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
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
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
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
She would whisper “No one should speak of ‘ought’
A tear would fall on the closed eyelids of her wedding
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
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
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
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 — firstname.lastname@example.org — 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.
Tanka by Beth L. Block
until I spoke.
Now it is clear
that I am alone.
He brings a bouquet
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 – email@example.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.
A poem by Tim Connelly
A small house.
A quiet street.
A childhood dream
All seems wonderful.
Life in full bloom.
Tim Connelly – firstname.lastname@example.org — 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
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.
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. — email@example.com — 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 — firstname.lastname@example.org — 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
Begging me to slow down
Ain Drew — email@example.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.
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
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
and debris from the missed season gathers in the
corners of the house
and even the rose bushes look at you in shock and
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
legs are crossed as you lean back against a lounge
with a pillow
on your lower back. From a distance you might say
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
Later I tell you this story and I am laughing like a
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
seasoned to perfection
parading past not quite
I see you as I wonder
for what am I here to learn
I see you beyond dimly lit classrooms
course work I did not choose
seeming to resonate
around the world
I see you despite a shattered self
long since left behind
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.
A poem by Mindy Foote
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.
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 — firstname.lastname@example.org — 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).