Eating Chocolate Ice Cream: Reading Mayakovsky

Compiled and Edited by

Halvard Johnson



Barbara Guest

Eating Chocolate Ice Cream: Reading Mayakovsky

Since I've decided to revolutionize my life

How early it is! It is eight o'clock in the morning.
Well, the pigeons were up earlier
Did you eat all your eggs?
Now we shall go for a long walk.
Now? There is too much winter.
I am going to admire the snow on your coat.
Time for hot soup, already?
You have worked for three solid hours.
I have written forty-eight, no forty-nine,
no fifty-one poems.
How many states are there?
I cannot remember what is uniting America.
It is then time for your nap.
What a lovely, pleasant dream I just had.
But I like waking up better.
I do admire reality like snow on my coat.
Would you take cream or lemon in your tea?
No sugar?
And no cigarettes.
Daytime is good, but evening is better.
I do like our evening discussions.
Yesterday we talked about Kant.
Today let's think about Hegel.
In another week we shall have reached Marx.
Life is a joy if one has industrious hands.
Supper? Stew and well-cooked. Delicious.
Well, perhaps just one more glass of milk.
Nine o'clock! Bath time!
Soap and a clean rough towel.
The Red Army is marching tonight.
They shall march through my dreams
in their new shiny leather boots,
their freshly laundered shirts.
All those ugly stains of caviar and champagne
and kisses
have been rubbed away.
They are going to the barracks.
They are answering hundreds of pink
and yellow and blue and white telephones.
How happy and contented and well-fed they look
lounging on their fur divans,
chanting "Russia how kind you are to us.
How kind you are to everybody.
We want to live forever."
Before I wake up they will throw away
their pistols, and magically
factories will spring up where once
there was rifle fire, a roulette factory,
where once a body fell from an open window.
Hurry dear dream
I am waiting for you
under the eiderdown.
And tomorrow will be more real, perhaps,
than yesterday.

fr. Angel Hair 5, Spring 1968


Table of Contents

Norman Fischer / Poem on the Suicide of Lucas Carlson, November 2006, Brooklyn, New York

Bill Dunlap / The Very Origin of Artaud's Crablice

David Graham / Air Supremacy

Bobbi Lurie / tomorrow will be more real than yesterday

Jéanpaul Ferro / Letter from a Soldier

CL Bledsoe / Teeth

James Cervantes / Number Three of Photo Album Shuffled

Philip Metres / from "Ibn Gitmo Flarf Stations," #25 Ponzi Schemer Beaming Me Up

S. K. Kelen / Business as Usual: Three Almost Sonnets

John M. Bennett / Smoke Anda

Mary Kasimor / feeling ice cream and reading the internet

Rodney Nelson / Wages of Time

Alex Cigale / Huambo, Angola: An Explanation

Larissa Shmailo / Kalinivka/Prymsl/Dora

Michele A. Belluomini / Poem

Jan Clausen / Letters to God End Up in Ocean, Unread

Harry Gregor / You lower my jetty, is is yellow

Kate Schapira / Woonsocket

Nicholas Karavatos / Saw a Face in the Grain

Sophie Chamas / Seizure

AE Reiff / Child Verse

Edward Field / Secrets of a Woman, Our Dark Lady of Letters Susan Sontag (1933-2004)

Sharon Olinka / Meat

Joachim Matschoss / footscray

Hugh Fox / Every Day

Eileen Tabios / Ars Poetica (#100,000)

Basil King / The Possible Can Happen

Wayne Crawford / In the Shade of a Sunday Morning

Catherine Daly / "vegas, a roulette factory, and you"

Joe Ahearn / A History of Western Culture

James Finnegan / Red Cabbage

Sheila E. Murphy / Tremo(lo-la)

Russ Golata / Denizens of Dinner Death

Robin Morris / Soldier Girls

dirk vekemans / "autumn has come"

Gerald Schwartz / Eating Now, Reading Next

Gray Jacobik / Adjustments

I. H. Walton / 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne, 2006–?

Joseph Somoza / Western: A Synopsis

Lisa Siedlarz / Casualty Notification Officer

Seinhart Nickel / first killing then laughter then killing again

Hanoch Guy / Phoenician Glass

Gloria Frym / To Whom It May Concern

James Bertolino / Corn on the Macabre

David Howard / There Is Too Much Winter: Until Things Dry

Annie Christain / This Is a Robbery

Jared Schickling / The Irreligious Promiscuity of Metaphor . . .

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa / from Op / US

John Joynt / The Palace of Historic Employment

Roger Mitchell / Plague

Sean Patrick Hill / America, Take This Cup From Me

Stephen Vincent / Viet Nam Memorial Wrapped In Protest

Sybil Kollar / We Didn't Look Over That Way

Steve D. Dalachinsky / glissandos

James Iredell / Mexicans Living in the US to the Federal Government

Georgios Tsangaris / Romance after Chernobyl

Anny Ballardini / Eating a Sacher Torte while reading Derrida

Michael Heller / Maazel Conducts "Arirang" in Pyongyang (26 Feb 2008)

David-Baptiste Chirot / Raw butt ass naked waR

Jayne Lyn Stahl / To dine with friends...

Hugh Seidman / Conquest of Peru

John Roche / Spring Comes to Baghdad

Francesco Levato / from War Rug

Lynn Levin / Peace Is the Blithe Distraction

Ed Coletti / Gentle Little Pushes



Norman Fischer

Poem on the Suicide of Lucas Carlson, November 2006, Brooklyn, New York

So very little to scorn by the sea
In the bright air cultural draw-
Ings or the scourge of a soul in despair
The secular, the sacred, words in arrears
Distinctions made in bottles that lead to battles
Or souls in disrepair – what lack in the air
Where clouds brush light over marshes
& birds tilt or stand & wait knee-deep in brackish waters
Not like the snapshots of thought frozen on the barriers
Of intellectual conceit – where now altogether
Alien can the wayward water fall, all on earth
All on the muttering ones who make of thought
Or knowing a temporary hearth

Anyway, I insist on breaching the perfect silence
With a word or two, in this case not words in their alignment
But breaching that, words as scattershot entreaties
An old barn, how many of them sagging all over the place
In fields no longer used but for the former times the present
A shaggy reminder of doomsday felt in the ancient soul
& stories of that as dreams but more compelling –
Hardy human heart & head – that old bald distinction –
How real are all my thoughts, how much pictured
They are, figments of my pillow
I don't care what people think – even myself
As one of them – water falls diagonally & pitilessly
On landscape in a storm

All that's thought & all those images that don't
Ever efface but lie forever new in floating minds
Ever the case, encased, but never enclosed
Well, go ahead & change your pants, change
Your face, your force, your heart, your hand
Or mind: is the reader ever not the writer also?
Who's talking to whom? – of God as an amnesty
I declare the just limit, the distinction
Known in word or deed, as if word weren't deed or vice versa
Every breath a syllable & a symbol, arrow & its mark
Ancient battles continuously waged in an era of peaceful
Countrysides, where beasts pulled plows & women worked & bore
When lakes filled with gentle rain
& words flew up to heaven – how know
What anything ever meant?

When saturated, landscape greens & blooms
In subtle ways – mosses throw off greener parts
In the dark so human in their murky intentions
You decide what's beneath the tide, the pile of knowing
Multitudinous facts & fasts of an apparent world,
Trash or garbage, things & things & things
To be discarded, disappeared, though even a pin
Or piece of dust isn't ever lost or even
Out of sight except it be out of mind –
How could this be ill-informed, how wince
For foolishness? Change your shirt,
Your hair-shirt, for a fad, the galloping
Embracing latest numbers to shower your hair
With significance – or put on shoes
To walk the soggy fields, not as simple
As trembling hands, tremulous voice

Once aligned with truth take off your pants
Misalign your marble & your gold
& remove sacrosanct pronouncements
Prying them off your lips one by one with scratchings
Because their flavor has been scorched by prevailing
Winds of change or chance – my productions
Is a kind of joke, something dark in a drawer
Removed into light to be caressed by those rains
That know for sure the reason for their falling
A white egret unmoving by the freeway
Swainson's hawk aflutter in the marshes
& two lovers blown back by time's flagrant breeze –
A picture of that in pale words, amber
Waving grasses on a dune – I'll weep
If not for that, return no later than
February of a coming, if imagined, year

A young man's confused concerns, an old
Man's repetitive prattling, why not become
Another between thoughts, between slower
Ephemeral perceptions, in the gaps fly off somewhere
In scooped succulent pockets of time –
Wide sunlit parking lot, hot reflective
Cars & trucks & staggered shadows
All a cascade of thought or word – or word made thought
& vice versa, I simply walk where I am
Going, who made the sidewalk or the lane
Some trees or brush sailing by – out on the
Sea sailors sail on waving waves, boats bob
In the exhilarating starlight, a snatch of sight
Or sound encompasses whole worlds,
The brash bright distinctions, absent which
This unbreachable, cold, silence

If a wall, scale it or breach it or break it down
If it was a wall, or a word, or simply
Go around or blink the eyes or close them shut
And no wall, only a resistance within the body
To itself, to time, to matter, what matters
Isn't a problem to itself or me so I can ride,
Can be carried – O why these scales &
Cascades of words as if coloring a world
I step on if I'm not careful, well the
Worms will get me anyway, among all that
Rots and piles up & thank God for that
When I call who answers?
When I answer who asks?
When I listen who is talking & when I talk
Do I go on talking or does there come talking's
End & life's death or death's life?
How many things go through my fingers
In a year, a comb, a house, a lake, a lion

The sea they say breaks, it breaks
On the shore & foam swirls among the scattered
Seaweed, rocks like silent spent creatures
Receiving the enabling spray & all I say
Also breaks against them, paper covers rock,
Rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts up words,
As we have seen, on paper, & the ear scars or scores them
To rhythms unknown to the ocean's breast or breadth
Or it may be the same breath – nothing
To speak of in itself, nothing to know if not
Another & if another how know
Except by worn words placed upon a pillow,
That soft symbol, sea's scourge, the physical
Word not matter but does matter
I wear skins, not skeletons, on the outside

Waving over them, the white rocks, the sea's foam commences
To foster life everlasting but never the same
From one wave to the next, why flutter
Or utter any word but it's not words I utter
Nor matter's significant syllables but the sea's breath's
In me too & also in you – see the wheeling
Birds, figments of the uber-mind, or it's
Fragments of them, in one grain of an eye,
One atom's breadth's the crooked path the thread runs on
Down the corridors of essential time & end of time or bend
Of time on slow sound's turnings – well I'm
Not so sure I can make sense of that but straw
Can be baled, twine entangled, buttons
Sewn upon a jacket

I heard a sound it was the sea I knew it was
The sea for eye saw & mind knew memory of seas gone by
But how did he know those seas were seas
Outside a structure of distinctions, a stack of books
Or nooks where strong impressions lurk –
I couldn't hear those words, so perfect
Was their music, so much fit into a mold,
A language that, understanding, I found
Utterly, inescapably, confounding, yet the sea
Swirled anyhow about me, birds wheeled, stars twinkled
Boats bobbed & stones fell from the heavens –
Can I now assign meaning to any one of them
And can I not? Limits limit the limitless
& even the limitless by virtue of that
Limits itself to that

A man is fishing, not here but there
For how could a man be fishing here?
In the distance a sailboat with its white sail –
None of this is actual no more than waves can wave
Or fingers finger – a boat floats by a person
Or a person in a boat floats by a finger, a finger
Without a hand's grotesque just as a head
Beyond the body's horrible but a head that knows
Knowing as knowing doesn't get wet when it rains on the marshes –
There goes that hawk twittering again on pressing
Columns of air – it hears the air, the wind, its heat
For itself and no other but in itself are all others
Which is so for me & you I suppose so long as
We won't fish.       Jesus was a fisher of men.
I'm a fisher or a fissure

Out in the air there's always a sky & under the sky
There's earth inside the water that moves always
As ground does not – or seems not to – or moves
Much more slowly – pelicans fly by & a hurrying
Gull, the clouds don't move an inch – If
It's perfectly Ok for this to end, for this to be of essence
Possessed of an end, if end were
More than a word, a human thought or feeling,
Fact for a human mind to know, if I
Were not fractured & bent & rolled
& creased, if I had no upper lip, no
Lower, if you never heard these words
In the eye of the mind, the swirl of the sea,
Could we say there's area here, could there
Be night and would there be day?


Bill Dunlap

The Very Origin of Artaud's Crablice

For Democritus blinded himself, preferring the loss of his sight to the loss of his contemplations, which he felt to be interrupted by the straying of his eyes. This the Armenian peak of Ararat revealed to me in a downpour, revealing further on the nature of my private suffering: A desire, thus, participation through silence, through silent salience, through something other than actually doing in a dutifully understood sort of way, there's the rub, surely, there's the way I go all out with all pipes flaming in a whorl of dissatisfaction, a desire, that is, to do, to mean, but not to do or mean in a doing or meaning sort of way, no, more of a damp evening fogs of late autumn sort of meaning way, for truly, that's how I mean to mean, and believe it so confidently that we all hope to mean in that way, for Artaud has pried up the skunk odor cloth above the hopeless chasm where the currents of the time are named, and down that hole all the fetid binding tropes from slave-holding Aristotle (holding up his virtue ethics encased in class-blind pig fat, not to mention the suffering of the pig itself) to the very cusp of wilting modernity, where the asshole lords it over the brain, for the former controls the latter, eats only butter, speaks only lather, and chooses TV over anything, so, I say, there's the hard rubber end of the rub, like the blunt end of the cop club you find between your ribs should you mention any of it at all to any of the ass lather crowd, and that's the very origin of Artaud's crablice, which so miserly and miserably ate his brains away, but not before he spoke of it, thank the dirt and madly twisting roots that choke the culvert for that, for that is all we have to go on now, on our journey, I mean, whether you choose to go or not, commencement disregards you, and your overstuffed distressed super-sized everything is sucking you down the journey's shitter, where the crablice whom you've befriended only hope to eat your distressed bones in a dark hole where no echoing voice resounds, but only dampness, and that's not the end either, for there is none, only the eternal return to the eternal return as if you were cursed to live this all over exactly again and again for eternity, and this is what you'd choose?, this the how of doing?, that the way of making?, really?, nothing otherwise?, for I fear you've not impressed me with your choices, and now you itch to interrogate the interrogator, ah, typical crablice fashion, chomping again at controlling the terms, crab-rationality points to deviations from itself as examples of error, much as religious dogma refers to its own sacred texts as final proofs, but here, just here, in my only hope for screaming justice I dictate and bully freely, choosing there or here, here I think to end it, here against your chomping gulls, I say I win, with merely a dot, period.


David Graham

Air Supremacy

      All flesh is grass.
                –Isaiah 40:6

      The war is the first and only thing in the world today.
                –William Carlos Williams

Permanently at war:-I no longer
flick on the news first thing before coffee.
Now it's more like a job–something I'm doing
before I know it, some mild headache
gone chronic.-Forgive me, O Zion,
forgive me, Ninevah:-it's like that first day
after a death when you wake unfettered.

And it's not just life goes on, though it does,
not just news numbs, as it will.
It's the unheard shrill of cruise missiles
reading the mapped streets I'll never see,
it's brothers I'll never know at their radar screens,
it's all this news in the air, as we say
of truths so true they won't be verified.

Imagine a war made entirely of air.
Still the burden is upon Arabia
and the burden is upon Israel.
Still a voice is borne on jet wings,
an old voice keen as wind wags the bomb tails.
The voice out of such wilderness says, Cry.
And I say once again, What shall I cry?


Bobbi Lurie

tomorrow will be more real than yesterday

under the eiderdown where i wait for you
having decided to revolutionalize my life
only to learn life is just a dream

i open a window eating chocolate ice cream
so early with the pigeons
while others eat eggs to the sounds of the rifle factory

and my own life is a roulette
of pistols magically shot before me
reading mayakovsky better than a long walk

i don't want to live forever
no matter how kind they are i know russians are temperamental
lounging in too much winter

happy and well-fed they look
blue and white are the answers to pink
all the barracks rubbed away kiss-stained with caviar

champagne is laundry for my shirts
i wear my coat and shiny leather boots
red is the army of blood

hot as soup for three solid hours
poems are many but not about america
delicious is the stew the glass of milk the bath

a rough clean towel
industrious hands would have been the joy of marx
maybe not hegel or kant

a nap is good
pleasant dreams
but bedtime is better


Jéanpaul Ferro

Letter from a Soldier

I look for you in the dark,
beyond the woods where the wolves
hide at the edge of the field,

all night long as the rockets
rain down just a little bit harder;

I go through all the alleys as the
buildings come down and everything
turns to ash,

But I am just a little bit broken,
broke in all the right places –
a million little jewels that split apart

all across the ground.


CL Bledsoe


Our teeth will fail us before our throats.
Our throats will fail us before our lips.
Our lips will fail us before the words,
but the words will fail us.
They've failed all before us, just ask
the graves we used to call
warmth, the creeping things that never learned
even simple road sign pronunciation; it's foolish
to think entropy will skid
around us as though we were surprised raccoons
crossing a highway at night.

Faith is an abstraction one
must constantly convince the page of; why depend
on the intangible? Luck is an accounting
of odds practiced by amateur
alchemists cum mathematicians, equally
unreliable. The work will sour. Things
will droop, fall off in some places, sprout
in others. Our tools, our hands
will fail us. Complain now, while the teeth
still stink of fresh rot, the gums
just beginning to give way.


James Cervantes

Number Three of Photo Album Shuffled

It has chinzwa ookoo parking lot or parade
punk-stick in jello maybe

flighty smell of a new shirt artfully ripped
between third and fourth column
inside window to elbow's achievement
of lizard skin

single ping of windchime
in the desert
come upon a rotting corpse

see sweet sweet
poor genitalia so close to thorns

so crumple dishonesty
into the plastic bag hanging
simply the result of tiredness

third grade classroom derangement
iris effect   not Ken Burns

a grade is a magic marker
synesthetic concerto for
        two pianos
        attack trumpet
        4 little hammers on a pipe
standing room only in the inner ear

oomphee soloes
a light touch upon a stranger's shoulder
(wince) (move for the clown dammit)

enter world
we have hit no one lately how about you

Note: chinzwa ookoo and oomphee soloes are made-up nonsense words. Any resemblance to previously made-up nonsense words is purely coincidental


Philip Metres

from "Ibn Gitmo Flarf Stations," #25

Ponzi Schemer Beaming Me Up

Keywords: pyramid. 1, quadriplegic. 1, quarantine.
1, quarterback. 1, quebec-city ... 1, unusual-sex-acts.
He doesn't consider there to be a 'simulation'
if there are no graphics. The Sims Online are not capable
of committing sex acts. 1, unwanted-kiss. 1, uplift.
1, upper-class. 1, pyramid-scheme. 1, queen.
1, queens-new-york. 1, quest. 1, quick-draw.
Seen as a pyramid, there are three elements
to be considered: 1, quitting-smoking. 1, raccoon.
1, race-relations. Yes: Those who commit illegitimate
same-sex and opposite-sex acts are equally guilty of
skippy the bush kangaroo. To perform sex acts
while others watched. Anyone! heaven
is not a pyramid scheme, you amway salesmen, you! ...


S. K. Kelen

Business As Usual: Three Almost Sonnets


Seal the deal with a machine gun–
a whiff of oil brings wild boys running.
Head on out, a Posse on a shootem–up.
They pray to the gods of war.
Let bombs kill and mutilate.
Let children sicken and die.
Thugs control the streets and murder
people going about their daily lives.
Libraries and museums burn like the future.
And let precious life trickle like water in sand.
For years to come kids better watch for landmines
wherever you step. To be a patriot learn the art
of suicide. When the killing's done
Democracy will come and enlighten a land
benighted by plain old bad and wrong.


No shouting Yankee go home
or organising labour ever did much good.
Yankees take what they want and everything
goes to hell. Just last week a treasure chest
called Iraq was subdivided into Hi-octane, Standard
and Lead replacement. Military and civilian
casualties have been heavy, but ultimately
cost effective, the legacy of so many people's
hatred is a risk to be factored, exploited
and communicated. Fear guides us now
but know a world wide boom will come
and wash away the blood.
Lots of Iraq jokes on Late Nite Live
And booty, booty for the lucky ones.


Tortured ghosts will remind you it's not
just Yankees, it's every bullyboy ever lived
and living having his day drenched in blood.
Ruski go home never did much good either
nor for the rest of the murdering scum.
History a list of mass-murderers?
Vicious apes love torture and war.
Behind it all is a shared faith that's no mystery
and fundamentalists of any ilk appreciate:
the rapture of the world's end glimpsed in war,
its highest human expression is the sunlight
born from a thermonuclear explosion–
& Purity is delivered–heavenly
clouds of vaporised ocean


John M. Bennett

Smoke Anda

anda clintic featherine the walls are sticky

sticky hat swirls in the gasoline

chug a throat a swirls of naptha

phoam throat puzzled like a glass drunk

drunk tomb floating cross the lagke

yr lagke knot drizzles ,deader one

none deader crawlist blooming nutter hum

fuel nor hum nor drag nor boont nor rendid

slab chamber grunty one adrag it off the mouth

stumble or a mouth gnat flicker out the rubble

ape yr ráfaga rendiction huh "gnat" flagging i

t chot huh empter visckeration soup slot

doubled in the gnasher slot uh hem a c law

claw flung napkin in the wound net strangles

forge the net indented walls below the smoke


Mary Kasimor

feeling ice cream and reading the internet

there was more than
indefinite horror
                but including ice
cream in a dream I excluded
what I didn't want to know     cool
scoops of desire describe how I
felt briefly
          inchoate and speechless
I resorted to taste
I checked
the internet for international news
the ice cream was real
                   that I know
and there was nothing about torture
or terror in it          it is true that I
didn't look deeply enough

& we talk about terror as
a great leveler        an ideology of blunt force
efficient as American pie
as in removing our lives from a level
horizon so that we can't see
the cows who cry in their stalls before
being lead to slaughter
or the chemical
meaning of genocide
political as terror the dervish of change
changes shamelessly
             without telling us


Rodney Nelson

Wages of Time

today the main sound that of wind in screen
and I am glad to have returned to North
Dakota even though I could be in
Utah Israel Iran and have had
a cold spring but on the avenue a
crabtree is flowering white
                    even though
I do not want a Memorial Day
with no room for the nonmilitary
dead I may reread Mayakovsky on it
and have some vodka and Kahlúa to
mimic an effect of change admitting
it is hard to get that drunk now
                                    a half
gallon of chocolate ice cream would have
done me so much more back when even though
nothing can effect any change in what
ate Vladimir and all that ardor up
and I would not have the wages of time
in another way
                    if Heinrich Heine
had gotten word that the world was ending
he would have moved to the Netherlands where
everything happened fifty years late
and the crabtree is flowering white and
I would rather wait in North Dakota
than live on goat in an ardent country


Alex Cigale

Huambo, Angola: An Explanation

There is no laughter, giggling or teasing,
the children so malnourished they hardly
move anymore. Their mouths pried open
milk is poured slowly down their throats.
There's an indifference to life; the adults

don't even seem to be trying to survive;
they laugh inappropriately and blandly
sit by as mortar shells begin to fall.
They have seen so much there is a sort of

lack of reaction. You see a child in
really bad shape and you ask the mother
How did she get this way? and she just

shrugs and says: It has always been this way.
I sleep with hunger here. I wake up

with hunger. There is nothing for us here.


Peaceful, pastoral, this mass grave nestled
in rolling verdant farmland hills. We find
all over Kosovo there are people dead.
The grandmother, grandfather in the cellar,
rounded up, herded, lined up to be killed.
We discover more sites every day, day
by day the bodies are proliferating.
We find bone fragments, pieces of clothing,
so many bullets the shells cover the fields.

These things happen. There are no explanations.
The men told us nothing. There were bullets
coming through the banana trees but we
didn't know they were killing people. When we
are punished one day they might forgive us.
I sincerely ask for their forgiveness.

Previously published in Against Agamemnon: War Poetry (WaterWood Press, 2009)


Larissa Shmailo



Kalinivka, Kalinivka: The ground over the mass graves is hard, the soft grass grows. The Ukrainian Guard, boy and girl, make love, happy to be alive. In the Ukraine, collectivized, they walked on corpses. And the Germans alone protest, the father tells the girl. Siberia, purges. Like the Irish, their parents collaborated eagerly;-Hitler fought their masters. Now here, Kalinivka. The mass graves crack with green life. 1941 is forgotten by the summer of '43. She is 19, pregnant soon.


By 1943, the ghetto holds the few not deported, living in tunnels, basements, caves, the hiding ones, the ones who know. All the rest to camps in Poland, Germany, or dead. The boy no longer likes the girl, but through her, he got his Kapo job. Even his mother says, marry. Have a child. The female Kapo bears a boy through the camps, Prymsl, through the unknown tombs of Poland, the unmarked graves, the walls marked with Jewish blood, the bloody broken nooses, the dark rain. She wants the boy to marry her, he makes excuses, says, the Germans won't permit. That the child will die soon after the war, that she will beat her head upon the grave until it bleeds, that sorrow is unknown. The death of the Jewish children is unseen. Poland is always green.


Germany, Harz Mountains. The Germans turn now, now SS. The war is failing. Fewer the slaves to command, the girl, heavy with child, translates, working, starving, carried in rail carts for miles to build the V-2s. A rachitic Jewess cleans the barracks, the boy's eye turns, with pity, with lust; he gives her bread. From Erfurt to the extension camp, Buchenwald's new Dora, Northausen. Here they spare the rope to hang. All are hungry, the Germans too. The Allies bomb the industrial camp. Liberation. Rows of corpses, the eternal rows, line Northausen. The Germans are forced to respect the dead. Kalinivka, Pryml: the unseen dead, now here in respectful symmetry, no longer piled in heaps, rectangular, marked. The flowers grow, the burghers sing, "After every December, there comes a new Spring."


Michele A. Belluomini


The pigeons are always up early
Cooing in their pigeon-toed way.
Yes, let's go for a walk,
Even though it is winter – there will
Always be winter – as long as it's not nuclear.
I have worked 12 solid hours today,
I haven't had a day off in over two weeks –
No lie.
The last poem I wrote was over 3 weeks ago,
Dammit, and right now I want to take a nap
But even though I am tired, I can't seem
To sleep through the night – all those
Weird dreams – probably from too much
Coffee and tea and how the winter has gone on
For so long this year.
Who said anything about cigarettes!
Yes, the evenings when we sit huddled like refugees
Or Europeans, wrapped in our coats sitting out
On the balcony
The frickin' apartment being just one small room –
Now that's reality!
Our discussions ranging far and wide
Literature and art; ranting over Kant, the latest sitcom
Tomorrow, Hegel on a bagel, perhaps.
Then there's Emma, such a goldmine – she's my girl
X marks the spot
And idle hands are the devil's workshop.
At least that's what the nuns in school always said, but that opium
Always clouds the truth: there is no devil; there is
No heaven, Ah! But the angels do dance on the head of a pin.
More food? No thanks, I'm stuffed,
But a nice hot shower would be great.
Maybe I'll be able to relax enough to drift off to sleep
"perchance to dream" ??
Oh, stop with the bougie quotations, will ya?
There are armies marching, marching everywhere tonight
In our dreams, down our streets,
Across the deserts, up and down the plazas,
In this city and that
Don't they ever get tired? Most of them have
Scraggly beards; eyes, red-rimmed from too much killing,
And marching. Their breath smells, and most of them
Could use a bath.
Pigeons swoop up from the streets as they strut by.
No one is very kind to anyone else these days –
It all has to do with the economic down-turn
And possible strikes by municipal workers
Looming on the horizon. Wouldn't it be grand
If I could really get a little sleep, and,
Before I wake up, the pigeons would magically begin to croon
A lullaby of peace (in three-part harmony), and the soldiers
Will throw away their rifles and there will be
Much hugging and slapping of backs – and smiling –
Don't forget the smiling, among all the adversaries
In all the cities, and new schools and health centers
Will spring up, and all the people
Will be taken care of in good ways, finally, once and for all
– if I could just sleep a little, perhaps,
You would come cooing in on pigeon-toed feet, dear dream,
And Emma and I would dance and clap hands
And the revolution would finally begin.


Jan Clausen

–AP Headline, November 2, 2006

"There are hundreds of lives here, a lot of struggle, washed up on the beach," said Bill Lacovara, a Ventnor insurance adjuster who was fishing last month with his son when he spotted a flowered plastic shopping bag and waded out to retrieve it. "This is just a hint of what really happens. How many letters like this all over the world aren't being opened or answered?"

          ["Letters to God End Up in Ocean, Unread" by Wayne Parry,
          Associated Press]

A plastic shopping bag crammed with begging letters
bobs in the Jersey breakers, miles from God.
When Rev. Grady Cooper met his end,
though he'd promised to pray, dispatch the pleading up,
some unknown person dumped in a handy ocean
old envelopes with messages purportedly unread.

But how can we know for sure what's read, unread?
Omniscience might decode the most arcane lettering,
yea, though it reposed upon the ocean's
fishy floor. "This is my letter to my God
who never wrote to me. Put up
or shut up. Let me win the Pick-4. I'm at the end

of my faith-rope." Or, "I ought to end
this correspondence since You never learned to read.
You laugh while the smoke of sacrifice mounts up;
a wall of flesh implores, incised with ghastly lettering;
rough-bearded men play contact sports with rival gods.
A prophet writhes in the gut of an endangered ocean

mammal. And we are not free." Far from any ocean,
taxed by all the rigors of leadership in the End
Times, pastors in wingtips brandish the Word of God
like a holy nightstick. Later, we get to read
boilerplate apologies for "sin." Letters
to the flock euphemize lust-driven fuckups

tough to avoid when any peccadillo can show up
on YouTube. There's an ocean
of sin out there, not all of it specific to the arts and letters
types. When the evangelical circle jerk ends,
hair shirts get donned in a trice. Penitents read
scripture around the clock, bend over for God's

loving lash. Blogging might be a good activity for God,
a cost-effective way to give the faithful a heads up.
And then the deity could simply delete all unread
e-mails from his in-box, making ocean
dumping obsolete. But personally, I'm for ending
this whole tradition of dead letters.

I know a grave gray god whose name is Ocean.
Far up the beach where the killing ends,
ceaselessly she reads abandoned bones, unlettered blood.


Harry Gregor

You lower my jetty, is is yellow

Let Ouroboros' young
go yonder; I got you
Never I die; you
dry this ivy bed in oil
an ode very singular
Or are the poisson digging
now, or gone
to bed, or Orion
then over the forest rough,
          barren rogues
sneezing in rheumatic sand.


Kate Schapira


the cat flings down a
gauntlet of vomit
sealed driveway color of
an animal seal
the president signing into
law the hard coercive
light as if it were just

if war itself is its own
best argument against itself
between its teeth
numbers turn over
obliterating their
intent            I am here to help
this daughter use words as
if their earlier
numbers had never been
shooed out           animals
can be blamed one at
a time             a law
unburdened of evidence

this daughter's reading in
order to lead herself by
the hand to an article's
her mother says, "I don't know
about this man," she says, "The next
one's gonna have to
clean up his mess"

as if nature would take
care of him as it takes
care of light in the evening
the deserving
as if the driveway
vanished when it gets dark
disinfect the carpet
where he           signed           sealed

if difficult to
attribute no argument
will clean up
will sway

divides the table there
mats of shadow collect
in water on the pool cover
below trees            to
say, "Dark times," to make
a natural sound
scrape of the rake
itemizing disappearance
chill masses behind
the driveway not
too late to show all
to leave showing


Nicholas Karavatos

Saw a Face in the Grain

Here God is an investment banker. Here grace
Unequally distributed is the mirage of karma.

Taking pictures in my dream
Now she is nothing in my camera – no film
To prove she was with me.

By default an email account has been deactivated while
Kuwaiti women are voting from the back of the room.

Remember the Persians. Here come the Persians.
Diaspora women of Iran are writing books about themselves.

The first names of women interning in nonprofit organizations.
The last names of the first families to live in any house in the city.

Sudden panic death
Caught between bed rails and mattress.

The doping scandal in the war on drugs.
The scandal of dopes in the war on terror.

I am not "at war." Is everyone else "at war"?
The repetition of "war time" even on NPR.

Time is
An issue of
Legitimate public concern
In a climate of great secrecy
This is a story you would not want to get wrong.


Sophie Chamas


Cradled in the arms of a fanatic,
An adult,
My thumb in my mouth.

Fanatic and I in a glass cage
On display at The Museum of Orient culture,
Built on the remains of children
Who launched themselves at soldiers
and rolled down hills like Piggy.

Cradled in the arms of a fanatic,
My eyes downcast,
I avoid the stare of the
Culturally sensitive
Standing there in a white t-shirt
And worn out jeans.

Fanatic and I in a rocking chair,
A pacifier duck-taped to my mouth.
My liberal mother screams
inside the toy trunk.
My adult weight crushes the fanatic
Whose nails dig into my thigh.

Ten dollars an hour for this show
On display seven days a week.
Ten dollars an hour for that man
behind the glass cage with one hand
over his mouth, and the other
tucked into the back pocket of his jeans.


AE Reiff

Child Verse

Now today that the milk's blown up
go ahead and blow language up.
When a trusted thing like innocence drowns,
Hope's combustible, milk, breast, boom.

But people still need supplements
So sandwich land mines into seed,
Each explosion makes new fields,
Come on and bless the deed.

Clouds with rain on new towns falls,
Another time the child thirsts,
Gasping for air and innocence,
In his cheeks the blood veins burst.


Edward Field

Secrets of a Woman, Our Dark Lady of Letters Susan Sontag (1933-2004)

What a disaster for her
that she had to die during the tsunami!
She would have hated it upstaging her death –
very bad career management,
which she was so good at in life.
And, oh, those dreary novels. . .

But there I go again with the old putdowns,
which invariably slip out
even when I vowed to resist it
while she was battling cancer, for the third time, so courageously.

In her lifetime, it was such fun badmouthing her,
the way she babbled about the Art Experience –
gimme a break!
Whore was a favorite accusation. And peddling second-hand
European intellectual fashions to gullible Americans.
We seized upon "Queen of Camp" with delight –
her famous essay an amalgam of the ideas of W.H. Auden
from his essay on Oscar Wilde in the New Yorker that winter,
and Alfred Chester's – she was brilliant at picking brains
and with one of those phenomenal memories,
remembered everything word perfect, the basis
for the charges of plagiarizing in the final novel.
But she was a great researcher.

I remember her sitting at Alfred Chester's feet
when he was a rising star on the New York literary scene,
and trying to figure out his magic –
he had her number even then and said of her
that she had a pretty face, a good memory, a second rate mind,
and, demonstrating his horror feminae, an indifferent cunt –
he called it The Black Hole of Calcutta.
Insecure in his own genius, and freaky looking,
her beauty was a threat to him
so he disparaged her legs as heavy –
she cleverly disguised them in trademark high boots,
part of her left bank intellectual's costume, along with
the dark sweep of hair, turtle neck sweater,
and ever-present hipsters' dark glasses.

Alfred was clearly jealous, never able to admit that, like her,
like all of our literary generation, he was hungry for fame.
But Susan never had any problems with that –
she was already of the new thinking
that said Go for it. So she networked like mad,
haunting literary parties and wooing the Hannah Arendts,
the Partisan Review editors, the Joseph Brodskies –
anybody with clout. Alfred liked to say
that she wangled her first book contract
for a mere collection of dreams by sleeping with Roger Straus.
Maybe, maybe not, but it was really masterful shmoozing.
And there was that shit-eating Natalie Wood smile,
full of guilt . . . but for what? That we'd caught her at it?

I used to say, bitchily, that she hid her lesbianism
because she wanted the Nobel Prize,
which, like Poet Laureate, doesn't go to homosexuals..
If she'd honestly stood up and declared she was gay.
it would have meant a lot to the cause,
which Susan championed in the guise of a sympathetic outsider.
But by then, she was a prisoner of her fame –
if your publisher even sets up an office in Stockholm
to promote you for the Nobel Prize, what can you do?

But of course no one in our generation of intellectual snobs
would want to be called a gay writer. A gay poet, either –
it was the following generation of Stonewall that seized on that,
though then it became just another marketing tool
to stand out from the crowd of hopefuls.

Susan had always used her marriage and motherhood,
as well as her beauty, as a smokescreen –
after her divorce,
when her husband sued for custody of their child
on the grounds that she was living with a woman
and it was an unsuitable atmosphere for a boy,
she and her girlfriend came to court
in dresses, high heels, and lipstick,
and the judge, unable to believe
such ravishing women were dykes,
threw out the case. And in fact,
she was an excellent mother, and gay babysitters
were the perfect surrogates when she went out dancing
on the bird circuit, the chain of gay clubs on the East Side
named, like the Blue Parrot, after birds of plumage.

When Alfred Chester was mad as a hatter,
the drums in his head told him to marry her –
it would certainly have been a good career move for him.
And she did go to bed with him, he reported –
she told him that if she wasn't in love with a woman,
she'd go to bed with men, and besides,
"he was the most fascinating man in New York."
But when he put that as a quote from Susan Sontag
on the jacket of his new book, she threatened to sue,
so the jacket was pulped. She had a firm idea
who she wanted to be identified with and who not,
and she saw clearly that Alfred Chester was on the way down,
and out.

Even her oldest friends were in awe of what she became –
a genuine icon – that's certainly her masterwork.
She didn't have to be a great writer,
though her essays are sometimes okay, if mostly overwritten.
With her death, though, her defects,
and our contempt of her worldliness,
have faded away, and we realize
what we, what the world, have lost.

It was as a voice, and she had a thrilling voice,
that she was most important.
She was one of the last of the great liberal public intellectuals.
Like Gore Vidal, also no fiction writer, she was clear-eyed
about politics and, like a true heroine, took a firm,
an unequivocal stand against the war in Iraq –
she had an electric courage of her convictions
as in her dazzling comment on 9/11 in the New Yorker,
where she brushed away our simplistic definition of "terrorism,"
the all-purpose label to block out the issues
that make men do violent acts,
to deny our own guilt in enslaving/exploiting other nations.
Such a pity that she didn't live to denounce this phony election,
the second in a row by an illegal cabal, really a right-wing coup.
She could have led demonstrations, spoken at teach-ins,
awakened American youth to the destruction of their future.

Now who will speak for us?



Sharon Olinka


I hold a veal breast.
Rub it with salt. Herbes
de Provence.
near my spine
like steel-tipped
rollers, ingrained
bits of gravel. Soon
I'll get a massage.
Smell of last night's
chicken carcass
returns. Blood clots
on paper towels.
Cast-off small
blue veins.
It's almost
time to go.
The veal
breasts folded
in a bowl.
water safely
in my bag.
Clipped radio voice
that says
thirty more civilians
dead. A bomb.
A train. A plane
drops black
plastic storage bags
for remains.


Joachim Matschoss


footscray. mcdonald's, 6.00am
arm, toe, brain

mcdonalds was still shut.

he lost his arm in Vietnam
that war
death's still fucking death somewhere
'iraq, you know.'

arm was gone in no time
later other parts of his body followed,
a toe
and sections of his brain,
but not his memories –

he returned years ago from the jungle and
put a key in the front door of his parents' place
and made sure his life became a shield for
pretenders –

'do you like happy meals?'

mcdonalds was still shut.
kew junction, 6.00am
between graveyard and home

he tells me that his wife has died
and how he was motionless for years
frozen between the graveyard and the
home they had shared a short lifetime –

he shuffles on his shoulders bent
a forest in the distance
seems to be resting under snow.


Hugh Fox

Every Day

Everyday as long as there's afterwork
light, out into the corn-/soybean-field
world punctuated by deer-for-an-instant
between trees, then a duck-/crane-swamp and
a partridge field, the Casodex working alright,
La Bella Donna 60 and looking 53, dinner
full of frogs and peaches, apples and
figs, dreading the Darfur, Sudan, Afghanistan,
Chicago, our-town evening news, preferring
a Deneuve Sauvage film
before checking the windows, alarms,
hand-guns on the table next to our bed,
and trying to lunarly slide off to


Eileen Tabios

Ars Poetica (#100,000)

The sound of hunting boots–
but I don't know why I'm here

An orange campfire still fresh
warms through my thin t-shirt–

I rise now
into this cold universe

confusing me once more
into thinking constellations sing–

That darkness exists solely
to emphasize Light


Basil King

from Learning to Draw/A History

The Possible Can Happen

The beautiful young woman crossing the street wears short shorts, a tank top, and shades (sunglasses). She is not the only woman crossing the street in shorts and a tank top. But she is the only woman crossing the street saying, don't look at me!

Mythology, and ambiguity make room for figures that site an imagined world. Space is equivalent to meditation.

There is more.

The beautiful young woman goes into a building takes the elevator unlocks the door of her apartment, sits down at her computer.

Who speaks


Moses says he's been misinterpreted. His vision didn't appear to him all at once. It came in fits and starts and as he watched clouds being blown not by the wind but by a force that was emotional he feared for himself.

Moses said he remembers that the 10 commandments are objects of his affection and only to be used when in doubt.


I didn't find the same place in the desert where Moses had sat. I find apartments, lofts and a house where bewitched justice, painting and the poem are one.

The poem
Sits on the edge of the canvas
Stands at the foot of the bed
In the trunks of cars
In airplanes
In trains
In dining cars
In department stores
In super markets

The poem
Sits in a chair next to
Walt Whitman's portrait
The one Eakins painted
The one where he is sitting
The one where
For breakfast
H.D. the poet
Looks like Thomas Eakins
Painted her portrait
                        If Eakins painted H.D.
Would he paint H.D. standing
Would he paint H.D. sitting
Would he paint her beauty
Would he paint her anger
Would he paint Philadelphia

A daughter
A daughter crosses her legs
A daughter raises
A daughter
Is a mother's daughter
Is a father's daughter
A daughter is
A daughter
A mother


A matriarch
Sits in a big chair
Her grand daughter
Crosses her legs
Wears earrings
And goes to the gym

Her grand son
When he goes to college
He will buy a house
He will not live in a dorm

"Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is continuing to try the same approach to solve a problem but expecting different results."


Poussin taught Cezanne and Cezanne taught us how to pace ourselves. The short story has no ending but where does the long poem begin.

In the beginning she told Titian
Cranach and Rubens she would
Ride her bicycle uptown
She views the city
As a drawing
Wash your face
Comb your hair
Tuck in your shirt
Tie your shoes
Put on a jacket
Be ready
The land refuses to grow
High tide walks the shore
Waves stroke foot prints

I can't count the times I have climbed the four flights of stairs up to this room where I write. But each time I do accompanied by a short story I pass the third floor. The short story has no ending. But the paintings and drawings that are on the third floor are part of a long poem. I began to paint when I was 13. For 37 years I painted went to movies read books and poetry before I began to write.

At age 50 the poem and the painting became one continuous scroll that like Asian and Semitic scrolls tell stories as they instruct. My Torah is endless. It cannot be measured in feet, yards or miles.


Wayne Crawford

In the Shade of a Sunday Morning

We don't admit it, but we're hiding. We've swallowed
the poison they gave us. We know their lies and denials
were necessary. We thought no one would believe them,
some might indulge them, turn away. We question
less, speak up less. It isn't safe to argue. Our home
is burglarized one afternoon. Thank God, the kids were
in school. The local police find no clues, tell us the thieves
will never be identified. They didn't leave a calling card.
They were pros. We have coffee with friends who
attended a rally, carried signs. We woke up with two
flat tires. Soonafter, the IRS says we owe a penalty
fee on income we reported three years ago.

Day by day, we grow less curious, less surprised. We
pull the shades, close the curtains, lock the doors. Little
by little, we stay close to home, put a fence around
the yard. Coyotes kill the neighbor's small pet. A bull
snake crawls into the seat of the porch swing. We
begin wearing hats, darker clothes, concealing jewelry.
Our internet provider can't explain why we get dis-
connected every few days. We spend less time online,
never visit a site from a foreign country, avoid political
and religious sites, email from strangers. We don't
answer the phone if the number is unknown. We've
stopped using our credit cards. More and more,
we walk with our heads down, eyes shielded, eyelids
closing further every day. By the time our eyes are shut,
we'll be adjusted to the dark.Life will be better.

[previously published at 10K Poets]


Catherine Daly

vegas, a roulette factory, and you
are not here
and misters on the sidewalks underneath the awnings fronting shops
squander the Colorado River, where you rove, 'lil dawgy.

the serbs are here, the croats, christian, muslim, refugees
from a war, Vegas the place to buy the mitteleuropa sausages
of everyone's youth in mitteleuropa
or Middle America – I mean the 1.99 shrimp cocktails that were .99
until the second oil shock,
the current war,

spin on the wheel of fortune, death card reversed, or other hip
gaming lingo, like fortune is chance,
take a chance on me, make chance your friend or fiend,
hey you: does ice melt in your mouth?

do you know how to buy a foreclosure no money down?
do you know how to double your down on the red, on the black,
in a Rez casino "house," in the desert sand


Joe Ahearn

A History of Western Culture

Click here to read poem


James Finnegan

Red Cabbage

Peel back the masks
of congealed blood,
one after another,
without end. If there
are eyeholes
or breathing passages
they were made long ago
by worms. Mask
after mask peeled
back, on a smaller
and smaller head


Sheila E. Murphy


Someone's egged my nest to depths.
I'm falling in the call.
Salt braces my indigeny.
I'm comped in this hotel until the endpoint
Of the sacrificial art I've laid to test.

My briar patch of thinking lapses.
And my wool.
My diamonds.
My inveterate shore tones.

My lifeline's pinched by winter.
And already it is summer.
Now (and at) the time grows simpler
Sinking into doormat as we do,
And feeling, as we dry our ampersands
That leisure promised was a ruse
That muse ought to have paved.

Thereby be diametrically disposed, my legion
Of unfurnished angels.
I am caught with you and your
Store-bought chronicles
Of chanticleers and drudge.

I think it's going to be wonderful
Because I always think it's going to be

Do not despair.
Give way to crucibles.
Arrive alert.
Sip this, drive that, weigh in,
My easement trumps your solitude.
Take that!


Russ Golata

Denizens of Dinner Death

Harmful Parasites LIVING in the United States
Breeding In Your Stomach
Hail the United States of meat & dairy
Declaring war on all Citizens of PLANET earth
Come on, you know better than that!

Japan is ON to something.
Unnatural things they aren't supposed to have
The citizens of Japan hate milk, meat, and GODZILLA
You may not really be ready to accept the fact–
Someone IS already poisoning your mom

Harmful Parasites Everybody has them.
Living and BREEDING inside your stomach,
They will eventually cause you to puff up and explode
As the sun rises over Nagasaki, it's a good day to die
Come ON everybody, get more bang out of life.

Harmful Parasites using your body
Even if it feels good, this is WAR–
Time to flush them out right now
They are crawling under your skin
As Japanese skin evaporates in nuclear fusion

Knock Knock . . .
What has teeth but no eyes and is alive in your bowels?
Would you trust anything
Living in your bowels that has teeth but NO eyes?
As the radioactive dust settles on Hiroshima
A Harmful Parasite is looking back at me in the mirror


Robin Morris

Soldier Girls

The soldier girls stand, blossoming bayonets.–
"When you are invisible," they say,
"you will be our favorite lover."

Boot camp. Cypresses. The days
into which no darkness intrudes.–
"You must starve to serve the spirit,"

the old men used to murmur
as their rubber-tipped canes
stirred indecencies in the sand.

The relearning of penmanship.–
Faulty translations
from an unknown tongue.

Chocolate after chocolate,
(this too is following orders)
the girls attain enlightenment

of the senses. They've navigated
dry seas, seas of ash,
where pale, uncaught bouquets

float into enemy camp,
the secret of invisibility
in their wake.

At the wedding: "khaki becomes you."
In it you become more distinct,
standing fierce against the backdrop

of Badlands where boys
have been learning to cry,
stirring red sand till tear ducts cooperate

producing the capital substance.
Soldier girls bottle and sell
it at rocketing prices.

In dreams their hair grows longer.–
Such treasures they find, and become,
even to themselves.


Dirk Vekemans

autumn has come
i'm all out of hair
songs be sung
loves be shared

buts be blossoming
beauties behave
births be brave
& darkness come

the rot commences
the darlings shoot
each other by the book

each death is more
each dying more
like me like me before


Gerald Schwartz

Eating Now, Reading Next

Five o'clock in the morning. Is it too early to have our Divine
Liturgy explained? Will the gold we gather be drawn up out of
the deep water of bail-outs? Will a shining fish descend
down into a cold January Inaugural Day? Let's have
some raw cane sugar today in our black coffee and wish
for moments–this one, then the next and the next again–
to last just long enough for everybody's moments: long
enough too see one golden shaft light up the backdrop,
ruffling a nimbus or two, making all space a new
proscenium packed with a promise of action, curtain
going up, dream-blood in the streets, the mystic
breakfast receiving us yet again.


Gray Jacobik


The most deadly week in Iraq in two
years . . . and Pres. G. W. Bushwacky
says what he means by "stay the course"
isn't what "stay the course" normally
means, as in hold-to-it, unvarying,
adhere to the plan, man, as in sailing,
say, or running a gauntlet; no, stay
the course as he means it means
assessing your options, keeping your
cards in play, being flexible so as to
vary your course according to what's
coming at you, as you would if say,
you were clearing some scrub off
your ass-last acreage, your bottomland,
and up jumped a feisty gopher out
of its gawdamn gopher hole and hollered
"Cut out that racket, you somofabitch!"
You'd cut your Homelite, you'd vary
the course of your hacking on account
of a gopher doesn't sass at you everyday;
like that, the Pres. means to say. Keep
to the decisive goal of bringing democracy
(or a democracy-like government) to Iraq
or whatever confederacy of former belligerents
Iraq is partitioned into. Then hold to that.


I.H. Walton

4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne, 2006—?

The bleeding heart cannot forever bleed 1
Rent into fragments, mouldering to decay. 2
If but some vengeful god would call to me 3
It will be late to counsel then or pray: 4
"There's some redemption in the doom of death: 5
Take it." My day of youth went yesterday– 6
Lame, impotent conclusion to youth's dreams. 7
And through that Golgotha of blood and clay, 8
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod. 9
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat 10
Persistent ghosts that hold my memory.11
In the long patience of inglorious war, 12
Old Earth's tired ages steal away and weep 13
And in their beds the tyrants sounder sleep. 14

1 James Thomson, "Sonnet I."
2 William Preston Johnston, "Julius Caesar."
3 Thomas Hardy, "Hap."
4 Christina Rossetti, "Remember."
5 William Freeland, "In Prospect of Death"
6 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "XVII."
7 Wilfred Scawen Blunt, "Vanitas Vanitas."
8 Eva Dobell, "Advent, 1916."
9 Gerard Manley Hopkins, "God's Grandeur."
10 George Meredith, "With Waking Eyes."
11 Louis Chandler Moulton, "Afar."
12 Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, "Guns of Peace."
13 Hall Caine, "Where Lies the Land."
14 Helen Hunt Jackson, "Mazzini."


Joseph Somoza

Western: A Synopsis

Killer is as charming as
questionable rancher-hero with
resentful, teenage son.
Killer utters from bible, does passable
drawings in limited spare time,
appreciates good woman, having
loved his mother once,
and is, generally, observant,
rabid, brutish gang members
intimidated into blind
obedience by killer's sissyish
sidekick with his
blazing guns.–Sidekick
contains most of the venom
for the gang, allowing killer to
exercise his charm, which
green-eyed women are attracted to
to the point at times of
following him up the stairs,
though realizing there's no
future in such a life.
Only killer, rancher-hero, and sidekick
remain standing
when smoke clears and train
pulls into station.
Teenage son is witness to
rancher father's unexpected
depth of courage before
father is shot, sidekick
receives coup de grace from
reform-minded killer, and train
pulls out, killer, alone
on board, whistling horse
beside him, mysterious
in his smile.–


Lisa Siedlarz

Casualty Notification Officer

You are about to embark on one of the most
difficult tasks of your military career.
Duty as a CNO has priority over all
others and is designed to soften the "blow."

You must show that the United States Army
is genuinely concerned with its personnel
and their families.-

You must convey, in every action, the sincerest
concern of the military for the feelings of
the Next of Kin (NOK).

Being prepared, sincere and alert to the needs
of the NOK at notification will reduce
some of the shock.

          1) Wear Class A uniform when notifying NOK
          2) Primary NOK (PNOK) and secondary NOK (SNOK)
               must be notified within four hours of your assignment.
          3) Notification hours are 0600 – 2200

Learn all you can about the casualty and the PNOK
before your visit.

Casualty Area Command will supply you info
about the NOK.–Familiarize yourself with
the NOK location.–If necessary, obtain police escort.

          4) Memorize your script.–See paragraph 5B below.
          5) Review these videos:
                    a. Casualty notification – 26 mins.
                    b. Emotional NOK – 8 mins.
                    c. Hostile NOK – 6 mins.

Be inconspicuous,
call no attention to the military presence.
If NOK is not at home, do not sit and wait.
Go to the neighbors, church, police or post office.
Inquire of the NOK's whereabouts
Do NOT disclose your mission.

Meeting the NOK at home is preferred.

When you meet the NOK, be as natural as possible.
Convey your chosen script but do not read from it.

Do not physically touch the NOK

unless there is fainting.

The secretary of Army has asked me to express his deepest regret
The secretary extends his deepest sympathy

Advise the NOK as follows:
the Army has various disposition options;
a letter will come from the soldier's commander;
a telegram will arrive confirming all relayed information.

Do not discuss matters that you are not qualified to discuss.

Stay with the NOK as long as needed,–
Depart as soon as possible



Seinhart Nickel

first killing then laughter then killing again

the place gets crowded now genocide has started first week is toughest I say when hangman's hysterically excited like children before it calms down before they calm down to get more systematic more regular many people arrive men as much as women and children growing in number confused they look surprised not expecting to die this day this soon this way shot in the eyes stabbed to death stoned kicked thrown from a bridge over dry water their legs went straight through the head so how comes they walk so how comes they think cut off hands cut off feet cut off head from its carcass rolling down the hill burning silly eyes confused by the lack of pain by fading fear by our hospitality and they would like to ask for the meaning of all this but who could answer and say the meaning of death so we serve organic cookies instead-and mineral water and orange juice on sugar cubes for the children who never had those living and water for a wash and clothes for the ones that bleed most to get more clean to get more human to feel dignity in death still woman under craving eyes or still man enough for her while gathering around for a good smoke with other men no caring for cancer never more watching the women behind their smoke pretending they do not crowded the place gets now the genocide goes on and goes on dead soon outnumber the living who run like rabbits through woods made of guns and bullets and triggers and fingers and eyes and a smile dreaming of wings and darkness and of last week and some dream of god to ask for the meaning of all this as they know he could tell the meaning of death but he does not why should he give him one good reason a woman sits near me mother of seven children five of them dead they arrived as she says two of them still running and she wishes she could talk to them about the peace of death and the pain of the living and she wishes she could tell them to stop running and face their persecutors with a smile so they can kill them and free them to leave earth for this place but I guess her children's end close anyhow and so I tell her and happily she returns to the others the place is very crowded now the killings are almost over with the murderers slightly getting sober walking through blood hiding their guns telling the worlds newspapers they did not although everybody thinks they did although everybody knows that someone has done and they look at the dead and they would like to look at the ones that disappeared and they make lists of killed names and lists of killer names and they make lists of their own guilt and lists of all the others that are guilty too and they hope they are less and the others are more and finally all together decide they do not want to go for further details as the dead are dead and the living need to go on living for years and none of them wants to feel shame every night he wakes up sweating or every time she speaks to her children who ask for a why and who ask for a what so they claim it's over and the dead are the past and the living are the future and so the dead get silent and sad and forgotten and upset but maybe if they meet god he will explain the meaning of all this...
just give him one good reason


Hanoch Guy

Phoenician Glass

Slight eastern breeze ruffles light sails
On a sparkling sea
Caressing the palms
At Tyre port.
Nets are spread.
Phoenician fishermen Hiram and Yeru, their faces flushed
Turn over green arrows and wide neck blue bottles.
Thrilled at their discovery of glass they thank the gods.

Yeru screams, points to the bottle he is blowing.
A red vein cuts the glass.
Hiram puts his ears to the sand and bellows
The armies are coming.
I can hear the cedars breaking
Smell the countryside burning
Children and women scream
In collapsing tents
Houses crumbling.
Can't make out the soldiers' uniforms.
For three thousand years we have witnessed
Ruins made by Assyrians.Romans, Selchuks, French, Israelis.

Let us take off
sail to Crete.
Collect the nets before they turn red.

Row hard westward against the wind.
We will come back when madness ends.

There will be a great demand for glass.


Gloria Frym

To Whom It May Concern

    Why is it one can have lovely dreams and wake up in a bad mood? Possible answers: ugliness outside the dream, diamond mining in Africa, the age of terror, unknown source of scabies, neighbor running industrial vacuum cleaner over deck, health insurance mafia payments, warheads poised to ejaculate, premature master plans, hegemonic discourse–out of the broom closet into the oval office, deportations, hallucinations, machinations, combinations of 1968 now faded, segregations, simulations, marinations, acid flashbacks, inhalations, whales washed ashore, rare birds alerting humans, humidors, corridors, the fall of the Moors, the stewing of the Jews, always a feud over a small piece, who wants Siberia, who wants Africa, who wants cold space, rhizomic cells, political spells, someone took the handle off the scandal and now the pump don't work.

    But enough about me. To Whom it May Concern rings conditional. It may not concern Whom at all. And yet, it may, rather agnostically, play a small role in Whom's concerns. For a long time I used to go to bed early.-And now I is another and the bed, well, the world's a bed of hot wars. One has a bad habit of not letting late risers sleep long enough. And one resents those dreams which live better than one does.-


James Bertolino

Corn on the Macabre

". . . a collision of sincerity and ruse
at the subatomic level . . ."
                      —Pattiann Rogers

"Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's
best friend; and inside of a dog,
it's too dark to read."
                      —Groucho Marx

When you act as though you understand,
you compretend. We're not searching for semen traces
on the Holy Shroud — didn't get enough
grant money for that. Wouldn't be a bad project,
but we're stuck with studying a typical annoying
question: how long does skin continue to reek
after people have stopped smoking cigarettes?

If you threw yourself out a tenth-story
window, a scholar might describe your crime
as auto-defenestration. Hold that thought.
Now imagine webbing draped in rippling sheets
from a fence rail. When the breeze hits, there's a cascade
of baby spiders, gold and black, like a froth
of champagne bubbles.

We're not fostering the poetry of loathing,
nor any system of bloodless clotting.
Consider the rare pleasure of eating insects
alive: when their legs thrash, tickling the tongue and
roof of the mouth, it's like a good seltzer fizz.
Then there's the satisfying crunch, followed by a burst
of rich cream filling.

Science wants all the answers, and may more frequently resort
to New Age Divination. Through a form of channeling
known as Rupture Event Scanning, scientists
can listen to viruses pop like Orville Redenbacher.
No need to identify those who read your fortune in the cards
as Tarotists. And never indulge in the concept
that DNA breakdown is driven
by Satanislam.


David Howard

There Is Too Much Winter: Until Things Dry

existence is
green. It's a good thing you're good at

things, the detritus of 'essence'
mixed monotonously in water, in air

suspended. Cold strengthens the beer, cold
beer colours your face

the way guilt used to at primary school:
the guilt from not knowing

the guilt from knowing. In the fireplace
a cicada marks the time you don't have.


a ladder in snow you photograph
          knowing it does not want to be held

                    there's a road over the hill of your childhood
where cicadas wait on the verge of song

           a white horse whinnies for your hand
                    and the ancient enemy is the one ahead


Since I've decided to revolutionize my life
how early it is!

Mustard seeds
your words burnt her tongue to the stump.

Light crinoline
crumpled into kauri floorboards.

At the christening you're surplus to requirements, balls
sagging. And her breasts

never in sympathy.


the despair of a labourer's sweat in the air
when your hatred is unrequited

his memory a derisive son
after the forgiving mother's kiss

no photographs no
ghosts concentrated from pocket-watch godly

dandelion and spore all over
the bloody place

only articulate bone showing the way

now you realize he is dreaming
urbi et orbi


Modest as a Chrysler's wing-mirror
the dream of a chrysalis. Men on nightshift

try to tether the star above a mechanic's shop. You
fold lottery tickets into boats, launching them

off the pier where the moon tips
its hat over and over.


Annie Christain

This Is a Robbery

All robberies are types of ecclesiastical districts.

The man who's counting with his head to the ground,
his shoulders feel like a suspended apricot.

His breathing sounds like a mothball larger on the inside.
Once he tasted his friend Thom in the Berlin Wall.
Now he's looking on the floor for David Bowie's left iris,

but he only sees a baby listening for her mother's voice.
The voice looks like the mashing of sea grapes.–

What can save us now?

John Franklin Rodgers with his signed Boxcar Willie whistle from Branson, Missouri.

One of the robbers wrapped a bible in the funny papers
and placed it at a construction site.

The woman with the oscillating skirt knows and whispers,
Let's ankle?

The robber presses his cheek to a brick and checks the sealed vault,
but my breasts only spray milk in the shower and that hardly counts.

The one-armed man shakes his giant #1 foam finger and says,
The blue train of Confucius tunnels underneath us of full of worth.-
(an earthquake),
and this time he's right.–

The old woman rolls just in time to see her only love mouth,
I'm dumping you.
The old woman smiles.

Vincent Price talks through the robber's arm:
The vault is open,
and the apple kid runs by the sagging windows
calling her uncle a quasar.

The sensitive robber pours lemon juice onto his arm.
If the arm had eyes, they'd look as sewn open
as the teller
sitting in his cage

after the selective rat of antiquity
evolved out of existence.

He asks again, Hvert er skiptahlutfallið?,
What is the exchange rate?

The security camera sniffs for lateral shrinkage,

the whistle sounds unclinically rapturous,

and John Franklin writes Boxcar Willie
under Boxcar Willie's signature.

Everyone in this room will be a robber someday.–


Jared Schickling

The Irreligious Promiscuity of Metaphor
or the Singularity of This Event or
Yards along the Poudre / Costume

"Th' applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes their lot forbade,"

angle, of
mangled light revolving
sheen of evasive signs, i here
many here to enjoy / avoid
rabbits fox NOT FOXES bird
mice snake through weedy banks of
the bank not
whom / what no one leashes, clipped & defiant those
androgynous wheels re-direct here for you.-
& like no friend that TICKET
word is the last stone weight / of a requisite
show.-i would not go near it.
apparently those metal yards may
not already silence THE poudre trail.


John Joynt

The Palace of Historic Employment

In the quiet lifting of the damaged palace

a prince, still rare as paradox, sheathes
faith from the proud embers of attainment.

Each sentence colored by demand, its
etymology a dour face on an otherwise

jovial countenance. The gentle hills
filled with war and chivalrous gluttony.

Cascades of gallant silence, for every
bird has seized flight and every wave  

along the ocean's diligent coast
regressed to murmur for courtier's sake.

Oh, the prince, for whom wept beneath
the feign steel, waiting tenderly for

hope to reveal, rose in surfeit beauty
nobler than a villain of unequivocable pardon,

quietly gathered spoliate and sunder.


Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

from Op / US

(if the time to die comes to me mama in my
time of dying mama to be the rose to be the rose

to be in rows swept away a torn leaf recast
in death reassembled in death if the time comes to me mama
to die mama to be in death a rose a leaf)

. . . in its overflowing trash can old fruit
spills out of the can a homeless child picks
up the fruit and eats makes her

sick & without
health insurance is turned away . . . goes back to the park
. . . raped during
. . . her sleep . . . want to come here to
. . . be idolized . . . under a tree
. . . in the middle of the park's strewn garbage once i was

at a beach and the wind blew a can into the left side
of my head the garbage of japan and america fill my mouth
mix in my chest i miss my american

garbage & the family in the car & imagine
a universe of trailer parks with garbage since between freedom and
the lives of others a trail of garbage always connects us ....

to tie my memories into parcels drop them into
the sea maybe they will sink & i will follow
them into the ocean later you will find my

memories floating face down oh no you
will say those memories have been in the ocean
for years and we only just noticed them we didn't

even miss them now they are bloated
decayed and blue because she was
always watching CNN she was lonely of course the tv

friends the conversations with TV drama
doctors took place
in her head she talked back

to them ah this room is quiet as a grave this room is this room is im free
i will free soon i hope to be free you i hope free i free hope i hop free am
hopping free i

freed hope i grave grave hope quitely quietly hop(p)ing grave
freedom hop(e)s hotels very much hopping (for) more
more room, please


escape the war i wrote poems to escape (activate)
the war i ate a lot of food moved to canada joined
a NGO we fought every day i went shopping

(did u rearrange bombs in a new order then
order the countries on which to
drop them?...)

my dream
turned to polyurethane

given the ignorance
in leadership
of a desperate

a militant

couple i
have not
yet so

meanwhile she was busy
licking a wall
and aspirin costing

a hundred dollars
or so
to escape

the war i piled brick upon brick arranged
them in a pretty pattern
they are still stones

so to escape the war
no matter how many
times i count the bricks

come out wrong
& the words become thin and

i arrange the stones
in a pretty pattern they're
just rocks though

(deathly warranted death his flesh
centuries from his soul
refugee from false symbols & smells

of my neighbor's cooking to turn
my head in the right direction
i removed the thorns from the roses)

did you know
he read many poems
about loneliness in front of people

who are to the wilderness
be a love(ly)
be a lone(ly) and a war


Roger Mitchell


        "A plague a both your houses."

We lay our scene in fair Verona, but could
as easily in Tel Aviv, Falluja,
Beirut, a half dozen blighted towns
in what was called once the fertile crescent.
No star-crossed lovers at the moment seem
available to bring a stop to the blood-
draped corpses, twisted re-bar, broken stone
of the latest indiscriminate outbreak
of ancient grudges lovingly bestirred.
Let's skip the early scenes and go straight
to the street, the lads parading their wit
before one another, looking for an opening.
And of course finding it. And one of them,
the one with the mercurial tongue,
inviting it, taunting, baiting his catch,
but catching himself. Scratched, he says. Not so deep
as a roadside bomb crater, nor so wide
as a mass grave, but enough. Enough to call
the missiles in, the helicopter gunships,
enough to wake the sleeping demagogues,
to twist and misinform the Romeos
and Juliets, enough to send in, hushed
and expectant, the beautiful suicides.


Sean Patrick Hill

America, Take This Cup From Me

Little mining town, emptied earth, dirt road named Hope Street. Children throw rocks through smoke stained glass. Soldier's names on wooden yellow ribbons. They plan to build a second prison in Boulder. Miner's graveyards filled with accidents and bad luck. Wind scatters plastic petals through the sagebrush like shells of broken eggs.

Post office, two envelopes in my hand. Plastic bags taut with beer cans. Kids steal shopping carts, leave them in gravel pits. People with money in breakfast cafés, laughing. Telephone repairman plays with a cat and string. I weigh the envelopes on a metal scale.

Electrical box behind the middle school where drunks sleep. The inevitable, inscrutable tags. Homeless kids with leashed dogs, water jugs tied to their packs, collect cigarette butts. America, I don't feel safe with the police on bikes, writing parking tickets.

3      Berry Season in an Election Year
I ask José how the berries are doing in the mountains. Too much snow pack too long. Bears are hungry, he said. Every day on the radio, a new speech.

When the New England medic was mobilized he bought a field guide to Middle Eastern birds. He found comfort in the crested lark.

Doug in his backyard with a television he keeps under a blue tarp, watching the national conventions. Four thousand soldiers dead in Iraq. No one can keep an accurate count of collateral damage.

A Senator delivers a speech. Jupiter in the sky. Not enough rain, too much rain. At night, the raccoons come down from the trees and watch us.

My father came home from Iraq and Afghanistan and retired. What he remembered was the heat, the spiders. He worked the Baghdad Airport, loading and unloading planes.

One night, after a basketball game, someone drove up in front of the high school on my street and fired off two shots as the crowd emptied. The shot left glass in a young woman's face like jewelry.

My father mailed me a camouflage jacket. Support the Troops magnet on my in-laws tailgate.

I lie in the tub, our windowless bathroom. The alarm radio tuned to the BBC, World Have Your Say. When I slip my head underwater, I can hear my own heart.

Smoke of the child. Smoke of hotel carpets. Smoke of laundry hung in apartment complexes. Smoke of asphalt. Smoke of Congressional Committee questions. Smoke of television tubes.

Blood drained from manicured lawns in August of those who cannot afford water. Blood clings to giant pipes beneath the bomb wounded sidewalks. Blood beneath the twin towers tapped with needles. Tar pits, oil sands, dinosaur blood. Fern blood.

Everyday I cross a ribbon of tar. Caribou cross the Alaskan tundra.

One night neighbors made fire in an iron ring, and drank, and sang, and banged drums. On a corner of 16th Street there is a crater where a house once stood, teeming with weeds.

6        Museums
on the wall of the Museo Reína Sofia–parts of it resemble newsprint.

My father took us to Gettysburg, said you could still find musket balls. Men dressed as minutemen and redcoats acted out the Battle of Monmouth in a state park in New Jersey. I stood in a helicopter. Heard gunfire. I remember 1976 as the beginning of the world.

Seeing Goya is like hearing Air National Guard jets in my back yard, sitting in a sun-bleached chair drinking Spanish wine.

My grandfather died before I could ask about the Italian campaign. The only ruins here are best seen from a glass-bottomed boat. Leaving us with tickets to New York to see the crater.

On the West Coast headlands, abandoned bunkers crumble in the wind. Concrete gun mounts, ammunition dumps, all empty. The invasion that came from the sea left so little damage we promptly forgot.

A pilot came to America bearing his samurai sword as a gift. What will we give? Rotten lands, air-dropped food, laptop computers, lead-painted toys from Hong Kong?

Blame Wal-Mart. Blame the president. Blame GATT, the WTO, the New World Order. Blame bin Laden and Russian troops in Georgia.

You can blame Lincoln's soldiers in Georgia for that matter. It won't change the value of a single penny.

Window filthy with dust, smeared with rain. Flies on the screen. Clouds making rags of themselves. My neighbor stands beneath his ornamental tree in a pair of slippers, blue cotton shorts, belly sagging, hair on his chest gone grey, smoking menthol cigarettes, with an axe.

I listen to the presidential candidate, our common purpose. Trash cans lean on their wheels. A few cats beneath the parked cars. A satellite dish turns its face to the stars. The housing authority I swear they're selling drugs in.

Night comes on under full sail and the moon is a black coin, a bottle cap found in a fire pit. Security lights armed. Little signs in front of houses advertising alarms. Guns in the closet, but above us the sky the sky, the sky, the sky.

America, ask me for a smoke. I remember the Indians at Warm Springs in their pickup asking me for fire.

I was invited to a sweat lodge on the reservation. I brought blankets. Minnie took me to her house and made flatbread all night, Indian tacos.

Butterfly dance costumes embroidered with tobacco tins. After dances, Indian kids drink soda and change into white sneakers.

Once during a rabbit dance, they said to me, you dance like Indians.

Clouds turn to coals. In the schoolyard playing fields a few people with dogs, new chalk lines painted on wilted grass. I pick a plum from a dark yard, spit the stone in the street.

I sit on a guardrail. Below me, wetlands. Across a railroad grade, an amusement park–
lights, screams, motors turning enormous belts. The neon blinks Rink–Rink–Rink.

Of course Whitman is not enough. If it is an infantile gesture to spray paint a stop sign and call it art, how long will I go on making poems about shadows?

Animals come closer. Trees seal their wounds with wax. By day, the sun is a luminescent security light. The moon a tungsten bulb. Streets filled with early morning runners, a thousand cats slipping under rotting fences.

Cell reception. Wireless cloud. Slugs eat holes through my banana leaves, my strawberries. Living rooms blue with television.

I have a friend who wants only to sit on his porch and listen to birds. He says he doesn't want to become another ghost bike.

Women under bridges, along chain link fenced empty lots, their shopping carts covered with plastic tarp, blankets spread on a sidewalk, reading paperbacks. Refugees.

The dead beaver, bloated, slaps against the shore. Such lovely garages. Such well-manicured lawns.

How poor a memorial the Blue Star Highway is for a soldier. How many car lot American flags have we seen big enough to cover our losses?

In the Coast Guard museum a mannequin in coldwater gear frightened us, another example of the uncanny. We didn't pay for the tour.

My father was paid for his tour of duty. Duty-free shops in the airport.

The yellow porchlight shines on the fifth wheel. The old man who once stitched authentic kilts collects his food stamps. The single-engine plane falls into the swamp.

Beside the garage, September roses. The old man in the white t-shirt grips the metal fork, turns the meat on the grill, lays the steaks on a white plate and carries them into the little green house.

The minute he turns, the wind cools the coals.

But the war. The photos my father sent of fat white spiders. His sand fatigues.

I won't lie. The money he earned will go toward his retirement. That money will come to me.

War pays well. Which is why people in Montana join the Guard. They figure it feeds the kids. They weight train in their garages. They hang their wooden ribbons.

In summer, the Air National Guard flies maneuvers over my city. I'm tired. Even in the rain, I hear hammers and saws. Traffic and freight trains.

This is how the Marxist critic drives to work: waiting at the light, breaking a sweat. Dawn like a car alarm.

On a doorstep, empty boxes of Bordeaux rosé. Women in salons filing nails.

These days, commuting on two wheels is an act of rebellion. Gandhi bumper stickers.

Halfway through a power point on ideology, I grow bored and turn off the projector. All I want is to breath. I ask the students what they most want to know. One says, my future.

I tell them trying to change the world is not unlike living in an apartment infested with fruit flies. You spend hours walking in circles, clapping your hands.


Stephen Vincent

Viet Nam Memorial Wrapped In Protest

Washington. D.C., GNS, March 2, 2003. At 6:30 Sunday as the sun was about to rise, park rangers discovered the Vietnam War Memorial covered end to end with a layering of white tarps. NO WAR IN IRAQ was spelled out in large lavender block letters.

"In the early light, the shape of the Memorial looked like the covered wing span - tip to tip - of a B-52 bomber," one of the rangers reported. Asked how it was done, he said, "In front, the layered tarps were sealed together with re-enforced duct tape. On the backside, the riveted edges of the tarps were pulled back over the grass with white ropes and carefully tied and staked into the ground."

The ranger added, "It made it impossible to see the names of any of the dead."

At the White House, the Administration commented, "This is one more example of the lies and deception practiced by those who are against this war."

Rangers were ordered to remove the tarps quickly before the media could be notified to either photograph or film the wrapped Memorial.

"The refusal to notify the press was done for security reasons," the White House reported and would make no further comment.

This is the first time the Memorial has ever been used as a protest site against a projected war.

No one has yet to claim responsibility for the Memorial wrapping.-

[from the Gothic News Service]


Sybil Kollar

We Didn't Look Over That Way

until the blast and a shoe hurtled through the air a severed hand with a ring on the middle finger followed and then books on fire pages blackened and curling and someone shouted that she was a librarian which made no sense considering the bloody hand was the center of attention but one would of course be curious about the titles and there was a stench with a metallic whiff the police arriving before the fire trucks their faces heating up as they put up barriers pushing the crowd back and then the librarian ran out waving a can and sprayed foam on the pile of charred books the cops dragging her away as she screamed she was a librarian


Steve D. Dalachinsky

glissandos – the music of cecil taylor @ the village vanguard ( for Lydia )

bobs his head
up & down
sadly happy
( that was ) about as gentle as
when he put the gun
to his head
( sadly happy )
a caution light
he flung himself around like poetry
how gentle is gentle
subtle restrained 1 dimensional
a workhorse
ploughing himself into a hole
like the threads of mayakovsky's shirt
like his gills
like mayakovsky's head
supported by the music
smashed & bobbing
her head
bobbing to the music
like mayakovsky &
like culture
like revolutions
forlorn lovers
smashed skull
like mayakovsky .


James Iredell

Mexicans Living in the US to the Federal Government

In Mexico our brothers eat shit
Americans don't want, leftover
T-shirts from Texas Aggies and Jay-Z.

Brown boys dream of screaming
blond cheerleaders, slick white-collars
picking grapes, public transportation.

They'll shoot paintball guns at borders
south of Reno, just to watch the paint
dry on cacti tagged with vagabond rags.

They'll stagger and piss on agriculture
beamed from Madera, displayed on screens
hovering in the dust motes of the San Mateo.

They'll march like army ants north,
in a line like a boundary, to carry away
rubber gloves that your housewives

have neglected on the shelves of Safeway.
They'll gift you words: pico de gallo, Vacaville.
Maybe show up someday in your foyer,

their shiny black hair gleaming in yellow light,
fingers wrapped loosely in the grip
of your favorite daughter's hand.


Georgios Tsangaris

Romance after Chernobyl

let's picnic on Bikini
Atoll: eat coconuts
until our bellies glow
in the dark and
warn passing ships about
all of the treacherous
reefs lining our bodies.
let's crawl into
the faulty recesses
of Vermont Yankee
Nuclear Power Plant
and sing "you are
my sunshine" in
until the whole
thing dis
everyone in our state
will light a candle
when we're done.
let's find the Rosenbergs
alive, sporting electric chair
and living in a quiet
suburb of Tehran.
let's get afraid of
the bomb


Anny Ballardini

Eating a Sacher Torte while reading Derrida

Since I have decided I have to comply with my life

How late it is! Midnight as usual.
Nobody is up around here
Did you say your prayers?
Now we shall go to sleep.
Now? It is too cold.
I will follow the invisible lines of your sleeping.
The alarm clock, already?
I think I did not even fall asleep.
I didn't write a couple,
not even one line of a poem.
How many students will I have today?
I cannot remember how they can remember me.
It is then time for lunch.
What a wonderful warm appeasing lunch.
I would eat forever, if I could.
I just cannot read a sentence any more.
Should I just get together to dust bureaucracy?
And no cigarettes.
I will stop smoking, I promise.
I cannot breathe.
It is Cormac McCarthy's writing,
all that blood, scalps.
In another week I will be here like now.
What can I say.
That is life, I finally have to comply with it.
Supper? Nothing. I just open the fridge.
Everything looks so cold.
Nine o'clock. They switched the central heater on.
I feel like suffocating.
I am already sick.
Only criminals in my dreams tonight,
stealing from my naked arms,
my tired legs,
I have a bad cold with a temperature.
I pack several packets of Kleenex close to my pillow
and some tea
I can't even make sense of two and two
let alone reading some Derrida.
I am afraid of the nightmares I will
have tonight, it always happens when I am not well.
They starved, they were burnt, vivisected,
and starlets think they are better,
they fiddle with riddles, sickening . . .
I can't stand it any more,
Baudelaire asked to switch the light off.
Maybe tomorrow I will be better,
the three alarm clocks are on,
it will be dark, that is how
winter is round here, it comes with darkness
nothing to be happy about.
keep on doing it,
you might finally be able to rest.
And tomorrow you will be more real, perhaps,
than yesterday.


Michael Heller

Maazel Conducts "Arirang" in Pyongyang (26 Feb 2008)

          if you leave me, your feet will be caught in the mountain passes
                                                    from Arirang

If you remain separate from me, your dreams will be blocked as though by snow
in mountain passes.

If we're apart, those dreams will shred on mountain crags while beneath them, the passes lie open.

If snow in the passes has melted, freshets of water will run down both sides of the mountain.

If the flow of the brook begins because of a thaw, we can say winter lasted just enough, and we need no more.

If the wind makes music in the icy branches of the trees, what sort of music is made if hard wood clacks against wood?

If after all this cold, the wind is heard amidst bunched leaves, will it be the music of the past, the future or for just now while I hold my hand in yours?

If we hear the same note, will it be like walking in the light of the one moon though we are in different places?

If the moon shines between clouds, won't the icy paths gleam as we imagined in the story books, unearthly but bidding?

If we take the paths up through the passes, will we come upon figures descending toward us, some with arms outstretched?

If your feet are cold, come, at least warm them in the hut that sits astride the ridgeline that divides our two places.


David-Baptiste Chirot 

Raw butt ass naked  waR  

      for Lionel & Little Milton  

This is as real as it gets.
Raw butt ass naked real–
In the hideous light of dawn–
When the raw butt ass naked bitches
 is hooverin the carpets
for that rock
that's a piece of lint–
Reality's a bitch–
A raw butt ass naked bitch–
And ain't nothing but lint left
Nothin but lint my man–
Where used to be the big rock candy mountain–
Higher than a dream castle
Higher than a skyscraper
Higher than a big ass moon  

Nothin but a speck a lint left–
Now ain't that a raw butt ass naked
real bitch  ass  reality–
Handed out on a platter
Covered in pure grade a
bitch ass bullshit–
Yeah–reality's a bitch–
Better get your raggedy ass used to it–  

Better get real, my man–
Better get used to it–  

If you ain't used to it
You can't make use of it

(Note: Geekin–high–and paranoid–while smoking crack cocaine
Feenin–when the high wears off every thing that is a speck of white on the floor-or rugs looks like a piece of a rock of crack–lint for example will appear to be crack–smokers out of crack will be on hands and knees "hooverin the carpets"–and in desperation even smoke it in hopes it turns out to be crack even when knowing/dreading it is obviously and finally lint
Choreboy–used inside a crack pipe (aka "horn")–as a filter for the smoke & also a "nest" for the rock to rest in
Push–residue of the crack smoke that builds up inside the pipe–"push" it out by pushing and scraping it off the inside of the pipe– and is anywhere from a little to a lot which can be smoked–  

In the grey air choked with remains of smoke and shreds of Choreboy, a smell of death crept like the poet's Chicago fog on little cat feet–through the corridors of flimsy rat wood walls and peeling wall paper . . . past the pulled down shades–and the grimy linoleum peeled up at the edges–like the nails of busted toes–  

The smell of death, soft and quiet as an old worn out  professional pall bearer–winding its way along the wainscotings held up by mouse droppings and hacked off telephone chords . . .  down along the edges of Welcome mats so dirty all they said was "come"–as one old jokester had put it over a thousand times to the long dead laughter of mirthless lips–sucking without remorse the last gasps of push remaining in the lighter blackened glass horn rummaged from out of the pockets of an overdose corpse–  

Reality played away someplace, a TV show down the hall in a room where someone supposedly still existed–  

In the grey light all the bodies have turned ashen –all the once firm signs of fleshly temptation have withered–sunken–into creases and grooves–now sink holes for the drifting dust–  

Outside a small neighborhood parade band was practicing its moves, getting ready to set off, to join its small steps and sounds to a greater river– swollen with many other tributaries–a big thighed baton girl high stepping, a young man cleaning his trumpet–the band leader nervously checking his watch and making sure his brass buttons were all well polished–and aligned–  

A slow hearse drifted into view–ghostly–grey–followed by a few mourners, quiet and somber–the parade preparations had to be interrupted for moments that were agonizing to the band leader–he kept rubbing the sweat away from out under of his hat band–with large handkerchief that grew sootier by the moment–to his great displeasure–  

In the hearse sat a very ancient specimen of a taxidermist's version of a very old man–the funeral parlor director, his face worn smooth as chamois by eons of professional sympathy–propped bolt upright beside a blunt driver, squat and staring into space as though he were driving  the skies, not some shadowy  side streets–and after them, the mourners: one of them a woman who lifted her veil now and then to reveal bright red lips and kohl darkened eyes–dabbing a tear with a fragrant cloth whose aromas are greedily inhaled from the sidewalks–  

After them came the devotees of processions–little children, curiosity seekers, dogs and lurching winos, dope fiends and ho's. Or so the  anxiety maddened mind of the bandleader imagined, as in reality all that were following this particular day's sad parade were a few little children, a couple of dogs and a few street persons with nothing else to do . . .  

Come! Come! Come and sign the Guest book! The Barbara Guest book! With cake and ice cream and face painting for the children–a pocket full of posey–ashes, ashes and they all fall down–  

On the cable TV movie channel was playing The Boston Strangler–with Tony Curtis–its split screen effects juxtaposing the funeral of JFK with the Strangler on his way off to find another victim–driving through the narrow dirty streets of Boston–small children played beside the huge screen–and someone lay still among a rolling pile of empty bottles–a rag doll woman who looked like their mother–  

A huddled shivering little group waited outside a poetry book store–to sign a Barbara Guest Book–a thin young man in threadbare clothing clutching a cigarette–writing thin lines in the air –poetry in smoke–curling and suddenly swept away in the return of a draft blast across the freezing pavement–lit in patches by wan light of a sun that leaked from its thin cloud-obscured yolk a feeble stream of yellowish light–  

The Emperor of Ice Cream–I scream, you scream, we all scream ice cream . . . a thin young woman is murmuring . . . drowsy in the chilly air amid the odd patches of lit warmth–her brown hair half hiding her face–dreaming of Russian poetry winters–just after the Revolution–with poets using bread as glue for their posters on the frozen walls–  

The JFK funeral procession in split screen carried on somberly–and outside their window the playing children heard the sounds of the band mixing with the horn-honking hearse–the Strangler drove through empty streets–in split screen showing various angles–as the children knelt at the window ledge–  

The hearse passed slowly among the parting band members–the funeral director's threadbare eyes staring at the wild anxious eyes of the band leader–at the thighs of the baton twirler–at the way ahead–into a larger street–dappled with yellow patches of pale light–  

How many dead soldiers you brought home to rest at last Dr Ray–the squat man peered into the Eternal distances–in the rear view mirror the big thighed baton girl's up-lifted skin flashed with a bit of sun–the polished instruments stood out a brief moment in burnished relief against the battered brick walls–the crowded calligraphies of storefronts–the graffiti on garages–the hand letterings of Psalms and Proverbs' lines on Churches–  

The kneeling children watched a Fallen Soldier's return–staring at the regimented maneuvers of the band–the scatter shot stragglers at the rear–while the Strangler and Presidential Funeral mingled on the split screens–and the body remained silent and stiff among the bottles–  

Poets filed into the book store-gallery space–fingering texts–journals–chapbooks–searching for seats–for a reading and talk on politics and poetics–the brown haired woman dreamed of Mayakovsky–showering with shouted poems  the freezing Revolutionary streets–with a passion tearing him to pieces–an Orpheus rent asunder by his own radio broadcast Furies–floating  now in fourteen fragments–in the rivers lit by neon jingles–the sonnets composed to straddle GOUM department stores–flashing away into the steppes–stenciled on the sides of agit-prop trains–and then–the dream changing direction as a gust of wind followed a poet in through the door–there was Mayakovsky again–this time gigantic, striding the oceans to the Brooklyn Bridge–shouting the famous stepped lines  made of steel girders to the  American air–where floated no "Cloud in Trousers"–but Walt Whitman–"Gross, Mystical, Nude"–and then–and then –then–  

And then–some one next to her spoke of the New York School–and Barbara Guest–while from the podium, a professor poet propounded a paean–to a post poetic  post avant poetry–to the politics of plagiarism, the  battlegrounds of the boring, the cornucopias of copies–the withering contempt for worn out war poems–the death of the author–  

A large spider slowly moved along a dusty fly-sagging web–in the dimmed area just behind the poet on the podium–filling the young woman with the dream of the Napoleonic soldier, a prisoner of war many long years in Russia–who had studied the lives of the spiders in his cell–and like the Birdman of Alcatraz, became an authority in his miraculously found field–  

The children stayed kneeling at the window–the parade long passed–watching the street scenes–predatory prostitutes–industrious dope dealers–tired working persons–athletic flirters–in the darkening day, in the window's reflections, the split screen Funeral and Strangler entered new phases–munching on Moon Pies–they could see the Strangler learn of his split personalities–so nicely shown–via split screen technology–  

Down the hall a shot sounded–fire cracker pop corn–pop–pop-pop–then others–moving down the hallways and stairs–a big bleeding man busted through the door–clutching his arm and shouting–followed by a smaller man with a pistol–a recently returned Iraq War veteran–  

The children knelt by the window–the shooting started again–another person burst into the room–in the shattering windows and lights split screen effects created a psychotic montage–bodies and shadows moving in fragmented patterns across the walls–action figures on split screens–  

In the hearse on its slow return in the street below–the squat man kept his gaze straight ahead, into the traffic lights of Eternity–Sounds like more soldiers on the way to the burial grounds Dr Ray–the smooth chamois face  involuntarily readopted its more solemn toned expressions–Seems like they take one war with them when they go–and bring another one back–the funeral director's eyes rested impassively in their creased chamois pockets–Yes, son, the one giveth, and the other take it away–and in spite of himself he chuckled–yes, son, they giveth, and we take them away–  

The droning advocacy of a poetry of boredom drove the young woman into the street–seeing an ambulance and police cars screaming past–she's writing hurriedly of spider web wars–imprisoned veterans like trapped flies–Birdmen escaping Alcatraz–using poetry posters as parachutes–to land and glue with chewed bread on the other side of the Walls–Revolutionary words warning of  poetry drones–attacking civilians with boredom–setting up Torture camps for the "forcing to speak" of  language experiment laboratories . . .

Laboratories carefully concealed–as had happened in Chile in the Pinochet years– memorialized in Roberto Bolano's novella By Night in Chile –soon perhaps to be a National Museum–underground chambers–ingeniously engineered basements–most skillfully hidden–beneath the rooms where the unoriginal and boring poets celebrate loudly  the death of the author . . . and where real authors, actual poets, captured spider students–Birdmen Of Hitherto Unknown Lexicons–are forced to "sing"–before their mouths are stuffed and stopped up–with glue made of bread and coagulated blood–perfect specimens of "dead authors"–while overhead the  boring are heard loudly launching yet another poetry drone–  

"I sing the body electric" chants Walt Whitman–his head hooded–standing draped in a cape made of an industrial trash bag–aboard a tower of plastic milk crates and busted TVs–his pinioned arms outstretched, attached to the walls–crucified and connected to electric cords–while suicided Mayakovsky plays on the "Backbone flute"–  

Yes, she thought, scribbling faster and faster–I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream . . . and in the distance the kneeling children nibbled and licked the last of the Moon Pie from their fingers–the split screen movie over–watching the police and ambulance workers–taking information and removing the bodies–while their mother–the woman who looked like their mother–so long lying still –among the empty bottles–was resting at last  in a man's embrace–the splayed arms of the dead soldier who had fallen– on the hills of her unfeeling breast–  

Among the shards and splinters of broken glass and mirror–slices of reflected moon–remains of Moon Pie–  

Crashed and cracked– Pie in the Sky–

Like I said my man–


Jayne Lyn Stahl

To dine with friends . . .

I've got brecht on the breakfast table
pound in the bread crumbs
proust in the pantry
dostoyevsky is in with the knives
while mayakovsky recites from the microwave.

I've got a garter full of goethe
faust in my frosted flakes
rimbaud in the sink
blake in my stockings
lorca lingerie and
pockets full of poe.

I find whitman in with the washcloths
shelley with the bone china
yeats defiant as ever in his crystal vase
and rilke where only silverware dares to go–

to dine with friends
to dine on eternity.


Hugh Seidman

Conquest of Peru 1

          tears wept by the sun 2

When I am dead Viracocha yet forges Apu Punchau–solar metal.
Gold noon, emerald-encrusted speculum blinding the dolorous Inca.

When I am dead Christ's robots yet melt down Qoricancha–gold corral.
Gold floor, 700 gold layers plating granite walls.

When I am dead Pizarro yet garrotes Atahualpa for Cuzco–world navel.
Gold husks, hymenal royal sun brides nurturing gold cobs.

When I am dead: gold yet exceeds blood.

1 A previous version appeared in the Columbia Review.
2 The History of the Conquest of Peru. William H. Prescott. 1847


John Roche

Spring Comes to Baghdad

Equinoctial tug-o-war
All night the lake groans
all night the porch gongs
Pushed and pulled
twisted and tugged
all night tossing
in my bed
as fire
rains down
on Mesopotamia
Making the desert bloom
with Mars' flowers


Francesco Levato

Two excerpts from War Rug


She knows this stain               its name softer
than shelter
                    than the word for concrete
in her native tongue,
                              its edge still ragged
          where meat was pressed raw
into blast-proof walls.

Is there language for this

          for a roof that should have held
as bombs fell, a whistle from within

how stillness comes with understanding
this returning
               to such a place

there is a word
it means inhabited            means haunted.



         The two American "smart" bombs worked perfectly,
               what the Pentagon had identified as an Iraqi
command and control center during the 1991 Gulf War.

The 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs burrowed
through 10 feet of hardened concrete
                                                        and detonated,

punching a gaping hole in the Amiriyah bomb shelter

                     –and incinerating 408 Iraqi civilians.]



Inhabited. Haunted. The word in Arabic is maskoon. It speaks
of both the living and the dead; it is uncertainty, lacks clarity
like that of smart when applied to bomb, like collateral as in
damage, as incidental – as insignificant.




          Exsanguination: to drain of blood; make bloodless;

          to bleed to death.]



          Do not hurry, be as natural as possible in speech, manner,
          and method of delivery.

"The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep
regret that your (relationship; son, daughter, husband, wife; etc.)
(died/was killed in action)
in (country/state) on (date)

          when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Bradley

          Fighting Vehicle; when their team came under small

          arms fire while clearing a village; when mortar rounds

          hit their camp; when their vehicle hit a land mine;

          when enemy forces ambushed them; when a grenade

          was thrown near his foot patrol; when he encountered

          enemy fire; when he was accidentally struck by a tank;


          when their Kiowa Warrior came under small arms

          attack and crashed; from an explosion during breaching

          operations; when insurgents attacked their unit with

          rockets; while conducting counter-terrorism operations;

          during an air assault mission; from injuries suffered

          by enemy grenade fire; in a convoy that was attacked

          by a suicide–; when he jumped into the Euphrates River

          to take a swim, and did not resurface;


          of injuries sustained from an enemy hand grenade; from

          enemy indirect fire; when a landmine detonated near

          his vehicle; while conducting combat operations against

          enemy forces; when his traffic control point came under

          mortar attack; when a vehicle struck them; after being shot

          by an Iraqi army soldier on a coalition base; when a suicide

          car bomber attacked their vehicle; when terrorists attacked

          his patrol; as a result–of hostile action;


          of injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by a

          roadside bomb; when an IED detonated near her patrol;

          when a vehicle approached their unit, and the driver

          detonated a bomb; when his tank was attacked with an

          improvised explosive device; when a makeshift bomb

          exploded near his unit; when an improvised explosive

          device struck a nearby vehicle; when an improvised

          explosive device–detonated.

The Secretary extends his deepest sympathy to you and your family
in your tragic loss."]


                     Should a limb be bent
in quite that way, an ankle

           have so extreme a twist

                                            I know
that boot to be mine

                       it's the way it hangs
from the steering wheel, how
its laces are still tied

                      that doesn't make sense.



Amputation: The loss or absence of all or part of a limb.

Bilateral: A double amputee. Both legs or both arms.

Disarticulation: An amputation through a joint: the hip, shoulder, knee, ankle, elbow, or wrist.

Prosthesis: An artificial part of the body.

Residual limb: The remaining portion of a limb after amputation, also called the "stump."]



The technology is considered breakthrough; an ankle that rotates,
a foot that can flex. Its internal battery will propel you forward,
its steel spring–support your weight.



The section that begins "NOTIFICATION" is taken from a speech template used for notifying the next of kin about the combat related death of a family member. The guide referenced is the Casualty Notification Guide for the Casualty Notification Officer. The body of the section uses DOD death notices pulled from five years of DOD press releases.

Works Cited

"DoD Identifies Army Casualties." U.S. Department of Defense. March 2003 to January 2007.

"exsanguination." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 10 Jan. 2008.

"Glossary of Amputation Terms." Amputee Web Site. October 23, 2003.

Military Personnel Services Division. "Casualty Notification Guide for the Casualty Notification Officer." United States Army Signal Center. August, 2002.

Peterson, Scott. "'Smarter' bombs still hit civilians." The Christian Science Monitor. October 22, 2002.


Lynn Levin

Peace Is the Blithe Distraction

Peace is the dream you sleep for.
Peace is a lily shared by two people with knives.
Peace is prettier, but war has more to say.

Peace may not be possible with everybody.
Peace is the death of history.
Peace is what the war dead don't get to enjoy.

Peace is what happens when you ask a plain girl to dance
                and find out she's not so bad after all.
Peace makes you forget that other people are planning your destruction.
Peace is the hope that those who oppose you will also listen to you.

Peace is passing up the dessert tray of revenge and hoping your enemy
                will do the same.
Peace lets you appreciate many small annoyances because you know
                they are not war.
Peace is never complete, though one dreams of the fullness thereof.

["Peace Is the Blithe Distraction" first appeared in Lilith Magazine. For more information, see www.lilith.org.]


Ed Coletti

Gentle Little Pushes

Lying still
in the garden

the notion

Give everyone
a garden
breeze and swing


of gardens and swings.
Lead them outside,
give them gentle

little pushes
start them all moving—

forgetting all else,
being alone.