Deborah Digges Rock Scissors Paper

It ended when he popped one of the three of the order coleoptera in his mouth. Two hands weren't enough even for Darwin He stares at a yellow flower for minutes at a time. His family The beede stung his tongue, and like angel, who spit out the name of the fallen world's new genus as he waded in an orchard through paradisaical weeds, Darwin spat by a tree and laughed, son of the theological classes. Now think of the mind, said Freud, as the Eternal City (as if angel could mean messenger or coin,...

The Apocrypha of Jacques Derrida

The ruptured underbelly of a black horse flew overhead. Bonaparte, is what the matron said to me, Always condescending vulgar, slowly separating The three syllables. And it was the last thing she said. The engine block struck the tree. Our faces Making brook ice of the windshield. The vaulting black horse Now on its side in the dust. I was left With the road, with the memory of cities burning. Matron seemed to sleep. My nose bleeding. I went over to inspect the huge sunflowers That were beyond...

Love Song During Riot with Many Voices

The bridge's iron mesh chases pockets of shadow and pale through blinds shuttering the corner window to mark this man, this woman, the young eclipse their naked bodies make black, white, white, black, the dying fall of light rendering bare walls incarnadine, color of flesh and blood occluded in voices rippling from the radio Saigon besieged, Hanoi, snipers and the riot news helicoptered from blocks away. Ail long muscle, soft hollow, crook of elbow bent sequinned above the crowd, nightclub...

Pumpernickel

Monday mornings Grandma rose an hour early to make rye, onion & challah, but it was pumpernickel she broke her hands for, pumpernickel that demanded cornmeal, ripe caraway, mashed potatoes & several Old Testament stories about patience & fortitude & for which she cursed in five languages if it didn't pop out fat as an apple-cheeked peasant bride. But bread, after all, is only bread & who has time to fuss all day & end up with a dead heart if it flops Why bother I'll tell you...

William Olsen Tomorrow

A water sprinkler empties into parabolas which, before they collapse into the past, hang in air unencumbered by the ones before, each as irreplaceable as the gauzy streetiights blossoming above the electric leaves of the tall clouds of elms staring across the street. Though it's midnight and the black material of being crumbles between the tendril tips of stars that poke and rummage through the compost of the summer sky, as late as it is the old cop is sweeping our common driveway, the sound of...

Used

Size three's all the rage, and skirts ballooning above twinkling knees are every man-child's preadolescent dream. Tabula rasa. No slate's that clean we've earned the navels sunk in grief when the last child emptied us of their brief interior light. Our muscles say We have been used. Have you ever tried silk sheets I did, and a Macy's clerk to bargain for more zip. to the floor and by morning the quilts

We Never Close

Our Special Services manager is Helen Waite. If you want special service, go to Helen Waite. taped on the wall in Tony's Chophouse Some nights you need to get into the car and drive until you find it, that familiar hash-house glow that means Open All Night in Spokane or Hackensack or anywhere between. But it's the brazen nature of the promise spelled out in the window that keeps you coming back we never close. Times like this nothing softer, nothing less will do. You're a veteran of the edge of...

Breeze in Translation

Me I like to putz in the kitchen and regard fat garlic and hum about nothing. Make it up. Word for blues. Like dragging down the street in a hundred-and-four heat you know when air temp tops body temp, how buzzed and weird you get Word for trance. So this character taps me remember me, mon amie Name's Breeze. Then she dictates most fabulous. I'm blessed. She's benign. Word for pixilated. She's a scholarship girl at the School of Beaux-Arts so she drags me down the line to an out-of-town show....

Madre Sofia

My mother took me because she couldn't wait the second ten years to know. This was the lady rumored to have been responsible for the box-wrapped baby among the presents at that wedding, but we went in, anyway, through the curtains. Loose jar-top half turned and not caught properly in the threads her head sat mimicking its original intention like the smile of a child hitting himself. Central in that head grew unfamiliar poppies from a face mahogany, eyes half yellow half gray at the same time,...

Philip Schultz The Quality

There is in each body something splendid, I think, a kind of sheltering, say, the suit of hours we wear like weather, or instinct striking the spine's cold accordion, that ripening of reflex that is the mind's appetite for testimony, yes, in darkness there is strength hoarded against damage, say, the flowering of desire imprinted in the infant's smile as it awakens out of its dream of creation, I mean pain is not sentiment only, but a fierce healing, like light rebuilding, out of darkness, our...

Blue Elliptic

All the lights in the house are burning. In the other room Zinger still wheezes, then puts her raggy head between her paws and sleeps. She leaps but it is not real. Already she anticipates your return, hears the van pulling up, cracking the iced asphalt, the rattle of equipment, and Most Recent Book In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990) 126 JOY HARJO your lullabye voice smoothing her ear. All her nerves run on that sound. And in the other room the fish swim musically in their...

The Dead Monkey

A face framed in a pink lace baby's hood was youth and age collapsed to a wizened black walnut. It had no idea that we were there, New Orleans, 1981, or that we were growing envious of its owner, an unshaven but rich looking Mexican who hoisted it from the ground, not altogether modest about the attention he and it were getting from all of us, eating our beignets, watching this binary configuration, man and monkey, kiss, kiss again, patching up some make-believe quarrel between lovers. Suddenly...

Geocentric

Indecent, self-soiled, bilious reek of turnip and toadstool decay, dribbling the black oil of wilted succulents, the brown fester of rotting orchids, in plain view, that stain of stinkhorn down your front, that leaking roil of bracket fungi down your back, you purple-haired, grainy-fuzzed smolder of refuse, fathering fumes and boils and powdery mildews, enduring the constant interruption of sink-mire flatulence, contagious with ear wax, corn smut, at the end of the hall, water within water,...

The New Saddhus

Barefoot, in unaccustomed clouts or skirts of raw muslin, With new tin cup, rattle or scroll held in diffident hands Stripped of the familiar cuffs, rings, watches, the new holy-men Avoid looking at their farewelling families, an elaborate Feigned concentration stretched over their self-consciousness and terror, Like small boys nervous on the first day of baseball tryouts. Fearful exalted Coptic tradesman Swedish trucker Palestinian doctor The Irish works foreman and the Lutheran Optometrist...

Marcia Southwick Brothers

The Poor Boy in the Grave, he twists your arm behind your back. You can feel his hot breath on your neck Most Recent Book Why the River Disappears (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1990) through the kitchen, overturning chairs frozen in shock. You think of the poor boy stumbling over roots and stones in the cemetery, looking for an empty grave to leap into.

Sonnet in Primary Colors

This is for the woman with one black wing swept over her eyes lovely Frida, erect among parrots, in the stern petticoats of the peasant, wildflowers entwining the plaster corset her spine resides in, that flaming pillar this priestess in the romance of mirrors. Each night she lay down in pain and rose to the celluloid butterflies of her Beloved Dead, Lenin and Marx and Stalin arrayed at the footstead. And rose to her easel, the hundred dogs panting like children along the graveled walks of the...

After the Last Practice

Someone said, I remember the first hard crack Of shoulderpads on the sidelines before a game, And the bruises that blossom on your arms afterward. Someone else remembered the faint, medicinal smell Seeping through the locker room on Saturday mornings, Getting your ankles taped while a halfback Frets in the whirlpool about his hamstrings Steam on three mirrors, the nervous hiss Of the first hot shower of the morning. We talked about the tension mounting all day Until it became the sound of...

Cuba Night

The small of the back has its answers for all our wrong turns, even the slightest, those aches there's no name for, or source, and the mole in the mirror, a black moon of sudden importance, can turn your hours into love's rapt attention. As you shave an innocent glance into the yard pulls your gaze to the glass is anything there more than a choice, a will to live When the fly on its back, feet up in dead air between the storm-doubled panes, stiffens it seems to remind you of the big words you...

Susan Stewart The Gypsy

A late afternoon in July, too early to begin making supper, too hot to work in the garden. A Saturday, then, and after Most Recent Book The Hive (University of Georgia Press, 1987) the war, for the three of them are there mother, father, daughter. But what should be clear, should be said, from the start is that the father always doubts, can't be sure this is his daughter and so has pulled back gradually to the edges of the house, re-entering only in fury and shame. Her mother and she look in...

Fumetti

Toward the end of the hilarious novel Of the same name, poison eating away at her innards, Flaubert described her posture as that of A galvanized corpse it seemed she thought She was locked in a nightmare she couldn't escape. And so She died, as indicated by all that black liquid That poured from her mouth when Charles and Hommais, that pig, Propped her up in bed. Next example When Tony thinks Maria's dead, at the end of West Side Story, And runs gasping around Hollywood's version of uoth and...

Main Character

I went to see How the West Was Won at the Sunshine Theater. Five years old, deep in a plush seat, light turned off, bright screen lit up with MGM roaring lion in front of me a drunk Indian rose, cursed and hurled his uncapped bagged bottle of wine at the rocket roaring to the moon. His dark angry body convulsed with his obscene gestures at the screen, and then ushers escorted him up the aisle, and as he staggered past me, I heard his grieving sobs. Red wine streaked blue sky and take-off smoke,...

Driving Lesson

That smelled of rope and grease and cattle feed, sat my sister and I, ten and eight, big Horizon of high mountain peaks visible above the blue hood, steering wheel huge in our hands, pedals at our toe-tips, Give it gas, give it gas. Over the roar How infinitely empty it then seemed windy flat rangeland of silver-green gramma grass dotted with blooming cactus and jagged outcrops of red rock, beginnings of the Sangre de Cristos fifty miles off. get the damn thing going. Nothing to hit was no...

Petroglyph

Everyone had turned off their televisions to watch the meteor shower flood midnight. Who named them Delta Aquarids And what names were sealed on the lips of the grandparents who'd slipped from their disassembling bones, back onto resurrected horses, roaming the cities where there were no longer cities but cleansing wind threading the leaves In Corrales the horse named Sally knew what love was about when she lifted up her head to acknowledge the flying stars who were nodding to her, and to our...

Mark Jarman Ground Swell

Is nothing real but when I was fifteen going on sixteen, like a corny song I see myself so clearly then, and painfully knees bleeding through my usher's uniform behind the candy counter in the theater after a morning's surfing paddling frantically to top the brisk outsiders coming to wreck me, trundle me gawkily along the beach floor's gravel and sand my knees ached with salt. Is that all that I have to write about Most Recent Book The Black Riviera (Wesleyan University Press, 1990) You write...

The Moment of My Fathers Death

When he breathed his last breath it was he, my father, although he was so transformed for the last hours would know him, the gold the eyes cast all the way back into his head, the whites gleaming like a white iris, the nose that grew thinner and thinner every minute, the tongue in it like all the heartbreak of the mortal, a tongue so dried, scalloped, darkened and risen like gorge into the back of his mouth but it was he, the huge slack yellow arms, black and precise, we had come this far with...

Sherod Santos Inspiration

Say what we will, at times it seems the rarest Moments, the most splenetic trills, the most Ecstatic gestures, are conceived in sloth And degradation and executed by a great unstaggered Surge of feeling which bursts forth suddenly Like a yard given over to day lilies, surprise lilies, Naked ladies, to the spiked, thumbed, overlooked Phallus of the yucca plant, to the carmined Secret of the flowering dogwood's uninfected petals Falling around you sunbathing naked in the grass Like Susanna among...

The Needle For a Friend Who Disappeared

The small rose of blood blooming in the syringe one to compel haunted speech to the lips, sure. Some immense seconds pass. Dusk's prow slowly glides right up Avenue B the young Schumann's two personalities Still no speech, but no pain either, You happen to know that you're home. And how simple it was, and how smart

On Waking ajter Dreaming of Raoul

If Freud was right and dreams of falling are dreams of having fallen then you must have been the beautiful declivity of that hill, Raoul, the speed was so seductive and the brakes so unreliable, and so intricate and so abstract that when I touched them they squeaked like a jar lid coming loose and I was embarrassed, but not sad, at being the one flat wheel that bumped down the hill in an unsteady gulp of denial oh no oh no oh no until I woke up chilly, damp, my breath unsteady. In order to...

The House Made of Rain

Our voices poured out through a hole in the floor. Some days the woman with a bucket came swaggering up the block singing our names, the song that goes old old very old and we rose toward her, echoing the thrum of her lowest note. At night the house would tilt like small boats on the Mississippi and we fell away from one another into the laps of our own beds deep deep very deep where I dreamed I held a hand after the person who owned it was dead. Already I felt the press of currents, Our school...

The Beating

At the hands of a stranger, or that you got down on hands and knees to pound the grass and scream that I, ten years old, should be a man and not just lie there pinned, weeping, I saw an old man push a shopping cart down Royal Street last night. From his cache of crushed aluminum and chipped bottles poked a little brown head with floppy ears and a black nose. The man, so used to hunger he'd attained a slow and mournful gracefulness, paused in neon-blue bar light, then rasped a chuckle as he...

Monsoon

Stillness like a thug in the wings. The sky thinks over glass. A man stares at the telephone. There is the moment that waiting becomes luminous, the roundness of the air visible as he had always guessed. He hangs in the dome with a few green leaves. Then darkness And you know how people think of things once inside. Sometimes he thinks of dialing the number that used to bring his mother's voice. Would it ring, would it reach a woman with flour to the voice that...

Pulling a Pigs Tail

The feel of it was hairy and coarse like new rope in A.W. Johnson's hardware store but I never touched it or any part of a pig until that day my father took me where the farm was, woods a kind of green stillness, the hanging leaves from so much rain I guess it felt as if I was upside for my life. The farmer, Uncle Bern, not so wary because he wasn't unsure my sneakers into the shit. Why he ran at last what wasn't right, the uncoiled I let go. I didn't say I was thinking that summer, the teacher...

The Birds

When I try to say something about the birds living around my house, or about the jay tearing the cold insides from a mouse in New York. She was afraid of people. and lock herself in the ladies' room. I bet Anne could write a poem about the birds about the cream-colored bird I saw yesterday, the way it made me think not about birds, I'd like to know what happened to crazy Anne. The last time I saw her was in Times Square, after work. Snow was falling and for once she wasn't crying. She said, My...

Vintage

They had agreed, walking into the delicatessen on Sixth Avenue, that their friends' affairs were focused and saddened by massive projection movie screens in their childhood were immense, and someone had proposed that need was unlovable. The delicatessen had a chicken salad with chunks of cooked chicken in a creamy basil mayonnaise a shade lighter than the Coast Range in August it was gray outside, February. Eating with plastic forks, walking and talking in the sleety afternoon, they passed a...

Michael Ryan Not the End of the World

Our guardian angels slid to earth on Most Recent Book God Hunger (Viking Penguin, 1989) The soaring grey they see above them are nothing But a vision of the longing in their groins, A fertile spring heaven caught in its entirety At the pit of the gut. Who knows whether these broken heavens Could exist tonight separate from trills and toad ringings Maybe the particles of this rain descending on the pond Are nothing but the visual manifestation of whisdes And cascading love clicks in the shore...

Mouth of the Wolf

In my photograph of the Sphinx, wearing black robes extended heavily like open bat wings, two men as big as this pen point steady themselves on the bright side of His neck. Each stretches a left arm to the collarlike ridge that forms a pediment for the god's enormous head. this distance that the closer of the two has held his right arm forward with considerable eloquence toward what must have been the mysteriously Yet this picture-taker has everything in focus the faces of the men, the...

Linda Bierds Off the Aleutian Chain

There is the sound of hail washed over a porthole, but it is the resonant swashing of claws king crabs in the hold stroking over one another, their thousand bodies black and luminous. This stroking, this echo of the weather, is echoed again, just above, in a shuffle of limp cards. Most Recent Book The Stillness, The Dancing (Henry Holt & Co., 1988) Flushed and exhausted, the fishermen slump from their chairs. Their hands and the wide bracelets of skin above their wrists, have weathered to...

Dave Smith Championship Fight

The big Plymouth shuddered with all the speed it could give us, jammed by my father's planted right foot. We wallowed through days and nights, struck at the feints of curves, bobbing and weaving, shooting in and out of neighborhoods long dark as old sweats. We liked the smoky rooms, the night's smells that heaved us right and left, then back, so we seemed always to be rolling on shocks belly-soft. That wheezy hulk wouldn't quit. Most Recent Book Cuba Night (William Morrow, 1990) 348 DAVE SMITH...

Stephen Dobyns Desire

A woman in my class wrote that she is sick of men wanting her body and when she reads her poem out loud the other women all nod and even some of the men lower their eyes and look abashed as if ready to unscrew their cocks and pound down their own dumb heads with these innocent sausages of flesh, and none would think of confessing his hunger or admit how desire can ring like a constant low note in the brain or grant how the sight of a beautiful woman can make him groan on those first spring days...

Alice Fulton Cherry Bombs

At five I knew at twelve the body's logic Most Recent Book Powers Of Congress (David R. Godine, Publisher, 1990) girly pom-poms, breasts, the secondary sex signs shaved to lady-likeness, arrayed in labial pleats for the world's ease, a skirt on an escalating gender the flatness developed in steps, a corequake certain to insinuate me up despite my fast dissent. I hated the world's complicitous give scent seemed lusciously adult a suspicion lingered they were lures to an unfixable forever I...

David Rivard Summons

Suppose I can convince myself this world is my home only by claiming it could never be & then assuming we all share that feeling, a bond which anchors us each to the planet, even those hired to populate this photo, spread across pages twenty-five & twenty-six, of a beach Most Recent Book Torque (University of Pittsburg Press, 1988)

Tim Seibles Wind

Jos , the wind is just the restless walking of air in and out of itself just as anyone walks into and out of himself for no reason other than the constant itching of the soul. What is looking but leaving through the eyes And look at that East Indian lady over there with that dark nation of hair, those robes, her brown skin, smooth as a smooth wind after rain. Just reaching her with my eyes, I am light as a child's wish I am a gnat holding the hard kiss of a hurricane, I am blown halfway to Sri...

The Split i

I'd put them out. She'd take the broom stick and rape all the little girls. I'd pull them aside, stroke their cheeks, and comfort them. How they would cry. Brit would fight the German soldiers. She'd crouch by the banister waiting for them when I was too scared. And sometimes, she would push me farther into the back woods than I wanted to go. But I was glad she did. She'd take off her clothes and dance in front of the mirror and she'd say things and she'd...

Shaving

It is really the most miniscule thing, but you see sometimes when I shave, my daughter follows me into the bathroom to watch she's sixteen months and each time she insists that I take the brush, smear it around the lather in the cup, then dab a small lump onto her hand, which she studies, intently. Some mornings I must do this five or six times before I'm done scraping the remnants of yesterday from my face. The brush is from a past life, the present of an ex-girlfriend, and it's at least ten...

Am Here

I stopped my car on Gibson Avenue, alongside the T-Bird Lounge, and asked two policemen clubbing a drunk to stop. I was booked for obstruction of justice. In the back seat with the drunk, his grimy polyester coat padded with wads of want-ads, smelling of dog spittle and trash bins, his eyelids cracked open from their concrete numbness, and his trembling hand reached for an invisible Styrofoam cup of black coffee on the floor mat. He gummed thirsty lips for a small postponement, just a sip, he...

For Miklos Radnoti igogiQ44 i

When Radnoti wrote his last poem for his wife he was weeks away from death. He must have known it. The landscape shook green and terrible through the long retreat. The guards pushed Radnoti and the other prisoners harder, fed them less, whipped them more often, killed more frequently, with less thought, the fear of their own death and defeat making it easier to pull the trigger. In the midst of the six-month death march, pissing blood, hair and teeth falling out, Radnoti kept writing his way...

Of Your Fathers Indiscretions and the Train to California

One summer he stole the jade buttons Sewn like peas down Aunt Ora's dress And you, who loved that trail of noise and darkness Loved the oily couplings and the women's round hats And the way he held you on his knee like a ventriloquist Discussing the lush push of grass against the tree's roots Or a certain crookedness in the trunk. Now everything is clearer. Now when the train pulls away from the station And the landscape begins to come around, distant and yet familiar, Or the woods' vague sweep...

In the Badlands of Desire

Whose toes are worn smooth from old women kissing, if there is an animal whose name If there is an onion with the hundred smaller and smaller faces of wet light, if there is a mirror whose shoulders drift the museum of shoulders, if there is a spider like a dud star which catches the empire from table leg to corner, if there are communists, and useless lingerie, and rubies snatched at night from jewelers' windows, I will be the butcher's white toward its mother silence, mint still breaking...

The Underworld

We sat in the false, morphined shade a once lavish Fox now gone to skinflicks, horror fests and community matinees, laughing at the silliness on-screen both Afroed and dressed in chicken outfits, during the lulls and gunfight scenes, the robot-dance or tossing popcorn, bored. A few rows up from us was a stagpile of the unemployed, bachelors in their twenties, middle-aged fathers graying in cigar smoke, all of them dressed in satins and polyesters softly gleaming in the spill-light from the...

Barry Goldensohn The Marrano

Art is the remedy for the worst diseases of the mind, the corruption of consciousness. God wants the souls of the faithful, not their corpses. He has carrion enough. he saves us, always in the form of wonders, like making a new man. For this truth I moved to Hamburg or Seville, bought a bakery or clothing store, a new name, and lived openly, spoke like a native. I was a kind of native, the most internal exile. because I was committed to disguise, from Weiss to Scheiss, Hermano to Marrano. I am...

Cynthia Huntington Rhapsody

Because it can't talk, because it won't shut up, because it makes those noises about its loneliness over and over, beside the door, on the balcony because you've had enough. Beat that shoe your foot's orphan, like a leather club Most Recent Book The Fish Wife (University of Hawaii, 1985) against its side, around its head, with short sharp blows. Because it's dumb, because you told it once or a thousand times beat it because it ought to know Beat the crap out of it. Beat it senseless. Beat it...

Susan Mitchell Havana Birth

Off Havana the ocean is green this morning of my birth. The conchers clean their knives on leather straps and watch the sky while three couples who have been dancing on the deck of a ship in the harbor, the old harbor of the fifties, kiss each other's cheeks and call it a night. On a green velour sofa five dresses wait to be fitted. The seamstress kneeling at Mother's feet has no idea I am about to be born. Mother as the lace mats on the dressmaker's table. She thinks I'm playing in my room....

David Mura The Colors of Desire

I Photograph of a Lynching (circa i93_ ) These men In their dented felt hats, in the way their fingers tug their suspenders or vests, with faces a bit puffy or too lean, eyes narrow and close together, they seem too like our image of the South, the Thirties. Of course they are white who then could create this cardboard figure, face flat and grey, eyes oversized, bulging like an ancient totem this gang has dug up At the far right, in a small browed cap, a boy of twelve smiles, as if responding...

Dean Young Storms

So far only of itself just as those stray no larger sequence of battle. Years ago in another house, I'd wake like this and stalk the other rooms, naked and monstrously alive as if a thousand ears back in bed, a woman would be sobbing hard, hiccupping, so I'd get a glass of water that would harp the walls, get the pills from her purse, stroke her until they worked. wetting herself with her hand and rapidly we'd fuck, panting like harnessed dogs who didn't know miles ago their master had frozen...

Another Word for Blue

On better days, I bathe with Wallace Stevens dreaming his good dreams before I fall asleep, waves lapping, none of the poorly choreographed crashing they do around here, but waves that can read music. And one afternoon, when I felt a new dream studying me closely, I kept my eyes shut and lay flat, but the dream flew off, leaving me alone again, asleep with reruns. People who don't understand what it means to be an artist should be punished, and I know how make them be one. Make them write about...

Mark Doty Adonis Theater

It must have seemed the apex of dreams, the movie palace on Eighth Avenue with its tiered chrome ticket-booth, Tibetan, the phantom blonde head in its moon window. They'd outdone each other all over the neighborhood, raising these blunt pastiches of anywhere we couldn't go a pagoda, a future, a Nepal. The avenue fed into the entry with its glass cases of radiant stars, their eyes dreamy and blown just beyond human proportions to prepare us for how enormous they would become inside, after the...

Privilege of Being

Up above, the angels in the unshaken ether and crystal of human longing are braiding one another's hair, which is strawberry blond and the texture of cold rivers. They glance down from time to time at the awkward ecstasy it must look to them like featherless birds splashing in the spring puddle of a bed and then one woman, she is about to come, peels back the man's shut eyelids and says, look at me, and he does. Or is it the man tugging the curtain rope in that dark...

Louise GLuck Brown Circle

My mother wants to know why, if I hate family so much, I went ahead and Most Recent Book Ararat (The Ecco Press, 1990) had one. I don't answer my mother. What I hated was being a child, having no choice about what people I loved. I must learn to forgive my mother, now that I'm helpless to spare my son.

Rodney Jones Mule

Here is this horse from a bad family, hating his burden and snaffle, not patient So much as resigned to his towpath around the sorghum mill, but pawing the grist, Laying back his missile ears to balk, so the single spoke of his wheel freezes, the gears lock. Not sad, but stubborn, his temperament is tolerance, though his voice, Most Recent Book Transparent Gestures (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1989) Old door aching on a rusty hinge, blasts the martins from their gourds, and he would let Nothing go...

Four Chinatown Figures

In a back alley, on the cracked pavement slick with the strewn waste of cooking oil and rotting cabbages, two lovers stroll arm in arm, the woman in furs and a white lam dress with matching pumps, her escort in a tux casually worn the black tie undone, the double-breasted, brushed-velvet coat unbuttoned. They're a Wilshire lawyer and city planner out on the town. When they pass the familiar curio of the wishing well with its Eight Immortals spouting aqueous wisdoms through their copper mouths...

Ira Sadoff Nazis

Except for one or two in Clinton Maine These make-shift students of history whose catalogue of facts include every Jew who gave a dollar to elect the current governor every Jew who'd sell this country out to the insatiable Israeli state when they say they want to smash my face they want to know who makes them beg Most Recent Book Emotional Traffic (David R. Godine, Publisher, 1990) 328 IRA SADOFF when my father wasn't sick with hangover and the air in the house wasn't foul with anger and the...

Peter Cooley The Soul

Should be drumming out their thanksgiving Most Recent Book The Van Gogh Notebook (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1987) I'm still alive. But they're too scraped, shaking. I stand up. Now my feet, too, prove it I'm here, the alley of the downtown Y. On the rooftops of the tenements around me it is the same night coming down I've always known though this time the arm which reaches for my gym bag could be a phantom limb, not mine, while the full figure of myself against a wall dances skeletal,...

After the Chinese

By daybreak a north wind has shaken the snow from the fir boughs. No disguise lasts long. Did you think there were no winds under the earth My Tartar horse prefers a north wind. Did you think a little time and death would stop me Didn't you choose me for the stubborn set of my head, for green eyes that dared the cheat and the haggler from our door I've worn a little path, an egg-shaped circle around your grave keeping warm while I talk to you. I'm the only one in the graveyard. You chose well....

Matins James Brown and His Fabulous Flames Tour the South 1958

Please, Please, Please, on the charts permits And a hulking Coupe de Ville bought on credit For the Alabama-Georgia roadhouse circuit. Half last night they drove from Athens, taking turns At the wheel. The radio hissed National Guards in Little Rock, static filling Jackie Wilson's Lonely Teardrops. Parked near Macon in a soybean field, Most Recent Book Mystery Train (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990) They sleep with heads in towels to protect Their kingly pompadours, and as the predawn Mist...

John Engman Mushroom Clouds

During the final minutes of the raid Miss Nurvak made us kneel with our heads buried between our knees the blast that ruined our lives was her yardstick breaking in half and confetti she shredded over us was fallout. One boy threw up Cheerios beneath his desk and then ran from class with wet pants. The rest of us survived the drill for milk and cookies during Miss Nurvak's nightmare sermon on the Red Menace. Miss Nurvak, who said we had nothing to fear but fear itself, was scared half-to-death....

The Rains Marriage

At the wedding, the downpour dies out to a single stream, a column of water. feet appear, then legs, a torso, arms. . . . The woman, waves of transparent hair falling over her shoulders, is called the Water Bride and doesn't fully lose I was certain of the boundaries between my body touch itself were a way of defining exacdy where I stopped Then I lost the sense that I was hemmed in by skin. My body felt like something loaned to me it might break, or dissolve to ashes, a pure thought without a...

TV Room at the Childrens Hospice

Red-and-green leather-helmeted maniacally grinning motorcyclists crash at all angles on Lev Smith's pajama top and when his chocolate ice cream dumps like a mud slide down its front he smiles, not maniacally, still nauseous from chemotherapy and bald already. Lev is six but sat still four hours all afternoon with IVs in his arms, his grandma tells everyone. Marcie is nine and was born with no face. One profile has been built in increments with surgical plastic and skin grafts and the other...

Jorie Graham Salmon

I watched them once, at dusk, on television, run, in our motel room halfway through Nebraska, quick, glittering, past beauty, past the importance of beauty, archaic, not even hungry, not even endangered, driving deeper and deeper into less. They leapt up falls, ladders, and rock, tearing and leaping, a gold river They would not stop, resolution of will when the image forms itself, upside-down, backward, Most Recent Book The End of Beauty (The Ecco Press, 1987) from the deep ocean of the given....

Heather McHugh Earthmoving Malediction

Bulldoze the bed where we made loye, bulldoze the goddamn room. Let rubble be our evidence and wreck our home. I can't give touching up by inches, can't give beating up by heart. So set the comforter on fire, and turn the dirt to some advantage palaces of pigweed, treasuries of turd. The fist will vindicate the hand, and tooth and nail refuse to burn, and I must not look back, as Mrs. Lot was named for such a little something in a cemetery, or a man. Bulldoze the coupled ploys away, the cute...

When a Beautiful Woman Gets on the Jutiapa

The men yearn so the breath snags, Ai in their chests. The women flick their eyes over her, discreet, and turn back to each other. a beautiful woman steps on the bus, she scowls with the arrogance of the gorgeous. That face, engrave it on commemorative stamps. A philatelist's dream. That profile should be stamped on centennial coins. Somebody quick take a picture of her, la se ora in the azure frock. Sculpt her image to honor Our Lady. Just how did she land...

Certain Tall Buildings ja

Most Recent Book Entry in an Unknown Hand Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989 426 FRANZ WRIGHT in your memory where you might cunningly vanish glibly prescribed by psychiatrists weary These thoughts, occurring once too often, are no longer your own. No, they think you. The thing is not to entertain them in the first place, dear life, friend.

Green Chile

I prefer red chile over my eggs and potatoes for breakfast. Red chile ristras decorate my door, dry on my roof, and hang from eaves. They lend open-air vegetable stands historical grandeur, and gently swing with an air of festive welcome. I can hear them talking in the wind, haggard, yellowing, crisp, rasping tongues of old men, licking the breeze. But grandmother loves green chile. When I visit her, she holds the green chile pepper in her wrinkled hands. Ah, voluptuous, masculine, an air of...

Threshold

But, laying my hand across his frontal lobe, someone I wouldn't know on the street even if I held a match to his cigarette, even if the match didn't seem to light until a long time after striking. Under my palm is what the texts call the region of higher intellect, which means I could be handling his life's work on chemical thresholds, the microscopy of water about to boil. Next week, I'll cut down to the hypothalamic nuclei, no bigger than a thumb, where some neurologists say there's a spot...

Frankie Paino Horse Latitudes

In horse latitudes sailors once lashed the flanks of stallions, mares, until those wild-eyed, gentle beasts plunged overboard, cleaved the still surface, water churning grey froth on their muzzles while trumpets of brash neighs turned to whinnies, turned to what they'd say was nothing more than a sudden breeze which filled sails, pushed the ship, water lifting in an eerie Most Recent Book The Rapture of Matter Cleveland State University Press, 1991 284 FRANKIE PAINO swell like the cold silk of...

The Unicorn Tapestries

The things we leave behind must, for those who find them flattened, scentless inside books or in a gesture they make that isn't theirs, be very much like the desk I found in the alley one night, coming out of one way down another, when I couldn't sleep or write letters, and walked. The desk had lost a leg, and couldn't get away. Some initials cut through oak had outlasted love. Turning over the drawer to interpret the contents, I thought of the farmer centuries ago and the stack of curtains he...

Stephen Berg The Coat

Here's one of those warm simple letters in that big six-year-old scrawl of yours, filling the whole page with your statement, clear, sweet, kind, associating values with detail with Nietzsche with the glory of poetry with some local flower or creature you bumped into yesterday and fell in love with, with the rich tweed coat I gave you last time you were here. Jews understand coats, life-giving coats, protection against death, you say in the letter, and It's easy being crazy when the house is...

Jake Addresses the World from the Garden

Rocks without ch'i spirit are dead rocks. Mai-mai Sze, The Way of Chinese Painting It's spring and Jake toddles to the garden as the sun wobbles up clean and iridescent. He points to the stones asleep and says, M'mba, I guess for the sound they make, takes another step and says, M'mba, for the small red berries crying in the holly. M'mba for the first sweet sadness of the purplish-black berries in the drooping monkey grass, and M'mba, for the little witches' faces bursting into blossom. That's...

The Weepers

How could they do it, as though a smoky wind had blasted their inflamed eyes or they sat in a shut cupboard dicing a basket of leeks, when they were not hurt and had hurt no one Their tragedies were average. It was not the age of tears, yet often I saw them start, kneeling at plain altars or leaning over bars, their first glove-muffled sobs like the first tremors of an earthquake that heaves up cities or those first salty jars that prime the pump, promulgating the troughs, creeks, and rivers...

From the Bus to EL at Atascadero State Hospital

Lawns with ready pumpkins in the fields, bright as plastic and faceless, their time up, evident as flaring matches in the hole. in the Greyhound windows, the mooned They sat you here, where you stuck like a poisoned dart between the Idler Bar and the Mud Hole Mini Mart. Small wonder, vato, you envisioned your Jupiterscapes here in these martianed landings. What messages they blew to this world, the seeds of something generative. Someday, you said, they would blow us both away. There was a code to be read in the nothing of an empty page. There was a plan to the shambles of sage on the rocks or the bumbling kooks on the blocked streets, the nothing of a stranger who refuses to give, the nothing of a television mouthing nothing to a nothing house full of nothing, like on the morning they locked You were here, Ed, and there is nothing here. Moonscapes, desert wastes. As it is, in this light, the eyes read but register nothing cables and telephone trees, white fences, the immovable air...

Family Plot October

I'm digging at my father's grave, my mother holding the rusty mums she's carried here to make a little garden before the first frost. Three years today, and the grass is a damp brown rectangle over his cryptic body that's guarded by earth from my more morbid speculations. Perpetual care's contracted out here, so no one's responsible for the dried-out tap, the graveyard's shameless posture of neglect, certainly not this pair of purposeful mourners with trowels for their profusions of unopened...

Richard Jackson Homeric

On the side of the head which sends him reeling against the plate window of the Krystal Most Recent Book Worlds Apart University of Alabama Press, 1987 174 RICHARD JACKSON hamburger shop while the old couple inside, she in the print dress, he in the light orange polyester suit, just watch because they've seen this a hundred times, maybe a thousand, and there's never any reason to speak of, so that the boy just straightens up, lowers his head, and walks behind his mother. The old folks are there...

Gail Mazur Phonic

As if my answering machine were a rejection, you'd leave your forlorn message Call your father. . . . Then, a dial tone. Guilty of being out, or busy, I never thought to save the tape, to keep some resonance and pitch of you, if only in those four syllables tremulous, demanding, but tangible as the snapshot I found today, a torn dwarf, her plump gray face shadowing as she squatted on our front porch, tight braids, strange frown, white Mary Janes. I'd forgotten that silent child until I held her...

Pattiann Rogers The Hummingbird A Seduction

If I were a female hummingbird perched still And quiet on an upper myrtle branch In the spring afternoon and if you were a male Alone in the whole heavens before me, having parted Yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem And earth-down, your body hovering in mid-air Far away from jewelweed, thistle and beebalm And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me, And how you rose again and fell, with such mastery That I believed for a moment you were the sky And the red-marked bird...

Michael Van Walleghen Meat

It was early Saturday, dawn the day for buying meat . . . My father had this friend way over in Hamtramck who knew all about meat and so we'd drive uxorious drunk mornings after payday halfway across Detroit Most Recent Book Blue Tango University of Illinois Press, 1989 388 MICHAEL VAN WALLEGHEN to meet this expert at the slaughter house where they sold everything brains, testicles, tripe all that precious offal grocery stores disdained whole hog heads for headcheese fresh duck blood, fresh...

Earth to Tell of the Beasts

Because it's summer a trellis of Gulf air curves over the day, buckling, resiny. Six-thirty one morning, you killed yourself. And in one of the minutes since then I'm drawn out to the porch by a ripsaw's E-flat run through plywood, blade shrieking its crude lullaby about shelter amp endurance. Between cuts, from the shade of a hawthorn, a jay whistles the sassy hymns amp palpitations fate will never be able to outlaw. So, ears filled by all this singing, fate cowers, amp trembles, and agrees to...

Maura Stanton

At first I used to read headlines At checkout stands with a laugh woman captures shrieking ghost, or else, ship returns from limbo. I only wanted what I saw, Apples, ginger root, and beans, Or gleaming flasks of vinegar. I didn't need a mystery world Where spirits knocked, or aliens Landed in a humming saucer. I drove to shop past fields of corn, Saw the corn turned to stubble, And never thought of death in fall But only of the Christmas hams. Then one day the produce man, A neighbor I had...

Shadow Play

I would too. I would like to marry her, that face repeated a million times in this town. In the exhaust next door a man twists his wooden leg into an impossible position. He doesn't even have to say, I know, I know, and nobody resents me. He just grins. On the vendor's tin scales, daylight shifts and splinters. Blood on the black brick, a shopkeeper sweeps glass from his eyelids. A young man fidgets in a doorway, cups his hands around a blue flicker of panic, and...

Archaic Torso of My Uncle Phil

Our broadcast day is over, I've unplugged but there's still that perfect white dot in the middle of the sky, still the smeary glow Most Recent Book Smoulder David R. Godine, Publisher, 1989 of some distant transmission. What it reminds me of is that bluish, phosphorescent dye they inject into you before they stick the telescope up your astronomy. It's the historyectomy of it, the rise and fall of the Roman pulse rate, the existential yet plotted course of our little dippers, that makes it so...

Robert Hass Human Wishes

This morning the sun rose over the garden wall and a rare blue sky leaped from east to west. Man is altogether desire, say the Upanishads. Worth anything, a blue sky, says Mr. Acker, the Shelford gardener. Not altogether. In the end. Last night on television the ethnologist and the cameraman watched with hushed wonder while the chimpanzee carefully stripped a willow branch and inserted it into the anthill. He desired red ants. When they crawled slowly up the branch, he ate them, pinched between...

C D Wright Our Dust

You know next-to-nothing about me. There is no reason for you to imagine the rooms I occupied or my heavy hair. Not the faint vinegar smell of me. Or the rubbered damp of Forrest and I coupling on the landing en route to our detached day. You didn't know my weariness, error, incapacity. I was the poet Most Recent Book Further Adventures with You Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1986 of shadow work and towns with quarter-inch phone books, of failed roadside zoos. The poet of...

Mark Halliday Reality USA

I feel I should go to Norfolk Virginia and drink gin with sailors on leave from the Alabama, talking baseball and Polaris missiles and Steve Martin movies, another gin with lime juice, then Balto, Balto, hitchhike in and out of Baltimore for days back and forth for days in a row discussing the jobs of whoever gives me rides, salesmen, shippers, small-time dispatchers of the much that can be dispatched. For the ACTUALITY of it Most Recent Book Little Star William Morrow, 1987 I20 MARK HALLIDAY...

Elevator Man 1949 Rita Dove

Barbara Anderson Deuce 12 23 a.m. 3 The River Has No Hair to Hold Onto 7 Jimmy Santiago Baca I Am Here n Linda Bierds Off the Aleutian Chain 19 From the Bus to E.L. at Atascadero 26 State Hospital David Clewell We Never Close 28 This Book Belongs to Susan Someone 32 Mark Cox Archaic Torso of My Uncle Phil 37 Kate Daniels Christmas Party 42 For Miklos Radn ti 1909-1944 43 Christmas Eve My Mother Dressing 46 On the Turning Up of Unidentified 48 Black Female Corpses Deborah Digges Rock, Scissors,...

Night Ferry

We're launched into the darkness, half a load of late passengers gliding out onto the indefinite and shimmering on the island shore. Behind us, between the landing's twin flanks wooden pylons strapped with old tires , the docklights shatter in our twin, folding wakes, their colors on the roughened surface combed like the patterns of Italian book paper, lustrous and promising. The narrative of the ferry begins and ends brilliantly, and its text is this moving out into what is soon before us and...

Wan Hope

After we got suckered and lost the war there weren't jobs or any place to roost, so we just humped along close to the coast scrabbling one day at a time. Now, on this one evening, see We've tied up the boat and we're clanking down a vaulted hall looking for dinner, a bath, maybe a girl when Aeneas stops dead like he's been coldcocked and starts juicing the inside of his elbow with this noble flood of tears and snot over nothing but pictures on the wall. Then I see it too and I can't believe my...

Molly Peacock Say You Love Me

What happened earlier I'm not sure of. Of course he was drunk, but often he was. His face looked like a ham on a hook above me I was pinned to the chair because he'd hunkered over me with arms like jaws pried open by the chair arms. Do you love me he began to sob. Say you love me What had happened Had my mother had she said or done something Or had he just been drinking too long after work He'll get mean, my sister hissed, just tell him. I brought my knee Most Recent Book Take Heart Random...