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Body Parts
Gilbert Allen

About Body Parts:
Gilbert Allen's Body Parts reveals a sharply refined sense of humor that is rooted in a quality of imagination that slides comfortable into the absurd and the surreal while remaining solidly rooted in the earth of daily living. Whether the poet is engaged with memories of the past as in "Timber" and "Flesh" or the inevitable decay of aging in "Professor of the Mall," the wit is tempered by a human sensitivity.

In "Wasted Lives" we find Allen at his best: his sophisticated sense of the line and his careful resistance to easy sentiment, leads to surprising and illuminating images that do not appear forced, but wholly fitting for the moment - for the emotion of the instant.

 

 



About the Author:

Gilbert Allen was born in Rockville Centre, New York, on January 1, 1951. Since 1977 he has lived in upstate South Carolina with his wife, Barbara. He teaches at Furman University. His collections of poems are In Everything, Second Chances, Commandments at Eleven, and Driving to Distraction, which was featured on The Writer's Almanac and Verse Daily. He received the South Carolina Literary Arts Fellowship in 2002-03, and he co-edited A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry in 2005. Additional biographical information appears in Walter Edgar's The Encyclopedia of South Carolina and in David Starkey's Living Blue in the Red States.

Excerpt from Body Parts:

Wasted Lives

The grandmother found dead
in her cold-water flat, still grasping
her scissors, surrounded by
coupons, millions of them, individually
snipped from newspapers and flyers,
boxed by Bi-Lo aisle, arranged
by expiration date - did she waste
her life?

Or did they kindle her heart
with a joy I can only dimly
register, cynic unfazed by the epitaph
Andy Warhol might have endlessly counterfeited:
Cash Value 1/20¢ .

Wasted compared to whom? Julia Child?
Julia Roberts? Raul Julia?
I once asked a Raul
if he considered Mother Teresa
a success, and he answered
"That depends. What does she drive?"

He wasn't kidding. For him, Hell
would be writing this poem,
or a better one, and not just because
it'd never be finished. And Heaven
would be his own face, or even mine,
haloed within a shining hood, damn
the lepers on the dusty roadside chanting
Will Work for Food in Hindustani.

The monk shining under the hood
of my own heart is not amused, but
even he needs a decent giggle
every now and then. Maybe I should
introduce him to the performance artist
whole stole a police car, then spent
The next decade mailing it back
in 9X12 manila envelopes.

He bought them wholesale
with his Discover card, which eventually
led to his arrest
while posting a lug nut
from Kansas City. He claimed
he was only trying to save
the avant-garde.

"You're wasting your life, "
he told the reporters,
"if it's been done before."
Which is why, I suppose, he had
no wife, no recycling
bins, no interest
in reincarnation, and ate exclusively
at Holy Communions.

I think he and my monk
would hit it off.

I imagine them reading the obituaries
together at Sunday brunch, snickering
at those awful heroic couplets
written by the families
of the long dead: families who go
to church, or don't, but are united
by the unspeakable belief
that angels see only newspapers
that rhyme, throw them away
just before the anniversary
of their expiration date
and are still waiting
to be redeemed.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-6-7

THE FLIES AND THEIR LOVELY NAMES
Philip Belcher

About The Flies and Their Lovely Names:
In The Flies and their Lovely Names, PHILIP BELCHER reminds us that poetry can be a lively game of the imagination, a space in which flights of fantasy, if well harnessed by a graceful line and a sharp sense of diction, can produce work that fills us with pleasure even as it offers us fresh ways to look at the world around us. In his poem "Mid-Life", the crisis turns out to be a crisis of family dysfunction that goes back deep into the past. And yet Belcher achieves both pathos and hope because ultimately, what is most pressing to him is the transformative power of the poem. Language is the hope: "No poems flowered for twenty years. Even now the buds hug themselves tightly". It allows him to confront the world with humor. The poem "Estate Planning" begins with an absurd bit of macabre humor: "My wife bough an urn to hold my ashes/ just as a precaution and set it on the table." The poet, of course, is still living, and is able to explore themes of mortality with a fine tuned sense of irony and comic timing. Look at the final stanza of that poem:

The state requires a permit to float
your bones along the coast or spray
what's left into Appalachian air,
so she'll keep me close on the mantle
beside the clock to settle
and preside over life in the den.

About the Author:
Since March 2000, Philip Belcher has served as President of the Mary Black Foundation, a private foundation serving Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Formerly the Associate Director of the Health Care Division of The Duke Endowment in Charlotte, N.C., Philip is a graduate of Furman University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Duke University School of Law. Prior to joining The Duke Endowment in 1998, he was a partner in the law firm of Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein in Charlotte.

Philip has published poems in a variety of journals. In 2005, he won the Porter Fleming Writing Competition Prize in Poetry. He was also selected as the 2006 South Carolina Poetry Fellow Alternate by the South Carolina Arts Commission. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and a founding member of the Spoets, a Spartanburg-based poetry group that meets regularly for readings and critique.

Excerpt from The Flies and Their Lovely Names:

Weather

After the lightening strike, I counted
one-thousand one, one-thousand two,
waiting for thunder to measure
the miles to the flowering storm.

She's dragging the hem of her muddy skirt
through valleys north and west,
plotting a course to visit us
on her way to relax at the coast.

The poem I'm reading alone
is enough to keep me awake-
a poem of dangerous weather,
fronts that clash like ranks of soldiers

on fields littered with punctured shields.
And you are creating your own weather
beside me in bed. All that meteorology knows
is in this room, each kind of cloud and wind.

A warm front lifts from the trough
of your mouth to meet the wind sheering
from the ceiling fan. After twenty years,
pressures in this room still rise

and fall. Depressions sometimes organize
in corners but seldom mature to danger.
I examine the sky now with more care,
observing most of the watches and warnings.

ISBN: 0-9778441-7-X

THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD
Philip Bowman

About The Museum of Childhood:
Phil Bowman's The Museum of Childhood is a stunning collection of poems that offers insight through masterfully controlled verses. There is a fluid use of syntax that requires the kind of craft that is free of ostentation or straining - poetry that moves with the deceptive ease of a luxury car. In this collection the poet explores themes that are at once painful and yet that remain flecked with the hope that we sense when difficult emotions and experiences are transformed into art. But it is Bowman's economical management of metaphor and his precision about using the right formal note for a given emotion that most impress in these poems.

"Philip Bowman's The Museum of Childhood begins with the remembered death of a father, proceeds to the fathering and counseling of a son, and closes with the poet's preparing that son for the loss of a father. The poems of this remarkable sequence are unflinching as to the dark, anxious side of things, but do justice as well to joy and laughter, and have the high morale that comes of finding the right words. Words are the subject of the most striking of these poems, "Speech," which envies the pre-verbal child his ability "to see/the perpetual unfolding of what simplicity is" before language makes its distinctions and puts all at a distance."
                                                   - Richard Wilbur

About the Author:
Phil Bowman, M.D., Ph.D., was born in New Bedford, MA. He received his B.A. magna cum laude and with Honors from Wesleyan University's College of Letters (Middletown, CN) where he studied verse writing under Richard Wilbur. He also attended The Sorbonne (Paris, France) and The Goethe Institute (Graffing-bei-Munich, Germany) as an undergraduate.

He is presently the Medical Director and Executive Director of Pee Dee Mental Health Center, an agency of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, in Florence, SC. He lives in Florence with his wife, Michelle, and his son, Cole.

He has authored numerous professional papers as well as article in the popular press. His poems have won several awards and have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Southern Humanities Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, and elsewhere.

Excerpt from The Museum of Childhood:

Festival of Lights

We arrive too early at the Festival of Lights
where the tents are still erecting, the Ferris wheel
lies pitched against its axle, and the lanterns overhead
wait in ranks to be lit. I point you toward the Greek church
but you are willful as mercury, off the concrete walk
following your own low road across the grass
like a ball on a bad break, determined to bogey.
Your foot catches and you almost buckle
on the forked root of a droughtstruck tree,
but you run on, past a barricade of angels,
the crossed stone dolls of another generation,
over the lawn into darkness, away from me.

I find your shadow where the churchyard ends
at the edge of a fallow tobacco field
where the windings of raspberries and stronger grasses
rise up and stop you. Nothing here frightens you:
not night, climbing like moss in the trees,
or the truck beside you impounded in weeds,
hoarding lockjaw and bluebells in its clasped doors.
It is here you choose to play. I watch for weeds
with triplet leaves, for snakes sining the world
into waves of luck and danger, a covered ditch,
the small clay pots of budding hornets.
All we find is a box of Happy Meals
its yellow cardboard sogging in the leaves,
some half-ripe berries, a scrap of arrowhead
and a violet beetle that may or may not be dead
from harboring a virus I will read about
in next year's journals. It takes all I have
not to drive you away, but to stay and watch
as you inch your hands toward the thorny fruit
you covet. With such ease I could lift you up
to where you want to be, across this break
and into the wild garden, the forbidden field
that you cannot imagine you can be whole without,
where you would grow almighty, or not at all.

Son, we are here tonight to celebrate
what is neither light nor dark but both at once,
this margin we inhabit between eternities:
the one we think we know and struggle in
and the one that leads us on and seems to know us best,
like a car following behind us down the street
and forever offering to take us in,
its deft doors open, the strangers inside beckoning
to come and join them in that perfumed cabin.

Behind us, the hurdy-gurdy starts to swell
with children turning on the music rides;
their fathers lift a sledge to ring the bell,
they lift, and fail, and lift and try again;
their mothers clutch together in the halls
to speak small lies and taste the lamb for salt;
they drink retsina, watch the biscuits rise,
and set up tables as they talk about their faith
that still endures, although they bleed each month.
Come, turn back with me. Our place is there,
where lamps are lit as symbols, not as facts,
and every path lies twisted in unreason.

Son, turn back with me. This is the sacrifice
we make in terror every day.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-8-1

MENSA BOB LOST IN AMERICA
Ryan Van Cleave

About Mensa Bob:
Ryan Van Cleave is an accomplished poet and the pleasure of his collection Mensa Bob: Lost in America, lies in the theatricality of his study of a character whose take on the world is twisted enough to make every observation and experience a tiny explosion of insight and drama. Van Cleave's poetry is doggedly rooted in the present and faces the world with wide open eyes, trying never to fall out of time, to seem out of touch with it. And as he does that, he creates poems that flirt with the idea of timelessness, because he is creating fables that, with time, could be construed as myth.

These are poems that entertain even as they engage, and by the end of the movement of poems, Mensa Bob is familiar, a figure that is at once a fitting stand-in for the poem and at the same time his own man, fully formed and thankfully inscrutable to the last line.

 

 

 

About the Author:
Ryan G. Van Cleave is the author of five poetry collections, including Imagine the Dawn: The Civil War Sonnets (Turning Point, 2005) and The Magical Breasts of Britney Spears (Red Hen, 2006). He is also the co-editor of two creative writing textbooks and four poetry anthologies, including Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America (University of Iowa Press, 2002). He received the 2006 Don Russ Prize in Poetry from Kennesaw Review, as well as second and third prize in the prize 2006 The State (SC) Poetry Initiative Contest. He was the first recipient of the Anastasia C. Hoffman Fellowship from the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and a Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Literature. Currently, Ryan teaches creative writing at Clemson University, where he also serves as Poetry Editor for The South Carolina Review.

Excerpt from Signals:

Mensa Bob Unable to Sleep Again

because the duo next door
are at it, him screaming G'head
and do it!, her brandishing a black
iron skillet - or so Bob imagines -
that she bands against the linoleum
hard enough to rattle the ice
in Bob's freshly poured bourbon.
Their echoes ring the terra cotta
chimney, the a cappella breeze
through the screened kitchen window.
Sweat beads on the cocktail tumbler
and Bob can see them on the other side
of spackled gypsum and paint,
how her cheeks shine like a beeswax
polish, how his neck is taut as if ready
to sing. This is not Provençal or Paris,
this is Portland, where rain slobbers
the days, such rippling chatter.
Bob's chrysanthemums in the windowbox
are resisting bloom - he ordered them
by mail a 100% guarantee of beauty
within six weeks. He sips again
and settles into a 3 a.m. infomercial
on The Juicy Chicken Machine,
the volume off, everything gone quiet,
dark like a blind-alley doorstep.
Looking down, Bob finds his hands clenched,
perhaps in prayer, an act of contrition.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-8-1

SONG DOG
Phebe Davidson

About Song Dog:
Phebe Davidson's Song Dog poems are witty and sad and sly - pitting the rogue in us all, the trickster, against the everyday practical. Try as you may, you can't pin Coyote - taht "little tic of motion" - down. And that's the art of these high-spirited poems. You may think you're in a dream or working your way from the beginning of time, but don't be surprised if Song Dog's yip and yodel tune keeps playing in your mind long after the last line of the last poem. -Susan Myers

There is sardonic wit at work in these brief poems. Davidson enjoys experimenting with form, these poems, sometimes as short and enigmatic as the best aphorisms, have a quality of finished thought - a well worn and settled arrangement of words and ideas. The coyote here is at once naive myth, comic ego - a self full of pragmatic ruthlessness and basic hungers. Davidson's art, however, is best understood in terms of economy and a quest for the most efficient way to make an image settle lyric moments that are elegant in their shape and profoundly moving in their capacity to emotion and thought. -Kwame Dawes

About the Author:
Phebe Davidson is the author of several collections of poems, most recently Fat Moon Rising (Main Street Rag, 2008). She is the founding editor of Palanquin Press, a staff writer for The Asheville Poetry Review and Reviews Editor of Yemassee. She received both the Erica F. Wiest poetry award from Cream City Review and The Blue Earth Review's flash fiction award in 2007.  Song Dog (Stepping Stone Press, 2006) was a 2005 winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative's national competition. She lives in Westminster, SC with her husband Steve and their cat Fripp.

Excerpt from Song Dog:

Canis Latrans

You cross the blacktop in a flat-out run
So close to the wheels the driver
Doesn't brake inside.

What makes you move like that?
Your coat ripples the shadow-stippled light,
sinewy muscles play beneath your hair.
You swing wide to the right then disappear.

A ghost. I think.
The drive punches the gas.

Silent at that front that will freeze the hill tonight.
You are everywhere, barely out of sight.

A rffle of rump hair rocks behind
a clump of will scrub. Your long feet skim
the roadside brush. Eyes glitter at dusk.
You wrap yourself in winter air.

We listen and you sing.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-3-7

LIBATION
Therese Gleason

About Libation:
What begins as a trip to Ghana for a white woman becomes a journey that as told by Gleason, eschews cliché and yet flirts with every stereotype of the white woman in a poor African country. Yet she emerges with a work that is aware of all the pitfalls of such a journey and manages to dance through unscathed because of the sharp honesty of her insight and the humanity of her imagination. Beyond that is the sheer strength of language - its care for detail and its love of music and pleasure despite the toughness of subject matter. There is a nightmare at the core of these poems, and indeed, a woman is finding herself, her voice, her own meaning as she discovers a world that is alien to her. It would be easy but Gleason's poetic instincts are too muscular and sharply self-aware for that. What she creates are poems that make you hold your breath with fear, anxiety and a deep desperate desire for something like redemption. In "White Nightgown" she turns a moment of real illness into the most eloquent and terrible of metaphors.

 

 

About the Author:
Therese Gleason grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She received a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Kentucky in 1998 and an M.A. in English with a concentration in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Kentucky in 2001. She traveled to Ghana with her now husband, an archeologist and geographer, and spent May to August 2000 in Case Coast, where she participated in an archaeological excavation in the village of Ponkrum. After completing her Masters, she moved to Madrid, Spain, where she taught English as a second language and composition at Saint Louis University - Madrid from 2001 to 2003. She also taught ESOL and writing in Kentucky and South Carolina. She currently works at the South Carolina Department of Education and lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband Ed Carr.

Excerpt from Libation:

White Nightgown

I hold in my hands a bloody mass:
I coughed it up last night and I don't know
what to do with it.

Part of me wants to bury it like a placenta.
Or maybe I should eat it, put it back inside.
I didn't know I had it in me, such gore.
I heaved it up with one long groan.

The dogs can smell it, the iron scent sweet in their snouts,
a mute metallic murmur. My white nightgown
bears a red gash,

I'm a maiden on her wedding night.
I'd rather die than let him unwrap
the gift swaddled between my legs
in rustling silk and satin.

You think I hold my heart in my hands,
but you are wrong. I cup a wounded bird
in my palms, all feathers and flapping.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-0-2

BARRIO VOCIES
Vera Gomez

Signals

About Barrio Voices:
Vera Gomez's Barrio Voices understands how color works. In poem after poem, the visual assumes its own poetic force, and the sounds, smells, tastes and colors are as much a part of the meaning of these poems as are the emotion honesty and the penchant for rich storytelling. These poems are meditations on home and memory, and they offer an engaging entry into a painful intelligence that produces verse that remains endearing and deeply memorable. This is a welcome voice to South Carolina poetry - an assured and elegant voice.






 




Vera GomezAbout the Author:

Vera Gomez's poems have appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume I: South Carolina (2007), KaKaLak: Anthology of Carolina Poets (2006), Millennial Sampler/South Carolina Poetry Anthology (2005), Ties that Bind (2003) and Quintet (2003). She has been a finalist in the SC Poetry Initiative/State Newspaper Single Poem Contest in 2006 and 2004. She is also a 2006 South Carolina Fiction Project winner, for her short story, "A Dry Run." Vera has read on Your Day, in the Greenville County Library Poets Series and in the Hub City Writers' reading series. A graduate of Texas Tech University, she works in corporate communications and also is an Arts Integration SmartArts poet teaching in schools.

Excerpt from Barrio Voices:

La Patria

Done la tierra besa la agua estoy esperando con brazos abiertos.

At the border, I can see into Matamoros
and feel the heat of the sun pierce the soles
of my sandals as I step across the bridge.

As children, we pretended sleep on the floor
of the Fairlane's backseat. Mom and Pop dealt
with the border police, showing them our papers.

We stayed with Tio Mario and Tia Irma.
The concrete slab house they lived in painted
a festive pink, while ours, in Texas, looked boring.

Each morning Nellie and me were sent
to buy tortillas. She sneaked us Pepsi's
with the spare change and told me not to tell.
Summers were magical then. A kid in a strange
country, the place I knew I came from but didn't belong.

At my father's wake my mama's neighbor,
Don Julio, played El Himno Nacional on his accordion.
Mexico's national anthem set to polka and conjunto.

We placed my father's homeland flag in the casket.
Folded and tucked beside his shoulder.
He was a U.S. resident, proud of freedom.

When I grabbed a handful of dirt to toss
into his grave, as it was lowered into the ground,
I knew what Papi meant by "Patria."

It's that place where dirt ends and the land
welcomes you with open arms.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9821793-0-7

CHASING THE INEFFABLE
Tim Harkins

Keep and give away
About Chasing the Ineffable:
In an early poem, the detritus of old loves, hurts and mistakes haunts a fledgling new relationship, and Tim Harkins offers what becomes a metaphor for his poetic art in this simple observation: "In our naked, green embrace/adoration grew to love. You expected/honesty. I longed to tell the truth." ("Green Man Meets Queen of the Nile"). Truth-telling is the core impulse of Chasing the Ineffable, a series of poems that on surface are about alcoholism, marital dysfunction, and emotional disquiet; but that turn out to be rugged lyrics of emotional honesty and hopefulness. The poems alert the reader with their directness and an unabashed rawness that is refreshing. But this is not to be mistaken for a series of formless diatribes and confessions. There is a very well trained craft demonstrated here, the management of language and image, and above all syntax, that reminds us that we are dealing with a poet of great skill here.

 

 

About the Author:
Tim Harkins, of Goose Creek, SC, retired from the Navy Submarine Service in 1995 and since has worked as a technical writer for various government constractors. He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a founding editorof the Black Warrior Review. His poems have been published in PanGaia, newWitch, and the Chrysalis Reader. Tim began writing poetry at age 13 when he really needed to impress the girl down the street. It didn't work, but he kept writing.

Excerpt from Chasing the Ineffable:

Orgasms - A History

I needed orgasms to wash away
levees, crack dams, bash through walls,
or whatever image expresses
the freeing of my feeling. I could not
get there on my own. I could get under
her shirt, in her pants, but not closer than skin.

After an organism intimacy was possible.
I could share the story of how
the insulation of adolescent fat did not shield
against rejection, but not the story
of how I felt right then. She would hold
too much power beyond the afterglow.

Orgasms tricked me into risking love
with whomever I seduced. One night stands
became lifelong lies made palatable
by dreams of that red-head in the office.
Afterglow did not survive unemptied garbage
and a man who won't tell. Or stay home.

In a sexless marriage, orgasms became
a private matter. An exercise in prostate health.
My ex thought them adulterous. They did not
include her. Strangers inhabited my fantasies.
Flat images of women did not expect me
to bridge any distance.

With my current love, I did not orgasm
until I admitted love. It was all backwards.
Wary of confession at the moment of release,
I told my secrets before we got naked. Barriers
tumbled. An ever rising wave hurtled
from ocean to ocean. We are just as close clothed.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-7-4

A TONGUE FULL OF YESES
Mary Hutchinson Harris

How God Ends UsAbout A Tongue Full of Yeses:
In Mary Hutchins Harris' A Tongue Full of Yeses, we are reminded of the importance of detail, carefully observed detail and the artful use of such detail, in the shaping of a poem. These poems are witty not so much in puns and clever turns of phrase, but in their capacity to ferret out the ironies that often lurk beneath each gesture, each consideration of affection and needs, each interaction between people. These poems are finely formed works that use language with efficiency and skill. In "perhaps", note how the emotional force of the poem is deftly caught by the poet's capacity to manage detail.
"The poems in A Tongue Full of Yeses impresses us with their craft, surprises of imagery and the music of their lyric. Yet what appeals to me most is that strange things happen in these deceptively quiet poems: we examined Jack and Jill's smashed pail 'that would never again carry water,' listen to what Kermit the Frog did not say to a cab driver, view a chair in a gynecologist's office that seems to be made of a woman's body, sit quietly with the poet on a bus that is under water. Craft and poignant lyricism with a touch of the surreal - Mary Harris is a poet with a full range of expression - enjoy!" - Richard Garcia
"In these passionate poems, everything lives and breathes at the deepest possible depth: fish, apples, lovers, words. If you want to learn 'how best to fit/the grooves of sound together,' position your good ear close to these pages. They sing." - Rebecca McClanahan
"Poignant, funny, and sometimes eloquent, Mary Harris' poems persist, their stubborn backs, as she says, refusing to look anywhere but out to sea..." - Lola Haskins

Mary Hutchines HarrisAbout the Author:
Mary Hutchins Harris is a poet and essayist. She has been a featured poet for the Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Series and the Stories for Life Festical. Her work appears in on-line and print journals and in 2007 she wont the South Carolina Writer's Workshop Carrie McCray First Prize in Poetry and tied for First Prize in Non-fiction. She is a member of the Poetry Society of South Carolina and lives in Summerville, South Carolina.

Excerpt from A Tongue Full of Yeses :

perhaps

if I had worn a green
wedding dress, a velvet
deep as forest at midnight,
that shimmered in the light
of tapers or the moon,
as his fingers wrapped
around the bodice to unhook
each pearl button, his breath
so heated, its brush past
the hairs to the roots would set
to simmer the roundness
I had hoped to grow like a honeydew,
a green melon suffused with yellow,
sweet and fragrant in its gentle air
of becoming, but I wore white
and did not lean forward or bow
my head slightly when vows
were spoken, as the maids
of renaissance once did, so now
I gaze at a miniature forest
of imitation bluegrass that lies
over the small mound at my feet,
with eyes he used to call his
emeralds but are nothing
save broken bits of bottle glass
that reflect no light,
and all I can see is peridot,
your birthstone, translucent green.


ISBN: 978-0-9796741-5-0

LOOKING TWICE AT THE WORLD
Melissa Johnson

About Looking Twice at the World:
The poems in Melissa Johnson's Looking Twice at the World take great risk and reward the reader for making that journey with the sense that they have entered into a new and hopeful world. The poems are well crafted and offer an intelligent that is shaped by the quest to write truth into each line, to make each metaphor ring with an honesty of sentiment that is admirable. The poems take the reader on a journey into the complexity of human relationships, and are often saved by the subtle humor that reside3s in the observation of human foibles and anxieties. There are arresting and engaging poems by a gifted poet.

 

 

 




About the Author:

Melissa Johnson's poems have appeared in Borderlands, The Connecticut Review, Farmer's Market, The Potomac Review, and other journals. A graduate of the fine public schools of Lancaster, SC and the College of Charleston, she earned an MFA in poetry and a Ph.D. in twentieth-century British Literature from the University of South Carolina, where she also served as the editor of Yemassee from 1996-1999. After four years as an Assistant Professor of English at Newberry College, she is currently an Assistant Professor in the University College at Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband Joseph, and their two cats, Aubrey and Zelda.

Excerpt from Looking Twice at the World:

A Good Day's Catch

My father showed me his pretty corn, his green
thumb, the roots he'd come from underneath
the tombstones he'd placed there, naming
them kin, ancestor, fertilizer of crops,
dreaming of fishes. My father
laughed and danced in the corn
to scare off snakes; played music,
bouncing in the back of the truck,
till he traced the mysterious notes
to the tension in a fiberglass rod.

Moving to that strange Eastern
music, the sound of the sitar and zephyr,
we gulped the wet air, laughing, and fished
in a man-made pond surrounded
by fields and family graveyards,
a haven for geese, the home
of small, brazen fish, beautiful
in the unshaded sun, briefly gasping,
the orange and blue iridescence of
their small scales, their impertinent fins.

In the strange song of truck music
I hear my father's life spread into colors.
From pond, field, graveyard I gather
the seeds and roots of my life,
their harvest and blight.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9821793-1-4

POST SCRIPT FROM THE HOUSE OF DREAMS
Angela Kelly

About Post Script from the House of Dreams:
Angela Kelly's complex study of the emotional twists and turns of relationships that are filled with betrayal, intense love, and fear, is beautiful rendered in the poems in Post Script from the House of Dreams. The collection begins with a wedding that goes bust ("The baker invoiced no one/ and delivered the tiers of sugar to the homeless shelter") and
moves through the painful and pleasurable tales of love. Kelly writes with a refreshing insight into the ways of human beings as they struggle through relationships. One is never at ease around these poems largely because they ring true even in their sometimes painful charting of our relationships. In "And", a couple is on a beach "bleached as bone" faced with the fleeting nature of love and life.

 

 

 



About the Author:

Angela won the SC Literary Fellowship from the SC Arts Commission in 1999. She is the author of three previous chapbooks and has been published in numerous journals. She has a full length poetry book entitled Voodoo for the Other Woman forthcoming from Backwaters Press in late 2007 or early 2008.

Excerpt from Post Script from the House of Dreams:

And

And because it is overcast this morning
you can find a prime spot on the beach,
anchoring the umbrella to lord over a small sandy acre,
the quilt spread out in front for the kids,
two chairs set up, the cooler between them,
all the buckets, shovels and sand toys set out
and the new kite ready for unfurling,
baseball and gloves for you and the boy
and the beach stretches out, bleached as bone,
the waves, the temperature comfortable as skin,
and at eleven AM you crack open a good cold beer
and your wife, who doesn't like beer, takes a swig,
touching your thigh and you know there will be sex later,
good hot sex like when you first met in college
and called it screwing-to-stupidity,
then you both are looking out at your two children
with their tight, perfect bodies and for once,
they are holding hands together, laughing,
dashing the fickle waves, body against tide,
animal against ocean, and you shudder,
because at any moment, Poseidon could come
striding out of the surf and take it all away.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-8-8

SIGNALS
Ed Madden

Signals calls us to consciousness in a natural world that is at once quietly witness to our loves and losses and yet always as urgently and insistently alive as we are. -Rafael Campo

Signals combines a matter-of-fact lyrical eye with a view to harder social realities, and there is a consistency in the collection, a working with and around couplets and tercets, a sparseness that seems to match an arid landscape, a place where on searches for hope. This collection bears the evidence of a high level of craft alongside a concern for what goes on in our lives. -Afaa Weaver

About Signals:
Madden's verse manages to find exquisite music in the structure and organization of delicately wrought formal passages. He manages to find in the detritus of history, a rich source of reflection, insight and revelation. These poems, so rooted in the south and so daring in their engagement with issues of race, sexuality and the troubling meaning of home, force us to think about the narratives of meaning in the landscape, buildings and bodies that we travel past everyday. Madden knows the language of flowers, but more than that, he is able to contain in one collection poems that invoke the memory of gay civil rights icon Baynard Rustin, the diary of Thomas Wentworth Higginsson and the tenderness of friends contending with a world of moral and emotional challenges. -Kwame Dawes

About the Author:
Ed Madden is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina, and poet in residence at the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens in Columbia, SC.
Madden is a two-time recipient of the South Carolina Academy of Authors fellowship in poetry, and he was selected in 2006 as an artist in residence for the SC State Park System. His poems have been published in many journals - including College English, the Los Angeles Review, River City, Solo, Southern Review, and others - as well as in the collections Gents, Bad Boys, and Barbarians: New Gale Male Poetry and A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry. Madden is co-editor of Men Emerge into the 21st Century, a collection of writings about masculinity and male experience. He grew up in rural Arkansas, where he developed his love for gardening, men in pickup trucks, and all things Elvis.

Excerpt from Signals:

Rites

Leave now the locked gate, the crumbling wall.
Toss your offering in the cold waters of the cove.

The place rumored to have been the House surely was.

Set a table for the living and the dead,
the bowl of golden rice: stories in the grain.

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past.

Try to find the word - the blossom,
the offering, the rite - the thing that will suffice.

Borrow sacred devices. Smuggle the stories.
Swallow the seed, precious cargo. Weep.

In Key West, a Japanese poet gives me
the daruman doll, a Weeble with white eyes.

Color one eye, he says, make your wish.

The one-eyed doll stares from the shelf.

There are so many stories of loss.
The bowl of golden rice: my father.

In March, we will deck the church in lilies -
stargazer, calla - orchids, bells of Ireland.

Compose a song: song of gailliardia,
the island flower, song of the cordgrass,

song of spartina, myrtle and palm -
something, you might say, like gratitude.

Leave the fort for the open shore.
Press feet into wet sand: a kind of history.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-1-0

IN THE COMPANY OF ANIMALS
Terri McCord

About In the Company of Animals:
In "Foretelling," Terri McCloud creates a myth of appropriate simplicity and profundity that somehow becomes a suitable metaphor for the quick, unassuming power of this collection of poems, In the Company of Animals. The "prophetic" cow is a cipher to the people because of its ordinariness. Eventually, the power of symbol and myth and the management of language create enough mystery to enliven the people. The poems in this collection tell small, enigmatic stories that are marked by honesty, a graceful use of language and a wry intelligence. At the end of "Foretelling" we find a fitting description of what the best poems in this collection achieve.

 

 





About the Author:

The South Carolina Arts Commission awarded Terri McCord the Literary Arts Fellowship in 2001-2002. Finishing Line Press published her first chapbook The Art and the Wait as part of an award series in May 2008. Other latest work appears in The Southern Poetry Anthology; South Carolina, the first in a series by Texas Review Press (2007). Her work has appeared recently in The Connecticut Review, The Seneca Review, and Cimarron Review. She is a visual artist as well as a poet, and she painted the cover for In the Company of Animals.

More information is available at: http://www.southernartistry.org/Terri­McCord

Excerpt from In the Company of Animals:

Foretelling
April, 11, 2002 - "Could this little calf born last month
in Israel bring about Armageddon?"
- Rod Dreher, senior writer, National Review

He spotted the cow distant
from the herd glorious in
complement to the deep
green grass it grazed. He
had never seen one so red,
only heard of this old omen
of the end of the world.

That cow of prophesy should
be blood-colored, unblemished
with not one white hair -
different from the other heifers
which ate innocently until death.

He lured this cow with fresh oats
and quickly applied the most garish
red paint he could find in thick coats,
so he could run to his people, proclaim

the end was near, wait and hope
his most obvious subterfuge would be declared
a hoax. The cow would die, certainly,
be burned, probably with him
as a sacrilege - and no one would
ever discover the cow's true meaning
or color or know he had saved them all.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-9-8

LEFT BEHIND
Ray McManus

About Left Behind:
To say the poems in Ray McManus' Left Behind are religious would be true, but here religion is sifted down through the most basic of human impulses, to imbue the mundane with the sublime; to hope that from this, something sacred will come. There are tightly honed poems; lean and efficient; a balling of intellectual muscle that will repeatedly explode with flashes of genius. Here, the post-modern South allows Christ to dialogue with Jose Wales, and not seem sacrilegious in doing so. The voice is fresh and distinctive, one that is marked by a formal clarity and mastery and a complex instinct for the absurd.











About the Author:

Ray McManus is the author of two collections of poetry: Left Behind, Stepping Stones Press 2008, and Driving through the country before you are born, USC Press 2007. His poetry has appeared in many journals throughout the United Sates and Canada. Ray has won several awards for his poetry including an Academy of American Poets award and a James Dickey award in poetry at the University of South Carolina. Ray is an Assistant Professor of English in the Division of Arts and Letters at USC Sumter where he teaches creative writing, Irish studies, literature, and composition. He lives in Lexington with his wife Lindsay, and his three children Sean, Morgan, and Lennon.

Excerpt from Left Behind:

Rapture

Hindsight will remind us
of the futility of standing
on one side of the road
debating whether to cross
right or to cross left,
the absurdity, the cruelty
of not crossing at all. Science
will remind us of the limits
and limitations of petrol
and skin, how oil and mud
stick to the slick tracks
and frames of metal crosses
only to crumble and fall on
the banks of deep-seated rivers.
Religion will remind us that
there is safety in fear -
a parable of a simple man
who sows one narrow row
at a time, spits on the blood
of his donkey and watches it
sink in the sand, only to hide
his face in the corn stalks.
But small stones in the sun
tell the stories of how
everything unwilling to change
will die, how everything
that changes dies a little.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-6-7

THE MOTHER-FACE IN THE MIRROR
Karen M. Peluso

About The Mother-Face in the Mirror:
Karen Peluso's gathering of poems, The Mother-Face In the Mirror, has such a raw tenderness to it that we leave pages at once overwhelmed by what we have been made to witness and still somehow elevated by the experience. Her gift is the ability to discover just the right detail to take us to the heart of the matter. This is no small gift for a poet. In the very first lines of the collection, we are alerted to the fact that detail is everything to this poem.

But these are no ordinary poems of confession, but poems that seem to understand that the speed in which information hurts through our world today can be reflected in the elliptical leaps and unusual connections that can happen in poetry. In this sense, her work is a celebration of the imagination. Her poetry is beautifully written and elegantly crafted.

 

 

About the Author:
Karen M. Peluso was raised in New Jersey in a home full of books and photographs. By age ten she was writing letters, stories, and snapping pictures with her first Kodak camera. Her poems and gelatin silver photographs have since won multiple awards and publication in the Journal of NJ Poets, Paterson Literary Review, Connecticut Review, the new renaissance #38, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, MEDIPHORS, Mona Poetica, and others. Karen lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her writer husband, Clinton B. Campbell

Excerpt from The Mother-Face in the Mirror:

May Day

In the time a storm strips
cherry blossoms from a tree,
another woman dies -
the victim of her self.
Her method doesn't matter:
a razor -
a car -
or pills with some Chardonnay.

The end result: her daughter will
comb through medical
dictionaries, look up despair -
desperation -
the last straw?
She will deny
the mother-face that stares
at her from mirrors, scares her
the way drink scares an alcoholic.

Soon, the pink blanket
of petals withers
to bits of brown parchment.
the daughter will hide
parts of herself,
like stashing whiskey,
or cigarettes,
until she needs them.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-7-4

WAKING IN THE DIVER'S SEAT
Brian Slusher

About Waking in the Driver's Seat
Slusher's poems are carefully honed observations of the small details of human behavior. There is an accomplished quality to his sense of language and his care for the way a line must break and have many echoes of itself long after the line is finished. Yet beyond anything else, Slusher is determined to tell stories, stories of a child and mother sharing a gentle yet deeply unsettling moment, the retelling of a tabloid story about a mermaid in a sardine can, or a couple finding a brief armistice in their relationship because of a snow storm. The stories in themselves are simple moments, but it is Slusher's eye for an exactness of emotional honesty and his unwillingness to find easy closure that turns these instances into sublime art. There is a studies quality to Slusher's verse, but in finely wrought works of sure-footed poetry. In "Chance in Washington Square Park" the allusions are never pretention - there is always a surface simplicity that belies a profound intelligence.





About the Author:

Brian Slusher teachers English, public speaking and drama at Westside High School in Anderson, SC. He is a Teacher Consultant for the Upstate Writing Project, and also works with emerging high school poets in Greenville County Museum of Art's Young Voices program. His poetry has appeared in magazines such as Flyaway, Free Lunch, Poem, The Southern Poetry Review, and Yemassee. A selection of his poems is included in the books Quintet and A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poets (both 96 Press). A graduate of Furman University, he lives with his wife Terri McCord in Greenville, SC.

Excerpt from Waking in the Driver's Seat:

Chance in Washington Square Park

She sat on the bench, working a letter,
sipping some coffee. She frowned in the cup,
her pen angled over impatient paper
like a slot machine's pulled jackpot lever.

When she bent to write, the late summer light
sorted the hues of her loose yellow hair
into sparkling suits of black, green, and white
that softly fanned, concealing her thoughts.

She must have heard the massed pigeons wing
like a dealer's riffle on a new deck
and the homeless man's can of change rattling
like shaken bone dice and the fate they bring

because she looked up - a gambler in prayer
just before throwing the make-or-break roll -
then lucked a last sentence out of the air
and loosed it upon the page waiting there,

signed her name quickly (Leigh, Lacy, Lenore?),
yet her eyes briefly lingered, perhaps to reread
All bets are off now. I'll make my stand here.
Then the dog pulled me on, and I lost her.

 

ISBN: 09778441-4-5

SMALL INDUSTRY
Mike Smith

About Small Industry:
Born in Philippi, West Virginia, Mike Smith holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Hollins College, and the University of Notre Dame.

His poems have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hotel Amerika, the North American Review, and the Notre Dame Review. 
His chapbook, Anagrams of America, is online as Issue 30 of Mudlark: Electronic Journal of Poetry and Poetics. He lives with his wife, Emily, and their daughter, Virginia, in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

 

 

 

 


About the Author:
Mile Smith has a restless imagination. It is as if he won't trust himself to settle on a single idea without recognizing its immediate contradiction. The effort is what we have come to admire as a strange and peculiar realism in the most absurdist of our twentieth century writers. But he is not as experimenter in that sense of poets trying to start us with odd turns - instead one has the sense that Smith is simply trying to make sense of a world around him. Such shifting intelligence could leave us bewildered, but we are dealing with a fine craftsman who finds ways to turn rhyme into a dynamic rhythmic thing that enlivens his poetry. His verse is beautiful, well-formed and shapely so that every caesura, every sudden pause or inflection seems to be capturing the natural dialogue between mind and voice: "Nothing sticks. Nothing stays. /I stick; my washer's window stays..." It is this quality, marked also by a willingness to risk sentiment as in his harrowingly raw elegy, "Requiem" that makes his poems memorable. Yet, at the end of the day, a poet is as good as the similes she conjures up, and Smith is no slouch here.

Excerpt from Small Industry:

Requiem

I.
I have come at this from every angle
only to be turned back. I have started
& stopped & started again & been turned back.
I've reached for eloquence and found...
(Forgive me, I'm sounding this out too slowly;
whatever lies closest to the heavy heart,
this does not.) Gambler, some thirty years ago
you bet your bottom dollar and cashed out.
II.
Late morning. Sun-fingered through half-shut blinds,
I watch revealed almost a separate universe,
dumb particles of dust flashing and vanishing
in the sun, crossing over, crossing back.
By all accounts you were a short, stupid man
who met a sudden end. You left for me
a bright red pocketknife, then drank yourself
to brink of death inside a West Virginia prison.
Some remember; I do not. And yet...
III.
Late morning.
I rise and pour my morning libations
into the bowl and feel, unbidden,
your faceless name before all others swirl
into view. Is it true that Time only gives us
more of ourselves, nothing else or less?
Is this your gift, imagination
enacting all that memory lacks?

(I have held up to my darkening eye
the broken bottle of your life, and I
am sorry. I have tried to be concise,
but you are far removed, and now we've said goodbye
to long-suffering her as well, plus two
of your older boys.) I shake three times
to spin you back to your rightful place.
IV.

Petty fugitive and thief, almost meaningless
how you come down to me (although it's said
I have your chin and thin-lipped smile). To my
father, your son, the vice of shadow
and a small, pieced-together life. (When he calls
we speak only of recent floods.) And I'm just
another lost cause. For three nights now,
I've bruised myself against you and stopped short.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-2-9

WITHOUT POSSESSIONS
Charlene Spearen

About Without Possessions:
Charlene Spearen writes poetry with the passion of an exuberant risk-taker who knows that a poem is worth little if nothing in it is at stake. She writes, therefore, with the full conviction that the poem, well written, is an act  of what she calls, "supernatural grace." It is hard to read her poems and not be converted to this faith. Her poems are essential works, whether she is tackling the tough business of cancer, or the fantasy of revenge against a childhood bully or the horror of unsettling haunting memories, Spearen fires her poems with an assurance that these words have to be spoken and spoken with relish, glee, and precision. Without Possessions is a marvelously shaped collection that reveals Spearen's care for language and a technical giftedness that, thankfully, remains at the service of the soul of the poem. The most appealing quality in Spearen's poetry, however is her management of the sentence: she begins her line with something of a dare, and then proceeds on an exciting walk through metaphor, simile, emotional explorations, and musicality, daring herself to arrive at the end of it all with clarity and something quite magical: a moment of grace

 

About the Author:
Charlene Monahan Spearen received her MFA degree in Creative Writing in May 2003, and her Ph.D. degree in Composition and Rhetoric in 2008 both from the University of South Carolina. She is Poet in Residence for the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina, and she has been awarded numerous other residencies throughout the state South Carolina. She is the Program Coordinator for the University of South Carolina's Arts Institute and the Assistant Director of the South Carolina's Poetry Initiative. Charlene teaches Composition and Poetry classes at the University of South Carolina. She has facilitated creative writing workshops throughout the state of South Carolina, teaching with passion the art of writing poetry to both adults and children. Her area of specialization is teaching poetry as a means for moving incidents of trauma to a point of transformation and healing. She has studied, in depth, the work of Patrick Kavanagh, and she has presented her research on this poet at national and international conference. Her work has appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology: South Carolina (Texas Review Press, 2007), Yemmessee, Writers at Carolina, Aspects, and Promise Magazine.  She was the 2001 winner of the James Dickey Award for Poetry, and she won Honorable Mention for the Third Annual Rose Veraldi Poetry Contest.  Her chapbook Without Possessions won the 2006 Stepping Stone Press Editors Series Award. For Charlene, poetry, when written right, becomes an act of grace.

Excerpt from Without Possessions:

The Pot Stirrer

When I woke, there was little colour,
the sun, the room, my face, all ash gray.
Under the table, with its cup waiting
for the tea's long, fine-blue whistle,
a rough carpet lies like some old,
tawney-hair dog. I move, half-asleep,
under this tired dome, sit on the unmade
bed, prop first toe then heel, feel the old
melody of the russet-brown, dirt floor -
feel the slow delicate twist as daylight
makes its way, and I push toward
another long peasant's-whey day.
In my village where the sweet sadness
of truth waves its flag and where no one
who lives under a thatched roof is born
to the valuables or Tyrian purple,
we keep the dyer's secrets, guard them
like delicacies, recipes that come
from cracked muscles and fingered
ink sacks. I tell the children, "Go,
gather whortleberry, anchusa, black
currant." We must make fast and bright
colors - the lovely lavender, bristol red,
gosling green, and mortal sin for queens,
soldiers, and high-priests. At the day's end,
I stir the pot, drown the spun, boiled yarn;
and as I watch the piper play his tune, I dream
another perfect-sounding, sad, new colour.

 

ISBN: 0-9778441-6-1

DISAPPEARING TATOOS
Joshua Watson

About Disappearing Tatoos:
Joshua Watson's Disappearing Tattoos at times reads like the first volleys of a poet with a startling career before him. Here are the most obvious strengths: a sharply contained sense of the poetic moment - how to isolate it from the uninteresting; a technical competence that flashes into virtuosity particularly in the monumental fifteen sonnet sequence that anchors this collection; and finally, a willingness to risk - to write about the heart and its contradictions with an unflinching eye. Combine those elements with his finely tuned air for the music of assonance and you have a poet to be enjoyed and admired.

Disappearing Tattoos is so rooted in South Carolina's landscape that it gives us a sense of joy in the poet's ability to write into being a world that begs for more poets of prodigious talent to chart its meaning. Josh Watson will no doubt write more books and produce even more beautiful poems, but disappearing tattoos is a welcome introduction to a remarkable talent.

 


About the Author:
Joshua Watson grew up in Marion, SC. He holds a BA in English from the University of South Carolina. He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.

Excerpt from Disappearing Tatoos:

New Year's Eve

Reruns of The Twilight Zone burn
the year away. I hold my drink
like the other guests, though I sit
watching a man's fingertips
comb the curls of a girl's dark hair -
they are half-drunk lovers unaware
I'm slumped in this chair. I've turned
from the TV to take a look

at her low-cut dress, the beauty mark
above her mouth, the episode
showing now tells of a town
that an H-bomb's blast has ruined -
the statues in the square, the miles
of houses. The dazed hero stumbles
the rubbled avenues. When clocks
gong twelve here fireworks explode.

The party empties out by one,
so I slip from the cigarette-fogged
room to go, then wrap my scarf.
And after I cross the frozen yard,
crunching through the confetti of leaves,
I picture the future, the piles of debris
on a street where everything is gone,
even its traffic, its howling dogs.

 

ISBN 978-0-9796741-9-8

CRANIOGLYPH
Katherine Williams

cranioglyph"Cranioglyph is funny/sad, wild/calming, angry/loving (usually all in the same poem, poem after poem). What a delight to encounter such an imagination so well rendered in language."
- Paul Allen

About Cranioglyph
In Katherine Williams Cranioglyph: A Memoir in Verse, an urbane, intelligent voice engages the difficult story of an artist trying to make sense of her life, and trying to do so without pretension or sentimentality, but instead with a distinct belief in the power of poetry to delight and challenge, to startle and unsettle, even as it comforts. The poems reveal a formal skill that allows the poet to find the most suitable form for the particular moment in what amounts to a memoir of scattered emotional evolutions. At the end of the day, we are struck by the brilliant little epiphanies that emerge in poem after poem - often they are unexpected and the better for that. We are moved by William's deceptively casual intelligence, raw honesty and elegant use of language in this touching collections of poems.



About the Author:
While running UCLA's transgenics facility, Katherine Williams authored three chap books and gave readings throughout Southern California. She has studied with Cecilia Woloch, Richard Garcia, Davis St. John, Charles Harper Webb, Natasha Tretheway, and Terrance Hayes. She is published in various anthologies and has received a Pushcart nomination. She now lives on James Island, near where she grew up, and studies Caribbean corals at the Hollings Marine Laboratory.

Excerpt from Cranioglyph:

As if

As if you are the rape-face of Magritte,
or that girl served naked on Manet's blanket
with potato salad and cold fried chicken,
as if you're some vicious Demoiselle of Avignon,
as if Autumn in France is not as dismal
as a beached porpoise and not more
like the empty, sooty Madrid of de Chirico
than the sunny breakfast nooks of Matisse....
you are in Normandie counting bullet holes as you
stand in the moonlight Florida shorebreak
with your clothes off. You are sitting in the car
with your sister at the abortion clinic, throwing up.
You are watching the driver of a speeding Renault curse
miserably as the last ferry shoves off for Dover.
You despair the marbles of Athens crumbling,
you despair being twenty-five and in despair -
an existential anguish that sends you
off to France at the end of summer
to ride the trains alone in search of The Nostalgia
of the Infinite, to spend autumn coughing
into your scarf and reading Le Spleen de Paris
and La Peste, as if you could forget the euphoria
of surfing the beaches of south Florida,
the ocean a warm bath of Spanish glass, the lean
brown surfers the emptiest of pleasures until
you find one wandering the south of France
who will share his sleeping bag with you on the vile
beaches of Marseilles, and will want every Matisse he sees,
whose mind of a common Aucker intellectual analyzes
every detail of your journey across the Pyrenees
by thumb and kiss....Not loving someone who loves
you can lead to a lifetime of wandering the alleys
of butchery, chasing crows and the lies we call poetry.
How could you have left him there at Calais, as if his ardor
were not the only warm thing on that squalling
and ungodly frigid beach - the only shells
those of the Allies stuck unexploded in the ramparts?
You can still hear his broken voice: You want
someone else! but you no longer hear your ambivalent
protest. More than him you loved Anguish
and the way it drove you to the madness of brief
and indiscriminate love, the madness of signing up
for French Lit courses so boring you have to eat
speed to write the paper, the madness
of taking your sketchbook to the Louvre to copy Raphael,
as if anything can be found in the vast corridors of the Louvre,
as if Raphael can be copied by anyone in anguish,
as if it's not the cavernous Louvre but a de Chirico painting,
as if the boy with your fingers in his mouth does not love you,
as if it isn't twenty-one years too late, as if the crumbling
marbles of Athens aren't turning us all to stone.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9796741-4-3

 
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