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BENJAMIN BALTHASER's poetry currently appears in Quarterly West.


There's a nostalgia principle deep at work here
with these clovers stuck in a fence in the residential
tract of Modesto. They look like parachutes
awakening over a field in France, part of some dream,
some war made innocent. Consider the scene:
a thousand parachutes opening like bluets
or African violets, violet-blue, dizzy as eyelids
while shrapnel blooms with its metal proficiency -
for a moment the world magnifies on some hedge -
rowed field where death opens like the hoop-skirt
on a poppy - and there

the talk is all flowers. Now here, in Modesto, there's
something with houses that doesn't belong, with this flower,
with crows bursting like inkstains from the shrubbery,
with lawns trimmed as a new soldier's head: one metaphor
begins to inform the other: I have seen yard sales
where refugees pick over dressers like bodies of friends.
Light drains from the streets like oil. Houses are white and bloated
as corpses. Nothing shines with the same sun as new fear.


As in the way we travel: remembering doorknobs, Victorian shutters, the regional poet
who combed over the bald spot he made with a straight razor, all things to be re-invented
as we upset flagstones and begin the journey
all over again.
There are sentences, explications of poems, translations from the Greek,
indexes of references; in an hour, I erase everything,
leaving only
the tick-marks beside favorite poems
as Merwin might have preferred winter
for its purity of gesture:
a single twig bent toward the Big Dipper; the way it waits a year
to grow an inch closer
toward what isn't infinite, however unreachable, however much
white space remains:
Between words, between stanzas
as if nothing is wrong with stars
but that they drift -
drift, and turn invisible with morning.

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MARK BIBBINS lives in New York City and teaches poetry workshops at the New School. His first collection, Swerve, is part of Take Three: 3 (Graywolf) and other poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review and The Yale Review. He is founding poetry editor of LIT magazine.


He's the prettiest thing I've ever seen/
synthetic boy/imploding star.
You can't swing a dead fish

and expect to split the dissonance/
an ego unhinged by chemicals/
the prettiest thing we've ever seen.

The nanoseconds commiserate and pounce/
oh I am but a simple tramp/I know/
in underground rivers forgotten fish

glow. You've seen the future too/
in the skittish projections/in his eyes/
the prettiest eyes you've ever seen.

High above empty skyscrapers/
auroras billow/in lunar winds/
a brilliant haze draws us up like fish

from the gunmetal chasm/our home.
We would ask no more of the world/
the prettiest thing we've ever seen/
make our hearts lie flat like scales of fish.


The three-year-old girl clings
to the back of a car. Do it

again do it again the reporters
chant. It's a hot day for April.

A membrane coats the lens.

What part of _____ do you
not understand? How about

learning-disabled-can we
say that?

And can we get someone to re-
enact the bit with the hot spoons?

In one commercial the legatees
were dapper and kissed

like madmen. Will we hence
blame them for our sorrows?

And what of the slack-
jawed confessor waiting

in the screenwriter's arms
to learn which ocean

would be most receptive
to their advances? -

Apparently the psychic
hotline gals have all gone

on strike, which would
explain our recent fortune.


Here is a misplaced forecast from the spring:

a big Sorry in the al fresco restaurant,
your whole posse gathered to see
what you've become.

Nothing worth repeating
   over the tin-can telephone -
the one you love fills your water glass
and is gone.

You cut your finger on the lobster
and glide down the walk.

Swift now.

A summer of traffic,
      the stereo works
and the sun cooperates.

         We are forever going down
      for the sand, the quivering air
holding the bodies aloft.

The music blurs and everyone
involved is in on it.

   You'll love our m-m-malts.
   "I love a promise," you confide.

We have forgotten the need
for transitions,

or haven't learned it yet
      beside the clam shacks

      where we act
alluring and young.

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CATHERINE DALY's poetry has been published in American Letters & Commentary, Pivot, The Hollins Critic and Aught. She teaches poetry at the University of California-Los Angeles Extension.


The man sat in the overdetermined chair.
Notes pierced the window,
drifted down lit by a too-bright camera flash.

Ice coated his windows with thin opaque sheets.
Opening his door he saw icy rocks in the street,
like days so cold nothing moves.

I want to say these days make strange music,
glassine, roaring, shocked.
These days are difficult to access and easy to forget.

Water vapor against his flat sky
suffocates like oil cloth,
clears horizons of opportunity.

How could one possibly compose wearing clothes?

Heaven's suite is gawky
and fails,
can no longer wait,
by definition, is now.
The blue sky with clouds is a garment.

Staring at the open land, suffused,
orange staves and plastic net a false cane break,
frozen clods a ploughed-under crop,
flat sky,
dusted land, scoured, also flat.

The most complex
or simple music
suits the writer's suite.
Paper marks chime:
print, gesture, habit -
symphonies of difficulty,
blended words aloud,
blurred notes, movements.
This is the idea of heaven not heaven.

This is a paradisical carpet, not a garden.
This is a coordinated suite of bedroom furniture,
$999, heaven's contents.



An asp presses its head against
its leathery egg and breaks free
of Cleopatra's grasp.

For years it coils and coils
without clasping its tail
in its jaws, escaping eternity

as she doesn't.

Dogs seek their narratives.

We learn plague rhymes in the nursery.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall.


The hula hoop craze sweeps the nation.
The shoop, shoop of BBs in their loops

replace the figure eight motion,
eternity's shape, of hula in the 50th state.


I've got wheels.


I can do anything better than you.
Bake a pie?

And break pi into pages of places, given time.

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A.C. EVANS lives in Great Britain.

after Jules Laforgue

   Guide my spirit besotted by literature
   Pianos, pianos in posh suburbs
   First evenings without a coat, innocent stroll
   Nerves shot to bits and misunderstood

      What are they dreaming about, these girls
      Tediously tinkling their ritornellos?

         " - evenings on the campus
         Christ in the hall of residence

      "You go away and you leave us
      You leave us as you go
      Letting down and putting up our hair
      Doodling endless sketches."

   Cute or uncertain? Sad or wise? Still inexperienced
   O days, so what? Or I want the world and I wannit now?
   And so virginal at least of the goodly wound
   Knowing how the reddest sunsets make the whitest weddings?

      Gosh, what are they dreaming of?
      Johnny Depp? Someone reeeealy spesh?

         " - hearts in prison,
         Slow seasons!

      "You go away and you leave us
      You leave us as you go!
      Grey convents, choirs of Shulamites
      Over tiny bosoms we cross our arms."

   Being's fatal keys appeared one fine day
   Psssst! To the curse so punctual
   But we're always out bopping in strange clubs
   Ah! Boarding schools, movies, tabloids, TV!

      Bog off, sterile refrains
      Real life's a bummer and no joke

         "- Curtains drawn
         Can I come in?

      "You go away and you leave us
      You leave us as you go
      The source of fresh roses is drying up
      Really! That Toxic Boy never calls. . ."

   He'll call! Your planet-sized crush is the problem
   Chained by remorse and endless chat-ups
   And self-satisfied middle-class hearts; nothing to do
   But hang out, done up to the nines in trendy togs.

      Dying? Perhaps paint your toe nails
      For a dishy 'uncle' with oodles of dosh?

         "- Jamais! Jamais!
         If only. . .if only!

"You go away and you leave us
You leave us as you go
But you'll call me sometime
Soothe my sweet angst, won't you?"

And it's true! The Toxic Boys send 'em mad
Even in these up-marche suburbs
All human life is there; bottled spring water
Will be, as is convenient, the proper baptism.

   They'll be at it soon enough
   Never mind the ritournelles

      " - well placed pillow!
      Familiar wall!

   "You go away and you leave us
   You leave us as you go
   I could have died the other night!
   O months, O knickers, O nosh-ups!"


Aren't you tired yet of throwing dice?
Propertius : Cynthia at a Party.

Cynthia, I think you live life as though you were in a film.
Today, as always, you shimmer in beautiful colour-negative images;
You embody the darker side of iconography, and
For you, everything is like a Felliniesque

   Not for you, Cynthia, the degeneration of the soul,
   Even though you look eerily atmospheric tonight.
   You look like a real twilight-zone chiller:
   Intriguing, striking. . .mysterious.

Cynthia, your life is like a haunting soundtrack.
You were the inspirational source for The Long Kiss
When you became a specialist in ruthless military flesh-piercing,
Tormenting captive zombies, inflicting needlepoints
of stars.

   Not for you, Cynthia, the poetic metaphor, because
   You have subverted all stereotypes and cultural identity.
   You stole the twenty-four books (and cut them up!).
   Sing back the symbols, you say, from the far-out fringes.

Cynthia, you are my dark companion, a potential suspect.
Your elaborately montaged portraits inspire sinister metamorphoses,
As you seem to embody a celluloid vision with distorted dialogue.
You gave solo performances (until the police showed up) and,
Spaced-out like a toothpaste commercial

   You made it here, to Bitch Island. Your liquid dreams
   Falling so silent in black and white, delighting
   Anguished young men who look like Pasolini.
   Self-portrait with razor-blades?

Cynthia, aren't you tired yet? Has your spiritual journey
Become hell on earth? But, yes, this is the longest kiss
On Bitch Island, ever. Too late you quote Rimbaud.
His language of verbal colour cannot illuminate this wasteland.
And no, you cannot abolish chance.

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GRAHAM FOUST co-edits Lagniappe. His poems have recently appeared in Verse, Queen Street Quarterly, Talisman and Slope.

duet: why i love country music

for they gather the funeral      we all
these various         observe some
headless         kind of funeral

a sudden         a native
incision         space
accretes   across fields         will stagnate in the gape

and later, still         and later, still
the possibility         the possibility
of faces            of faces

will end my window         will end my window
in no single sound         in no single sound


endures and is

everything -

shatter that way

my only
every move

what is called thinking

worry my hand -
the wind is out

the sea wants so badly
to spill

a heaviness not to be held

What the world
holds together is
called to come
apart, is

nothing in
return again
for everything
we know.

Your eyes all
but rise now to meet
this deep

Love me like skin,
like prison.

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DAVID H.W. GRUBB has written more than 20 books of poetry, and recently edited An Idea of Bosnia. He lives in Oxfordshire, U.K.


Returning after the experience of war
they enter the house that has been in
their minds for three years. They walk
the path, arrive at the door, enter a ruin.
They cross rubble seeking a place. They approach
the door that was hacked and burnt. They
enter rooms that had been on fire. Look:
there is the small library, there is the table
where they gather to eat, there is the mirror.
All the pages flew loose in flames. The old
man was crucified on the table. They all ran
through the mirror and passed across to another
planet. Listen: here is a cupboard of
screams, here is a drawer of curses;
can you hear the corner sobbing?
When they have been back a few days
they begin to notice the neighbour again.
He is staring across. He can
never forget that they were all dead.
Meanwhile, water, food,
possibly words.



In the photograph taken in the summer of '56
you can see this pig. Between Aunt Zoe and Uncle Edward
the pig has put on its Sunday-best expression
and looks rather like Hilda
who is not in the photograph
because she is dead.

"She is dead. She was dead. We are all not dead,"
says Sara to her dolls
thinking of Hilda in
snowy Romania.

Carpathian ladies had skin as soft
as white asparagus. Most of their days
were filled with bells.

"If you have a maid from Romania,"
one of the adults once said, "you will have
to remember she is used to ruins."


The pig is coming into a room where
four ladies are arranging flowers as if
their hands were on fire.
The pig is entering a silence where a
priest is gathering a sermon from a sunbeam.
The pig is watching three men in a field;
they are each carrying a goose home
to a friendly wife.
The pig is also observing one rat guiding another
rat with a piece of straw in its mouth;
the second rat is totally blind.
The pig is aware of the children who dance
in the garden unaware of time.
The pig is waiting for the old woman to die
so that it can jump onto her dressing table
and eat the Easter eggs.
The pig is hiding in the deep green silence
waiting for the stinking uncle.
The pig is used to the slowly disappearing
daylight when the tractor grows cold.
The pig is used to funerals in snow
when the church bell says.

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KEVIN HART's expanded Selected Poems is forthcoming from Bloodaxe. He is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.



Some rich black hair hangs idly over her left breast
And as her head lolls back

A wild old blues begins to slip
            between the little bones inside her neck
And work its slow way down o down her spine

And when she turns
Onto her side, beside the open window,
            her longest tress plays lightly on the small
Of her long back.

Her eyes are softly closed
            (the music may be wine
My sweet words singing in their nest of breath
A sobbing that she keeps deep down inside
                        where I can never go).

Dear Lord, these are the lips
                        that taste of moonlight, salt and oil

And just behind them
            a tongue that feels around

In the zucchini flower


'Death and desire': I saw the exhibition years ago,
In Brisbane,
         deep in January's honey heat:

I walked into the gallery
With a young girl I loved, and wished I loved a whole lot more,

And looked at things I thought I knew
Like summer nights and kissing pretty girls

Or when the mind goes limp
                        and lets death rise
And flood your house with kennel bones and clay.

I looked at that 'Self-Portrait' with the long skeletal arm
And thought about my soul
                        while she was looking somewhere else,

Then sat before 'Madonna'
And knew the mouth and lids I longed to kiss

But knew no woman like her, not at all,
No woman given to the dark

And then I felt an arm around my shoulders
And so we kissed

And then walked out

And let the heat rise up and carry us away


There was a girl I loved when I was seventeen
And every summer night that year
                        I'd shower, put on icy jeans,
Walk Oxley Station Road, then turn
Down Blunder, and

Soon spend an aeon cruising California:

A water glass and flask beside a bedroom window,
Mosquito coils all smouldering in hot, dark rooms.

Perhaps I'd spy her once a week
When she was at her desk, in lamplight, writing History,
Or else, for all I knew, a note to him,
                        the school beach boy
With yellow hair who played guitar in clubs;

And then one night she was out front
Just hosing pink geraniums,

Barefoot, in a short cotton dress.

And I remember something rising in her eyes
That I could almost taste

And how she cast her long dark hair way back:

Something about her voice
                        when talking of that new LP
Or how she spent the whole day down the coast
Where little fish flicked right between her legs.

The sound of people talking low nearby, after a beer or two,
The smell of cigarettes on a long, humid summer night,

Her brown feet in the thick crab grass


                        'In the beginning was sex,'
A friend of Munch's declared in print, with him in mind,
Over a century ago, in 1893,
            two years before 'Madonna,' hanging on my wall,
Had been conceived.

Some see that bold half-truth
In sperm that fly around the frame, while other folk
Point to the embyro
                        kept by itself down left

Where there's no edge,
                        where darkness is let out
Or in, depending how you understand its gaze.

And other men, like me, don't point at all
But simply say
                        it is the way her mouth relaxes there,
The way a shadow lives inside her curves,

                        the way her eyes, even half-closed,
Halve any room she's in:

So when you walk
                        into that loudly crowded ball
Of cream and gold and filligree,
And when your fingertips must leave the door, and your gaze settles down,
You're at her side,

No matter where you are
                        no matter who you are

No matter who she is


A year after I saw that retrospective, just by chance,
With her,

The one I thought I'd marry before long,
The one I'd taken home that summer,

The one of whom my mother said, 'She's nice'
While lighting up a cigarette

And looking out the window
That showed a jacaranda tree that made the breeze so sweet,

My mother was quite firmly put to bed
With a bad cancer.

When I flew home to see her
It turned out she was sleeping on the couch, where it was cool,

And so I slept with father
In their big double bed: we whispered late into the night

Until she'd scream
And he'd get up and go to her. So no one got much sleep,

Though sometimes I would slip
Into the sewing room where we were billeted the year before

With a black Singer for straight stitching,
Electric scissors, pinned-up wedding dresses hanging from a wall,

And stretch out on the camp bed that we used
And try to cancel myself out.

The first night we were there, in bed, just talking in the lamplight,
About cicadas, sweat,

And spending all tomorrow idling on a riverboat,
My mother pushed the door ajar,

Looked hard
And said, 'I wouldn't get up to anything on that old canvas thing'


When I was twenty two I came back home
To spend a summer doing nothing much:

So I read Schelling, badly, once or twice
While lying on my bed
                        where years before I had read Shelley well,

And then, one afternoon,
I stomped, barefoot, down to the shops to hang around

And met her walking out the bakery:
One of the girls I'd known at school, had kissed one night

At some dark party where I'd gone
With cheap wine and another girl
                        who spoke a smokey French
And studied art at some weird place in town.

Her favourite painter of all time
Was a Norwegian, Edvard Munch,
                        who said things like 'I was born dying,'
And made his pictures up by scraping them away:

She drank neat gin and ice, then passed out very cold
Before the dancing and the smoking and the rest . . .


'Feel it, it's warm,' she said,
And so it was, and while we talked I licked flour off my hand
Then wrote her number there:

For three long days the world looked back at me
With her green eyes,
                        then three days later on I drove us both
To a motel way down the Ipswich Road

And wrote 'Mr and Mrs Bakerman'
                                                in my old Queensland hand
Then somehow walked into a room
That might have been gift-wrapped in cellophane.

What I remember best
Is standing just inside the door and holding her, my head deep in her hair,
No word between us: gently swaying back and forth
As traffic rumbled by,
                                    my fingers joining at the small of her long back,
The coolness of her lips upon my neck:

The two of us just rocking in each other's arms,
O back and forth there, back and forth.

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PAUL KLOPPENBORG works at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. He is currently producing CD-ROM and print versions of a concrete/minimalist piece, Less than 12.


What depends upon? -
Poetry, Vision, or Dream
What is made,
Words that pour light, Yes. . .
Remember, images are seen
Wheels, or pitch ground,
Earth on a rim -
Life, Bill,
Held within, or
Less said is
This time so -
More comments in the text below

The Red Wheel Barrow [Red? Birth as blood?
Nature lifts child? Strong beginning,
Interesting start]

so much depends
[Delete "so"?, apart from rhyme, one's shape
or line,
The world's growth in what we know. . .]

a red wheel
["the" for "a"]

glazed with rain
[rain is water, Bill. . .
Like rust or tears
Turn the poem
verbal spokes
or nouns -
glazed is a must]

beside the white
chickens? Hmmm, soil, nature,
The fragility of things
Suggest metaphor becomes meaning, besides
and within.]

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DREW MILNE's books of poetry include Songbook (Akros), Bench Marks (Alfred David Editions) and As It Were (Equipage). He has been writer in residence at the Tate Gallery in London, and is currently the Judith E. Wilson Lecturer in Drama and Poetry at the University of Cambridge as well as guest editor of Salt.


but how could you stomach does bar
a silver moon from charred marrow to
odd hack daimon, engram show-trials

storming the van Neumann bottleneck
angelic spanners racing the jeunesse
dorée on surgical spirit, barbarous

mitres to kiss the pontifical neuron
on bonce swaddling: who dares sulks,
chough voice for the sump so strung

to torture any moody or pouting tyke
bidding swift remission off the much
touted itinerary of Uncle Sam's claw

* * *

crypt so cute, as for eighteen holes
in this heat, get real, ears glued
to the set, heavenly in the flaming

chariot that drags witty flesh through
the tented field to bombard the local
come what darkest succour vespertinal

may turn a remnant of noon splendour
to hear a smile through blocked rays
would the pix were defaced, a sense

of laughter quenching rood lights in
there behind its words ready to break
out in peals under some colour stooge

* * *

jury-rigs squeeze in their stochastic
cooling and Turing architecture, huge
bangs bent to narrow-bands of the nude

lending a big raspberry contra idols
as if hard to identify seem blurry to
settled fuzz, entranced beyond repair

to baud beads or seem blurry at a far
remove from old soul's cosmic drizzle
the harder to blend in subordinates,

its ethical flora so vain, blunt who
do at least drop simple propositions
like flannels for a brow's even heat

* * *

out of vast tinted frames, burly pods
survey the field who cannot weep for
fresh death off some hollow jaw gone

to tear the mire of huddled trailers
light on diplomatic fallout so tender
in pandemonium, scaled blows who beat

stark melodies to rational, irascible,
concupiscible parts, and do but look
up to morning stars, nous enhanced,

lark of famine sunk on impress control
and rifled charm where the putto with
raking paw doth hale and pull its arrow

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JOHN MINGAY lives in Scotland, where he is editor of Lung Gom Press and Raunchland Publications.

(Parts I-III)


The vastness of humanity,
on the point of intimate devotion,
calls for fleeting oneness
to reveal the inherent progression
this utterance already answers:

the common flesh acts as the impetus,
with the truths and yearnings of all respected;

and, upon unadorned ideals,
the sustenance of tranquillity
nourishes and affirms the way of being.


Angles are fundamental
to the ambiguous cancer of all affinity,
of the artless and immune,
of the succession that does not move on.


No-one else,
so the discipline
of unconstrained ration
has no end

Which other relic
from the same inception
can solely be sound judgement?


Nothing is forbidden
and no-one is the voice
of the limitless pleasure
each one has within;

through its tradition
it conceals the vision
of all to all, without distinction.


Someone will be absent
in the midst of events
and be deserving of hesitation,
while only inasmuch as certain
of the subsequence of the passion
they will have reckoned indispensable:

each will be bound by his convictions,
his reasons brought to life by thought;

and one of the
most precious of words will be this



The asylum of age obliges timeless purpose
of those for whom a shared end is the cost of time;

each open to interpretation.


Intact, the sane
presume, either blindly
or of necessity, to understand
what it is to define the symmetry,
the way of wisdom and diversity,
the monolith of reflection.

has the right
to ask of all
an explanation of life.


The ritual
of the shaky course
of life, of angles,
has no written word;


belonging is an immaculate
and hallowed spontaneity
no-one should be deprived of.

Though where it
and silence merely calm,
the paradigm will have been
but once and fairly rewarded.



Now the tribe, all the while
believing that nothingness fills
the wholeness with knowing,
plagues the course of life
in a brooding ultimatum of chaos.

Their sweat embodies
the intensity of the soul
while all unwritten thoughts exist,
rooted in naked rectitude
and turning away the bounty of being.


Men are born
to endure the limitless truth
of absolute remembrance:

from the freedom to make all remain in the shade,
any liberty does not spring straight from life's blood;

anything other than this moment has no end;

the fruition of these rites can only be silent.


can only
delay the end -

consumed by dogma.


Integrity is the poetry
of each ancient truth,
complete in the eyes of all
and all according to plan:

their aspirations
and their virtue
no more than inheritance.

And, consistently,
endless footsteps will lead to absolution:

no-one will hunger;

the sin
will have been assumed inevitable -
the soul disquieted by trust
conceived in the name of principle;

the cloudless conviction of every word
answerable for this liberty.


These souls are,
assured of the wisdom
they dream of
and hope for.

in their passionless lives,
time still retreats
is the illusion of future,
of joy.


Fraternity has to seek every naked breath of time
in which perception is the leaving of life,
as an innocent confession never fettered,
yet to have been, until now, silently cherished.



A vision
of the unfolding fortunes of being
lays out, in each ending,
the momentary allusion to chaos -
the instant all traditions
twist the life from every word:

the eye
pursuing symmetry.


Words are imperfect,
but loiter to be gathered by the dawn:

each shared phrase is the altar of truth;

and, beginning with these, rights are wronged.


The origin of every breath
remains faithful to the tribe,
never abandoning the continuity
between the whole and the singular,
preserving the forgotten sorrow
of these voices severed at the lip.

So much of nothing is prophesy,
anything is the narrative of time -
a drama, from beginning to end,
in its biting intuition and utter conviction,
though embraced without embracing fear.


No sign will be divulged,
even though the circumstances
belong to the wisdom of honesty.

Any words,
any journey,
any oneness will constitute sin.


Only for the reason that
bitter emptiness and solitary trust
are held to be the language of fidelity
is permanence possible,
as intimacy found.


The asylum overflows
with the potential for recompense
for the loss of abundance
scattered no further
than amongst the barren recollections
it exacts from every witness.

When kinship is not assured,
neither is insight

fate will have been redressed.

(Parts IV-V will appear in Slope Issue 4)

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SHEILA MURPHY's Letters to Unfinished J. (Sun & Moon Press) and The Indelible Occasion (Potes & Poets Press) are forthcoming. For the past twelve years, she has coordinated the Scottsdale Center for the Arts Poetry Series. Her poetry appeared in Slope #2.


Invest in stress brown
Camisoles, divest yourself
Of smear campaigns,
Alleviate undue arrangements

Of near misses and deflect
The sodden flowers with
The wheat germ and
Hypocrisy, a game

Is going on au naturel
Are you unfounded
Is your pedigree a cost-
Efficient, doe-eyed

Varietal indulgence
If yes, why, if no,
Why not, piecemeal
Estrangements try to flower why as well


Satis - slow or dry

Be my tradee long, bray and weave high

Into the card reach where the words go

Mantra-ly toward snow-safe pique to wit

The leather drape and cheese riled

Small foray into a damage prep - and slow glide into

Worthiness, if you imagine I imagine

How we speed along the path for bicyclettes

I'm on, you're on, we coast after the rise

And very many in the audience apprise us

Of the stains about to veer toward water

And give in to water, thus be taken into confidence

By water and the yard bake and the breeze pomp

Lowly little lamp and harness for the shoulder

Needing still the blankness of across

The pearl-toned water

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MATTHEW ZAPRUDER's poems have recently appeared in Verse, Quarterly West, Overland, Slope and Fence.


Spring has come, banging its calliope
of whistles, bright colors, breezes and fear,
dragging the children it so cruelly lent us

through the black bars of the park.
Out of our arms one by one they are floating
behind its mechanical symphony.

Outside mothers circle like particles,
watching their offspring obeying at last
the law of harmless collisions.

The benches are forever immaculate and green.
For the park is locked,
and two golden lions have swallowed the keys.

They are ready to pounce
on the first signs of contamination or affection.
No pigeon born would dare cross their claws

into such a untimely sorrow.
Blue flowers are already starting to tumble
down from a cloud,

picking up colors
that sort them by time.
And the squirrels panic and chatter

as if it were not too late to forgive them.
I'm so sorry I'm unconcerned.
Behind me the Gramercy Park Hotel

contains the holiest bar in the hemisphere.
My friends go there often to worship
silver beer in a thousand mirrors

that eradicate distinction.
Among goldfish swimming through chandeliers
and negligent show tunes

afternoon loafs there all morning
drinking tea beneath the piano.
And head cradled in its folded arms,

morning sleeps at the table with me
while I'm writing letters to paintings.
Manhattan please do not ever forget

you are dragging the coast by your bridges
towards a port that will buy your desire.
Slovenian sculptors with conceptual eyes

and long fingers you want to hold like cigarettes
made you a ship before anyone knew
that behind ten thousand masks of steel

our admiration commands us.
There's a monument to them in the clouds.
Quick, look up - it's floating by.