Martha Diamond - India
Evans - Rene Ricard - Bill
Berkson - Bob Holman - Chris
Toll - Gary Parrish - Stella
Schnabel - Stefan Bondell - Vincent
Katz - Jerome Sala - Ilka
Scobie - Daniel Peddle - Tony
Towle - Georgia Luna - Yuko
Otomo - Marjorie Tesser - Ron
Kolm - Gary Indiana - Edward
Field - Esther K. Smith - Jeffrey
Cyphers Wright - Eileen Tabios
MADE IN MUSTANG
A poker in one hand, a joker in the other
Jugglers and jongleurs toking up out back
Time hot-stoking the furnace of distension
I woke drafting the jail of dreams
Splash-rivered my face in hellfire
Emily Brontë’s tranquil quim bubbling goo
EVERYTHING MUST GO
Home is where my horse is
As Broadside Press rejected me
Bhudda’s Revenge overpriced with a long waiting list
As 6x6 rejected me
And the hellions take their hellion exam
Looking to us all
Let me park by you Osiris in the handicapped space
_________________________Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
The Years Like Days
and the years like
I thought I was gone
Just a few hours
Then George Schneeman
I meant to see you
But the road that ought to have brought me back was too long.
Solar photons and ergs
in someone’s air
no smile but hands
on the passenger side
to have had a career
a brilliance so severe
another rose, its leavings left for dead
at best and/or mummified
By the Book
Before you can do something “by the book”
You have to write the damn book
By the Book
Whenever someone sternly reminds me
To do something “by the book”
I always ask them if they can lend me some cash
So I can go ahead and buy the book
Beauty, Barbering & Tattoo
Four Poems by Chris Toll
Bad File Handle
An old crow gossips
on top of the sign
for a used car lot.
Why is a tic in didactic?
I’m a sentient bag of gas
in a crystalline city
that rides the winds of a planet
orbiting the primary star
of a triple star system,
and I’m woebegone.
Why is a loss in colossal?
The scars will shine for a long long time.
O Broken Broken Broken Heart,
one loves more and one loves less.
Why Is Try in Poetry?
My usual audience
is three alcoholic transvestites.
My metaphors are mixed up.
You can see
as well with the heart
as with the eyes.
stand like mismatched volumes
in an encyclopedia of grief.
Why is love backwards in evolve?
A detective grips her raygun tighter
and kicks a door open.
Raindrops are calling to the last in love.
Them tears are a school that consoles.
All Is Suffering
The smell of gunfire
fills the Bible.
Why is less in a blessing?
An unhappy wife
rams a forklift
into the doors of a shopping mall.
Why is a Bib in Bible
and what will I be fed?
In the basement of a convent,
a CIA-trained mountain lion
guards a storeroom that contains bazookas
from an alternate timeline
where a massive asteroid didn’t smash into Earth
and dinosaurs became intelligent.
Why is harm in a harmonica?
Elizabeth straps on a bulletproof vest.
Server Is Too Busy
(Bob Dylan Plays Heath Ledger in Heaven)
I’m a digital pilgrim.
My wren and me
we’ve dined for years
on just one crumb of bread.
Why is mire in admire?
The chained chairs groan,
buds explode on branches,
and the sun is singing.
Why is a lion in nonillion?
Once the Eternal Teenager Gland is activated,
there’s no turning back.
Why is weep in sweep?
The Bad Joker
cards his ward of summer lips.
My Melancholy Rapture drives a car in the rain
and my Inconstant Castle sneaks into a movie theatre.
1:45 AM small apartment Feb 13th 2009
meaningless accord celebrated today
made it simple again and that’s enough
to keep it going to the next year non-pragmatic
as a scene set with a bird feeder scattered seeds
putting my shirt back on at dawn disks stacked
a girl brushing her brown hair with oak frame
there’s no guilt in me in her mouth or tone hourglass
I can think of it till I die then you can have it back
like random comedy played to perfection we all laugh
it’s funny to hear the dog bark see a child draw or doodle
an image of themselves older married mortgaged
clownshoes in general around the office at my desk
stacks of papers I need to look over need to rewrite
Banging panes of glass. Sharp windows exceeding the rest of time.
Completing the disaster of a tin house.
Echoing to Georgia and back again,
theses dens master bate my mind leaving one
with false impressions of time and sturdiness.
When I was a child everything was built well.
Nothing got flooded. everything was dry and warm
and even invited you to come
stay here.it whispered something
about staying here. there were no drafts.
or leeks or disrupted money orders.
I wouldn't want to be alone in beachwood.
not sleeping to the wave-like flick of
the rain. Smacking me every time I regained composure.
When someone is traumatized the tremor keeps coming back (to visit)
I mean deep trauma.
You know, like torture or being kept against ones own will.
So when you wake up in a hot stinking flooded storm in china town.
Stench stretching from one rotting Chinese to the bowels of the
Turn over and ask your man to give a scratch.
IN THE REIGN
If life is a bed
Head to toe
will shorn your thorns
Before you’re born
You can’t see above
dry stalks of corn
In a field forlorn
sky is torn
Before it pours
rain in scores and numbers
earth has a plumber
Who plunges and plunders
Listen for thunder
On scarred tundra,
In the underground
for these words
weight of this
in the reign
today, out there:
on pastel mount.
But before, a walk
light amiable, Judy
of talking. Taking
and sitting, better.
No decision, not
will change soon.
But how? Dogwood
in good humor,
jokes for dogs,
Two towers loom
in sun, one
white, the other
green, two ages
done for another
ODE TO ROD BLAGOJEVITCH
of the finks –
of the mind –
like a tree
on a dead
in the dark –
an odd city
to the pompous
they blame you
for their own disgrace
1.Those who lash out at sea gods.
2.The name of the type of ghost that induces mourning in NFL players.
3.Floating coins make this sort of person angry.
4.If the talking horse, Mr. Ed, lived during the Civil War era,
instead of Wilbur, his owner would be named ___________.
5.The inventor of the broken geometry formula, said to have inspired
the painter of broken plates.
6.See 4 across.
7.The boat which takes your across the river Styx is part of the
royal emblem of which aristocracy?
8.The variety of housefly that encourages people to stick to their
9.The naturalist who lived primarily on toast.
10. The flower said to know you better than you know yourself.
A temporary treasure
Not a booted blood nimbus
infusing opiated oblivion
Nor elegy for a modern plague
Haven’t you heard of the Hudson Valley School
or viewed a dust storm’s rutlilant sunset?
I would wager a volcanic eruption
casts crimson clouds cross silver sky
as flames of dusk bow to starry night
unfinished chandelier poem
I am pondering
validity as objects
a disco ball
one a trap of dripping sentiments
the other a
night sharing shifting squares of light
wondering of their
Literacy Episodes in Rego Park
It was while recovering from whooping cough
that I encountered the Bible
in the form of the thickest comic book,
at 128 pages, I had ever seen.
In one dramatic tale a pink river
took up an entire frame; frogs filled another
and the black of night yet another. The turbulent affairs
of a place called Eggy-put were on center stage,
including people in robes who were unhappy there;
and when I asked my mother where Eggy-put was
she said it was Egypt, the country was Egypt.
But there is an Eggy-put too, I insisted,
unwilling to abandon the fruits of phonetic deduction
as the dénouement of the Exodus was put on hold.
Barely able to read, I must have been; sitting outside on a bench
perusing one of the adventures of Captain Marvel,
in the last box of which an evil worm
with a human head, bald and wearing impenetrable glasses
was barely escaping the literal clutches of the superhero
by fleeing wormlike down a tunnel
toward the center of the earth, vowing to return.
It was not the threat of mischief from this malefic being
that gave me pause, or the fact that I didn’t know all the
but the cut-away section of the passageway to nowhere
that gave me an unsettling sense of infinity; and I watched
the passing traffic on Queens Boulevard for a moment
and then went upstairs and back to my childhood.
At four years and ten months, I “had my tonsils out”
at the hospital in Jackson Heights, where,
recuperating in a crib-like bed, I was addressed
by my neighbor from the crib-like bed next door.
She asked my age, and pounced on the fact
that “five” was an exaggeration.
“I’m six,” she announced triumphantly.
Did I know how to read? No? “Well I can,”
she revealed with delight, and presumably proved it
by recounting aloud the doings in her comic book, thus
completing the mortification of her captive audience —
but why do I speak of this terrible woman?
Keep your laces untied
Corporate internal stairs lead to
cross roads: monogrammed French cuffs, crack
rock, Times Square. I am the lost -- counted
and sold each soul
to the devil and the man.
Still looking for something that moves
Last night I dreamt a cat clawed
at my insides to a laugh track.
How do you do it. How you
do what you do. How you keep from
being rained out. Fattening up for
St. Paul winter in case
someone I once knew gets famous.
Last night I dreamt Steve Reich
turned my insecurity into music.
Last night I dreamt Mobb Deep
turned my words into their words.
I am a liability
I am libel.
This whole thing is
riding to the last stop,
finding the man with spider
webs for eyes. Finding
A big to-do about zilch--This is the promise land
we’re talking, what dreams are made of.
You know what the situation is,
too many interlocking Venn diagrams.
Outside the window,
two men struggle
with a long red ladder.
- a Horizon -
I sit facing your face
as you sit.
We are at a generic city restaurant dinner table.
Out of remote curiosity,
we keep moving our heads
to see what’s happening
outside the window.
Under two men’s shoes,
the wet pavement shines with a sparse euphoria,
something similar to the humility
of an aging playwright
who savors his solitary meal
sitting next to a cash resister
in an almost empty Sunday evening restaurant
Imagining the hill
where the sky opens to Eternity,
we squeeze lemon into our soup.
It is strange
to think that
no one can be truly be
The Magic Feather
Once, there was a Magic Feather.
Catch me, it said, and you can fly!
I did; and I didn’t.
Still — a talking feather!
But still a liar.
It’s a typical
Art gallery opening
In the East Village:
Everyone hanging out
On the sidewalk, smoking
And talking, and drinking
Wine in plastic cups.
I see you inside
At the work and,
Though I don’t know you,
I ask you
If you want to go
To the Hat for a drink.
New infections, novelty diseases
keep science and the population busy
communication is not so much the point of living
but the cause of death, and as we insist
on its absolute value
we necessarily understand
that tragedy’s a comedy for fools
who feel more than they think
emoting all day in a slough
of anxious dread and
like water and powdered cement
that refuse to coagulate.
We drink the tapwater like
Socrates quaffing hemlock,
inflate worries into zeppelins
then spin with no provocation
spasms of laughter,
amplified by every passing absurdity.
Going down with the ship
isn’t such a harsh fate.
We could be left high, alone,
IN PRAISE OF BIG MEN
for Gerry Locklin
I like big gentle guys like him, with big hands,
a no-bullshit, ugly but irresistible mug,
sexy like firefighters and policemen are sexy,
and with a trademark irony that, in a charming way,
is boyishly self-deprecating too,
and makes his poems unique.
He’s a lot bigger than me, an athlete,
with hands that could crush beer cans or a wimpy hand like mine.
I always say he’d be the perfect big brother –
anybody jump me, call me faggot or jewboy,
and Gerry would be there, saying Sez who?
He’s tough, but a softy,
the most attractive combination in a man.
Funny, me in that macho Long Beach world.
but I’m no threat – Gerry’s not afraid of other
he’s not scared of the varieties of male sexuality.
He knows where his goes, so mine doesn’t faze him.
It was like in the army – what a relief
the guys didn’t beat me up like back home!
When I first met him – he and Chuck Stetler
had written about my first book –
they were downing beers like mother’s milk,
and amazed I didn’t join them.
But I preferred my normal head back then –
I wanted to be clearer than normal,
though with age I’ve discovered that a drink
gives a fuzzy glow that blocks
thoughts of impending doom –
one drink. Two wrecks it.
I also get there with one toke.
Come to think of it, now that smoke has blown me slightly gaga,
Gerry’s like a big puppy, and irresistible.
Thank you, Gerry, for your true heart –
I think that, partly, you like my poems
out of protectiveness – that’s why
you write so well about children.
Lucky to have a father that doesn’t take the strap to you.
Yours is the poetic voice of the common man at his noblest –
too smart for most “common men,” of course.
I sing your praises great and small,
for the long poems and the short,
for your friendship and support
and for the big hands and the big open heart.
After her heart attack that no one noticed not even her
after she was in the hospital for a week bragging about Polly getting
into Hunter High
after they moved her to the Jewish Home but didn't tell her it was
temporary because it was so expensive (and the food was kosher but
not Jewish if you can imagine)
I told her I was coming to see her
I told her I was leaving after my class Tuesday
I told her I could stay most of Wednesday
she told me Tuesday would be good
but she didn't know where she'd be Wednesday
well mom wherever you are Wednesday I will come to you I said
(frail as she was she couldn't just get up and go )
but she did
___________________________________________Esther K. Smith
… compiling: compelling …
when the grid flows …
when a single hair from the paintbrush loosens itself into mischief
Artemis winks …
the clouds over New Orleans liquidating into a painted lake of polyethylene
on your feet, Louboutins of silver leather, jade buckles, prose
poems, velvet tassels …
face powder crumbling into scars of tan flesh …
a cat’s eye warmed by encroaching glaucoma …
necklace of skull beads carved from a single skull …
Yes: you are lonely …