Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Day More Like the Next Than Like the One Before by Mark Bowen

The sun raises itself, tired and unsteady,
into a sky tilting with the insolence
of an uninspired painting. It's a mild day,
the temperature of a gentle acid-trip
as experienced by shy, quietly
self-aggrandizing people. I have always
admired the way they look at me
when they can't think of anything
more to say, the way I admire a sword
for the damage that it can do.

posted with the author's permission

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Elements by Katie Hartsock

The air you breathe freezes
on your beard, rough strands
icicled and gleaming like the trees.
I bring my mouth to your chin
and with my tongue
I eat your breath.
We are walking in an ice land;
Does Iceland’s name mean Iceland in Icelandic?
Who names countries
by what they can’t be sure defines them?
The only hints the island lets slip
as to how hot the earth gets towards her middle
are the geysers, the springs, the steam billowing
like a rumor over the blue snow.
I take your gloved hand in my gloved hand
so that you might open
your warm wet mouth again, say
something you have not been taught.

published with author's permission

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poem Half in the Manner of Li Po by Charles Wright

All things aspire to weightlessness,
some place beyond the lip of language,
Some silence, some zone of grace,

Sky white as raw silk,
opening mirror cold-sprung in the west,
Sunset like dead grass.

If God hurt the way we hurt,
he, too, would be heart-sore,
Disconsolate, unappeasable.


Li Ho, the story goes, would leave home
Each day at dawn, riding a colt, a servant boy
walking behind him,
An antique tapestry bag
Strapped to his back.
When inspiration struck, Ho would write
The lines down and drop them in the bag.
At night he'd go home and work the lines up into a poem,
No matter how disconnected and loose-leafed they were.
His mother once said,
"He won't stop until he has vomited out his heart."

And so he did.
Like John Keats,
He died believing his name would never be written among the
Characters.

Without hope, he thought himself--that worst curse--unlucky.
At twenty-seven, at death's line, he saw a man come
In purple, driving a red dragon,
A tablet in one hand, who said,
"I'm here to summon Li Ho."

Ho got from his bed and wept.
Far from the sick room's dragon-dark, snow stormed the passes,
Monkeys surfed the bo trees
and foolish men ate white jade.


How mournful the southern hills are,
how white their despair
Under December's T'ang blue blank page.

What's the use of words--there are no words
For December's chill redaction,
for the way it makes us feel.

We hang like clouds between heaven and earth,
between something and nothing,
Sometimes with shadows, sometimes without.


Posted with permission of the author
Please note: this poem lacks the author's intended indentations

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Aglow by Matthew Zapruder

AGLOW


Hello everyone, hello you. Here we are under this sky.
Where were you Tuesday? I was at the El Rancho Motel in Gallup.
Someone in one of the nameless rooms was dying, slowly
the ambulance came, just another step towards the end. An older
couple asked me to capture them with a camera, gladly I rose
about three inches and did and then back to my chair. I thought of
Paul Celan, one of those poets everything happened to strangely
as it happens to everyone. In German he wrote he rose
one pain inch above the floor, I don’t understand
but I understand. Did writing in German make him a little
part of whoever set in motion the chain of people talking
who pushed his parents under the blue grasses of the Ukraine?
No. My name is Ukrainian and Ukranians killed everyone but six
people with my name. Do you understand me now? It
hurts to be part of the chain and feel rusty and also a tiny squeak
now part of what makes everything go. People talk a lot, the
more they do the less I remember in one of my rooms someone
is always dying. It doesn’t spoil my time is what spoils my time. No
one can know what they’ve missed, least of all my father who
was building a beautiful boat from a catalog and might still be. Sometimes
I feel him pushing a little bit on my lower back with a palm
made of ghost orchids and literal wind. Today I’m holding onto
holding onto what Neko Case called that teenage feeling. She means
one thing, I mean another, I mean to say that just like when I was thirteen
it has been a hidden pleasure but mostly an awful pain talking to you
with a voice that pretends to be shy and actually is, always in search of
the question that might make you ask me one in return.

Posted with permission of the author

What Hands Remember by Johanna Ekstrom

What hands remember

arms at sides
seeming to be waiting

the big words
sleep beneath
the palm of the hand

a sweet sucked
to a sliver
words like glass
a splinter under the fingernail

Who died of love?

In the lining all the children sleep
mouths and eyes wiped clean
They have no mouths where mouths should be
no sight where sight should be
Whoever would trust to the injury itself?

From these hands fires can dart
characteristics be burned away

Hands fall like tulip petals
sweep away a facial feature

As hands do in sleep
they remember their loneliness

She places the petals over the children
covers them with the palm of her hand

No-one died of love
There is a contrary wind I have never known



Johanna Ekström, borne 1970, is a writer and artist. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden.