YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

July 2008

VOL XVI, Issue 7, Number 183

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



   Ryan Tansiel
      Benefit Concert


   Ryan Tansiel
      White Girl
      Imagination Light
      Depth of Field

   Rose Grimaldi
      Birth Poem of New York

   S.F. Wright
      Across the Bridge

   navkirat sodhi
      up till

   Peycho Kanev
      love letter
      one laugh and one woman and one red dog which is
         not here at all
      heart in barb wire

   Michael E. Barrett
      The Naked Ape
      her words float
      Like the Back of My Hand


   Ryan Tansiel
      Congenital Heart Defect


Ryan Tansiel

Benefit Concert

Nurtured in the cradle gangster rap was born
Proximity to brutality can function as a pacifier
Until the teeth grow in
Could be the second set, could be the first
And every neighborhood bites off concrete sects
Gnawing on the bones of street signs and graffiti
To scrape off the violent plaque
It took years to build up

Now gangster rappers want to throw a benefit concert
For Africa!
Makes for good press I suppose
But these aren't gangster rappers
They're facsimile buffoons
Three degrees removed from authenticity

How many of them have seen a drive-by
A walk-by
or a standstill

Benefit concert
And for Africa,
The benefit was in watching the most cannibalistic form of plagiarism
That which is cloaked, polished and reissued without sighting source

Why don't they sell the twenty-thousand dollar handcuff necklace
The record label designed and charged them twice for
And spend a nice relaxing weekend at a bed and breakfast in the slums of 
Listening to screams in the night
Could be a good music lesson
Determining whether the pitch of the scream was that of hunger, 
loneliness, rage or acceptance
Maybe that joyful yelp that comes when you hit seven or eleven on the 
first roll

I can only take so much hip-hop-crasy,
And grave raping of the originally destitute and economically quarantined
Because they're silent and cannot move
Throw your hands in the air
And waiver
With parasitic stare

Ryan Tansiel

White Girl

I was Puerto Rican last week
For five minutes

Of course I could have cleared up the ambiguity
But her hair was so curly, so long and so black
We'll straighten it out on a date
Her number handed over on the inside flap of matches

A black man from Baton Rouge
Loved a white girl
That loved him

That union is the reason
Why I'm brown enough
To be mistaken for Puerto Rican
Italian, or Dominican, or Mexican
Pick an N

Of my parents passions
I'm dressed with fashions of desire
Changing color with the seasons

I've come to expect, people fail to connect
I'm mulatto
A gift that gives me golden hands in winter
Treated with summer varnish
Colors of wood do splinter

Black and white blood in my veins
Try grabbing the reins
To a grey universe

As dark women go
Across lines passion ferries
In regard to lighter tones
There are no colors
To describe moans

White girls in chocolate swirls
It is a rocky-road
Where some won't park
Met my grandfather
For whom,
Even the whites of my eyes
Somehow seemed too dark
As a boy I saw the fiery tones
Handling freckles with friction may spark

Now, as a man
Love is paramount

My pale lover
In the sun will cover
Skin so fare
It lights the lair
That darkness likes to smother

And so, I could only laugh
When mom called
To ask,
"When are you going to find a nice black woman to marry
and settle down with a few kids?"
She always did love dark skin
Man, I love that
Crazy white girl

May 08

Non-Smoker ~~~~~~~~~~ Heating systems always stymied the cold-blooded Respect for Temperature maintenance So flagrant It seemed unreasonable Amplifying the chasm The lighter shaken Would not light May '08
Imagination Light ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Found and old fire extinguisher and turned it into lamp An imagination light Putting out predictable embers That simmer in my room The first bulb was too bright so I burned it out alone The follow was ignored so I smashed it for the light it had thrown Unintended for basking I'd rather let it explode I unscrewed it from the top At midnight, smashed it into the street All the thoughts it didn't provoke Shattered and fell into me Walking on, the glass crackles The right light has come to me Now my imagination lamp cascades Just enough cloud to rinse boredom's renegades June '08
Depth of Field ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ f/22.0 open shutters let in breezes f-sixteen-point-zero catch the kids being cute f/11.0 friends of friends don't need framing, auto-focus wants an appeal f-eight-point-zero, dropping the film in a lab, smiling developers pillage what f-stops snatch and grab f/5.6 the girlfriend needs pictures of flowers that will die f-four-point-zero is poor from spending light, exiled to utility drawer, sliding occasionally out of night f/2.8 just go stand over there f-two-point-zero the firing squad says smile, shot for beauty, and buried in the depth of field May '08
Rose Grimaldi Birth Poem of New York ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Whispers from the Womb Before Birth Enclosed in my warm silky cocoon suspended, protected I by the cord of life. Not prevalent winds or blistering rains affect my body growing. Movement by mother is recurrent, rolling back and forth,-up and down over and over again. Whispers from my perceptive soul, nudging me of a blurred vision-dark, dirty coats begging -many on the line crying for food outside, when the placenta water swish-swashes against the precious sac inside that becomes silent again- til the soul hears small, but loud recitations by children jumping rope in a circular rhythm - singing, "strawberry shortcake short and sweet, tell me the name of your sweetheart," for suddenly and sweetly, fruit-droplets of nourishment touch my newly formed lips channeled from an entwining line. Pushing against the inner wall of my mother's expanding stomach in out in out with my flexing fetal limbs jolting mother's existence, but relieving my constant fetal stationary still position- so tired that I feel a soothing sensation with a caring hand circling me round, around and then once more. God intercedes as always to bring yet another miracle into the world by opening the birth canals at last, by allowing me my first sliding glide into the room of lights, by releasing the doors to my nascent origin of New York. Here I am with my eyes wincing, glared by the yellow sun greeting me- Welcome! "Angel -Joyce Ellen -"
S.F. Wright Across the Bridge ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gary was very sick during the end of his shift, his skin itching uncomfortably and his body aching all over, and the minutes dragged as he sat in the chair outside the garage smoking cigarettes, taking turns with Jose whenever a car pulled in for gas. It had been a hot day but it was cooler now, a little breezy, and Gary's skin was covered in dried sweat. As he took drags from his cigarette and glanced at the clock inside the gas station's office he kept going over the story he would tell his mother. His delivery and tone of voice, his gestures and body language, all had to be perfect because he hadn't had a hit since nine o'clock that morning and if his mother didn't give him the money he didn't want to think about what he'd have to do to get it. At 5:59 he waited in front of the time clock and a second after the numbers changed to 6:00 he punched out. He waved to Jose and got into his brown Toyota truck, a gift from his mother seven years before for his thirtieth birthday, and which despite the fact that it had almost one hundred twenty thousand miles on it still ran well. He lived a few blocks from the gas station and driving past the small houses, the branches of the trees casting shadows onto the street, he kept rehearsing his story, planning to go into it as soon as he entered the house. He parked in the driveway behind his mother's gray Mercury, a car she used no more than twice a week. Across the street the Sands and their two kids were playing in the front lawn, and when the young boy saw Gary he waved and yelled, "Hi!" One afternoon after Gary had shot up in his room and was feeling good he'd gone outside to get the garbage can and had seen the Sands boy throwing a football to himself and had gone over and played catch with him for twenty minutes. Since then the boy greeted Gary exuberantly whenever he saw them. He waved quickly to him, the boy and his sister and their parents smiling, and then went into the house. His mother, a small frail woman of seventy three with curly white hair, was sitting at the kitchen table doing a crossword puzzle. "Mom," Gary said. "I need to borrow sixty dollars. Remember I told you my truck was making that funny noise? Well, it turns out there was trouble with this wire, and Pete had to replace it for me. He's working late tonight, and I told him I'd be right back with his money." His mother didn't say anything, just kept looking at her crossword puzzle, Gary's words hanging heavily in the air. Finally, still not looking at him, she said, "I don't believe you." A wave of panic washed over him. "What do you mean? I've been telling you about that noise for a week. And Pete's waiting for me right now. I promised him I'd come back with his money." She closed her crossword puzzle book. "You're lying." "No, I'm not. Just lend me the money and I'll be back in five minutes. He's waiting for me." "Why doesn't he just take the money out of your pay?" Gary rolled his eyes. "Because I told him I'd pay him tonight. He's waiting for me right now, expecting me to come." "Call him and tell him to take the money out of your pay." "Mom!" Gary yelled, gesturing. This was not going as he had planned. It was a plausible story, he thought. He had been mentioning the noise in his truck for the past few days, although no noise existed, anticipating a night like this when he'd run out of money and would have to rely on his mother. She sat at the table, stone faced, not looking at him. "I have to pay him," he said, trying to convey with his voice genuine reason and concern rather than the nauseous combination of panic and anger that swam through him. "You want me to lose my job? Because if I don't pay him that could happen." Still she sat there silently, not looking at him. "Fine," Gary said, the rage and panic enveloping him. "Then I'll fucking lose my job." He stormed upstairs to his room, his mind already settled on plan B, which he wished he didn't have to do, especially because it would mean having to wait awhile and living a little longer with his dope sickness, but under the circumstances he had no choice.. Plan B was relatively simple: he'd wait until his mother took her bath, which she did around seven o'clock every night, and then he'd quickly ransack her bedroom looking for money. If that didn't work there was a plan C, but that involved stealing something from the house, finding a place to sell it, and then taking the money to the Bronx. That would take hours. He lay on his bed, one hand behind his neck, scratching, his feet kicking into each other nervously, his other hand squeezing the quilt. Once he heard his mother approach his door and knock. "Did you want dinner?" she said. "Not now," he said loudly. "I'll eat later." He listened to her banging and walking around down there, all the time keeping an eye on the clock next to his bed. At six thirty he got up and went into the bathroom and urinated. He came back into his room, shut the door and opened his window and lit a cigarette. He didn't even feel like a cigarette, cigarettes tasting so much worse in withdrawal, the smoke ten times more acrid, the sound of the tobacco crackling much more loud, even the feeling of the filter leaving your lips scratchy and uncomfortable, but at the same time he couldn't just lay there and had to kill these interminable minutes somehow. When seven o'clock came and went he became more anxious, waiting for her footsteps to come down the hall and then the sound of the bathroom door shutting and the faucet turning on. What if she didn't take a bath until later on? he thought. What if she didn't take one at all? He considered then that he might just have to wait for her back to be turned and then make a snatch for her purse and run out, although, because he knew she knew he'd been using again it was highly unlikely she'd have any money in there, especially after tonight's episode in the kitchen. He closed his eyes, trying to will his mother mentally to hurry up and get a move on. Then finally, when his digital clock said 7:11, he heard her walking down the hall. She rummaged around in her bedroom for a few minutes and then he finally heard her shut the bathroom door. As soon as he heard the faucet begin to run he hopped off his bed. Nimbly he went into her bedroom and began opening drawers, looking in corners and under folded clothes but not finding anything. He looked in the closet, in the bureau, places he'd found money hidden in the past, but he found nothing. Panicking he stood in the middle of the room, his mind racing, desperately trying to decide what to do. The bathtub faucet had stopped running. He decided to check her purse, just in case she had left money in it. He looked in the kitchen and in the living room, where she usually left it, but he didn't find it in either place. He stood still for a moment, and suddenly an idea came to him and he hurried back up to his mother's bedroom. Getting down on his knees next to the bed he reached underneath. He felt around, not feeling anything, but then he reached more to the right and felt the leather strap of her purse. He pulled it out and opened it and took out her wallet. Inside were three twenties and three tens, and he took the three twenties and put the wallet back. Then he hesitated, and reasoning that because he'd already taken this much he might as well take the rest, he took the wallet out again and took the rest of the bills. Then he put the purse back underneath the bed and hurried out to his truck. He drove fast, handling the truck adroitly, feeling anxious and nauseous. He longed for the moment of the needle driving into him, piercing his skin, and then the moment of pure bliss and warmth when the dope overtook him. Before the tolls at the George Washington Bridge he encountered heavy traffic and he cursed and lit a cigarette and rolled down the window, taking drags and tapping his hand nervously against the steering wheel. For a few moments traffic completely stopped moving, and looking behind him in the rearview mirror he glanced at his reflection, and then seeing traffic was still not moving took a closer look at himself. He was almost completely bald on top, just a few stray wisps where a full head of hair used to be. His eyes were watery and hungry looking with wrinkles underneath them, his blotched skin sallow. Thirty seven years old, he thought. Traffic began moving again and soon he reached the toll and leaned over and paid the toll worker, a large black woman. The cars were moving slowly and as he crossed the bridge he looked at the lights of the city on his right and was overcome with the same longing, awestruck sense he always felt when he saw them, but now, ruminating on his age, it became less poignant and more mournful, calling to mind all the other times he'd seen them while driving on the bridge, always on his way to score dope, as far back as nineteen years ago when he was young and 18 and in high school and dope was just something he did because it was fun to do, not because he wanted to get addicted to it. He'd tried quitting. God knows he'd tried. He'd been to more N.A. meetings than he could remember, had once been forced by a judge to attend an outpatient program for six months, and had even, when his father was alive and they had the money, gone away to an expensive detox center for two months when he was in his mid twenties. But his clean periods would never last. He'd go a few months, even a year, and then he'd start drinking and smoking weed, and then wanting to feel something better he'd hang around people he knew had dope. He'd snort a bag and then do it again the next weekend, and then he was doing it every day and before he knew it his old sixty dollar a day habit was back. That's where he was right now. He'd had this habit for the past couple of months, after seven months of not touching the stuff, and now he was right back to where he was when he was 18 and had his first habit, only now he was thirty seven and bald and feeling much older than he actually was and working a shit job at a gas station and ripping off his mother while she took a bath so he could support his habit. The problem, he'd always told himself, went further than dope, though. Since he was a small child he'd always felt like he was under a cloud of malaise. He'd been disenchanted and frustrated for as long as he could think back to. It seemed like everyone else knew what to do, what decisions to make, to achieve happiness and success, and it was like he was in another place, removed from them, where he could only watch them but not participate. And when he did get near them, he'd get nervous, as if being in the proximity to this much happiness and prosperity was too much for him, that he'd burst from all the positive energy, and he'd go back to his place far off and removed from them, knowing or at least thinking that was where he belonged, and that he might as well make it as comfortable and bearable as possible and the best answer he knew to that was drugs. So he shot dope and got high and looked off into the distance at all the things he yearned for, things he thought he had no right to and could never get by being the person he was, and in all of this, as pathetic as it was, there was a certain melancholy romance to it when he was high. But when he was sick it was a living hell. After he crossed the bridge he followed the signs for the Cross Bronx, the road badly paved and bumpy, and then got off at Jerome Avenue. He found a spot near the street where his guys were, and getting out of his car and walking on the sidewalk a nervous feeling spread throughout him, which he always got before scoring from fear of getting busted. He spotted his guys where they hung out by a deli, and, his hands in his pockets, approached them. He made eye contact with and nodded to Carlos, a young Spanish guy, and Carlos nodded back and began walking with him. "How much you need, bro?" "Eight," Gary said. They walked down the sidewalk, Carlos trying to be casual and inconspicuous as he took his dope from one of the hiding places in his jacket. "Got the money?" he said, his hand bumping against Gary's. Gary passed the money to him and then Carlos handed the tiny wax bags wrapped up in plastic into his palm. It was like touching gold. Carlos counted the money and quickly put it away. He crossed the street and began walking back up the block towards the deli. Gary turned down the next side street, not wanting to take the same way back to his car as he had come. The neighborhood was bad but he wasn't worried about getting mugged. All of his fear was consumed in his worry of getting busted, of being denied his chance to shoot up. He walked quickly, past the apartment buildings, some with black youths sitting on the front steps, and past the corner grocery store, Spanish music playing on a radio in front of it, and then crossed the street and got into his car. He drove up a few blocks to where there were stores and a bank and fast food restaurants, the streets filled with people, all black and Spanish, and feeling very sick and not wanting to look for a spot he parked in front of a fire hydrant. He hurried up the sidewalk and went into the Burger King. Discreetly, the only white person in the whole place, he walked quickly to the bathroom on the left, which to his relief was not occupied, and went inside and locked the door. He'd accidentally stumbled upon this bathroom one night after scoring, this junkie's oasis, the only bathroom he knew of in the Bronx where you could just walk right into and use. He took his works, wrapped in a dirty paper towel, out of his pocket and poured some water from the sink into a bottle cap and extracted the water with his syringe. Shutting the toilet lid, he placed his spoon on it and then with his teeth tore open the plastic wrappers of two of the tiny bags and then unfolded the wax bags and poured the contents of them, a light brown powder, into the spoon. Folding the bags back up, saving the residue to combine with another hit later, he carefully squirted the water in the syringe into the spoon, creating a sugary brown liquid, and then picked up the spoon and heated it with his lighter. Soon it began to bubble and the thick pungent aroma of the dope cooking wafted up to his nostrils, a sickly nauseating scent which was right then the greatest smell in the world to him. He placed the spoon carefully on the toilet lid, dropped a small piece of cotton into the liquid, and then slowly extracted the brown liquid. The air thick with the smell of cooked dope he pulled his pants down squeezed his thigh, the skin yellow and light green from all the other hits. The needle was dull from overuse, and he had to push it hard, but it went in, and still holding the flab of his thigh he injected the dope. After a moment, he extracted the needle and then quickly put his forefinger over the point of injection and held it there for ten seconds. Then, pulling his pants up, wrapping up his works in the dirty piece of paper towel, he put everything into pockets and walked out of the bathroom. When he reached his truck he began to feel the dope kick in, a rejuvenating and euphoric feeling that washed away every pain from his body. He started his car and lit a cigarette, feeling normal, feeling wonderful. He hit a couple of red lights and some traffic before he was able to get back to the exit, but he didn't mind now, smoking his cigarette, tapping his hand to the beat of the song playing on the radio. When he got onto the Cross Bronx and began picking up speed wind crashed into the truck and he rolled up the window. As he crossed the George Washington Bridge a vague feeling of apprehension came over him, thinking of his mother and having to come home to her, dreading the situation. He looked at the clock on the dashboard. 8:32. He knew she was watching one of those dramas she liked. At nine o'clock Law and Order would come on, a show they'd watched many times together over the years. He sighed. He'd pay her back the money. That was certain. He'd quit this stuff once and for all. Maybe he'd even start the next day. Quit his job and spend a week home getting it out of his system. He thought he could do it. Anything was possible. The city disappeared behind him and then he was no longer on the bridge and was heading toward the exit for Route 4, a sad song that had been around since his youth playing on the radio. For a moment after he pulled into his driveway and stopped his car behind the gray Mercury he sat there, not wanting to go in, wishing he was someone else and that this wasn't his life, but in the back of his mind was the knowledge that he had another six bags left, and this made things easier. He got out of his truck and walked up the path towards the front door, opening it slowly and cautiously, like a burglar. His mother was sitting in her chair in front of the TV like he expected, and in front of her on coffee table was her purse, sitting there accusingly. He took a deep breath and walked over and sat down on the couch. The clock on the old VCR said five minutes to nine. "Mom," he said, looking at her. She didn't look at him or say anything. On the TV the credits for the end of the eight o'clock show began playing. "I'll pay you back the money. I promise." She stared ahead at the screen. He sighed and took a deep breath and then crossed one leg over the other. "I'm going to quit. I promise. And seriously this time. I know I've made some dumb mistakes, but this time I'm really going to do it. I was thinking the other day, I'm thirty seven years old. Thirty seven. I have to make some changes. I know I do. And I will." The opening credits and theme song for Law and Order came on. Gary thought of all the times he and his mother had watched this show, sometimes when he was sober, more often when he was high and he'd told her he wasn't. He was hoping she'd look at him so he'd know it was okay. He didn't care how much she scolded and reproached him, even if she was crying as she did it, he'd listen, just as long as it all ended with her implying, in some way, that everything was okay. But still she didn't look at him. He clasped his hands together. "Mom?" he said. "Did you hear what I said?" She closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them and picked up the TV control and turned off the TV. The room became silent. Wordlessly she stood up. He watched her, hoping to at least to make eye contact, but she walked by without a glance. He listened to her footsteps go up the stairs and then down the hall. Her bedroom door closed. He sat there by himself, thinking of all the years of this shit, almost twenty of it, thirty seven years old now, his mother seventy three, and all the stuff he'd put her through. Walking past him like that, not saying anything, it had made him want to kill himself. He sat silently, listening to the faint noises of the house. He knew he had to change. Soon it would be too late. The TV control sat on the armrest next to one of her crossword puzzle books and he was overcome with love for his mother, and wondered how many more TV shows she'd get to watch, how many more movies, before she was gone. He had to change. He knew it. He considered flushing the six bags down the toilet but this thought was instantly replaced by the idea that he could wait until tomorrow to start, what the hell difference did one more day make. The point was to start fresh and he couldn't do that with those six bags lying around. He just had to do them, finish them up, and then he'd quit for good. Maybe he'd do another bag now. He got up and headed to the bathroom. He'd change. He'd quit and he'd learn to be happy, just like all those other people he'd been envious of and bewildered by his entire life. He'd be a new person. He knew he would. There was time, but he had to act soon, and plodding up the stairs and going into the bathroom and taking his works out, he was encouraged and relieved by the knowledge that tomorrow was, after all, another day.
navkirat sodhi carousel ~~~~~~~~ so inspired unaffected by the way the tune moves slave to the beauty of movement the snake dances
untitled ~~~~~~~~ distribute your stillness so those who move may find some rest
up till ~~~~~~~ a wasting synopsis of after life begins with the last chapter of being the rest bust strokes of empty lines reigning over the frame of drawing
untitled ~~~~~~~~ where do you keep your words when i look at you
untitled ~~~~~~~~ i want to know not what you know i want to know you
move ~~~~ in my in creep melt all thy before let's regret together arrival revel with me in the going
untitled ~~~~~~~~ while he scavenges let's watch the vultures dance
it ~~ let me be perfume let me evaporate
Peycho Kanev Hangman ~~~~~~~ I can't see anything but wasted faces, broken bodies, tired souls and as I walk in the morning to my job the streets seem full of ghosts. oh these factories sucking slowly our lives away and all those guillotine-jobs killing our precious time. I am ready to start my live all over again but on what price? who's going to fight for me this time? I've lost all my battles against the existence against all the factory owners against all odds. and later in my room I turn on the TV and they show me how to become A millionaire, easy. I turn it off and lay in the bed and I know that all our heroes have been wrong: the dark is empty.
love letter ~~~~~~~~~~~ my life is a piece of paper on the floor my life is clock without hands my life is a broken fridge my life is something that crawls away into the night my life is an empty bottle of wine my life is a rat poison in the corner my life is a love within a jail cell my life is life without life but those precious things that I find in the night this little wonders of itself that is worth living for me- this lovely quiet music those beautiful legs under the sheets those tasty apples on the kitchen table and she said Isn't life beautiful? and I said No my life is my life and it is your life darling wait and you'll see.
one laugh and one woman and one red dog which is not here at all ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I walk in these narrow streets. I walk in these narrow streets in Moscow with Natasha and I don't feel good at all. I mean not because of this place or because of her company, just the laugher has ran away from me. on one corner I see a blue water booth with the Jewish star in front of it and there is a sigh: "If you can live without my mineral water, please, bye it, so I can live." I start to laugh and Natasha seems to me more beautiful. I'm telling her that.
something ~~~~~~~~~ oh yes, I like them raw and fresh and ready for anything but they always come undone and wicked and lowdown _ but once I met this girl and she was looking like tree in a thunderstorm this body these legs and those lips she was a miracle she was like a fairy tale that never happens to guys like me but this time only this time_ and she said It can't happen, you know, I'm a Jewish and I said it didn't matter to me but you are not Jewish baby, she said I'm hardly anything I said we made love couple of times and that was almost everything now she's gone her name was Sara now I'm alone in my room the darkness is everywhere like a little crawling creature and Mahler is in the stereo and the wine is in my hand my little Sara I think that this universe was created by SOMETHING that no longer wants to be part of us if you accept it and I will accept it and then we can go on.
heart in barb wire ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ sometimes the smoke is a painter I am watching how it curves from my hand and draws you there's no obstacles for it and whole room is a studio, it paints you naked in the bed it paints you with little drops of me on your lips it paints you whispering in my feet your heart is in barb wire you have to change it we have to change it let's change everything here- the wall-papers the bed the table the rug the glasses everything that you touch, the lock ah, this god damned lock.
Michael E. Barrett The Naked Ape ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lonely in a crowded room, eyes crawl over flesh like spiders; this is not my home. I clothe myself in layers. I try to hide beneath my skin, my every movement with intent to not disclose my secret. When I stand, I stand erect. I always walk upon two feet. I speak with diverse syllables. I never grunt or groan. You'll never see me drunken. You'll never see me sip cheap wine. Those looking for a barroom brawl will find that I have no appeal. I never curse my enemies. There are no laws against my ways and everyone will say of me, "There is an upright man." And nothing that I say, and nothing that I do, will be found to be with flaw, nothing lacking innocence. Not one man will find insult in one word or in one deed, nor woman find repulsive the sight of me from either side. Nothing is offensive; not one thing except the whole. Of dignity I have no lack, of purpose no privation, but the friend of Mary Jane sitting in the corner is riding in the belly of a large submarine sandwich and waving through the po rtal glass at birds that swim beneath the waves and speak to him of fish that fly. The half dressed woman by his side has her life tattooed on her skin, and written on her forehead is the story of her reckless ways, but shows no signs of boredom. The man who's pouring beverages has listened to a thousand tales and has the wisdom of a sage yet lives his life as nothing but a gigolo in Paris, yet I have never been there. The lowbrowed man who just walked in is driven by his urges: hunger, thirst, his baser drives; he has not studied latin. But in the center of a room where lights are dimmed less for effect than for the love of blindness, you'll find me any night you look and hear the whispers in the dark of creatures who are of that breed that mock the unfamiliar. And yet they're no doubt wondering what it means to be like me, how it feels to wear my skin, even as I'm pondering the freedom of the naked ape.
her words float ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ her words float on my sea of troubles `abba dadda, abba dadda' bouncing playfully over waves cruel and vicious waves her words float like styrofoam letters `abba dadda, abba dadda' purple and yellow styrofoam letters red green and blue in crayola colours her words float like alphabet noodles ` abba dadda, abba dadda' stirred in this cyclone `abba dadda' stirred with a silver spoon her words float like a plasticine rainbow `abba dadda, abba dadda' a plasticine rainbow `abba dadda' floating as dark skies part her words float like twelve apostles `abba dadda, abba dadda' floating like the twelve disciples after the seas were stilled her words float `abba dadda' bouncing over playful waves `splish splash, splish splash' `abba dadda' with crystal beads of water sparkling on their surface her words float `eloi abba dadda' floating endlessly horizon to horizon one perfect endless thought
Like the Back of My Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I know you like the back of my hand, too well, unnoticed while I wash and shave, comb and brush, eat and drink, drive and crash. Nothing shouts as loud as blood; my scars resonate and echo even after seven years. I don't miss the peace of silence; there's a concert in my bedroom while I try to sleep at night, sweet and sour, honest hauntings. I know you like the back of my hand, quite well, as from a book: blue lines are veins beneath the epidermis, metacarpal bones are attached to the phalanges. Everything can be explained, torn apart into pieces, separated from the whole, understood much better under a microscope. We know that of which we speak. We speak of that which we see. We see all there is to know. We know all there is to see, until all we see is shattered by refinement of the lens. I know you like the back of my hand, not at all. The juice that fed my fragile flesh shot out from where I held the wheel. Then noticed, as departed love, palm and fingers on the road were foreign to me, strangers. The doctors mended you back on with magic thread and needle, but I know the horrid truth: your flesh a color unli ke mine, green and black, more honest now. I could not control your movements then, as if I ever did; I never was responsible for even one pulse through your veins. It was you who came back to me, bone by bone, cell by cell, even as I slept. I know you like the back of my hand, with hunger filling up my soul. I dream now of hills and valleys, roads that run in all directions, forests growing on my skin, and through great cisterns in my flesh, rivers flow, flow ceaselessly. As I write on the back of an old, wrinkled letter, the mighty cranes that clench my pen drop it now to gently caress all the textures of the page.


Ryan Tansiel

Congenital Heart Defect

I wear my heart on my sleeve
But bought a trench-coat so it would fit
Floor length and tailored

Ignore the hole in my chest
I could button up, but
Weather permits I ignore destination

I wear my heart on my sleeve
Which causes certain circulatory snafus
Warm hands, cold knees. tear-duct-knuckles
Blinking ears and calves that floss after dinner

Stop looking at the excavated pit
I wear it that way
It's the only way
It, will, fit

June '08


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