viernes, diciembre 28, 2007

Five Poems From Adam Strauss

Quat Rains

You’re the captain
Of team obvious—
A necessary job:
Reduces the obviating

Tendencies of the
Upper echelons, allows you
Impunity to stare
At hot blonds, consume more

Than you deserve. I’ve got
To go try and find
Agapanthus to
Walk alongside.

Demeter Whispered Die Meter!

I like
Some trees

And am

With the

Court Oath—
Bored on

The shelf
In a

You don’t

Live in:
Good for

Ya’ll come
Back now.

Nowhere But Here To Get To

My interest
Switches often—
Creates circumference

Not a constant

No bland nor time for
Jaded yet I am—
I have so many

Things and so
Few basic verbs—
Complexity fills

The interstices
Between when I’m
Ranging being or dead to

Living completely—
I like being
“Out of it” but partly

Fear this stance—
Freedom—what US
Is fighting for.


I don’t want to read the things
I’m thinking:
Nor the script of not—what brings
Pleasure to
Many’s my goal. The dark blue
Sky vasts through
Out the window; how far is
An owl hits—
Hooks—bleeds—swifts home—hungry chicks.
The earth’s pap
Someone ruthlessly tap-taps
And I slap
Money down—night caps.


What’s the etymology of albumen? An advanced answer is a
Question. The ocean view versus garden pondered
By someone who can afford either.
Is there a truest I in this body I’m unaware of?
I suspect an answer will be in love—lies to itself it likes sleeping—dreaming
Wagons loaded with watermelons, their flesh shot through with arsenic. Someone
Whispers in a language I didn’t know but understood, and took her to get a beer but she
Got coke and demurred to barely being there; we couldn’t talk; she bowed and left into
The third pull of my second bottle—warmer than the first but me less thirsty. A hot
Breeze quickens my emerging buzz—the sunset seems amniotic; birds chirp in
The branches of trees like people frolicking at the beach—simile as affirmation of difference;
I’m suspicious of paradox—by degrees which don’t complete a circle.
I’ve never seen one but plane trees erected my emotion. When I’ve Looked into the ocean
I’ve never thought a grave; I have felt blood runs my brain: pulses
Bob Marley’s "Stranger on the shore," littered with rubber-sandals, tennis shoes,
Lighters, Batteries, bottles.

Adam Strauss lives in Las Vegas. He adores the poetry of George Herbert and would love a career writing pop songs.

lunes, diciembre 03, 2007

New Poetry From Peter Golub


my injustice was the only way I knew how
try and save us
stay behind
there in the rain
kept falling and falling
like a dead Santa down the chimney
of a very rich girl
a heap at her feet

toads came out onto the golf course
the college girls put their professors to bed
and headed out

in my sleep I kept asking
"are we there yet?"
the apparitions at my bed
munching milk and cookies
shrugged their shoulders

"do you think we're your dreams?" they asked

my heart is full of rubbish
my false hope is a tenement
made from cheap cement
they of course answer "no"
as I walk back home
to your letter
about never coming back

this is not nearly enough
my false hope also sings
all the work that was left means nothing now
why finish a city that dies because of a woman
there is nothing in the other rooms
my heart is almost completely full of rubbish
but there is nothing to burn
nor any need of a fire
I couldn't save you
of course this is all lies
I tried
and who are you
you who needs saving
in my democratic hallucination
this tremendous weight on effort
"but where is this effort?"
bring me something
a mouse in a bucket
a farmer with a giant rabbit in his hands
"you can't eat the GNP," says the farmer
"wanna bet?" answers the giant rabbit

our lives
stitched together
resemble an impossibility
once priding its incredulity
wedded to arrogance
calling itself caution
"be suspicious of your heroes,"
says the giant rabbit
among the cabbages made of corn

any courage today
is turned immediately into corn
given a side glance
or worse
a bushy white mustache

there is nothing for you here reader
go home to your family

the majority of the cars in the street are white
I say "the cars in the street are white"
the rabbit says "the cars are made of corn"
someone else says "the cars are blue"
these are all lies
but mine has the most truth
like that fucking motorcycle
it has the most noise outside my window

yes life
has been decomposing
in the Santa suit
at the bottom of a sewer in Mexico City

I am swimming
in old food
and memories
the logical conclusion would be to stop
or at least get a job as a famous scientist
with giant tits

the man on the television
in my dream
speaks of his 4 year old daughter's vagina
stretching and stretching
apparently kids do it
and you don't call back
and I avoid her calls

the holidays
with too much shit hanging
the Indians
are drunk again
hygiene products
"she's the one," they a cappella

my neighbor tells me his wife
has gone
he tells me with a kind of mad look in his eye
"she is sick…what do I tell the kids?"

there are dreams that are more horrifying
upon waking up
these are not the dreams with
ghosts sitting at the table
picking through old bones and jewelry
or appliances working when unplugged
nor are these dreams about the beloved
grey haired, weeping
and numb

you lose your voice
a knock at the door brings 6 men
now you are in a bare room
with flamenco rhythms in the floor
sitting unable to move
learning to write your name
which appears as two convex lines
there is no teaching you
you know your name by heart
but this
is this your name
looking up shyly
nothing is true
but everything is permitted

Peter Golub is a frequent contributor to Zone. He teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

lunes, noviembre 12, 2007

Norman Mailer

31 Jan 1923 - 10 Nov 2007

jueves, noviembre 01, 2007

Six Poems From Prakash Kona


Nothing is older than a speck of dust
Or taller than a blade of grass.

Three people God wished he never created:
Darwin, Marx and Bertrand Russell.

To liberate women is to liberate the mind of man
From ignorance that enslaved women in the first place.

It’s when I’m ready to leave a place,
That I want to speak my thoughts.

Our worst enemies are hiding
Beneath the faces we love.

I thought of you and wrote about bread,
I thought of bread and wrote about people,
I thought of nothing and wrote about flowers.


Whisper in my ear Andalusia,
Sunlight trills in my hybrid veins.

Russell, there is a viper ready
To strike the bones yellow.

Bazaar and my soul is defined
In the babble of throbbing streets.

Trinkets and I hear your heart sing
While day spins into arms of night.


I took away the dimension of performance from the truth.
Truth speaks for others.
Since body is one with soul
I abandon myself to a perfume that sweeps the corridors of the brain.
Death is a river and paradise a jewel of hope that comes from a desert
Asleep in its perfection like the sea resting against the bosom of the horizon.


When an actor dreams she pokes fun at the audience.
Sleep is relative – the face of the sleeper is not.
The actor is dreaming of beads – perhaps.
The actor prays that death may not catch her
Drowsing eye unawares. She is afraid for the face
Delectably naïve. For her the stage is an absence.
No one dare contrive the truth. That would defile
The totem. It means disaster to the existence of the tribe.
My brother eagle circumambulates the clouds and my
Sister crow is earthy as a worm wriggling through the soil.
The thing I cannot imagine is the mind of a torturer.
I suspend action to let myself into the solitude of
Drifting thoughts. I’ve the anger of a victim in me.
I’m the victim of a life I could’ve avoided living.
The torturer is not an actor because he contrives
The truth without believing in it. Torture divorces spirit
From flesh. The torturer is at war with the stage.
Evening lights take me in the direction of the wind.
The time zones of the past are framed in missing
Spaces of the present. On a red hill night came as nights
Do stealthily eclipsing the day’s madness. You’re not asleep.
Like all actors in the grinding mill of the imagination the
Day permeates every cell of the night. Was I weeping
At the thought of my death? I braced myself for
An end no more real than the life I lived.


The timeless body is queen of illusions.
The space between standing on a road
And dreaming of pavilions –
No fool that knew the queen would return into
The cave of time. You cannot glamorize
The perishing world of senses except
Through the gaze of the queen.
Untranslatable as the dark is the
Queen of pavilions.
In my dreams but never in
Reality the queen is a trespasser in veils,
The dream is reality – I don’t
Need walls of prisons to persuade me
That I’m serious to the point of
Ill-concealed bitterness. What is written
On the forehead is not the same as what
Lips utter with the conviction of a born dreamer.
Death forgives in a way that life never does.

Love’s Nest


Love’s nests are built by the art of putting twigs together stolen from birds.
Migrant laborers return from spaces where they work for survival. When they speak of returning home they mean lying in a love’s nest until morning.
I want no home for my own. I built my nest in your heart that flies from hill to horizon back to the hill. Your love nestles everywhere. Homeless is that heart of yours but that is my home.
In the fatal embrace of lovers we discover our homes in the warmth of each other’s faces.
The nest shelters from sad raindrops falling on your eyes and my head in your lap. The bodies of lovers never part. They remain in nests for lover or beloved to come back into the arms of the other.
Love is your body that crosses mine like pencil marks on a page gently wiped out by an eraser. On the page of my life is your body. All the pencil marks add up to the point where they eternally diverge from one another. At the point of divergence my life becomes one with your body.
I need your lips on my neck. We coil into one another. A tree with branches opening to the sky. The sky filling the bosom of the tree. The tree nestling against the sky. In your belly is a button. I press the button to reach the home I come to sleep.
I imagined before it happened. I make my nest in the thoughts of the sleeper. The sleeper is one among infinite other bodies. The sleeper is infinite in one body.


I hugged the body with the strength of my arms. Will that body remember me when I’m gone?
I felt each part of the body with my lips. Will that body forgive my lips for daring to feel?
I composed music for lips on a soul inside a body. Will music produce the passion of a palm tree when lovers meet at dusk?
I was alone inside you sharing the loneliness of your innermost self. Will you make me a slave of that dark region that does not allow words to enter?
I battled with jealous ghosts in fear that I might lose you. Will death spare my soul the memory of your caress?
I ran from mirror to mirror in outstanding places for the hem of your shadow. Will your shadow smile into my eyes with pity?
I wondered if a word is what makes something beautiful or something is beautiful before the word knows it. Will you let my words pass over your body like dew from the sky?
I drank from the cup of bitter sweetness the waters of a tap made for the mouths of children celebrating their long gestation in the womb. Will the cup teach me to endure moments of your absence?
I longed for the littleness of a bonsai that I may be in the room of your heart. Will you expand your heart to accommodate a stranger that speaks in the tongue of the intoxicated?
I turn in bed that night may pass and morning break the monotony of a restless body. Will this body be patient when it sees you uncoiling from the hibernation of a long night away from dreams?
I dug the grave of my early youth for words I used that came to end in a romantic nothing. That was how the world of light looked to me. Darkness is thicker than light. The smell of sweat in a glimmer. I am in love with a vase I’ve never seen. Blood is water mingled with time. My blood disseminate to the sea. Mingle into the blood of the one I love.

Prakash Kona (born July 14, 1967) is an Indian novelist, essayist, poet and theorist who lives in Hyderabad, India. He writes in English, and is the author of six books to date: Words on Lips of a Stranger (Writers Workshop, Calcutta 2006), Pearls of an Unstrung Necklace (Fugue State Press, New York 2005), Literary Criticism: A Study of Pluralism (Wittgenstein, Chomsky and Derrida) (Wisdom House Publications, Leeds 2004), Streets that Smell of Dying Roses (Fugue State Press, New York 2003 & Yeti Books, Calicut 2006), Poems for Her (Writers Workshop, Calcutta 1999) and You and Other Poems (Writers Workshop, Calcutta 1997). His fiction is highly unusual, an experimental combination of free-floating emotion and political theory that can depict, for example, a city or a love relationship in an ambiguous, flowing, non-concrete and yet highly personal and heartfelt manner.

miércoles, octubre 17, 2007

Seven Sonnets From William Bain

Water: A short sonnet sequence



Each broken branch in the dream
is an eraser, connecting, perhaps conning
writing, the arm, heart, sap moving
in the earth. The dream.... If leaf
covers the glass, the language
is veins, but still glass.
Still water, movement perhaps
beneath the dream, inside broken branch.
The speed of the eye can receive
light, yet never keep up.
The tiring swimmer, resting
in still water, measures flat glance,
glass reflecting minutes to shore,
to branch, leaf, mote.



Green lawn expanse, bright sunlight.
Word magnet traces water.
There was water, too, that Anglesey
walk upward, sheets of weed
cover hiding the red thread,
the underflow of deserted dream—
zoomed fence of friends’
divorce I’d held close.
False laughter gave away half
the choice loyalty was asking.
My white cottage home, my ground,
slid roadward in divided silence.
Landscape so bright it hurts.



Another thing about thunder is dirt out
of the rain following—
Traces of gases and dust water
our knives as we wallow or dust bathe
or gallop into battle. The offkey
singers—do they hear Callas and say
callous, or is it callous in,
cailloux out? Bright October morning,
history before the song, blocks out
cloud over dusty hill, above new asphalt.
Altitude, mass, elegy disappear, string
switching freight roar, alarmed bell
blown along the glint of track,
track glinting in lightning.



Band sand rand Dan flowering,
silver trail snail crab mountain rising.
Pausing outside the Jonqueres exit of Urquinaona station,
a short translation of some bounded part
of Barcelona, the lights on Laietana—
the throng I watch this November night.
For the English to find the full city is impossible.
Sunday morning, or Sunday evening, the move back
goes to cards, poker, say, or bridge,
and a bluff. This vision, then, in
the direction of Barceloneta: the bright
playing cards in fourteen rows, the flies
about us as we sweat on the sand:
perception of absent water.


Sonnet Lullaby: Sleep

Come on, now, let’s go to sleep...
Look at all these colorful fish here,
wiggling their colorful little tails
and fins, drowsily, in the shifting
currents of the deep, deep water.

Other animals come and swim, too, by
the time space ship arrives...
Bear and Dog play, jumping around. At
some point it won’t work: some
problem seems to come up. Who’s who here?

Then the bright little dog icon springs away upward,
toy species or a species of toy. Sublime.
Smiling, he sits there, fitting in.
The currents tug. This way. That way.



Greenwich and the beroached place you left
have to come, willy nilly, poem unable
to find the eye, the third, the beast.
It is additional text put off,
flowers overgrown that tumble,
then recede to photography.
You’ll be out. I phone ahead anyway.
You’re out. I walk over anyway,
through a fast New York crowd,
Friday before work’s out. Three,
now four outs in one sonnet: a trend.
Above the frame of real steel girder,
in the photograph’s mirrored space, home flies in:
augmented fourth of summer repertory.


Mind auto

It isn’t that reading wasn’t
thinking other thoughts before.
(Thinking thoughts echoes though.)

In the notebook—“the” notebook!—
in a notebook, I draw
car car car car car car

smoke vroooom,
then try to convince myself
the drawing was thoughtless,
pen simply following hand, no

mind. No-mind. Nomind.
Light turbulence somewhere’s
pulled rain clouds into giant jeans.
Nomind. Only water, water, water—vroooom.

William Bain grew up in Indiana and earned an English Literature degree with a Chemistry minor from Indiana University. In addition to writing, he is also a visual artist whose work has been in collective exhibitions in Barcelona, Spain. His poems and stories have appeared in various paper and electronic publications, most recently in RedRiverReview, Roundonline, and previously in Zone. Currently, he works as a translator and is a PhD student in Literary Theory at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

jueves, octubre 04, 2007

Six Poems From Robert Lietz


Grey branches reflect on the grey pools,

and a few colored stones.

The cold, taken shallow to my lungs. A morning

before full sun, the year

already turning itself toward cold. Upgrade

through brush I passed,

inspecting the board well-cover, seeing it secure

against small deaths,

walked further among the season's

fine-boned trees, become

bars of light as now October sun

worked through.

Higher still through wood, occasionally

stumbling, past the ground birds'

abandoned nests, the place years back

I laid the cat I could not bury,

passed to the broad forehead of stone

that overlooked two highways,

and rested myself


Tired a little but too restless still for sleep,

I spent that afternoon

in the last sunlight before snow


one love's stand, and the first uses

of our passions. But nothing

of that woman kept. Only

the raw stone her figure

would be cut from.

No matter what primaries her skirts flare,

no matter what murders are resolved

by the events in the next parlor, it’s plain now

Truth holds briefly for transcription

then goes on in its strange face. I exit clean,

only a little nearer Truth, closer

in this work than in my life, walking

among charred stones

set into the turned earth, her words,

like seeds I could not carry,

and like this wide grain entered,

from which a host's

roughed out.


Sweat crates to attic heat. Sweat short-coming love.

He stops to think or stops to catch his breath. He

lets his fingers graze the lettering set deep in an old page,

couples addressed as properties, and puzzles

the guarantees, examining the finer print for sinkholes,

remembrances a swamp turned on, remembering

the week spent moving in, weeks of trying prices out, of

dragging the colors down from racks of carpet rolls.

So now these faces swim to him. He sits, among the oldest

furniture, two damaged chairs, and the stained buffet,

minus the feast-day linens, while over him, in stillness,

(more or less than he admits,) form these words

he stands the tonguings of, the voices of clerks, of bookkeepers

sharpening dark points, the mouths of dreamers

or of men about to cry, of lovers stinging their fingertips

with flirts. Words a block may well have heard

as the train's blare fill the grooves and curlicues, this

great-grandfather's brother's handiwork.

The voices of years, just under the percussion, he sips

his Stevens and pinot. And the sun, about the spot

it did the evening they moved in, makes this puzzle now,

of rooms the spirits open and renew, dreaming

the futures ahead for him, their homely séance say,

brought on by its arrival, and their words like chips,

bearing the coded whole, like a foreign constancy

far into the heartland. A woman sips her crushed melon drink.

A keyboard nudges the bass-soloist along. He

serves the hues and tones of it, and she, without a name,

among these visitors starwalking joists, leaping tufts

of insulation beds, brushes his day-wearied head, feeling

the drag of winters she had whispered him across, this

brightening last of sun, bubble of light at his wine's rim.

And Poetry, because he's asked too little of it, resists

such addings up, resists these autumns, peeled back

like decreations, the looks of a well-made furniture,

teasing the lines and shaded arcs a grown son

tries on for size, trying the names a woman

has to introduce him to.



A rap downstairs. The day's report?

The insurance from North Baltimore?

Not so much by words as by the luxury of timing,

he thinks to raise the dead, waving

the lesser ghosts along, that had leaned above our page

or haunted in our crawlspaces,

like night silks, or borrowings on rainbows.

He feels for his pulse,

and writes the heart of it, leaving these letters again

for friends he just as well could visit,

until the crowding faces quit, long enough

for sleeping, and the menace dulls,

and properties, aligned by their machines,

seem bright sundries, left behind

of a half-century's indenture.

You could have your laughs at it, a man, gone

loony at dream's brink,

easing a moonlit post ( like love notes ) into mail-slots.

Had we not feared that double sky,

and feared the figures now, that lean on our horizon?

Had we not wondered, he asks,

to hear that quickened murmuring, as far as we are

inland, the hum of the sea absorbed

in hand-delivered mail?

He holds the world in check, against our industry's

exhaustion. And tries the lingo on for size,

remembering the boys we were, 1960, '61, kids,

like a mood's coin-toss, abused

( may be,) withstanding the well-aimed ridicule of freaks,

the well-meant tease of strippers

at town line. He remembers all of it, their pearls

and fire-rimmed bells, these "girls"

in their fifth decades, Patience L'Rope

and Caitlan Brace

and Sylvia Appeal, trusting the lights

and fun of it, trucked in to be

the last enlivenings of sand-lots,

like live inventories,

brightening the gist

of letters yet.


As if the dreams of men were prophecies

read backwards,

as if that downy wilderness our eyes camped at

had marked the outer limits

to belief: I take to heart this tribute scotch

and evening's “mail,”

hearing the neighbors a house up, pacing

their screened-in porch

and weighted down by colors,

threatening the sheriff

on his head.

And he remembers all of it, the booths and rides,

the fries and sticky treats, the rides

boys quit, to choose their humblings at sideshows.

Lively, and still young, the dates we paid on

watched us hard and sweetened marriages for decades,

women following him to dreams,

and, in his orphan focus, waving to him from porches

he has brought to a full boil, able to sleep at last,

whistling wassail and spitting into shade,

revising carnival, absorbing

the night cries

that could have meant a chaos, the sounds

of trash cans overturned

behind the Cheney I.G.A., the whispers

of mothers

or brides to be, at work on blue coiffures,

as if his mistrusts

might heal us, his rappings sharpen hearts,

and he -- like a place

where stars might have to go -- had

discovered another way

to entertain the prayerbooks,

getting that all down,

before our waking

finishes the lives

he'd meant

to be.


Late-evening August light fades

from the stained glass in parish windows,

from broken fifths in city playgrounds.

Beyond the pump-your owns and body-shops,

past the rain-warped sheds,

streets narrow, and the carnival lights

enter one another, a swirl

you can pass through, here, with all your lives,

a small calm pitched against skin braced

for celebration, converging on the sideshows

August nights allow: Snake conjurers,

and women who guarantee good fortune,

dare-devils two-wheeling ramps

and leaping fires, the half-dress and spectacles

tucked off in recesses, and Wali,

knife-wielder, executing, blind-folded,

the Dance of masked Defense.

A half-dollar on Wali! Black-lights empurple

his figure center-ring. He slashes, parries,

slipper-stepping light that should not be light.

Fifteen attackers cannot penetrate his cover!

You are assembled at his edges. Ten years old,

too proud to be enchanted, fifteen

years old, overworking prowess at the sports booths,

transparencies, overlays, one and the next.

The room careens like this forever. And Wali,

under lights so soft they blare, unopposed,

unarmed, solos against the midway's din

and locomotion, his arms' measure of wind

raised to commemorate these stragglers,

whom he cannot see, or look for,

for whom he cannot depend.



To be heard, regarded mindfully, I risk

the crossfire lawns, the frantic radios

establishing stage-right. Even the wind,

in concert, chilling the left hand,

gets me privately, remembering the gesture's

sweep, the tablet of erasures,

the public and finished recipes. More like

myself, more blind, on these

ungoverned terraces, I come out to breathe

because I've had my exercise, to see

the trains storm through, confusing the crests

where lives, like terrible petals, flared,

where the fogs burn off over the poured yards,

revealing the children

playing for small change. And who am I

to tell, to boast a strict celebrity,

to play my witness on this muffled instrument?

I hear the locomotion grind. And I

assume my place among the local celebrants,

their morning biscuits and understated praise,

their evening lamps made dark as by design,

driving a mood beyond the hubbub memorized,

the crisscrossed lines I read

on this uplifted palm, and almost find names for.

Would I attempt the scene again, to find

my way across that field of contraptions,

the shoulder exposed and blush, to see again,

behind the kinder zeroes of successes,

the lengths of forearm disappearing

into vapors, raised to mute the probable

guitars, and the unceasing brass

of still-spent influence?


The reasoning does some good, even

the moody summaries, the corners of the place

adazzle with active instruments.

Nobody's mischief interrupts. Nobody's fingernail

on oiled wood disturbs our innocence,

explains this whispering, in seasonal scents,

in afterlight, achieved and brisk,

fluttering on the sills and in the window-wells,

because the rain let up, because

the minutes of last light sit hemming green,

seep to this moonlight now made partial

with ellipses. The mood carpenters abstracts,

sets the medium as is. A smokey wood

warms through, and snarls, coaxed by scraps,

a people moving chairs for their tutorials

at the wizard's heels, asking what's to read,

what's to understand in looks that shade and concentrate,

more perishably alive, asking what vehicle,

what rippling ill-figured love, what vanity,

my dears, explains the uses of such light,

the arrangements of the personal in adventure's sway.

We learn to sit spoiled air, to mount

the rungs of light, the steeps of parturition

and the living will. And we let ourselves

be named, buckle history to meantime, let rescue

serve alluring prominence, having fallen this way

upon the world's gates, fallen from faiths

like ironies, the oldest faiths, like sculpted cream

exhibited to fire, leaving these empty plates,

this space, and all the chairs turned down,

the mead-cups turned, in defective



Nobody's hand excites new blooms,

welcomes a traveler into shops,

into the bright cafes, asking what it's like,

imagining the personal maps

and, piece by piece, topographies of heart,

the ice and the blonde ash,

the eerie adagia daylight fails to mend.

The daylight fills with warblings,

with bashful rant, with mild and reckless

entertainments, letting matters spill,

allowing the desperadoes in, ourselves,

in a time of desperadoes,

in corporate receipt, a scrivening, blown

among tired stars, leaving

a man his heart's hysteria and nonchalance.

I belong to these the solid props

of my survival, these roots exposed

by the wind's rush,

and the commanding irises. And to this

rush of Time, seasonal and brief,

reduced by what appears, by the pitched

asymmetry, the excitement calendared.

I let them ask and ask again. I read the lay

of misadvantage as the flames repeat,

the faces of kids we were, charged

alive at the dewpoint of emotions, like

an alien nonsense scored, as if

to think we had ever been so young,

and to be young enough

to trust...


No less solid to touch. No less

at loss to say my innocence. I confess

such chill, such capricious ice,

all I've wished on and endured, this talk

more driven to conceal

than make plain, rasped with texts

a kid looked forward to.

And hadn't we all looked forward to?

Hadn't we burned old growth,

turned char, spread lime and let lime sit,

as if the eyes of ancients

approved our being there, approved the flames

we put to use in our perfecting,

believing we'd learned to fight

so not to be surprised,

believing the sweats, and tributes

of salute, the shocks behind

well-landed discipline?

Not these jokes, these boardgame

parodies. Not these slopes,

gone when we woke up, these young stars

dropped into the lap

of that pale moon, brooding pieces

of tomorrows

that do not seem to fit. For all I've

wished on and endured,

I hold the misery in tact, the bob and bruise

of martyrs as they fought,

their children waking, shaking

the cobwebs off, who gasp

and vanish murmuring, whatever

the nightmare spilled on them,

the abstractions of singed air, leaving

these coals to taste, to speak

their absences, these tongues

refined by fire, these

words brought home by all

that chalky business

of the planet.

Amazement simplifies, the heart

to resist gone out of it,

leaving the stewards destitute. As if

there had not been

another paradise, another comedy

but this, diamond but this

in flames of honeymoon! I read the factored claims,

the trussed look

of misbegotten argument, of the hungers

choired in higher registers.

And trace the day again to arms,

tracing the old man's lines

on the child's upturned palm, the maps,

of genius, spent, like legend,

like motility, inhering yet

in the still-life.


The spirit cries in time and double-time.

Hues made solid when strangers pass

establish speed and place. We let ourselves

be named, leaping worlds as it seemed,

partners in sheer time, suspended, giving in,

accepting the words it took us lifetimes

to be speaking, like an exquisite latency,

the words as natural as anything

we'd found around the city, the ethereal tango

and descriptive pantomime. Mind

rests, responsibly, having addressed itself

to every sort of proper conduct.

Could we have been so dense, sealing our pasts

away with claims of rapture, renaissance?

The colors pester, signify. The sudden

greenery. The eyes of sheep, grazing

round the compost, opening a seamless place,

hearts made several, and seasons

made behave, leaving the sweetness spoiled

for us, the pique of misarrangements

with the highpriests and police. I have

this morning's sums and evening's tympani,

these committed inventories, boxed,

scored for the next century, (when the century

forgets,) and have these voices whispering,

leaving their ordinal and off-grey mark,

their heat like kinds of poetry we'd asked for.

I brace myself for streets, blood-bitten

and spit, for menace and saints made adamant,

the misfigured riffs like kinds of piloting,

fathoming their business and more fertile

ease. Had we not felt their dreams,

felt with them the conditional imminence

of dreaming, of dreams let go

among the spirals of becoming, the brightening

and receding light, arriving again

as seasons might arrive, not exactly light

so much as the refinements

on a sentence, the curves of seemly pas de deux,

as sudden to sense as ends of quarreling,

as the excitements quickening the orphans'

magazines? I speak, as if remembering,

and have these words to tell, like contracts,

crumpled, in the fiddler's grips, to feel again,

in the whack of birthright and annihilation's sweep,

hopes prospering, worth the wait and see,

highlights straightening to columns, lending

the hand support, standing the weight

of history, the sway of languages the centuries

have given over to prayer.


Beneath this roof till weather lifts

I hear calamity report, scale

the ladder to loft, wondering how old

the carved hearts,

the boasts set in their initials. Stories

I would not have asked stars for,

(one woman's death, the last words

from one child's physician,)

chasten this heart troubling backwards into plurals,

the boy I was, dazed

by the long dying of his grandma,

listening through storm's throb,

an autumn bride, already large with our doomed child,

treading deep the 8-day

dying of the first born, me-not-me, finding

a way toward sleep,

fingering pocket-change for ale, learning to sleep

flat out and pummeling a mattress,

imagining the maps of cities I had no business in.

And there, gambling in light years,

outside the pinball lounge, we found

our closeness had its costs, tough

as we seemed to be, entering that hub

of saxophones and ale,

hoping on hidden bells we tossed our coins to ring

to find ourselves in cash

we had no chance of winning: I hear

that jukebox grumbling yet,

steadying kids affecting steel, repeating as their own

their fathers' versions of two fronts,

and hear that grumbling again, this far

into the century, behind

the metallic blues, the greens and apple reds

of street machines, men

rushing blood away, and the too-white flesh

of Morelli's torn forearm. I see

that child's halved spine. I hear the blue-glint

newborn's troubled breathing still,

more pink for all the lamp-glow of Ward X.

And see, with gist preserved,

off-angled ribs, lips calmed, spine smudged

with that brown salve, and still

no clue for all of her confusion, my eight-day

daughter tossed again upon creation,

as the waters climb the slip-runged

ladder of her spine, no breathing

then, without her knowing it.


Hadn't I talked the horrors out, storm's own,

and talked the keenest edge

of the spun moon, to charm my silo back

and Bach, to hear this haunted news,

this hollowed bull, yielding neither love nor rescue?

And here, where trespass shows its face

for miles, with this Eroica like some next realm,

I feel myself in years ahead, like a signature

to work through, beneath this roof till weather lifts,

under the dream-darkening, dream-flocked

skies, and find these bodies, as it were, crossing back

to atoms, and find we're in for more of it,

for mischief flown like kinds of disbelief,

until the needles catch, until the trouble's

not to cry. Love, lost as the dear link in one child's spine,

the mobius love was, leading away then back,

and thought, spared storm, turned in sympathy

to woodwinds: I say this blessing

on charmed stuff, and on these lovers now, sipping

their noon wine, feeling the coffee's

hold, brightening to these first names brought on

by their initials, and a blessing

on that first born, boxed, buried unmarked

above the grave of her great-grandmother,

asleep among the scraps of a first marriage,

a blessing on these kids, absorbed by dung

and genitals, on these, and these,

that never lived as children, thirsting for blood

but puzzled to be pillaging our daylight,

to scent, for the first time, the light of day

beyond sprung lids, after all of it

surprised, hearing the course of love

surprised, in anybody's accent.

Robert Lietz is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Ohio Northern University, with nearly 500 poems appearing in more than 100 journals in the U.S. and Canada, including Agni Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, The Georgia Review, The Missouri Review, The Northern American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry and Shenandoah. Seven collections of Mr Lietz's poems have been published, including Running in Place (L’Epervier Press), At Park and East Division ( L’Epervier Press), The Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press), The Inheritance (Sandhills Press) and Storm Service (Basfal Books). Basfal also published After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems.

The six poems appearing here are part of the forthcoming collection, West of Luna Pier.

Professor Lietz's poems can be read online in numerous magazines, including: The Black Swan Review, Kimera, The Istanbul Literature Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online, Interpoetry and The Valparaiso Literary Review.