem by Syeita M. Rhey

This plot of ground,

facing the weslyen street candy store

holds inside its now derelict walls,

the memoirs of a little girl.


Right here.

This is where me and lil Bre braved

the tall itchy green blades

that paved the way

to the weslyen street projects.

An iron silver fenced gate with a slit

just big enough for us to squeeze

through into a world, that Nana tried

so hard to shelter us from.

This spot here, now invaded by cracks

soaring with wild plantation life

was once perfect for double dutching.

Hey concentration" and "2,4,6,8" competitions

were ritualistically held

to find out who was the best

jumper of all.

Up there is where the bad "bebe kids"

tossed the soiled sneakers of other children

across the power lines.

They would have to walk around with blackened feet

until something else was thrown up

to knock them back down.

We ran up these old

rickety stairs for the thousandth time before

the fifth step finally let out its last cry.

And although Bre and I were just visitors

in this world of intrigue, the now boarded up

weslyen street projects

became our escape away from home.


Syeita Monique Rhey. — syeita.rhey@trincoo.edu — lives in Hartford, Conn., and received a B.A. in Studio Arts from Trinity College in Hartford in May.

THE BIG BOUNCE

A poem by David Vincenti

The dark energy pushing planets apart
in theory will change shape and become
the glue that will seal the universe’s fate
this time, trapping worlds like erasers to shake
the chalky dust of lives before embarking on
another in an infinite stream of agains.
Any cosmologist who’s ever had a serious love
will take this theory over that antiquated Big Bang
where the universe explodes from its thimble
and peters into lifelessness at the edges
of a space no person will visit. It only makes sense
that the cosmos has at least the resiliency
of a teenager who knows the only thing left
after the collapse of a life made infinite by love
is to love to infinity once more.


David Vincenti — david@davidvincenti.com — has had poems published in the Paterson Literary Review, the Edison Literary Review, and Journal of New Jersey Poets, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An alumnus of, adviser to, and artist-in-residence at Stevens Institute of Technology, he posts semiregular updates to his Writer’s Blog at www.davidvincenti.com.

RUSH RUSH AND LET LIFE BY

A poem by Ain Drew

Today I drove
80 down 75
Occasionally stealing peeks
In my rearview
And in between cursing cars
Driving too close
I saw a chalky sky boasting a rainbow
And unlike my tailgaters
I couldn’t outrun it
Couldn’t elude its mocking color
Even during the hustle
Unyielding, persistent traffic
Backseat drivers and
Passengers grabbing oh-shit bars
Those curvy hues
Trailed me
Begging me to slow down


Ain Drew — ain_drew@hotmail.com — lives and works in Detroit, Mich. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has written a play titled "ISMS" produced and performed by a GVSU theatre troupe in 2003 and 2004.

SPRING FLOWERS

A poem by Dorothy McLaughlin

Crocuses and forsythia
Come early, leave early,
Aren’t around for the peonies.
Daffodils overlap tulips
Whose season is staggered and longer.
Lilacs bloom barely two weeks,
While azaleas and rhododendrons
Linger through May
But are ready to pack it in
If the weather gets too hot.
One after another, like fireworks,
Cherry blossoms, magnolias, and wisteria
Explode into our color-starved
Scenery and fade away too quickly.
Summer is more patient,
Wisely pacing itself in the heat.
Annuals endure mid-May to frost,
Some longer, while chrysanthemums
Add their hues in August,
Maybe earlier, and stay
Three months or more.
Fall’s oak leaves stick with us,
Keeping brown through winter.
But spring is quick, demands
We humans pay attention
As each flower species takes its turn.
The landscape couldn’t hold
Their abundance and splendid variety
If they bloomed all at once.


Dorothy McLaughlin – Dotmcl5862@aol.com — lives in Somerset, New Jersey. Her poems have appeared in Voices International, Parnassus Literary Journal, Paterson Literary Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Journal of New Jersey Poets, and others. She is a member of the Haiku Society of America and the Tanka Society of
America and is facilitator of a haiku workshop at Rutgers Academy of Lifelong Learning.

ONE MINUTE YOU NOTICE SNEAKERS WRAPPED
ALONG THE ELECTRICAL LINES IN FRONT OF SCHOOL

A poem by Nina Israel Zucker

And then boom, just like that the ocean is green and
churling
in neat licks against the iron bridge and buoy.

And the husband calls to his wife from another room
for the last time

and the sea-town is swept with a warm wind
and couples exercise on the boardwalk

and the yahrzeit is lit for the grandmother
and the worried mother sleeps in her coat

and the stars are free of polluted light
and take shape above our heads

and we breathe by noticing each delicate twinkle
and hear waves crashing against the sacrificed beach

but what if those letters keep skipping in your head
and you start a whole paragraph with words?

What if the bed is left unmade and the front porch
unswept
and debris from the missed season gathers in the
corners of the house

and even the rose bushes look at you in shock and
disappointment
while you explain you had to leave for a while so you
could come back again

and the woman at the party tells you she struggles
daily to plan her meals,
aesthetics she says are so important to pleasure, the
arrangement of color

and balance of nutrients-here is what you look like as
you listen:
legs are crossed as you lean back against a lounge
with a pillow

on your lower back. From a distance you might say
seduction,
someone calls across the room, you look so flirty,

actually you want to take your hands and shake her
silly as she dares you
to say poor thing, as she tells you how she cares for
her man.

Later I tell you this story and I am laughing like a
maniac
but I see you look a bit envious, you thought that was
the way it would be

and then you notice all those new shoes dangling
insanely in front of school
and we have nothing to say in front of all the lost
excess; what cargo for the loss now?


Nina Israel Zucker – NIZ520@aol.com — is a poet who lives in South Jersey. She teaches poetry at the college level and Spanish for grades K-5 in Cherry Hill, N.J. She is a part of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Spring/Fountain series for educators. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Poets Against the War Book Anthology, Visions, U.S. 1 Worksheets, among others. She received her MFA from Columbia University.

HOW I SEE YOU

A poem by Christine Sutton Ryan

Fleeing fear
seasoned to perfection
bicentennial colors
parading past not quite
comprehensible realities

I see you as I wonder
for what am I here to learn

Birthing children
unknowingly shaping
vulnerable play
dough souls

I see you beyond dimly lit classrooms
course work I did not choose

Futile questions
seeming to resonate
around the world
forever
without answers

I see you despite a shattered self
long since left behind

Breathing in
soft subtleties
sensual voice
boyish laughter

Not knowing you before
feeling I have know you forever

I see you with the eyes of my heart


Christine Sutton Ryan – Cryan831@aol.com — lives in Easton, Pa., where she works as a mental health clinician. She also coordinates a theatrical arts program where original plays are produced and performed by children in the Lehigh Valley. She writes short stories, plays and poetry and has been published by the Edison Literary Review.

INVOLUNTARY REACTIONS

A poem by Mindy Foote

I.)
I thought I saw you.
Your posture was on the street,
and my heightened heart punched the clock again
even though my brain knew
it wasn’t you.

II.)
One summer night I unintentionally
created the saddest imagery of a girl,
half asleep against the wall, removing her
eyeglasses and handing them over
to be placed, as always, on the bedside table.

I held them out, a floating shape
in the darkness, until the realization
that you were no longer there to take them
seeped into me like rainwater.
The forgotten nonchalance of our routine
became so heavy in the pitch blackness
that I had to sleep with the light on.


Mindy Foote – Parismo@yahoo.com — lives in Peoria, Ill., and is pursuing a degree in English.

ON AWAKENING IN A TEMPORARY LIFE

A poem by Francisco Barbosa

It hadn’t happened
for a lifetime, the night,
divided as it was
by the scent of ripe persimmons
and the hint of other voices.
But we tread in the haze
of ashes, searching,
our faces hidden from each
other, tracing
our paces slowly.

       When morning
came, a furrow in the darkness bringing
the faint smoke of cigarettes, we slept.

It was not like other days.

The night divided came again,
       hidden like the soles
of our feet, following
us into the sea. Then we saw
each other: our brilliant eyes,
       the limbs about our bodies,
       the signs of borrowed hands. We tasted
the salt on our tongues,
forgetting absence among the stones. But
we could not stay; the half-moon
fell and we could no longer see.


Francisco Barbosa — fbarbosa@willamette.edu — lives
in Portland, Or. A doctoral candidate in Latin
American history at Indiana University and the
Lausanne Graduate Fellow at Willamette University, he
has published poetry in Statement (CSU Los Angeles)
and Chiricú (IU Bloomington).

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