Garin Cycholl (Chicago, USA): from Hostile Witness

the mold’s insistent embrace
of the concrete—it makes me
!—its respirations against
these caves, their hard, secret
histories of curtain and frost—“an
architecture of impermanence”
split open and ailing with light,
like the stone buildings were
pulled up out of the lake, cement
still sweating glaciers; is that a
church bell or nostalgia for six
o’clock ringing against western
sky, now petrified over the


the city encrusts itself on the eye—
not “limestone in its communion
with water,” but urban caves, an
architecture made of dusk, glass
reflecting the city’s shadow and
inside, bemused molds and the
weedy stink of summer—“a
common Mediterranean fantasy
of stone and water”

* * *

(this is the yr of Jackie

Chevrolet skin covering the men’s
threats—crack open the radio and
history’s dust-stung residue bleeds
into the middle night or peel the
men’s sweat back over their muscles
cramped over seats

the Chevy is a cave
the Underworld turns
around these men their
eyes make sterile numbers;
Joe McCarney turns his straw
hat in the green night their eyes

full of blood, they’ve seen
closed things—what they
believe about the country
could fit into a paper sack
or a concrete wall they
see future wars, their eyes make
not bloated animals but string
corpses along a cigar store
calendar “roaming the freeways
for half the night—where else
would they go to rehearse the
end of history—the meaning of
freeways, they’d always known”

(the fist in time)
we’ve got the Italians in the car—
prairie Venice, the streets running
with river water, lower Randolph, a
great cave of history the mold
swallows you

did Zale even see the punch coming?

* * *

your passenger is asleep whistling
some tune between snoring “is that
Dixie?” you ask in America,
you travel alone great birds appear
along the weedy edge, violence
crouching in the spilled headlight 2
hrs. outside Chicago and you want to
wake him but— too late now passing
Wilmington and Bainbridge still an
hr. to the all-night fill-up at Bloomington,
Springfield by sunrise, work by nine

“blood in its peaceful rage”

* * *

look, friend (he
expld) it’s not
like I’m trying to
screw your wife
or anything—I
just need you to tell
me how to get west
and you keep sending
me to Joliet; if I’d
wanted to go south,
I’d ‘ve gone to
Cairo to Memphis
to Jackson to New

he sd, America
is a road is a broken
chair is a jail cell is a
fault line

a corruptible geography
pre-Cambrian plates over
a fucking river that won’t
stay in place roads
stretched over faultlines

“nothing in writing
is easier than
to raise the

* * *

the map, coffee spilt and corrupted—
not by the mapmakers, who put made-
up towns in Louisiana and Kansas
to protect their copyrights—but by
the compass itself; to go west, you
must go south—we must descend—
Bill knew it—corruption finds its own
level, like water; try cutting the weather
out of the land—mold sealed in the
walls, the prairie spreads by fire

* * *

see how he belongs to the cutting
block, to the wallow of trembling
muscle and mess
does the butcher
shape or chop, his hands do violence
or sculpt? define the carcass’s form or
dissolve its anatomy? the animal’s
body coming apart, like the boxer’s
in jabs and hooks—doing as much
violence to himself as the man
circling him? likewise, how does
the geography leave its print on the
land? does it define or segment, give
names or sever names from their places?
a national road should name things

(where does that road go, tell
me—California or Texas? “a

sense of birthright and usable history”
our voices are not stand-ins for his’
try but are cut from the rock of time
itself—a certain meaning to these
eviscerated beasts

* * *

Nixon sd, “this is a
nation of laws” but
see decades of bad
four (Rehnquist, Powell,
Blackmun, and Berger)
dissenting in Furman v.
—see keeping
the vote down
and can
we construct a system

and June 1972, Lester
Maddox on the courthouse
steps: “it’s a dark day in this
country—rape, murder, and
anarchy—reentry to the
jungle life” eye for an
eye “embedded in the
American psyche”

* * *

you can write your History
of Cockfighting in Chicago

(write it in the dust) but it isn’t
going to exhaust the game,
(this man was always
talking) Fuck you,
I explnd—what’s more
Chicago than a room of
screaming men, stirred
up by blood whether
it’s between their knuckles,
or in their eyes?—you’d
drive 200 miles to see it—
Bullshit, he sd—nobody’s
gonna buy that, my friend, a
roomful of screaming men,
of fighting chickens, of
blood a new dark age
blooms only once a lifetime

* * *

the bonfire rots soil
in its own time—
woodshed the color
of birdshit and each
kicked-open toadstool
a threat or THE CHICKEN
each bird skinned and cooled,
plasticked and shelved

(“the cumulative violence done to birds in this land”

* * *

the governor’s song:
eating light, I emerge from the ground—
I hardly recognize my own son, my
legacy is corruption I’ve forgotten
more names than I know, the backshelf
pharmaceuticals, the things given with a
wink—was that the Illinois Central or a
tornado? I descend in a Kankakee
minute; you get homesick for the mold,
but who are the prosecutors of the
world? every childhood has its recalled
storm, its horse’s nightmare eye, the
run to the cellar (sadly, most of ours be-
long to Dorothy—the hired hands racing
the black cloud, the witch turning on her
bicycle) the prairie can’t hold it—

the leaf mold on courthouse steps
the shredding of paper
the ripple of rising water
the ignition switched off and
the car running down into midnight

© Garin Cycholl 2008

Juliet Cook (Ohio, USA): Three Poems



You can also get a tub of that size
filled with tiny debutantes. Not even talking
Cool Whip tub. Talking bigger, more durable
plastic with bright label affixed,
haphazardly stuffed with little wannabe queens,
fresh from the assembly line. That new car smell,
that pink approximation of bendable legs
under flammable dance dress. Molten plastic core.
Interchangeable whores with poseable tiaras.


The screw is rotated by a motor, feeding pellets
up the screw’s grooves. The depth of the screw decreases
towards the end of the screw nearest the mold,
compressing the heated plastic. As the screw rotates,
the pellets are moved forward in the screw
and they undergo extreme pressure and friction
which generates most of the heat needed
to melt the pellets. Heaters on either side of the screw
assist in the heating and temperature control.


You can also get a plastic whip, that new car friction,
pink grooves haphazardly stuffed with Cool Whip.
Of course some of them aren’t even good enough for the back seat.
The list of defects includes: blister, burn marks, color streaks,
silver streaks,
delamination, embedded contaminants, stringiness, voids, warping,
weld lines, and splay marks. Her legs won’t bend back any farther
and the nozzle hasn’t even shot its load. Little wannabe whores
should bleach their assholes, the inverse of the product’s shape.
Compress the heated plastic, scream like a size queen, burst into


Like a frankensteined representation of a woman cobbled from the
disconnected parts of other kinds of women stitched together with coarse
black thread (like too bad for smooth embroidery floss) embalmed with a
cocktail of blood, black mold, black cherry vodka, black cherry Faygo,
and rat poison.

Like my effluence is deadly. Like sickly sweet green pellets sizzling
through another bent spoon.

Like no matter what I say, my echo says, ˜askance” and then I say,
˜let’s dance” and then we trip all over each other in a confusion
of hobbled foxtrot, ribald rumba, and randomly bedazzled chicken
nuggets. Like do you wanna growl, do you wanna grind, or do you wanna cluck?

Like squeeze my ˜rubber duckie” like it’s a ˜stress ball” and
then fling it into the ˜abyss”, aiming for the motherlode of fake
feathers and the biggest carnival prize. A ring around a duck equals
an armful of plush bear. A very extraneous bear that I would only
pretend to be smitten with if we were still in something like the
˜courting” stage. The ˜heavy petting” phase.

As it is, we’re in something like the sewer water zone and so I say
my name is Rubber Product, Burning Rubber Product and then I screech
away, but it’s a sloshy kind of screeching. Like heavy petting a
beheaded bird. Like spooning a black cherry to a sewer rat.

I’m most likely exaggerating, but who could blame me with all these
toxins in my bloodstream. Like lip plumping lip gloss applied to the
wrong body part. Like lip plumping lip gloss applied to the nth degree.
Like assisted listening devices at high volume tuned to the shrieking
frequency of my donut hole issues. Like a yappy little alien terrier
with boneless wings.


pink primulas wither when terrorized, when strangled by sausage casing
like greasy snake skin discarded but still oozing
like piss rubber doll tubing

on seething kneelers, protective pads and oven mitts burned through
to the skin; flesh is sizzling; the word deflesh
flares and sputters on a faulty neon sign

when the hot pink boils itself down into a dark ally
a dark alley, a back room of discontinued flavors
of Jell-O molds quivering

rancid animal stomach churns into laffy taffy strings
and nodules and anal beads and hair balls and hack
that hair pie, that squirming hagfish,

that busted jug of spoiled milk dousing messy tuna melt
mayo splattered bathing suit for dog paddling
through the vat of hot cooking grease:

a bubbling and blistering donut hole, a crackling pig, exposed
chitterlings, glutinous spaghetti straps
slipping off bloody shoulders

© Juliet Cook 2008

Steve Halle (Palatine, Illinois, USA): from Elegiac Stanzas

elegiac stanzas for m.r.

in fall on a lake a turnover a man with fake plastic watering can a lake a scum comes to turnover unseat the stability of a thermocline and a teeth live in lakes but in summer teeth go sleeping and dorsal fin on a surface unsharked in fall on a lake leaves sink to rot and the wind has teeth the meaning: to lurk a life spawn bloat die and wash ashore a man waters leaves unwithered somewhere fire near a lake an M house a landmark somewhere we can turn over a gascan a gascap something I've forgotten in fall a time of forgetting the aging man my fall if you know a lake certain places sunken ships and cars structure and superstructure a hide a lake grave the smell of fish washed ashore and decay an aging man thinks of turnover and gasoline he waters himself he is thinking of growing larger an aging lucid man uses gasfire to speak his fire himself flesh the message he sends and no lake enough water no lake of fire or human powermad leviathan enough to douse can say chain enough to stop the spread of firewords he speaks with a silenced mouth beside a lake a man in turnover he is fire the message he burns

elegiac stanzas for k.c.

a whistle is bell enough to Donne wheelsteel pestles memories & fleshes a bellwether herds of yellow an island yard to which i'm sailing altho purple of the plum trees lose leaves in red whether watercolor in dinghy wind but don't fight it rain in the face it stings don't fight to stay ahead of whether oars aside for Sisyphean challenge to find the most infinitesimal Russian doll a rock reaches the nadir of all whirlpools or dinghy contained by brained container ship holding the roots of memory hostaged rake ahead of leaves and flame-retardant chem ahead of wildfires conductor smokestack engineer laboratory lightning he sees his burden before premonition scintilla among words raked together in memoriam a name mouthy kid an essesnce upon the axis of his own growth in naming windy eye beasted hurricane sylvan wye a slave to whorls of task a question exclaims its own answer we found it don't fight is Traneing In proving where we cannot believe

elegiac stanzas for r.r.

paraphrasing Eliot: the irony is to be born kicking, drooling & shitting into a barren world. o eyes i hear with, ears i see with. is it not better? measure life in windows fifteen thousand one hundred forty five go by each flecked with drop spots particle particular where water had been but is no longer. two hundred fifty seven per pane average backed by winter fog. wheel & electric rail & Adolf the fury of approach furious even in stopping. metal-metal. weather strip. aboard-abort. it's overheated in here. ads. faces. words. phones ring but none answer, none speak. the route respirates (in-out, back-forth) its own infinity into graffiti, the unmanicured middle of a vacant lawn, weedy lot. time spelled backward is emit. heat, radiation, vapor. your building differs or i enter through a different door. you are the you i thought of you as being but something else simultaneously. head-sprung you i chucklestudy the absurdity of perverse o'er-urinal propositions. o the philistines mad to create! even to create the potential circumstances of creation. to create a game by which the circumstances are enacted in a ledger of probabilities one of which being a simulacrum of the intended creation. even a premonition of a second self. to hold: the center of the pendulum. the Strict Master w/ scythe keeps time in ears i see he claps they grow the train in rushes by as we hit the tunnels' stairs a misser in harvest time. i hear you; you're you & other. against the backlit city we dance arms enlocked, unsmiling. followed by the fool. Route 12 a road to Unicorporated Count(r)y seat of the Lethean imagination. fishbrains: newborn every ten seconds--achtung! the chess pieces too hot to finger. No One removes his cloak. curtain. drape over the mirror. sweated bangs hide the forehead forgets. the sun again the sun. eternity is three-handed: a card game beyond trump a mutation beyond holding a watch you cannot afford. i take my imagery from the Swiss from the dawn in a solemn dance away towards the dark lands while the rain cleanses cheeks

elegiac stanzas for a.r-g.

the pendulous chubby-white knee meat is a swing-year-old five in repetition amidships the blued plastic childflesh makes the upstroke of wind in recollection a rust-year-old time in saddle-gold the shoe while new in dismount learns the pleasure of gravity's grassjolt via the earth mechanism (1.ooomph.!) Exeunt and here insert a Shakespeare "" likely Lear again alas poor Yorick the Cutlass rumble is my skull scene spelled homophonically in the intersection over where plasticine angels chortled i was almost lost never in Denver! the terminal repeats a simple is not a phrase an apple of a simple to be LeBaroned in tow the child's simple too safety if not reverie to be backrevered one light seat to fancy must be forwarded in the paths' past impressions of a rickshaw glider glaze slide concussion a harmonic immolation of steel-steel to shatter traffic patterns my glass perfect crumple to peel in aftermath memoryskin orange of my sinus i've seen the other angel her sinews terrible-charitable lust cheek under halo i beseech & heal sirened away I See You Exeunt i knew him Horatio

elegiac stanzas for j.r.

Dear Lodi,
palomino in terms of bull by the balls and Arabian by means of its snow leopardine tail frozen in a sculpted mid-gallop when the horse's suffering ceases its cathartic valuation out comes the gun tubes out of her arms new tubes NOW to dull pain of coming dullard "Goodbye" i say over the rainbow your suffering no longer panolplied by the coloring of this aging man punished a sculptor whose talents are weak who ceases exploration in his creation but never ceases carving a space in the world in which to die picking out clothes casket plot affairs in order no different from the underporched dog who limped off arthritic to face things as he must alone a composer no longer finding justice among the notes admires Cage for the wrong reasons admonishes silences with noise unpacks bags and sets off for Bozeman in need of O Marie! I'm coming for you! a mountain view in lieu of carbuncles wrinkles corpuscles etched via marcottage, Élan vital, signed then titled "Crepuscles in Bronze"

© Steve Halle 2008

Kelvin Corcoran (Cheltenham, UK): from Madeleine's Letter to Bunting

Day 1

The year goes out in a high wind,
sunlight steps across the floor in stripes
and various animals come around for food.

The sea charges petrol blue and lucid,
the whole garden dancing at night
unparades me cat and black sleep owl.

I can see the red hibiscus in darkness,
I read your poem Letter to Bunting,
the start of the dream, in amazement.

Day 2

Sun lights the end of the year
the wind has dropped to nothing
Benazir Bhutto has been shot.

We dug experimental holes around the house,
broke a spade and hoe on buried rock
planted songlines, a lemon tree and shrubs.

Sixty Kenyans incinerated in a church
I climbed into the eucalyptus, swinging
through the world like a bug on a blade of grass.

The sea all around on three sides glows,
I grasped the springy boughs in my useless arms
I smelt good and hung on against sense.

This tree has such a colour,
is it blonde cinnamon, and the etymology?
- she might sweep me up if I fall.

At your age I thought I had a plan,
I did not, or it was the wrong plan;
it was not to be fifty and exhausted up a tree

Speaking the only three words I have
to the local children bemused,
arms numb - Eucalyptus, if I fall, save me.

Day 3

Took the tallest branches out,
hit the supply cable on the way down,
same sun, same sea and dizzying view.

Face covered in scented sawdust
dancing the ladder tiptoe around the trunk,
no power, no light, no heating, no food.

Five cats and a dog came to be fed,
smoke drifted into the empty harbour
a bowl of smoke from the olive harvest.

Raked out the weeds and undergrowth
around the new shrubs, found a snakeskin;
how the roots take I don’t know.

Anchored to rocks, strong white fingers
cling to the underground life,
only the radio news is fatal.

Later, after eating in Agios Nicholaos,
a fishing boat dressed in Christmas lights
would look good out on the water.

Day 4

High wind roaring all night,
read until 3 a.m. - woke to broken sun,
the whole village in its morning dance.

The sea turned a metallic grey
white riders outward bound,
a sound like understanding just born.

My lemon tree looks bonny in the breeze,
we walked over terraces, olive trees
flickering green and white, to see neighbours.

Dionysus has been sighted
all along this coast, the rocks speak
the rivers run his name.

Away cold brother of white thought,
what season sits on your back
over mountains covered in spring.

She went away one night, left
the children whispering at the door,
her eyes empty, her mind leaping.

And at that, the bright green shoots
pierced our feet and hands to tap tap,
Dionysus rising answers - I want to.

Day 5

Madeleine, my unabashed girl, I’m saying this to you,
because of your poem - Letter to Bunting;
you already have the trick of writing from the body,
of not explaining that you are you and not you in the poem
but trust to the shape and weight of words as you go;
there’s no passport for the journey you might take,
just breathing each beat, a young woman breathing
says - snake I want to be bit a little.

Day 6

Has the making of a halcyon day,
the kingfisher safe front holds
what blue the sea has taken on,
as barely tidal music surrounds us;
we sat and played stare-cat with the dogs,
the sunlight dreams an early spring
like the first morning of a new life.

Last night we went to the harbour at midnight,
fireworks explode, children singing St Basil
to bless the houses of the living;
the priest and the policeman danced together
and the old year tipped into the new,
quick fire shooting across black water
binding the time to set us free.

We could launch the ship of lights
out into the Neolithic darkness,
learn the many conditions of the sea
and sail south around Cape Matepan;
a risen world in that first moment lifts
the candid islands of lyric and rock and sky
from the Aegean heart of all our making.

Day 7

Between etymon and Eucharist
gum-tree, I am stuck up a,
to get a text from you on Euro Star.

Saw the fire damage around Paradesia,
hills folded in ash, hills shadowing hills,
miles of it like burnt black hair.

At 30,000 feet out of my tree I
smack into an endless England,
the tendentious politics of a small island.

Beneficial in destroying the miasma
of malarias districts, I swing
wrapped around the trunk.

© Kelvin Corcoran 2008

Laura Goldstein (Chicago, USA): from "primetime static"

We’re all having problems with our joints, Hamlet. Either they’re out of sync with some movements or we just need some time to set it right. What is this “second sight”? Multi-tasking in the dark night as sparks of life reach out of the set of all things. Oh to be alone, though. Oh, that head bone. Tossed around in the midst of missed connections, shrunken to the size of a tugboat, love finds a real place to start over instead of having to replenish its members every episode. One large hum of the evening channel in the interstitial zone, new huge muse makes a home a home, that’s the real news.


Why have a favorite pair of underwear? It must be because so many girls have sex in their bras. Could be the story of their own morning before they met up to disclose. It’s a small round window out onto our own lives, right? When are you going to stop reading those terrible novels, Emma? They’ve led you to want things that you don’t deserve. Your poison, dear? Not in the ear, not where you think. But to give you your own sick as ink in place of where you don’t speak. Your room is imbued with deep shit in the spring before spring even starts happening.


Consider: mixed signals might be more meaningful than ones meted out under control:
a rose is a rose is a rose I suppose but what if it smells like shit? A record of how all activities on board attract each member, couples disengage as multiples intertwine, combine with time, preserve a natural self, in this case mine. Then there’s this other show that creates a character that eventually creates the show again. A scene re-enacted a few seasons ahead of where it first aired, when it was really happening. And at the same time, others are called to a bench I’d much rather sit here and watch, obviously.


But is trash on TV that knows it’s trash on TV still trash on TV or is it a social service deep in spring these things help to spread the love around. Bring all the love by boat to another continent. Pack the love in tight. If there’s too much love it might have to be thrown overboard. There’s a great show about that, a show about a hero so it just goes to show we’re really on our way if we can at least say that, ok?


Raw footage before it’s deciphered for viewers: think of it as a river that’s entering your home. A river in the middle of the ocean, warmer, a tide that sweeps attention across a shore. Watching a trio test out their charms is a warning that sits in the back of a mind on a couch somewhere in the city. In the middle of the night orifices swell to circles the size of eyes, charred heart and hushed chorus of the lonely house of a wife suddenly on the outside. We’re involved until the end of the episode thinking it could be:

Stomach flu
Some food

Should she just suck it up? She screams, “well, what’s making me sick, Kierkegaard?"

© Laura Goldstein 2008