YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

September 2010

VOL XVIII, Issue 09, Number 209

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



   Ernest Slyman
      Ghost Story

   Michael Lee Johnson
      Electric in the Sun
      Hookers on Archer Avenue
      Indolent Sun
      California Summer

   Jason A Wilkinson
      Soapstone Paramours
      Take Life By The Nut-Sack
      Dutch Schultz Bobblehead
      Call My Name Through The Fallen Square
   Aristotle Sinclair
      Better, Much
      Conversational Topics Withdrawn 
         as a Mourning Mother Explicates Want
      Delusions of the Already Diluted Differences
      Unaccompanied Before the Act of Finality 

   G David Schwartz
      In The Time Of Mathematics 
      I Fell Down The Steps 
      What Are They Thinking 

   Joseph Farley
      ashlar – n.
         caved or finished stone, masonry
         thin squares stone used as outer facing of a wall of rubble
      diadromous – capable of living in both fresh and salt water or migrating between
      Emesis – n. vomiting; vomit
      glockenspiel - n. A percussion instrument with metal 
         bars tuned to the chromatic scale and played with hammers 
      30th St Station
      For A Sunrise


   Ernest Slyman
      Philip Larkin


Ernest Slyman

Ghost Story

J opened an old book
I'd found on the train.
The first sentence  
was full of shadows
that moved in circles,
spooky like an old haunted house. 
It had many well-lit rooms. 

One walked from room in room 
in search of a long-deceased relative. 

Who among us hasn't gazed 
down the long, dark corridor
of a sentence and observed
even in the shortest words
the fiery face of God?

There were beds to lie down on. 
There were desks 
cluttered with scribbled notes
and historic photos on the walls. 

On antique tables, 
there were peppermints 
and jellybeans in red and blue jars. 
A bowl of apples on a dining room table. 

A fox terrier barked upstairs, 
chased a red rubber ball 
from verb to noun 
to adjective to adverb. 

A Siamese cat 
curled up in a rocking chair, 
purred, yawned, swished its tail 
as though to welcome the spirits. 

The air of a sentence 
was always scented 
with a freshly baked cherry pie. 

A housefly buzzed 
around a pale blue kitchen
and a half-eaten peanut butter 
and jelly sandwich 
dozed in the right coat pocket 
of a child's sports jacket. 

The sound of a piano, a flute, 
an accordion could be heard 
downstairs in the basement, 
where not everyone thought to look. 

A drawer in the dining room 
full of silver knives, forks and spoons 
shimmered with the eyes
of prophets. 

A wall clock in the hallway
told a lie at noon.
At one o'clock
it opened a book
and read a children's story.
At midnight,  
it walked slowly
on its hands
into the baby's room
and shook the crib.
The baby burst out
with amazing things,
if only we could understand.

There was always 
the old broken wristwatch's cry 
in the attic. 

Or the blissful murmurs 
that words make 
when awakened
like the dead. 

Only words knew
the fire that burned 
and secretly
leaped out
and swallowed
you when it reached
the bottom of a period

The great pit into which
all readers plummet
wearing eyeglasses,
falling, falling
down, down, down.

Though many
grasp the corner
of a page and hang on.
That lifeline
which seems so securely

Only to have it slip
from their grasp
and send them
falling, falling
into the period.

The terrible pit,
the deep, deep hole
at the end of every sentence,
where bats flew about,
flapping their wings
against bloody walls,
where spiders
gazed upward at the moon,
and old men with hatchets,
waiting in the dark,
stood ready 
for the beheading.

Michael Lee Johnson

Electric in the Sun

I’m electric in the spring sun 
nomad in the summer dust
my lantern burns
without fuel,
I lie in the deep grass
with microphones tossed
over my ears-
and feel like I’m on a high-
blue-green grass
pink sunglasses in my left hand,
teeth pearly white ivory tusks,
muscle tee shirt, with brown sash
from shoulder to hip,
crazy beads around my neck
yellow-orange shaped like 
candy corn-
life is but a blitz,
I’m electric in the sun,
and there is no cell phone
by my side.


Hookers on Archer Avenue ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Late evening, early morning, I search the night for whores, young and bloody with desires. The night streets are silent streets accept for the hookers and the Johns. One wants the pushing of groins the other green eyes in dollar bills are sacred treasures- the snatch of the wallet, a consecrated craft. Both hit the streets quickly satisfy the needs quickly finish in different directions quickly. I’m an old buck now rich with memories more than movement, talking the trash, taking the porn pictures, peeking Tom expert with a naked eye, snooping around department store corners, and dumpy old alleyways. My hair is gray, my teeth eroding, my thoughts leaning toward prayer A.M. Catholic mass, finishing off the early morning with a lethargic walk to pick up my social security check- comforts my needs. -2008-
Indolent Sun ~~~~~~~~~~~~ In early March an indolent sun persists in tossing volunteer rays of soft flickering sun silk through dark desolate willow tree branches- melting remnants of snow diamond crystals from weathered wooden planks on my balcony. I’m starting to think life is an adjective exaggerated by the sway of seasons. It’s normal feeding time. Below two floors wild Canadian geese wait impatiently for the tossing of morning feed; the silent sound they hear- no dropping of the seed. -2008-
California Summer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Coastal warm breeze off Santa Monica, California the sun turns salt shaker upside down and it rains white smog, humid mist. No thunder, no lightening, nothing else to do except sashay forward into liquid and swim into eternal days like this. -2008-
Jason A Wilkinson Soapstone Paramours ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She bored a thin hole in my sedan chair leaving the silt of forlorn pleasures in want of sweeping; the portraits crooked on their nails A calypso ballad dangles from the stereo wafting its tenuous pulsations where silent dance once pinioned shadows amid tapestry and rug incense and soapstone -paramours fused in maudlin grace The laminated Saracen discloses an unbecoming physiognomy from its paper tumulus beckoning me to Florence and the vigorous dialectic of Savonarola chiding the resolve of my study with taciturn derision Night-birds crowd the lonesome tree outside, plaintively musing the fall of our twilit sentinels Oft have I heard them whisper beyond the sill their gossamer vestments camouflaged succinctly under a jade carapace Though here must I find reverie burthensome and mephitic where fixtures became truncated in the softening lights so that even my lone steps drifted among the jigsaw of flown days.
She ~~~ Found words drew a line through the vacuum retracing that isolated framework with neon gel Though it is said that her voice can sear tracks in the Universe under glass waves broken numerals on a smudged cloth practice my heart to chime like terpsichorean bells Gilt sleeves of tapered jade blind me in an unhewn summer field Verdant stiles between them patching the cloth of our wingless flight Paring the down Where fair skies drove us from shelter cavernous, teakwood eyes piece me together in the attenuated lamplight Transistor flickering like a distant candle through the matrix of wild flora beyond her impossible smile Valhalla glimmered tangentially chained-up counting the footsteps to Eden.
Take Life By The Nut-Sack ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And run with it until the putrefied bits slip through your fingers causing infections to spread like gossip over them staining your clothes Run with it until it dries in your hands though it were no more than powder and the hair upon that scrotum has desiccated beyond recognition Until you no more notice the stench of it than that of a dead fly entombed beneath the azaleas and pedestrians are obliged to wear protective gear lest you should contaminate them unawares Run with the precious nickel bag twisting every last demand from its host -bury your nails in supple flesh if only to exact more and more Take Life by the nut-sack and wear it on a chain next to the promise rings and that fake shark tooth your uncle Dougie swore came from ’a big one’ he caught off the coast of Jamaica last spring Take Life by the nut-sack and treat it like a prostitute dragging it through the streets at the ends of frayed tethers Use its head for a battering ram against hard-to-open doors Take Life by the nut-sack without compunction or delusion or the occasional hangover Take Life by the nuts and unto those testes do what Conscience dictates must be inflicted upon no other.
Dutch Schultz Bobblehead ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I crane my neck stealing fragments of the rubber song pinioned, obeisant lamps masticate cigar plumes -time immemorial consciousness is revisited on the floor mat in a lukewarm Black Russian glasses pale skin The dance floor is naked planks along a broken hall voices muffled soporifically to refrain This is a tennis ball silencer dropped among excrescent coppice verdure melting there without ceremony lawnmowers graze menacingly between the heavy stones Rosewater Braille taunts the air ;peregrine incense receding unnoticed liquids I limp from the dashboard exhibiting amid other qualities of less obvious repute a propensity to roll under the seats where churchyard plastic bathes my corpulent skull with music.
Call My Name Through The Fallen Square ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Where quietude is manic hail me through iron-clad forests past vagabond mansions Let your voice echo among those solemn relics Kneel down along a fetid brook; there rivulets simper but do not flow -whose black metal skin glimmers indifferently among palsied flowers Look for me neath the upturned flame the misplaced extremity Bent pike heads loiter in dejected clusters as if in speechless commune over the workless days ahead Faded placards lean helplessly above them hiding in a memory Call me through the middling haze its lingering engagement beyond quondam parvenus the ether is hemlock Feel me in the closing requiem of Jupiter and Narcissus guiding like a faraway excrescence Touch me until the pall catches fire.
Aristotle Sinclair Better, Much ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I appear to be underwater. Life is blurry with blueness of prevalent persons. While on land, a legend named this depression. Underwater sadness is a forgiven exhibition. Underwater, I see surface apparitions drawing against shadows dissolving before adequate recognition. My heart’s music is much calmer. On land my heart’s concerts drew crowds of disconcerted pleasure. Underwater, though the land of my past cannot be ascertained, I am a freedom of existence untouched by the language of persecuting control.
Conversational Topics Withdrawn as a Mourning Mother Explicates Want ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We talked about the willow’s varied timetable of weeping into wind’s scathing scold, unheard. Ornamental tears dangle on intersecting arms of fabricated bird homes. Willow’s reaction as such, as much a complexity as is simplicity, creating intellectual slaves running free within borders of classroom discussions. We talked about the moon’s pouting. Her face, half covered condemned life’s strategies to create tragedies made into cinematic duplicates. We discussed and drank generic white wine. Its unlabeled body enhanced by contours cultivating yen to touch, caress the fizz entering path of tongue into hoarding throat. We discussed patterns of birth within death. Then, near a lake’s constant return, a mother cried within a shrieking burn, wailing a reenacting want to rebirth son’s drawn out dawn.
Delusions of the Already Diluted Differences ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ophelia lied still, her silent death floating among scents of absolute aliveness. Dichotomy is much more complex than of distance shouting towards nearness’ copacetic ease. Much more multifarious as day’s commencing heat hovering behind night’s achromatic opaque curtain of obscenest obesity.
Solitary ~~~~~~~~ Tonight I write in darkness interrupted only by the light of my mind’s consideration. Fallen all around me are the darkened webs of darkness’ dangling threads. I wonder “who mends such a thick and warm womb satisfying my need for lonely adoration?” No one answers me. My screen the only brand of elastic light wrapping into a bend around my answerless query.
Unaccompanied Before the Act of Finality ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Alone I am ready to die. My old age has unfolded all possible attire, and now I appear uncovered. My breaths on the short leash of derisory control. Alone I no longer communicate with another’s brand of logical speech. Now, ready, my home undresses an act to control semblance of normalcy: yes, a physical echo allowing my body to live beyond recognition, long within the subsequent of my corporeal absence.
Variant ~~~~~~~ The glass’ shatter, beautiful. Its jade shimmers like a thigh of moon’s tiptoeing light across the supple floor of a lake’s enigmatic ballroom. Many believe shattered accommodates a definition of death. This assertion, untrue, characteristic of language spread to cradle falsities prevailing under certainty. The green glass’ shatter was dedication. Its body, now a neoteric brand of whole, sends glow in direction of newness uncontrolled by feasible contours, au courant reassurance.
G David Schwartz In The Time Of Mathematics ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the time of mathematics If you think like me Your be looking for a window From which to escape to the sea And if you go swimming You may know for sure There’s no need for refection Or any math on the floor So if you desire To be a friend with me You can take mathematics And spin it to the sea
I Fell Down The Steps ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I fell down the steps And I fell down the well But the best fall I ever had Was when for you I fell I slipped into puddles And slipped in conversation And just my imagination Caused the complication So I plumed through the apple orchard And developed my way to slip And fall in love with you That’s what I wanted to do When I slipped down the stairs And landed on my bum Feeling a bit more pain Than being felling so dumb
What Are They Thinking ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What are they thinking? Why o they drink so much wine And why on earth do they send balloons All across the world And just what are they thinking With their luffin cup I sure hope I spelt that right So the reader knows what I am trying to say Because if they know What I am trying To say I think They will know what I am thinking
Joseph Farley ashlar – n. caved or finished stone, masonry thin squares stone used as outer facing of a wall of rubble carve your words well to cover the truth, a thin layer of sense to conceal the greater lie. behind smiles and bright talk depravity and despair are hidden from view. Potemkin would approve. all praise the illusion as cable and television spins its pinwheel to distract us with its colors.
diadromous – capable of living in both fresh and salt water or migrating between moving between office and home two separate worlds with different rules fish swimming against the current make little headway just go along for the ride
Emesis – n. vomiting; vomit feelings well up inside banging against your skin poking prodding begging to be released on paper you hold off as long as you can but it comes another mess to be cleaned up later.
glockenspiel - n. A percussion instrument with metal bars tuned to the chromatic scale and played with hammers when you hold a Glock you don't have to say much but people tend to know what you want
30th St Station ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ my dead father is heading for the Trenton West I see him selling flowers on the other side; I hug my paper, know the shadows change with each train.
THUMBING TO BOSTON ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I didn't expect to hear his life story: his wife and lover, racing across three states to visit each on weekends. eighty was low speed, Connecticut, a blur. he'd have talked, not seeing the road, clear to the Canadian border, if not for the sirens calling him to stop.
GRANMOTHER'S GUEST ROOM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's thirteen years since the room was last painted. Blue walls retreat before the roller. White erases a child's hand prints but a small boy still haunts the room dripping latex on the furniture.
SUICIDE ~~~~~~~ I don't mind that he jumped but why did he do it at rush hour, back up the trains for thirty minutes, make me suffocate between stations all that time. I don't mind that he jumped, only wish he'd found a better way or picked a later train.
For A Sunrise ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ it was something, colors bursting over the horizon, Fourth of July without the noise, but startling enough to make ears ring with the silence.
WATER COLOR ~~~~~~~~~~~ fish bones in a dry river bed, cracked yellow clay shines like rock in the sun's heat, mountains: purple shadows on the horizon, gray streak overhead: clouds. the rain comes slowly, drops fall, healing fingers touch the eyes of the land.
THE SPRING RIVER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the spring river becomes warm and the ducks know it first soon the reeds sound with voices, parents tend floating broods the pike snaps at the surface, raccoons prowl muddy shores yet the cycle will continue as air cools; fills with wings
Geese ~~~~~ fly at night beat their wings against the stars, an arrow heading north, sharp past the moon. autumn comes, you must depart. again the rivers will grow warm, I will wait through the cold with open arms.
Souvenir ~~~~~~~~ "my native town and in a borrowed bed: migrating birds." Mukai Kyorai the man who returns after many years' absence returns a stranger. even these few months are on my face, you will see them when you greet me, your house will grow too small, and your nights will be troubled with dreams.


Ernest Slyman

Philip Larkin

Who am I to say demagoguery
has hurt my reputation?
No more of less derogatory
than my current situation.

The newspapers said I died in bed.
A reviewer said I fell and hit my head
at Westminster Abbey.

The thing that keeps me at it.
That is not my habit,
gnaws at my brain,
drives me insane
is the shame
that accompanies
my illustrious fame.

Join the debate.
Consume the meal.
Listen to the mouse squeal.
Turn fiction into fact,
as stone into bread,
as water into wine.
Give my skull a crack.
Who wants to lose your hair
or turn a circle into a square?

Is it not fair? Are we not laid bare
in the grave. Now the snails
love me for who I am.
They nibble at my coattails,
and the critics poke at my bones,
the good ones crawl into my grave.

I have slept in many jails.
I once dated a Welsh acrobat.
How indiscreet. Ask biographical details. 
Trim the fat. Pet the cat.
Have the decency to remove your hat.
I have eaten rat tails.

The best, indeed the only source 
of truth is the hank of hair
curled round my skull.
I am Britain's golden boy,
their naughty nightmare. 

Sorrow was my greatest joy.
I visited graveyards
since I was a small boy.
A rather unpleasant 
very small and diminishing 
boy I remained.

My great innovation
was an intellect.
A genius I was entrusted 
with the task - 
largely, I suspect, 
of composing the queer, mean thoughts
of my own shy generation. 

I heard the clock by the dresser cry out. 
Write of small things. Be very quiet, tame. 
Eat your fill of shame.
Play the wicked Poet's game.
Always whisper, never shout.
Fill all believers up 
with dread and doubt,
and everyone 
will remember your name.

Produce a slight feeling 
numb in the head,
of monotony and repetitiousness, 
of misogyny, speak ill of wife
who took her life.

I shall cover the spread,
make friends with the dead,
until almost the end of my life - 
led by strange, cosmic melancholy
from which flashed of more melancholy,
angst scented with sour bread,
and shall then and only then
strike my head again and again
upon the stone hard surface
of my fame.

I came to life 
at my writing desk--
the sordid monster 
with a gift to molest.

I was the fat goose my mother fed.
What was the first book
of poetry I read ?
It provoked me to wet the bed,
In the first girlie magazine I read
I saw God's face turn red.

I became an evil teddy bear.
To every reader I gave a scare,
I spat upon the walk
of the Royal Garden,
I was jeered.
I was bizarre. I was feared.
In the newspaper,
it was alleged
I sat down in an electric chair,
my hair stood 
straight up in the air.
People scattered everywhere.

I was the wicked poet 
who cast his spell
on England and rang my poems
like a giant bell in Trafalgar Square,
so beastly and sublime
I kissed the gates of Hell
with each poem I wrote.

In the grave, I am middle-aged, 
yet not quite reached my prime,
I write better poetry in my sleep
than most of generation.

But then who am I to judge.
I am the genius that bears the grudge
against humanity. 
I deplore their condemnation
of my insanity. 

Take from me my vanity.
My critics scold me with their profanity.

I am the one who they hate.
Let us debate. Who am I? Am I great?
My bones lie on your plate.
A piece of paper is my soul.
I am as talented as a toilet bowl.

I am asked 
carefully crafted questions
even in my grave.
I don't know the answers. 
I murmur: "I need a shave."
I am stalked like a wild deer.
It is the poem that I fear
most. It will kill me 
if I don't write it.

I rise from the grave to defend my life.
My pen is a dull knife.
I drink liquor to think more clearly.
I stink of bad poetry
written in a dull age.

I smell a rat.
I am bloated. My head is fat.
On all humanity, I frown.
I wear an old hat,
let all dip into the page
and drown.

I am not overcome with shyness.
Even in death I'm an exhibitionist.
I am celebrated on seven continents.

I am large. 
About seven miles tall,
I loathed my country. Let it fall.
I loathed women with large breasts
and long, flowing hair.
I love their lips
when they recite my poetry.

Only half in jest,
My posthumous work 
runs solid, uncomplicated, first-rate
I write a poem every week.
Excellent for a deceased poet.
Don't call me late.

I love reading my obituaries.
I sit on my back in my casket.
I devour them like raspberries
picked by a naughty child 
and dropped into a basket. 

I wore flashy clothes. 
I wore a red ball on my nose.

Now gone are my toes.
If I return, I promise
to write only prose.

I have ambition,
even in the grave.
Hang my poems in the Louvre.
I would write more, 
I would write better 
if I could move.

On all humanity, I frown.
let all dip into the page
and drown.


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 - 2010 by 
Klaus J. Gerken.

The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's 
World-Wide Web site http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.  No other 
version shall be deemed "authorized" unless downloaded from there. 
Distribution is allowed and encouraged as long as the issue is unchanged.


  * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text
  submissions: kgerken@synapse.net