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  • Urthkin 2 – Part 2


    DIPPING FOR MINNOWS

    John, years a garage mechanic in Hawley,
    one day packed a green duffel
    needed ina time of killing,
    then forgotten
    whern not with whiskey.
    Abandoned his town
    by beginning to walk away.
    Opened his eyes at the harbor.
    Again. Old. Poor.

    And Ed.
    Heavy arms tattooed.
    The bad leg like fire.
    The red Ford pick-up smeared
    with deer blood and fishscales.
    Buried his wife near the Bonesack,
    long before the dark cough
    stopped his heart.
    His sand-blown eyes
    were proof the Dakotas lived
    for us to love and fear.

    My father spoke of these men
    when we dipped for minnows,
    dark shapes darting
    in their cold stone tanks.

    Michael Moos
    Waterford, Connecticut

    PIECE OF THE DAY

    Dusty wheels eat
    the gray air east toward Stoneington.
    Headstones taken for granted.
    Vines almost bare.
    Even the linemen will not climb.
    Carved pumpkins sag on doorsteps.
    An old woman fishing from a bridge
    leans into sleep.

    Too many layers of men
    have lived on this land.
    The cold cliff-faces
    wind-burned smooth.
    The stuffed grizzly in the Mobil station
    fills me with fear
    as real as exhaust.

    At the yellow caution light
    I do not yield.
    The greenhousess are empty.
    The road owns a piece of the day.

    Michael Moos
    Waterford, Connecticut

    THE MONASTERY

    A bell is rung.

    Lean voices murmur the moon office.
    Hair hidden under hard cloth.
    Old Dominican sisters sing
    in bodies that look like white birds.
    Their language is kind, detailed.

    Shoulders are taboo.
    Gates are locked.
    Blankeets are folded.
    Windows are closed.
    Dust does not live here.
    All is in order.

    I have not come to confess.
    I am a tourist
    in a silence with no roof.
    I have come for a room,
    two meals, the passage of a day.

    At dawn I ask for a key.
    Mist moves through gorges.
    Mountains appear.
    Oleander sun and cedar reach for me.

    Michael Moos
    Waterford, Connecticut

    THE UNFINISHED ROOM

    When I wake
    street lights still burn.
    Ice is born on the dead pine.
    The yellowjacket hive grown slow.

    All morning a slow rain
    gives itself away
    on the gray road that dips
    and rises off the map.

    I live outside
    the unfinished room.
    The worn floor
    mountainous with luiquor boxes
    filled with forgotten books,
    a battle front
    of photographs and mileage receipts.

    A portrait of a soldier
    stares at me from the far wall,
    reminding me that here,
    like the spider
    I sweep from the corner,
    my small history continues.

    Michael Moos
    Waterford, Connecticut

    THE WAITRESS

    Morning sky the gray of burned matches.

    In Howard Johnson’s: thin voices,
    like worn-out sandpaper,
    of men who have worked long.

    The hour when salesmen
    drunk on travel,
    enter the day,
    maps torn and folded wrong.

    The old waitress who has given up
    on the tint of her hair,
    claims the willows will bud tomorrow.
    I believe her
    because of the way she moves her hands.
    I wonder if she sets these tables for her rent,
    or serves coffee to strangers
    to keep the memory still.
    All I can give her are coins.

    Michael Moos
    Watertown, Connecticut

    TRYING TO MAKE MYSELF CLEAR

    This night could crack in two
                               I want direction, so bad
    my arms
                   straddling each side

    Oh why the hammer, nails?
    They lock a box.

                I thought I knew everything in a bed one night.
    Don’t frighten me with your desert space.
    Your wide eyes
                              contain pieces of women.
    They dance down your back like fireflies.

                           Oh I’d choke on your desert air,
    burn out in your fractured light.

                                  with my dreams of tiny rooms
                                  where each sentence is drawn on the wall
                                  in thick paint
                                                          so I can read it
                                  like a book or the weather.

    I am still
                   separating continents
    placing maps along my body
                                                 east and west
    Don’t you see
                            I am alone here.

    Soon I will walk into space, your desert
    without a compass
                                  ride a blue-eyed stallion
    blind, along the Pacific
                                        shoot words with a bow and arrow
                                        watch them break
                                             into a thousand letters
                                                  running down my body
                                                       like water….

    Louise Nayer
    San Francisco, Califronia

    Collecting

    I’ve misplaced the child
    the great hummer
    the heel-kicking wonder kid
    who shook this house
    with junk and noise.

    A new-breasted girl
    will walk with a sidelong glance
    at cars and men,
    her hands and smiles
    will mimic a grown-up poise;
    she practices a ruse
    and fades from her mother’s side.

    "Dress like the older mothers,
    don’t say anything strange at the meeting."
    I lost my popish rectitude
    gradually
    as gradually as the child fades.

    I find her at bedtime, at the beach
    where waves entice
    with music and glitter,
    I stumble on moments
    of make-believe,
    her apprenticeship
    to deeper passions,
    then lose her in a moment.

    I’ve misplaced the child;
    I tiptoe, I sidle, I sneak
    in secret agent’s disguise
    (learned frm her)
    to capture moments,
    document them for rainy days
    when I’ll be used to the woman
    but long for the child.

    Rosalind Neroni
    Santa Monica, California

    DOWN BY THE SEASIDE

    The sea-faring bards
    Take their similes & metaphors & symbols
    And dunk them like day-old dnouts
    In coffee cup surfs
    Then with a soppy poetics
    (Bred from the puppydog rhythm
    Of stand-still waves
    That do little more
    Than lick dormant sands
    & water stoic rocks)
    They fashion spells of love & melancholy
    Slither into them
    & feign hypnosis
    Until they can’t stand the humidity
    I guess

    If rhythm–
    Why not a rhythm that explores & discovers
    Like that of two lovers
    Caught in the heat of sex
    Pounding together with piston-fed passion–
    A rhythm that amid screams & groans
    Sends two minds
    Bullet-like
    Through fire & ice
    Marries them to the burn & freeze of climax
    Then, rudely, drops them–spent
    Ina heap of heavy breathing, sighs & memories

    If waves–
    Why not waves that speak with force & conviction
    Like those that hammer & plunder
    The steel & wood & flesh & blood
    Of hapless, cork-like intrruders
    Or those that repair the rifts
    Left by diving transmitter-fed predators
    Stalking, salivating, studyinig
    Patiently waiting to devour the world
    In shatter & crush & flame

    If the sea at all, poets of wet things
    Not when it obeediently paws at the shore
    But when it crashes over its boundaries
    & lashes at trees, houses, people
    Sweping them through streets
    Over fields
    Like tiny toys
    Sucked through anangry universe–
    Or when it recedes
    Leaving its bottom parched & sterile
    Laying waste its tenants
    Lile so much incinerated debris
    No, not donut-dunking seas
    With the puppydog rhythm of standstill waves
    But seas that command with wrath & denial

    Meanwhile–
    Drunk on sunsets & birds & night air
    The vassals of Neptune
    Continue to renounce
    Their aquatic souls
    To placid seas
    And more placaid snads
              While the surf goes nowhere
              Just like their poetry

    Patrick O’Neill
    Ironwood, Michigan

    PRINCESS HOLLYWOOD AND THE VAGABOND

    i walked behind you for a half a block
    And I don’t know why I was attracted by
    The blank agitated way
    You rejected all the exquisite soft scarves
            in the Boutique where I had followed you, but I
    Walked over when I overheard you
    Ask a salesgirl if she had an extra cigarette
    And offered you one of mine. You didn’t like the brand
    But took it anyway. And I lingered there
    On that half-bloomed-rose-look
    Of your parted lips
                      while we talked
    About rock-music and imported cars and not
                                   much else. I said I liked
    What you liked.
    I didn’t care.
    I wanted to lie down beside all my ideas
                                    about your long legs.

    I prayed for the coffee outside at a hamburger stand and we
    Decided to drive down to a beach that was nearby…
    You never travelled. You didn’t read much. We ran out
    Of things to talk about and kept walking on up to the jetty
    Where I started to gather stones and shells. And I handed some
    To you. You didn’t say anything, then you said they were "nice"
    And firmly held them
                    in your little fist
                 with the chocolate colored
                                             painted nails…

    Watching some gulls wash themselves
    In a clear pool of dark water
    I leaned back, I leaned toward you a little bit
    And you asked me to help brush the sand off your feet
    So you could pull your boots back on. And I handled
    Your legs like I was pulling some damned smooth thing
                                                                 out of wind
                        down on your foot
                        for a shoe.

    You got up.
    You said something muffled I couldn’t hear.
    You started to walk away without looking
    Or saying anything to me. I got up
                 you kept walking
                          I sat back down. And I didn’t care.
    It was only about an hour and a half. You had
    Beautiful legs. I’d be gone the
    Next day. I didn’t mind.
    But you could’ve gone owver the other side,
    You didn’t have to
                step down with all your fashionable weight
    On the pretty stones and shells
    Pressing them
                back into the earth.

    Doren Robbins
    Santa Monica, California

             YOU FLOAT DOWN MY EYES

             You walk up from the river
    You float fown my eyes

    Do what you like, white
                        strap-lines
               on the clove shade of your shoulders,
    Voice like an untouched bell—the moon comes up
    On the burnt looking horizon,
                                 you walk up
                          from the river
    A river of yourself—you float
                 down my eyes—

    I stare over the split stone cliff,
                          the donkey standing
                               on the shaded hill—it’s all
    The same—you
                float down my eyes—I look away you
                               float down my eyes—
    Do what you like
    On the hillside of oregano,
    In the field of
               short sunflowers—the slow look
                                    on your face, the blue
                              dust on the figskin—
    Do what you like…

    Some needles spin down
    From the pine trees,
    Some pine cones hve started
                         to spin open—you walk up from the river—
           you float down my eyes, split stone clif—
    It’s all the same…

    Hillside of oregano,
    Clove shade on your shoulders—you don’t know
                              how good you are—twin
               hills of moon
           your eyes come near
                                  in sleep—you don’t know…

    You lay your head back
    On the bedroll
    Adn look up at me like
    We have been together
    For twenty years—
                               I take down
                 the faded towel
                            from your body,
          I whip your throat slow
                                   with my hair—

    Soft pine shade

    Split stone cliff

    The river
    Giving up what it owns
    To the sea.

    Doren Robbens
    Santa Monica, California

    LATE NEWS

    The newsboy didn’t come back
    From his route.
    The lady on Drexel St. called.
    He’d never missed her before.
    The father went out looking,
    An ominous reptilian
    Fear for his boy
    Crawling up his back
    Under his sweat-soaked shirt.

    What about a crazy.
    Turning a corner,
    Two wheels on the pavement:
    The kid was only eleven.
    What did he know
    About a crazy?

    They found him
    Six feet beyond
    A chain link fence
    Blown down by a rain,
    Where two Danes,
    Standing above his shoulder
    Suddenly became a pack,
    Attacked
    And mauled him
    So you coul sitck a fist
    In the cavity they made
    In his chest.

    The owner got home
    Horrified to find
    His two dogs’ work.
    After the quarantine
    He said
    They’d be destroyed.

    Laurel Speer
    Tucson, Arizona

    Leaving South Sixth East

    When I go, it can’t be any state, you
    at the back of a month reading horoscopes
    to find my favorite linel. Someplace famous
    or New England, not the blurred figure upstream
    worried about fish. Water with salt, a glass bridge
    and God, no crickets when I go.

    Fi I taught geese as make-believe,
    would you look up or walk the shore the way
    a river draws me in? My efforts are torn grammar
    that jars the lid of an oil drum. Corrected for reference:
    opera at five a.m., brandy then spaghetti but why go?
    Didn’t we find lemonade across town below zero?
    Doesn’t the talk in your sleep start
    my index under poersonality,
    changes I can’t make?

    Take your clothes and oyster stew.
    I’ve heard enogh of Houston and diarrhea
    on the bus. Your sister at nursing school
    wouldn’t approve my bathroom or double solitaire
    on an odd cigarete-burned sheet. You want me to go.
    Early where the floor creaks, the woman with cats
    in her basement of electric wire has a slow limp
    to the piano I play. The end, I think,
    doesn’t fit the same dream.

    Stop me. It will be a pink wall
    with two paintings mostly black. I’ll smoke
    more, pull the curtains before dusk. I may plant
    cactus, a windowbox of herbs. No peonies. No Wednesday.
    No Perry Mason reruns. Maine, perhaps
    and less wind if you come back.

    Dennice Scanlon
    Butte, Montana

    Ever Nearer the Gutter

    You know how it is,
    with new dragons to be slain
    every other day,
    sometimes you’re drawn
    as if on wheels
    to walk to the nearest bar
    where aflter one too many
    the rotten taste of liquor
    goes away
    and there’s a brawl
    going on inside your swimming head,
    and soon the sharp edge
    is filed off
    that vast tumult of sadnesses
    that has vised you in its grip.

    Outisde
    on dim lit streets
    mouthy winds exhale,
    make your eyes run wet
    as you stumble along
    sidewalks that sway like the sea…

    then
    that sewage of mind and heart
    sinks down with you
    as you hit asphalt hard as reality,
    in the midst of a city
    that stands sober and upright,
    and you barf up
    all the outrage of a lifetime,
    you know how it is,
    with new dragons to be slain
    every other day.

    Face down ever nearer the gutter
    on cement where ants get smashed
    and unburdened
    beneath shoes big enough to be God,

    your fisted heart
    pounds forth a wild surf of blood
    and you acknowledge
    the sometime dismal failure of your will
    to just hang on
    peer over the edge
    while swift moments
    are butchered off the hours,
    you know how it is,
    with new dragons to be slain
    every other day.

    You brace yourself
    and in desperate urgency
    groping you porobe, try to find your way,
    mayhbe even say a prayer,
    in spite of
    the accumulated puke of a mind,
    you know how it is.

    Nikki Selditz
    Studio City, California

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