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The Driftwood Review Issue Six February 2010

Editors: Terry Allen & Dennis Barton

Cover Image by: Dennis Barton

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Poetry 6

It Was The Baby

by

Melissa Dickson Blackburn

8-9

Hawkeye

by

Keith Wilson

10

October

by

Larry Menlove

11

Heal Thyself

by

Rae Spencer

12

Lo Pi Thanks the Moon

by

Bob Bradshaw

13

Where I Find My Mother

by

Margaret Walther

14

The Anatomy of Melancholy

by

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

15

Muse

by

Heather Hughes

16-17 Beethoven’s Pianos

by

Bob Bradshaw

18-19 I Wandered Like

by

Melissa Dickson Blackburn

by

Rachelle Renken

22-23 The Work of Axes

by

Mark Hiskes

24

Clavicle

by

Heather Hughes

26-27 Scheherezade

by

Alexander Stachniak

28

The Interior of My Dreams

by

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

29

Brown Benny

by

Scott Norenberg

30

Voyage

by

Keith Wilson

31

The Night Sky

by

Bob Bradshaw

32

Willow

by

Daniel W. Davis

33

Touch/ Don’t Touch

by

Margaret Walther

34

Junkyard Sale

by

Alexander Stachniak

35

Paper Heart

by

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

36

Sastrugi

by

Heather Hughes

38-39 A Massacre of Innocence

by

Melissa Dickson Blackburn

40

by

J.P. Dancing Bear

I Wandered Lonely 21

The Discarded One

Piano from Scratch

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Art/Photography Cover Isolation

by

Dennis Barton

7

One Way

by

Joseph Anthony Vega

20

Night Garden

by

Dan Ruhrmanty

25

Three

by

Dennis Barton

37

Einstein on the Beach

by

Dan Ruhrmanty

41

Blue Sky

by

Dennis Barton

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Melissa Dickson Blackburn

It Was The Baby That summoned me. Not the boardwalk, Nathan’s hotdogs, the Cyclone or even the ocean. It was the baby. The baby who watched it all, swirling and visceral. The wild gyrations of metal and flesh. The rusting details in salt air. The length of skirts, rising and falling and rising again. It was all a show. I, in its midst, stood outside his jar - the baby with his red hair sprung up in formaldehyde like the first sprigs of rye in a newly seeded lawn, his nails too long, nearly a century since their only pruning. My withered infant, gestured from inside his sea-going vessel. In a christening gown? I can't remember. With a twin - a Siamese slightly smaller fluttering face down? Mumbling, pierced, tattooed and studded, how many millions stand at his curb - living and pushing toward death's glass raised to the island's rim, while he floats, cooing, Come, the water's fine?

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One Way by: Joseph Anthony Vega

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Keith Wilson

Hawkeye

was an overweight, wide-shouldered man, he'd spread mayonnaise between two pieces of white bread as he ambled about the back of his shop, where sometimes you'd see, peaking from a door, a recliner (built like him) and one of those old TVs with a knob and rabbit ear antennas we visited the shop every day on the way home from school, examined Marvel Flair cards, nodded at pogs like they were fossils we knew all the names for, we squinted through the glass cases that circled the store dreaming about new yellow wheels, slick bearings, trucks and risers , fresh grip tape and we'd take, one for each of the three of us, a free candy until the day Hawkeye said "candy's for paying customers," unaware, perhaps of how many weeks of my allowance sat just below the stacks of pogs I'd bought here, or perhaps calculating the cost of each strawberry wrapped candy and weighing it like a tab, the messy polar bear fur atop his head bristling, his less-white t-shirt stretched and angry

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I walked the rest of the way home, stood on my tip-toes so I could reach the crystal bowl on the TV stand, scooped handful after handful of green-and-red-wrapped candy into my sweatshirt pocket, and rode my bike to Hawkeye's, walked in staring that man straight in his glassy eyes, poured the candy across the countertop like loose change, walked out and headed home as Hawkeye, stuttering for me to stop, tried in earnest to say it was okay, that I didn't have to go and do anything like that, the doorbells jingling as that refrigerator of a man fought for words big enough to reach a child

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Larry Menlove

October

Out her kitchen window across yellow fields of drooping, crackling corn, the granite sky loosens thoughts of years far gone or even lost beneath my fallow heart: Those days spent running through harvest stalks, where failed cobs held on and hardened, their wraps and silk dried until they fell forgotten to the soil. I’m running blind again, into the rows under a familiar sky and empty tassels held still in a breeze that whispers goodbye to a summer already lost in sweaters and morning chills. I trip on hollow props that hold the stalks firm, falling in a shallow trench of powder, soft as sugar sifted over pie. And in the distant corner of my eye— Mother asks: “Another slice?”

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Rae Spencer

Heal Thyself

I sutured closed The ragged wounds Made by broken promises With gentle surgeon’s hands I fashioned sterile needles From cold and pointed words Threaded them With what remains When apologies have failed I stitched and wove Through years Layers deep in tissue Which never seems to heal So festered with remorse I tried to mend Those wounds I made With all my broken promises

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Bob Bradshaw

Lo Pi Thanks the Moon The best of companions, Moon, you never complain about my drinking. You are more loyal than any wife. Together we drift down the Yangtze as I sing like a cicada, autumn in the air.

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Margaret Walther

Where I Find My Mother

your hands, where? deer crossing the down pillow of night your feet crawdads swimming under the cellar arms the grey bonnet an owl’s wing knits hair leaves tatted in the attic of winter how I loved your belly turquoise camel asleep on the roof your eyes coffee boiled in a handbell voice melody the moon shuttles through a keyhole oh, where is your heart? tea rose climbing the bedroom mirror

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Bobbi Sinha-Morey

The Anatomy of Melancholy I woke as mist licked the pavement and an impatient rain came robbing my porch steps of dust, the grainy light above my chairs gone, drops of water filling the empty coffee can while inside my cabin I wait for a visitor and no one is there, not even a blackbird or red-shouldered hawk would stray from its nest to peek inside to see if I lived here. The yellow wallpaper is beginning to fade and the antique pictures once held so dear are now thick with dust. I can hardly see their faces except for their figures. Outside saplings yield up their thin boughs and they quiver, somnolent as if rocking gently. I gaze at them and the mute phone on my nightstand reminding me it’s nearly been a whole year.

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Heather Hughes

Muse

I. You photograph like a lake. I find all your ripples perfectly breaking -bare hint in your eyes of fish scales. II. I want to write you about my unquiet mind with its lengthy disused tunnels. I cannot write you. III. Is it only wind, only water, truly? I dreamt of your voice carrying shanties over the rocks to me as though they were sustenance. IV. If my love fed your dusky streambeds or dripping caverns, we might coalesce; I would carve you everywhere, defying consequence. V. "Darling, come up from the harbor--the sea is making..." too much of us, who have tried to be strange and dangerous.

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Bob Bradshaw Beethoven’s Pianos When we arrived there were unwashed piles of clothing, and papers scattered everywhere. Beethoven looked up, then lurched towards us as he stumbled against a piano leg. He changed pianos as often as he changed apartments. The ideal piano was like his perfect woman: always just out of reach. He wanted a piano with both the sweetness of a pavane and the temperament of a cuckolded husband. Next, the great one demanded he must have music from it like breakers tearing a ship apart. Could we build a piano like that?

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How could we turn him down? The day we returned to retrieve our florins Beethoven greeted us as if we had pulled him from a pounding surf. Why shouldn't he? There were no portraits in his room. His walls were bare stones. Family could never fill the empty spaces in his life.

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Melissa Dickson Blackburn

I Wandered Like I Wandered Lonely Amaryllis is a beautiful word but it doesn’t tell how red they are or how they spread like motor oil, like lava, in a WeeGee murder scene. It doesn’t say how to make them bloom again or why they thrive in winter. Amaryllis is a word and a bulb and a flower and a myth. I ran into the Pulitzer nominated poet at Wal-Mart today He was picking up a re-issue of Nan Goldin’s Ballad and I was returning Degas’s Absinthe Drinker I wanted to show him my white socks so like his own but there was a black hole dissolving my rib cage one rung at a time there were children crying there was an unmade bed in the parking lot How like the first blush of daffodil the absinthe blooms How like war the embers crusade How like Amaryllis the surge of each swallow How like addiction the volcano’s rampage How like a kiss it folds her into its flow How like water the ash cascades How like a bullet the sound of last call How like Vesuvius the nights in Pompeii

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In the pharmaceutical department a clerk restocks Picasso’s drunk, alone at his table and so like a clown Wild gyrations of crimson and chartreuse and wilder still his eyes Degas paints the man looking away toward the bar - toward another round And the woman in a gown the color of pale nectarine, a spring bud limp at the table, her eyes a black fragment of basalt, cold to the touch already cast in plaster Bring Narcissus and his brittle beauty Bring wild things that bloom by the highway Bring girls in crinoline Bring boys in costume Bring leather bound notebooks Bring quartz and cedar Bring rivers and linen and silver-dipped shells Bring this, bring all you can hold Tomorrow the volcano blows

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Night Garden by: Dan Ruhrmanty

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Rachelle Renken The Discarded One A star that never learned to shine. It was a solemn occasion; family gathered to celebrate the life of the matriarch. A brood, too many to count. Surrounded, yet alone I sit, no words to interject. An ugly duckling wallowing between swans. Close knit with the exception of one, I wonder what possessed me to come? Polite. Kind. They care. My cheeks burn, I don’t know their names. The sequoia blackened by lightening. It isn’t common courtesy, that brought me here, but a inherent belief that maybe it was not to be, and I must confess that not all daughters are loved by their fathers. I am … the blossom that nature forgot.

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Mark Hiskes The Work of Axes After the bell to end class she was still sitting there, hands prayer like, not quite covering her quivering mouth. I sat across the table from her, in guilty silence, a teacher wanting to take it back, a father wanting to soothe it away. It was the book. I’d read aloud the part where Holden rages at the injustice of brother Allie’s death, the burial, in particular, the pouring rain, how after the service, everyone drove off to warm, dry homes. He, Allie, couldn’t. He had to stay. My voice shook. My vision blurred. At 51, tears come easier than the year I’d first met Holden. My students, noticing, sat cemetery still. But I pushed through because— because I’d planned to make a point: literature is the ice ax Kafka said it was, that breaks “the frozen sea” inside us. But I did not expect the tears. Didn’t plan for that.

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That morning at the kitchen table, I knew better than to read the part where Holden talks suicide. I knew not to do that because— because of course she would be sitting there at her desk, second row, just under the clock, she whose younger brother, last month, had put revolver to chin, pulled the trigger and, incredibly, lived— the facial wounds healing; the hidden wounds, still hidden. I knew better than to let her hear that part, knew that would surely break her, plunge her into a place too cold, too dark. Still, it was the book, the weapon of words I didn’t plan on: the way Holden broke me again,

cracked me one more time, and through me her, sitting there after class, a shattered ice pond in a forest of dead trees.

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Heather Hughes

Clavicle i want you at street level where the soil is loose and intrusive. where grit insinuates itself like tight gasps, fine particles in the softer spaces. need. bones. topography. leave off excavation. i will seek layers and heat without instruments, give in to the shallows or the deeps.

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Three by: Dennis Barton

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Alexander Stachniak

Scheherezade Daughter says I'd kill you if I didn't believe in reform, an unambiguous phrase I've never understood: is it hope, is it dread, is it something called love? Daughter says a lot of things about the man who got her pregnant, but mostly she repeats and believes that the past can earn no keep. I've imagined A'isha pushing me off the cliff that all fathers unwittingly climb atop. I line up, back-to-back with her husband of one night, and together we await the momentum of her words. I watch leaves fall and regrow with this stranger, and, in winter, I use his back like a blanket. When the rains fall over the Sierra Nevada, we wonder aloud what is taking her so long. I tell the man, that I increasingly think is me, that looks and sounds and feels and chews the end of his cigar like me, that somehow we have sowed the seeds of doubt.

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A'isha, do you think me so brittle? Who will watch Hassam after school? Who will give him the treats that Egyptian boys grow fat on? What will you tell him has happened to me? I'll kill him too, is a mother's last hope, I'll kill him, and then he won’t sound like you, and then he won't look like his father, and then he won't feel like every other man. But how many miles up the coast of California will she drive to reach this mountain? How many of Hassam's questions will she answer before her tongue ties him to my stake? How many of her threats will kill us before goodbye father, goodbye stranger, goodbye son can be a conviction? It sounds like the fabled logic of Scheherazade.

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Bobbi Sinha-Morey

The Interior of My Dreams In the interior of my dreams a warning of thorns awakened me to the beating of a raven’s wings and they whispered to me of the path once before me I’d forgotten to take. The thin glow of moonlight shines above me in its silent shape. The dry branch of an oak tree solemnly welcomes me to my old home, the doorstep rotted away. I bend over the map of my childhood, almost touching the faces I once knew again while the pursuit of my memories lost in the languor of sleep are always there to remind me that I’ve gone nowhere.

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Scott Norenberg

Brown Benny Fascinated by brown: trees, drought ground, thick rivers, eyes, hair, skin, beer bottles, bricks, All subdued. A held feeling, a holding feeling. All the brown of the world, dyes and inks, tables, doors and houses, deer, porcupine, sand, the song colored Brown. Boats along a dock knock against wood. The wind and swells rise then fall. Coffins, dust, old chairs, Coca-Cola stains—memories of a picnic The gods wear wild brown uniforms not because brown is the highest god but that brown is what they are.

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Keith Wilson

Voyage

Whitman was 36 before he was seen, yet I needn't be fully Whitman, perhaps just a boy of wit, a straight spine on a shelf, whose owner doesn't share my name. How unremarkable my years, my notes, my letters, my penmanship, how vagrant my wishes, five o'clock shadows, riding trains until I was man by any definition. The face that greets me in the window is white and frail, not by age but by how strongly the images beyond it are rendered in the sun. It smiles: anything awaited for at port is worth praying for at a lighthouse, my heart is restless on rations, but no dreams ever came without some voyage.

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Bob Bradshaw

The Night Sky My daughter's birthday is tomorrow. Only so many nights are left me where the sky's candles will burn as I stand here looking into a telescope. My daughter sleeps in her room while boy friends, still years away, approach like long-haired comets.

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Daniel W. Davis

Willow There’s a willow tree by the river Where I kissed her for the first time. I wish I could say that we carved our names in the trunk, And surrounded ourselves with a heart, Maybe with an arrow through it, like cupid or Robin Hood. But all we ever did was hide beneath the leaves, Like children behind the living room drapery. On summer days when the sun reached its zenith We would dip ourselves cautiously in the river. A baptism by run-off, Those afternoons passed over our heads Like the sparrows endlessly circling above. I remember smiling, and I remember her smiling, But I can’t recall what we smiled about. Each other? If love is eternal, then there must be something after this life. If there is something after this life, then of what purpose is this life? When the summer storms would roll in, We would hide in the tool shed behind her house. There were cobwebs in there, But there were also buckets, and spades, And other utensils that made us feel important. We would work for a living, like our fathers and mothers, And we would be in love, like we wanted them to be.

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Margaret Walther

Touch/ Don’t Touch our eyes flick to theirs, prehistoric, and the alien bodies that pulse, appendages that hang on for life— cicadas, pulling out of their old skins, attached to cottonwoods—sometimes Mother let me carry them inside nestled in paper, unload them onto the couch mustn’t touch the wings, green-laced with fragility— as if I desired to probe anything else, and the shrill, almost hysterical shriek of those male voices drilling, a kind of weird Gregorian chant—although these males sing for a mate not for the Lord, perhaps there isn’t a lot of difference, they go on and on a high-pitched organ, as muscles contract and chambers riding the abdomen buckle inward, what kind of god would decide to bestow such insistent urge, so many of them pleading, the monophony pulses out from everywhere and nowhere oddly beautiful, mechanical, relentless all at once— I, drawn/ repelled—wanted and didn’t want to touch

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Alexander Stachniak

Junkyard Sale This one is perfect for growing up in, the Venus de Milo of used tires, black lumps and crooks and all. I had a board for a bed and take a look at my back, or yours, or anyone's, is it straight? No, find the knottiest tire for her swing, the one whose black steppes would have thrown the Khans, broken the hooves of the Huns in hidden rock holes; find the tire that would beat her after drinking, or make her feel worthless as a matter of course, and she'll grow much straighter than you or I. I don't know if little daughters are supposed to grow straight, but her slouch of a father seems proud at the thought. I wonder if I've given her scoliosis, with my talk.

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Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Paper Heart A hard bed with no pillow is a lonely place to rest your head and the chill of a dirt floor is a pale reminder of your paper heart flickering quietly its layer of dust swept away by your breath. I know how you feel now that I’ve left, jagged and aloof like an island, the faraway look in your eyes telling me I’ve no way to reach you when I long to get inside but I can’t when no soul is there. My faith is like broken glass now that I must live with this shadow above me, an artifice of self-love since no one knows how your paper-thin heart died in the rain so easily.

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Heather Hughes

Sastrugi The lure of indiscernible miles with no predators, only the smallest twitch of muscles. Waiting without intending to wait. Straining white foreground from white background. I come to interpret you as sound, the fact of body as sentence. Long unbroken fields of us, vast like Antarctic night. The sun sets on the northern edge of the horizon. Only hours to count, civilized by accidents of habit and grace. I lose all sense but touch in this dark, to know heartbreak and small fires.

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Einstein on the Beach by: Dan Ruhrmanty

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Melissa Dickson Blackburn A Massacre of Innocence “In Herod's private box at the auditorium, the diggers discovered delicate frescoes depicting windows opening on to painted landscapes…” Archaeologists Find New Evidence for King Herod's Tomb Site, The Associated Press

Cerulean, azure, lapis, cadmium, these are the pots of my trade and look how they fill from the casks of yours. Blue and red, to our American tongues, but I love the romance of a name that invades history, that licks at the past with sable brushes and linseed oil. I am wrapping my body around the massacre, the innocents entombed in that hill where the dead king-architect raised his forever city. Herod and I watch the players play their roles, wind their words up circular staircases toward a center crypt, a sarcophagus with wide rosettes that open and close when we blow the names of origin across their stigma. Herod and I pull back the shutters of his theater’s window-frescoes.

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We pierce the painted tessera of their vistas with the darts of our eyes. We sprint against the azure sky, gazelles soft as sable, swift as death. In cadmium hues we bind our colors toward that buried masterpiece, that crowning glory which will fix our fate in mythic books, on pages where Cadmus lurks drawing Europa home from wicked Zeus, marking maps with desultory cows, marking even now this sheet with his glyphs, his glimmers, his strokes of pen.

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J.P. Dancing Bear

Piano from Scratch for Kemel Zaldivar Because you love the music of birds, I built a piano that cannot translate chirps well. In my effort to perfect its translations, I’ve turned the legs to curl inward and upward, I’ve added abstract sculptures in hopes of making a better sound—I designed a building where sound might escape more pleasantly; but I assure you it was not my main priority. I studied histories, birds, men, and the sea. All of it cycloning into the piano, and then I studied instrument, the wood, the composition of materials before I sketched it. You have to understand the whale if you want to get the acoustics right. You need to measure the empty heart, if only to perfect the pitch.

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Blue Sky by: Dennis Barton

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Copyright 2010 The Driftwood Review

The Driftwood Review Issue SIx  

6th Issue of The Driftwood Review

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