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rust and moth spring 2009

estlin thomas when

S pr ing

michael young O ld Water C hoking on G in W hisky and C oke

lit the sacred hear t


josiah spence

frederic j. greenall

R edemption

T innitus

kathleen vibbert

c. e. smith

G r ain of P ur pose E ndsong


sergio ortiz S pill of I mages War in the D eser t : T he O nes Your Touch W ith Words R eal S hipwrecked

will sanger U ntitled I-II ( photogr aphs ) that

G et

estlin thomas A spens I-III ( photogr aphs )

vanessa bissereth P r ivate V incent J ames R ousseau P r ivate G ar rett “P retty B oy � Woods U ntitled

samara spence M y L eash

keith prather Tr acks ( photogr aph )


L ive

john swain T he C reek C ontinues

sarah hruby U ntouched K indness

annabelle tipper H overfly


D ahlia

buddy prather G uided



M ist (A L enten Poem )

estlin thomas when

S pr ing

lit the sacred hear t

when Spring lit the sacred heart you danced (beautifully) and moved through the places i kept dreams. and when the Wind pulled your flame to the moon, i molded you, crafting the cooling wax of my heart, keeping your image still. careful now. i am careful to push the Winter into every Spring. to keep the heat from my heart, knowing it would melt your gently crafted eyes within it. (there are no eyes like yours)

estlin thomas () you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go. you’ve got to let her go.

josiah spence R edemption

kathleen vibbert G r ain


P ur pose

The trees have all gone wrong. Maybe fever spread through the roots, against this chilly morning I hold in my fist. I stand in the same spot every spring, calm, but outside any order of purpose, like wood before it’s burned. I recite a Psalm, or two, pull the words apart as if they’re made of lace. I should write them on the branches, tuck each one into a sad sack given back to the earth. I can never fully look up. Not toward the sun, or the brightness of a higher being. Soon, my body will rest in this same hollow, between trunks, stretched out like a sentence that suddenly splits into rib of bones, shedding of skin. Quit. Red-corseted, beneath dust light.

kathleen vibbert E ndsong My voice no more than a loon; I sit on my haunches. Blisters on my tongue come to a boil from parts the sun wore all day. Sunflowers aren’t pretty after dark; their doll heads bob. But their stems offer the rain a wall to lean on. Beetles pop against my boot heels. I sink back into the earth’s silo, pray the only Psalm I can remember.

sergio ortiz T he S pill

of I mages

“There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only one you.� Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea Careful not to wake a dragon, lovers recite Rumi: Shams lives on Turkish stars selling girdles, sails, leaf storms, windmills for Dulcinea, while crickets chirp passages to the old man and the sea. Too many of them stopped by the proximity of drowned Venusian moons before a grammarian asked: Tea, or coffee?

sergio ortiz War in the D eser t : T he O nes G et to L ive


Books talk about blood ties in the desert. Children burn and there’s no skin to graft their wounds. Widespread infection, medical care impossible, because of the ongoing distance between Word and Will.

sergio ortiz Your Touch W ith Words You’re the lint in my navel. A memory I forget to wash away.

sergio ortiz R eal Beloved, the echoes of this absence have me touring the temples on the moon. I languish in the open air where cobblestones cry like desolate stunned ruins, and dawn is as useless as the pillow under their tears.

sergio ortiz S hipwrecked I am the sailboat made of seagulls singing to the magnolias between your fingertips, the meeting place that interweaves your voice and dreams, all the colors of throbbing constellations, red dripping from my shoulders unto your lips. If your ocean had a door, I’d shipwreck my breath against it.

estlin thomas A spens I

estlin thomas A spens II

estlin thomas A spens III

vanessa bissereth P r ivate V incent J ames R ousseau We were introduced at the bases infirmary. His name was Private Garrett “Pretty Boy” Woods. He lay stuck under his hospital sheets like they were made of heavy iron, a cigarette rested between his lips, smoke rolling out of his abused lungs. His hair was the color of sunrays, bright and pleasant. His skin was sunkissed to a smooth topaz and his eyes resembled the most treacherous of seas. I sat in a bed adjacent to him and stared at his blood, dizzy from the stench, feeling that same comforting black feeling. “I was in love once,” he said, his half finished cigarette lit towards the sky because the nurse had pronounced him dead three hours ago. “Her name was Katie… a perfect ten… man… best set of legs on any day…” My mind ate his words like the victory we so badly needed, lost in the image of a stranger named Katie. The invisible pictures of her spoke stories of our lives, memories we were too tired to recall. We drew her close in our arms and tucked our pain deep in her pocket. She spoke no words, but I could hear her heartbeat scream the passions of a loving women. Our mouths hung open pleading, wanting to share with her the secrets of our minds, but she hushed us with her eyes, intoxicating like wine, and like a drunk he reached out, smiling in his euphoria. Death was nothing compared to a beautiful girl.

vanessa bissereth P r ivate G ar rett “P retty B oy ” Woods Sergeant Julian “Hawk Eye” Noble lay dying in my arms, blood gushing from his every pore, pin pricks of pain stabbing his body, torn up by a hail of bullets. His head lay in my lap as I sat with my back pressed against the wall of an empty church building, crushed bricks, concrete slabs, and broken steel pieces surrounding us. We lingered silently as the sound of our enemies’ loud voices and rushing footsteps passed our hiding place and faded into the ground. He shifted his head slightly and trembled as a deadened sensation moved through him. He felt like nothing in my arms, he was thin and his ribs showed through his crimson stained uniform. “You should have let me die alone,” he whispered through clenched teeth, his downcast eyelids opened to stare into my face. His eyes revealed to me a story he played on repeat within them. It begins with a horrid scene; he lay awake in a grave, dirt filled deep inside his pupils. He’s been buried but he can feel his breath, he’s still alive…Pictures weaved in and out of his head, portraits of the ghosts of Iraqi’s he’s killed, beautiful galleries displayed in his memories museum. Malice lies beneath his flesh to keep archives of all his deadly deeds. In the distance I hear his voice start to pray, “Dear god”… it screams to the no-bodies that lay buried in a whisper close beside him. It all felt so cinematic the way he prayed so hard not to die; it was like he had rehearsed his lines all his life. The story of how a man became a monster with penciled in sketches of broken bodies left in places no person can bare to name. His confessions quietly float through his fading air and he pleads guilty in his grave, till the dirt around him is soaked in suicidal aspirations… I blinked and lost his story, the sound of his voice brought my attention back to the present. “I can’t feel my heart,” he said calmly with the knowledge of his impending death…“I wonder how long it’s been gone,” he laughed. I took in his eyes again and this time the maps of his face. Tiny golden specks of sunlight had crept through the bricks and rest upon his sunburned skin, emphasizing his skull and his dust-like bone, a man no more. “Damn…” he struggled to speak; salty blood flooded his mouth, his life poured out in a liquid. The light in his eyes flickered and blew out like a candle to a soft hush of breath… I’ve heard this story before.

vanessa bissereth U ntitled He roamed through the hundreds of bodies spread across the desert wasteland. As the blasts blew on, warm blood flowed past his bare feet, drowning them in scarlet. He was but a child, his face was smeared with dirt, and deep in the hollows of his eyes lingered the wrath of his weary father. I stared out at him for so long his image buried itself in my chest, and when he approached me all I could see was his smell. “My … mother…” he spoke in broken words delicate and romantic. “Find…her,” he pointed to the mass of dead. How young was he? Raised to stand full-armed, watching the struggle, confused by horrid death, covered in the devil’s skin, tanned by darkened sin. We searched for what seemed like a lifetime in the land where history was covered by sand…Suddenly the boy stopped at a body of what could be described as a woman. The scent of her charred flesh blowing warm in the winds. Her legs were missing; they had been cut by hand from her torso. Her hair was missing…her blood…murdered and stuck in the ground. The boy smiled and fell across her body, tears falling down his curved up lips, crystal colored drops that carried to the heavens to speak of the wrongs done to his mother, her people, her love, her past. He extended his eager arm and let his fingertips brush across her hairless scalp. Her skin broke beneath his touch. He closed his eyes and hung his life next to hers. “Mamma” he cried from his heart.

samara spence my leash

it’s what ties me down. it’s what keeps me in one place. it’s what scares me away from half the world. it’s what keeps me following the rules. i want to be free, but i’ll never be free. i can’t be free, not for me. not anymore. when i could have been free, i stayed. i played it safe. now that i can’t be free, i squirm, i tug, i want to test the waters. how far can i go, how much can i risk. but i will always come back. i have to. it’s the only way i will survive. to live at all, i must live a little less. and yet to make living worthy, i have to break my leash.

keith prather Tr acks

michael young old water

i was thirsty, didn’t want to change rooms, or go to the sink, so i reached around, fumbled, found a glass of water of old, old water, and i drank it down, moths and bacterium, old words and dead dreams, little flashes of sleep narrative that i’d had came bubbling back to the surface and pop! images, girls, good dreams, bad dreams, all distilled and different in the days old water, water filled with dusty sunbeams and all the phases of the moon.

michael young choking on gin

choking on gin is like having god kick you in the throat. but that’s when i realized, all the bar fights that me and the Old Man have gotten into, in my head, usually over the existence of pain, or the holocaust, death, something terrible like that, well, they were just in my mind. and tonight the Old Man got his first shot in (after i’d been threatening him with a switchblade for years). “My beautiful child, please forgive me,” He says, “but something big is about to happen, and you might want to close your eyes for this next part. Ok? I’ll be right back. Just stay down.”

michael young whisky and coke

the storm cloud fizz of whisky and coke stirs my senses into a late summer confusion and the strangers in the room begin to emit light in these strange pulses and the past sits in my pocket and the future is mumbling eroticisms but i am just sitting on the floor in the corner, watching people, and smiling.

frederic j. greenall T innitus My ears are ringing. They never actually stop. I need a sound, Something loud, To drown out the screaming. Constant. Incessant. There is no respite. My only escape, The search for cooling waves, To make my eardrums vibrate. Crowded places are best. Full of people chattering. But the world is silent, Sleeping in peace, At this quiet hour. The most restless time for me. I turn on the radio. No music, Only static I receive, Background noise to help me sleep.

c. e. smith Polar The bear sits, his head rising and falling mocking the Sun. In his pen are the plastic rocks of homeliness. The walls are whitewashed Antarctica, the old snow first peeling before it flakes. In the pool are dead fish, the sailors of a homeless sea as he paces the shore, crosses ice continents with each step a perverted Gulliver. Remembrances of a mate melt like glaciers within him. I watch all of this, look skyward, trace slow the moving Sun.

will sanger U ntitled I

will sanger U ntitled II

john swain T he C reek C ontinues Summer afield between curtains of rain our faces blurred, but we did not kiss, breath caused the trembling of violets. And the quiet then is silver radiance, the sky she flatters fairly to resemble while the creek continues under willows. We lay unending in the charity of days, omens glisten like seeds in tall grass, like sleep she undoes the sun’s magnificence. Hopeless to find another room of air, she will restore the puddle stones to agate and jewel the space of our disappearing walls.

sarah hruby U ntouched It is only my longing for you which has remained pure all other emotion no more than a stained bed sheet (the only witness to my final virgin shudder) It is only the door for you which has forever remained closed that piece of untouched flesh I kept for you hidden behind the mirrors I held for the rest It was only your fear which plunged deep within me and planted between us a chasm like an unwanted child in my womb It is only the most intangible thoughts which span that abyss now less than a whisper no more than the flicker of my most insignificant glance: swept across the worlds between us, unwanted, unintended, by merely the dream of a time with a memory of a hope that once held a love so transforming: the greatest distances of time and fear become nothing.

sarah hruby K indness time has not been kind to me. it has not smoothed away those sharp memories with the gentle hands of indifference. space has not been kind to me. the countries between us don’t make you less palpable. I can still feel you leaving. war has not been kind to me. I cannot hate you nownot when I am always so afraid. you have not been kind to me. your silence gives me no closure: your impending death offers no compromise.

Annabelle Tipper H overfly


D ahlia

buddy prather G uided


M ist (A L enten Poem )

“On the eve of my 61st, the days remaining sharpened to a vanishing point, shrouded with mist.” Time paddling along relentlessly, no quiet cove for refuge, best spent slowly, pondering. No time not to love the questions, patient for answers. No time now to intellectualize rationally the facts of this or that (such stern bodies!) seen rolling down the frantic current of time’s river, packed in barges of books, blogs. No time left for the reciting of beliefs, opinions, why things are and what we need, for explaining, understanding. No time now to remain self-made, harnessed to the cow named Willful heard bawling at each wrong turn, for questioning each made decision. Now! time cries, sharp as a snap, saying: “This moment is for peering through faith’s curtain, for being drenched in awe as a child on its birthday, bumbling with gratitude yet unexpressed.” Time now to relinquish, to become disillusioned, succumbing to the illogical, the unprovable, making real the truth hidden for so long, the coin’s other side. Time now to awaken fully into the awareness of surrender: truth that glistens, stills. A misty suggestion guiding our thoughts, leading us toward ourselves.

rust and moth S pr ing 2009 Layout and Design by Josiah Spence Layout Photography by Estlin Thomas Editors: Matthew Payne, Josiah Spence, Michael Young, and Suncerae Smith All contributers retain individual rights to their works upon publication. Thank you to all of our contributers and to all of our readers.

Rust and Moth Poetry and Arts Journal: Spring 2009  

The Spring 2009 issue of Rust and Moth, featuring poetry and photography.

Rust and Moth Poetry and Arts Journal: Spring 2009  

The Spring 2009 issue of Rust and Moth, featuring poetry and photography.