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Contributing Writers

Edward Field

Bob Holman

Patricia Spears Jones

Kate Irving


Sheila Maldonado

Lewis Warsh

Mark Statman

Lisa Paul Streitfield

Debra Jenks

Basil King

Gary Indiana

Valery Oisteanu and Ronnie Burk

Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

Issue Five


Forgive me if I embarrassed you, pal --
did that really come out of my mouth?

Why can’t I learn to shut up!
But it just feels so good thinking about you.

It must be adolescence again.

Anyway, it’s not about you, it’s about me.
I’m falling in love all over the place, these days,

like with an Indian doctor at the VA,
when he gave me a look with his guru eyes.

I’m also in love with the guys in my jackoff pictures.
Don’t worry, you’re not in that category,
though, naturally, every guy’s dick is of interest.

I’ve fallen for about half of Chinatown, too, lately,
especially the man in the fish market -- I amuse him.
And there’s still a helluva lot more of them.

So relax, I‘m not hitting on you --
I’m glad you’re in the world,
cozy in your snow-bound cabin in the woods,
where I know the animals come and eat from your hands --

which is what I call being in love with someone.

________________________________Edward Field

Song (Sing! O Muse!)

Sing! O Muse!
Or, shut the fuck up.
Let the guitar bleed turntumble tableweed skritch!
The mouth work overtime! I am poor wayfarin’ stranger, aight
But I still loves ya Baby
I got my fishing line doing double-duty on the kora
Blasted a passion pit into fractious Tribeca
& I’m a fool fool for your love’s love
Ain’t nothing rock’n’roll’s real thang told by lyre
Keen-edged consortium of vowels and cons
Guaranteed steady companion,
Sidekick lover, none other Other
Listen to me now
Once and believe you me once is enough’s enough
Once the babito stopped squalling long enough for the sun to set
Once the doctor had set down the black bag and begun cluck cluck
I never no I never want to go back there again dear Eliz
I will never leave you again
Hiccup pogostick accordion
Li Po is a mite drunk as he paddles midlake tonight
Whereupon he commences to speak direct to moon
Excepting that it is the moon’s reflection
So he dives overboard, drowns in moon
I will do that, he hummed to his father
I will do that too
I will drown in the poem
I will drown in the moon

_________________________________Bob Holman

Shirley Horn sings “In Love in Vain”

The world is lonely—a sum of woman’s truth sung well
an elegant severity—kisses too long remembered.
Haden’s bow crosses a corner of bitter and treat, his
Vibrato resonates as elder senators
reveal their fears about Iraq.
The President is not pleased.
The President is not pleased and the Prime Minister
counts the alien doctors who are ready to kill
Migrant doctors prepared to maim and murder.
Were they lonely? Is that why they plotted
The deaths of strangers--syringes a new twist.
Nouns collapse a fiction—jihad, terror, conspiracy.
Mercy, harmony, the redness of human blood, all human blood
Removed from the narrative even as the blasted bodies
Fall onto hot dirt, women loudly keening across
An atlas of grief from Islamabad to Glasgow
from Baghdad to Barcelona. When the lame stops weeping
Sacrifice escalates.

October 13, 2007—revised March 4, 2008

_____________________________Patricia Spears Jones

Brank or Scold's Bridle

17th century torture device to punish women
Used in France, Germany, Spain

Obdurate, cold, skeletal cage
brands the female visage
Silences her acerbic tongue
Witch, bitch, harpie, heretic
Her punishment devised by men

A smithy forges metal
Sculpting terrible beauty
Eyes wide open
Unrestricted breath
Only the lips iron imprisoned

Now we cultivate transgressive women
Carefully document celebrity downfalls
Public relations classify lies
Today's masks that discipline women
are painted, paralytic and profane

____________________________________Ilka Scobie

Crossing Goose Pond

It’s hard to tell how safe,

how solid the black ice is

that joins one bank to the other

where a step away is enough muck

to suck you down till Sunday.

Don’t step. Say you don’t need

whatever it is on the other side

or the glitter and dart of silver fry

swimming hard to keep from freezing.

Sit on a cold rock and love these

littered banks of washed silt, moss—

the business of small creatures

goes on without you.

____________________________________Kate Irving

Your Revolution Mother

For her part in the struggle, your mother deserves some glossy magazines.

Your liberation mama gets a free subscription.

She needs something to read on the toilet of the revolution.

She flips through the before and after of the struggle.

The liberation makeover.

Before: colonial repression, the rape of the land.

After: freedom, civil unrest, your backstabbing peers.

She reads on the toilet of her backstabbing peers.

_______________________________Sheila Maldonado


Stay in one place long enough & everyone begins to look like someone else. On the other hand, some people don’t need a reason to get out of bed. Absence is like presence, better is worse. You better get up early if you expect to learn everything. He barked like a dog & drank water from a dish. The cows are frozen on a distant hillside. Lights at night beckon, we could be anywhere. I remember when we used to go to the Orchidia Bar, on the corner of 9th Street & 2nd Avenue, after the Wednesday night readings. The 2nd Avenue Deli is now the Chase Manhattan Bank. You better keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good
for you. The old growth pines at its own expense. The two people
kissing on the shade, just a mirage.

________________________________Lewis Warsh


habia un milagro, she said,
a miracle
but in such a quiet voice
you had to ask her
to say it again
which she did
she didn’t like it like that
a voces (loud)
it didn’t seem as true anymore
she looked at you
it seemed just then
she must hate you
must hate anyone like you
she pointed down the road
curving, dusty
she said it was the way to the ruins
you didn’t know
if you wanted to go
you already knew
you wouldn’t see what she had

__________________________________Mark Statman


They kept telling you to
1,2,3,4,5, Sex
Here are the seeds
Now swallow them
And become hole
Swallow and submerge
Days darken
East Village beckons
Snake door opens
Let me in!
She cries at the crescent gate
Revolving to confront
Past’s illusion
Serpent self-consumed
The Alchemy of Love
Brings you back
To the prologue Stage
Bar on A
Many celebrities here!
Declared the party impresario
Looking straight at you
Pen poised to rewrite this epilogue
As you live it
Master of Ceremonies, a rare man
Who loves woman
Reciting your lament
And here we are again
Sparks igniting
Your kundalini fire
Plunged underground
Giving ground no more.

______________________________Lisa Paul Streitfield

The East River of Forgetfulness & Remembrance

Once people believed in gods
(you still do in a metaphorical sort of way)
Now they believe in celebrities
(and in working for money or fame)
Bacchus reclines in my bathtub
a spouting fountain of enchanting fables,
sprouting like a potato
He fucks a wood fairy every Monday and Friday night
(unless his onus puts a rattle in the plan).
Darling god of gophers,
go dig a hole to bury your secrets
(you will need a lot of holes)
While you’re at it, dig one for me to jump into,
like Hero from her tower

___________________________________Debra Jenks

Paul was a weed lover.


We need Paul Blackburn. On the subway to Coney Island he thrives on reading Pound aloud. Splash! Catch a fish but it isn’t a Codfish it doesn’t have a name but it is a fish.

And it said

you think you can

take advantage of me

well you can but it

won’t get you anything

more than what you’ve

taken. Because what you

think you want is not

what I’ve what I’ve got to give.

What I’ve got to give is weeds. Weeds insist they grow amongst the needy, amongst the preferred, the upstanding, the beautiful, and the prosperous. Weeds, grass, clover between grasses, triptychs that reach out and condemn child abuse.

________________________________________Basil King


Overture: Screamers on the Shore
they also serve who perish
like week-old bananas
and so do those who linger
interminably on breathing apparatuses
these also serve,
though what they serve
remains a conundrum:
the caustic, the greedy, the covetous
the ones who lack all moral compass
and think lifeblood and money are the same.
Perhaps it’s this:
without them how could we know better
even as they kill us, or
experience humiliation, or
learn what the condition of 99% of our species
feels like?
Or distinguish in such obscuring mist
the difference between a decent action
and a foul one?
If all were full of virtue all the time
if every person were consistently
one thing or another
we might judge them,
without satisfaction
despise them,
without letting go our spite.
the youthful dead,
the ceaselessly alive
the rampant vicious
and the insensible
provide an ever-fresh array
of circus highlights.
Material for slapstick,
for stand-up, for laughs
either on ourselves or them
the quick and the dead
are often the same
the slow, still-living
repair the rents in our braids
all prove the polarity
and singleness of all
all demonstrate the unseen
strata where connection
is a matter of up quarks,
down quarks, and neutrons
just what they, and we,
exactly serve has never been explained
hence never been disproven.

___________________________________Gary Indiana

“Exquisite corpse remembered & dismembered”

Taxis and fire trucks racing downtown
Come to a screeching stop on Second Ave.
Sirens are wailing, ambulances cry
While South WTC tower collapses
Someone is hailing a cab in a pair of squash shoes
A mermaid eats her tuna, shell-shocked
Accordion buildings breathe a sight of relief
Amid chaos of siren and nerve raking alarms
A new day of terror, other buildings fall
We also remember the two giant Buddhas
Falling, blown up by Taliban-vandals.

Let’s sit down for meditation on life and death
Meditation on the empty holes, on the towers
Beauty crushed, people thrown away
Billie Holliday’s “autumn in NY”
You almost can see the golden veins
In the changing color of New York leafs.

____________________Valery Oisteanu and Ronnie Burk


This is how to say, “Wake up!”
This is how a hurricane locks
horns with a hungover sky.
This is how the swan dives.
This is the way to beg for
a pardon from the governor.
This is how the dead dance
hoping for a second chance.
This is how the quicksand
of love punches the clock—
how to swallow your crutch
and hop past the emergency.
This is how the river’s mouth
whispers its secret to eternity.

___________________________Jeffrey Cyphers Wright