YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

April 2007

VOL XV, Issue 4, Number 168

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401



   Oswald LeWinter


   Vanessa Raney
      I breathe
      What Frivolity

   Lynn Strongin
      When you go to your eternal maker
      The Train will not wait for me
      My eyes rove over the page lit by the match

   Bryon D. Howell

   A. Thiagarajan 
      Gentle Breeze

   Naya Blue
      Exploding Sun		

   christopher barnes 
      'GUERITE I.M.

   Nathaniel S. Rounds
      Letter from the Crypt (or Crib)

   lydia shutter
      Flowing Currency

   Karen Pape
      Blues Sonnet for a Blues Monday
      On Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets
      To Her Critic
      Marching toward the Dark


   Heather Ferguson
      The Abused Woman


Oswald LeWinter



Words have eyes. The blind poet saw Trojan carnage,
hillocks of maimed, and corpses that grew from love
on one side and the passion for vengeance on the other;
ruby grass, and the sand, gruel of gore.
His words would be the eyes of centuries through which
epigoni would forever see illicit love turn to tragedy.


In Shiraz, called the city of love, a single rose graces
the tomb of Hafiz. The nightingale that sang here
centuries ago is gone, its dust scattered across the 
Kuhha-ye Zagros. But the legend leaps the bounds
of time in verses glowing like magma.
Hafiz loved one woman in his passion for many.


Augustine showed Hippo how lust alters in middle age
to become passion. His bastard son inspired 
fierce pride, that became the source of a new language 
to pit against heresies
that finally matured to love and a marriage
with his church that would last longer than death.


Love is a burden, whether between man and woman, or
between men. It is like trying to balance an egg
on the tip of a needle. Ask Whitman how the lips
of the young Oscar Wilde seared his. Concupiscence
lurks behind each tree in Brooklyn's Prospect Park
on a summer's night: screws among ice cream wrappers.


Heine loved his poems, their words, and metaphors, more
than any woman. Gyorgi Lukacs believed that poets 
who love women can't write great poems. Heine is great! 
If the critic has a lease on truth, some poets are exalted
by the Medusa of language that freezes other passions. Perhaps
there is hope for me. Poetry was my woman, words my blood.

Vanessa Raney

I breathe

My river-waist
shallows beneath my skin
pushing past bones
to the void deep down
the oxygen of my soul.
Like fish I see out
from the sides I bleed
currents whirling vicious
viscous liquids
from chasms within.
My life pulsing steady,
I breathe. 

What Frivolity ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I found myself in the water. In dreams, I breathed into it. Waking up, I swam in it. Yesterday, I drank from it. Today, I thirst for it. When I die, after all these years of change, I will be it again: as my ancestors knew it. Before we became man, we were particles of the great ocean. Over time we made love to the land, but our hearts - my soul - couldn't stop yearning; the undulations of our bodies: unsexed, rolling with the currents, one with all: us, them and the father or mother who made it possible. Rocking out of the bottom, we made our way to the top, dazzled by the sun's heat, the barren body of dirt, the lushness of foliage. Ah, but what frivolity to dive into the lifeblood which sustains us! We are fertile, you and I.
Listen ~~~~~~ I am nowhere The sun hides my face The clouds shadow me I tower over water currents Sinking through tunnels Reservoirs too deep for me If I go the spirits of the earth Will catch my broken bones Fallen from the dirt and mire No human consciousness To stop the tears that trespass In my heart; you may intrude From inside me. I need you To let go of my spirit sifting loose I am not a toy so listen carefully: I will not bend to your will Because you are only a voice You move without substance.
Lynn Strongin 1. When you go to your eternal maker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ will it be like this world of cracked crystal in which my incarceration is illumined? I could not be your semi-invalid forever, your companion on holidays those cream colored summers. Heavy duty at the warfront however was the color of the clouds. Shook hands with military brass? Only the hummingbird olive colored throat. More military join up in Montreal than any other province. "The military interests me & is the best choice I could make." We live in arctic outflow warningg zero degrees high.God Ure helpe. It is very cold here now: real teal: the box closes over me, I struggle for oxygen in all this ozone. It's like walking into a sirocco at times. But when I see us back sipping tea on New England porches the cracked geode translucent bars, the geometry I live in circles and "X: bar having replaced height my incarceration gleams supreme. 2. The Train will not wait for me ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh no: but an old lobster trap & baby buggy in the attic gather dust late sun strikes ancient aglow: polish them with spit on your finger: the trap & buggy shine. There goes Freddi, cock of the town one foot up one foot down. My love my friend the Christian Calendar was never mine not enough stretch and I was no patriot though carrying a glued red white & blue at age four I frowned, the mark of God. I'd read of gunmakers "Fusiliers" and Battalions. Old Toughs. I was one. Up in the Lord's morning. That banged it. The spaghetti lace of the streets sparkled in sun: newspapers on stoops - puffclouds thru sky. I had a parcel to deliver a library book. A cheeky kid I never liked, said mum. Bantering like a cock turkey the other kids my back was my cross a step was my cross. Like the plough I was to read about in primary school drawn by workhorse: I knew the train would not stop for me: O gloss: Lobster trap & ancient cobwebbed baby-buggy: My age & time my loss shadow nailed on tree: Black. Glossy 3. My eyes rove over the page lit by the match ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ i Stern north austere north: but room cozy. Not the knitting kind but enjoying new stockings. Woolen. Came here on whose recommendation? Senior years Zen moments opened to concepts way beyond comfort yet comforts for the troops in France were at the paper's edge, run along the consciousness of my childhood. ii Blissful simplicity was vouchsafed me in the hospital at age twelve. Once a month new stockings once a week a dress off a hanger out of regulation gown. Correction prisoners wounded. Believed. iii Bach home on the west sick a blackbird scuttling off down the path like a schoolboy caper. I was not out in the light and pavements but air was leisurely as the sea. The boy the girl stared at me. The gift of Jewish gab. iv My garb? Braces a wool coat a bathtub. I could not catch the fish of reality which was more like water always slipping thru the net and like water the world I could not hold onto.
Bryon D. Howell NIGHTGAMES ON THE NEW HAVEN GREEN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The homeless of New Haven pitch their tents upon the green, which lays at Yale's feet. They can't afford the cheapest of the rents - the shelters only hold so much defeat. Assistance from the State is null and void, some of these souls are just too old to hire. they sit on benches, at the world, annoyed. Still I'm convinced, there's something they inspire. All passerby can stare in their disgust. They scoff and so they earn the right to boast. They find it funny watching people rust and smile next time they propose a toast. No State-run plan will find these souls a place. Spitting's legal if you hit them in the face.
EVERYTHING IN ITS OWN SPECIAL TIME, OR ELSE! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Art may be fine at imitating life - let's chat for just a bit about a food. Where parallels exist, there's also strife. Some foods themselves can be a little rude. Top Ramen noodles can be such a treat. They're inexpensive and they satiate. Move too fast all the time, you'll miss a beat. It's never wise to rush food to your plate. Top Ramen noodles cook in their own time. They have to boil so they can expand. Eat them too soon, life won't be so sublime. I doubt you would enjoy the reprimand. You ate so fast, you're full - and now, a but~! Half-cooked, they're still expanding in your gut.
THE DAY VANITY GOT FIRED ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I had an interview to which to go, since I'd been out of work for quite awhile; when I looked in the mirror, had to know, that I had what it took to force a smile. Impressions are important, this is true, but I believe it all went to my head; my eyes became fixated just like glue, upon a pimple; stubborn, ugly, red. I knew what time the meeting would be held, obsessed I had to look a certain way, I played with it as I was so compelled, I found and lost a job on that same day. So vain was I, still jobless - stupid me, to pop a zit which only I could see.
THE PITS OF HELL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We have no choice, we have to put him down. There is no telling when the boy will snap; you'll thank us later, there's no cause to frown. Besides, he's much to bulky for your lap. You've heard of their attacks, we're sure you did. They've made the papers and the TV news. Now what if one attacked your helpless kid? You'd side with us, you wouldn't be confused. It's just a little shot we need to give. We promise he won't even feel a thing. This demon doesn't have a right to live - since rage is all that it could ever bring. We're poisoned too believing our own bull - with hearts as empty as the needle's full.
SO MUCH FOR THE NEXT 12 YEARS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ When I was rather bitter once I wrote a poem all about my mother's faults. It didn't rhyme, it read much like a note - I never knew profanity could waltz. I sent it to a publisher although I didn't quite expect what would come next. It was accepted right away and so I let them publish, still a bit perplexed. A falling out had come to pass years back, I hadn't spoken to her in awhile. She Googled me one day, found that attack - now I'm not sure we'll ever reconcile. And even when the journal had arrived - I had no clue it all would be, archived.
BACKYARD BLUES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I used the feed two squirrels in the yard - in six short months I trained them both too well. To earn their trust took love but wasn't hard. I called them, they would come - and all was swell. I never missed one day in six months time. They ate too well and even gained some weight. Some warned me feeding them should be a crime - that I should stop before it was too late. There's something to be said for let it be. I earned their trust in six months time, it's true. They must have thought all men were just like me, they thought it wise to trust some others, too. I meant well, yes - I made a big mistake. Some think of them as pests, not friends to make.
A. Thiagarajan Voice ~~~~~ my grandfather's voice of authority, so distant - my dad's becoming the same in good time- the school, the temple the prime minister the management gurus, know alls cacaphony- in 360 degrees, motivations & manipulations you sounded different the tune looked different- until lost in mine becoming the dad's Stilled & pickled Poems Birth of dreams, Or Dream of births? If dreams were lives Or life were dream "Shall I type them out?" Yes, You type them out or type them in, With your fine fingers In the patterned Letterings Fonts & sizes, Caps, U's, Bolds, Italics & what not They get cast like the Statue Like the moment stilled Caught & Got.
So? ~~ Don't do this- sorry's and thank you's birthday cards and flowers the forwards and hi's are jarring.. that bird in the cloudless faroff sky doesn't even look at me: so? the fragile gentle breeze=20 doesn't do all these so?
NOT FOR YOU ~~~~~~~~~~~ You walk naked. To you The Sun is Sun To you The Moon is Moon. On your left dream is real On right real is dreamlike. Tomorrow and yesterday are not for you.
Gentle Breeze ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ he carries a mild breeze.... very gentle without leaving any landmark except for what I know... and tells me in whispers not to worry if it lasts or not kissing me all over and as if color giving me as though I asked for it the expanse of where he came from with hues of the butterfly not realising while it happens impregnating me - labouring to deliver the words of whisper he doesn't wait to hear my poem.
Accident ~~~~~~~~ Satish died yesterday Nita told me in my dreams this morning that is when I lie in the drawing-room sofa after picking up the milk packets from the door- I spoke to him last night. No, he was run over by a speeding truck on the Cadell Road near Bankers Training College The last I heard from him was on the haiku yahoo group- he wrote something about coincidentally accidents but it was of life and not ones like this- As I went from lunch back to my desk there was this bundled group message again where he wrote to Ram that he would rather go and kill that bastard of the Dhobi rather than putting Sita to fire-test- but that can't be said Ram you can't put the whole world to death even if all were bastards because of gossipping which all do- it's all prewritten on your head- But Satish is not the one to buy he can't take the vada pav and the associated amoebiasis to blame on the head-writing.. but can not answer the question why in the first place did he decide to eat like drinking for the sake of company or to promote sales of your company- He just said simply because I do not know it doesn't become einstein's relativity story the synonym of ignorance is not unproven it could at best be arguing simply because you do not indulge in arguments when you know and are not ignorant- but what happened in the death of Satish is beyond doubt an accident irrespective of his having been ignorant or otherwise to have been driving after a drink too many on such a road in Mumbai- at least that is what the police say..
Naya Blue Exploding Sun ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In one window shadows fell from the pines dark against the sky as moon light whispered around their old shoulders. Winter's breath fades in the last days of cold February day light blooms earlier and night's deep grip softens. After Valentine's day, you said your mother's cancer had exploded like a sack of flour all over her stomach. Or the doctor had said it like that, dark black flour dusting, the snow tonight draped in sooty shawls around the trees. Each moon darkness grows shorter as spring comes on time changing in each breath, hasten no season the winter stars sing. Exploding their own thousand suns, dark gases, sacks of flour into the galaxies create moments of silence. Your Memories Your memories of my life are this pastiche of old worn records that they don't make any more. Led Zeppelin blaring into the heat of summer as locusts clicked away in the smell of rotting black walnut husks You tell me of bits of my life that I am no longer a guardian of, "remember the time when you..." Fill in the blanks that my relentless wandering has left all over worn foot paths on linoleum of the kitchen I rent a tumble down house The floor boards heavy under the weight of repetition that block the ability to recall any thing different than today. This aloneness is worth more than a thousand lives. This freedom is worth more than all the lands on earth. To be one with the truth for just a moment, Is worth more than the world and life itself.-Rumi
christopher barnes GRISTLE AND HAIR ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The scourings of time on the Colony club lino Lose momentum to an afternoon, circumstance. Lucien collapses inhibitions in brass-coloured whiskey, No one’s suffering is hangdog here. Misdemeanours Of the penal code Are by nature invited to spiral Through the rootless fumes of the barroom. Muriel, the instinctive procuress On a steeple-stack stool is the grandee Of a nub of garbled substance, She’s Deacon’s bailiff as he touts Bosomy pics for cabin boys, She’s a fixer of queer arrangements. Henrietta is spiked, Floury crystals airborne in serum And in her heart a casino chip’s circling, Always relied upon to take a chance. And Francis is half-seas over Tackling the bar in grips, disturbing by impulse, Surveying by potluck - tatty in Soho. From the Francis Bacon poems
DOOM ~~~~ The spuggie who squats In the Kwik Save bag Coins the word "veto" (otherwise engaged), Does not see fit To clean-sweep till roll Nor hasping holes Recoiling rain. Neither will he crush Pour homme promos for nesting; He’s found the itch To delouse.
'GUERITE I.M. ~~~~~~~~~~~ A sombre lure Of censor, magic stick. And the wide margined world Over which she muttered Turns O-shaped, And seems emptier.
GUGLIEMO MARCONI’S RADIO ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Artic chill since morning Pupils shift – Frosty glass Debris on foreshore The distance, mottled streets Greying, Snow-white sky. The rough-hewn receiver Corpse of coil Storm-smashed in the violence, The elements of progress. I attach The simple earphone Listening to vibrations Moving indefinite motes, Geosphere Oggin tide Atmosphere Small planets, Watery sunlight Recoiling at edges, Physical realignments. Pulses from Poldho Bleeping like bats Over the Atlantic Unimpeded by miles, Cutting waves, The curvature of the globe.
GUY FAWKES MUSIC ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Slapheaded triangles plink; Chimes of sparks.
GYPSY ROSE LEE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She's an enigma, The clairvoyant who splits palms, Runs to earth a lucky shamrock From somewhere between the lines.
Nathaniel S. Rounds Letter from the Crypt (or Crib) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To my sister in Nazareth: Thanks for the fish box ready-made, a Molten brew of Shostakovich-stained colors Sealed in brooding encaustic Over worm-ravaged pearwood. Yea, a time capsule Of burr-prickled, horsehair inelegance. Inside: Your travel itinerary, Complete with ribald poems and travel postcards. (Why bother to color the obvious?) Its unraveling compelled me to join you, Which, of course, is impossible. Instead, I untapped a full case of Madeira And, having emptied it some two days later, Came to find Franklin, Churchill, and Gandhi Playing draughts inside. Enclosed please find one gramophone, Some sinful Cossacks in authentic garb, And some pithy proverbs concerning Self-preservation. Yours in the relative sense (nyuck nyuck), Danny the Younger, St. Petersburg PS Yes, one paints what one hears.
AFTERWARD ~~~~~~~~~ Dandeliar Charles Merrill Mount, Née Stanley Merrill Suchow, Kicks up a shoeshine down San Francisco streets. His cane is a cavalry saber. Behind him, Wind rattles his suit pockets, Shakes lockets of confederate generals and daguerreotype scowls. Stephen Carrie Blumberg, Malodorous savant book bandit, Pedals up hill in an ice cream wagon. Hack saws, glass cutters and door knobs turn cartwheels, Steal free from the deep freeze to dance in the sun. Emperor Norton bows to Lord Buckley, Who, In turn Bows to Thursday October Christian. They exchange cards and courtesies in synchrony With vinyl hiccups from the Tijuana Brass. You fold your hands and take in the scenery, The gentle-hearted pageantry, the last Big Three Plus two middling Merrills In this dandelion-garbage-dump-fruit-fly Yalta. You say the model prayer by the Caltrain railroad tracks, Even though there's no money in it, there’s no bottom line, There’s no tax refund, there's no free gas for a year, There’s no company car, and There’s no executive office to be gleaned from it. You have some sense of remorse for prying the stars from their settings in the sky. That was a bad left turn, Mr. Juke, for the sky took sick and covered its hurt with a long, Black cowl.
BETTER THEY THAN THE SUITOR (ONE HOUR PAST THE PROMISED TIME) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A lonely damozel, puffing frumpish hrumphs of cankered resignation, casts her icy glare at an innocent bouquet of camellias. Down comes the samurai's sword! Ten snow-headed blossoms fall dead to the floor.
lydia shutter Flowing Currency ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In my laborious shuffle through life I found you or perhaps you found me both of us fish caught in a net of need you read my coded messages better than I can write them sing my song louder than I ever will and when darkness threatens to shadow my world you pay the piper with the flowing currency of love.
Karen Pape Blues Sonnet for a Blues Monday ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh let me have that little memory Just let me have that little memory. All I want you see is to be free I'll take liberty when and where I can Find liberty in every song I sing. Drink tears like they're made of finest wine. And when my liberty runs down the drain. Yes, when freedom drizzles down that drain. I'll still be singing the same old song. Until that liberty coin's all long been spent Yeah, until that liberty coin's been spent. Then I'll hum a different melody. And I'll linger long on the sweetest note. Takes me back to this freedom song I wrote.
On Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My lover's eyes were once summer sky. Now they're leached of color, cloudy gray-- why does love take so long to end? I cupped it in my palm for a time. Now its flown to some warmer climate. Maybe love grows cold, instead of old. Maybe we must searth out Prometheus and kindle love with fragile wood and fire only an archetype can summon. Yesterday's a blizzard in my heart. I want remembrance to be blue. Give me back my memories of joy. My lover's eyes were once summer sky.
To Her Critic ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cleric: wearing hornrims as you sort File after file; excuse I have used Too many times. Patriarchal, you rise Above my wild child, holding the art Of her prisoner to your misuse. But the madwoman, mysterious, wise, Leaps from the girl and cries out in a rage Of life that numbers every bruise As coup. Critic, you'll learn to prize The poet as master; or pace your cage, Revised.
Marching toward the Dark ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The boy comes to me with an answer to the question I hadn't asked his life. He tells me he is marching toward the dark, good night of the soul. How am I to talk of once and future worlds, mandalas, griefs? the boy comes to me with an answer. We speak appointments of no consequence-- news of war, fires that people don't escape. He tells me he is marching toward the dark, this boy who speaks of art with wit, heart, grace. (Routine, a friend said, both rod and staff) the boy comes to me with an answer. Poetry ensures immortality the journey, the reason to believe. He tells me he is marching toward the dark. we all have and will confront, that stark messenger mask, inexorable death. The boy comes to me with an answer-- he tells me he is marching toward the dark.


Heather Ferguson

The abused woman

The abused woman no longer speaks.  She spins low-lying clouds into hair and
filaments of dream.  Hawsers to bind memories to love.  She follows
fog-bound coastlines, weaves a net to catch mist, harvests March winds,
never ventures far to open sea.

She plans escapes from towers. She remembers starless nights, unspeakable
tongues.  She dreams of widows' walks and crows' nests. Hands twist into
burls.  Elbows and knees root into dank muck, leaves sprout from her mouth,
nostrils.  She drives her ship aground on fertile shores.


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  these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2006 by 
  Klaus J. Gerken.

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