September 29, 2008

Spatula Mouth

When one holds a spatula
to the lighted light bulb, the silhouette
zooms away. The silhouette burns
a mouth inside the mouth. The mouth
burns an engine in the silhouette.
With this mouth you might say:
silhouette yourself. With this mouth
you might make other mouths.
You might spend four days kissing.
You might sing and eat at the same time.
This mouth does not fear
the street-sweepers, the meter-maids,
the parking attendants who weave
quilts out of left-behind seatbelts.
With this mouth a bird rises and flares out,
the wind swims by like seaweeds,
an electrical charge and the wind
and a lantern around your neck.
Mouth around your neck. Spatula
piercing the delicate skin of your pocket.
E-mails my thumb, inserts pills in small plastic case.
The silhouette comes back like a cape.
Mouth eats poem. Falls from rafters.
Light bulb beside house, house up in flames.

—Nathan Hoks

Posted by dwaber at 03:53 PM

September 25, 2008

Chimeric Poetica

"A Stanford University researcher has gotten a preliminary go-ahead
to create a mouse with a significant number of human brain cells –
as long as the creature behaves like a mouse, not a human."

Mouse-brain with human cells writes poetry.
Mouse-body scratches on her nubbled cage floor
verses praising the intricate structure of cheese.

Random spheres in yellow flesh, unseen
and empty, spark delectable reflection.
Mouse-brain with human cells writes poetry.

Scientist gnaws on pencils, concludes, fleas.
His mono-species brain fails to receive
verses praising the intricate structure of cheese.

Alert for human traits, he does not see
what rodentia plus homo sapiens achieves;
mouse-brain with human cells writes poetry.

Mouse-brain with human cells begins to grieve.
Distraught, she darts about her cage, destroys
verses praising the intricate structure of cheese.

Disregarded, Mouse-brain falls into depression.
Apathetic, slow, writes Scientist, unknowing.
Mouse-brain with human cells wrote poetry
praising the intricate structure of cheese.

—Ellen Cole

Posted by dwaber at 07:47 PM

September 23, 2008

The Poet Explains Why She Has Never Written A Love Poem

Poor clichésés! Words like dear, sweet, nice and good
are banned from every poet’s lexicon, deemed meaningless
because their meaning has been drained away
from too much use, and nothing’s left but a shell.

All banned from every poet’s lexicon, meaningless
as an ice cream cone with the cream dripped out
from too much use, nothing left but the shell,
all crunch, no taste. A phrase like I love you

reduced to an ice cream cone, the cream dripped out.
Sweet words all neutralized from over use
all crunch, no taste. Phrases like I love you
make poor poems, and love poems are the worst

of all, sweet words neutralized from overuse.
Vanilla wafers stuffing every valentine.
Poor poems, love poems most of all,
disgust, and so, I euphemize, I similize.

I love you like vanilla wafers, Valentine.
You’re sweet as plain English, the crust in my pie.
See how I euphemize, I love you’s banned, unlike
this poem. In sweet plain English, my love’s

no pie crust fantasy. It’s full of meaning
and can never drain away. I love you, dear.
There. I said it. I’m no Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
but I can count the ways.

—Ellen Cole

Posted by dwaber at 02:38 PM

September 22, 2008

To Wayne, diagnosed with Schizophrenia in 1973

People said we looked alike
when we were children. Most
days you were my favorite.
We rode bikes to nowhere,
picnicked in the traffic
island, scooped tadpoles out
of Miller’s pond until you
were banished for falling in.
That was before your luck
dried up, leaving you raw
and cracked as a chapped hand.

Sitting with you here
I see our faces bear witness
against us, yours a road map
to strange countries, mine
grooved from nose to mouth,
eyes grown dreamy. Still, we’re
not so different, are we—
you listening to your voices,
me straining for a whisper
from the muse.

We fish the same pool,
after all, you and I.
You tread water, now
submerged, now bobbing up
for air; I dip a finger,
then a foot, then tiptoe in,
prepared to flee if I
should tumble
into that deep place of yours
where metaphor bubbles
into madness.

—Ellen Cole
previously published in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Sept. 206

Posted by dwaber at 03:17 PM

September 05, 2008

Dance, with Boobs

“A dance class? In the nude?”
My brother-in-law was so indignant
even his nose stood erect. He rolled
his eyes at my sister. Thoughts scrolled
across their foreheads in tandem, plain
as any marquee, Alex will rot in Hell
before we’d send him to a school
like that… and I couldn't explain
how it was

               in the seventies. How we’d
whip off our shirts at the drop of a hat.
Mark, my old dance teacher, may
have been a bit of a leach, okay, was, but
even so, something was there. Something
about naked bodies moving through space,
leaping across the floor, your shape traced
behind, angels printed in imaginary snow.
The muse only comes

                                             once you’re
unclothed, ready to be ravished or spurned.
Vulnerability is our lure, we strip to the bone
for her, and what could be more vulnerable
than my naked nineteen year old breast
tracing arcs in the studio air?

—Ellen Cole

Posted by dwaber at 12:50 PM

September 04, 2008


Are teapots art
if sufficiently awkward

or plates
with a poisonous glaze?

I keep dreaming of making things that might, like the beveled
edge of a mirror, compound value:

method antinomic, attitude questioning
result, still sometimes birdshit-

in such dreams I am always responsible
for the distance between burnt umber and brown

the roots concealing themselves
in the pilled wool of my pullover

my eyes a soldered bridge
mute before the questions, what's it for?

how long will it last- if irony's passé
shall we bring on beauty, the kind that has absorbed its opposite?

If not why not hovers over
virtuoso, tour de force & trompe l'oeil

but who can know the depth of even one's own heart-
access is guarded by a hard flame.

My ever-breaking promise of bliss:

If it holds water, is it art?

No matter how the poplars hold back the hill
as straight as any trees could be

they sway, as a mountain can appear the only one
or a link in a colossal chain.

One writes in a trance, the other applies Teutonic discipline:

shouldn't it look easy?

Let's varnish usefulness for long duty-
Christmas in the tropics-let's festinate
the yellow daisies into bloom, so icy in their blown glass-

—Natasha Sajé
from Bend (Tupelo Press, 2004)

Posted by dwaber at 04:02 PM

September 03, 2008

A Minor Riot at the Mint

                         Custome is the most certain Mistresse of
                         language, as the publicke stampe makes
                         current money. But we must not be too
                         frequent with the mint, every day coyning.

                                                  Ben Jonson

Into my pocket slips a folded note, creased
like labia, cached with private promise.
Pea blossoms in broth. And my in petto
pleasure in thinking the missive
for me, the edges keen against
my thumb, my plotting to be alone and open it.
Is it tame as a Hepplewhite chair
or nubile as a pitchfork?

The ship rolls through open water,
dirty in the bay around Rio.
I'm a crazy sailor on the gravy boat,
a woman of means. This letter's mine only
till St. Geoffrey's Day, and if
the paper degrades, that's how it goes
with money. I'll wave the wealth
where any frigate bird can snatch it.

O my mackintosh,
my bilbo, my cistern, my confiture,

I love you so much you breathe me away.

—Natasha Sajé
from Bend (Tupelo Press, 2004)

Posted by dwaber at 01:17 PM

September 02, 2008



                meanwhile a given fall          sheer challis    


                                in red waver                    as day goes            


                slant in vowels


                said            and tall-backed chairs                  


                a walled opacity        weak-windowed at


                the hour of him         pale and bluish under


                all and wrapped         in weeds                the smell of


                                        graves on him and thick water


                the rest                night-cleft             torn            that other


                door a rift


                where are the nouns      she asked      and all the words for clouds


                then she turned toward the red division blurred as if chalked


                                —horizon marking muddled dusk


                        from footfall written


—Sharon Osmond

Posted by dwaber at 06:02 PM