YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

May 2004

Special Guest Editor for this issue: Oswald LeWinter
Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Heather Ferguson; Oswald LeWinter

ISSN 1480-6401



      POST SYMBOLIST ROMANTICISM: The Poems of Rachel Dacus
      by Oswald LeWinter


      The Poems of Rachel Dacus

         Drake's Estero
         The Snap
         The Fire That Waits
         Blood-Cycle Brooding
         Singing in the Pandaleswar Caves
         The Palm
         Horse on the Lawn
         Morning Mnemonic
         Piano Lessons
         Earth Whale
         Gifts of the Dead
         Ode to My Purse
         At the Thousand Cranes Auto Repair
         A Road Trip
         Thick Marine Layer
         Why I Like Weather
         War News
         Poet William Stafford Interviews Painter Wayne
         Thiebaud (Poem in One Act)
         Tunneling in the Library


      Copyright notice


   POST SYMBOLIST ROMANTICISM: The Poems of Rachel Dacus
   by Oswald LeWinter
   Rachel Dacus was born in Buffalo, New York in 1949 and grew up in
   San Pedro in Southern California. She majored in English and French
   Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Earth Lessons, her
   her first collection of poems, was published in 1998 by Bellowing Ark 
   Press. Her poems have been published in numerous print journals and 
   online sites that include The Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, 
   North American Review, Comstock Review,  Rattapallax, Poet Lore, The
   Alsop Review, Stirring, Melic Review, and Adirondack Review, among 
   others. She has appeared in three important anthologies: Ravishing 
   Disunities (Wesleyan University Press, 2000), The Poetry of Roses,
   (Abrams, 1995), and The Best of Melic (Melic Review, 2001.)
   The poetry of Rachel Dacus focuses on the quintessential problems of 
   the age we live in: an age in which each of us is confronted by the 
   tensions that arise from having to deal with the paradox inherent in
   limitless possibilities encroached upon by the ethos of tradition and 
   formalism. As many critics have noted, ours is an age in which
   poets are forced to struggle between the disabling orthodoxy of minor
   excellence and a not yet fully realized reinvention of the great 
   themes of existence, each on its own terms, requiring its own generic 
   It should not be surprising, therefore, that the best and most creative 
   new poets cast their verbal nets far and wide into the vast sea of 
   possibilities, language, form, and intention afford them. Rachel
   Dacus is such a poet and her work exists in the largely undefined 
   space between these two extremes, busily creating a new world without 
   either rejecting the past or the unique universe her poems create by
   occupying it. Tradition is never disabling, nor is it slavishly 
   worshipped. Although the new world of these poems emerges in
   recognizable semantic structures, its essential element is a mystery 
   which is metaphysical; Romantic, although not in a visionary sense, 
   or in a puerile irony, but rather in a post-symbolist sense reminiscent 
   of Yves Bonnefoy and Francis Ponge.
   Another outstanding attribute of these poems is their author's courage,
   her willingness to write in terms that are unabashedly unacademic, a 
   practice clearly demonstrated in (Singing in the Pandaleswar Caves):

        				my voice
   		threaded through a hundred voices
   		and slipped out a hole in the dark.
   		I am careful of hosannas vaulting
   		to contralto heaven, of earthquake bass
   		and monkey clarinets in priestly procession.
   (Drake's Estero, Point Reyes) is a poem which demonstrates the poet's 
   incessant search for le mot juste, a poem in which,

   		pines teal the skyline,
   		Finches rubble the quiet.
   "teal" and "rubble" which are stunning enough to create their own 
   reality are accompanied by such vivid images as,

   			dowitch and sandpiper heads bob
   		like sewing machine needles.
   This poem seems, at first glance, a heuristic description of a sea 
   scene. But several readings yield the poems darker hues, its
   very subtle preoccupation with the destructive elements of nature, 
   the transience of life, of:
   				All things
   		not as they seem.
   There is neither Romantic grief in the poem nor the hint
   of any elegiac impulse. Life is simply the way life is:

   			       while his beak scissors a crab.
   		Two gulps, then flanged feathers refold.
   		Again, the smooth ballet.
   A fine sense of the possibilities of alliteration drive the poem 
   to its conclusion.
   For Dacus, poems consist of words and the breaths that occupy the 
   space between them. But Rachel Dacus requires no Ars Poetica. The 
   poems themselves are the most succinct evidence of her poetic pratice. 
   I have dealt with this one poem at length because it exemplifies the 
   poet's parallels and divergences from the poetry of the American poet 
   of a slightly earlier generation, Adrienne Rich. But where Rich's poetry 
   is grounded in an urgent and dramatic sense of history arising out of 
   a vivid poetic tradition, Dacus's poems that adumbrate historical 
   themes(The Palm and A Road Trip are two excellent examples) are 
   narratives saturated with history as a living, unpredictable force 
   whose connection to the present is made coherent through the
   syntactic and semantic links the poet provides.
   I have mentioned above, the absence of romantic grief and lack of 
   elegiac pathos in Rachel Dacus's poetry as well as her manner of 
   treating death that reminds me of the work of Yves Bonnefoy. In
   Fertilizing, a poem deals with Nature's propensity for resurrection,
   		It's the opposite of grieving,
   		scattering nitrogen pellets
   to feed
       			roses that might have been 
   		cut when you died, I learn 
              	to trust unlikeliness.
   the poet uses the occasion of resuscitating "shagged bud unions" to 
   mourn a loved one:
   You step out
   		and away from life in the dark soil.
   		And I lean in, and toss.
   Here distance serves to avoid bathos, as does the brilliant ambiguity 
   of the verb, "toss". Practice and treatment in this poem remind me of 
   Bonnefoy's superb, Du Mouvement et de l'immobilité de Douve.
   Dacus shares the concern of Ponge for a writing less metaphorical, 
   closer to objects and to concrete situations that are, in the
   words of one contemporary French poet, "a matter of replanting a 
   foothold on the earth where we are." But she never surrenders her 
   work to an overdependance on prosaic detail.
   The poetry of Rachel Dacus is ultimately the product of an un-heroic 
   age fashioned more by scientific than by classical concerns. Her 
   subjects and their treatments belong to a different and more
   chaotic world order than that of Du Bellay or Blake and must be 
   treated zoomorphically in order to attain the vividness the genuine 
   poetry of our age demands, while also attempting to create a new 
   humanism whose antecedents within the existing tradition will not 
   be easily discernible. She achieves this admirably, avoiding the 
   drabness and inadequacy of poetic description, or a reductive
   dependence on an too easily attained excellence distinguished by 
   adhering to the fundamental ambitions of so many established poets 
   of her generation. Her best work, and there is little that does 
   not reward our attention and deserve our praise, leads the reader
   to an account---through cumulative stages of linguistic 
   development---of a totality in which a new view of the universe 
   and our relationship to it emerges.

THE POEMS OF RACHEL DACUS Drake's Estero, Point Reyes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Today, pines teal the skyline and red-tailed hawks swoop from dense stands. Finches rubble the quiet. At low tide, in golden light, all seems to rest until you do and eyes sharpen on water's edge, a roiling topography where dowitch and sandpiper heads bob like sewing machine needles. All things not as they seem. A startling rush overhead, and birds light to peck and poke like a studious class. Under the bridge glides a bufflehead duck, buddha on glass. We hold still, pretend to be bridge posts while his big, soft eye forgives our ruse. The black wings beat four times, to hold him up while his beak scissors a crab. Two gulps, then flanged feathers refold. Again, the smooth ballet. First appeared in North American Review
Salvavida ~~~~~~~~~ Salvavida bajo su asiento. It took me awhile to translate: Lifesaver Under Your Seat. Under this fragile body of lofting steel, our tennis rackets and rain coats, our bathing suits, and below that, turbulent pockets and updrafts. And under that, what no lifesaver can cushion. But in air they soothe in every tongue: salvavida is below your asiento, and that's all you need. That, and at the press of a button, everything in featherweights - the five-ounce can of tomato juice at ninety-minute intervals, two cookies and twenty chips, a pillow small as a cloud measured with fingers on the window. They float up the aisles to keep you warm and half-asleep, to make sure that salvavida is handy. Someone like the mother you ought to have had, who salvas your vida while it hurtles at five hundred per, someone who says, in case you speak English - and only up here: Salvation is at hand. First appeared in BigCityLit.com
Fertilizing ~~~~~~~~~~~ It's the opposite of grieving, scattering nitrogen pellets around shagged bud unions, feeding high-season hunger. Thorny canes, more likely to sprout pine cones than blossoms, rock in the wind. Feeding roses that might have been cut when you died, I learn to trust unlikeliness. If I penetrate the shade beneath each bush too deeply, tossing nutrients, a stab draws blood. I look up, sucking the wound under spiny branches that caliper the span of a cloud and measure the richness of cabbage and coffee feeding calloused feet. You untangled branches. Master gardener, you cherished each new leaf and fed its lavish urge. Blood's pulse distances. You step out and away from life in the dark soil. And I lean in, and toss. First appeared in Rattapallax
Miniatures ~~~~~~~~~~ -- Aurangabad, India His teeth are ground square and tinted red from paan-chewing, the custom in his village. The master painter with a one-hair brush keeps a suffocatingly hot shop. I fan myself and he leaps to switch on the electricity, explaining that he works in noon sun to grind minerals into colors for paint. Fire seems to be his medium, and it darkened him as he bent over copies of old paintings. He daubs with earth and sun, this chocolate man, reviving small, flat people in lapis, amber and malachite – people who are pink, blue and astonished. Their bookplate-sized scenes on silk look like every miniature until you notice the hairs in an elephant's ear, the gleam of the diamond on the emperor's ring as his hand rests on a concubine's bare thigh. Their entire Moghul palace would fit into a deck of cards – cards whose shuffle and cut describe the luck of the painter's father when he bid his life savings on an antique book at auction and won for his sons a living – to thrive by reproducing in oven heat their gemlike ancestors with hair-fine fidelity. First appeared in Carquinez Poetry Review
The Snap ~~~~~~~~ My sleep is cut in half by a latch's snap - What was that, a closing door? I look around in the dim and quiet room. Perhaps my beloved came in the night and took a strand of my hair in his graceful hand, transforming its dark tangles into gold. Waking in brightness, I can understand why the scarlet leaf cracks away, why old seasons revolve to admit the new. Why should I dread doors snapping shut, the clap of an incoming call, an envelope's rip ¾ any harbinger ahead? They are only the beat of coming awake. All change opens into the immortal room where pure light flashes across age-old gloom. First appeared in Pierian Springs
Riddle ~~~~~~ Thirty-three hundred wing beats a minute -in figure eights from those jointed hands- keep the ghostly wings hovering between worlds. To see them folded and the bird a minuscule sphinx on a maple twig was something like seeing time suspended. Eternity's long beat. A clawed foot lifted and pawed behind what must have been an ear. Christmas trees whirling! The throat feathers flashed red, green, red—an indecisive stoplight gone wild, freezing me, then just gone. First appeared in North American Review
Blood-Cycle Brooding ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ One more unpeeling of the womb, close enough to the final time that I can relish the tiny tearings, the way muscles unclasp from what might have been -- One more the shredding of a bed that waited fruitless five times seven years for an egg and dart to decorate its aching lap. Once more a blood-gravity pulls me into a planet's centripetal spin, the dropping-down cramp mimicking birth-pang, open mouth delivering a new poem, breath heaving and rasping. And what do I have left from all those empty moon-circles? Scraped squeaky clean, the blood-room has birthed generative words. They sleep twitching in their cradles or sun themselves nude on public rocks. Tribe after diatribe of oaths and chants spilled from lips too like another portal. Yes, in this blood-tide of verbs I brought myself forth through a mirror, witched awake out of the pounding dark. First appeared in Defined Providence
Singing in the Pandaleswar Caves ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ At noon in a dim chamber fifty feet under Pune's dusty roar, my voice threaded through a hundred voices and slipped out a hole in the dark. It became an eye watching the cave's ear swallow taxi bleat, creak of neem tree and truck honk. The cave's black cup caught the notes and pushed them on beyond a precipice marked, "Beware of God." Since then, my throat has kept a dark space. I am careful of hosannas vaulting to contralto heaven, of earthquake bass and monkey clarinets in priestly procession. I press back from the temples of chattering prayer wheels, and into silence - the inner bell of nothing thinner than a muezzin's aria. Sound of no sound sinking deeper than a stone's freefall in a well. The sound that hits water as a human slap with a celestial echo. First appeared in Adirondack Review
The Palm ~~~~~~~~ The Egyptians prized the date palm's fertility, but its unisex flowers are small, whitish and clustered as a crowd of nuns in deshabillé. Theophrastus coined its common name, deriving it from Phoenician raiders who spread the palm in their wake like a trail of arrows. A swag of serrated green knives, a bristle of blades – it is so much older than anything you can say to hurt me. The buzz of verbs and names you underhanded this morning cannot compare to the shock of an orange frizz of dates on its piano nobile. The slender trunk is sheathed in sawed-off leaf stumps, a collar of wounds as precisely lapped as feathers. You could never be so well armed, nor shoot as straight as the palm's crown shaft into the distant autumn sun. Could never match its rigid, rattling arguments. First appeared in Boulevard
Horse on the Lawn ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On the lawn a hobby horse rocks on a metal spring, wind-galloping. His painted eyes cannot see the girl who skulks among trees, waiting to loft on his leap. She cannot see her mother in spider-light brooding over ironing, pulling sheets between the mangle's plates while stories above, the father measures the ocean with a flat stick. He cannot see the linen weep between hot rollers, fall in folds, smiling days piled white to the sky. He prisms the house, planes its corners, smudges his gray matters on walls, sanding corners so no one Can see around them to the horse's stare and the child who breaks into a gallop, hooves billowing. First appeared in Full Circle Journal
Copyrights ~~~~~~~~~~ Keen as scissor points, first stars pink the edge of day as my father opens the sky's wishing doors. See the queen's chair? And I perch up there in the glimmer. Later in his studio, the slam of silence and scumble of bristle on canvas. Ocher, azure, madder. He smears color with the flat of palette knife. In his boat of concentration I glide. The single light bulb bares the room. My father can conjure in hue and line whatever his shrewd eye turns on. Now it turns on me, a frame: Don't move. His voice claps my small ears and as I wail he grabs my face: Watch out! I can shake your stars. An authorial sparkle in his eyes vanishes into moonrise and time's flood. Night's many tides pull me back to that original gleam – never mine. The years, those spangled doors swing back and a likeness - not his - resolves under my inscribing. First appeared in Prairie Schooner
Morning Mnemonic ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From a twig in the vast candelabra oak the hummingbird's castanet ticks off time by inches. It paces my feet as I climb past grounded doves that huff and squeak into flight, trailing handkerchief wings. I slip through a slur of slowing cars, weave a list of duties through brain's chatter, but leave routine behind as the jazzy morning rings, telegraphing something I once knew: how to pot-stir, sage up an inner brew. I bend to the impulse to run away and see poppies' wild alleluias on chartreuse hills. To hear a dither of voices as water spills down a ladder of monotone symmetry. Recall if I can this one forgotten thing: to rock grass water under sheer sun - and sing! First appeared in Rattapallax
Piano Lessons ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The black and white keys had a watery shine. When depressed, they sang arpeggios and pizzicatos that clung to air, sea-jewels sung by fish with silver throats. On Saturdays, my mother's piano cries vanished into my ears. She played to keep afloat. Panicked notes flocked through the house, falling, rising, crashing. There was no escape from her harmonizing. I absorbed symphonies of longing before the age of reason. My adolescence tuned sorrow, grew minor and fugue. She sang the alto part in undertones, a child humming to distract herself. Her laments ratcheted my capriccios, broke my delicate strings, but gave me resonance and invention. The keys may be beaten now by rote, but I reside in the tempo-shifts, in the surprises - the uninscribed prestidigitations that leap, the fluid trail I leave as I fly. First appeared in Blue Unicorn
Thunder-Edged ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sun under chin, she rambles after them as they garden the hillside. Brushed with light, she rides low among slim stems, thunder-edged. Slipping through holes in wind, she rolls under a flower's hem. Buttercup, they call her, but tuck her into a null crib to listen to thin mosquito hours. Again and again, no one. The child's ear hums with moon's footfall on the hill, a cloud-tall lady who kindles the lights. By day, rolled up tight, she is given to those who prick her scalp with needle fire. She blurs and shrinks into thickets, rooting fists on stone. In the shimmer of alone, how she spins light, how sparks flee the first wound, how it brims. First appeared in Prairie Schooner
Earth Whale ~~~~~~~~~~~ The soil surges with elusive tides. By my apartment an oak dives head first into a hidden sea while bird chatter rattles the sky. The oak sings to me when it pleases. From its black flanks and branches come disturbing lullabies and simple songs of white breezes. The oak's dismantling sighs Roar below the city surface from deep in evolutionary gloom the depths where fire flowers and magma pearls bloom. Oak notes quake the planet as continents cross its face. The poles shift in a vast rhythm of history being erased. The oak hears beyond time and dives for song, headlong. On its tossing tail alight generations of lives in flight.
Gifts of the Dead ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ for Joe Dream of someone dead, they say, and you've had a visitation. I ran down last night's dream halls, yellow passages in sooty ruins and I wasn't surprised to find you – even forgot you were dead as you raced with me in hide-and-seek. Your smile held something back. I suspected a can of black-eyed peas to make a new year I can believe in. You always keep stories in your pockets, dust your fingers with them as we talk, your Texas drawl lazy roping a laugh. Gifts of the dead are their closed circles, the possibilities they raise that no unfinished story can. Lives with no end- point stay in their owners' closets, but yours are there for our taking to the park, to sit on a bench and chat. You often feel the dead just behind your shoulder saying, Go ahead. That's how they are – always ready to wrap a tissue of remembrance around afternoon's solemn light. Odd, how you rise today in smoke, in the violet scent of dead leaves piled on dark earth. First appeared in Comstock Review
Ode to My Purse ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The three French handbags came with lifetime warranties. Clasping heavy straps, I cinch them saddle-tight against the grasping world. Dark wells, they incubate details, stash my days in hidden rooms. My black postman's case clacks clock-neat on thigh, ticking tasks. Weekends I sling a red pouch that eats torn tickets and topless lipsticks. Keys to many locks eel through my caramel creel. Open Purse, I say: swallow phone, glasses, cash. Bring home to me, magician's hat. I chant, lovely Coach-crafted clutch, catch! You soft maw, yawn to gorge and stow my emblems. Stretch and hold the zoo of me, the proof, spoil and tool. First appeared in Atlanta Review
At the Thousand Cranes Auto Repair ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The women were making and the men waiting in the room provided. Folding a square piece of gold, the Japanese woman looked up from behind her sunglasses and said: A thousand paper cranes. For a party. For luck. The men's eyes fuzzed and snapped: NO TALKING to strangers during auto repair. A woman with a fan of years on her forehead moved across the space to sit beside the folder, pleating the room. Another question launched the tale of the last thousand cranes, made at a dying grandmother's bedside. (Hers? Mine? This woman might appear someday at your bed -- for luck, she would say) Everyone was listening openly now. Their necks leaned in parallel. Feet dropping down, they flew on story currents and watched being after being take shape and rise from luck-bending, blind invention's darting, dark skinned fingers. First appeared in Stirring
A Road Trip ~~~~~~~~~~~ I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. – Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association,1802. He's on the road because He needs elbow room and a stretch of open where He can go, vroom-vroom! He's doing wheelies for the Danbury fathers and Pennsylvania Quakers who shun paying their taxes to Congregationalists. He's careening into cirrus-streaks, bolting lightning to ground, scattering ideals like prairie stars. The skies were too big and Monticello's dome too small, but Jefferson limned a vast geography of state and religion – let's see, grace connects to liberty, bisected by community. He threw up a wall between soul and country's imperatives, then prayed in the Senate Church. Hemmed in by customs he penned a secret tract: Let them shake, let law be rock, and let God roll. But even Jefferson could not envision the heavenly Highway-hound's momentum,  the lifts He would give to every Papist, Roller and doler, myriad beliefs popping like prairie stars. Despite Jefferson's apprehensions, the Harley slips and weaves, easy as the air that flows across a snake tattoo that reads: Tread Lightly on My Amen. The white hog passes everything, so fast it's invisible – or mythical, a white horse for a White House, steed that may only exist as a people who won't be taxed for faith or bound by laws springing up weed-wild -- a people who can build their creeds of nothing but heart, wind and speed. First appeared in Adirondack Review
Thick Marine Layer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ -- for Jim You slide from honeycomb dark into my dog's black eyes. His body still on the rug, ears tipped forward toward the window to catch a silent voice. Live lightly, you said before you left. The morning greens, the first flourish in a long, unlit time. What is trying to reach me through the sun's insistent ray? I hear the five hundred voices that sang in your laugh, though silence that encloses and dulls. I can see nothing of life persisting but an orange arrow painted on the pavement. It points to your being everywhere but in the photograph. How is that you bite back from the dented apple scooped up in a decayed orchard, and from a worm hole insinuate memory into the present? I eat all the way through to the bitterness of a seed. Later, a night branch rasps on the drainpipe the tale of your long outward voyage. How badly I want to know your destination, but a thick marine layer blurs our two coastlines. The boundaries thin in a bird's call. It rings loose change against the gold standard of your absence. We live now outside the countable hoard.
Why I Like Weather ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Famous for always being there, it takes no hikes or long vacations, leaving forty beeps on the answering machine. Evasive, evocative, weather is as much what you see through as what you see. This afternoon my dog and I headed out to find a pyramid of taffy-rolled cloud wrinkling the sky’s forehead. We circuited the neighborhood, bemused by vast aerial doings. The cumulus spread away, thin as bouillon. Sun winked on the flanks of an airplane -- last buffalo roaming the high plain. "He's smiling again" I said to my dog, as if the sun were a cloudy-headed Apollo dashing from horizon to horizon. I often take comfort from weather as a folk remedy. It’s good for blame, lovemaking, moods, price dips, metaphors in talk of politics. Whether you can think straight may be attributed to it -- "I'm under a cloud today." Forecasters will say, "There's not much weather out West" -- as if air, moisture and electricity flowing at the speed of thought around the globe does not achieve the status. Farmers and scientists pigeonhole energies with chewy words: drizzle, Nor'easter -- like naming your bloodstream Sally or your elbow Sam. The sway of a temblor underfoot makes me think weather churns underground, loose and roving as comets and sea spouts, ball lightning, St. Elmo's Fire, the katabatic winds called foehn, Chinook, cow-killer. Does the equator's airy calm -- the doldrums-- seep out of the planet's bellybutton? Is that a huge stomach I hear underfoot? I like the Hindu belief that ultra-fine weather circulates in our bodies, too subtle for computed tomography. I suspect similar currents whirl inside earth's core spinning magma like clothes in a dryer. Weather crashes planes, sends killers on rampages. Is it subject to the moon's pull? Does El Nino come from rays of hypnotism? I like to believe anything’s possible, exercise the muscle of wonder so it does not atrophy and make me overly scientific, a calculating cynic who sees a cloud and thinks only of ice. We're made of weather -- electrons twirling like tiny twisters, blood-tides rushing and pumping. How can anyone predict how we'll blow? Or what will come of our combative forces -- disease, health, madness, illumination? Wild planets with fierce cycles of emotion, we wobble on elliptical trajectories toward idealized destinations, subject to massive buildups of uncertainty. We can be exalted as the galaxies and atoms who share our mad momentum. -- But enough of chaos. We need the comfort of names and laws. A name can call you, but no one can be predicted by it. And that's why I like weather: its events evoke daily self-explorations that slam restlessly hither and yon, seeking shape then frantically undoing it for something better -- or perhaps just wilder and wetter. First appeared in Bellowing Ark
War News ~~~~~~~~ I have been listening so long and thin sound passes through the Iraqi boy who tells a reporter he likes the artillery's slam and stutter, shredded syntax of a new life. I keep my ear to the susurrus of wind behind the news, remain orchestrated by a camellia's urging. I hum the double helix so as not to lose my place. The shot soil's rank scent can make you lose count of potholes under your free wheels. We are shadowed by the American Indian woman as she flies home to Tuba City, her dog tags clanging. She is shadowed by a woman who sails on her uwound hijab's black wing. When my feet again find earth I will answer questions, but first they must clear the verbs of landmines. Words are armed. Let them lay down their mountainous arms and wash their ululations among the reeds of a marsh-river. First appeared in The Pedestal Magazine
Poet William Stafford Interviews Painter Wayne Thiebaud (Poem in One Act) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LIGHTS COME UP ON TWO MEN, SEATED AT A TABLE. ONE HOLDS A PAINTBRUSH, THE OTHER A PENCIL. BOTH ARE DRINKING. BILL: The paint's so thick it makes me want a dollop of grainy white paint in my coffee. But I'm a plain man, content to write of barns. WAYNE: It's pastry impasto, Bill -- call me imposter, but don't ask if it's Fine Art. Squeezing zinc white into butter cream rosettes was simply fun. Fudge-squish in a cold case world. BILL: Like the poem I once wrote but didn't. Someone sent me a hundred dollars for it. Out there somewhere, after I died, is a poet short a pair of real nice shoes. WAYNE: That was my job as a kid: up every morning in dark chill enough for the dough. Mysterious, isn't it, how it takes shape? LIGHTS DIM, SPOTLIGHT ON A PINK CAKE ON A STAND. BILL: Yes, like crossing a field of unmarked snow to milk the cows before sunup. Falling crystals, the precious clods like snowdrops peeking through – we both know it's all bakery theater. May I ask, Wayne, why those gumball machines? WAYNE: Astronaut helmets filled with candy planets. I figured they'd laugh and forget. SOUND OF MARBLES SHOOTING, BEER BEING POURED. BILL: Tell them, Wayne, that Schopenhauer, a pessimist, played the flute. Why those vertigo streets and upended fields where rivers might run out? WAYNE: I was never great at perspective. I just popped a fly out of gravity, and TILT! It all comes down to a feathered headdress, a satin shoe, a man seated, back view, freeway of thoughts behind a hill. Fistulas My body is making fistulas, the dentist says. I picture tiny fists swelling inward from my gums, fists that must fight but be ultimately popped. Face down, face facts: from here it will be all fizzle, churning in my own soup, frozen manna, ruthless falling of hairs and breasts. Fine, then, let the tissues winnow and sulk, take away those probing picks. This plumped and dumbfounded flesh is heat-hagged and fistic as Donatello's Magdalene. It lives by dint, in a swelter of sweat, wants to keep its swell, and swear by a rue of wit.
Tunneling in the Library ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The storm outside flails and bangs, but in here it's the ink drying that unnerves as I inch (drip, drip) along a dark line, feeling a hand on the other side of this page. It writes that things have not changed in a long echo of far-off cries – quarreling lovers? I move faster, shiver. But I'm dry, save for a plink on my neck when I turn a page. A thin man with long silver hair ducks behind the shelves. Tall until I walk toward him, he scurries among six-inch high stacks of thumb-sized books. Is he the author? Looking at me he pens a note and tucks it in, vanishes by standing still as a stalagmite. I've lost all sense of words as sounds of water encircle. So much scholars, phantasms dripping off the page. It's late in the day as I caravan holding onto serif tails catching hold of other tails in what begins to be a stampede. A saddle-smell wafts through the closeness. We may be lost on the narrowing trail, reduced to vowels trotting between humped consonants, images pulped, but when we fall, we go together, scrambling like roadrunners off the cliff, caught in a great comic buoyancy. Tumbling, I yield to habit: pluck his note and read.


   All poems copyright (c) 2004 by Rachel Dacus


A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
       just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A 
       place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and 
       learn from all.  A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. 
       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
       Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such 
       an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon 
       started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin 
       Board Systems.

       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
       specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking.
       Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets
       are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a
       writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer
       can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since 
       the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means 
       that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative 
       user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created.

       Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede

  Ygdrasil is committed to making literature available, and uses the
  Internet as the main distribution channel. On the Net you can find all
  of Ygdrasil including the magazines and collections. You can find
  Ygdrasil on the Internet at: 

    * WEB: http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken/ 

    * FTP: ftp://ftp.synapse.net/~kgerken/

    * USENET: releases announced in rec.arts.poems, alt.zines and

    * EMAIL: send email to kgerken@synapse.net and tell us what version 
         and method you'd like. We have two versions, an uncompressed 
         7-bit universal ASCII and an 8-bit MS-DOS lineart-enchanced 
         version.  These can be sent plaintext, uuencoded, or as a 


  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

  All books are on disk and cost $10.00 each. Checks should be made out to
  the respective authors and orders will be forwarded by Ygdrasil Press.
  YGDRASIL MAGAZINE may also be ordered from the same address: $5.00 an
  issue to cover disk and mailing costs, also specify computer type (IBM
  or Mac), as well as disk size and density. Allow 2 weeks for delivery.
  Note that YGDRASIL MAGAZINE is free when downloaded from Ygdrasil's 
  World-Wide Web site at http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.


  All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
  these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2001 by 
  Klaus J. Gerken.

  The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's 
  World-Wide Web site http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.  No other 
  version shall be deemed "authorized" unless downloaded from there. 
  Distribution is allowed and encouraged as long as the issue is unchanged.

  All checks should be made out to: YGDRASIL PRESS


    * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text
    submissions. Use Klaus' address for commentary on Ygdrasil and its
    contents: kgerken@synapse.net

    * Pedro Sena, Production Editor - for submissions of anything
    that's not plain ASCII text (ie. archives, GIFs, wordprocessored
    files, etc) in any standard DOS, Mac or Unix format, commentary on
    Ygdrasil's format, distribution, usability and access:

    We'd love to hear from you!
    Or mailed with a self addressed stamped envelope, to: