from east to west: bicoastal verse
Table of Contents: p. 3 p. 11 p. 19 p. 39 p. 45 p. 51
king in the belly of a cloud – poetry, Dave Morrison, & art, Jeff Filipski not Japanese food –poetry, Lynne Shapiro & art, Donna Kuhn the spoken word – various poets & art by Jennifer Barnett-Hensel portraits – art, Brianna Allen birds in a pie – poetry, Melissa Crowe & photography, Audrey Hotchkiss Contributors
Get audio for any poem marked with this symbol at: http://www.geocities.com/pj_nights/fall09_audios.html
edited by PJ Nights and Ray Sweatman cover art by Oleg Doroshin all works © 2009 by each individual poet and artist
poetry by Dave Morrison, art by Jeff Filipski Black Crow Black crow. Black crow by a white fence. Black crow by a white fence on Mechanic Street, a Wednesday afternoon near the end of August, the crow so black, so black it looks like someone cut a crow shape out of the day with scissors and the Universe is showing through, made more black by the white bars of the fence and the grass made electric in the blast of the slanting sun, black crow stands absolutely still by the side of the road, pickup goes by, scooter goes by, Buick losing paint goes by, black crow is searching while trying to appear nonchalant, disdainful even, anything but desperate while his belly grinds on itself, there must be something by the side of the road, car-jetsam, animal or bird or bug too slow to cross, there must be something to justify crow's obsessive curiosity â€“ crow doesn't like the traffic but will abide it, and uneasy truce â€“ the traffic gives him squirrels and cats and possums and stupid birds, and gristle and bun and milkshake, but in his crow heart he doesn't want to be on Mechanic Street, but by the water, riding a thermal like a hawk, or even diving like a crazy osprey, or standing on the top of a tall mast in the sun like a carved God. Could crow keep his balance on top of the mast under full sail? That would be glorious, feeling as if he were dragging the great wooden fish beneath him, until the land fell away and the ship was the only solid thing and he was at its highest point, shiny black King in the belly of a cloud, obsidian star, carved coal angel, heaven above, earth below. Black crow. Black crow by a white fence. Black crow by a white fence on Mechanic Street, hungry, dreaming.
Morrison, Filipski Four Days in November One and the day came up golden and the sky bright blue steel and the wood rough and sun-warm and the coffee hot, bitter and the day fresh-baked bread and the day un-locked trunk and the day sharp horizon and the day wild horse. Two and the day came up hidden and the sky aluminum and the air a cold whisper and the gray wrapped around us and the day blank paper and the day ringing phone and the day unopened book and the day circling hawk Three and the heater runs, panting and the memories frozen clothesline and the air cold clean metal and the sky blueberry parfait and the day a curved road and the day stacked wood and the day thirteen dollars and the day a door ajar. Four and the sun climbs the barn roof and sits burning golden and the streets lifeless ribbon and the wind gentle broom and the day sleeping dog and the day boiling kettle and the day pen on paper and the stones cold and still.
Morrison, Filipski Genesis and the sun cracked the blackness and pushed its golden fingers through the translucent leaves, the dusty attic windows, pillars and railings and a sleeping girl's eyelashes, and the air stirred and the birds shouted at each other and drops of dew shone on the tips of grass like glass globes on the masts of a million tiny ships, and the worries of last night were not gone, but shrunken and no new worries had come; sleep had wiped the blackboard clean and the crows would not be denied, and nothing was unbearable, and everything continued and everything began fresh, and it was good.
Morrison, Filipski Care to Join? No, thank you. Because if I do, we might become a group, and we might start to think like a group, and if more people join, we could become a large group, and sometimes large groups make you pay dues, and the problem with that is that the group could become wealthy, and wealth becomes power, and in my opinion, every group that becomes large and wealthy and powerful sooner or later starts to rot from the inside out, starts to lose their humanity, starts to get paranoid and brutal, starts to lose their ability to recognize bad choices and repulsive behavior, and starts to think that they are better than anyone else, and that maybe some of the people in the group aren't good enough to be in the group, and start to think that anyone not in the group isn't worth a damn, and they become this huge slobbering thing that just eats and shits and eats and shits and eats, and sooner or later this group becomes like a drunken sumo wrestler, so that it either topples itself, or is brought down by a smaller leaner more determined foe, who then begins to eat and shit and eat and shit, and we never learn anything and it just goes on forever and makes you lose faith in the human race, so no, thanks, I'd just as soon not join.
Morrison, Filipski Ready If a poem is a gift, then I should not come to this day empty-handed, If a poem is a song I will clear my throat, If a poem is a painting I will try to find a subject that interests someone besides me, If a poem is an inheritance then I will sit in the lawyer's waiting room, If a poem is a fossil, then I will fire up my backhoe, If a poem is lightning I have climbed to the roof with a length of pipe, If a poem is a beautiful woman I have combed my hair and put on a tie, If a poem is rain I have put out buckets and dishpans, If a poem is a beautiful bird I have strung fine net between the trees, If a poem is fire I have kicked some crates into kindling, If a poem is death I have given everything away.
Morrison, Filipski I may not know what it is, but I am trying to be ready.
Morrison, Filipski How I Want To Be I think I want to want it. I think I want to need it I think I want to hum like a factory at night lit up like a pirate ship I think I want it to snap from my fingers and the ends of my hair I think I want to be hard-wired to the dynamo I think I want to be a swollen river breaching levees and chewing banks I think I want to be a city block ablaze making streets bright as day I donâ€™t want to be alive I want more than that I think I want to be a comet a tidal wave a runaway train. Of course, if I were I think I would want just one moment of peace.
Morrison, Filipski Reminder And it tells me something. It tells me that I was right, that I have a precious secret, that I am a changeling, that my doubts were forgivable mistakes, that my confusion was, in fact, clarity, and it reminds me of things forgotten but not lost, and it soothes me like a mother I've never known but always recognize. And it is the one mirror that is not distorted, and it is the tool that fits in my hand, and it is the found clothing that fits as if tailored for me, and it is the letter to me in my own handwriting, bringing me good news from the future. And I weep with joy. And by tomorrow I will have forgotten everything.
poetry, Lynne Shapiro & art, Donna Kuhn Patter Song Were it not for the shoes boys size 6 1/2 patent leather placed outside the gate on Garden Street in the box they’d come in propped up buffered by black tissue, I don’t think I’d recognize the street as I do now, a crossroads of children where throngs of tiny feet funnel from every direction past those generous shoes, perfectly placed offerings, from one whose child is grown to one whose child is growing, outgrown shoes, like castings from caterpillars on their way to weightlessness. Do I stop for them? No. I walk on, empty as those shoes, contemplating the ones shed by my own son on his way to gentleness and cruelty.
Shapiro, Kuhn Eat Your Aesthetics 1. My fortune says, Learn Chinese: Xiang-nian ni, Translation: Miss you. I read the reverse fortune: The best art conceals art. Youâ€™d love this: No prediction just predilection & hours of polemic provided by a crunchy missive. This isnâ€™t Japanese food with its minimalist hoopla: white on white sushi, palest ginger, green wasabi. Thereâ€™s no sashimi in the spotlight here with fringed plastic frond accompaniment. No, this is Chinese food, informal, familiar, easy to forget that practiced hands chopped and folded dumplings at the family table when customers were few. 2. Consider the Brechtian meal, epicurius interruptus parenthetical waiters , & hovering cooks cause you to pause between bites, ponder the peripheral sauce, the chorus of ingredients: pop tart chicken puree of filet mignon. radish chip ice cream This meal favors the thoughtful diner who does not succumb to taste alone, the clash of flavors disavows alimentary catharsis. The raw meal may be more Brechtian still, with nothing concealed by sauce or transformed by heat. Naked carrots in the open, true to form. 12
Shapiro, Kuhn 3. Miss you. Where are you hiding these days? If you should read this consider that the words spilled uncontrollably into this container. When done, complete the poem, turn the page, as with a meal where only the plate remains and memory sticks to the ribs.
Shapiro, Kuhn Times Square(d) in February I'm of two minds as I sit at Ollie’s over a bowl of steaming soup that opens both nostrils and I argue with myself about the Lars Von Trier film I just saw. I love when something seems true and so does it’s opposite! Nils Bohrs said contraries are complimentary. Both Danes! Dogville, fulcrum of polarity. Did you mean liberalism’s end to be a slap to the face or did you mean to serve it with a silver spoon? Do we all reverse ourselves, I wonder, (and wonder if this is what Lars Von Trier is wondering,) at the denouement of our lives, an inevitable evo – revo – lution - lusion? The waiters’ tee shirts proclaim, "Noodle is my life"; love the missing plural. Perhaps they're no more Chinese than I am Polish, Fortune cookie with bill, lucky numbers 39 10 35 6 2 36 and this fortune: There is a true and sincere friendship between you both. I smile, pay the check, and walk out into the bundled throngs. Alone, but multi-cerebrate, I turn onto 42nd Street and walk against the wind.
Shapiro, Kuhn Not In My Kitschen Conjure the gentle owl shaker, mooing creamer, cobalt blue chicken egg-cup as you eat your way to nostalgia with sideboard trimmings, fork tine incantations, and nationalistic proclamations; comfort food framed by cherished figurines in repose beside the garden gate. Each buttery bite leads home, back to the ranch, the plantation, the depression, the 1950s, the neighbor’s annual Oktoberfest, a luau. Simply eat your wistful food, don’t keen for depth in the strudel, possess the numbing high of your homeland hoagie. Or, come over to my house. I never cook from recipes, for fear of formulaic redundancy; nor do I cook to please, real food rattles the senses. No Neil Diamond on the kitchen radio or Norman Rockwell in the dining room, no Tupperware to pack away for later. At my house, the onions won’t move you but they will make you cry.
Shapiro, Kuhn Letters and Ladders I is opening a store on the avenue. Everyone is congratulating me on thinking up my P’s and Q’s store. I is selling alphabet soup and cereal, letter cookies and chocolates, cookiecutters and molds. Children is asking their parents to stop in so they can look at ABC books and parents is saying yes so they can look at history of writing books. Everyone in the store is reading and looking up to say isn’t this cool. Little children are asking if I is going to print something on the letterpress and mommies is asking if I is able to print up their children’s poems. Some is making letter necklaces with their children’s names; some is making letter pins. Everyone is loving letters. I am appreciated. Now I is a famous conceptual artist. I is making large photos of subway entrances and traveling all over the United States of America putting photographs everywhere, in deserts, prairies, marshes, and forests. I is getting permission to do this. Everyone is wondering, who made these photographs? Everyone is scratching his or her head thinking about the subway where there is no subway. All art critics is writing about this piece, thinking that Kiva Subway is the greatest thing since Philippe Petite. I am awarded the Nobel Prize for Art and I is on the cover of all the art magazines. Then I is off and running on my next project – I is making large photos of kiva entrances and I is placing them next t subways.
Shapiro, Kuhn Four Men In the hollow of my back I feel my soul shrinking. No stomach for confrontation, my oars, like wings on open air, wash across the lapping water, their sound a steady balm, directs me towards the fruited shade ahead. Swallows skirt the boat; In a few hours Theyâ€™ll be replaced by bats. I do not turn to look, but fix a sepia image of the three who stand ground, poised to conquer the very thing that threatens the calm beneath the peeling sun. I keep on. Doth conscience make cowards of us all?
Shapiro, Kuhn Freedom Quilt, Gees Bend Photographed, the image flattens, looks like watercolor not fabric. No sense of size or orientation, accident of omission, bestows freedom. I walk into the denim. Horizontal: My heels echo on the courthouse steps; I am small, the stone is heavy above, and freedomâ€™s nearby, at the periphery; Vertical: Tranquilityâ€™s blue wings hem me to the center of this hourglass, open blue sky forms the river. Through the narrows I row, gentle ripples abstract the mottled sky above. The tiniest sound echoes outward through this handmade canyon. Despite geometry, straight lines are banished, rendered obsolete.
various poets & art by Jennifer Barnett-Hensel Shadows Of Dust The sun offers no illumination in the dusk coloured brick dust of dawnďźŒ swirling around a woman's figure tapping mortar off of bricks, that last week used to house in their one room; a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, son, daughter, two dogs and a cat. Where did they go? I wonder, sitting, watching, eating steamed bread. Do the idle bulldozers know? Did the tents in rows for the migrant workers see them leave?
various poets, Barnett-Hensel Did the lines of fluttering flags hear where they went? Or was everybody too busy to notice? The woman throws the cleaned brick on to the pile and picks up another one, pausing briefly to wave, and shout hello to the three approaching green shirts, who wave and shout back, then start sifting through the rubble heaps for lead pipes, tiles and fittings, to sell on somewhere else. Their shouts and conversation are soon drowned out by the claws of diggers, as they start up 20
various poets, Barnett-Hensel and begin to break up and remove the remains of a hundred demolished homes to build a hundred more. In the din of metal on stone, the machines, huts, piles of bricks, hats and scavenging hands are swallowed whole by the incoming mist of enveloping dust, that turns the sun into a dim lit distant shadow. Where did they go? I wonder, as I sit, watching the steamed bread disappear in my hand.
~ J. H. Martin
various poets, Barnett-Hensel unquite kept. cool sank, unquiet. awake awide & snidely hiding snaplash whip tongue frolicsome in trickle stream where tidings bide forgetfuls, streaming KEEP OUT ...reeling. sudden curls to swirve where, softly, comes a chitter from some underneath of leaf smoke shivers (keep in.) what type crawking... crow, he? towhee? toad or heronfrog or fog of snoring out of in me? could be mostly mawking bird in early unclearbeen pretending 'bees' bespeaking humbreeze warm or stormwind strangely hanging. ~ Jim D. Deuchars
various poets, Barnett-Hensel He follows her He follows her with his voice; she sees him with her skin, and drinks him with her hands, in the storm touch which will crush his chest against her breast. The poppies pour their juice in the red rain which will crack, in time, all other things. She drinks him with her hands. He follows with her breast. She sees him with his chest, in this body not her own, but which, in the night, is hers. Like the heat that swells all things, she sings the night with him. He follows her with his voice; she sees him with her skin ~Larissa Shmailo
various poets, Barnett-Hensel petite chouchou berrigan had his pepsi old westerns and chris, hello he wrote for other poets he wrote for himself and maybe even the pimply kid scribbling in a diner at 3AM grace to be born... and don't tread on me * as i age i trust myself more and more and this trust replaces certainty toward both myself others and suddenly there is no me and no others only the poem i fly the poem i trust * being sparked by the idiom is necessary before a dismissal each poem is an idiom each poet's opus an idiom each image - idiom (sounds better than metaphor, eh? believe me: i know what i like) * a pilot let's say a stuntpilot gives his show and even though those on the ground haven't a clue as to what he is doing 24
various poets, Barnett-Hensel they are moved in some way whether the movement comes by surprise (something new) or is expected (as a perfect recreation of the spirit of manoeuvers of those who flew before) and what of those passengers who expect only to debark what would they think if caught in a loop-de-loop? * beginning high school french i was the wiseguy who figured Vous donnez moi un mal a la fesse was funny but to a frenchman it probably speaks more of an impossible transfer of hemorrhoids than it does of disdain and who would call their best girl a vegetable? a frenchman? oui * berrigan was a stunt pilot sparked by his own idioms and others' and others Eliot flew intercontinental speaking his own language (the clouds of ours) Poe sat in the dark and then there was Blakeshine Larkin beautifully morose Ginsberg gayly cherubific who else? who else? and all of our others... hurting inside to knock down our doors our chipboard doors... 25
various poets, Barnett-Hensel inside some never fly * speaking of eliot and those guys i've heard it said that the 20th century was the time of allusion and i wonder how it got that way and grew and grew finally birthing academics who scorned academics criticism growing like fractals whose slow mutation you can't see at once whose journeys veer into sideroads rutted and brown whose spires grow baroque and gargoyled and are imploded to make way for superstores of minimalism (look! is that Brautigan there, hiding behind the endcap? is that a haiku or a mastercard that fell behind the checkout?) and all the growth got old and ended and we are now new are stuntpilots tricking foreigners into a ride and hope for a sigh * at times it's like we are all foreigners some enjoy playing jokes on foreigners but i can't i can't rewrite this trust in my garden my little flowers my veggie pepsis my idioms looping those loops listening for the ooohs and ahhhs as under my breath i quietly aside don't tread on me ~John Eivaz
various poets, Barnett-Hensel our lady of the dark road i don't really know you, my obsession. ignorance fights uncommon knowledge naked, guesses where you were ten years ago, where tomorrow, where. i fight the wind of a wrong turn towards chicago, fight you, fight myself. complete sentences oh baby, you make me feel. are important; it's after midnight, i can't see my arms. i'm awkward and fierce. my matters are right here. where am i going? away. not there. i've left there. tomorrow i might wear gingham, flour at sunrise the town bakery, cookies for the kids. this man oh baby, you make me feel. i will learn to know takes me to the pasta house, i'm warmed by wine. by the time i meet his friends i'm packed. the wind of midnight, complete sentences comfort me, unconvincingly. i think i'll let go next time. do the bars, the furnished room. fishnets, noticeable lips, drink after drink. i don't really know take me wrong side of the and the hips pounded by dark youyouyou whisper takeme here iam yes? now listen my heart and some clicks train on rails? turn signal? tsktsktsktsk? syncronized squeak takeme all is now please i want to believe before i go tsktsktsktsk oh baby, you make me feel. a college town, a college town straight from the last hitch to the three-point-two bar yes, this one for now. i'll stay with you, brown bag out the back, tipsy weasel you could carry me, this might be 27
various poets, Barnett-Hensel needed. morning blots the name. pills pills arm asleep hanging off the bed my how you snore. waitress good for tips play them garden apartment full of quiet and tequila oh baby, you make me feel. thank you baby, i'll be fine now, maybe stay here into next year no one to worry, no one to know. i'm tangled, i'm bored, pancake house quits me, bar boarded up in back, sack empty. i quit. complete sentences awkward and important. verbose stasis in a garden, ache of unfair irritation, yesterday's tequila, wind of midnight. oh baby pacific sunset distraction how far i've come that the sand is more than the waves. proud to say anonymous, free, moving. randall bill walter chris i did it in lieu of because of in spite of not for you, not for me, i want to believe all is but it's not now and so north changing sheets at the lodge his muscle melts into oh baby, you make me feel. me and we change each other though nothing changes walter chris tony i want i leave its not here its not this thumb train bus i've fooled all of us and move on, awkward, irritated, without regret. sun comes up, sun goes down wrong turn in the wind of midnight want to believe before i go all is now complete and oh baby, you make me feel. ~John Eivaz
various poets, Barnett-Hensel Songs for a Mad Queen 'The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart." -IVoices over the earth Voices from the four quarters of the earth Voices under the earth Fire and thunder Voices by day and by night Voices from the east and from the west Voices deep under the earth Fire and thunder Voices over the people Voices over the whole people Voices over the palace And in the Queen's chamber Fire and thunder - II the Queen: I have put out the lights and cannot see What they have brought, what thing Lies brooding here in my bed Beneath the rotten canopy I touched in the dark and found it warm Surprising - I thought it was dead But no, it moved at my touch And tried perhaps to speak? but only sighed, Small (like a child) But not a child, I think My child is dead I kept it in a box for a while under the bed Then who might you be? I am Your Majesty's Faithful Dwarf, he said. 29
various poets, Barnett-Hensel - III the Dwarf: Excuse, Your Majesty Excuse my shame Excuse my ugliness before your eyes Somebody brought me Somebody hid me Here as a surprise for Your Majesty. I'm to make you laugh with my little crooked sorrow See? Am I not wonderfully made? Don't you feel like laughing now - not even a smile? Shall I dance for Your Majesty or sing for my Lady's pleasure - See? - IV the Queen (very slowly): Come here child Closer, here, to my side Let me see your eyes Open wide and show me the night inside. Yes... it is just as I thought Have a look in the glass Wait, I'll take you on my knee Now do you see? Perhaps we ought to laugh after all - my eyes in your face! Twin pools of sorrow What did you say? Don't weep, or I'll send you away. 30
various poets, Barnett-Hensel -Vthe Queen (aria brilliante): If I roll myself in the blue dust Eat gold-leaf and vomit ruby worms Writhe, scream, and promise again to die It profiteth me nothing. If I give my heart to be burned Fill it with poison flames Burst bleed and empty in the ashes lie It profiteth me nothing. Oh! Take away this blue-eyed shroud Oh! Take away this bright brocade of pain And my golden plate and my golden cup and my heavy golden chain They have profited me nothing. Bury them under the blackest hill And bring me something small and still What is he doing? I did not ask you to sing -VIthe Dwarf (amoroso): Hail, my Lady Queen, Much-injured Princess, Hail! Hold up your weary head and weep no more Your Deliverer stands at the door. Queen: Where is he then? Dwarf: Here, Your Majesty. There is none but I. Queen: What? Are you not small and crooked? Dwarf: I will creep into my Lady's small and crooked heart. ~Grace Andreacchi 31
various poets, Barnett-Hensel Babytalk Infant babies, like dolphins Have ten hundred thousand vocalizations We hear 869 Babbling like a river Wide open eyes full of tears and laughter Adult humans Only 48 vocalizations This language, this logic This way I read The maps I make Always everything lost Living in translations Repeating words Between lines Arranging relics in a row, horrible horrible relics in a row Looking back, looking up, looking out, looking lost Speak the only truth left 869 tears—no two the same 869 smiles—wide open All that room Understanding never sits still Neverstanding Moving about Soft edges Laughing a river of tears Babytalk Crawling through the world. ~Joshua O’Donnell
various poets, Barnett-Hensel bâ€™tween the 2 Between the two Will run a river. Between the two Will run the tide. Between the two One gold, one silver The jewel will rest inside. One our river sings One wide eagle flies Two these open wings Two reflecting skies ~Joshua Oâ€™Donnell
various poets, Barnett-Hensel (two double sonnets, untitled) i. the focal point is off somewhere, sails propelled by the buzz of cicadas headed who knows where, leaving behind heavy gears grinding to keep a cloud of gnats afloat in thin air. “how blank,” whispers the sun, swept into the undertow such thoughts of absence lead to. the empty holds echoes with voices from the last conversation: “how clever we are, inventing land, mapping every shadow. was that really you guiding the flotilla into a storm?” the drowned sun envies a wick’s future melting wax into frozen waterfalls. what is the evidence of rain? the cicadas picture silver fronds shooting spores onto forest floors, blue they will have the floors, and there begins a crescendo of errors tilting the mapped land until barns, candlesticks, streets, gullies, animals, start sliding toward the ocean, into impermanence. the ship sails into a storm, as witnessed. the cicadas and the voices are deep in conversation. the sun glides along the current to the other side of the globe. the map of the earth zooms in, past clouds and v-formations to a pool where a girl emerges from chlorinated water. she turns her body toward the sun and dries herself.
various poets, Barnett-Hensel ii. an accident a thousand times is no accident, so they say. nor is it necessarily a plot. all thought starts elsewhere, as in pumpkin as in shuttlecock as in the subtle architecture of a theory. everything we speak is a theory, and every time someone speaks, homilies pierce the hearts of ideal sheep, and we all know that to love geometry is to be superstitious. who are they, anyway? are they plotting to do everything we can? can they connect the dotted line and follow with their eyes the progress of shiny chrome up a hairpin turn? is that something to envy? do pronouns count in translation? i’m held together with tiny stitches getting longer as i shrink, dancing in the rain to the rhythm of my accidental fiction. lucky pixels! hidden in plain sight from the overseer we love to trick. the ultimate trick: they have a car accident hydroplaning in the rain. if they even exist, they ignore the warnings and conjugate the verb they now enact, plunging. they create their own recyclable future from leftovers that keep half the ticking secret. the way you interpret something, say, a pyramid of zeros, and refer to “them” without using pronouns. their enviable trick is to translate only errors and still be perfectly legible. ~Camille Martin
various poets, Barnett-Hensel wounded A broken heart aflutter, fists hammering out guttural utterances, tears streaming down reddened cheeks, black mascara running... She mimics a trapped bird with wings beating furious, slamming its tiny ribcage against glass-paned walls. Its foothold lost, two frantic crimson claws yank down half-drawn Venetian blinds, slats left swinging, bent and dislodged from their usual pristine order, as sharp cries emanate from the pecking beak, uprooting potted plants and thrusting out other assorted ornaments, knocked crashing from windowsills and countertops. Its amber eyes, desperate with pupils wide open like the mouths of funnels, dart in search of any exit, relief from its own mindless chattering of endless self-talk tirades: clucks of self-doubt clucks of self-admonition clucks of self-loathing clucks of self-pity for allowing accidental entrapment, precious time in a short lifespan lost. Her anguish blurted out as a desperate jumbling of sounds and images… a shattered kaleidoscope of false starts… broken promises…great expectations… in all their brilliant colorations! splattered into stammered stutterings… like splintered shards of glass…a multi-hued confetti outpouring of shrills…till the bird is released… a flurry of feathers…taking flight into the golden sun… leaving behind bloodied shards, glittering in the sunlight, twisting from lacerated wrists… Two quivering hands reach up to clasp one remaining white feather of hope as it drifts down, down ward, floating towards her. ~Roxanne Hoffman
various poets, Barnett-Hensel scranton bar the blond in the red dress leans through the amped up bar igniting the overpopulated alias of a guy in a flannel shirt. somewhere between karillian photography and necrophilia this bar's a casual horror, warm and peaceful. a guy in plaid pajama pants lights a cigar. a long thin girl with long thin legs, long thin hair, and long thin fingers smokes a long thin cigarette. i lean against the wall my fingers chilled by guiness and opiates, my feet chilled by winter and age. these minor tragedies light up my life. i remember decades back, the equilibrium of hormone and vision separating the thick bar night as i shouldered a path through the neon and smoke to land on both feet perfectly balanced, poised to be blown over by the onshore gusts toward sunrise. i recall the damp air heavy with stout, perfume and sweat rippling above the stained wood between the whiskered chins of friends, the elastic waist of some one unknown leaning the glistening skin of eagerness, longing and wonder toward my cheek. the connection as immediate as leaping onto the third rail burning a path into the closest tunnel confident the earth would collapse embracing us there as the scent of skin and breath filled our senses with decay, joy and renewal. sometimes, life is flipping a three sided coin. winning isn't the point. it simply feels good next to your wrist.
~Gil Helmick 37
various poets, Barnett-Hensel User assumes risks (metamorphosis #1)
art by Brianna Allen
Mostly pessimistic and extremely humble, he doesn't take more than he needs. Todd's wit and sarcasm are charming. He owns the Smoke Wagon, a water taxi and kayak rental business on the spit in Homer. He drives an eye-sore of a car that manages to get him where he needs to go: home, work, post office, laundromat and the grocery store. Todd always has a 5 o-clock shadow. After Todd's last scheduled run each day, friends stroll into the Smoke Wagon to drink red wine from a dixie cup and talk about whatever seems to come up.
Todd at the Smoke Wagon
She has already traveled more than most Americans will in a life time. A bookworm. A humble and gifted writer. The lady likes a good pair of sweatpants, and keeps up her nails. She calls her dad Har, short for Harry. Level-headed, except when a bird or bug swoops anywhere in her vicinity, and then she reacts spasmodically. Smart, beautiful (Greek) and classy, she carries a confidence that makes her intimidating to men. When they do muster up the courage to speak to her, they'd better be good; she is not one to appease a sloppy introduction. However, an honest gentleman with an easy smile stands a good chance.
Allen Cody works the "slime line," gutting and filleting halibut and other Bering Sea treasures during the day, and as a bar back at the Salty Dog, during the nights. After his shift he claims the pool table in a business-like manner hustling cash from pig-headed, sloppy drunks. Cody is a hard working minimalist who finds solace in his beard. A romantic who has been burned, now Cody stands guarded most of the time.
Cody After Work
Carcase Drinking Coffee at Duggan's Pub Roughed, scarred, sunned, gnarled: his hands talk. Kirk, well known in any fishing port in the state of Alaska as Carcase, survived three sinking crab boats in two years. In those same two years his wife was diagnosed with cancer, she divorced him, took his two girls to the lower 48 and then re-married. And of all the pain he has had, he said, the day he had to tell a deck handâ€™s mother, her son had been swallowed by the Bering, still festers and throbs in him: calming his usual boisterous and blustery manner for a few real and sobering moments. He frequents Duggan's, the Irish bar in Homer. He explodes through the doors, just as his Ford explodes into the dirt parking lot: loud, crooked and rusted. Thin, but broad shouldered. Blonde. Wide, ice-eyed and pupils dilated. He has not drunk for years but his daily concoction of uppers and downers ignite his intensity. He commits deeplyâ€”from his two little girls to his tidy pool shots. He has always been in love with the bartender at the Down East Saloon, but she has pivoted between Carcase and another man for years. Carcase always takes her back. He shaved his usual beard-scruff for me, "his painter." I wished he hadn't, but wondered when the last time he shaved for a woman was. I painted him, as he drank his black coffee and nervously fumbled with his box of Marlboro's, and I wondered if his broken, swollen knuckles ever got stuck in the tiny hole of his coffee cup ring.
Allen Albert lives in a camper tucked away amongst his bountiful collection of shrimp pods, crab pods, cars, trucks, trailers, barrels, buoys, nets, old safes, disco balls and Buddhas. High speed internet and cable wire him to the outside world. Albert carries the New York Times crossword in his back pocket and a pencil behind his ear. Albert is always smirking. Always watching. Listening, playing with the toothpick in his mouth. Always forming an opinion which he passes off as a tested and proven fact with somewhat shady references. I showed Albert his portrait, in progress. He looked at it, stroked his beard, and smiled a little. I was unsure of his reaction until he called over his buddies to show them the portrait. As they were looking, he says "I am actually surprised at all the white in the beard...." revealing a perhaps bruised ego. I think it was good for him.
Albert in the Poker Shack
Allen His aura is bright and positive. Colorful. He is a member of the most popular band in Homer, "Three Legged Mule". I could not guess his age, making him seem timeless to me. His strong English accent is unmistakable, even as he sings. Between songs, English John shrieks like an elephant to Future, the bartender, and she answers his call accordingly.
poetry, Melissa Crowe & photography, Audrey Hotchkiss Poker Night for Mark Waiting for you I ate a bag of bing cherries-two pounds, easily a hundred of them like small plums, skin tight, each with one secret point of resistance. At first I nibbled my way round the pit like the core of an apple with its pocket of poisoned seeds. Quickly, though, I grew fierce and skilled, took each cherry in my mouth and learned to free the stone with one bite and a flick of my tongue. When I was a girl in white shorts, scooping ice cream for minimum wage, a sexy cheerleader taught me to tie the stems of maraschinos, handsfree, in a way that made boys tip and tingle, but jar cherries are too sweet and those tricks just for show. Now there are better moves I know. My belly’s full and the bag’s empty, a pile of pits and stems on the bedside table. I’m still hungry--no sign of you. Oh, if you come home now, the things I’ll do.
Crowe, Hotchkiss Love Song to a Cashier Wither thou goest so I imagine you slipping on ice or treated cruelly by shoppers who have never smelled your ears and who don't know the down of your belly so I go behind you to the market secretly little department of security so I go between you and the shooter, the microbe, the bitch in my mind, ohming my way into your day, to see that you are handled kingly, whispered sweetly, that the man who buys broccoli for his dogs gentles his money into your palm.
Crowe, Hotchkiss Postnatal Epithalamium She’d be another wedding we always said, coil of genes, you and me truly twined for good. But here’s the thing: this marriage, it eats, it cries, it rarely ever sleeps. I can cheat on you in my dreams, but she won’t let me have dreams. I’m like the waking dead in those movies, mad at the still-alive, their skin so pink, angry too at the all-the-way-gone, at least they can rest. None of this walking around moaning, dripping at the breast. It isn’t like we want to divorce. Yes there’s the squabbling, the bitterness like heartburn bubbling in our chests, but all of it’s tempered by the blush of love, afternoons agape at her fractal beauty, ear and fist and the swirl of red at her crown. I learn to say aloud what I want to believe, four a.m. pacing, her sad piglet sounds, and me cooing, You are the gift I wished for, every day like Christmas. And it’s true--she’s a jewel I have produced in the shape of my own heart or liver or spleen, something blood thirsty and essential. I just need a nap. * Eventually it comes to us, sweet lozenge of unconsciousness fully dissolved in three hours time, but I’m not greedy. I start to wake with a smile on my face, ready to unwrap the baby and myself, ready to sop up gratitude like a rich breakfast. Still, you and I give up on the idea of intimacy by DNA, our only kisses made of air and the waving of hands. This is the thing we cried about, the baby still becoming in my belly, when we said, grasping 47
Crowe, Hotchkiss each other in the dark, Make me always at the center of your heart. By now, I have chosen between you and the baby more times than I care to remember. There’s a tingling in the breast and she wins out, a tingling lower down, it’s you. Remember how we used to say we’d live together? I’m learning why we need ceremony, words to remind us how to get through what we once felt would be easy. Married as I am to her hunger, I can still say this to you: I do.
Epithalamium with Captives I am in love with a Mr. Cagebody a Miss Heart-in-a-hoop--I pick his lock, slip my fingers between her wires--I feed the animals, callously from my own mouth, crumb on my tongue, the hint of a red wine kiss. I may parade the zoo, swinging my umbrella, high button boots peaking from below my skirts. I may smell like peanuts and popcorn, like free air, the way I move my arms and legs at will. Yes, this is a thrill-this motion, this tease, only please is the word worming my chest, this fear heaving my breast. Out here, the touching on the train, the maniac on the loose, the terrible everyone. The awful, naked space. In there, I could get out of this place, in there, my love, wear you like skin. We could be trapmates, scratch the days on the wall, this many days we have celled and swelled, my love, like twins, like kidneys, like birds in a pie, my loveâ€”
Crowe, Hotchkiss The end of summer, the fall of the year-I can't decide how I feel about all this. Outside, everything starts to rot till the world is wine, that dark and sour and a little bit sweet despite its dying. In here, my hair fades, a frown line deepening, and I can't ignore anymore that no one has called me young lady this year. Still, I keep feeling like the same girl, all the while more womanish, more in love with myself. What kind of wealth grows as you spend it, I don't know, but I'm getting richer in this body, achy knees, and it's harder to see, and my belly hangs a little when you're behind me in our bed, another happy birthday. Afterward, there's a chill in the air, the window still open--we can hear the neighbors fight, nothing serious, one dog barking and then another, and we pull up the covers, July's sick heat a bad dream we're forgetting. Some days, I take it personally, the way the years have amounted to this. Tonight I just fall asleep in your arms, and-like magic--I'm somebody's baby again.
featured poets Melissa Crowe
earned her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia. Her poems and essays have appeared in Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Calyx, Seneca Review, Clementine, and the Cafe Review. Her chapbook, Cirque du Crève-Cœur, was published by dancing girl press in 2007. She lives in Portland, Maine with her husband, Mark, and their daughter, Annabelle.
Dave Morrison is a writer of novels, short stories, poetry, and many notes on scraps of paper. After years of playing guitar in rock & roll bars in Boston (the Trademarks and True Blue) and NYC (the Juke Savages), he currently resides in coastal Maine. Dave's poetry and short stories have been published in FRiGG, Thieves Jargon, Rattle,Void, Rumble, Mad Hatters Review, Juked, Laura Hird, Psychopoetica and other fine magazines, and three collections of poetry and two novels have been published by JukeBooks. You can e-visit at www.dave-morrison.com.
is a teacher and writer; her work has appeared in Myslexia, Hiss Quarterly, Qarttsiluni, Switchback, Umbrella, Ragged Sky Press’ Eating Her Wedding Dress: a Collection of Clothing Poems, and Lost Horse Press’ Decomposition: An Anthology of Fungi Poetry. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with her husband, teenage son, and recently acquired 1893 tabletop press.
Brianna M. Allen studied at the Latvian Academy of Art in the fall of 2007, where she focused on the academic approaches to painting, drawing and lithography. She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts, with a Concentration in Painting and a Bachelors of Art and Entrepreneurial Studies, both from the University of Southern Maine, in May of 2008. After graduating, Brianna moved to Homer, Alaska. In this a quaint fishing town of 5,000 people she painted the rough, genuine locals. Currently, Brianna resides in Portland, Maine. She says, "By manipulating color, form, and texture I seek to describe my subject’s being. My painting applications create lively gestures and sincere sensitivities, which when combined, create my means of visual communication. My work represents my direct impressions of whom or what my subject is composed of. I intend to induce the viewer to absorb and contemplate my subject’s personal and descriptive- yet subtle captions, which is specific to my work."
featured artists Jennifer Barnett-Hensel was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.
She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota and her Master of Fine Arts from the Memphis College of Art. In recent years, her work has explored issues of memory, time, and the effects of both on oneâ€™s being through the guise of painting, drawing, and installation pieces. In these mediums, Barnett-Hensel channels her life experiences, as well as the experiences of others, to create works of art. Within her process of collection, these moments become pathways for understanding the connections we share as humans, to each other and with the natural world that surrounds us. Barnett-Henselâ€™s work has been exhibited nationally in various galleries and museums. Most recently, she was chosen for inclusion to the 2009 InLight Richmond exhibition, Richmond, Virginia and in the 2009 North American Graduate Art Survey, Katherine E. Nash gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jennifer is currently residing in Pasadena, California where she continues to pursue her art from her home studio.
Jeff Filipski has been writing and painting for thirty-five years. Throughout this time his work has appeared in several venues from the Jazz Poetry ensemble of E.B.M.A in Buffalo New York, to independent small presses such as The Hold, Mipo, Oranges and Sardines., Thunder Sandwich, Impetus, Lucid moon, rank stranger, non compos mentos, pure light, Fubbles press, In word out, and others. Some of his paintings have made it internationally. He is currently unemployed and defying foreclosure. Audrey Hotchkiss is a Portland, Maine photographer. http://aehotchkissphotography.com.
Visit her website at
Donna Kuhn is an author, poet, dancer, visual and video artist living in New Mexico.
spoken word poets
Grace Andreacchi is an American-born novelist, poet and playwright. Her works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Her work appears in Horizon Review, Eclectica, Carolina Quarterly and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog AMAZING GRACE (http://graceandreacchi.blogspot.com). She lives in London. David Braden lives and makes sounds in Oakland California. His soundwork has been in various websites and magazines: ubuweb,spaltung, aslongasittakes, bathhouse. His work has been presented at various festivals around the world: Radiophonic Creation Day (Europe) , Soundscape 08 (Switzerland) , Electronic Rainbow Coalition Festival at Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), and the Sound Poetry Festival (Portland, Oregon). His CD "summermiragemotel" is available from softpalate: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~barleydog/ONE%20SHEET%20FOR%20CD%27s.pdf Jim D. Deuchars is an American poet born in Waukesha, WI. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. His third chapbook, Pieces of Eight was released in May, 2008, as part of the Kendra Steiner Editions. John Eivaz was born in New York and now lives in California. In the past, his poems, stories and songs have appeared on a number of websites including Slow Trains, Mannequin Envy, Haiku Headlines / The Full Deck, Tryst, MiPo and MiPo Print (which he edited for a while), the Erotica Readers and Writers Association website (where he edited poetry and flash fiction for a while) and other sites, active, minuscule or now defunct. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and has been recognized by the InterBoard Poetry Community (IBPC). He says, “This all seems like so long ago, but I guess that's the way we roll. Run Forrest, run.” Finally, or retrospectively, he was a co-founder of east/west and, in conclusion, he works at a winery. Gil Helmick graduated with Honors and Distinction in English from the California State University in Sonoma, California in 1976. During the early 1980s, Gil wrote was published in small California anthologies and performed upwards to forty public readings. In March of 1985, Gil decided to pursue fiction and flew to Paraguay and Brazil. Gil completed two novels, The Accomplice and Wounded Angels . Twenty years eclipsed his writing as Ani, his wife, and he built, operated and sold a business. As of February of 2007, Gil returned to writing exclusively. Those years included residing in Mexico, New Orleans, Pennsylvania and Nova Scotia. Gil currently resides on an island of the coast of Maine. During 2007, he completed a collection of poetry, Wounded by Zen.
spoken word poets
Roxanne Hoffman , a former Wall Street banker, now answers a patient hotline for a New York home healthcare provider. Her poems and stories appear off and on the net, in two anthologies, The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology By Gang Members And Their Affiliates (Soft Skull Press) and Love After 70 (Wising Up Press), both released in 2008, and can be heard during the independent film Love & The Vampire, directed by David Gold. Still trying to reconcile making poetry and making money, she runs the small press, POETS WEAR PRADA, specializing in limited-edition poetry chapbooks. Camille Martin, a Toronto poet, is the author of Sonnets (Shearsman Books, forthcoming in 2010) and Codes of Public Sleep (BookThug, 2007). Her work has been published in journals in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Her current works in progress are a long poem based on her Acadian/Cajun heritage and a collection of double sonnets. Currently she teaches writing and literature at Ryerson University. Her website is www.camillemartin.ca and her blog is www.rogueembryo.wordpress.com. J. H. Martin was born in London, England. In search of joy and experience he hitched and wandered across Europe, then made his way to the Far East and traveled extensively in the wilds of China where he now resides, and has done for 8 years, as a recluse in the Sichuan countryside. In April 2009, his first short collection of poetry, entitled Spring Wanderings was published in China by Rivers & Lakes Press (firstname.lastname@example.org). Joshua O’Donnell (b.1978) has been writing with the many of his homeland on the Southern Coast of Maine as long as he can remember. He's doing his best to honor the traditions of his mentors who have told him not to "think too much" and to be "true to the words as they come." His deepest respects to Gary Lawless, Joanne Kyger and Stone Roybal for all they've taught. He is grateful for any opportunity to share his voice and hopes his poems might help some find the stillness to catch their breath and sing their own song. (He says, “Speaking this way about myself is new and good... please try it!”) Larissa Shmailo’s new collection of poetry is In Paran (BlazeVOX [books] 2009). Larissa is the winner of the 2009 New Century Music Awards for spoken word with jazz, electronica, and rock; her poetry CDs are Exorcism and The No-Net World. Larissa translated the Russian transrational opera Victory over the Sun; she also contributed translations to the new anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry published by Dalkey Archive Press. Larissa has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Barrow Street, Rattapallax, Drunken Boat, Big Bridge, and Fulcrum.
Published on Oct 15, 2009
Quarterly poetry and art journal with featured poets, Melissa Crowe, Dave Morrison & Lynne Shapiro, featured artists Brianna M. Allen, Jenni...