YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

June 2008

VOL XVI, Issue 6, Number 182

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



   Gila Heller
      Daddy, I Met a Boy Today

   Tammy Ho Lai-ming
   Dan Gallik 
      Females And Their Ideas Of The Purposes Of Babies
      The Good News On 52 Cable Channels
      In Our House We Have An Automatic Shower Cleaner
      You're Lucky If You Get 20 Minutes From The Medical Community
   Jeff Spahr-Summers
      yaka mountain
      Fear of deadlines
      The Bogeyman
   Anthony Nannetti
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Tellis Yae 
      1. The Mitten Ghost. 
      2. I Don't Know Better 
      3. I get so confused.
   Priya Sankaran.
      The Kitchen Guard
      Femme Veena

   Ursula Tillmann
      I am


Gila Heller

Daddy, I Met a Boy Today

You would have liked him-
intelligent, handsome, and ambitious.
I knew him already;
we were friends,
the threads of our lives entwined
past the knot in mine
where yours ended.
But I never really met him
until today.
I want to tell you, Daddy,
how we embraced
as the moon turned its
bright face
upon us.
Were you there, too?
Did you see us, Daddy?
I wish you could shake his hand
and ask him
about his plans for college.
You could tell him
about how you met Mommy.
We could all have dinner.
But, Daddy,
this boy's thread
has pulled away from mine.
They are only loosely entangled now.
I know him still;
we are friends.
Soothe me, Daddy.
Tell me I will meet someone else.
Tell me you will be here
to approve of him.
Because I know
that the boys will dance
in and out of my life
They will love me,
and they will hurt me,
but I will never cry over them
the way I have cried over you.

That Night
Could you feel me trembling
that night?
Did you see how I shivered
as your fingers
came to know my skin,
or did that melody
of fear and awe
play only in my heart?
We didn't speak many words,
but my lips whispered
an entire conversation
against yours.
You rolled over me
to close the space between us,
and I could look up at you
for once.
Later, you told me
about how they tease you
for your size.
But did you know
that I crave the safety
of your solid bulk?
And when I drew the boundary,
you stayed away from it
and didn't ask why.
I wanted to wait.
How could you guess
that I would wake
in the morning
and wish that I had
extended it,
if only so that I could exist
for a little while longer
as the only thought
in your heart?

Tammy Ho Lai-ming


It all began the day when you waited for me on
the Wan Chai MTR station.

I saw you leaning
over a ticket issuing machine. Composed
and manly.

Before I knew it, my heart was whirring
'I like you'. Agonisingly happy.
The sweet smell of fresh cookes from
a nearby bakery.

(She wishes to meet
someone who is like an ancient
frail manuscript, waiting
to be deciphered:
mysteries sustain her interest,
suspense nourishes her mermaid tale.)

Stream of passengers filling the
never empty group. 'How crazy!'

I wondered at my untame
virginal feelings towards a man over
fifty. Didn't know it was wrong.
Was it wrong?

Too many pages
to discuss at once.

This poem first appeared in Magma Poetry (UK, Issue #38, Summer 2007)

JOHN GAVE RACHEL A BOOK ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ John gave Rachel a book, ten years ago John gave Rachel a book Of Poetry-- Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry On the second page of the book John had written, in green: For Rachel, who doesn't need An introduction to anything-- Certainly not to poetry-- With memories of all the Places we talked about This book in the days when It was three times as Long Ten years later When John and Rachel Were no longer together John saw the book In a secondhand bookstore Some pages were missing But not the second page John saw his own handwriting John has believe since then He shouldn't give Anything to anybody Anything. Anybody Maybe Rachel's dead-- Her books were sold Maybe Rachel's broke-- She sold her book John didn't care John has made up his mind That he's not going to give Anything to anybody Anything. Anybody This poem first appeared in Pressed (Taiwan, Autumn 2006)
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I know what you did with someone last night shortly after the dinner's done the light was turned down, you rolled under the bedcover with her she was surprised how passionate a lover you were you might not have genuinely wanted it 'a whim' afterwards you will claim, while I sit in dim light with you, on the sofa in your apartment in Hong Kong and you will even say that it was not a sin-- so long This poem first appeared in Pressed (Taiwan, Autumn 2006)
HIS PENIS ~~~~~~~~~ Lie is a skin. I rub it against a man. He knows my lies, such as: I'm a rainbow fairy with transparent wings; Such as: my neck is made of paper; Such as: I've never seen a penis. He, 'the well-oiled hair guy', laughed At the last lie. Time was midnight Plus three hours; in that blue bar Next to a red one, he unzipped His trousers in one second. Just a bottle of port, Just the two of us at the table Far from the cash bar (still very busy). He showed me his celebrated Latin 'tail' Between his legs. I saw a familiar Mole on the creased foreskin. Lie is a skin. I rub it against a man. He knows my lies, such as: He is not my boyfriend; such as: all Poems aren't autobiographical; Such as: his language isn't foreign; such as: I've neer seen a stiff penis. This poem first appeared in Fe/male Bodies: the First Asia-based Bilingual Bookazine on Body, Gender and Sexuality Vol.2 (HK, July 2006)
Dan Gallik Pharmacy ~~~~~~~~ I am going to catch that cold if I can. I wanna die of one. My boss, Larry, said, I am not going to quote you but I am sure going to give you a big raise. Especially if you find a way to actually get sick at a moment's notice. My boss jumped right on top of me and sang songs the whole way. I said moola and he believed me. Larry went home singing. He had another idea, an advertizing scheme, a name for the drug called FRIDAYs. I had chemicals in my head for a month. They festered there. America now likes my drug, FRIDAYs, and timing. I like America, & its working antibiotics
Females And Their Ideas Of The Purposes Of Babies ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She told me she was going to tell me how we were going to be. I said I wanted to be silent.. She yelled silence was her fortune. I asked her, pleaded with her to get a new car. She said I was a waste of money. Then, she hugged me and told me I was her lover and she wanted it right then. I told her it was sex. I told her before she interrupted that love was a bad buy. She slapped my ego so hard it got out a gun. You like headlines? I said. Then, she smiled and froze my male assets right away. We loved in the middle, at the side, along the four corners of an old bedroom. After midnight left us, we closed our eyes and dreamed of tv and radio and cd's and new movies. And food. Dreamed of thousand dollars steaks at Mac's.
The Good News On 52 Cable Channels ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Fools would say what's our destinations." That's what Jillbo sparkled onto her guy "Lestermolester." At that impressive micro- sec, he was stealing a car over on 4th & Nothing Sts. Jillbo continued, "Cross words too are only armed by those who are worried over the future of Amerca's monstrous civilization on this here earth." L checked his watch and cracked, "Got my pants' tomorrows to worry over babe.!" "I'm seeing that you," gummed Jbitch, "that you got nothing but gas in them pants, babe." "Molester" socked her face, "Humanity's future died!"
In Our House We Have An Automatic Shower Cleaner ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dad had left Mom 10 yrs. before he killed 3 of our dirty cats and 2 of our dogs. Yeah, guess he hung around a lot. He lived over off of 4th near the elementaryís playground on 6th Street. I never really ever talked to him. Mom worked at the local Kfart. I worked there too. My sis hadn't ever even tried to find a job. She ran off with George who had worked for yrs. at Mill's Electric near the courthouse on 28th. One evening Mom and I came home from the store and spotted fire engines and lots of other stuff. I spotted another of our pets dead in the st. in front of our burning two story. Dad was nearby watching. I got out of our car and walked over to him, and had the guts to ask him why he likd killing animals, and burning things. He whispered, it's fun to watch bad things happen. He also cracked, I still love you and Mom and Lill almost enough to kinda kill u.
You're Lucky If You Get 20 Minutes From The Medical Community ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mom was 86. I said, hey Mom you're dying bitch! She looked at me lying there in her bed at the Home, and smiled at me. I said it again. Anymore docs donít say a damn thing to you like, "she's got six months." All are afraid of lawsuits. I said it again to her, this time I whispered, bitch, you're dying. My sis had made some excuse for not being there. Everyone else had died before mom. So, they weren't around. So, it was just me, and docs and nurses that don't say a thing but know a hell of a lot. Of course, this Home didn't want her to go. They liked her 8 thou/mth. fees. And that she layed there quiet as the beating of mud over an oil field. Docs smiled at her as they walked by on the way to their shiny, black Infinities.
Jeff Spahr-Summers Vultures ~~~~~~~~ I see them circling above me Gliding around Butt ugly birds I would know them anywhere
yaka mountain ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ lets bury our dirty little secrets in gods backyard under yaka mountain in the heat of the desert lets challenge the devil lets dig a hole
Fear of deadlines ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in doing this again i stew on submissions i fret over selections i listen to music i smoke and i smote i edit poems i chew them one at a time i make no excuses i wrestle i write i re-write i read commentary i indulge myself i take my own sweet time
forgiveness ~~~~~~~~~~~ for traci is a gift we can only give to ourselves it cannot be coaxed or demanded or expected never borrowed it knows no guilt it knows all things
The Bogeyman ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mother needs a handicap room with a refrigerator for her insulin. Mother comes from fairvale but yesterday we were in Memphis. can i wait in the lobby while Mother gets dressed? Mother loves the room. Mother loves the restaurant you suggested and she asked me to thank you. Mother wants a 4am wake up call. Mother is i am a light sleeper.
Anthony Nannetti A FATHER'S PRAYER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work on fidelity, Sisters, for the prince never shines like in your stories nor the castles as lofty and sheltering. Stand and help the other stand to every sudden blow without self-regard or deference --- and show that, even battle worn, you are bonded by your love.
TRANSPARENCY ~~~~~~~~~~~~ In a better world casinos comp plots for those about to be buried,? poetry workshops include a vocational track,??? and mega hardware stores hang signs everywhere saying Put that shit back before you hurt yourself --- while you, Inamorata, draped only in barrier tape, read me my Miranda Rights.
Walter Ruhlmann #4 The days pass without a noise and their torrid silence calls in crime, with this feverish imagination. Another step within cruelty and sweat is erased. Hours of constraint, the world collapses under the fibres of the hunger, this regime of misfortune and fear. Welcome! All leads us to the suffering.
#5 I AMNESIAS ~~~~~~~~~~ Black hole lapse of memory extra nothingness and nothing in extra encircle amnesias. II TURPITUDES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To bore the secrecies of disgrace and to lighten one's spirits full of sulphur by opening one's veins to pour a rotten blood on the pure whiteness of the good. III NAIVETY ~~~~~~~~~~~ To let oneself believed and fooled by words without degree. To leave on the back of the blue clouds and never go down again without having low spirits to fall indefinitely into the traps of the words distorted by desire, selfishness and sadism.
#6 Virtual paradise, will you take us far from the pangs? Venom of this fabulous dragon that is being insuflated in ou veins, the pieces of transitory extase dig tombs and build the vaults. Nightmarish, dantesque and without exit, the brown poison gives us thirst and pushes us to the crime. Sweetened odour, acidulated, the evil spell can charm us.
Tellis Yae 1. The Mitten Ghost. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There is a ghost as a host in my house. Who has seen this family ghost? Running around leaving prints on the cookie jar. Climbing around leaving prints on the refrigerator. It canít be the boy, because he hates those cookies. It canít be the girl, because she hates this ice cream. Now, whoís seen the ghost with the mitten on? Running around in the neighbor's garden. Pulling out roses before they mature. Throwing baseball at neighbor's windows. It canít be the boy. His baseball has been missing for days. It canít be the girl. Her roses for motherís day came from the mall. So, now, whoís seen this clever invisible ghost? Stacking candy rappers between the family couch. Causing the spooky Owl to look with a twisting neck. Giving moms and dads a mathematical nightmare. And making, ďone plus one = a boy, a girl, and the mitten ghost.Ē
2. I Don't Know Better ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My better half is mad at me because, I get rowdy rowdy some times. I should know better but, Most of the time I donít. Like the good, gone bad, She says I'm getting better So I get rowdy rowdy some more. Looking to know better. For better or for worse, Iím on a quest. My mom begs me to be good. I told her that I would do more good. "No," she said. "Better." "Things always go from good to better." But my dad always warns "you better be good." Better be good? Heís always going backwards? So, I get rowdy rowdy again. And sometimes people ask me why. I tell them that, I don't know better. Who knows better? That's just like "better sitting in the middle of good and taking the best." No more rowdy rowdy lately. Finally they tell me that Iím at my best. Good, now who's better? Before I get rowdy rowdy.
3. I get so confused. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So goes the words of the wise, For love, by my fiancee. "Life is so good. The world is so beautiful. The stars are so glorious. And the moon is so adoring." So goes the words of theory, For science, by my teacher. The star are so far away The planets are so mysterious. Life is so warped. And yet, so so amazing. So goes intertwined everything. For life, by my best friend. Life is so magical. Nothing is too hard. Because she knows so. Music to my ears. Do: Re: Me: Fa: So: La: Ti: Do: Me: Fa: So? Man I just get so confused.
Priya Sankaran. The Kitchen Guard ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ganesha's mouse lives in my house. Boldly scurrying along bottom creases of my kitchen walls. Mistaken them for cool, grey stone pathways of Pillaiyarpatti. Lost his way, poor thing is blind. My kitchen on Palmerston, the temple he now stands guard. The moment the sun vanishes into the earth and the bright moon protects the sky, Ganesha's mouse scratch, scratch, scratches away. At my shelves of pasta, lentils and stacked boxes of Mac & Cheese In the dark, he darts in and out of pocket sized crevices. With the luck of Ganesha, scampers past tiny traps, licking clean the dabs of peanut butter I've set to catch his wiry tail. Tummy round and full, like his masters. A silly smile on his pint sized face. Perhaps he read my mailbox wrong? Confused me with Parvathi? Our names both start with P. Now, two months have passed, since Ganesha's mouse arrived in my house. His new Annex abode. And I've resigned to share my space, until the time Ganesha's trusted carrier discovers a new temple to attend.
Femme Veena ~~~~~~~~~~~ My dalliances with the Veena began the year I spent my first summer Out of Canada, visiting India. That summer of my eighth year, living in Madras with Paati Grandmother. Long, hot afternoons studying my Maami Aunt strumming on her Saraswati Veena, as the rest of the house dozed off during the afternoon Tamil Cinema on Doordarshan. Playing hide and go seek and hopscotch on terracotta red roof tiles with my army of cousins, high above the dusty Thiruvanmyur salais streets. Scoldings from Maami and Paati and Amma Mom when, we the army interfered with Karupukam's broomcorn sweeping of the front sitting room. Early mornings on hands and knees, tiny fingers pinching lines of rice powder into lotus flower kolams drawings on the freshly washed front stoop. Counting the minutes until the Paal milk Wallah arrived with Nandi cow to dot kum kum red powder on her white forehead. Splashing in bucket baths in the garden. Dancing simple adavus steps in saffron orange and red salwar khameez while teacher repeated "thay ya thay". Gobbling bricks of Kwality ice-cream for tiffin, and gulps of Limca to wash it down. Until the five days of Diwali pataas fireworks had been lit and done. The diyas oil lamps all burned out. Once back home in Ontario. Frigid, shivery, On-tar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o. Grade three had started without me, and couldn't have cared less if I ever came back to play. Didn't care much that I'd ridden an elephant for real. Thought I looked funny in my new clothes of loose fitting dresses for tops and skinny pants that did up with a string. And when my Paati came over to Canada a few years later, she brought a gift. A brand new, elegantly carved jackwood Veena for me. I loved my new toy, but I did not love the Veena. By the winter of my twelfth year, I hated the rigidness of lessons taught to me by a thoughtful Veena teacher who'd driven all the way from the west end of town in -28 degree weather. I hated the way my fingers stung after coaxing its four strings to sing. I wanted nothing to do with "sa re ga ma pa", because my love affair with the memories of that summer were frozen. After Long Canadian winters of trying to fit in. Cold Canadian winters detesting the skin of my ancestors which I was forced to wear like the toque on my head which at least protected me from the chill. I, not Canadian, not Indian, desperate to shed those beauty marks that made me different. So I let my Veena slowly die. Her strings twanged out of tune, the faux ivory carvings which laced her body, fell off her curves like the autumn leaves from Mom's Flowering Maple tree. That tree she planted the first spring after our Indian summer, sprouting leaves the colour of raw, sour, green mangoes and blooms of snow white and pink petals for twenty one springs and summers in our front yard, until the year my Paati passed on. The waxy black arms which craddled my beloved Veena's twenty four frets crumbled, chipped until there were only a wobbly three. And in the end there were only two dusty rounds of opposite sized gourd held together by a cobwebbed covered neck. These days I long for a chance to strum on the gift my Paati so lovingly delivered to me across two oceans Packed in a lattice work wooden coffin of a crate that foretold of my Veena's fate long before I allowed her soul to slip away. All I've lost by silencing her sweet ragams melodies What I'd give to hear my Veena sing again.


Ursula Tillmann

I am

I am the
gentle breeze
your mind
like velvet,
covering with
my blanket
you grief
of yesterdays'
thoughts ...

I am the
wild ocean
its waves
on your shores
of my memories,
soaking with
salty waters
the current
to pause ...


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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