Bleecker Street, Summer

Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!
When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.

It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker,
ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.

There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.

DEREK WALCOTT

A Bronze God, or a Letter on Demand

I like to think of your silence as the love letters you will not write me,
as two sax solos from two ages across a stage, learning the languages
of kissing with your eyes closed. I like to think of you as a god
to whom I no longer pray, as a god I aspire to. I like the opening of your joined
palms,
which is like an urn where my ashes find a home. The music of your lashes;
the silent way your body wears out mine.
Mostly, I like to think of you at night when a black screen of shining dust shines
from your mines to the edge of my skin, where you are a lamp of flutters.
I remember the spectral lashes–marigold, tamarind, secret thing between your thighs,
of closed kissing eyes. At night, the possibility of you is a heavy
sculpture of heavy bronze at the side of my bed,
a god. And I pray you into life. Into flesh.

 CLIFTON GACHAGUA

Circumference of Chance

When possibility whispers, treat it gently. -Tara Betts

I could not sleep in my bed
of leaves, so I moved to the dry
river bed—

last night I tossed,
turned on a stone—
its smooth curve bruised

my hip, as it settled under
the small of my back.
With my aching gratitude

I kept it warm hoping
it would hatch. I whispered
the only prayer I knew

over its roundness again,
and again until I had
nearly believed, nearly formed

my religion from this
repetition. Here was my hope,
here in the dust,

pocked with grit.
I swear it cracked open
while I attempted rest

and in its place
small opportunities appeared,
I keep one in my pocket

a sparrow’s egg
I run my finger over
its circumference of chance

and sometimes
someone will touch
my shoulder, ask

what is that prayer
always under
your breath, and I

touch the stone
to make sure
it’s still there.

jp dancing bear

SILK WOMAN

The silk which she loves
flows against her skin,
the white silk spun
from a cocoon of words,
spun and shimmering in her dark eyes
against dark skin
which tells her who she is
and who she is not,

am I the moth inside
her mouth where words
form, silk cocoon dark skin
against the words of need
I did not say love
until which of us can tell
I cannot
who is the spinner
who, the moth
who, the silk.

Alan Fox


WHAT YOU WANTED 

(You thought I didn’t know)

You wanted something
of beauty   long
tall around your table
arching back
penciled brows
something pretty high
up on your downsizing
something lovely
laughing straight line
teeth and red
something on the sofa
cross-legged sitting
pretty   still life
something nestled between
your pillows
dazzled and charmed
shooting stars and
those granulated whispers
of hope and loss.
You wanted something
priceless, penniless
something full and wise
to show how
much of this world
you own   me
in my second division
mitosis
thighs spread   clean
slated, penciled in
thin line
with three degrees
and separation
something smart
and funny
a butter mint
at your reception.

Holley Dottley

ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER FIRST MARRIAGE

had i never leapt across the yellow grasses
of that meadow near Point Reyes to the sound
of the Hallelujah chorus     never wound my adulterous
legs around my flute playing lover     never been so blatant
so lewd     i might still be married to that boy
from high school     still be small and hidden in the pocket
of his green corduroy jacket     peering out at other people’s
lives     had i never danced to the bongos and the setting
sun at Big Sur     never almost run away with that ferryman
masseur who could transport me to the land
of naked bodies and temple whore lore     had i never been
such a bitch such a floozy     never danced topless
in a bar     never known the lotus flower
to blossom in my own goddess body     never lived alone
with three children     fed them eternal
soup of the week     never been apprenticed
to a witch     studied spells and incantations     never sat on a wooden
floor howling with what came to me out of a cave     never seen yellow
bellied death sitting on my bed forcing me to face
my real life—     get up     wash face     bring fever down     stay alive
to raise the children—     would i have found my place     in this sweet
bed     where wanton and wild are loved by a man
who has light in his eyes     where tigers and lions roam     yellow hills
in my dreams     and both sun and moon shine upon me?

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

We Have So Little Time

I do not want to be calm.
I understand what it means to turn
Back into stone,
The elephant’s huge eye closing…

I wanted to be the first breath on the first skin,
The air wild there.
A china cup on the motorway.
New blood striding out of my heart.

Look at me when you say that.
Look at me. One wet red petal in a marble bowl,
O the fate of my name sliding
In your throat.

The Claim

I kept looking for you
The way a sky looks

For you. The way a widow
Looks for you. I climbed stone, wild

& stunned as rose. I was a revolution
At midnight, I went man to man lighting towns

On fire. I let them come
With their engines, their declarations.

I went inland with spices
In my hair. I gave up like a tide. I built

Boats for the children, animals,
The telegraph machine, the cinemas,

The sidewalks. I sent them all away so I could finally be
Alone, a tree in a field burning

Through its ringed wet heart.
It rained forever the day

You arrived. How the spade twisted down, down,
And I, like a country, began.

 

Eve Jones

She Shrugs

I do not. Snow piles up outside the kitchen window. Feta cheese.

Cucumber, sliced thinly. Olive oil. Pita. Get on a plane. Visit me. From
France, Italy, New Mexico. A lover warned me once to be more patient. I
emailed my doctor this morning. My left ankle swells at night. Doesn’t
throb though. Ibuprofen. Some water. Lukewarm. I might have married
once if not for bells and cellos and leashes. And affairs. There’s something
lost in the transcription of beauty. Trust. Champagne. The average person
shrugs forty times a day. Let’s travel. Everything turns up straw. How
much I want you. How much a boat. How much a box, a mouth. A tongue-
tied jester. How much I eat when I close my eyes. How much you are gone
now and I’m not. How much bread I really need. A blue pillow where I rest
my head. At night. And in the morning I think how I’ll sell my blood to pay
the rent, how I’ll pull my hair and trade it to the wind.

Gary McDowell

Housewife

Says the wife to the house,
we are not together. You have no heart
at all, no percussive blunder to ruin you.
Your rooms are cool and languid,
your doors open and close,
even the knives are stacked like kindling.
You give back everything you take.
The cacti peer from their clay pots
like waterless periscopes.
Nothing in me is where it belongs

Chelsea Wagenaar

Take Me To Church, Sinead O’Connor

World Was 1 Memorial, Tower of London

World Was 1 Memorial, Tower of London



In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae





Snowy Owl Goddess

 

Loudell, in a loose cotton dress
            the color of delphiniums,
                        her hair, owl-feathered and quiet
as her naked toes in their pale sandals
             is a friend from this harvest part
                         of our lives,
a Minerva woman
             of herbs and salsas, hellebore, trumpet vines
                        and heirloom tomatoes. She glides
among us all,
             carefully,
                          as if we too might be
live plants.

            Almost in a trance from the heady
                        August evening, and perhaps from the corner
of my indolent eye, more absorbing the murmur
            than watching, I registered
                          this Snowy Owl of a woman
as she stripped an olive through her raptor’s mouth,
             then delicately flung the pit
                           into the narrow garden verge next
to her deck chair.

             Usually fastidious as a pharmacist
                         weighing crystals,
she surprised me in this seeming-act
           of littering, until I realized “oh, the pit might take root,
                         grow!” It was her planter’s instinct/
give every seed a place.

            Sipping her chardonnay and, with one hand cracking
                          some pistachios to neatly deposit
their shells in a bowl with pits from olives
             the rest of us had eaten,
                          she reminds me that even
with abundance
            there need not be waste.

                         Every day the image, planted in the hull of
twilight conversation, visits me: A Snowy Owl
                suddenly spreading her 10-foot wingspan
                              to cover this sacred earth,
its arcing motion, her arm unfolding into air
          with the olive pit
                     bowling earthward.

Diane Wakoski

Absolute September

How hard it is to take September
straight—not as a harbinger
of something harder.

Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning—or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.

How hard the heart tugs at the end
of summer, and longs to haul it in
when it flies out of hand

at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
It leaves us by degrees
only, but for one who sees

summer as an absolute,
Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
to which one cannot raise a doubt,

as soon as one leaf’s off the tree
no day following can fall free
of the drift of melancholy. 

Mary Jo Salter