November 30, 2007

Ars Poetica for Kevin

This dovecote pushes god
to produce the universe,

splits a grain of sand
for a cave of light

so a coyote grows
in the median.

This dovecote
an inch from the ground

balances a cornbread
among five sparrows

and makes the poltergeist sound
of their gray feet against the gray leaves.

It starts the creepy hotel light
strobing onto the lawn across,

feels a massive tractor’s reflection
move slowly across the glassed-in

skeleton of the building
at the edge of a field,

where it pushes a girl’s cold thumb
into my sleep, slips

so as to fall, demands a place
where it might be okay to be weary,

and nudges you, scarf and all,
into my hands.

—Michelle Mitchell-Foust

Posted by dwaber at 03:34 PM

November 29, 2007

The Girl with the Leash

doesn’t appear to worry much
about its other end. Fun-loving, power-
mad, a thoughtlessly
vindictive woman of action, the perfect
Abu Ghraib patsy. Already
an irresistible wave of
retribution gathers behind her
back, curling above her bobbed

head. Her leash, poor child,
connects to the nearly-wriggled-
out pin of a fragmentation
grenade. Rummy
will use the body as a hand
towel, shred her like paper
wiping himself
clean on her fatigues.

If she were paper I
would write upon her
atrocity photo my
implausible disavowals, my
poems of innocence.

Here under her left nipple,
and again across her smooth-shaven
mons Veneris, I would inscribe
anti-war protests, my solidarity
with the oppressed. Poet,
not a shooter of rifles, I do
what I can with the time
at my disposal. But we

are attached, possessing
and possessed,
my mistress,
my bitch.

—Paul Watsky
An earlier version of this poem appeared on the Pemmican Press website.

Posted by dwaber at 01:25 PM

November 28, 2007


Preferably, life slowly erodes like
lying on a neatly-made bed, back
aching just a little, petting the old cat
before our nap. Yesterday I read

with amusement about Bokudo, an 18th
Century sword-sharpener and writer
whose favorite subject was drowsiness.
His fame stems from one haiku concerning

new leaves of a spring morning.
It concludes, no wonder I’m sleepy.
My buddy also laughed, but pointed
out that, given his job, Bokudo couldn’t

nod off during long hours at work and expect
to keep all his fingers. Two weeks ago,
gazing aimlessly toward trees, I
sliced my thumb cleaning a pocket knife.

—Paul Watsky
An earlier version of this poem appeared in a set of three entitled "Relative
Unknowns" published in the chapbook More Questions Than Answers
(tel-let, 2001)

Posted by dwaber at 03:37 PM

November 27, 2007

what to leave








an island paradise off course



a lemon or a willow branch battered by the wind



all tangible proof certain as the fabric spun by worms



leave this behind




forgiveness for the dead


who are growing repetitious





the untenable freedom of birds

a testament of thieves





—Susanne Dyckman


Previously published in the book equilibrium’s form, Shearsman Books, 2007.


Posted by dwaber at 02:18 PM

November 26, 2007

Dispossessed of the Whole     the Word     of the Whorl

of the light                    rain of the drying                    of the foliage
phosphorescing noon eyes                    shower

the ground, saturated with falling, petals
your feet, irises                    in wet dirt

r o o t                    s t e m                    s t y l e                    s t i g m a

narcissi soiling the water with aspiration                    reflection                    
you take for thirst

what slakes of you                    the whorling unworlding, the lack of
sift through soft-spoken, even callused hands

of the hands and what they do 
not say:     lines     veins     hairs     marks

of the hands and what they only say
between the lines:                    their caress

of the dirt: of the sky: of the feet: of the waves of
sun blears                    chromatic

edges that compose the garden                    burst
of rabbit overtaken into the thickness

(its empty errant secret)

flies                    thicken

exposed turtle eye                    
wide as any moment                    of  (shuttering)

Tongue I gave you                    (saying)
I is the truth you ease                    with release

—Michael Tod Edgerton
First published in Denver Quarterly 40: 3. The final stanza varies lines
from Forrest Gander's poem "The Hugeness of That Which Is Missing," collected
in Torn Awake.

Posted by dwaber at 03:38 PM

November 25, 2007


shouldn’t be read out loud.
They should be written in solitude,
the paper folded into small squares,
plain side out, then passed in secret
like billets doux,
carried around all day
buried inside warm pockets,
pressed against thigh and groin.
Their powers of seduction
so private,
biblical injunctions
leap to mind.

They should be denounced
from the pulpit,
debated on talk shows,
those who write them
subjected to lengthy screening
at airports and borders.

They should be preserved
in a lost language,
the key to deciphering it,
another language lost
to all but a few,

both inscribed
on a hard black stone
with a name like a small flower,
to remind us how encrypted
beauty is,
forced up from rootstock,
and tongue-tied bud.

—Jeanne Wagner

Posted by dwaber at 01:02 PM

November 24, 2007

Ars Poetica

Sometimes I think of Shelley’s heart,
which was finally buried,
but there was that hour on the beach
when his friends worked, so inexpertly,
to build a funeral pyre:
struggling with the wind
and the wrong kind of kindling,
with the wet exhumation of his body
from the waves;

suffering from the stench,
and the smoke, and the way,
even after his body was consumed by fire,
the horrible sac of the heart still held out,
gorged on heat,
scorching the hand that reached out for it,
refusing to burn.

—Jeanne Wagner

Posted by dwaber at 02:03 PM

November 23, 2007

December Journal Entry

Perhaps consider poetry
a gourmet grocery shop,

endless pyramids of
shape-shifting fruit:

persimmon, star flower, pomegranate –

and across the aisle
in hand-woven oval baskets:

Vietnamese coriander,
Thai basil, Chinese leaves.

Experiment without knowing
the exact region where

the pomegranate is grown
the pronunciation of the Chinese leaf.

But don’t set out to deceive
the check-out girl;

you can’t pretend that you’re
a kumquat or a chanterelle.

And get away with it.

Instead, practice rapture –
and inquisitiveness, pose

a question to the golden
beet, the artichoke heart;

engage with a yellow fin.
The page relies

on the clean attempt
to move beyond the safe way.

Where is the ineffable?

Bring home a mango
prepare it with Kosher salt.

—Susan Rich
first published in 5 AM.

Posted by dwaber at 02:05 PM

November 22, 2007

Not Writing

                       The pen is the tongue of the mind.
                       ~ Miguel de Cervantes

I’m creative as a lamppost tonight,
the ignition switch
burned out.

Spotlight blown from a single branch
along this rutted, side-worn street.

I’m emptied of loquacious lovers,
of one old Italian monk;

a golden dog licks his leg,
makes his mark, smooth and easy.

Words, words everywhere –
and not one S placed right.

Where lurk the amorous vowels?

Swept along by elliptical ships, feasting
on amaranth pears?

Tonight, teach me
the timing of a tangent,

the cartography of a constellation.

No, no, not tonight dear.
Not there, not here.

—Susan Rich
first published in Quarterly West last year.

Posted by dwaber at 02:53 PM

November 21, 2007



letter escalator going up

flight of letters passing abruptly in V formation

letters rising from a hot cup of words


quarter moon apostrophe hanging in night sky

couple sleeping on a parenthesis

semicolon subway rider on the end seat


afternoon of a font

the sonnet also rises

mood the obscure


ellipsis joggers running out of file

capitals in a snow storm with broken letter umbrellas

dachshund sentence in a muddy yellow slicker


a comet fell on the moon!

She balanced her stroller on her head?

the little sad word that "cried"


—Nick Piombino

Posted by dwaber at 01:29 PM

November 20, 2007

Book Open, Face Down

The roof was for keeping, keeping from.
Now rain the face, rain felt in muscle
before gray, an unflinching ache for change.
Now the bridge suggests throw it over,
no hand to break it. He pulled over, not breathing,
as if it’s the heart meter pleases.
To continue through ends it quicker, yes,
the pleasant angle of end, but what of curved
bowls, the pouring, the means?
She dipped a ruler in a puddle, drowned
half herself in seeking explanations,
leaned over the bed under the swaying
bulb to murmur rhymes,
head wrapped in silk to hold
memory slight against the spine.
It’s worth the sting to feel a spider’s
legs across the hand. And destroying it later,
also pleasant. We love the river floor
full of rocks, colder than water and hard
insects with songs caught in water.
Edges of paper writhe up under rock.

—Carolyn Guinzio

Posted by dwaber at 01:09 PM

November 19, 2007


I watch my right hand
as it brushes across this paper,

my left hand holding the parchment still,
as a lover would cradle the face of his beloved.

Why do I dull myself on paper
if what I write for is wholeness?

In this moment, I am thought that desires
to remain thought in the imprint of thought.

I have never found terror in a blank sheet of paper.
I’ve only ever faced the complexion of joy.

—Nick Samaras

Posted by dwaber at 12:33 PM

November 18, 2007


Two for the sharing, the pulse in unison.
Two for the dialogue implied in it all.

Two for the lips that join to pronounce words.
One for the call and one for response.

One for agreement on what words signify.
Two for the language that answers accord.

One for the writing and one for the reading.
Two for the grasping, the holding in turn.

One for the murmur that trembles the blue air.
Two for the hands that mirror in prayer.

One for the lamplight and one for shared silence.
Your heart and my heart, the sacred text of this.

—Nick Samaras

Posted by dwaber at 03:38 PM

November 17, 2007


Pen. Hand. The blue
receipt of paper that bears.

How this world.
Writing to mark

tension of ink across white paper
tension of air moving across skin.

To punctuate the light curving
from blonde to deeper burnish—

tension against its fading, the back
of my spotted hand as it holds

across the page. How this time.
The gold fleck of human light.

There is no poem that is not about death.

—Nick Samaras

Posted by dwaber at 03:33 PM

November 16, 2007

New Hazards

25/04/2005 14:33

The Blackbird;
Within whose territory I garden,
Has a brown wife and daughter.
His son, long gone, was driven out again
When testosterone rose, regular as sap, this Spring…
A tiny fly circumnavigates my spectacles
And, attracted by my sparkling teardrops,
Drowns itself in my eye,
Leaving me it’s pain & residue.
Fucking nature! Who needs it?
End of poem

Taking a break from filing books
Out of poets into the computer
To tea and an hour’s deep thought
About the books I read
And the books V.B. reads
And how healthy it is to have an obsession
(Unless it’s picking scabs.)
Rock & Roll, Egil & Njall
Sharing a cloud with Rory
Books that glow in the dark stone
Illuminated instruction.
The courageous spirit of the imagination
Game - set and disposable lighter
One man’s obscure is also his reality.
Shit! I let my tea go cold
Back to the scree

25/04/2005 16:12

—Rod Summers

Posted by dwaber at 02:20 PM

November 15, 2007


I had to walk in a thunderstorm
With my leaden boots
And copper flask of blessed Belgian water
At my hip.
Turning out for the supermarket
Because the milk had turned
Sour, from the thunderous heat inside the refrigerator.
Besides which
I had clearly forgotten
What I promised to cook
For the evening meal and, therefore,
Was unable to prepare
An adequate shopping list.
I thought “Perhaps if I go
And stare at the laden shelves
Inspiration will deliver me a menu or
A label will jog my memory.
Of course, I might get
Struck by lightning on the way over to the shops
And then this poem will be considered
Blessed with profound insight etcetera.”

I was struck by lightening
This poem is the result.
We ate simply.

—Rod Summers

Posted by dwaber at 02:14 PM

November 14, 2007


How much of what happens passes you by?
All of it, I am not suspended in the time I am suspended in by any means.
None of it, I see every one of doubts cast glances, and the give away gesture never escapes me.

No-mans-land and the space between dormitories. The life led to the life to live. The concrete and grass verge conflict. The grass made slippery by the morning due. The leather well dodged. The chauvinism of cannoniers. The listening silence of the counter-miner, and all of that net op tijd. Boom!

The countless lines mulled over and forgotten. The best best forgotten, forgotten anyway.
How many lines? No lines at all. How many lines? No lines at all.

I used to plod around in the darkness, now I plod in the light.

—Rod Summers

Posted by dwaber at 03:02 PM

November 13, 2007


Yesterday I wrote a poem
So bad I’m mortified!
Though too ashamed to go back and open the file
I have kept it
And have made it ‘read only’,
As a potent reminder of fallibility
In these days
Without synaptic lapse
And level diagnostics detecting
Sensors are functioning optimally.

—Rod Summers

Posted by dwaber at 04:09 PM

November 12, 2007

Pee text

shade sol der ,me        the lightbulb fire
yr s hunt loose        b yr throat outside
t the sing le sha        e the shotgun mist
intent ion floating toward the b ridge lost in s
un dulation ,cag        pe nd ant gr ease
,time to coughing ,lo        ,page of s cowling a
the floor raging in        at comb bus ted

.the camper like a        r inkwell fulla urine
per drooling soldier        allowed .dip the nes t
,dropped an blanch        to yr “woods” the l
,sp read across ,the sough creep ,the buzzing
lantern d rifts in        ed ,knocking talking
azy sword sw        stepped an f layed
inside yr face y       bloat business ,sot ham

—John M. Bennett - 2007

Posted by dwaber at 03:45 PM

November 11, 2007

Art of Poetry

I sat before the shattered screen the
wire plugged in and ground my teeth the
splintered bone was words to calculate
the random breakage pattern of the glass;
the words took shape, became 3D, grayish
worms that slicked the jagged points, a
crown of buns, a heart with twisting bacon at the
center, crossed buzzsaws rising to the sky

—John M. Bennett
c. 1975
from John M. Bennett, MEAT WATCH, Columbus: Fireweed Press, 1977

Posted by dwaber at 01:06 PM

November 10, 2007


it’s funny
we speak
nod our heads
and smile
but our only form of conversation is through poems
words that weave and float and fly

deciphering is required
but often there’s no time —
there are buses to catch
movies to watch
drinks to drink
and the house needs a good spring cleaning

I hear the poems
but how will I know if I’ve understood your metaphors
and you, mine?

when I say
I walked into the room

what part will you understand?

when you say
my breath disappears from view

what will it mean to me?

—Helen Boettcher

Posted by dwaber at 12:40 PM

November 09, 2007

Parlington Street

Poetry, words, what are these things?
an expression of self?
a dirge of internal moments?
and, like the endless words of emails
is it a dreadful and meaningless leakage of self?1
a haemorrhage
slow, fast, mediocre?
doesn’t really matter what speed it is
it just leaks out.
is it better not to let it leak?
is it better to keep it tucked away?

why the constant telling?
thrown towards you
spread out at your feet
like soft petals falling off the blossom trees
by confused winds.

why the desperate need to speak
and speak again
infinite rivers of words
that silently fall into the ocean
become opaque,
lost in their watery transition
merge with all the others
stare right into your face
do you see
do you see the staring
as you stand there?

are you overwhelmed,
as I am,
by the suffocating words
that burst out
and begin the cycle all over again?

—Helen Boettcher
1 From the feel of steel by Helen Garner p94

Posted by dwaber at 04:26 PM

November 08, 2007

Ars Poetica: The Hidden Light

The attempts: I stare out the window,
then run into the other room
to the mirror. Yes,
I'm still here. Tea helps,
just the act of moving my hand
as if it were touching the ground
like the Buddha, one hand down,
one up, sipping my way into heaven.
But now what I'd really like
is a poem, yes, a long trail
of words into some corner,
then a door in the wall
and a path to new ground,
summer, winter, I don't care,
just so it's ars poetica,
somewhere to rest my mind
as I listen to the music
of the window, the sky
that rests there, trees, the words
between branches,
the birds in the trees.
Now I smell the flowers
still underground yet
always growing just as
the stars continue to float above us
even when our world is light
and their light is hidden.

—Nellie Hill

Posted by dwaber at 01:21 PM

November 07, 2007

All Day, Pen Poised

This is how you get the poem.
You sit in the boat just offshore.
You cast--a whine as the sinker plunges.
Water slaps the boat's sides gently.
Voices drift from a cottage,
plunkety plunk on a summer piano,
toward evening a loon's cry,
and the silent beaver swimming their way
to some secret place.
Which is the poem--the thick-mouthed bass
you fling into the boat or the sounds
that foretold his arrival?

—Nellie Hill

Posted by dwaber at 12:44 PM

November 06, 2007


Yellowtail snapper with citrus beurre blanc, filet
mignon in demi-glace cabernet, roast duck
garnished with mint-jellied peaches, angels
on horseback (dates stuffed with garlic cloves
wrapped in bacon and served in a hot honey-
pepper sauce), bananas foster, key lime pie,
dense, flourless chocolate cake drizzled
with a raspberry coulis, Lord, grant me the power
to well digest all that I have well eaten.

—Barbara Goldberg
From The Royal Baker’s Daughter (forthcoming U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 02:22 PM

November 05, 2007


She wears her art lightly as a thin scrim
of ice on a clear window pane. Which can be
cracked at the faintest tap. A wren’s beak, say,
or a squirrel’s claw. Add a cat’s lapping tongue.
As can happen any time, any place. Where she is
right now? At the precipice of morning, where
nothing is in place and all is nascent and undone.
Just the way she likes it, she to whom decision
means cutting off, cutting out, diminution of
the possible, the that that we can never fathom.

—Barbara Goldberg
Winner, Emily Dickinson Poetry Award judged by Andrew Hudgins (from “Fortune’s Darling” to appear in The Royal Baker’s Daughter, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

November 04, 2007


Born with a cowlick, a black tuft untamed
by cradlesong. Blessed with two deft hands
and a flair for forgery. Underlings stack
the flatware, prop the rickety staircase,
prepare the borscht. Not she of the four
crinolines, the seven silk scarves. Sloe-eyed
in the casino of chance, she croons her come-ons
to runaway Jacks and reins them in. Grooms
them with a devious tongue, a red-hot brush.
The bridle, the whip, attuned and insomniac.

—Barbara Goldberg
Winner, Emily Dickinson Poetry Award judged by Andrew Hudgins (from “Fortune’s Darling” to appear in The Royal Baker’s Daughter, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 01:57 PM

November 03, 2007


To see what the great ones saw--
far-off towns and valleys
as blue, twisting trunks
of olive trees as variations
in black, the possibilities
of ochre. And to remember

this old stone house and its
discomforts--sagging bed, steep
steps, chamber pots, the unpredictability
of water. Still, there was the fig,
the swallows. And these words
that came without labor.
That it could be like that.

—Barbara Goldberg

Posted by dwaber at 12:50 PM

November 02, 2007


The elation of naming, that dispassionate
stance, of course it could not last. As all

first steps it was bound to lead to that first
misstep, that attenuated fall through ebony

branches into the Forest of Indifference. Oh
how to define the pain of it, the eclipse

of sky, the scales that seem to sprout
over one’s eyes, the petals of love-lies-bleeding

wilting in that thicket of night? Then a headlong
plunge into the slough of the seven toads

and there defiled by false iridescence, the barter,
the intrigue, the back and forth, that rough

exchange, the petty puffery of fame,
the flat inspection of their malachite eyes.

—Barbara Goldberg
Published in The Paris Review (from The Royal Baker’s Daughter,
forthcoming U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 03:20 PM

November 01, 2007


Up here on the high wire it’s a sheer
sure-footed dance, a one-night mission
under the Big Top, without a safety net

to cushion. It’s the taunting missteps,
the sharp intake of breath, exhalations
of the squeamish egging me on, and the world

marble-smooth, veined to the core, perched
on the tip of my ongue. I juggle spangled
orbs from one palm to another, a marriage

of holding on and letting go. You’d think
by now I’d let it fall, the world cracked
open like a skull, bits of hair, feathers,

the loose associations. But once I knew
the buttons on a fly, the upturned collar,
the child licking her fingers imagining

an Africa, I knew all matter while compressed
is no longer solitary. As me how I keep it
twirling, defying gravity with every turn –

I’ll never tell. You won’t read fear
in eyes that glitter, dazzle, take you
by storm. Come one, come all, observe

communion with infinity. See the fabulous
steps, the foolhardy toes. Be amazed
by the pupil of possibility.

—Barbara Goldberg
Published in Juggler’s World (from Cautionary Tales, Dryad Press, 1990)

Posted by dwaber at 02:22 PM