Volume I Number I

**volumeInumberI**
March 2002

sculpture by Aleksandar Maric

Con cuatro acordes
Soham Patel

Podria nunca decir a usted la manera que oigo este lenguaje.
Pero si podria hablar, el haria mi aqua de la boca,
Le diria que de las canciones de esas familias gitanas.
Le dijera con cuatro acordes.

Batiria mis manos sobre mi cabeza,
Cante y dar mis pies.
Bailaria para usted mi danza de la vida, esta danza de la vida
Con estos acordes de guitarras.

Usted veria mi cara
derritiendo
con emociones verdaderas.

With four guitar chords

I could never say to you the way that I hear this language.
But if I could, it would make my mouth water,
I would tell you of the songs of those gypsy families.
Tell you with four guitar chords.

I would beat my hands above my head,
Sing and stomp my feet.
I would dance my dance of life, this dance of life
With these four guitar chords.

You would see my face
melting
with true emotions.

Workingman Night
Jeff Corbine

The evening is half over already, I worked
from the dark morning to the dark night,
whatever light came to me in between
was lost in a blurry sea of modern-day
slavery, where everything seems terribly
the same pettiness, where the days go on
for weeks.
And now my release from the cage, my evening,
is half disappeared, gone to a dream
that I can’t remember.
I don’t know why I give my life up for nine
dollars an hour, or even what I ought
to do when it’s free.

Old Broken Tooth
David Barnes

got an old broken tooth
wear it in the storm
underneath a bolo hat
underneath nostalgia rain
underneath lightning.

got an old busted wallet
wear it in the dirt
deep inside a western boot
deep inside regretful pants
deep inside this human
safe.

got a rusted harmonica
wear it on the slough
deep outside the well-known town
deep below a calm duck morning
deep around the memory of
a female hunting partner’s
leg.

other lifetimes
Dale Martinez

so long ago
all that went between
only sand, only sand
what is she saying now?
so many grains
of sand

Cotton Candy
Jode McAllum

Cotton candy
is like having Heaven
in my mouth.
Nothing to chew,
sugary lips, kisses,
no violent devouring,
nothing to choke on,
a grilled carrot,
cotton candy.

hundred years
David Barnes

hundred years
nobody’ll know you
but my heart’ll
still be
bleeding,
my love,
my heart will
still
be bleeding.

how many tomorrows,
my love,
could this world turn round
and me still be living
without you,
my love,
and me still be living
without you?

five hundred miles,
my love,
may as well be
the distance
between us, my love,
may as well be
a thousand
oceans.

our love,
my love,
blood-shining heart
on the gutted road
of a thousand
hundred
years.

Driving The Pontiac
Soham Patel

the bird preys in her sleep     to find the day
alone in her night

she plunges through sugar sand     it grows on shallow water
under a sapphire path
contained by swaying trees

she is a woman     pale skinned and black eyed
her body is chilled by wind
though her charred heart remains a lost soul in the dark

but even to find a sunny winter day     would be no help
because the sun’s rays blind her when over dirty windows

still blind, she lies
pretends to see
so she can drive

away

A New Leaf
Wayne Seckerson

Nude in the morning
sitting in a brown chair
drinking the first sips of coffee
I’ll go without marijuana today
turning over a new leaf
for a month or so
just to see where it
takes me.
I’ve been
smoking that stuff
for many years now,
continuously, haven’t
gone more than a few days
without it. Never a whole
week. It should feel good to
be clean. Maybe get more stuff
done, maybe even have some success.
Maybe build a desk that is so
badly needed. This typewriter
is burning my bare legs.
I’m nude in the morning
drinking coffee in a
brown chair.

Time leaves a lot of places (even cold out here)
Gretchen Keeffe

the majestic grandeur
of big city lives
lays half conscious
amongst the dirt and
dried ice cream
of my backalley brain
while thousand-piece orchestras
keep clock over the moments
that don’t return.
Why did they make the watch
round? They thought
they were all
the same, just
happening over and over,
going round and round.
Ice in my Canadian
gives way and clinks
against the glass while
I chew a crescent fingernail
and the radio crumbles under
a tide of ionic snow.
Lie detectors,
heart charts, I think,
or a free-form symphony,
are more representationally
accurate, and the cowboy ditties,
the standard pop, the
rhyming ritornello, a
twelve-bar blues is most definitely
the aesthetic
of the clock.
And while I sit in a box
with five rooms, hot
from the cold kept
at bay by the
windows, so
far away from
the glamour and
lights, action, where
I have no need for sunglasses,
or even a toothbrush, and
most of my friends think
fame will arrive
with the next
round of shots
at the comedy club,
an entire universe
right fucking here
in THIS town
spins itself into a dizzy
awareness, shooting itself
out of all false notion
of controlled measure,
the blind
hurtling
movement.

Raking Dirt (A Journal Entry)
Jeff Corbine

Today I raked dirt.
I woke up early, say, seven,
and left for the air base outside of town.
They told me to bring my workboots and a hardhat.
They told me to grab a rake and a shovel,
and follow them.
We were putting in black dirt around a newly laid bike path.
Me and three other guys.
It was hot, the sun was shining.
At the gas station across the street,
we weren’t allowed to write checks or use plastic.
I used a machine to get cash, brought some pretzels,
and two sodas. I drank them.
My hands grew blisters,
and my face grew dirty.
Now I am tired,
after raking dirt
for eight hours.

True Teardrops
Jode McAllum

So many bad writers,
novelists and poets,
it makes me sad to see them
on the back covers of their books.

the cheerleader
Dale Martinez

seen her walking
in shorts
with a headband
and ponytail
and
sweaty shoulders
and big white
eyeballs
that looked
at my
big strong
legs
and she just
kept on
walking

Years With Shawn
Soham Patel

We were 8
riding bike down the dirt road
across the tracks
to a forbidden land.
We were going to shoot
BBs through empty soda cans.
In this we saw no danger,
ignoring my mother’s commands.

Our innocence, a tree.
At first full of leaves.
Now nearly bare.

Brilliant red bikes become cars and trucks.
Still the same forbidden dirt road.
Soda cans turned into six packs,
pints, and liter bottles,
all borrowed frustrations:
mine from too much discipline,
yours from too little.
Borrowed from my father’s oak cabinet.

Holding your hand for a day
at that place where we all wonder
who and why we are.
One uncomfortable kiss
ceased a week of our dialogue.
A long 9th grade week.
But a smile was again found,
with lunchroom laughs
and a shoulder slug.

One strange kiss could never
conquer the magic
of digging snow tunnels to a castle
of fishing for toads in a pond of rain.

Our innocence, a tree.
Shedding a leaf
with every dire deed.
Now almost bare,
I’ve mellowed.
You’ve grown.

Myself The Stranger
Eliot Merseault

Yeah, I went down there twice today,
first for the magic that I knew
I wouldn’t find,
and second for
beind bad and
knowing it.
Right now, afterwards awhile, I
look at it as if I’m seeing
the memory of an ocean or
the song during a dance.
I see it as just another carnival night
last summer, where we were drunk
and being alive was
something we consciously
enjoyed.
I look at it as what’s moving
in the colors of the flower
painted on the wall
bare before me, where
the wall is the wall, the
paint is a picture,
and the oriental windchime hangs silently
undisturbed, or dead,
in front of the closed window, kept
from the frozen night, the last
of a december, the last
of a year, the last
of my freedom.
She tried on dresses while I paid the whores
and her mother was with her while I was rotten in the mind.
The bells ring,
the crows call my name, I
can’t understand
the stranger.

Giving Up The Dream
Carlo Ducinte

Who the hell wants to be in the newspaper,
a typical name under a typical headline,
the same old stories over and again.
When you get your steak,
with your beer you can hear
the awful sounds of an amateur musician, say,
a guitar player, singing the songs of somebody else,
not quite on, not quiet, not good,
fully embarrassing to see him act that way.
There’s some in every city, even the smallest towns,
and many more behind them, wanting to take their place.
It’s so hard these days, to be somebody, different from all the others,
especially when you try, and again in front of the public,
before and undecided on why or what it is that makes you desire
such attention.

Kitchen Thought
Soham Patel

The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote of the Egyptians:

How Egypt, mad with superstition grown,
Makes gods of monsters but too well is known.
‘Tis mortal sin of an Onion to devour,
Each clove of garlic hath sacred power,
Religious nation sure, and best abodes,
When every garden is o’errun with gods!

Delicate, tiny, soft,
bones and veins protruding.
My mother’s hands
can mince onions
into minute cubes,
the way a modern processor can.
She stands over wood and metal.
I wonder…how many onions is that now?
Average 2 each day since she was say, fifteen?
She’s almost sixty.

I tell you I am Indian,
you ask me about curry.
Curry makes me think England’s houses-
Cramped, dank,
oily, sweaty Sikhs spooning
curry into red and white-checkered paper bowls.

I learned curry
is England’s national cuisine,
after fish&chips,
the spice and the mush.
They just came and claimed,
the way they did the jewel in her crown.
In Bombay a hospital went up along Juhu Beach,
along with a sign:

NO DOGS OR INDIANS ALLOWED.

…Idi Amin had a dream in 1972.
Get them out of Africa,
the railroads are made
now they make too much.
And again, She was not allowed.

Alliums they say first grew in Iraq.
Red. Yellow. White.
Brewed for Curry.
Swamis believe the alliums hold chemicals
to make us hot-tempered.
Others say they are good for the eyes,
our hearts, and for the joints.

But I think after long anger
She has made her peace,
the woman and her hands.
Cultivating cultures,
munching on beer battered onion rings.
She goes back every year for groceries now.
The connection is there.
So now I know home can be a combination
of escapes.

rummy face
Gretchen Keeffe

victory over your grandmother
in a round of progressive rummy
holds no vengeance toward the morning
begun with the increased vigour
of last night’s migraine and
a full day’s worth
of undeserved cruelty
laid out upon a lover.
I sat with my ass
nailed to a blue plastic chair
listening to a goateed man
wearing many silver rings
rattle out the benefits of owning
his seven-layered pans and how
I could own them in exchange
for countless monthly payments
of a simple fifty dollars, also gaining
four free nights’ stay
at a motel in Montego
to be used at my discretion
sometime within the next two years.
I wondered if that was also how long
my ass would be nailed to the blue plastic chair.
As the failing sun clanked down
against the frozen ground,
I began to dream,
and forget about Montego
and the seven-layered pans
and the asshole trying
to sell them to me.
I dreamed my uncle was in town
we were watching a hockey game together
drinking beers out of plastic bottles
in a new hundred-million-dollar arena
the ice was made of gold and
the skaters carried guns.
It was late in the third period
when the lights went out.
I felt a hand touch my shoulder
and a voice said, “do you care?”
“About what?” I answered.
“Do you care? Do
you care?”
“The fourth period?” I wondered
and slowly
I began to see the hair
on the chin of the asshole
holding a seven-layered pan
asking me if I cared to
try some vegetable steak
and I felt my ass
nailed against the blue plastic chair
and the useless sun doing no good
against the frozen earth
and my gut turned rotten
as the vision of my lover
lay whipped by my cruelty
and the three gold coins
clenched deep in my fist
felt heavily empty
as weighed against
the tears
of my grandmother’s
progressively dying
rummy face.

Just The All Of Me
Wayne Seckerson

She’s a woman.
I’m a man
with no place to go.
We need some luck.
My father phoned today.
Says I overdrafted my bank account.
I am neither surprised that this happened,
nor that he called to tell me about it.
My father views my life in terms of financial success.
I am a failure.
We talk as though wounded.
They say I don’t tell them enough of what’s going on in my life.
They know I’ve been sitting in front of the typewriter.
I’ve told them too much.

Still Life
Eliot Merseault

My pipe,
on the table,
a few feet away;
I have smoked so much
already today.
My arms are too tired
to itch my ear,
and my eyes have gone fuzzy, my nose,
too stuffed up to hear.
The Chinese windchime
hanging near the window
hasn’t blown this winter;
it’s too cold, the room stays closed.
I wonder what my death is, where I have been
holding it.

This Absurd Existence
Eliot Merseault

Agony, sweet agony,
you are everywhere,
and in everything.
It is wise to be aware
of the agony that persists,
and to exist with it,
aware as well of all that is, also.
Despite and in coherence,
everything exists with agony,
despair, terror and tragedy,
it is everywhere in all,
as is the good and saintly,
everything, in everything.

Minarettes
Jode McAllum

I find I dream
best in the mornings,
after I have slept
all night,
awoken,
then gone back
to bed.
The sleeps are shorter,
but the dreams seem
longer,
and more vivid,
with colorful
action.

A Battle In The War
Wayne Seckerson

What is she doing in the other room?
She was just here, I can hardly continue to type,
I heard a noise a moment ago…

Ah! Here she is:

“I can hear that typing from the living room,
and I don’t like it. You must stop.”

And she breathes the hair from her face to clear the way
for her spitting on the floor.

I know how to fight this one. Just keep your head down and
let your fingers keep talking.

She grabs some blankets and walks out,
closing the door behind her,
and I have won.

Instead
Soham Patel

The water will always be here.
The water won’t always be clear.

As we rolled along the clouds mist over bright moons.
Bright moons – our potential
Misting clouds – our drug

Still shining stars reach through the night sky,
finding reasons not to die.
Shining stars – our inspirations…aspirations
Reaching – their reasons

The night’s smoke danced through the lights piercing the black sky.

Let’s take a walk to clear our heads he said.
Or float instead on this water we tread.
The water – our worries
There’s no need to hurry*.

Standing outside ourselves we burn gateway weeds
as tomorrow’s fiction lurks over me like the shadows of a skeleton tree.
With ecstacy and our first experiment,
The moderation was forgotten – clouds would mist
bright moons.

We were searching for free harmony,
but instead we fell down, to disease.
Addiction won.

But the wind keeps blowing, showing me didactic melodies,
You live and you learn
You live and you learn.

* No need to hurry,
No need to sparkle,
No need to be anybody but oneself.
-Virginia Woolf

The Open Mic
Carlo Ducinte

Why did I ever agree to sing
on Sunday at the open mic?
Just thinking about it
makes my hands sweat.
Surely when I am hung up there
these hands will be bleeding.
What was it that made me think
this would somehow be
fulfilling?
What sort of appeal could Hell hold
for me to enter so freely?
All those eyes,
how will I keep my head
from spinning into madness?
I should not have made it so clear
I was willing to stand out.
I should have kept my damned mouth shut.
Wasn’t I happy enough just listening,
even when what all the others were singing
sounded so horrible?
I could disagree silently to myself,
there would be no making waves,
no screaming interruptions,
no death.
Wasn’t I happy enough with my friends,
just another face amongst the crowd,
even when things weren’t perfect or
how I would want them
if they were all mine?
What happened to my youth,
my sweet innocent youth,
where I was free to touch
the growth against the trees
under the cloudless skies
in the glowing yellow air
under the sun?

I once thought the singing birds
screamed a simple happiness
through the open air.

I have drowned all that freedom
with a giant black X
across my back.
Now I am chained to it.
Now I have got to explain myself,
I have got to put myself up there,
I will have to suffer for them,
the stupid masses, all
the stupid drunk eyes, all
the dying listeners who
probably won’t even
hear my song, who
probably won’t even
get it.
Jesus,
how will I be
saved?

I rip my heart open
for the walking
of every
dirty
footstep.

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