YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

December 2007

VOL XV, Issue 12, Number 176

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



   David Sparenberg


   Cammy Thomas
      Hot Spots
      Let It All Fall
      Sad Bed

   Phillip Ellis
      Fighting the Fall
      A Tower to the Sky
      White Moths

   Daniel Barbiero
         1. Water Overcomes Earth
         2. Wood Returns to Water
         3. Earth Resides in Earth
         4. Ice Returns to Water
         5. Water Fosters Earth
         6. Water Breaks Stone
         7. Earth Resides in Water
         8. Water Subverts Wood
         9. Stone Overcomes Metal
         10. Water Displaces Wood

   Michael Lee Johnson				                	
      Mindful, Mindless, October Date
      Forked in Itasca
      Jesus Walks
      I'm a Riverboat Boy: Poem on Halsted Street
      Hanging Together in Minnesota

   Bill Millar


   Anthony Nannetti


David Sparenberg


(or the need for repentance from within 
the history of our collective trauma)

The Lord God descended.
There was a house,
the house was on fire.
Tears from the eyes
of the Holy of Holies
hissed in the crackling
rage of conflagration.
Blood dripped down
from the wings of angels.
Earth is not heaven;
hell is not far 
from the tips of our fingers.
The living Lord God
erupted and said:
"I am Auschwitz
and you are ashes.
I am Hiroshima
and you are dust.
I am extinction
and you are the malicious
toys of oblivion.
I am death today
but you are death's
tryanny of tomorrow." 
The Doomsday clock is ticking,
friend.  Midnight
is the renunciation of God 
in the annihilation of the generations of Adam; 
in the massacre of the children of 
Hava - a name (Eve) meaning life.
The one who invented
The Bomb - the "A"
for Apocalypse Bomb-
inverted the flowering of consciousness;
shaped humanity into billowing fungus.
The pyromaniac 
behind the petroleum of global warming
mocks the venerable 
linage of Prometheus.  Behold! The dwarf
of greed is gargantuan. 
Earth... o Earth!
Earth is not heaven.
Hell is not far 
from the tripping of our tongues.
(Confess this much:
We are liars.)
The Lord God 
falls in black rain;
we grow in 
blood thorns covering halos.  Blood 
drips down from the candles of angels, 
the light of their eyelashes splattered with misery. 
Prayers are obscured
by the obscenity of war.
Earth... Earth...
O mother of mercy!
Sweet Dove of Now
the pornography
of burnt offering.
Rabbi!  Rabbi!   Love's treasury, my 
As I lean into your embrace,
where are we?  Land of lost?
The street corner?
Earth is not heaven; Eden 
the promise of the covenant
of bereavement broken.
Hell is not far
from the crimes in our names.
What are our wishes?
The fragments, the char-bones,
of our abandoned dreams?
(Confess this much:
We have become conjugal 
with the angel of death.)
Postscript: Since the end of World War I, that being 1918, less than a 
single century past, 160 million human beings have perished in wars
and paramilitary conflicts.  Increasingly, the majority of casualties are not 
combatants but unarmed civilians. One simple, poignant and to the moment,
example: When the US military illegally and preemptively invaded Iraq 
to topple the dictator Saddam Hussein, Saddam fell.  But Saddam's
death is one death and over four years, more than a million are war-dead in that single 
place of ecocide, of inferno geography.
In the hour of this suffering, in the art of deception, in the age of confusion
and the proliferation of crusading terror, in this year 2000 and 7, as my words 
of protest are inscribed here, in the desiccated ink of wounded cherubim, there are 
wars, rebellions, mass graves and slaughters, accountable in Africa, Darfur, 
Asia, Indonesia, Burma, throughout the Pacific Rim, the Philippines, and in 
the Middle East. O Zion!  O Bethlehem in Galilee!
What is happening to our planet, Earth, the Earth, the Adamah, is mirrored by 
the madness of what we do to one another because of ideologies, fears, hatreds,
propaganda ; and in the advancements of our technologies of murder, our 
perversities of torture, and our degenerative, endemic necrophilia. We love the
cool of a spectacular kill! An awesome offing!
But no one of us any longer stands exempt from the consequences of the
politics of death and extinction and the execution of organized crimes against 
creation.  Conscience and moral discernment can no longer continue powerless, 
lest we perish in our impotence before the power-monsters administrating in 
the shadows of our humanity. The Frankenstein-work of the inhuman! Us.
We are the horror. We are the anguish.  We are the torment and the trauma 
we are trapped within.  Political terror 
is the Amen of the 21st century.
Our choice is clear.  The dream of God is encoded into the living structures 
of creation and that is the revelation of  creation's deep democracy and the 
evolution of creation-embodied liberation. This dream of God is self-aware freedom. 
And the first freedom is the freedom of experience, which requires life.  Conversely, 
the betrayal of God is the road to perdition. We have made going to hell a 
super highway, paved over with the silenced accusations of screaming blood,
pleading bone, of radioactive dust and mass manufactured ashes.  The mouth
of ashes.  (Where are we every time we are needed; we who have mastered the machinery
of industrialized, cybernetic death?)  
But this globe-imprisoning autobahn is cul-de-sac.  It arrives at endgame, at
end tine, in the parking lot of omnicide.   Before the final destination, the images 
along the way, having long since abandoned the prophetic promise, are spun into 
nightmares and the demons in the headlights, before which  we are frozen, watch
with the barbaric cruelty of our civilized eyes.  We are the fallen
church of ultimate deception.
(Confess this much:
 Our souls are in denial.)
Give thanks!
We are the prosperous and not yet
the Savior's body of salvation. 
We are not 
saving any place or any persons. 
ours is the communion of betrayal. 
Who feels ashamed? Who 
is intimate with forgetfulness? Society: 
the semiotics of soul loss.
(Confess this much:
We have a lust for damnation: 
we are hell-invested.)
The Lord God descended,
crying, like a wounded lion,
like an orphaned lamb, 
for the dove of peace.
The whole Earth was in flames.
The dove found no place 
to build the nest of Eden.  The beatitude
of God was pain.  And the pain,
that suffering,
is inconsolable.  
November 22, Thanksgiving Day, 2007

Cammy Thomas

Hot Spots

red blockage
bad passage
matter stuck halfway down

without valium she’s breathless
from fear—it loosens her tongue
about death's pretty fingers
and delicate hat

rot has been seeping
turning everything
and now look at the hot spots

Let It All Fall ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ for S. N. T. no pie—he hates pie no jokes—only he tells jokes no anger—only the ugly are angry no demands—only the weak make demands you will sit let it all fall you will be quiet let it all fall you will fail to guard your children you will only play what he wants you to play an all-Bach program an all black pogrom and you lost in pearls beside the choked pond a daily contest of disaster— and you sister mother let it all fall
Doll ~~~~ broken doll stiff skirt, black braids how can this cut be fixed eyes dots of void can she bend at the waist can she let life melt her planet of faded cotton her hair smelling of holds gazes at our room of pale people the plums of our hearts throbbing invisibly as if inside the ship's steel hull
Sad Bed ~~~~~~~ I removed the nails I put clean everything asterisk of earth don’t say you can’t sleep it’s all made for you every desalinated well use your eyes your hands dig the garden of inexact forms you may find harm
Phillip Ellis Fighting the Fall ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These days, it seems to me that the struggle to be free of religion, and to live at peace, is as futile and unwinnable as fighting the fall that falls after summers. Some days, it seems to me I shall fall fallow, and broken-backed, into the crackling leaves that live in drifts around me, no longer supple and green, but deceased. But still I struggle, as others struggle to redeem their race from the fall to sin their songs envision, and I wonder why I am not lying when I say the sun shines. And when it turns autumn, and when it is time for fall over all of my life, I shall see something like freedom from my schizophrenia seen only as sinfulness repaid, or else as a test of faith.
A Tower to the Sky ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Monody shall not wake the mariner." Hart Crane At night, it sights the ocean with the beams of its seeing eye. Does it seek a sign, this tower to the sky? Dawn finds it fallen blind, its eye a rheum of silent glass. It stands a wan minatory finger, taking shape with glass and stone and steel as a herald of warning voice, against whose windows the men will file erratically as they pace a circumscribed dream.
Unfaithful ~~~~~~~~~~ Dancing that night left me weary, I went and sat down then dozed in our room. On the stroke of two I awoke: you were nowhere in the dark, yet I could hear you whispering. Somewhere, you were whispering, the conversation ugly, although so low I couldn't understand a thing. Each time you leave the room I want to follow. Are you going to go one day, returning only as a dreadful knocking on a door?
Vista ~~~~~ The distant mountains against the horizon, the snow a pallid band of white. From whence came the bogongs that flew here once in numbers uncounted and now, at most, in one hand? They say that the passage of passenger pigeons darkened the sky with the thunder of wings. And the snow, too, shall pass.
White Moths ~~~~~~~~~~~ The deepness of night is offset in the way that they glimmer in the light of the porch globe. The pallid gecko hunts them across the ceiling, strikes, then it swallows, thorax first. To leave the light on... how they fall through spiralling feet to the floor of the porch. They shall die this way or that, by leaving on the light. How I shall hate to see them die; I turn it off so they may fly away.
Daniel Barbiero GOINGS ~~~~~~ 1. Water Overcomes Earth One month of rain Overnight, as if to prove That water is the first Principle, producing Hot things, their seeds Derived from moisture. Earth floats on water The roadedge fallen away Crumbs of blacktop In the runoff that stood Fast in debris, piled At the side of a water-thrown Maple trunk. Roots float on earth Softened to a depth Where the tree shifts A squirrel’s nest Skyside up A clearing In the canopy. Air floats on vapor An opening between trees Nourished on steam. 2. Wood Returns to Water Water in the crotch of the root Moss in the hollow of the root Skunk cabbage bright green Against grey maple trunks. The water darkened By leaching tannin Delays putrefaction Here where there is No alchemist To hurry time. The trunk is down Its hylic thickness thins Into prima materia The biomuck of tree death. What is dissolved once Is dissolved for always— A middle substance Resolving leaf litter And spruce cones Into a living earth A humid thing Vague and fluid 3. Earth Resides in Earth Water under earth undisclosed but to the root leaf caught in the vortex (survival is the root of desire) Leaf litter on the surface time decomposes into peat This is all/ nothing else 4. Ice Returns to Water The Norway spruces alone slope Under a dull wind In the absence of Downcoming snow Deer tracks widening In snowmelt Quickened from the solid Surging and raised up Water here is a fictive metal Clear as fine silver In which sun and moon dissolve Inexactly, as all similar analogies Are inexact That fix a form Onto an impression That graft an argument Onto an image Last night’s rain Remains on the branches Suspended Dazzling red at sunrise Water in its rubedo stage 5. Water Fosters Earth Even ice has its Phase of citrinitas— Tannin yellowed sheet Milky and opaque Soft to the touch of a boot Pushing white bubbles away Where the vernal pool bottoms In this depression Water finds its form Between stands of black spruce And red maple Fixed water released From the cold crystal Its balance lies in the symmetry Of earth and water The point of greatest tension Defining the center Where things cast no shadows But are themselves shadows cast A coalescence of mind In the surrounding pines and oaks 6. Water Breaks Stone A white-tailed deer startles Under a canopy of sweetgum And black oak, the spirit Of quicksilver evanescent in The twilight collected Above this gravel road. The density of stone and Transparency of air are held Together by moisture, by a figure Of speech in brown fur-- The image of silver liquid Pooling where the rocks divide. 7. Earth Resides in Water Through melted snow The hooded flower, Spadix in spathe, Twisted cone of burgundy and Mottled yellow, Leaf turned about its axis. Warmth and odor Animal-like The promise of carrion. Attracting early flies. (Even the plant Lives by deceit, Lives by desire.) 8. Water Subverts Wood Purple and pewter, thickwashed Layer over the ridgeline Leaving the horizon ambiguous In the retelling— Chameleonlike and ungraspable Wake of the rain Broken on moss beds Two inches deep The moment we are in Is in time only To the extent that we Are in it To the extent that we Are five senses temporarily wrapped In an animal skin As the wind rises Carrying the wet smell Of wood decaying Orange-red and Wormholed 9. Stone Overcomes Metal The sky is closer to us At this latitude A part of us The way many stimuli Like and unalike Are bundled into the same Moment Striae and cubes upthrust The pilasters cut By time into the rockface Where the hardwoods Get no footing This is common iron Not the iron We carry within us Not the shades Of an earlier life Emerging from within the talus Seeping through the rock-clutter To squat among the wintercress And jewelweed A lone Canada goose Barks overhead But our eye is to the ground Blue-eyed grass In sandy soil Reading the wormtrails 10. Water Displaces Wood The spruce needles on the ground Dissolve slowly, turning amber— An acid blanket of many parts Pulled over the mor humus Receptacle of every past that is not our own But someday will be, Fraying at the seams and covering That something that lives in us And draws us out into the world Of air and dirt, of old fictions That evanesce but will outlive us, The tellers—water motes In a column of light Cutting through the understory And its sassafras, enveloped in breath When breath first turns to steam Under a mottled sky, Disappearing as we turn toward it.
Michael Lee Johnson Mindful, Mindless, October Date ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mindful of my lover running late, as common as tying your shoestrings; I'm battered as an armadillos shell; I put my bands around my emotional body armor native to myself and walk like a stud in darkness. Everything in October has a shade of orange you know-- a hint of witch and goblin. In the leaves between my naked feet and toes, as I pace my walk in the parking lot, I count them-- I count them color chart fragments and bites: oranges, reds, still mostly greens. Barefooted the time of the tear, the year-fragmented. I am male battered in a relationship tested without my testosterone no sexual rectification or recharging of my batteries needed. I lie limp. Native to myself-- mindless of my lover running late. Then she arrives.
Forked in Itasca ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am so frustrated I want to chew the dandruff out of the internet hair implant and dislodge it, for a lost love affair I never cared about and hardly knew. Don't tell me about my sentence structure, I am human in these simple words. I swear to you I curse. Then the ram of my affair falls short frustrating my approach to the world at my fingertips. No Yellow Pages here my love. The dial up of my local connection is wretched, stuck unincorporated in the land I approved to live in, monopolized by Comcast the robbers of the poor and the humbled. All I hear is the rambling of the railroad tracks. I grow numb in my deafness faint with my hearing. Did I ask for your opinion? I am a frustrated foreign camper in my own community. Of a village I don't live in, but I love this local village I lie about. I am estranged. I tie knots in contradictions when I travel light and far, visit home I long for a journey past where I have never been. Is this the reason I am lost forked in between the poet I think I am and the working man my bills dictate?
Jesus Walks ~~~~~~~~~~~ Jesus lives in a tent not a temple coated with blue velvet sugar He dances in freedom of His salvation with the night and all days bearing down with sun. He has billions of ears hanging from His head dangling by seashores listening to incoming prayers. Sometimes busy hours drive Him near crazy with buzzing sounds. He walks near desert bushes and hears wind tunnels pushed by pine stinging nettles. Here in His sacred voice a whisper and Pentecostal mind- confused by hints of Catholicism and prayers to Mary- He heals himself in sacred ponds tossing holy water over himself-- touching nothing but humanity He recoils and finishes his desert walk somewhat alone.
I'm a Riverboat Boy: Poem on Halsted Street ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As sure as church bells Sunday morning, ringing on Halsted and State Street, Chicago, these memories will be soon forgotten. I stumble in my life with these words like broken sentences. I hear and denounce myself in the distance, mumbling chatter off my lips. Fragments and chips. Swearing at the parts of me I can't see; walking away rapidly from the spiritual thoughts of you. I am disjointed, separated from my Christian belief. I feel like I'm at the bottom of sinner's hill playing with my fiddle, flat fisted and busted. So you sing in the gospel choir; sang in Holland, sang in Belgium, from top to bottom, the maps, continents, atlas are all yours. I detach myself from these love affairs drive straight, swiftly, to Hollywood Casino Aurora. Fragments and chips. I guess we gamble in different casinos, in different corners of God's world, you with church bingo; and I'm a riverboat boy. No matter how spiritual I'm once a week, I can't take you where my poems don't follow me. Church poems don't cry.
Hanging Together in Minnesota ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Two thousand men on death row in the state of Texas. I've never been here, still I'm worrying myself to death. Webs of worry travel fast, scan over my memory bank back and forth like a copy machine. I refuse to get out of my bed I'm covered with burnt dream ashes held in custody my cobwebbed anxiety sheets waiting for the on looking armed system of justice to take me away. Their loud speakers keep screaming channeled commands through vibrating my eardrums; their messages keep cross-firing against my own desires. There must be a warrant out for my arrest. I will not listen period. I will shut out the sounds period. Insanity echoes with stressed sounds. It's Sunday morning, prayer time, I swear I will block out the church bells ringing on Franklin Avenue, ringing at St. Paul's Baptist Church. Religion confuses me like poetry or prose. I curse I will hang where Christ used to dangle; wooden cross-post in a Roman Catholic hole, or was it protestant reformation? I'm the thief, not the Savior. I don't want to die in my worry, my words, stranger in this world alone. I want to resurrect the dream before the wounds came, and placed me in exile. Long before the sounds of cell phones came ringing. There must be a warrant out for my arrest. Mixed in war, thunder, and sentence fragment.
Bill Millar VOYAGER ~~~~~~~ I swoop high over hills today and snicker in a hawk's ear It falls away, angling low and fast, faster than I care Perhaps it fears me Briefly, I feel loss I gaze long and wide, seeking other company, radarscan the ground, then Arrow down and past a flocking populace intent on their business, oblivious Briefly, I feel rage Should I rip at their down-bowed faces with my steely foot? Smash into the taut-tight space between the blades of their stoopy backs? Wrench them round to see the electric wisdom behind my morphean eye? I flash on then, past them, howl like a gale for the horizon I eat wind, chunks of air, gobbets and rafts of it I am Icarus returned, I am the bally Bugaboo, the golden hello of welcomes, the heavenly submariner come diving to torpedo the cargo of your fears I perch then, brooding, on a cloud Rise, tempted to that deeper, darker, rocket blue Gaze silently, telescopically, down, hovering, beating slowly, so slowly, on solar breath At peace now I crash tumbling through the layers of gas, laughing, and gripping at moonrocks Surge though cloud, burst over forest, roar across plain Now, ahead, is a grey field winking at me colourfully I thunder down to it and - land like a jet Perhaps they will be friendly here


Anthony Nannetti


In the beginning, we gave heed to nothing
save the stark discovery of ourselves,
floating like figures in Chagall
or running with jaguars.
How to explain what has happened since?
There is one where SpongeBob and Patrick shiver by a campfire.
Patrick, not dimly, stares up and exclaims, 
"Hey. If we're underwater, how can there be a fire ?" 
The flame goes out.


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 - 2007 by 
Klaus J. Gerken.

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