Whoroscope / Samuel Beckett


What's that?
An egg?
By the brothers Boot it stinks fresh.
Give it to Gillot.

Galileo how are you
and his consecutive thirds!
The vile old Copernican lead-swinging son of a
            sutler!
We're moving he said we're off--Porca
            Madonna!
the way a boatswain would be, or a sack-of-
            potatoey charging Pretender.
That's not moving, that's moving.

What's that?
A little green fry or a mushroomy one?
Two lashed ovaries with prostisciutto?
How long did she womb it, the feathery one?
Three days and four nights?
Give it to Gillot.

Faulhaber, Beeckman and Peter the Red,
come now in the cloudy avalanche or Gassendi's
            sun-red crystally cloud
and I'll pebble you all your hen-and-a-half ones
or I'll pebble a lens under the quilt in the midst
            of day.

To think he was my own brother, Peter the
            Bruiser,
and not a syllogism out of him
no more than if Pa were still in it.
Hey! pass over those coppers,
sweet milled sweat of my burning liver!
Them were the days I sat in the hot-cupboard
            throwing Jesuits out of the skylight.

Who's that? Hals?
Let him wait.

My squinty doaty!
I hid and you sook.
And Francine my precious fruit of a house-and-
            parlour foetus!
What an exfoliation!
Her little grey flayed epidermis and scarlet
            tonsils!
My one child
scourged by a fever to stagnant murky blood--
blood!
Oh Harvey beloved
how shall the red and white, the many in the
            few,
(dear boodswirling Harvey)
eddy through that crack beater?
And the fourth Henry came to the crypt of the
            arrow.

What's that?
How long?
Sit on it.

A wind of evil flung my despair of ease
against the sharp spires of the one
lady:
not one or twice but…
(Kip of Christ hatch it!)
in the one sun's drowning
(Jesuitasters please copy).
So on with the silk hose over the knitted, and
            the morbid leather--
what am I saying! the gentle canvas--
and away to Ancona on the bright Adriatic,
and farewell for a space to the yellow key of
            the Rosicrucians.
They don't know what the master of them that
            do did,
that the nose is touched by the kiss of all foul
            and sweet air,
and the drums, and the throne of the faecal
            inlet,
and the eyes by its zig-zags.

So we drink Him and eat Him
and the watery Beaune and the stale cubes of
            Hovis
because He can jig
as near or as far from His Jigging Self
and as sad or lively as the chalice or the tray asks.
How's that, Antonio?

In the name of Bacon will you chicken me up
            that egg.
Shall I swallow cave-phantoms?

Anna Maria!
She reads Moses and says her love is crucified.
Leider! Leider! she bloomed and withered,
a pale abusive parakeet in a mainstreet window.

No I believe every word of it I assure you.
Fallor, ergo sum!
The coy old froleur!
He tolle'd and legge'd
and he buttoned on his redemptorist waistcoat.
No matter, let it pass.
I'm a bold boy I know
so I'm not my son
(even if I were a concierge)
nor Joachim my father's
but the chip of a perfect block that's neither old
            nor new,
the lonely petal of a great high bright rose.

Are you ripe at last,
my slim pale double-breasted turd?
How rich she smells,
this abortion of a fledgling!
I will eat it with a fish fork.
White and yolk and feathers.
Then I will rise and move moving
toward Rahab of the snows,
the murdering matinal pope-confessed amazon,
Christina the ripper.
Oh Weulles spare the blood of a Frank
who has climbed the bitter steps,
(Rene' du Perron….!)
and grant me my second
starless inscrutable hour.


didn't take long / aralee strange

"Everyone sees it in a certain way
everyone knows it as only they can know it
and everyone has things that only they can say"1 
                                 Vic Chesnutt

didn't take long
before word got out
it's a small world
bad news travels fast
and loose a suicide
they said

well what of it
none of our damn business
how he chose to die or when
or where or even if

who are we to say a mumbling word
in the face of such a decision

let us chew instead on the
work left in his roiling wake
take us decades to get what he got every
goddamned hard-to-get-through day

talk about being specific
in your observations 

      "we all know a rose is sometimes a rose but
      what fucking color is it?"2 

talk about facing your demons 

      "my last act on this earth 
      will be to chug-a-lug the mixture 
      and hope for the worst"3 

talking Daddy Long Legs bowl
of blackeyed peas side of belly
laugh in the face of such fears

god knows there are demons out there
don't care how many friends you have
how many people know your name
don't care how much grace and heart
you can muster to carry on
luck of the draw a momentary lapse
they're on you like stink on shit
the rest of your short wretched life

talk about the down dirty rock
bottom truth of the matter
talk about being unafraid
can you even imagine
the simplest things
take a deep breath
wash your hands
button your shirt
open a beer
take a piss
take a long walk
down a rough road
on two good legs

or not

talk about pungent dispatches
from beyond the pale 

      "faith is the lies we tell and tell ourselves
      life is the lies we tell everybody else"4 

not like he didn't address those
days a murder of crows tears
a rip in the sky make you want to
slip on through to the other side
think nothing is better than this
think again and then you're watching
dust motes dance in an empty room
recalling a tune no one ever sang
before and before you know it

      "I am weak 
      outlook is bleak 
      and I'm on stage commencing to squeak"5 

that's how he rolled
how many miles
looking for some relief

          (a moment of silence please)

you have to wonder where he went
and is anybody out there listening in?
say here and now's same as it ever was
sans you

say who's going to pay attention to us now
who's going to set the bar for authentic
who's going to pay the bills

but he's not listening to us anymore
he's not speaking to us anymore

talking about far as those crows flew
from safe home a howling spirit roams
a ragged bag of bones in a sparkly cap
thin skinned fine boned fully intact
scratching out notes on a beatup box
for free

      "It may not be pretty my life up to here 
      but something bold and beautiful occurred 
      I'm not injured"6 

that said
when all is said
and done

didn't take long

 from Left To His Own Devices/Vic Chesnutt
1Distortion, 2Distortion, 3My Last Act
4Distortion, 5Squeak, 6Look at Me

broadside by ben gulyas


Notes toward Definitions for the New Millennium / Skip Fox



To be a poet is to write poetry. That is, if your notion of poetry is sufficiently realized. How can we measure? Such notions might lie just beyond speech or miles without. Perhaps they can only be learned (not taught), though they seem so natural that only with difficulty can they be considered learned. Preparations? Preconditions? A lack of rigid predispositions as a setting for requisite attentiveness, definite interest in being alive (are you surprised how uncommon that is?), willingness to provisionally accept anything, disdain for predigested product, deepening respect for personal implication, desire to extend notions of beauty, to be real and at one's furthest application, and to be doing with the result resolve obtains, more than the residue of activity, and which involves you each time you consider it, a resolution aflame, association of sensibilities in passionate engagement, an issue or unfolding, simply, of more than time, opening rose, the genitals of soft freight an issuance, the color of her light and the timbre in her heels echoing down the parking garage, three floors below where she'll eventually find the body, and other things beside.

Jerusalem of the Earth / Andrew Mandell

god she was
And bleeding
they made her talk
she spilled it all
Into me
i loved her then

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

feral revolt in her mammal eyes
blue green resolve tiding in
arching up and back

skin covered cage
across the breach
transmission encrypted

her justice
her sex
her mercy

truth is a snake hip language
bound in modesty to dance across
primate tongues
salt cleansed of certainties
but still file to the chains

come loose and speak

If I am for myself only, what am I?

There is no faith here
Only a need to go to Jerusalem
and die with her
Or maybe to slip through the lines
Just before the tightening
Leave the last word
Survive
Grow things in dirt and belly

If not now,
when?

SHOTS - Part One: Fear of Butterflies/Judi Wright

A June afternoon.
We’re back from gymnastics: an 8-year-old daredevil paired- up with a worrywart mom.
My delicate psyche could have better coped with a docile, ordinary child, one satisfied with Barbies and baking cookies, not this fearless shooting star doing double- flips into pits filled with giant blocks of foam.
And she deserves a mom who says Have Fun! instead of Be Careful.
But she got me, so here I am, trying to stay calm and somehow keep up until she finally leaves me in the dust. And I know it won’t be long.

By next year she’ll be out of the gym and onto a springboard and in a few more years when the high dive is too low she’ll jump out of an airplane for her eighteenth birthday because its suddenly do-able without my permission, and then it will be on to a tower thirty feet in the air with eighteen feet of water below.

But on this lovely summer day, the third grader is just starting to claw her way out of the sticky cocoon I wove around her at birth. And so far, I’m doing okay. More or less.

Yet inside motherhood, there’s always something threatening to frighten me into an institution. Today it’s a brown bat.
One that should be someplace else until twilight. One that isn’t supposed to be flopping around in the grass by the back door.
On the back step, our calico cat is hard at work grooming, rough tongue rasping furiously along her leg.

The R word has been in the local news a lot lately.
And now it worms its way into my overwrought mind.
Bring Sassy in, I tell my little girl, who wears burst blisters from the uneven parallel bars like a badge of honor on her palms.
A terrible tongue twister starts to writhe inside my head.

Rabidbatrabidbatrabidbat
I tell myself to shut up and call the Health Department and ask them what to do.
Dr Seuss answers the phone.
Did the bat bite the cat?
Or did the cat bite the bat?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
Fancy that.


Shoppray/David Oates


Shoppray

Dear Lord, as I enter this mall, guide my footsteps, my eye and my hand, to the best things for me. Let me find that which will save labor, Lord, and that which will make me more attractive and stylish. Though the heathen say, "Hip today, gone tomorrow," I shall not listen to their scoffing, but, with your guidance, will find the latest thing in its most flattering incarnation.

Lead me not into the dining area, for they have hidden the water fountains so that we sheep flock for moisture, then slay our wallets and diets with their greasy, awkward food. Let me find those things, Lord, which are most meet for our family, neither more things nor less than we ought. Please guide me past those things which will cost a lot and serve only, in the final judgment, to reduce the room in our closets.

Bless my coupons, Lord; make them powerful -- let them match my needs, fit the specials. Lead me to the double- and triple-coupon days. For sweatshirts and Sears, candy bars and kitchen machines, Amen.





Tort Reform Reverie/Grady Thrasher


A Tort Reform Reverie 

If I should try to tease her 
or be so bold to squeeze her, 
could I hope that such would please her? 
From restraint my action frees her 
to direct a smile toward me, sir? 
Become Cleopatra, I her Caesar? 
But should offense then seize her, 
I’d be a mere tortfeasor. 

St. Matty the Greek/Mouth's resident Geek/& beloved Patron


White Whispers/Bob Brussack

White Whispers

It's on these deep winter nights,
When the air can keep still
And let the stars have their say,
That we overhear their white whispers
About all that we survey.

"It's not truth that's beauty."
"Sparrows have no authors but themselves."
"The word 'word' has no capital letters."
"We're just along for the ride."

They needn't keep their voices low for me,
Like parents downstairs on Christmas Eve.
I take comfort in the void.
It's the emptiness between the atoms
That sets me free.


Brancusi's Egg/Sara Baker

Brancusi's Egg

In the plaza of the Centre Pompidou
Hannah twirls on one foot,
her blue cotton dress billowing, her face clouding with a scowl:
I will not buy her the wooden ladybug
an African peddles--in soft appealing French,
with liquid eyes that meet mine--
nor the grain of rice engraved with the Lord's prayer.
Bongo drums beat, the air is thick with rhythm, with odors:
frying crepes, diesel exhaust and hot-house flowers.
Camera-laden tourists part like water
around the stone I have become--
feet rubbed raw, sweat tickling my armpits--so that
the cool lobby, when we finally attain it, is a
beneficence.

You are in Athens, dying.
Your air-conditioned room, shut against the mid-July glare,
is a sealed chamber, quiet but for the whir of the respirator.
Your lungs pump in unnatural steadiness,
unimpeded by sighs, gasps or words.
Your artist eyes stare at ceiling tiles;
eyes that caressed
the dancing shapes of the visible world now
touch nothing. Your empty hands,
the nails cleaned of ink, of clay,
lie gently cupped,
or wander fretfully
the blank expanse of sheet.
I am not there, and so must conjure
the room, the bed, you.