YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

January 2008

VOL XVI, Issue 1, Number 177

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



   Maria Jacketti
      Self Talk


   Daniel Barbiero
      Chasing the Subtle Body to Asheville, NC
      A Fiction of Attention
      Connecticut Avenue
      New Year
      Starlings Going to Roost
      A View to Mautunsq
      The Problem of Induction
      "The Present Instant Does Not Stay"
      Sublunary Blues

   Kristi Denke
      Mohammed and the Tree
      Sasbach, Germany
      Creed of the Displaced

   Joseph Farley
      Living With Evil
      Children of War
      The New Radical You
      A Face In My Mind
      Night Soil Man
      Chang 'Er

   G. David Schwartz
      A Stroll Around The  Hotel 
      To His  Majesty, the King     
      Just Another Side Of The Rainbow

            Ties of Love
            Behind the Conquerors
            Especially for You
            Somewhere, in a Different Realm
            In Midsummer
            You Deserve to Win

   Michaela Sefler


   Del Corey


Maria Jacketti

Self Talk

Gibberish of guts,
never-ending brain blog,
talk back, my corporation:
this self wants emeralds shaken 
out of pine cones,
long walks under Orion,
maybe a cruise hosted by 
cartoon totems
under a grape lollipop sun,
just a teensy fugue:
congeal a translucent clock of honey soap
to measure dips in aqua,
crunch a Timex back to salad dazed eons,  steamroll
at least one googleplex, into infinite granola, enough to 
balloon my Buddha's one hot babe of a barriga:*
season quotidian bread born again with ancient 
my oh Mayan chiles
practically incandescent digest history's hash 

January 8, 2008

*Spanish slang: belly

Daniel Barbiero

Chasing the Subtle Body to Asheville, NC

81 South
Pleated hills
Dappled as afternoon
Turns into evening
The fields raked flat
Blue lettuces and yuccas
On the meridian

64 East
Sumac and mountain laurel
Flowers white and dirtying
Skin of the mountain
Scraped away-
An artificial talus
White pine and yellow poplar
The waterfall a trickle

26 East
Standing cloud in the cup
Of Buckner Gap
White pines and aaron’s rods
In loose soil
Long enduring hemlock
Battened down in ivy
And trumpet creeper
A dull greenish grey
Under low clouds
The image of a world
An image in the mind
A diamond pressed from the carbon
Of what was heard and seen
An image of the mind
A cipher scaled down
To a useable size
One we can grasp
As the visible world
Draws the eye downward
To itself

A Fiction of Attention ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Deer watch cautiously From thirty yards out As we move through brush Our presence a redundancy Another bush among bushes Here where we see ourselves Slightly out of focus, As in a memory, the Foreground crisp, but All movement behind it A blur, traced as it were In an ink sketch seen While held under water— We grasp its sense As the outlines dissolve, Before we return to ourselves As a consequence of an Obscure intention Of what was designated by “soul”: An opaque fog wafting Beneath branches, A fiction of attention.
Connecticut Avenue ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1 The fountain is off sounding a fermata over the traffic’s through bass grey stone below and I can only see what disappeared years ago 2 I notice no trees only a thistle growing at the root of a signpost cirrocumulus clouds laying tracks across the night sky 3 The bridge grows roots in the park below arches enfold night air grey as the concrete is grey 4 Autumn moves backwards into summer through an opalescent sky Moon, cloud and Venus above both concrete lions guarding the bridgehead
New Year ~~~~~~~~ A new year And the same sun comes up Black leather seedpods Hang withered from the locust Wind caught In a spider web
Starlings Going to Roost ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Wingbeats perturb The surrounding air A black cloud lurching And dipping A whole made up Of a hundred parts We see them As the Chaldeans might have Seen them As wheels whirls shriekers Turning as a helix An Ezekiel wheel Revolving and drawing the heart Along with it A hundred yards up Halfway between the sky And what surrounds it— The empyrean of speculation.
A View to Mautunsq ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The sky begins at one’s feet A low elevation scraped clean By retreating glaciers Where chicory and wild carrot Edge the roads Wild turkeys probing The perimeter In morning twilight The black snake shed By its skin. The ghosts of corn lie Entombed in tiny hills A dry earth's recollection Of Algonkian paths. We are their eternity The place they go Once they no longer are; Not an emblem But a space among things An image suspended in the mind And caught In the fallible afterlife Of memory A vessel into which Heavy August air pools As the sun's rays lower Into the black understory.
Totoket ~~~~~~~ Cumulus clouds pile up Over the horizon, over An entire ocean A wet haze above An empty seafield Barren and streaked With greens and browns As in a landscape Broken with hedges and Last autumn's stubble. At a different shore We put down a template For the seaside That made good sense Until it no longer did: One summer of sangria Of tan knees breaking through denim Red brown sun in a bleached blue sky A misunderstood allegory On the origin of rain. Bare feet on pavement and The smell of fresh laid asphalt Bring back an afternoon Now thirty years gone One in a series Of liquidated summers Warehoused in the restless Coexistence of memory Stacked up like extended chords Their harmonies astringent Locked in fourths And not resolving.
The Problem of Induction ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An onrush of wind A rumor of cones Green in the pine That someday will Brown—this we take On something like faith A view toward which Each thing is well-defined No less than This smoothed rock At the bottom of The stream, its profile hard Against the light.
"The Present Instant Does Not Stay" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Stand of white pine copper-lit from below now darkening bronze Things are/ things change the course of transience no less true for being transient For being a vacillation pretending to permanence the ground beneath us giving way
Sublunary Blues ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What part of us is aether and what part elements found beneath the air? The rusty light of Aldebaran where Mars ought to be the eye drawn upward by the Moon Once the center of the universe when the center was the bottom where the densest and coarsest matter fell
Kristi Denke Mohammed and the Tree ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I. a leather shoe where a foot should be shoelaces tied wool interiors illegible and worn mohammed you are no face you are your shoes and a number a milky white contrail cuts the sky in an even pale line mohammed bury the words of your prophet here we send corn peanut butter and pamphlets to declare cause and cover your grave trenches irrigate where weak stalks are trampled beetled corn discarded morsels given over to another mohammed your ashes are in the earth and in the rain II. brittle snaps an off-path hazard warm breath or fire i hold the earth at a slant while the sky bows its neck in a crooked line i know my name: intruder the fragile bones of stairs are man-tendered and uneven a deerpath or a stream concreted by folly war has broken out among the pines mother nature makes no promises expresses no guilt weeps no apologies takes as needed and weeps for none of us a fallen tree with legs like timbers a face clothed in snow a pale curtain of cold a forest speaks: mohammed if you cannot live i cannot live
Sasbach, Germany ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the trees are decades wintered, fragile, and young twisted frames upon a road sunk to dust, an alley in the spring, children will sing of Turenne to honor the ignoble death of the enemy of palatine daily with linked hands, a chain of tiny bodies pay homage with uplifted eyes in their passing they will sing, high drums of infant chorus, swelling to childhood timbers and in the spring they sing afterwards in the plush sponge of grass pretzels with cool slips of butter cherries shaken from an orchard they go home by dark, by bike over limb wrists eyes of summer shift in the night cannonball sentries - the pillar is meek by moon, pale marble face and hand, listening for kindred thunder across the Rhine
Creed of the Displaced ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ kept: a garden and thumb-length of twine soil in pockets and the curve of robin egg sky the smoke of injury upon tongue sparks sensation through fingernail and cheek bad tidings walk the meander of fence and tell us the earth is no infant, but we are her children language is the arduous wound from the stem of our naked tongues decide, the wind might say ripe with summer rot, eager to press our noses to the dirt kept: an island, a wasteland, and wheat.
Joseph Farley Living With Evil ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ inside, outside, all around - death and disease and purveyors of violence and chaos and yet hands can still sink wrist deep in potting soil and transplant a few seedlings to bigger pots while the bullets fly
Children of War ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ with plastic guns we stalked the streets hunting Germans, Japs and Vietnamese. the war on the evening news was just a game that adults played like the ones we did until the sun began to fade. the dead on television were not real. they all stood up at the end like we did, and shook hands and went home ready to fight another war the next day after breakfast. that has changed with passing years. the dead no longer rise. yet boys still love to play at war. presidents and generals remember your youth and what we have lost. do you still want to play? at what cost?
The New Radical You ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Transformation comes slowly or all at once, a sudden blizzard in early May, a burst of sunshine in November. Protest was not your thing. Rights were something you whispered, never shouted. But that has changed. I hear the anger in your voice, see the fist clenched in the air if only metaphorically. You scream, "Enough!" But will you march? Will you fight? Will you help to make things right? Smoke and bombs. Prayers of blasphemy. Brimstone in the wind. You see the collapse of everything. What can you do?
watchers ~~~~~~~~ in the cold streets of a rainy Tokyo pedestrians splash through puddles as they walk each in his or her own unique form of isolation. in the apartment block above a girl with dark hair and eyes stares out the window at the ant-like creatures struggling through the downpour. the thoughts of the many each follow their own logic and each mind sees its own path whether it be to love or work or a dry towel and a bowl of warm noodles. the girl with the dark eyes sees the crowd but does not follow. her mind is elsewhere, a garden erupting in fury of red flowers among snow as white as her breast. she does not see or feel me but my mind is upon her a warm draft from the heat vent bending the down on her arms.
A Face In My Mind ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in Shenzen a girl asked my name. there was a smile, a thought, a moment, but time made all things blur. now there is only a feeling of what was or may have been.
Night Soil Man ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the little boy stares at the cart with the black steel cylinder, and the strong legs of the man in shorts who pulls it, cigarette dangling between thick lips, the stench of shit all about him. "What does he do daddy?" You try to explain. "Remember the chamber pots from last night? Your mother and grandmother emptied them at the public toilet. The man empties the toilet." Later, crossing the bridge, we saw the barges in the river coming fro the cities downstream, heading inland to the farms farther west and north. We rolled up the windows on the company car, and asked the driver to go faster.
Chang 'Er ~~~~~~~~~ Moonlight turns your skin blue you hang above me, face framed by black hair like dark clouds in an evening sky. You smile but say nothing, lost in the moment as I am lost in you. You are my Chang 'Er, my moon goddess, cold and beautiful. You often seem so far off, I cannot reach you. Then there are times like now when you descend to this mortal plain and become a woman with pale skin, red lips and black hair. How can I not love you when you grace me with your embrace? Soon you will return to heaven, become again a cold object, distant and disdaining of men who work the soil or plow paper with fox tail brushes and fresh ground ink.
G. David Schwartz A Stroll Around The Hotel ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We waited until the stars came out For verses made of virus And stroll around the hotel grounds To tempt the sun to try us Investing loves who know our names And those who cannot bargain The Ivory Coast it full of hosts Who, spite the straw keep walking.
To His Majesty, the King ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The emperor who had new clothes Spun invisible strands of gold Which fist illuminated Aries heart And disappointed in the wind of the soul Was wearing I do over and calm For not another one but I A blind ambassador of the king A troubadour who has lost his lute I alone impatiently with all the ghosts Believe in the majesty of the clothes All the superstition souls beware The fool alone sees the underwear
Just Another Side Of The Rainbow ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You know its funny That in all the photos and drawling Pictures always appear to be Flat and mysteriously In perfect proportion And what is certain My life is nothing but Another side of the rainbow, love And another thing I can say It comes out anyway In meteor showers or just in play Coming fast or going slow It' nothing but another side of the rainbow.
ADAM J. SORKIN A NOTE ON THE POET AND THE TRANSLATORS Elena Stefoi [pronounced 'Shtefoy'] is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Starting Line (1996). Other titles include Daily Rehearsal (1986), Sketches and Stories (1989), and A Few Details (1990). A career anthology, Behind the Conquerors, is appearing in Romania this year or next Her work has been honored by the Romanian Writers' Union, and she was one of the four Romanian poets who appeared in Michael March's groundbreaking 1990 Penguin Anthology, Child of Europe. Stefoi has been an editor of the important political-cultural journal Dilema and a correspondent for Radio France (with daily reports from Bucharest) and the French-language L'Invitation in Bucharest. Until early 2000, she was General Consul at the Romanian Consulate in Montreal, Quebec. Since the start of 2006 Stefoi has served as Romania's Ambassador to Canada. Stefoi's poetry has appeared in English in in Dominion Review, Metamorphoses, Frigate, Pif Magazine, International Poetry Review and (forthcoming) Antigonish Review. Liana Vrajitoru (Andreasen) graduated with a Ph.D. in English at the State University of New York in Binghamton and now teaches in the English Department at South Texas College, McAllen, Texas. Her translations of Traian T. Cosovei, Aurel Dumitrascu, Mariana Marin, and Elena Stefoi (all with Adam J. Sorkin) have appeared in Poetry New York, Another Chicago Magazine, Faultline, Pif Magazine, Kalliope, Osiris, Smartish Pace, Runes, Metamorphoses and Frigate. Adam J. Sorkin's translations have appeared widely. Recent volumes of translation include Radu Andriescu's The Catalan Within, translated with the poet, just out from Longleaf Press, and three 2006 books: Magda Carneci's Chaosmos, translated with Carneci (White Pine), Mihai Ursachi's The March to the Stars, mostly with the poet (Vinea Press), and Mariana Marin's Paper Children, with various collaborators (Ugly Duckling). Sorkin's 2004 book, Marin Sorescu's The Bridge (Bloodaxe), won the 2005 European Poetry Translation Prize of The Poetry Society, London). Sorkin received an NEA Poetry Translation Fellowship for 2005-2006.
POEMS BY ELENA STEFOI translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and Liana Vrajitoru Ties of Love ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I could hear you behind the walls through two closed doors - the dark fog of a devil's breath sucked everything in, quickly swallowed gods and jewels, any flame my hands had lit I could hear you, I knew the skill you had with the nutcracker, I'd watch as one at a time you crushed a whole row fragments that had cost me my life an endless glacier across double borders twice took possession of me in vain the great conflagration will come, in vain, what can eyes see if there's nothing more than flies lost in that very glacier between two walls, through the north wind of salt it seems that a feral cat tries even now to claw to shreds a worn-out copy of the devil's breath.
Behind the Conquerors ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Another year goes by. My mother's tomb has dropped from my shoulders. Every day I sustain myself on the difference between the rich and the poor breathing boldly always behind the conquerors. Do you love me? Good, I'll let you deftly stroke the rope under the soles of my feet. Take care of its health, count the strange doors before which it has started to freeze with fear, and hold in your fury. As long as only you can see it with the naked eye, as long as only because of you it doesn't get dizzy above the morass, at the market stall inside my cranium dangers are sold by the kilo: fresh, assorted, wary of calories and rigor. Their special qualities appeal to passersby. They don't even seem to hear the howl of the laws of supply and demand straddling the fence. They're sold, they're bought, life goes on. I'll let you, oh I'll let you deftly stroke the rope under the soles of my feet. Take care of its health, count the strange doors before which it has started to freeze with fear. Raise your eyes as seldom as possible. For now.
Especially for You ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the face of others the day has the eyes of progeny with a six-figure income. But just a little while ago - especially for you - a screen lowered over the world, a kind of coffin lid through which penetrate - without stop - clammy old tales, mountebanks, parodic swamps. Humanity had gone blind and it would have done no good to raise a hullabaloo.
Somewhere, in a Different Realm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That's how it is: I haven't split hairs in a dithyrambic landscape since adolescence. (I admit, back in those days even words were good for sweet holiday breads.) Danger smells like a rich widow waiting for suitors. And the denouement is in my hands. I know by heart the giggles and hijinks of every part of the trap, I know by heart the squeals of late youth (in itself bait as well as victim of the whole) when stupefying and necessary it mounts the back of this future too used to failure. Somewhere, in a different realm, a biography that could be mine to live takes the devil by his most prominent horns.
In Midsummer ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Nothing important. Resistance still mocks its vital organs: everyone is impelled to confess at full tilt the atrocities committed in recent days. Attracted by the spectacle the winners at last cast their eyes down to the ground as if they were passing an insane asylum. Do they fall only into traps padded with a double history? I leave, come home and in my bed absolutism is praying to a telephone number. Absolutism, tee-hee! I can admit that it too has the right to a pair of horns. Especially in midsummer when nature presses smooth anniversaries and graves with a hot iron. In a natural voice they tell you: the nightmare around my neck will be my dowry until hoary old age. I will never cherish it as a weapon.
You Deserve to Win ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's as if I were reading a tale going back a thousand and one nights: I pass the underground arms of the great river I stare into the beast's eyes until they reveal their darkness I find the ever-coveted key-weapon-symbol sniffing the depths the heights I turn around set the trophy in your beloved arms the world rolls lazily onward like a log, "it will snatch him up, the whirlwind will snatch him up" a thousand and one years ago on the same face our mothers' smile appeared reflecting little bits of us look at that, be glad here and now the abyss grows around my feet, the fanged magma it alone foresees the comforting hiss of the poisoned tongue the gleam of the cup of gold the fatal collision.
Michaela Sefler PRIMARY ~~~~~~~ One universal principle, ruling; a singular point of beginning. The primordial breath primary movement; communication of divine origin. Urging movement of pure beginnings towards a unified whole, a complete flawless expression. Love and kindness liberating the limitations of living. And all men are part of a collective; coming and going seeking to finalize.
THE GATES ~~~~~~~~~ The gates are open, and she comes through; embellished by the moonlight. His attempts, bring back the hopes of a forgotten promise, he shines. He retires taking his vows for he remembers her promise. And this night is different, and he remembers the slight nuances' that take shape in the moonlight , their lives embellished. And all that happened is theirs to know; and what their entails is a mystery.
THROUGH THE CLOUDS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And through the clouds the moonlight lightens; the darkened waters reflect. Reminiscence of beauty of old responses that awaken. Remembering the illusive promise showing for an instant told. And clouds are moving hastily hiding the light that illuminates. And recall is elicited by vision that moves him so.
VIRTUE OF CREATION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Impelling is virtue and they remain heeding; bringing into the light gifts untold. For secrets kept; are awaiting to be revealed, for all to heed and become opportunity for all remains. For order was ordained before generating each moment into the next keeping possibility as an open hand. Their influence spreading forth, keeping in position; for strength is adamant and the power of a revealed reality, is brave. And directing influence is virtue from within; the heavens arbitrate and blessings are bestowed. And possibility remains on all sides and man chooses every day, taking chances, and giving hope.
WITH EASE ~~~~~~~~~ And partially they reveal the truth inherent to them for with ease they overcome and remain. And giving choice, they allow attempts on a given plane to effect and lasting will reveal. For the earth is filled with kinds that bestow their lessons interconnected as a collective they will rise. And their return will lead, for together they stood pending their judgement, for their time will come. Apprehending together, in all corners of the earth they bide, for their revelation is imminent and understanding is near. For from within are the answers and transcending gives change development of self, guiding. And strengthening with ease is recognition of the worldly and all will know the name that withstands. And the limits set, are only for a day for they learn and become better. Changing reaction, even their own and time, improvement is known.


Del Corey


When a sandy grain
invades an oyster,
this irritant, this pain
forces the amazing creature
to exude liquid balms
to coat, again and again,
that enemy, and world's
fortunate friend,
into a smooth, brilliant gem.

So, too, do teachers plant grains
of thought in students,
challenges causing pain,
internal tears forcing brain-clearing,
re-painting, coat after coat,
into smooth, rounded Someones.


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

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Klaus J. Gerken.

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