December 31, 2007


Tell us the river and the mountains
make us accomplices of your hours
of your invisible birds
of your immortal silence

—Sergio San Sebastian

Posted by dwaber at 02:53 PM

December 30, 2007


share your quietness
your white sculpture

—Sergio San Sebastian

Posted by dwaber at 02:52 PM

December 29, 2007


Slope that upholds the soil
make yourself silent water
covered shadow where minutes hum

—Sergio San Sebastian

Posted by dwaber at 02:51 PM

December 28, 2007

Asking the Form

I. The Pattern

A thought came as if from nowhere, light
changing late in the day. Empty-handed, I set
the pattern on the page, deciding: I’ll write
a sonnet every day this week, and ask the form to let
me begin. Then I seemed to see it here:
a patient emptiness; a strong open shape
lit up at dusk; a vessel made of fine clear
glass, disappearing on a shelf, ready to take
whatever pours into it. This difference though:
the words it could hold would create it as well,
would give shape to what shapes them. How
can this be? and I fell
into feeling its truth for a second, amazed
at how the world is made.

II. The Resistance

And, now, I give up. Scattered before me: three
half-begun pages, scratched out at midnight,
as if forbidden. I forget what it is I need
to know; instead, such bitterness, a white
resistance. My children sleep close by, their faces
expressionless. I’ve leaned down, touched
their mouths with mine, asked if I could trace
their beauty in words—would that be enough—
but words can’t match the world. These dreaming
children will wake me tomorrow. I’ll hold
them beside the poem’s emptiness: bright, breathing,
becoming… and know nothing that can be told
will fill me up. Still I use the form I’m given,
this sieve, with water running through.

III. The Voice

I’m sorry. It’s not you; it’s me. I’m just off
today. Hesitating. Guilty. As if unable to say
what I mean. Unable to touch the rough
textures beneath the surface, to not fall away
further, futile. And I turn to this work
divided. With doubt and longing. For another
way of being, for words beyond the rush the hurt
the everyday speech, for the way of meaning your
voice can give. Let me be anchored here, inside deep
feeling. Let me find you breathing in these lines,
and know a presence waits to hear me speak
the image whole outside my mind—
Or will you always be lost inside me, my own pure
illusion: that this is a poem, and I’m not alone here.

IV. The Boys

After school today, William’s friend
came over; six-year-olds, their muscles and bones
still soft from babyhood… They played to win
each other’s admiration, together and alone
in this, armed with Wiffle bats, swinging for runs
or aiming down the yellow plastic barrels
at Redcoats. Outside, jacket-less in the day’s sudden
end-of-winter freeze, among wilted new stems, they fell
into playing their favorite game: a contest
of strength, shoulder to shoulder, eye to eye,
young bucks crashing together in a winter forest.
Then they burst back in where I was trying
to write this poem. And showed me their hands—
red with cold, shaped for impatient understanding.

V. The Room

The room is full of filtered light.
The shades, drawn firmly over each
long window, seem to whisper as slight
exhalations of cold air come reaching
in, blending with the indoor warmth and lack
of shadow. It’s March. Morning. A sudden
calm—except the little clock’s hands
never stop moving. To begin,
sometimes, seems almost impossible.
But there’s no other choice; these anxious
steps must be counted too. When will
this beginning be over? So much
time passes this way; until, at the end,
there’s nothing left to understand.

VI. The Work

Today I’m thinking how tired you must be
of listening to me. I’m feeling tired of myself,
empty. That flattened-out, unseeing
frame of mind. You, watching, give no help
or kindness; you refuse. But all I need is fourteen lines
that hold a little warmth. Then I can leave
this effort behind, for now. I’ll be trying
not to blame either of us as I walk away, relieved
and angry, to enter the kitchen. There, I’ll use
a heavy knife, remove the beets’ rough skins
and stems, crush the garlic. Their juices
will stain my fingers; the tattered green
leaves will sizzle in a fragrant oil. I’ll forget
how ashamed I can feel, and we’ll eat.

VII. The Question

Why did the poet choose this form
for this particular poem? Listening, a child
in school, I followed the reasons given, more
language on the ways of language unveiled,
and, from the answers, made these pictures
of the poet’s work: first, textbook-clear themes
awaiting expression, then craft, a conscious chore,
a deliberate search for those devices needed
to match content. The teachers might have told
me something more. But things were done
methodically in school, to teach us; I unfolded
complexity with careful correctness. Once begun,
the mind continues, still a child, reaching out,
as if made to touch the world with thought.

—Hilary Sallick
previously published by Northeast

Posted by dwaber at 02:38 PM

December 27, 2007

Poems I have not yet written

I’d begin with a poem about my mother
she looms at the end of the bed, angry and undelivered
to the world in verse -

then I’d consider an ode to the fallen.
A poem about the dead
leaning on their guns as the sun
leaches out the last vestiges
of life and colour.
A poem that would be worthy
of inclusion in a war poetry anthology;
poems for the fallen en masse.

I’d write a landscape poem which raised
eyebrows as hills, including references to the body:
the visceral,          teeth as trees,
woman as landscape, as art, as portrait.

The poem of myself –
self referential,
veiled with comments of a troubled childhood,
sexual firsts and pains of childbirth.

Incomprehensibly disturb all meaning.

Sit uncomfortably -
and write in perfect metered rhyme
bush poets nodding, keeping time.

The poem I should write would be an epic,
a paradise of the lost:
an annal of seedlings, lost toys and weather charts.

I would find the poem on scraps of paper
& record radio frequencies.
It would be kept as newspaper snippets
and tossed into the air and left to be read as installation.

Perhaps a piece about sex would be good.

I’d commence a sequence of sonnets
and keep solely to iambic pentameter,
try my hand at villanelle, rondel and haiku.

Writing quietly
this poem would write itself
in the dark of night

the slow lyric qualities of light.

The poem would be a satire of the poem.
It would whisper jokes about John Howard
and speak volumes about Australian Workplace Agreements.
A poem about the unemployed -
the down & out poet.

There would serious consideration given to music;
witty mentions of jazz musicians
such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
I’d do ‘be bop’ and melody, the poem would hum
while written and kick into Dylan,
with Jethro Tull flute accompaniment.

Isolation, depression and finally suicide
referred to by way of birds.
Black wings covering a woman on a pier,
a eulogy for poets estranged
from each other.

A poem for animals, a catalogue of the deceased
and as yet undiscovered.
Creatures dressed in suits, paraded via chain and shackle
before crowds under the big top.
My imagined animals in the taxidermist’s shop
with some attempt at humour.

I’d finish with a secret
written only for myself.
A poem discovered after the death of the poet
in papers bound for the national library.

—Kristin Hannaford

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

December 26, 2007

Fight without Fists
     for my sister in 2000

I sit vigilant as you lie pale and tiny
in the hospital sheets,
my hand at rest on your burning brow,
an ice chip to your lips,
a rub of your feet,
and, as you sleep, I begin to write
fixed on metaphors in calming cloaks,
friendly arms,
a printed sky, a papery sea

wanting to relieve you for the hour, too,
your own lighted shores
nourishing from the inside first,
laying you on your side in the sweet sand
of narcotic drift, spent
until the stronger you
may return to home and bed,

hug the chair
that sits farthest from the door.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Wild Onions

Posted by dwaber at 04:36 PM

December 25, 2007

Amsterdam 2005

Locals in lime, turquoise, purple
     and tangerine blur past
between sprawling shops, pancake
or falafel cafes.

Flashcards flirt Dutch blond
to my half-Sicilian cast.
Every eye catches the eye of everyone else.
     Always a breeze.

A world away that floats on bicycles:
packages hanging carefree,
two babies sleeping in one basket,
a lover's legs wrapped snug
     around the biker's hips.

Tires glide up to a canopied bar
on sloped brick. Paper flaps, this poem
I pour on the tilt of mid-air.

I am visiting from where only some paintings
wear the colors
     that bounce out at me.

Here the war is a newspaper anomaly
rubbing a grocery sack
     low on the handlebar.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Moon, Trumpet and Guitar

Posted by dwaber at 04:32 PM

December 24, 2007

Pearls in Minutiae

I take in everything at once, flowers
and foliage, sparkling water and the mud,

clip reams of daily Post over breakfast,
news in a slew of boxes lest I forget what I read.
Dust the den add a candle
to the only bare spot in the window's bow.

Day is a panorama. Words scramble onto paper.
I piddle and spin from well to well
task by task, adding more as I go
drop limp at the knees, cradle my head
an arm's length from yet another poem.

You aim for one target,
photo-shoot the snow on our roof when not
emptying the spouts,

research a year before buying a car,
paint a bowl of ripe fruit, or clear a patch
of weeds to root, put work to rest and digest.

Long time together shows us how to
sit in the other's heart, lend grace at day's end,

see pearls in the huge kaleidoscopic sphere
of our differences. I leave the study
of logic to you.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Moon, Trumpet and Guitar

Posted by dwaber at 04:34 PM

December 23, 2007

Between the Lines

     for Dorothea Tanning*

Oldest living emerging poet you said
of yourself at ninety-four
after stroked canvas, stitched silks
got all stashed away.

My poem pales against your
mars orange, dragon's blood
blackthorn berry.
And oh, aubergine
with its rounded sheen of wicked color.

You rose insistently above sorrow
widowed by your one beloved,
became your own reliable muse
summoning, an Interior
of Sudden Joy, soft sculpture
a bursting mug
of Don Juan's Breakfast.
And who is it Reclining Nude in pink wool?

Our bohemian who loves aubergine
as do I, writes in ink a black
as deep as purple
paints our tomes to freedom
flowers or novae
a postwar torso
from your French years with Max.

*painter and sculptor, only woman
in the Surrealist world of men

—Kathleen Adcock

Posted by dwaber at 04:30 PM

December 22, 2007

Praise for an Alley Child

I taste my name, my name's song
the way I heard it framed as three
by nine brothers and sisters:
of Baltimore, hopscotch and hoolahoop,
too shy not to clasp my sister Lou's hand
until I warmed to wiggling in the loop till it dropped,
hopping on one foot inside thick chalk lines,
blocking out the squeals
of every age a child could be
who slammed forth from the rowhouse doors
jump rope smacking cement
until noise became the song,
carried me back to a locked room saved
by writing poems of back lawns bright in the afternoon:
bees thirsting after roses pressed
against a fence; buttercups we could pluck
with two fingers;
always, children chasing after
the jing-a-ling of an ice cream truck;
Ma's pies cooling in a window;
sun glistening off the metal gates
before moving away
where leaves had pushed through
like words from the flowering chest kept secret
except on paper. Song of myself.
How I yearned to wear red lipstick
the older girls wore.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Moon, Trumpet and Guitar

Posted by dwaber at 04:28 PM

December 21, 2007

A Body Distant Brought Near

Sitting on the moon's rim
all that can be seen
is her mountains, flatland,
a pale asphalt.

you pull me from my
We view a new crescent
from our roof.
You tweak the lens
of your telescope,
steer me into

the ocular
where in the black velvet void,
the moon's inner arc
is a filigree
of bright white lace.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Moon, Trumpet and Guitar,
and Grease and Tears (Function at the Junction)

Posted by dwaber at 04:23 PM

December 20, 2007

There is No Audience for Poetry

They wanted him to stop kicking like that—
it made their eyes corkscrew, drilled the sun in the sky
so light dumped out like blood from a leak.
The boy in the trunk wouldn’t die.

They drove and drove, and he dented the trunk’s tight lid,
called their names, then pounded the wheel wells
with a tire iron. The sun filled
their skulls so they felt like hell

and the boy in the trunk wouldn’t listen. You’d think
it was burning hot in there, you’d think he’d be gone,
passive, but no. The boy in the trunk
banged on and on

until the noise grew godalmighty unforgivable
and they had no choice but to pull into the woods,
leave the car, try to hitch a ride with someone
quieter, someone who could

listen without interrupting. They'd had a hot day.
The road simmered to the overheated sky.
But from far away they still heard him, the boy
in the trunk, his empty cry.

—Kevin Prufer
from National Anthem, forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2008
& Colorado Review

Posted by dwaber at 03:49 PM

December 19, 2007

Ars Poetica

I’ve written love notes all my life—
the letter I dropped from the window, stained and yellow;

the one curled into the begger’s cup.
The empire fell around me

like snow, so the citizens cringed in the streets,
their laces untied—blank-faced and strange.

I’ve written love notes and I do not know
to whom. In all directions, creased between bricks

or dropped from my fingers into gutters
so someone might find them and smile. Useless notes,

empty and vaguely
sad. I did nothing to help

while the empire limped into the park like a wounded car,
but composed while the crying shuddered

to a close and the buses stalled in the alleys.
Once, a group of hungry girls knotted on the street corner

called my name. Their hair was white
with snow, their lashes wet.

Love notes leaked from my hand as I walked past.
I have always been a gorgeous mind, light-in-the-eye

and dreaming. Always a work of art, a perfection
of limbs and hair, an arc in the marble

of my writing arm. Down and down my letters fell
while the empire closed.

—Kevin Prufer
from National Anthem, forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2008

Posted by dwaber at 02:47 PM

December 18, 2007


The bone in the ice cream, picked out, held
between the thumb and forefinger,

the startle of it, the catch in the breath,
the sick pit in the heart or stomach,

the queer blare of bone, of bloodspot
in the vanilla—the thought that this, perhaps,

is where something twittered away—


When it melts, ice cream is a thrill of rivulets,
is a sweet, pooling thing,

but the bone is blade-like
at the edges. Where did it come from?

Bird bone, finger bone, hollow as a flute
and playable, bleached and smooth to the thumb-

caress. The bone in the ice cream is terrible


and aches the teeth. How the face hurts
when the mouth bears down

on the cool, the strange, the gruesome truth
of it. What left the bone in the ice cream?

What cruel hand or wing, lopped and swirled away?
What bird? What angel? Splintered pointer,

flute that sings the sweetness away.

—Kevin Prufer
from The finger Bone (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)

Posted by dwaber at 09:53 PM

December 17, 2007


I wake,
see the blackened chimney
of the lamp, the lung
of weighted dreams.

Outside, bats
slice the night.

I want that handling
of vision,
that swift sense
of blind rule
and cleanliness.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 03:57 PM

December 16, 2007


Nothing's really soundless:
a calm lake, rimas dissolutas,
rehearses the memory of its waves.

Bough and branch
accent the holographic sky.

Even rock, proud mummer,
articulates the drama of an ancient plosion.

How shall we learn this listening—
snow falling on snow,
distillate phoneme, white vowel,
mother tongue presuming no auricle?

We're all word-wired,
transmission-trucked, hitched
to the electronic pulse
of a quick delivery.

We've forgotten, or
there's another deeper structure
the linguists haven't figured out yet.

If the deaf can sense vibration...
If the deaf know a sign as a word...

Who's to say silence all these millenniums
hasn't been offering its palm?

Dumb as a stone, I think I could begin
a little lip reading. Master
the shine-exact English of the stars.

I think I could interpret
the delicate tremble of their light.

—Anne Coray
from Soon the Wind (Finishing Line Press)

Posted by dwaber at 03:28 PM

December 15, 2007


Another morning's landlocked story.
Another morning abiding the hook and the line.
The jays have been up for hours, scouting
the beach for salmon, remnants mostly,
already stripped and scattered by the bears.
Meanwhile, clouds build to a rubber erasure.
The trees slough off their last dead leaves.

Jesus, it's tiring, dog whine and dénouement,
tongue-sweeper, pulling its own weight under.
But you don't give up. You log in: Waded out.
Plumbed the shallows for a turned pebble,
one syllable's radiant spawn.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 01:33 PM

December 14, 2007


                    It is my design, now to wander among the oldest layers
                    of speech, among the farthest phonetic strata.

                                                                      —St. John Perse

How easily here
we could begin,
white shale moon
uncloaking the night's great hall.
Pictures of things—
claws of animals, limbs
of trees, reaching
for the wisped breath.
Then the wind-born labials:
mountain, willow, vole.
Bold light, rising, past
fireweed, beach pea and rock
to lake: landscape of tongue,
aspirate and carved vowel.
Behind it all, a gurgling,
the river's throat learning
its earliest course—
Liq'a Qilanhtnu;
from what spring,
what shower—
the world awash with voice.


Liq’a Qilanhtnu is the Dena’ina Athabaskan name for the Tlikakila River, flowing into Qizhjeh Vena (Lake Clark) in southwestern Alaska.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 04:34 PM

December 13, 2007


Now the hand brushes the page
whose lips are soft as a newborn baby’s.
She has just begun to breathe, to discover
the throat, the tongue, and her first sounds
burble up, contralto. It is all
we can do, to watch the phonic rungs
form their companionway to this vast deck
stacked with syllables and echoes.
What shall she make of it?
Water, we say, and point, and she says water,
a little softer, a little slower,
as the dawn spreads in full light on her brow;
she is not ours, this child,
who totters into outstretched arms.

—Anne Coray
from Ivory (Anabiosis Press)

Posted by dwaber at 03:28 PM

December 12, 2007


The wind is not rude or indifferent, and even
as I delight in the minor drama of appositives,
I feel unlawful. Why make this April snow
a pock-marked body or the sun a governing eye?
Can we love the hill if it is not anatomical?

Now chickadees are at the feeder, wearing their
black caps and bibs. Ridiculous? Yes. But
how compelling is the jay if it is merely gray?
Or the goshawk simply northern?

Our signatures are written in the tracks of rabbits,
our punctuations in the shapes of rain. The road-
side spruce won't care if we call them honest;
I think there is no guilt or innocence
in the fervency of wanting to belong.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 03:47 PM

December 11, 2007


Nothing can be said
that is intended.

You cannot grow melons
but you learn that swamp grass
is of equal value.

If you should exact
the sound of a dove
you are perhaps unfortunate.
The coo must become
something slightly
undefined and private.

Deference to the self
is the only way to patience.
Is the slug unhappy
because he has no followers?

If you believed once in water
(whether oceans or tears)
you will someday uncover salt.
You will learn how it is mined,
begin a study of structure.

Curiously, you'll find the tongue
reluctant to accept a formal logic.

What you tend, after all,
is invariably simple:
a leaf, a blade, a stone,
the vowels long and pure,
rich and lovely.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 12:09 PM

December 10, 2007


Adaptable, capable of changing mountains,
they can become lightning
if there is a lightning flash.

I like them—why not—?
for their verisimilitude,
their eagerness for attachment. Be careful!

Warns Basho: avoid adjectives of scale,
you will be happier. Exactly.
And “buds of snow” may be better than saying
the snow is new.

—Anne Coray
appeared previously in Water-Stone Review

Posted by dwaber at 01:46 PM

December 09, 2007


                      for J.H.

This is a room we visit.
But you have gotten comfortable and that's alright.
It seems natural for people like us to wait here
in the dark. After all, dark is what we know:
the color of our ink,
the black glow of night;
it's where we write these poems.
Everyone must live here for a while,
but not always.
Your eyes have been watching out the window,
gleaning out the wandering color, waiting
for the twilight to sink back and reveal the tank
of blue stars, the soundless arena.
You've let the weightless dark spin around
your feet for too long. You wait.
If they don't like your poems, so what?
Your work is like that clouded moon outside—
not fully alive, but beaming.

—David Harrity

Posted by dwaber at 02:22 PM

December 08, 2007

New Harmony, Indiana

Living in a small Midwestern town,
the options for a summer afternoon
are few: a hike through cornfields or the glen;
drowsing at the library or pool.
Two restaurants. Not many boys to date
or marry, and a single ice cream stand.
There's less need for interior debate.
You sketch your life within the margins, and
a type of freedom blooms there in the shade
of lanes so still you hear the rustling leaves.
When choices dwindle, those remaining lead
you forward like a sonnet's stringencies.
The rhymes whose promises you must fulfill
relieve you of the burden of your will.

—April Lindner

Posted by dwaber at 02:18 PM

December 07, 2007

ordinary poet

tongue world can be tongue for the poet and
poetry is hallo everywhere hallo all everywhere poetry all
everywhere so the poet lets place for instant collages
dumb poems express poems visual poetry found mixed poems

poetry feeds on everything hallo hallo everything that created
his existence readings relationships coarse expressions wet & sweet
dreams songs physical activities constructions travels reflections contemplations food
primary ordinary elementary this a primary ordinary elementary poetry

when someone is asking questions what is poetry today
which date how old how many why he answers
“poetry today is when I say it is poetry”
he is a poet when doing what he says
he is the tree and the spade cutting roots
he is the kid's hand in the grit stoop
he is the nail scrap deep in dog's belly
he is the flax stem dripping in the river
brown water while shells are falling over the forest
an ice-blink in a mirror-wardrobe grinning door

poetry is coming from the greedy emptiness vibrating in
the corporeal pipe yes that is the superficial envelope
of this tube it accepts scrap friction aggression information
caress noise & smell minimal cosmos infinite as infinity

he is an ordinary poet using his brain breath
and body brain and breath breath brain and body
the poet and the publisher live together in him
like the gardener and the weary reader live together
in him like the translator and the father live
together in him like the merz and the chess
player live together in him like the stunted brain
and the knotted bowels live together in him like
the vertebras and the thigh bones live together in
him like the liver and the nasal mucus live
together in him like the hardhitter and the quinquagenerian
live together in him like the guitar player and
the microbe live together in him like the beerdrinker
and the veal chop live together in him like
the starscrewer and the snail live together in him
like the waste and the memory holes live together
in him like the rider and the salad live
together in him like this like this and still
like this his body brain and breath and body

—Lucien Suel

Posted by dwaber at 02:14 PM

December 06, 2007


The poets tell me things like Hooray for refuse. Like, there’s a grackle in the crotch of that tree. The poets freak me out. I hide from them by posing as a tree. I stand in tree posture, on one leg, arms in a diamond above my head.

Tree posture does not so much look like a tree as a cartoon Egyptian, but the poets don’t know the difference.

Something in the poets is broken.

The problem with the poets is that they will just stand there staring at me, thinking I am a tree. They will stand there all day. The poets never get bored. A grackle will land on my crotch and rest there, and then the poets will stare at the grackle. They will look at the grackle’s black feathers and see purple feathers and red feathers and blue feathers and green feathers. They will see themselves reflected in the feathers’ oily shine. When the grackle flies off, they will sit down in the shade beneath me and pluck their lutes and hum. If they fall asleep I can sneak away, but I usually have to wait until they get hungry or thirsty or shivery. This can take hours or days.

I try to avoid the poets, to duck around a corner or into a store before they see me, but I do not always see them coming. Sometimes I am taken by surprise.

—Melissa Weinstein
a version of this poem appeared in Exquisite Corpse.

Posted by dwaber at 03:22 PM

December 05, 2007


I hate that ghost, that asshole who pricks me when I am minding my own business. WHICH I AM. Fuck off ghost, but it doesn’t fuck off, it pricks and pinches me though it has no pincers or prickers. How does it do it, it just does. I like to be alone but the ghost won’t leave me alone even if for a time I think I am alone. ENJOYING MY SOLITUDE. I think I am in love with my solitude. The ghost ruins everything. Maybe I should kick the ghost where it counts. Where does it count on a ghost? Nowhere counts on a ghost. Nowhere could be anywhere on a ghost. You just don’t know.

—Melissa Weinstein
a version of this poem appeared in Exquisite Corpse.

Posted by dwaber at 03:25 PM

December 04, 2007


Do not make me your prey.
Choose another battle,
for I am your soldier
with your greatest and least force.
Leave me in the battle fields
and in the pastures
to sing you.
Do not make me your game.
On a journey farther than time
you are my heart's love child,
returning your body to love.
And, in the vacant places it sings.

—Radovan Pavlovski, translated from Macedonian by Nola Garrett and Natasha Garrett
from GOD OF THE MORNING (1991)

Posted by dwaber at 01:27 PM

December 03, 2007

Landscape with Six Plastic Flamingos

Like childbirth, this crisis is of my own choosing
made one passionate Saturday morning six
days and nine months ago when words
alone were useless. My searching for
relief from the self's dictionary with another
has come this nexus--a pink sestina--

though mid-labor it seems the sestina,
like a pick-up football team, has done the choosing.
Will they throw me the ball? Am I just another
skinny, neighbor kid chosen because six
against seven are not enough for
a game? My team calls me Snake Lips, words

that hurt because they're true. My words
slither around in the dream that is sestina,
a kind of pink story I make for
the man who lanscapes with plastic flamingos, choosing
not art, he says, but what he likes. Six
constitutes a flamingo quorum--another

small scantling for maintaining another
sort of peace. His flamingos and my words
could be anywhere, curving out in six
directions, void and cold--the mind's sestina
a chaos. It's the glory of choosing, choosing
anything, that frees and shapes us for

our lorn, featherless flight. I look for
words. They're sea shells--here's one, here's another--
fix, coral, rampion, charismatic, tame, wing--choosing
some for shape, some for sound. These words
toss, jostle, ping, loop, unravel until sestina
pinks them. They're integrated, six

flamingos browsing, no longer at sixes
and sevens, knees bent the wrong way for
humans, though just right for a sestina
about the mind's plastic shore: another
landscape of blood, salt and words
that fancies pink, aritfical birds choosing

flight--another sestina for six words' choosing.

—Nola Garrett
previously appeared in Cimarron Review, 1996

Posted by dwaber at 01:18 PM

December 02, 2007

The (K) Celtic Triad

In the forests and on the beaches of Northwestern Europe
Before God and Caesar in any order got to them
The Celtic Triad had a king in the middle
Flanked by jester in charge of jokes
And a poet to make sure that the truth
Didn’t escape unnoticed.

Beware of role confusion.

Kings are in charge of the messy business of
Life and death.
Jesters charge the immune system with the unholy
Humor of it all.
Poets will make you weep
Just when you need to be most strong.

The real danger is from jokers who think they're poets.

—Charles Potts

Posted by dwaber at 02:46 PM

December 01, 2007

Broken Pot Dovecote

I had the soil
and roots to go by,
and they held, even
when my hands were
cold. The ocean has
one soul or many
that cool this work.
One always reaches
for the biggest
shards first and so did I,
and I felt the little
ones in my palm
all day. It was
silly to drop all this
indifference onto the
walk, in the form
of flowers, but the petals
stay there broken, and I use
my own hands for glue.
The soil and roots, your heart.

—Michelle Mitchell-Foust

Posted by dwaber at 03:24 PM