Cara Benson (New York, USA): from perhaps the festivities are what they seem

i wear a television set on my head. i tuck myself into the moving. holly leaves mingle with evergreen beside the flat. stop. everyone talking. and red sharps of fall bear the plaintive if only. telephone polls crucify the viewshed tilting toward the banks. clumps and tickles in the bog. what bridge will field the efforts to cross. i can hear you now. there is nowhere to look but gray. this will change. and change back. the morning is a summit to speechlessness. my squeaky voice can’t manage its files and outrage simultaneously. might as well pose under the smokestack while reading a text of refusal. i’m dry as a torn kite and not much better than the paper it came on.


like never to know which you specific you the universal royal deflecting-I you. hero you. glance over the shoulder mirror check. to whom it may or not. no ceiling fan in the forest but a bed of pine needles. floor rustles off trail cones dropping light rain breaking through what was that. turn to look hurry. but don’t. won’t can’t. whose these or thous. or are. running along easily tripping as if polyvectorally untethered falling face first into the broken argument. houses the logs the unsubstantiated shelter. oh forgiven. i will tell you about a haunting. how the moon comes in and what was committed. there’s no child now. out in the lake. donations have dried up & up. it’s broadcast daily the snow behind the image.

© Cara Benson 2009

Jordan Stempleman (Kansas, USA): from Awfully

from Afully


I am Jim.
I am terribly worried

in the unease
of fact. I often

find myself thinking,
minus breathing, minus temperature,

minus, in addition,
or perfectly involved, there

we all grew,
there, all still grows.

I often feel
left out. I know,

sure, after time,
it’s only a matter

of time before
I, or someone else

lays down blanket
by the bush, and

calls out, hey,
fatboy, you’re still growing—

you still grow
and gain, happily or

tearfully as you
must—so she wept,

so we weep
for you, as surely

as you noticed
us, we too notice

you. It’s difficult,
I know. I’m Jim,

Jim can’t control
himself. This is why

Marie began quoting
from Boyle’s General History

of Air
, then
she truly cried enough

for all things
solid, and all things

skinned. And fatboy
was no longer there.


It was then,
when I first met

Marie, and she
loved how often, truly

often, I’d exclaim
goddamnit after I thought

things weren’t going
my way, that she

knew how Jim
was just being Jim.

I’m so scared
of all known anger,

any unreasonable way
of response, but she

isn’t. Marie loves
what may happen next.

I love Marie.
This is not according

to plan. This
is by no means

to avoid suffering.
This is what happens

when many times
continue to add up

and go well
for a long time.

I’d read somewhere,
there’s such a thing

as cloth calendars.
Though, I’ve never seen

a cloth calendar
before in my life,

and I’m thinking,
these soft, well-built calendars

are just right
for living. They do

what Marie sometimes
does with memories: freezes

the impossibly heavy
things that they are

into flexible, visual
encounters, that are right,

right for keeping.
I just get angry

with my memories
since they don’t do

what I want
or smell at all

how they did
when time was waiting

to claim them.
I once read, somewhere,

all self importance
comes from our memories,

and so, yes,
I became terrified, then

angry, so angry.
I began to imagine

a world without
the Greeks, or anyone

who so wanted
original realities to remember

their former lives.
What? But my childhood,

overcoming death, this
attitude I have, this

woman I’ll soon
forget. I’m so insensitive

to my wondering
of where we’ve been,

I tell Marie.
She knows. She knows.


In random order
there was being hired

by associates, birth,
unusual intensity, and another

sun going down.
I said to Marie,

it is impossible
to tell which form

got to me
first. I truly believe

though, quietly, since
I don’t yet truly

believe, that intensity,
some very unusual intensity

is to blame.
She then got up

from her chair,
opened up the door,

the front door,
walked out, then closed

the door, then
waited a few minutes

before coming back
in and sitting down.

I can’t believe
how you’ve changed, really

changed, she said.
While I was gone,

tell me, what
did you settle for?

Change, I said.
And the impersonal way

I can be
with myself, really impersonal.

Then some imagining,
then more and more

of my quiet.
There is nothing I

can think of
like the panic, my

panic, that grows
so fondly in quiet.


Very few people
know me as Jim.

It’s so puzzling.
Often, when I’m out

eating somewhere, or
shopping with Marie, someone

will approach me
and say, hey buddy,

whendyoustop returning mycalls?
I don’t make calls,

I tell them.
My name’s Jim, not

whatever you said.
Which comes out wrong

all the time,
so then I smile

embarrassingly, more embarrassingly
than I mean to

to make up
for being a stranger.

Marie keeps insisting
this makes things worse,

perhaps by pretending,
just pretending a little,

for a moment,
that I knew them,

or wanted to,
I could make friends

with some person
that has lost someone

they really hope
to find. But awkwardness

is so standard
in such a simple

life. In strangeness,
alone, or with Marie,

I feel fine.
But when I’m mistaken

for someone’s life
that I took nothing

from, or gave
nothing to, I’m stranded

to remember who
I might possibly be.

© Jordan Stempleman 2009

Kristen Orser (Chicago, USA): (well enough for a mood)

(well enough for a mood)


1. a light snow has fallen everywhere.
2. breathing is not difficult.
3. Thought is fern-like—

February (!) on a knoll is a standing lie. Is shaken
from center to circumference.

Much whispering and (bitter) fruit: Four stillborn—

(blue color in our spleen)

If I appear to be tiptoed, keep only my head:

A large neon red heart
on the side of a castle.

This is an image and also an identical question: Will it rain?

It's already heavy with autumn. Overseas, the polars are an artifice,
there are women who resemble violins and think, in orange color,
about how many times they wanted to have sex but didn't have sex.

When my blood is cold, I think about how I would look at someone
if I had paddled across the ocean to meet them.

(something to have suspicion of)

In the beginning of history, the longer necked women agreed to desire rain. But the myth of the self and, worse, the myth of the sleeping self, cut desire short.

Blue fire: Think a woman's face
Likely daybreak: Bones
Winter : As a symmetrical vocabulary

The frightened sky eats the heads off men—All women become left handed. In this possible moment, the alphabet and the volcano cannot disguise the new

question—What is in the distance?

(wish. often slow)

Sudden impulse is surprise, is—

A seizure brings considerable stillness,
never the romantic fireworks or skin
turning to stone.

In the distance— You! I am accumulating
as the sky loops and arrives

at the time when the daisy slicer has an asthma attack and the child grows a useless wing. I skip a period. I consider changing into a tree, some kind of revolt against the guilt of a double, the many times I've called someone mine.

(to tend arrival)

My not-period is not subjective—The whole day is east, waiting for a detailed subject taking the shape of a fetus. The root, according to the seed, chooses the hour of everyone waking up as the hour to dream a question:

Me is only a disguise?

(I disguise you for me and hold, disappear—)

In the practice of ripening, I pull out my eyes (gradually with me—gradually, gradually) and show you the third and innermost layer of tissue.

(No, I haven't bled this month and yesterday was parallel,
but we acted for tomorrow. For—The space between our
two coasts, traced by our circling toes in the air, is the space
we seek to obtain.)

(finishing foot)

If atmosphere carries,
the layer of the flower will keep our malignant heads in motion:

It's the lower part of me that thinks it's a boy,
but I am a pear
. I consider a similar question:

What (who?) is the pursuant?

The lost swan forgets its own body and withdraws into soft porcelain. It isn't until spring when someone arrives to disappoint the sitting lily. To ask a dense question about infinity.

© Kristen Orser 2009

Naomi Buck Palagi (Indiana, USA): Four Poems


Midnight, Mississippi

hwy 49 going south
or north sets a ole house
is / was

walls fell down
one by one or all at once but
the roof
took off somewheres

just a platform a things
easy overstuffed maroon chair ridiculous
skinny bed in the corner an dull
pull cattycorner to the ole upright
ole piano

beyond it you see the sky
like you do in the delta

road curves gentle there
and not but a single tree

never did see it in the moonlight


and determined to travel
bound her tresses, her breasts
bound to marry
bound books
bound, like a yellow hound, to her lover great leaps
and bounds such progress
was bound to change her

bound by oath, by ropes, by duty
with love
his feet
which have fallen to her she is bound
to do what she can goodwill abounds it

binds her

to this earth this rope this meaty
universe on a string
she is bound and determined



okay, to start with, we don’t need
another hero. we don’t need to know the way
home. all we want, all we want…
her arms
her skin
that dress all we want is tina, oh that passion
voice of husky love and grit did i mention
we don’t need all we want is


on the window pane

i’m private
look at the muscle baring her arms, her teeth all we need
all we want
that hero
private home dancing
on the window

how can we
thunder dome and window pane
tell me do you remember all that
grit and salt the way home slit into dress

bare teeth bared arms and all all we want is

and thundered


`at las’ silver roof tantrum she thowed ain’t nuthin
ain’t nuthin but nuthin
break `at vacant holler a hers
smother damn pilla’ break `at holler
she a tantrum i ain’ aimin a fix
damn roof ain’t broke ain’t nuthin i ain’t aimin at
ain’t nuthin but nuthin

silver voice holler til she fixed she ain’t aimin a vacate
she a vagrant but ain’t nuthin silver

done tole her tantrum ain’t nuthin
ain’t no roof o’ her head ain’t no atlas tell her future ain’t no silver
for sale just a pilla settin in `at vacant head

break it, baby, holler `at tantrum go stuff `at extry pilla
best `at roof be vacant next time she fixin a holler
best `at atlas be ready an silver

tantrum ain’t nuthin but a roof ready a break

© Naomi Buck Palagi 2008

Emily Pettit (Massachusettes,USA): Five Poems


I think a bad thought and I am left wondering

if hope should ever be saved and if one was to

save it, then would one need to hide it?

And where would one hide it, if one had to

do so? Say there are ten thousand dead crickets

to deal with, go far away or don't.

Who could have known you could have

done that sort of damage without making

any noise. Your eye thinks light only travels

in straight lines. Burst these reports.

Forgiveness exists in the face of what isn't fair.

Now if you please, use your eyelashes to run

a dotted line through the sky. Compromise

quietly and practice (radio silence) when anyone asks

about your involvement. The crickets were cheap.

They were silent. Okay light, wave that dark way.

Leaf cracking, I can't walk home without startling

a rabbit and I slam the door so quietly shut.


Get up. Get up and pretend your head isn't full

of tiny broken sticks. It will be worth it to walk

through the door such a complicated mess,

crazy to such purpose. One way to torture a person

who is sleep deprived is to pretend the house is on

fire. Look very serious and say Fire! Fire! Fire!

Look very serious and say Water! Water! Water!

Look very serious and say You built a better body

of water. Yes you did. Where did you find such a

stunning embankment? Pretend you put out the fire

with the better body of water. Pretend you are

a medium to large marine mammal. I will be

a fly on the wall dressed as a person, a person who

has complicated ideas about what constitutes a wall.

No doubt I'm a little faded, dejected, incognito,

noncommittal. I only do practical things.


I can't imagine what you must think of me.

Or perhaps I can. Perhaps as a pomegranate.

Or as a sparrow, but a kind that cannot fly.

A fog that is made up. A crest or ridge.

For example, the border of a bone.

To be still to come. A boot and a scorpion,

they meet in the shower. An outline

of the number eight, formed with two loops

and one continuous line. Yesterday's noon

we all forgot. Collapsing into surf

when close to shore or hitting rocks.

I'm awake, I think. Maybe as a bookend.

I've thought about you in many ways

neither grammatical or while wearing gloves.


The sketch of the woodpile was never found.
This made us uneasy and we began to weep.
Within a week we were wanting like lost geese.

This is harder than silk. This is harder than the bottom.
If only we knew how to embroider.
Maybe that would help, help like details.

We like small things. We are good with small things.
We stack them and sign them and tuck them in at night.
When they run away it breaks our hearts.

It's true, we have hearts, like pine needles, we have thousands.
They are very busy, the winds treat them not so well.
This is an impasse. This is probably where we are.

Did anyone have the foresight to protect against this trouble?
This wasn't included in the scope. To tame it someone will have to sew
Shut its eyelids. Wooden eyelids. Iron eyelids.

A canyon with steep walls can only be entered readily
From the upstream direction. This is the opposite of what is usual
Or what was previously said.

Pretend there aren't hundreds of different light bulbs you can buy.
There are no light bulbs. Thinking about aircraft instruments
And anything that blocks the passage of light

Sight or air, is like building a bridge. The gods are showing harm.
The gods are hammering and kissing. When they do this
It looks like a horse. The extra large architecture

Might be a problem. More innovation from the stone.
This feeling is both constant and intermittent.
Sleep is a symptom. To get deeper into it

We will need to examine the external factors
The conditions that surround people. A sudden strong wind is real enough.
Enough to knock us down. That's enough.

A hoarse raspy kraaa, a harsh crr-eek, clear whistles and bursts
Of warbled notes, a fast series of tseee sounds descending in pitch
The song ends as a trill. We don't know what this means

But that does not detract from our pleasure or displeasure.
The condition of the noise spread the news like a context.
Anything from which something may be learned

We love like night falling over and over again.
Damn these recurring flow patterns. We curse
These models of resource. We love them, like exaltation.

This is joy. What is able to be heard by the human ear
Is responsible for so much. Little carries this much
Alone. Without looking describe these scientific experiments.

Describe a plant in which growth stops
Because its growing point is damaged.
Like when hail hits, we can do this.

We recommend the pursuit of special knowledge
As the central goal of life, though it is typically
Depicted under the governance of forces of which we are not aware.

Hopefully we can balance on what we do know.
There is no critical path. Water is important.
The head always had something to do with the skull.


If it feels like a brick just hit your head
whatever it is, it's got to hurt.

The leaves on my roof are like some sort of creep.
To be wanted momentarily by a wandering eye

is no great flattery. It's flat flummery.
Settle down. Your empty space sorrow

can't stop boxing with the local squirrels.
Who hasn't been snuffed? Even the hermit has.

The water is nice. Are you cold?
Back at my house it is cold and I am aware

that shadows help artists represent objects
more realistically. Nature is so involved

in this sort of deception.
You look my way like the rain

daring me to hold it. I should like to think
lucky stamps go places.

How many states were there?
It appears some are out of service.

I watched you from a distance.
The distance was a meter.

Dust is the reality but I'm always saying sand.
There are many ways to apologize, though

the nose nearly touching the hands in a low bow
will not solve reports that there are problems

with the new technology. Feeling like a log I lay
by the bank of a river. Together this thing awakes

to hold us.

© Emily Pettit 2009

Andrew Lundwall (Wisconsin, USA): Three Poems


footsteps the color of spur in dawn arcades
a technology of hush a nothing to look for
drinkable crests of twilight manes of dagger
stuttering turrets sloshing a mile-high snow
the dots each crane would hoist and ripple
or thrusts resilient bouquet of yellow smoke
threatened eyelids videotape stripping lots
or thinking drink and her transparent brooch
a mutable connection derailed by sideways sighs
lets so much in a little an oblivion of trinkets


a net out ahead two-a-piece wheezing
adderall funspokes belabored & bedraggled
a mystical head given a mystery occasion
of cardboard wingtips paint by numbers
plant anything that each breath should
hinge on kleptomania but it's given
murmurs of missing a tremulous kleenex
leopard print multi-faceted eyelids
drag dregs of cigarette up & away
it's an all-time rumour a gospel
duped bellydeep & good as thick


look no hands a buzz a silo what's collapsing
tunnels of fun ferns are set are swell & pines
throb elusive traipsing pillows of cloud elongated
melodious if she had a pin yet everywhere there's
a password stoned honey being called alive under
hunched shoulders of blue is sheer cherry conjuring

© Andrew Lundwall 2009

Christian Nicholas (Philadelphia, USA): Three Poems


Today, for once, the average
man on the street is happy
& I, for once, can’t blame him.
Or her — for once she’s a man too.

We can try to remember
to regender later
when tomorrow isn’t October
because for once, tomorrow is October.

Let us begin by dispatching
at once. Or in any case
as soon as I discover
whether the man on the sidewalk—
the man in front of me—
is a mover & a shaker or oblivious.
Nevermind I will push him into the street.

There, man.
Be like me.
Be saved or damned


Overage? Is that how you spell it?
I’d pronounce it like French. Of-air-raj.
That makes twice in two days

I’ve mistaken suicide for masturbation.
I’ll be waiting beneath your window this evening
to see if you’ll attempt the Holy Threepeat.

I know it sounds like I’m talking about
something other than what I’m talking about
but this is as close as I get these days.

We make do. We get by.
We call a smoke, a light, a smile a sacrifice
and you — what do you call it? Motherfucker

dead these two days two times already.
How do you propose to resurrect anything
when you won’t even do yourself


My customer service skills are unquestionable
if not unshakeable. Threaten my life
& I will fold. In half the time it takes them
to draw & quarter me, the world will be
as flat as a pancake on a map
of the world , circa 1999. The last time
I earned my keep, as opposed to
my living. As opposed as I am
to this line of inquiry I will not object
publicly. I can only hope that the truth
will reveal itself, like a naked fat girl
in the window on three consecutive nights.

© Christian Nicholas 2009

Eileen Tabios (California, USA): Two Poems


There are keys to everything, even handcuffs. Why remember Catullus for his scurrilous invective? I am at my loneliest, the postcard says, when I see a mirror and you are not raising a hand to wipe away my tears. I recall the rain in Burgundy, its warmth washing the slate path towards Anne Gros’ winery. His first love unexpectedly sits at the next table and, after ten years, both smile without rancor. The t-shirt pronounces its wearer to be a VIRGIN! (but that’s become such a 20th century sentiment). He disappears into a gnat at the rim of my vision as I wonder whether sweat can be dishonest. Otherwise, falling would not hurt? Right under your nose, a trip wire leers as it hides in the shimmer of heat. “Billy is deaf,” I oil her hackles. What is an artist without a desecrated battleground? I was cruel to a young lady from the barrio, labeling her “Maid.” She folds into sadness—that he would not think to consider her in another way. The bottle became empty, and another day gave way. The fire erupted like a poem. She is a redhead but dandruff remains white. As he strides down the path, stones clatter from his tread. Under his left eye, he has a scar that people never see but recall in memory. Once, a famous painter whispered, “When you see the glass, you do not see its transparency.”


My gift of chocolate in pink cellophane failed to make the blonde smile. The rain in Spain flattens against my windowpane. I consider the bill in front of me: its unfamiliarity. The passer-by wears a hat crocheted from pink lace and white string. The bus drives by with a side panel advising, be once, be always, just be. He disappears into a gnat at the rim of my vision as I wonder whether sweat can be dishonest. She might as well plant fragile shoots in watery paddies under a glaring sun. Right under your nose a trip wire leers as it hides in the shimmer of heat. Your intellect is a scratchy wool coat, I think as I consider the tunnel’s capped teeth. No matter how often California regurgitates into the sea, they continue to build houses on top of faultlines, even when they contain nurseries with pastel wallpaper. I remember cool breezes coiling their milky skeins around pine tress. He is relieved at her smile. The afternoon sliced his face delicately with the edge of a half-opened curtain that allowed the sun to pass. I tasted lemon and butter in the wine. The wind blows and the poem-in-progress flies away: His tan jodhpurs are encased in black riding boots. When she will be excavated in a hundred years, her bones will have outlined a fetal position. I sense a city bleeding beyond the window: feel Manila’s infamously red sunset.

The “Synopsis” poems are from a series “DECADE” which remixes lines from a series “LIFE SENTENCES” whose poems were written over a decade ago. “LIFE SENTENCES” was the author’s first prose poetry work.

© Eileen Tabios 2009

Rufo Quintavalle (France): Three Poems


I. Earthquake

Peace, the sun, a whimbrel on the grass
and under this the thing that nags
and shakes the house, and makes you write:
Peace, the sun, a whimbrel.

II. Hot tub

I’m sitting in the hot tub in the rain and the rain
is coming down sideways
so my chest and face are getting cold
while my fundament heats from underneath
that mine a difference in heat for life;
it seems that that there is and not that there is not
is down, in no small part, to them
so I open a beer and sit in the hot tub in the rain.

III. Keldur

I don’t understand anything: why I came into
this body, this life;
my wife says I think too much,
that I have too much free time,
but I wouldn’t want less, and besides,
I’d hardly call it free.
Up the road there is what was a house
and now is a building on a farm;
before the house there was nothing,
and around the farm there is nothing still.

IV. The monks

Like sperm come too late to an egg the monks
arrived in their coracles, wriggled, prayed
on the coast a while, then passed; they left no trace.

V. Sanctity

You put out to sea and nine times in ten
it’s suicide; otherwise sanctity.


The days are staying hot into the night
and the drag queens are fighting in the corner bar;
some flagrantly so or choose flagrantly
to work their way out of it
but hasn't everyone on this street been born
into a life not their own?
It's nothing to be ashamed of, Jesus
was and took thirty years to wriggle out of his;
what is is if you never do
or never make peace with the lie.
At five o'clock the rubbish truck comes,
on Thursdays the dustman sweeps the street.
The city, which endlessly starts again,
belongs to the drag queens in the corner bar.


Walking back with a loping gait
from the prize-winning head-cheese shop
the afternoon spoke to me
like God in the bush did to Moses;
thing was whereas Moses understood
so well he couldn’t explain what he heard
I was garrulous, kind of morning
after chirpy but hadn’t a clue
what the day was saying.
Or rather the clues were everywhere:
the houses said build but the clouds
festinalenting across the sun melt,
and while a woman’s calves, that thickened
like fish do then disappeared whispered follow,
the gravid pellets forming in my gut
since lunch said home, James, fuck the horses.
The afternoon, a Wednesday, was colder
than it should have been; what’s a man to do?

You talk and talk
but there is so much
in the way
of words
these days
it might make
more sense
to say

© Rufo Quintavalle 2009