10 December 2006

Featured Poet: Adam Fieled

Adam Fieled is a poet and Ph.D. candidate from Temple University in Philadelphia. Adam edits the blog-journal P.F.S. Post, which publishes contemporary poetry and art. He also maintains Stoning the Devil, a blog on which he publishes thoughts on literature, art, politics and other cultural bits. He recently released a spoken-word auido cd called Virtual Pinball-Madame Psychosis. He visits Chicago this week and reads at Myopic Books (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Sunday, December 17 at 7 pm.

My History

I had a life in Egypt
as a prince
my father now
my servant
in Rome
and my friend Chris
which is why
can’t get laid
in this century
to New York,
I worked
the mob
killed me,
I am.

Pigs and Planes

I don’t believe in poetry.
It’s a slant that wavers
around different patches
of sky, or mud chucked
on slats of a sty. Or it
could be the pig, or the
plane, farmer or pilot,
pork-chop industrialist, air-
traffic controller. The one
thing it isn’t is itself.
To say poetry is poetry
is a rank offence, post-
misdemeanor, sub-felony,
the sort of sin credulous
people pray against. Pigs
you can believe in, & sties.
Planes you can believe in, & skies.
I don’t believe in poetry.

Window Sketch

Might trees, fore grounded
against red bricks, in March,
be expectant? Curtains,
tapered & tied. Behind,
a chair’s outlines. I’m as
settled in here as I’ll ever be.

Settled in here, I’ll never see
that chair’s insides. I’m as
tapered & tied as that blind.
Be expectant, curtains,
against red bricks in March;
mighty trees, fore grounded.

On reading Chris McCabe & then Keats

must be something in England,
makes hearts beat….stay beating,
through the daily melee…humorously..
knowing about dragons, sapphires, shit
stains, everything else….double-decker
metaphors we don’t get (as in create/
understand) in the States,
ham-fisted burger-beered belly-flopped

On Jazz

Physical beauty, Formal Rigor of God—
spiritual beauty, Economy of God—
Natural Will, Transcendent Will,
Facile Will in all its’ dismal “there-ness”—

Piano broken chords breaking down space
like watching bits of paper collect,
contained in a 12-bar blues; root
notes you tend to lean on,
or maybe a honking minor third,
a harmonic multi-colored sharp…

Follow your compulsion into flurries,
clusters of connecting phrases,
then a pause to sanctify as the progression
resolves after lingering on the fifth
for the appointed time—
pentatonics mainly w/ some suspensions,
sheets of sound, trademark leaps,
like watching a rainbow erupt
out of the placid bowels of street-lakes,
sparrows in the gutters,
Eliot-esque alienation syncopated
impossibly high & mighty…

Repeat the repetition now into major scale—
Ionian gold, major-third suspensions again,
almost midnight for tremulous trees,
also hipsters, flights of birds, rabbis
in the wilderness as blues ends; here’s a quicker
quirkier jarring bit to cut
your teeth on…

Base bottom notes natural like ferns,
ride the ride cymbal like musical fellatio,
roll w/ rolls & kick-drum ejaculations,
what Hart Crane heard in bridges,
only blues (so bridge seldom comes),
stasis achieved nicely replicates movements,
bowel, kidney, heart-beat, daring snare of lip-ness,
thickness, quickness,
get it all out for all of us into the brick-laden city,
mutter of exhausted midnight buses
as vibrato notes shiver, miniature
solos on the toms creates energy
of emptiness among the weird abundance,
concluding w/ roll on the snare, now bass
also investigates metaphysical space,
not so much implacable as inexhaustible
eruptions; spring of autumn,
autumn of spring…

Seasons of balance, compromise,
away from extremes; Middle Path exteriorized,
oh piano on a minor seventh which bespeaks
longing for a more ethereal world,
elegiac as the last apple of October, eaten
by a Halloween camp-fire, beyond blues
of Earth into cadence, dying fall of pure moon,
ravaged, torn from the throat of persistence,
mute existence destroyed completely
and on fire, a universe of fingers & mouths,
looking down the tide of Death into eternity,
square-shouldered & erect,
freezing into whims of Ultimate “there-ness”,
beyond ordinary notions of quotidian abyss
in one long sitting pow-wow peace-pipe corn-cob
wholesome dinner of Voidness,
but insinuated only to drive away singularity….

Jazz is plural,
they give you a space, show you its’ contours,
allow you to move around & drown
if you want over hilltops of remorse, created
by Love or dolorous longing & especially
Central Parks of the soul & intellectual Bordello
life cut & pasting its’ bleak outline over rooftops
& bluebirds—

©Copyright 2006 Adam Fieled.

04 November 2006

Featured Poet: Garrett Brown

Garrett J. Brown was born in Baltimore. His poems have recently appeared in the American Poetry Journal, Urbanite Baltimore, the Ledge and has a poem forthcoming in Natural Bridge. In 2000, he won a Creative Writing Fellowship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he graduated with his MFA in Creative Writing. His book-length manuscript, Manna Sifting, was runner-up in the 2003 Maryland Emerging Voices competition and he recently won the Poetry Center of Chicago’s 2005 Juried Reading Contest (www.poetrycenter.org), judged by Jorie Graham. He is currently teaching writing at University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is pursuing his PhD. Garrett’s chapbook, Panning the Sky, was published in 2003 and is available from Pudding House Publications (www.puddinghouse.com).


August 27, 2003

Metaphor is the frayed thread that connects what we desire with what merely exists.

Tony Rothman

Even before squinting through a telescope,

Percival Lowell revealed what he was hoping

to see: exquisite web of channels, evidence

of a vast Venice etched into the rusty disk

of Mars. Did he dream of green-skinned gondoliers

smoothly rowing from pier to alien pier,

soothing their linear canali with Martian song?

Skeptical scientists knew Lowell was wrong;

what we wish to see prevents us from seeing

what is.

Don’t we all wish to draft perfect

lines, envision a complete Cathedral

instead of quarrying the awkward

facts, imperfect stones resisting

the symmetry of the church wall?

Tonight, closer than it will ever be,

I watch the planet from my window and shed

Lowell’s imagined world for the frayed thread

of metaphor. Iron rusting on the surface, the same

element that warms the pigment in our veins: Mars,

a speck of blood in the cold, impenetrable night.

(Originally appeared on the website of the Poetry Center of Chicago; Juried Reading Winner 2005)


Receding hairline, your rented room

in the wooded hills beyond light

pollution and suburbia, your penchant

for slender women with large eyes

and small breasts, talent for language

betrayed by a lazy palate and erratic

handwriting, your quiet disposition

that reminds the self-confident

they too have uncomfortable dreams—

all reduced to pinpricks.

The Giant washed ashore,

his lover’s arrow embedded

in his tree-trunk neck, eyes

fish-lipped into hollows,

seaweed beard. Her hands

molded his flesh, snowball-like,

into white hot spheres, fixed him

how she wanted to remember:

clothed in a lion’s skin,

chased by a scorpion.

Your waitress has small eyes, leaves salsa,

a large basket of chips. Excessive, you think,

as you eat alone, flipping through phone-sex ads

in a free weekly. Invisible points, too, hold weight,

these dark matters you refuse to acknowledge,

even in measured safety. You can’t remember

why Scorpio rises as Orion sets. The Giant

reduced to a belt. Dried mythology gives seed

to words, their stories sloughed—narcissism,

panic, aphrodisiac, pandemonium and mercury.

(Originally appeared in the American Poetry Journal, Winter/Spring 2006)

Lost Anecdote from the Pages of Vasari

Spring cleaning in Baltimore always involved

a yellow bucket sloshing with soapy water

and a rag recognized as the tattered remains

of my father’s bowling shirt, circa 1973.

I would be sent to the front of the house

on the first warm day of shorts

and no socks to wipe the marble steps.

It was also springtime, I would learn years later,

when Michelangelo would visit Carrara and lay

his head on recently quarried blocks. I wiped away

city grime, crushed berries, the dried paste

of bird mess. The stonecutters claim he listened

for cobwebbed whispers, ran his thick fingers

over mineral veins swirled within rock. I was

always amazed at how the marble would hold

the imprint of a leaf dropped in autumn and pressed

into a smudge by a winter of rain. If the tale is true

and the statues did indeed call out to be released

from their stone, imagine the Florentine

walking down East Pratt Street, hundreds of fat cherubs

trapped in the stoops, crying out to the Master as we sit

on their heads, resting cans of beer on their rumps.

(Originally appeared in Pif Magazine, May 2001)


That smaller vessel of gold, or silver-gilt, in which the Eucharist is commonly carried to the sick.

- The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII

At one time a cup suspended

by a chain above the alter,

pulling eyes upward as though

it could condense the dust of Christ

from a cloud of incense. I don’t

believe in saints, but keep Christopher

taped to the windshield as I drive

to the nursing home. A priest will

keep it tucked in a silk pouch hung

around his neck, the weight becoming

a sacred heart that sits against

his own.

If you had a slice

of god’s flesh – thin,

pungent with the fish

the Galileans

caught, the fish that hell

could not digest – what

jewel box would you deem

fit to contain it?

To me it resembles

the disk of tobacco my brother

kept tucked in the back pocket

of his favorite pair of blue jeans,

a circle relic imbedded

in the fabric. It’s always strange,

to see it tossed on my vinyl

passenger seat, as though the Ark

of the Covenant were strapped with

a load of beach towels to the roof

of a burgundy station wagon;

children in the backseat singing

as the sun tints red to their cheeks,

coconut lotion, the sand dunes

spilling onto the road, dust grains

on highway blacktop shimmering.

(Originally appeared in the chapbook, Panning the Sky, 2003)

On Cross Street

At this three-story restaurant the sun-

dried tomatoes are soft on the teeth,

and the windows overlook long trenches

of rowhomes where parents still spank

their children and keep opened cans

of condensed milk in the fridge. I forgot

we lived on this street, back when love was

watching seagulls pick through the garbage.

You wanted something real, my lung on the table,

unfolded like a wet towel, cork particles

in the wine. Below us, gardens furrow

the thin yards between cracked slabs

of pavement. Cucumber kidneys hang

from the fences, a plastic Blessed Mother

spreads her arms over a purple eggplant heart.

(Originally appeared in the chapbook, Panning the Sky, 2003)

Copyright 2006 Garrett Brown

10 October 2006

Featured Poet: Andrew Lundwall

Andrew Lundwall is the managing editor of the electronic literary journal melancholia's tremulous dreadlocks. He currently lives in his home state of Wisconsin after residing for three years in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. Recent work can be found in Ocho, Otoliths and PFS Post .

erasure of phil ochs’ song chords of fame

I found him by the stage last night
He was breathing his last breath
A bottle of wine and a cigarette
Was all that he had left
"I can see you make the music
'Cause you carry a guitar
God help the troubadour
Who tries to be a star"
        So play the chords of love, my friend
        Play the chords of pain
        If you want to keep your song,
        Don't, don't, don't, don't play the chords of fame
I seen my share of hustlers
As they try to take the world
When they find their melody
They're surrounded by the girls
But it all fade s so quickly
Like a sunny summer day
Reporters ask you questions
They write down what you say
        So play the chords of love, my friend
        Play the chords of pain
        If you want to keep your song,
        Don't, don't, don't, don't play the chords of fame
They'll rob you of your innocence
They will put you up for sale
The more that you will find success
The more that you will fail

the dyslexic ballet

the soul rumbles

under its nonsensical sheets

to go or not to to stay as scarred

and skinny fright legs burst its sockets

tangled in alchemical masturbation

to make the other thing spiritual flow

to make another massachusetts left of the dial

necking in an abandoned cadillac

like spider-veined comets

as sacred mushrooms of wanting

spray static tonight sucking

signal curtains for the dyslexic ballet

screwed-in kiss

what machine
with screwed-in kiss 
that vulgarity’s torch
should raise a hand 
of all the static 
to you i could bring 
my caravan

erasure of merle haggard’s song the bottle let me down
Tonight the bottle let me down,

And left your memory come around;

The one true friend I thought I'd found,

Tonight the bottle let me down.

Each night I leave the bar room when it's over,

Not feeling any pain at closing time;

But tonight your memory found me much too sober,

I couldn't drink enough to keep you off my mind.

Tonight the bottle let me down,

And left your memory come around;

The one true friend I thought I'd found,

Tonight the bottle let me down.

--- Instrumental ---

I've always had a bottle I could turn to,

And lately I've been turnin' every day;

But the wine don't take effect the way it used to,

And I'm hurtin' in an old familiar ways.

Tonight the bottle let me down,

And left your memory come around;

The one true friend I thought I'd found,

Tonight the bottle let me down.

Tonight the bottle let me down...
I been around, I've had my share
And I really can't complain
But I wonder who I left behind
The other side of fame

(Raspberry beret)
Tell me
Where have all the raspberry women gone? (And if it was warm she)
(Wouldn't wear much more)
(Raspberry beret)

I thin

Copyright 2006 Andrew Lundwall

04 August 2006

Featured Poet: Brandi Homan

Brandi Homan is editor-in-chief of Switchback Books. Her chapbook, Two Kinds of Arson, is forthcoming from dancing girl press in January 2007. Brandi's work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, magazines like Salt Hill, North American Review, Fugue, CutBank, Natural Bridge, and others. She writes professionally in advertising while working toward her MFA at Columbia College Chicago.

Why I'll Never Play the Cello

It’s not because I have small fingers,
pointy elbows. Or because I like to let my nails

grow long, cacophonous. I’m simply not meant
for the litany of your spruce chrysalid. Too vast,
you carmine cask, perilous barrel. If skimmed
right, I might splinter, fission into diatonic
atoms, loose chords. The circumference
of my arms too distant to be halved

by the likes of you, a secant slicing
my very circle, a knife through the body
of a pear. I’ve only played pizzicato, clumsy

with tenor in a Winn-Dixie jug band.
Some fingers defy pinning monarchs
to mounting board. They refuse calluses,
split seams, rip triplets open with a hook.
Maybe, if you were a seesaw, my hips
could bear the bass and treble, the up-

and-down, the cry and sing that ferment
in the bellies of whole notes. Or a motorcycle
between my knees, pure glissando, electric
meow. Zero to eighty in the breadth of a grace note.
Nothing but wind between here and heaven.
No, a cello is different. Burlesque. Merlot
salted with crosses and cadenza,
you’re raw, rubicund. Heady
groans extorted from andante for the price
of vine. Purfling tortured with burgundy,
twisted into our own private adagio cut
from suede cocoons, the unraveling of silkworms.
These ways are easier: motorcycle, seesaw, pizzicato.
I’ve no room for you, cello, in this sarabande
of bleeding fingers. Feet firmly on the ground,
knees vibrato with prayer, and already, my head
somewhere beyond bouquets and butterflies alike.

(previously published in Barrelhouse)

Like the Devil

He holds on to life with his teeth,
dangles it by the nape.
Tastes with the fury of cayenne
and says hush-hush-hush
with his hands as he drinks
wine from me like an open spoon.
He can tell magenta from maroon.
He grins like the devil,
all jump-start and red bell
pepper. Stitches me together
as if my cunt is a wound,
his tongue, copacetic.
I mend, sprout wings,
and scream things.
A firebird possessed
of the power to fly,
he shuts his eyes,
and wills it so.
Off he goes.
Grunt and scruff, this
spitfire. This hellcat.
A scrapper who turns the screws
of my truss rod, straightens
my back. Names the stars
of my knees with one eye
closed, opens my gates,
faces the bull.
OlĂ©! He’s muy caliente.
Itch, bitch, and boil,
he celebrates supine
and sublime. Pins
the tail on the donkey
every time, this toreador.
A necromantic lynx who
swallows whole but plays
legato, in tune.
He follows me out of rooms.
It will be all right.
He who holds on to life with his teeth
will never go hungry.
Faster, pussycat.
Kill! Kill!

(previously published in

Copyright 2006 Brandi Homan

12 July 2006

Featured Poet: Mark Tardi

Mark Tardi grew up a mile away from Midway Airport in Chicago, IL. At any early age he learned that the defeaning roar of the planes overhead was a great way to leverage natural pauses in phone conversations.

His first book Euclid Shudders was a finalist for the 2002 National Poetry Series. More recently, two chapbooks have appeared: Airport music from Bronze Skull Press (where some of these poems appeared), and Part First-----Chopin's Feet from g o n g. Poems and reviews can be found in Antennae, Aufgabe, Bird Dog, Boog City, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other periodicals.

They were entire functions, quasi doubly periodic, q-series, mock theta

And they were the future behaved at infinity

open air rooms, inescapable

Vitamin D deficient

A bad year for scarves,
broken symmetries, those thin potato soups

which were the beginning

And they were blue almonds or heavy hydrogen

very much a jump in the dark
buried and buried again

Your plastic itinerary, a loss cone
lying in wait


Second letter on the same day:

Best to end these confidences. It’s not that I’m superstitious, but
that I’m not. Some people like to go to church, and some people
like cherries. A corpse won’t change any of that. The usual whisper
and splash, soup and a pair of shoes.


That streets are sewn together.

Nose bleed en route.

Tray to beam.

That steak weapons.

To your desolate without.

Private fire trucks.

It’s an insurance job.

Softball without gloves.

A leg laugh.


The Calumet Record, October 1907:
12 died in the neighborhood of the blast furnace;
3 were electrocuted;
1 died in a dynamite accident;
3 fell from a high place;
4 were struck by a falling object;
4 were killed by hot metal in the Bessemer department;
3 were crushed to death;
1 was suffocated by gas;
1 was thrown from a high place by the wind;
1 was scorched to death by a hot slag;
10 were killed by railroad cars or locomotives.


Still no solution, so how about an old joke:

2 plus 2 equals 5 for sufficiently large values of 2.

Maybe you’re right that the infinite resembles a wound, but “unperturbed kernels radiant and inevitable?”

Yes, I know counting is not proving. So I’m left reaching.
If you’re dead, do let me know.


Yes, ruthless
so much a square mile

pickled hands and cutworm

Yes, clean geometries

warned with corners

A stuffed
zero in an armchair

poorly equipped for the cold

Your algebra nearly fainted, salt-blue

The question of specific gravity

baths filling, flagpoles
casting shadows,

your father’s negative age

five years ago


5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions.
The entireness of simple touch. All those
lost landscapes.

Your dead body looks like rain;

Mine, rotted planks for pavement, standing
water, vinegar, another flu out of season

Don’t ask how we went, by what sudden leap
or what unforeseen modulation. This zero with
so many ciphers.

It was impossible to watch:

To undress and dress again.
The chest a harpsichord.

Copyright 2006 Mark Tardi

22 June 2006

Featured Poet: Jules Gibbs

Jules Gibbs
jules gibbs is as everyone is to someone something and to others nothing, lives somewhere, earns a mindless paycheck, pays a mindless mortgage as diligently as any god-fearing republican, has an excellent credit rating to fuel the capitalist/ fascist machine not to mention her small part in several wars even though she's a pacifist and remorseful for the bloodshed.

The Requirement

"On the part of the King, don Fernando, and of dona Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castille and Leon, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, Living and Eternal, created the Heaven and the Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and I, and all the men of the world, were and are descendants, and all those who come after us. But, on account of the multitude which has sprung from this man and woman in the five thousand years since the world was created, it was necessary that some men should go one way and some another, and that they should be divided into many kingdoms and provinces, for in one alone they could not be sustained.” — Excerpt from The Requirement, a 1513 manifesto read aloud to native Indians by the Spanish conquistadors that gave the conquistadors legal permission to attack a village.

So they won’t be captured in photographs or video footage, the usher vainly attempts to banish the Mexicans from the section of beach surrounding the ceremony. The Mariachi band begins to play drawing more attention to the scene and thus more Mexicans who crowd around in baggy shorts swigging cervezas, brown bellies framed against the gray agitated sea by the wind-whipped archway of palm fronds.

The guard who usually polices this section of beach saying: Ayscuse me meez, you are with Shangri La? has disappeared and I secretly wish some of the men would launch into their Fifth Avenue routine: What do you want Princess? You want a boat? A jeep? Are you looking for something special?

It’s got to be a setup getting married in a place where a cab ride is always three dollars no matter how far you travel and night clubs have white beds that swing on ropes and men in white uniforms stand on street corners stroking the tensile triggers of AK-47s as I haul my birthright through the streets like some grotesque feature thinking shoot me now make it swift and painless but good and violent, make it cinematic and give all the money to the kids in the ghettos, no, give it to the worst criminals — a down payment on this well-mannered hostility.

Who else is sitting here calculating what one gringo wedding could buy —I want to buy him an overpriced margarita and stumble together out of the resort into the barrios where we’ll brave the banditos, tear our legs and torsos on barbed wire and glass shards cemented into the walls fronting each filthy little shack — our for-naught act of contrition, our anti-American anti-wedding — but instead I hold still until they are man and wife, albeit attended by uninvited guests, and take my punishment the civilized way— orally, anonymously, pig shit or human shit or the shit that grows on shit ransacking my gut until the sound of surf and the orange moon rising beyond the silhouette of my thatched hut is a set hallucinated and the play a schizophrenic monologue starring the body enacting its own torture coercing the absent mind to follow: Act One: The Body sins. Act Two: The Body repents. Act Three: The Body is poverty. Act Four: The Body succumbs Act Five: The Body is nationless.

Witch, at the Diner

She’s murmuring fricative blue

hush-hush things soft and

I wish I could just eat in peace,

quiet against the background clatter

and hum of diners but she’s got her usual itch

talking with her mouth open chewed food and

spittle dribbling down her crooked chin:

Salty! she complains and a spray of filaments fly

from her mouth, piercing the skinned-over soup.

As if ignoring her might make her vanish

I look hard at the coffee in my cup, think alone thoughts,

but she’s found her witchy groove: Remember this,

she hisses, air remembers old dreams; water contains

everything yet undreamt; fire consumes wasted souls and

unclaimed spirits live in the whites of your eyes.

I know the routine – her final haunting is always

my appetite: Do you hear what I’m saying? she implores

with a bony finger, Are you going to finish those fries?

Cat Girl

I’m street damp, violent

as a cat in heat

pacing beneath

his third floor window

under the streetlamp’s

violet complaint —

he’s another story

yet to be told

leaning forward just enough

to let me read his last line.

Drunk boys on the first

floor fighting

over funds for a roll

of toilet paper

but never dry

for a quarter bag.

I had to split my X

from the Y of that scene.

Old Black Joe’s iodine eyes

craving spare me

just a little to get by—

took no all the wrong way.

Dark upstairs boy

staggering in my head

— but he’s not the one.

My voice sitting hot

on someone else’s wires begging

to be played, crossed.

Tonight I’ll climb the escape

high on ketamine

watch the neighbor’s house

spark up the sky

PJ aching on the hi-fi:

Lick my legs I’m on fire

Lick my legs of desire.

The First and Second Principles

of the Grand Universal Theory of Worms


It’s not that I want to fly —

I don’t.

I collect feathers for a cape to cascade

from my nape, cloak me

in magical bird sheen.

I want to be


but earthed, concealed behind

the waxy greenery of my houseplants,

throw rocks at kids

getting off the school bus — unseen.

It’s only a loose sort of logic I follow.

At first I beat with love for the robins

enticing worms all day,

then the gackels arrived

cowed the robins away.

Now they both dine here equally,

although not exactly peacefully.

My lawn is the Green Tara, goddess

with her uterus in the usual dark places

birthing more worms.

The birds father and devour

father and devour.

It’s not nature or science,

it’s a recipe to stave off death;

the woman across the street

has adopted it with stunning success.

If her house were really a shoe,

you’d recognize the story but

contrary to the rhyme she knew what to do:

She gave them all broth without any bread

whipped them and buttered them and stayed fat and fed.

This is The First Principle of the esoteric text

describing The Grand Universal Theory of Necessity

as Determined by the Natural Laws of Self Preservation

in the Face of Inevitable Suffering as Illusion and

Form of Rapture Via Procreation as Cure for Infanticide:

Excise “kill” and “murder”

from the language —

they become something else.

Children perpetually

regenerate through her body.

Worms perpetually

regenerate through my lawn.

and so forth.


My window offers a landscape of duality

bracing nothing —as duality must —

but underground, a war rages.

This is the Second Principle of the esoteric text

describing The Grand Universal Theory of Suffering

as Vehicle to Nothingness and Therefore

an Attribute of Illumination Which Cannot Be

Wished For but Only Realized Via Willful Unwillfulness.

Thus the children pirated my electricity.

They came in the night on horseback

from the would-be shoe, 75 children

reincarnated 75 times, parked their horses on my lawn.

They fluttered forth their many souls,

shed rinds in my front yard,

dropped membranes like birth

strong incense rising from stained skin.

Bodies, many and minute,

percolated through the soil

discharged substances that suffocated my worms,

and entered my home.

I caught them in my kitchen

a bright suffusion of glints

draining energy from my outlets,

the toaster, the microwave, the fridge,

smirching my serene vision of the world.

I tangled their particles and cast them

into the innumerable pores of the earth

to replenish my lawn.

I questions my tactics now;

these new worms posses a will

and a memory — the root cause of war.

Across the street, 75 more

children born into battle, which is why

I beat with love for the robins

collect feathers for this cape

hide behind waxy houseplants

throw stones at the kids getting off the bus —

It’s only a loose sort of logic I follow.

Field Notes From the Cherokee Marsh

I’ll try to describe it with the mating dance
of three jealous geese thrashing long necks over the water
trash talking in that free jazz skronk – sex
is the bone of contention the best excuse for violence.

The trees here aren’t like the trees we know
but posses the same underground sense
reach into drumlin substrata, synapse
with the water’s edge where bodies sleep off
millennia in the effigy mound, which is why
when I come around that bend an old Indian
stands in rough skins and I must bow and bow
until he becomes the lightning struck trunk of an oak.

Across the fen a rotting boardwalk meanders
into a stand of dwarf birch where a bog of spring peepers riot,
split the air, hidden multitudes keen and bleat,
bang and blab some uproarious joke I’ll never hear.

If you were here, you would tell me
the dominant key of their terrible singing.

Down on warm bellyboards I want to know
who’s there in the copper black under cattails
collapsed — who brings me to my knees?
Closer, the silent propulsion of undifferentiated bodies
billowing. Closer still, they balloon, they undulate,
flitting ghosts with tangerine eyes.

The awful thought they exist without my knowing.

A bullfrog interrogates —
Why-did-you-do-it? Huh- uh- uh- uh?
And across the bog, a second questioner:

I tip my weight to feel the edge.
I keel.

Over the sedge meadow to the drumlin’s crest
where an old couple pose on a bench.
The woman beckons: Why don’t you sit, rest?
But I run from them, too, into the woods where I find
regurgitated pellets of the great horned owl who spread his cape
descended upon a black snake measuring at least six feet.
You were there — remember how it writhed in the bird’s clutch,
diminished against the autumn sky?

Want grips like a claw.

Last winter we tromped over clumps of snow-covered grasses
bowing in great swells like a petrified sea.
It was a difficult crossing and on the other side
we found ourselves in a field with a rank odor.
What was it we were discussing, so intently?
I kicked up a rotting onion, then another,
a whole field of rotting onions under the snow.
Oh yes, how every day I look into strangers’ faces
and think, how brave, how brave.

How at any moment I might betray
everything that’s kind and good.

I don’t mean to sound perverse,
but why does a fenced-in quarry,
a sanctuary for snakes with a posted warning:
No Poaching remind me of our love?

On the dusty path heat gathers.
I leap over a pair of sheer red thongs
contorted in the dirt and feel shame
though it’s not clear anyone’s been hurt.
I’ve read this all wrong, a conceit
for my pornographic affections,
guise of my crueler desires —

I can’t let go

A flirting pair of indigo buntings holds the foreground
as a fleet of F-16s rises from the air field,
slices the sky in deft and calculated pursuit — of nothing —
and suddenly, everything occurs in perfect symmetry,

and suddenly, it’s all scattering.

© Copyright 2006 Jules Gibbs