The balance of bliss is pain
The balance of pain is enlightenment
The balance of enlightenment is more enlightment
The balance of more enlightenment is transcendence
The balance of transcendence is alienation
The balance of alienation is bliss
I tell myself
you are gone
Lies are good
But then I want to see you as
But you're not
Truth is bad
like two weeks like five years like coupon clippings
From a thick Sunday pull out
Promising bargins in primary colors
And expire and expire
Though they are numerous
I will grant your wishes
I am your angel
Though my wings are heavy
Allison Whittenberg is a poet and novelist (LIFE IS FINE, SWEET THANG,
HOLLYWOOD AND MAINE all from Random House). She lives in Philadelphia.
Art by Dan Williams
My training wheels lie in the grass
like legs. My father stands over them,
steadying the bicycle with one hand
while with the other he beckons
with a grimy finger. A Philips head
sticks in the earth beside the severed
pair. The whole scene looks like an amputation.
I will never walk again, if I can help it--
as soon as I learn how to fly. Flying
is a little like dying, and a little
like being born. I mount the bike
which wobbles slightly in my father's grip
the way the earth wobbles in the grip
of the late afternoon sun going down
behind the huddled houses. The seat
which is now a little higher than the sun,
and the handlebars which are approximately
two stars, together form my north and south poles.
My spine is the prime meridian. My nose
sticks out over the top of the hill, on top
of the world, sniffing the air for the bottom.
People look like people
and places look like places
and everything rhymes a little
and has been said before.
Bob Dylan in his late 60s
looks a lot like my mother.
It's partly the nose,
partly the big hair.
Deja vu is the French I knew
before I knew French.
It's nice to meet you.
I've loved you ever since you were born
and probably longer than that.
Can't ken it, canst thou, Kenneth?
Nope. That shit cannot be taught.
This is the poem I've wished I'd written
ever since I read it.
Paul Hostovsky's latest book of poems is DEAR TRUTH (2009, Main Street Rag). To read more of his work, visit his website: paulhostovsky.com
An Evening at Home
The rain continued soft and long last night,
striking a white fog from the windowpane,
while piled around your late-lit green desk light
were papers waiting with a dry tea stain,
and somewhere close by moaned a midnight train.
Now flame has found the sheets of frosted moss
and flushed with deepest crimson the cold morning;
now hoar has settled on the grass
and no birds sing.
BIO: Cara Valle grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and is a graduate of Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English. She currently lives in Hillsdale, MI with her husband Manuel, a college senior, and works in Health Information while teaching a literature course on weekends. Other poems published in
thecoachellareview.comand languageandculture.net (these poems published under maiden name, Cara Burke).
Art by Dan Williams
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MARY CLARE POWELL
Warming after deep snow
into spring not yet infested with seed,
earth worms still still
under a sun higher each day.
Bulbs ask nothing from me, carrying
all they need in their little brown trunks.
Only that I hold them as they send up
their shiver of leaves, then slim buds.
No alien seeds break my surface
demanding to raise stems capable of
supporting leaf, catching sun, making
a tomato pouch full of seeds.
Don't make me shine and show off--
bright pinks first, then broccoli, then
yellow lilies tilting and orange.
Produce nothing red and showy.
No neighbors to comment or praise
for a while, nothing to pick or share,
only brown mounds watered in rain,
silence the only sentence.
Lying unplowed, drowsing under sun,
a whole summer's passage of rest,
while weeds gallop across the surface.
Let me go to weeds this year.
Lily and I build a fairy house up against
a maple hole in the front yard,
she squats to lay sticks against the tree,
I find large leaves for the roof, she digs
a little cabinet in the dirt to store berries.
A hooked stick holds coats.
Murmuring softly, heads close,
we set down a stone table with placemats
of red leaves anchored with bits of moss,
short sticks for a bed, bark for blankets,
a garden path, then a patio. She builds
a small swimming pool, water sinks fast,
but she keeps filling. We are one mind,
one body soldered young to old,
I so drenched in building I believe
fairies might stop by to take a look,
even move in.
We're called to supper, we wash up. After her,
the bar of soap is grimy gray with black streaks,
I turn it over and over till white appears,
gray runs down the drain.
Now maybe it's white enough so someone
else can believe it will clean their hands.
Rain in green stripes
falling in front of trees
and I am afraid
for the young who
don't know how to tie
shoes or write cursive,
their cut- short sentences
to others who read them
while doing something else.
Friendship is airy, only digital,
if there is any faltering
on line they may
No bodies visible, no joints
fail, no waists thicken,
you can be anyone--
like gods, immortal
invisible, flesh vanquished.
How to say hello when
there is no oxygen?
Where have bodies gone
in the body of the world?
Do they know how
emphemeral they are?
How could a marriage
stand up with its unmade bed,
crumbs on the table, bathroom
smells? How would picking
berries be in the afternoon rain?
Rain colored by what it falls
in front of, is still real water.
There is a spot in space where stars are being created this very minute
I sit in the snow of February in New England too tiny to matter
and how can I go to the bank return this call attend Board
meetings a dust spot I want to keep stars in mind how
are these stars in the same world at the same time
as me and if some god is birthing then bloody
awe flows through me the memory of stars
at the grocery store and after that lunch
and doing dishes pondering soap
bubbles and all the while some
thing big happens through
the telescope I can't
spend all day
BIO: Dr. Mary Clare Powell is a professor at Lesley University, formerly Director of the Creative Arts in Learning Division, now adjunct professor who teaches in an M Ed. program in integrated arts to teachers across the country. She has published several books, including several books of poetry-- Things Owls Ate, Academic Scat, and In the Living Room. She lives in Greenfield, MA where she works on the Franklin County Arts and Culture Partnership, and is on the Board of Trustees of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School.
KAREN KOWALSKI SINGER
That shadowed blinder
winked out half the world
and opened to empty, as the drooping susan's head
unwinds October seeds:
It takes all year to unspool mystery.
Only the dead can rise again.
The sunny eye I see through now
sparkles among wet leaves.
Do I really want that dimming back?
Some seed it planted embers in me
a beacon, even as I fear to die.
Dispassionate, stark winter-angled lens,
I'll need to shut this cheerful eye
for creation to be unmade in me.
I cut peonies, fragrant frilled blooms
and fists of closed buds traversed
by a persistent black ant
probing unforceable sweetness.
What is closed to me is what I crave.
I want what I can't get -
I want more, I want future, I want -
I can't nose my way in,
and there's no other thing I want.
BIO: Karen Kowalski Singer's poems have appeared in Slipstream, Common Ground, Reed Journal, White Pelican Review,
and other small press journals. She served as poetry editor for New Stone Circle for several years. She lives in the Midwest.
along the southern horizon
fattened on Gulf
pushed by ocean
over Bayou Vista
Kick It To The Curb
waiting at the stoplight
I notice him on his bicycle
almost get run over
by a white diesel
he shakes his fisted
finger at the driver
the light changes to green
the freightliner charges
I wait to turn left
he starts to peddle across
his bike chain
he hops off
and kicks his bike
to the other
The Fort Worth Can Lady
Her 1976 Impala
emptied cans of
green beans, hominy, spinach, rutabagas, peas
the only space
left is a
behind the steering wheel
for her stocking capped self
to squeeze in
as she roars
up Belknap Street
feet clamped tight
on the silver wire
a drop of
from his beak
in his upside down
clench on the electric fence
BIO: Sheryl L. Nelms is from Marysville, Kansas. She graduated from
South Dakota State University in Family Relations and Child Development.
She has had over 5,000 articles, stories and poems published, including
fourteen individual collections of her poems. She is the Fiction/Nonfiction
Editor of THE PEN WOMAN MAGAZINE, The National League of
American Pen Women publication.
Art by Dan Williams
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Even the Smallest Tidal Pool
teams with mussels and limpets cementing themselves
ferociously to every rock. Neither the waves nor the big storms
can loosen them. Eventually they are taken back by gulls
or marauding snails who also inhabit the seacliff.
Mornings, up to my waist in water, I study the pools: little cities,
little graveyards. The tide heaves and climbs relentlessly
around granite boulders. Shallow places go deep,
surf floods over me clear and dark, louder as the swells slip in.
One day dogwinkles will pick me clean
barnacles will fasten themselves to my bones.
It is good to look at old things - ledges and cobbles near the ocean.
Adamant in the face of continuous distant forces,
promontories extruded by the sea don't complain.
The tide surges in and over. Careful! It's carved a staircase.
I Will Journey A Long Way When I Leave My House
Like yellow leaves
still fluttering on the tree
after the first frost
not quite finished with their labors,
papers rustle on the desk.
Drawings and pages
are scattered with all the work
I will not have time to finish
before I go. This is always the moment
to ask, "What dreams do you have
that you want to come true?"
Tonight the moon and Mars are close
to Gemini - and twin worries
twist my stomach into nerves
as the wind changes - so much to do
so far to travel. It is an act of faith
to leave my cluttered desk,
imagining a return
from the long dream of my journey,
and the cobwebs swept away.
Alana Sherman, poet and teacher, lives in Woodbourne, NY with her husband and dogs. In addition to her writing, she is a community developer, working to preserve The Old Stone House of Hasbrouck.
"I wrote my first poem on a walk home from school after a hard day in 3rd grade. I knew it was a poem but I didn't know I was a poet until much later. Today I still struggle with the wonder and angst of being a writer. These days I live in an old farmhouse, under constant renovation (sort of like my poems), with my husband and dogs. I belong to a group of poets who meet once a month to share our work. The Alchemy Poetry Workshop has been in existence since the 1940s and is the oldest on-going poetry workshop in Sullivan County (maybe even in NY State!)."
I watch the smooth coiling
of my cat's warm body
place my ear against her purr
against my rage
I quiver dark
late nights listening to opera
now at night I lay down
in a cold field
what do I do
with the loss of everything
with beauty turned ash
the idea of living
every fragile step forward
collides with the swirling
net of your death
Another Way to Begin
back before it began
I go to the bend pass through
an imprecise hell
with frayed endings
now lost in a corner
slicing her bread
I cut my finger
she reveals a layer not linked
between exposures gone
right before her death
she becomes fragrance
the world stumbles hard
into my days
on this drought-stricken soil
is the burnt dirt
am I supposed be
people blur past objects line up
held in time are you next to me
my memory spills
over your thin body and naked head
I'm still your mother
doing everything you asked over again
how did this happen
suddenness of end
of only remembering
what it is to be with you
my sobs masked
I smooth lotion on your skin
Outside My Window
snowflakes gust past
crystals melt dark
in the chill of now
never forgetting why
with your picture
tucked under my arm
I close doors
this is not the world
but a lapse in things
sit opposite me
on your favorite chair
admire the view
don't make me wait
BIO: "My poetry has been published in, or is forthcoming in, RHINO, Ibbetson Street Press and 34thParallel. A semi-finalist for the 2009 "Discovery"/Boston Review poetry contest from the 92nd Street Y, I have worked as a photographer, with exhibitions in New York City and Europe, and am Director of Administration at Manhattan School of Music."
He noticed me
In the depth of his eyes
From a distance
Beyond a memory...