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June 2010 Issue 2

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                                     June 2010 Issue

                                               Pg. 2

"Manor Farm" (art) ................................................................................................................... Peter Grzymkowski

"Teaching Young People How To Write Poems" (poetry) ............................................................. Kenneth Pobo

"Nightmare" (art) ..................................................................................................................... Dmitry Gubin 

"Cave of Nymphs" (poetry) ....................................................................................................... William Doreski

"Uprooting" (art) ...................................................................................................................... Dmitry Gubin 

"I'm Chasing A Poem That's Chasing Me, for Cheryl" (poetry) ..................................................... Corey Mesler

"Excuse Me While I Put On My Makeup" (painting) ................................................................... Barbara Lloyd  

"Caseworker's Rounds" (poetry) ............................................................................................... Donal Mahoney

"End of Wall Street" (painting) .................................................................................................. Patrick Murphy

"11" (poetry) ........................................................................................................................... Lisa Cole

"12" (poetry) ........................................................................................................................... Lisa Cole

"You" (poetry) ........................................................................................................................ Sergio A. Ortiz

"Things Done and Undone in Dreams, Leaving Only What's Been Left Unsaid" (fiction) .................. Rebecca Gaffron

 

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Manor Farm

 
 

Teaching Young People How To Write Poems

 

First I need to remember

that Du Fu and Li Bei

are in the room with us.

When I get windy, I hear them

 

laughing.  Li Bei takes his finger

and makes a circle around his ear

like I’m crazy.  The students

 

want their stanzas to shine like cars

off an assembly line, no flaws,

until you get the goomer home

and the steering wheel falls off.

 

I am my students.  I drive

without steering.  The road

can’t hold me for long.

Nightmare

 

Cave of Nymphs

 

In Blake’s painting the nymphs bear

water jars and shuttles because

water and the act of weaving

regenerate, refresh, and affirm.

When I enter the cave of the nymphs,

 

however, the looms lie shattered,

the jars smashed. One cluster

of nymphs shares a crack pipe. Another

crouches at a computer, shopping

on-line at Victoria’s Secret.

 

These domestic scenes unravel

as soon as they spot me. They rise

and bare powerful halogen lamps

instead of breasts. The light scorches

the hair from my head and drops me

 

to all fours. I scoop a handful

of earth and eat it, chewing hard

so they’ll pity me. The light dims

so I can see their faces grinding

like machinery. They’re deciding

 

whether to kill or merely

dismember me. No longer weavers,

since no one believes in the soul,

they’ve outsourced their work to China.

Bored, nearly inert to drugs

 

And alcohol, too prescient

to enjoy poker, bridge, or chess, too wise

to benefit from reading books

written after the age of Plato,

they’ve waited  twenty centuries

 

for a man to enter this cave

with eyes and pores wide open.

They button up their lamplight

and kneel around me cooing like

children encountering a kitten.          

 

Without their speaking a word

I realize they’ll spare me because

the handful of earth I’ve eaten

anchors me to a world they’d rather

not believe in; so they lift me

 

by my arms and legs and toss me

into their shallow little river

and I drift coughing downstream out

of the cave to wake in the bathtub,

wrinkled and chilly but clean.

 

 

Uprooting

 

I'm Chasing A Poem That's Chasing Me   for Cheryl
Coltrane is blowing

Blues Minor

and they’re saying a chance

of winter storm tonight.

The book I am reading

is dull. I look

for the turning of the page

to signal some

new calendaric way

of seeing.

The day is gray like the

mouse we stopped

once with a broom handle.

I still mourn him.

What leads me to this palaver,

rattling on like

a suit of chain mail? Certainly

not the sweet sounds

of Coltrane, nor

the prospect of ice on the

telephone wires.

It’s your face, the face of

the woman I

married 18 years ago.

The one who

is my completion, my

reason to accomplish even this,

a poor poem, written

with the stillness of ennui,

and the blaze of a minor blues.

 

 

Excuse Me While I Put On My Makeup

 

Caseworker's Rounds

     Cabrini-Green
     Public Housing
     Chicago
 
 
Where I am now
there are no leas, no
sheep feeding.
There are tenements,
children breeding.
Where I am now
there are no trees, no
wrens lighting.
There are halls far, dark,
an old man peeing.

 

End of Wall Street

 

11

 

when grace asks, give her rusted pennies//the lament of the
lungs//that we can never breathe enough// give enough// live
enough//when grace allows//love an Irishman with a red beard//bruise
your Achilles’ heel dancing drunk in your stockings smoking Camel
cigarettes//call the horse and chariot that holds your desire//and
runrunrun

 

12

 


touching his skin soft like a pear//memory opens like so many tattered
maps//empty perfume bottles shattered// teeth marks on all the
books//drinking bloody marys till dawn and scheming like
chemists//butter cookies in the backseat of the car after sleeping
with the horses in the grass//spill ink on your arm//remember the palm
trees and the balmy nights//the letters to too many lovers written in
long-hand//all the theatres in your mind fall down and then you see
it//what you breathe against//the epilepsy of the heart

 

You

were a rat festival when the only rat left in the hood

moved out of your apartment.  You were

the snapshot for hunger in Denmark,

the most developed country in the world.  You

were an alcoholic snob comfortably living in Iran.

You genuflected so often the Ayatollahs got suspicious

and accused you of leading the democracy movement.  They

picked up the trail of excrement left

all over your escape route.  You didn’t

read my poems because you

don’t promote” queers and people of color.  You were

a Bad Poetry critic, cheesy as rhymes

selected for the anthologies

distributed, free of cost, among your friends.  You

ignored your wife when she was in labor. 

You hid your money in a secret off shore account,

carried enough short-change to buy a Burger Buddy.

When your first son was born, I

visited different churches for a week,

lit Chanukah candles, and bathed in holy water

filled with white carnations.

 

Things Done and Undone In Dreams, Leaving Only What's Been Left Unsaid


Things Done and Undone (part 1)

I ache. Down in a place buried so deep I did not realize you’d touched it. Claimed it. Or maybe I knew. Maybe that’s why I revealed my vision of us sharing our lives. Third time’s a charm. Just you and me. Man and wife.

But it’s more than I can offer. I have previous obligations. Though one might ask where loving her exclusively has gotten me. Or how broken marriages and damaged children fit my personal sense of morality?

In pale morning light the lingering unease of troubled sleep clings at me. I am dogged by night sweats and fitful dreams. Dull gray matches my regret tone on tone but I can’t discern if I regret things done or undone. I could honestly wish I’d never met you, but it would be a lie. There is something about our connectedness that makes unbearable worth bearing.

Maybe my heart and soul really do belong to me. I thought as much when I offered them to you. You cradled them like downy chicks, your hands stretched toward mine, suspecting I would take them back. And when I did (believing they belong to her and were no longer mine to give) you smiled, though hurt and disappointment clouded your eyes. You said you would not suffer or ache in my absence. That you have faith in me, because the two of us are meant to love. And love, real love, is joyful.

In Dreams (part 2)

I work to keep my mind from wandering, but daydreams filled with unsettling images of happy times slip in. Unsettling because happy is unfamiliar and the participants have changed—you instead of her. One starts as memory. Me, still as stone, aware that if I move it will be impossible not to take you in my arms. I tell you this. Your eyes meet mine. They are clear and bright. Then do it, you say. And I do. My hand slips through the tangles of your hair. You drape your arms over my shoulders and gaze at me, waiting. I kiss you. Not tentatively, but firm.

Like we belong to each other.

Like we always have.

Like we always will.

I imagine this kiss again as future. Us standing in my kitchen, only now it’s ours. When we pull apart, you return to piles of laundry for our mix-mash of children and tease me about preparing dinner using canned corn. I whistle, enjoying the chaos of our combined families, and stir red beans bubbling on the stove. Later we slip upstairs to a bed free from the ghost of my previous wife. You hold me. My rough cheek rests against your pale breasts. And I’m no longer lost.

 

Leaving Only (part 3)

Leaving her is all it requires to get there.

Leaving only takes the fortitude to disregard my commitments and abandon everything I’ve known, loved and believed in. That, and the willingness to hurt the people I’ve cherished. So I can be with you.

 

What’s Been Left Unsaid (part 4)

I have heard only a fraction of your history—you know even less of mine. What’s been left unsaid could fill volumes.

This is why I cannot walk away from what came before. We barely know each other.

That’s the voice of reason. It echoes from the mouths of friends. But they say it hesitantly, because the smile that spreads across my face when I speak of you has been missing for too long, and they wonder if joy might be enough.

I admit being smitten for years.  This might explain why I leapt without thinking, confessed true love but failed to follow through. Left you alone in the ruble of broken promises. And even then you knew I did not want to go. I always hold you a bit too long. My big reveal.

So when we pass on the street and I say, it’s good to see you, I mean it like the smolder in my eyes. And when I recall your face as you declared your faith in me, it ignites a flicker of faith in myself. Perhaps you and I are not something completed. Perhaps someday I will find my path to you. Then I can caress your geometry, watching as your face comes alive with pleasure. And we will learn each other’s depths—not once, in desperate, hurried desire; but day after day, as part of lives shared.