YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

March 2011

VOL XIX, Issue 3, Number 215

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


   Joseph S. Pfister
      The Things We Never Say


   Red Cox
      "Never Static" 
      "I Can't Stop Thinking About You"
      "Folk-Lore And Folk-Song"
      "The Strung-Out Hippie Love Song (1968)"
      "Billy Cooley And His Girlfriend"

   Ben Nardolilli
      At Rest and Full of Labor
      Under the Red, White, and Blue
      Problems of Present Day Adventists
      Separated in Adolescence
      Father Time

   Stuart Quartermaine
      Temptress Tomorrow

   Tyson Bley 

   Walter Ruhlmann 
      The Angels’ Birth – 1
      Psalmodic Ghost

   John McKernan


   Michael Parker
      Night stepped through the dark portal carrying the weight of Winter's abuses   


Joseph S. Pfister

The Things We Never Say

   THE SNOW COMES down in fluffy chunks, making it impossible to see out the windshield.
   “For God sake, would you slow down already?” Rebecca says for the third time. 
   I am only driving thirty, if that. “Can you do something besides critiquing my driving?” I ask, peering over 
the steering wheel. “Like maybe put on something we haven’t listened to five times already?”
   She snatches up the iPod, which has been on the same playlist—Spring Break ‘08—since Indiana. 
“What do you want to listen to?” she snaps.
   “How about something that doesn't suck?” I suggest fictitiously.
   We have been driving for five hours straight. Somewhere around Chicago the gray and blue skies opened, 
and the storm weather.com had been predicting dumped on us with all its late-spring fury. We’ve gone maybe 
twenty miles in the last hour, and from seventy-degree temps to thirty all in a day. But mostly, we’re sick of 
the cramped front seat of the teal-green Mazda we’re driving back from Georgia as a favor to my parents.
   “Well, that rules out just about all of your music,” Rebecca says. Brake lights up ahead shine through the 
flurry of white that hides the Illinois landscape.
   “If I hear Miley Cyrus one more time, I’m gonna puke.”
   “Shut up. I like like one song,” says Rebecca, sinking back in her seat and putting her feet up on the 
dashboard, a remarkable feat considering how small the car feels at the moment.
   “I was supposed to be in Milwaukee tonight,” she says, bringing up a topic we’ve already been over a 
dozen times and agreed is not worth discussing again. When we were in Georgia, Rebecca’s father called 
to warn us about the storm, but we simply crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. So far, the best hadn’t 
happened yet.
   Massaging the bone between my eyes, I guide the car with my other hand as it slices through the slush 
coating the interstate. Welcome back to the Midwest, I think.
   Rebecca puts down the iPod. “I just wanna sleep in my own bed tonight.”
   The heater between us—not used to being used in Georgia—is working overtime, and the ice-covered 
wipers squeak loudly as they cross the windshield. We haven’t shared a laugh since yesterday morning, and 
I’m beginning to think that spending spring break with my girlfriend instead of drinking beers at the cabin with 
my buddies was a poor decision.
   “Where are we staying tonight?” Rebecca asks, her voice tired and hard. She is looking out her window, 
though I know she can’t see anything. I certainly can’t.
   “A hotel probably. I hadn’t really thought about it.”
   “A hotel where?”
   “I don’t know. Somewhere. Once we get tired of driving.”
   “And when will that be? I’m already tired of driving.”
   “I don’t know,” I say, picking up the iPod.
   Rebecca gives me a threatening look. “Don’t you dare put on any of that screamo shit.”
   Snorting, I settle on the first loud band I can find. I don’t know if it’s because I really feel like listening to it, 
or if it’s just because she doesn’t.
   Rebecca lunges forward and fiddles with the heat, trying hard to disguise the fact that she can’t stand me 
at the moment.
   She doesn’t say anything for a long time, and neither do I.

   IT IS WELL after one when we decide to pull off for the night, finding a small motel off I-90, north of Chicago. 
The first motel we try—a Ramada Inn—has no vacancies, and after a few choice words from Rebecca, we find 
a motel on the other side of the highway. The trail of lights from the interstate ignite the dark sky behind us, 
and the parking lot encircling the low-stretching building is littered with snow-covered cars. Pulling up to the 
front entrance, Rebecca gets out, slamming the door behind her. I leave the car running and start pulling out 
our luggage, even though I don’t know if there are any rooms available. Based on the look of the parking lot, 
though, my guess is there are.
   Shit, it is freezing. I have to jog in place just to keep warm. I know getting back in the car seems like the 
logical choice, but my thighs are stiff from the long drive and I don’t feel like sitting anymore. In fact, I don’t 
feel like doing anything but sleeping. The never-ending, disorienting swirl of snow continues to fall around me, 
illuminated in the glow of the humming Comfort Inn sign. The whole scene would probably look beautiful if it 
weren’t the middle of March.
   It was during finals week right before Christmas when Rebecca appeared in my doorway and yanked me 
from my desk, demanding I follow her. Where are we going? I asked. Outside, she replied. Should we grab 
our coats? It was snowing, giant flakes outside gliding past my window. No, she said, leading me out the 
door. Once we were outside, she broke into a run, disappearing into the wall of falling snow. What’re we 
doing? I called, trying to keep up. Just trust me, she said. The sudden cold made my eyes sting, and 
finding it hard to breathe, my jog turned to a half-hearted amble. Rebecca waited for me up ahead in her 
red sweater at the foot of a large snow bank formed by the parking lot and a rarely traversed path. I wanted 
to make snow angels, she said, grinning. So we made snow angels right there, in a T-shirt and red sweater 
in the falling snow. Rebecca liked to do random things. They made her feel alive, she said.
   We’ve been dating for almost a year, and it’s getting to that point where I have to ask where this 
relationship is going. I love Rebecca—and I’m pretty sure she loves me too—but I’m graduating next year 
and the future isn’t so clear. I try and imagine myself without her sometimes, but I can’t. I don’t know where 
I am going to live or if I am going to have a career. Rebecca still has another year left of school, and she’s 
from New York. She loves it there. I visited once, but I didn’t think it was anything special. Every day with 
her is an adventure. When I think about it, I realize that’s why I love being around her so much—her 
spontaneity. But tonight that liveliness isn’t there. We both just want sleep.
   The car is still running. I want to sleep in my own bed tonight as well, but there’s nothing I can do about 
it. Traffic is at a standstill, and it’s probably better just to wait out the storm until morning. At least, that’s 
what I tell myself.
   Where the hell is that woman? I’m freezing my ass off here in this parking lot that looks like it could be 
used in a made-for-TV holiday murder mystery. Go in, ask for a room, come out. That’s it. I’m about to 
stick my head around the corner and look inside when Rebecca’s petite frame appears in the glass 
doorway. Flinging a key card in my direction, she turns around and goes back inside.
   Sure, I’ll just park the car and bring in the luggage while I’m at it. No problem.

   “WHICH ROOM ARE we in?” I mutter, meeting Rebecca outside the lobby elevator, a fresh dusting 
of snow in my hair. 
She has put her hair back in a sloppy ponytail and looks as tired as I feel. We both just want to sleep.
   “Two-twelve,” she says, as if she can’t believe I am actually asking.
   The desk clerk—a middle-aged Pakistani with a craggy face and a moustache—observes us quietly 
from behind his computer. I feel like a valet standing there with my bag slung over my shoulder and 
Rebecca’s suitcase in tow. She avoids my gaze, arching her head back and watching the numbers 
slowly unwind as the elevator approaches.    The door dings open, and I follow her in with our bags, 
saluting the desk clerk who watches us as the doors slide closed, smiling. Glancing at Rebecca, I 
realize she is smiling, too.
   The short ride to the second floor is a quiet one, and we’re too tired to argue. There’s nothing that 
hasn’t been said in the last eight hours, and Rebecca seems perfectly content to stand silently on 
her side of the elevator, which is fine with me.
   Rebecca had said she wanted to see animals on spring break, so we did. We took my uncle’s 
car and drove forty minutes south to Wild Animal Safari. She fell asleep on the drive, though I wasn’t 
surprised. We had to rent a minivan fitted with metal bars once we got there, and we saw animals 
from every continent—camels, sheep, reindeer, pigs, tigers. Rebecca giggled when a zebra came 
up to the window and ate out of her hand. She said its breath was warm on her arm and gave her 
the shivers. Later, she shrieked and cowered against me when two long, sticky buffalo tongues 
swabbed the inside of the van like strange, hungry eels searching for food. She spent all afternoon 
tossing pellets to the smaller animals that kept their distance from the van. Her favorite animal was 
the giraffe. When the elevator stops, I stumble out, tripping over Rebecca’s rolling suitcase as she 
leads the way down the narrow, poorly lit hallway. Looking up and down the corridor, I get the feeling 
again that I’m in a Stephen King novel or a bad horror movie, and am secretly relieved to see Rebecca 
stop at two-twelve and slip the key card into the door.
   “Son of a bitch,” she moans a moment later, standing in the open doorway without going inside.
   “What?” I ask, joining her.
   “They didn’t clean the room.”
   She is right. A bed with what looks like day-old vomit on the sheets and a rollaway spilling its 
blankets like guts sits parked in the middle of the pastel-colored room, facing the TV, which is still on. 
The walls are decorated with tasteless, framed prints of mountain peaks covered in snow.
   Dropping my bag, I say, “I’ll go see about another room.”
   With an irritated look, Rebecca hands me her key card. “I’ll just wait here.”

   THE FRONT DESK is abandoned, and the square clock on the wall behind it reads quarter to two. 
Ringing the service bell, I hear shuffling from the back. The smiling middle-aged desk clerk from before
appears, though he is no longer smiling and looks as if I have roused him from a peaceful night’s sleep.
   “Can I help you?” he asks. He has a thick, foreign accent. All I want is a clean room to pass out in.
   “Our room hasn’t been cleaned.”
   The clerk looks surprised and gives me a worried frown, as if somehow I can’t be telling the truth. 
“Which room?”
   He looks up something on the computer that I can’t see. “You said it hasn’t been cleaned?”
   “Right,” I say, trying to mask my irritation.
   “Okay, well,” he says, looking slightly flustered, “how about two-fourteen?”
   “That’s fine,” I say. Exchanging keys, the desk clerk mutters an apology and then disappears, 
leaving me alone in the empty motel lobby, waiting for the elevator.

THE FIRST TIME I stayed with Rebecca and her parents, I almost killed their dog. It was an 
accident, though I’m still not entirely sure she’s convinced or has completely forgiven me yet. 
Rocco. The damn dog’s name is Rocco. I don’t even know what kind of name that is. Sure, 
Rebecca told me when I arrived at her parent’s place, don’t leave any food out because Rocco 
will get into it. And, sure enough, he did. We were in the living room watching “Seinfeld” when 
Rebecca realized that she hadn’t heard Rocco in a while—usually a sure sign that he was into 
something he shouldn’t be. That something was my gum on the end table in the family room where 
I was sleeping. Apparently, there is some type of chemical in gum that when ingested in large 
amounts—like say an entire pack—can be toxic to pets. Xylitol, or something like that. Needless 
to say, an emergency trip to the vet with a vomiting dog and Rebecca’s parents wasn’t on the 
itinerary. And what made it that much worse is that that dog is like the son Rebecca’s mother 
never had. A furry, pain-in-the-ass son who gets into gum instead of the liquor cabinet. If possible, 
Rebecca looks more infuriated than she was when I left, and doesn’t say anything upon my return. 
She hasn’t moved from the spot where I left her and doesn’t appear to care if she does. Scooping up 
my bag, I nod down the hall. Lugging her suitcase with two hands, she reluctantly falls in line behind 
me as I lead the way to two-fourteen. Inserting my key card and giving Rebecca a look, I shove open 
the door. Holding my breath, I flip on the lights.
   The room is—clean.
   Plowing inside, the unmistakable stench of cigarettes stops us before we can even close the door.
   I drop my bag with a sigh. “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
   “Gross,” says Rebecca, shooting me a savage look, as if all of this is my fault—the weather, spring 
break, the motel, all of it. The reek of cigarettes from the last guest still hangs in the air, attaching itself 
to the drapes and walls like mold. 
   “At least the room’s clean,” I say.
   “I don’t know if that’s the right word for it,” she says darkly, dragging her suitcase onto the queen-size 
bed at the center of the room. Extracting a small perfume bottle, she moves around the room, filling the 
air with a Burberry London mist. After a good dozen squirts, the room smells like an Abercrombie & Fitch 
store that has just recently allowed smoking.
   Grimacing, I empty my jean pockets of spare change, watching out of the corner of my eye as Rebecca 
pulls out her pajamas and starts to undress. Once she realizes I’m watching, she turns and heads into 
the bathroom.
   I finish changing, and plugging in my cell phone to charge overnight, I whip back the sheets and fall into 
bed. The sheets are stiff, but I don’t complain. I have a bed, finally. Peninsula State Park, Rebecca said, 
is something everyone should see, especially in the fall. We went up to Door County with my family, and 
the morning we decided to climb the observatory tower it was cold—the kind of cold you feel in your bones 
and makes you wish it was still summer. The 75-foot observatory tower soared above the trees in their 
autumn suits. Every inch of the painted, mud-brown tower was covered with names encircled with hearts, 
or couples with FOREVER carved beneath them. We added our names. When we reached the top, we 
could see for miles. The sea of trees below us roared in flames of red, yellow and orange, and we pointed 
out which islands on Lake Michigan we’d build mansions on someday. As breathtaking as the view and 
jagged coast looked in the late morning sun, we didn’t stay long.
   Rebecca reappears from the bathroom in an old T-shirt and sleeping pants a moment later. She has 
let her hair back down, and reluctantly lies down on the bed beside me. 
   “The sheets smell like cigarettes,” she says.
   I nod, my face still buried in a pillow, facing away from her. “I don’t wanna think about what else they 
smell like.”
   The fatigue from the day has finally hit us full-force, and even the silence feels exhausting. Turning off 
the lamp on the nightstand, we lay in silence, listening to the heater on the wall sputter. Rolling over, I 
can see that she is lying, arms folded on her stomach, staring up at the ceiling.
   It’s not often you get a perfect day, she said, but this was close enough. It was our last day in 
Savannah—part of our mini-vacation while on vacation—before heading back to my uncle’s. We had the 
day to do whatever we wanted, and Rebecca was happy just to sit in one of the squares. Savannah, 
she said, was the most beautiful place in the world. That’s why we went there in the first place—
because she wanted me to see it for myself. We sat in the green grass beneath the sprawling oak trees 
coated in Spanish moss and old-fashioned lampposts, listening to the life around us. The mood to draw 
struck Rebecca, so she pulled out her drawing pad and pencils and started sketching away. I didn’t 
learn until a truck stop in Indiana that with all that beauty surrounding us, she had chosen to draw me 
   “We’re never staying at a Comfort Inn again,” says Rebecca.
   I nod in the dark of the room, a smile I can’t help spreading across my face. It begins as a chuckle, 
but soon we are both shaking with laughter.

   IN THE MORNING, the sunlight on the snow outside our window is blinding. We dress quietly and 
check out before ten, the night before feeling like the remnants from a night of heavy drinking where bad 
decisions were made and have to be faced. We say nothing to who we assume is the desk clerk’s wife, 
and after loading our luggage into the Mazda, we drive across the street to the BP we somehow didn’t 
see the night before. We get breakfast—Pop-Tarts and Mountain Dew and a copy of The National 
Enquirer that Rebecca grabs—and as we pull out, destined for the barren vein of interstate that cuts the 
snow-covered landscape, Rebecca reaches over and clutches my hand. She is reading about 
cyber-hookers, and that is when I realize she is probably the best thing that will ever happen to me.


Red Cox "Never Static" Never static- People always Moving: From those Who are as slow As a turtle, To those Who are as fast As a rabbit- But never static: Never static.... Look around and see, Every day- Their hopes and dreams: A continuous work Of balancing, Condensing, Or expanding: Millions upon millions Endlessly coming in For a three-point, Or crash landing: Dealing with their reference data- But never static. "Words, Words, Words" Words, words, words, And the concern was: That- What with recent scholarship, Which was totally made up With politicians' And magicians' tricks: To prove what wasn't, Was actually there- If not careful: Would all come off Sounding like Some old Protest '60s' acid trip: And it did! It did- It did- It did- Into it- So many! Like a fool: They slid... And therefore In essence, Nothing was left: But words... Words, words, words, And the concern was: And it does- Just like this.
" I Can't Stop Thinking About You" In the lapse of time, I might find You'll no longer Be on my mind- But so far That day Has not arrived. So what I now say Is very true- That no matter what I do: I can't stop thinking about you. The years go by, And how they fly- Girl, I'll probably Be thinking about you Till the day I die! Through all my days, With the pain Remaining the same- Awaking in the middle Of the night, And calling out your name! Yeah, I know I must sound So sad and blue- But I can't stop thinking about you. Well, I know when Something is over, It's suppose to be over- But it seems not with me! And no- No! No! No! I can't stop thinking about- You.
"Folk-Lore And Folk-Song" The enshrined In folk-lore And folk-song, And all that Which belonged: Whether how to tell a tale, Or how to sing a song. Play the violin, Or should it be called a fiddle? Standing alone On a strange, Shimmering- Ghostly afternoon: Taking in mentally already, The mysteries of the coming night... With the rising of the moon, Very full- And somewhere, I can feel- The wolfsbane's in bloom... Soon it will be twilight. "What May Bring" What may bring Pleasure to the senses, Or the mind... Like something very smooth- Such as beat time To a music, Played not wild- But softly: To make you feel That you almost literally Fall into a dream... No pushing strokes though, Because you're not Going up- But downstream: Ah, nothing less Than a kind of feeling Of a supreme bliss! And if that's the case- Close your eyes now, And make a wish....
"The Strung-Out Hippie Love Song (1968)" She is perfume- She is a flower in bloom: She is psychedelic music In an hallucinogenic room. I can say She is a high, Like from the art Of the VW van apothecary: That turns you into an addict- That makes your heart beat As fast as the run of a time warping rabbit. She is all thereof- She is sheer love... She's pure gold, Where all the other girls are brass: She's a testimony to my future- So for her, I give up all The other lovely Incense addled ladies- To the visions of my past....
"Billy Cooley And His Girlfriend" Dark skies- The webs of spiders, And the wings of bats- Feathers ripped from an owl- A dead cat, And a sick muskrat: As well as the snapping Of the fingers, And the giving of a bow- And of course, flies! Lots and lots of flies! All beneath dark skies! That's what Billy Cooley Was out in the graveyard doing- Sudden lightening, And trouble brewing! As out of her grave, Billy's dead girlfriend Began to rise- Not a whole lot Could be said for her remains, As she held out her hands to Billy- And tried to smile... But Billy with one good look, Just went "ooh." And ran off screaming: While his girlfriend, Still levitating above her grave, Kept peering about in some confusion- And asking: "What? What? What did I do?" Then catching sight of Billy Disappearing just over the hill- She gave an evil look, And began yelling: "Billy, "You come back here you little twerp- "Or I'm going to do bad things to you!" But he didn't- And giving chase, When she caught him: She did.
Ben Nardolilli At Rest and Full of Labor The master of his art and smithing, He took out the arrow and broke it in two, Said there was a direction, A place to go out and explore, But there was a gap, a division, And it was up to me to bring the beginning Enough order to reach out forever.
Under the Red, White, and Blue The two-car garages close their mouths, And the semi-detached mansions Lower their lids whenever I pass, The children remain playing, But the students hide if they have books, And the commuters switch to other benches. Even those who have come here recently, Have picked up that I’m bad luck, A reminder that it may not always work out, Or that if it has, There’s no reason to suppose the dream Has anything left to tell them. I found the symbols it gave A tiring procession, cars, vacations, ties, shoes, and grass, Grass, always grass above everything else, Grass everywhere, but under us, Grass in each of these dreams and always to be trimmed, Like my beard and hair. The popular interpretations Make no sense to me, like dreaming of tragedies, Enacted long ago by ersatz Thebans, I have a dream of my own, And celebrate the house empty except for people And the grass allowed to freely grow over me.
Problems of Present Day Adventists Mathematical structures of marshmallow cubes, Their applicability to certain red hands, Describe the certain way a woman’s nose feels. It would in fact make fools of clouds, The special formulas give us bread to eat And the properties of argon are hard to read. But we cannot predict when the ground will move, Even if we accept the secular world, The idea that man is just a light bulb thinker.
Separated in Adolescence Every man looks better than me, They can buy favors with their masks, I must carry change, even my signature Is too ugly for anyone’s faith. Every man looks so comfortable, As if they are sitting in their body Like an armchair, unable To get up, but never wanting to. Even the ugly ones, are perfectly ugly, And in the dark their faces Are beautiful to those who enjoy Feeling the fruits and vegetables In the farmer’s market, They’re a hit with the organic crowd. And every woman I think Is stronger than me, They always carry those bags, So much of their life, and debris With them, always prepared. And their heels look so thick, Like the coils of a suspension bridge, With the benefit of only one pillar, Carrying them well over the sidewalk With those little vessels raised off the ground. The thin ones who manage to feel the cold In any room, or at any latitude, They shiver but shiver so strongly, Lifting the whole weight of their body, All I can do is shave involuntarily And then I know it’s time for orange juice and bed.
Father Time I stand outside the diner, Long hair, long robes, The whole white works, And hold my pocket watch, Sans chain, in front of them, And when they realize I’m looking at them they wonder Who has a pocket watch, Who has such a long beard, And how did I find them? I never change direction, I stay in place and the hands Keep making their Magellanic rounds, As they continue to sit, munch, And marinate, wondering What sort of commotion I want to bring for them.
Stuart Quartermaine Temptress Tomorrow Today was once tomorrow, Offered hope but proffered sorrow. The caverned past in ancient days Pre-saged new dawns with splendid rays. The golden end that spurs our lust We gladly will consign to dust. Future feigns to fight our causes, Soothing comforts clothing clauses; It nourishes and milks our dreams Then snaps to snare us in its schemes; Inspired voyages perilous Then wrecks and loots us off the coast. Reveries, narcotic vices, All extracting greater prices, Are sirens sounding overseas, Seducing us to spread disease. Yet still we rise and raise a crew To savour disappointments new.
Hubris Where is my tenacity? I need it now the most. Where's the innervating jolt That made me bounce and boast? Did it leech my energy And leave me as a ghost? Toxic fluids flowing, Neutering my will to strive ... Jammed excretions make me Wish I'd never been alive. Specs of strength in context: Feeble dupes to be despised. Exogenous pretensions Crush all cores dishevelled. Conceited kings, and clowns, by Common fate are levelled. They both embrace extinction, Shun ambition's devils. Oblivion, not strife: I seek the path most placid. My innards cease their war, Release their toxic acids. My body's brought to rest By nerves peacefully flaccid. Come the crack of dawn, Tenacity's reborn, Plays chicken with Anubis. Smug and insolent All weakness it repents And seeks new heights of hubris.
Tyson Bley DOBBY a little while after finding out that the Sudan had been named after pores and blackheads – it was supposed to become the mainstream of catharsis the idea was to be an oasis where looting was relevant again I could not accept how kidnappings passed through the drywall the arrow did not fly straight in the miscegenation of identities the arrowhead became disconnected and rammed on its own through the cereal box information we have on the kidnap victim’s awesome party – one side in the other side out, the disembodied movement typical of messageboard Pong well now I will tell you upfront that with my personal collection of sandwiches I feel positively indestructible where have we heard that before? oh yeah: it was in the lot of an auto dealership, the sun was bending the hoods of cars backward like surly upper lips ‘I believe it would now be a good time to put on our lapel pins – the time feels just so right to start railing hard against Subaru drivers...’ the mood was solemn, like it is in all civilized countries the death penalty is given a tasteful Malibu theme my wife’s fateful run-in at the supermarket with the wedding dj – part-time she is a policewoman given to front-lawn loitering – this is a woman about whom I had often had incredibly sanctimonious reveries in bed nailing her in an act of extreme conjugal politeness to the headboard ‘flashing marathon runners is a very rude act,’ my wife warned her acidly women sometimes try to embody stereotypes of gangland boredom amid wheat downpours looking at the mouth-watering porcelain screaming how alien mouthwash tastes so excellent fetal alcoholism’s umbilical cord is a wobbly telephone wire – in psychoanalysis you’re in your phlegm Snuggie, communicating via a telephonic drool strand with someone on the other side of the planet on the housekeeper’s boar tusk you’re a hunchbacked T-shirt – you’re dreaming about a dreamless hibernation not in, but skillfully aligned with, a booming washing machine a scavenger that edited its loot by inserting interesting spaces a pissing sculpture running away from a semblance of its original – its marrow is Marmite and the decomposing/burning of a fat satiated tick the originality so feared: a crocky tomato crate you cannot fight evil, I’ve told my congregation – because the Death Star’s gambit of moving its dust under a florescent light is brilliant and deceptive I have bellowed at them many times: it does not tempt or dare you! it beckons! clearly you’re on the road to becoming a very well-spoken saint what a blighted and empty place needs is a fusillade of smooth black choral – blasting down from heaven like an emergency celebrity faceplant it would feel its cheeks puff out – it would feel its pants drop in lurid light: renewable fuel the Dobby abides – the Dobby is a glansular breast rat of hermaphroditic wood – the Dobby is the most skillful belly dancer ever the whole of Sudan’s population consists of one flaky carbuncle
MY CHILDHOOD FRIEND the scientist’s fingers are full of lab-grown tissue instead of sandwich spread trying to engage it in a jaunty ventriloquist act, half-human meat on fingers now all burnt out after hours of unsuccessful audition brutal iteration negative training blaming you’re going to be half a brain one day one lucky person is going to have to have half of his or her brain augmented you’re going to inhabit his or her skull be nice to the other half that was unfortunate enough to have lost its other hemisphere in a rodeo accident kay? the tissue is discarded after much brooding and goodbyes it is but a dirty frumpled half-bloody dumpling under a bus which had rolled there after being insouciantly tossed into the street by the passing scientist after much fanfare and goodbyeing and brooding and like got picked up some seconds later by a boy whose mother dresses him in girl’s clothes it will get a new head its new head with be the best-dressed kleenex box on the boy’s windowsill it will not be creepy or obscene a strange bone behind its oval trepan breather hole censors every vowel spoken by friends of the boy and by the boy’s parents and by the boy himself grammar’s quixotic gapmouth is ascribed by the god this kleenex box prays to at night to a hoax played on the papery speech centers of the brain by the god the brain in the box prays to him/herself interestingly the borg is after the blood vessels of every banjo in fargo a thing after which the boy himself is actually also and but so the boy is actually after the same thing as the borg it will now seem: the fluty tubes of the larger banjo body corporate, when extracted and sutured to a new nervous system, will infuse a convincing type of gung-ho and zest into that storefront phenomenon in vogue at present – a satisfactory substitute for the traditional expressionless mannequin – i.e. the voluptuous spine resting upright on the small pink cushion that on closer inspection turns out to be a prostate gland another creation of the scientist instead of ventriloquism it had mastered the technique of appearing tall and domineering it veritably looms on its squat plush prostatic jewelry box pillow it does not need glamorous steel stilts to make it sexy for example oh but the vicious mercenary borg will clean out the hapless fargoan houses of banjos much quicker than the boy would ever hope to he needs only one banjo and one spine and one prostate gland to stick in underneath his cognizant prettily adorned kleenex box he will hate the borg for the rest of his days with a fervor bordering on hysterical for not notifying him at least of their similar ambitions for not providing at least some sort of human decent sportsmanly headsup the fact that the boy’s mother dresses him in girl’s clothes is another story
THE MANSON FAMILY my perfect future, in a rubble of fortune cookies warning signs not seen by the high-flying who wants his or her cocoon reattached? so receptive to every action and particle, swishing sensory deluge engulfed at every car wash in vulva hassles will control your mind expertly weaving possession a bad track record as mere platonic entities this is a defining moment for public masturbation being with you as a rule attended by fire alarm in sign language detailed image of fine suspicious stirring of dandruff on power steering – usable clues about magnetic romance navigation bill making it legal to keep a smoking gun in a shoebox glovebox GPS snuffbox en route at every stop clear indications of Government restrictions on growth of fluff on ATMs practice a chopsticks kind of witchcraft, baby kinks are common in paper towels fluffy ATMs are inhuman, after all a bear is tearing me apart sweetly what with death’s irrational connection to Zoo confectionary So, the evolution of lettuce in saunas... still hungover: Please buy me this fancy kit with stone tools and guidebook on how to shorten my life a wearable canoe cannot possibly make you drought-tolerant do not suggest to anyone to foster dreams pervaded by the lights and blips and chimes of katexic game shows in a sore throat swimsuit shirttail in trouble your brain after running down a long dark alley infested with feline rapists starting to see the world in higher resolution: a pony with a bowl haircut: rapist turned rapper train your sink to swallow necklaces, to become the face-shaped bath at the end of a scream’s travel path what does childhood joy amidst domestic violence mean? pokemon propellant the lost obscure lithograph that contained some rare Tintin boobage necklace travel path voodoo lens flare in baking soda
Walter Ruhlmann The Angels’ Birth – 1 The tiger is thinking of you and throwing the wind over your shoulder like the red scarf hung onto the coat rack. The winged horses are quenching their thirst from your thoughts, our channelled dragons are roused so fires start. The tiger is listening to you while you are painting the wintry feelings and from your heart and from your guts and from your blood and from your tears you draw the East and a charming nature The tiger hid himself in winter’s arms. His delicious song woke up love and the dying sun resuscitated on a soft, serene and foggy morning. The tiger between your hands hums uncertainty.
Psalmodic Ghost Now that's it's over I can feel deep inside my soul the lonely heartbrokeness of those years all gone by and the tears of an old psalmodic ghost created by rain and the wheezing wind flushed all over me. He once came next to me chanting and left upon me a stain - some mark - that never washed away. The Witch offered her breast but it didn't change a thing the old ghost's enchanted blurred stain still lingered. It never disappeared even when he left for good for him this other one sent away by a rotten family. They're both over there now and I stand alone in the rain pouring down on here around this desolate land. The Witch pops in from time to time when she feels like it but her worn broom cannot take us both away neither can it quiet our disarray.
Clasped I live in a hot-water bottle surrounded by waves surrounded by leaves surrounded by thieves. It is like time has stopped between the Golden Ages and the Dark Times. The variegation cannot erase the suffocation the breath the soul can only see the vapid land despite ochres yellows oranges greens & blues. The heat the dampness of the place. The beating of the chants. Drums are on every night. Dogs bark. Cats mew & converge towards where food or peace are. I live in a bottle firmly sealed full of salt and dust rotting inside & outside. I live on a boat floating to nowhere water everywhere wherever where is.
John McKernan THIS HOLE In the Spider Web Is about eleven and one half or twelve times The size Of my eye If you would look through it Right now You would see Not A Web Outlined by bright dew drops But My right eye Staring at a vast Luna Moth Plunging a gown Of gossamer Into A full circle of the silver moon
TREE FALLING IN A FOREST The axe carries the vowels all the way to the empty page The consonants arrive with the sound of a chain saw Every twig holds another foreign language One straight tree equals a new dictionary Painful love letters look best in blue ink especially with good handwriting Hate mail should always be printed in 2 point italic and illegible Huge rolls of news print slide off the semi flatbed Vast pin wheels of wrapping paper birdcage liner To be contrary I like to write on papyrus or iced windows or rice paper Several of my friends have killed themselves They wrote their notes on ordinary paper I have tried to forgive them but I can’t
HENRY OSSAWA TANNER SKETCHED OR DREW Or plotted or painted dozens of works With the title “Flight Into Egypt” Jesus Mary & Joseph on the lam In many Colors the hidden glint of Herod’s honed knives In many tilted & shifting desert Landscapes the hidden corpses of baby Children Tanner’s most chilling paintings Include the tiny blue Cincinnati one Where every line in the canvas becomes The tint of a faint cobalt sky and the dark Dark one whose figures in motion become Invisible on a burro under a starless Night sky the color of fabric inside shadow Moving across a river to light To life
FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH JULY 1997 I hate my corpse & look forward to setting it on fire with charcoal lighter The average age of my life has been 2.35 years with milk & vodka This is one of the favorite days of my life I scorn the superstition & if I broke my ankle that one year in Boston on this day sober even it had nothing to do with my walking under the ladder or pissing on a black cat throwing salt this way and that into the blinding wind I intend to stop at each yard sale to buy a supply of mirrors tossing them out of the car over bridges & viaducts Screw fear When we stopped at BP for gas I bought some film & left my credit card on the counter The blonde with the body & the green grim reaper tattoo moving around her left shoulder to her breast sprinted across the parking lot to return my card I really wanted to kiss her & toss some salt over her shoulder Again at Cedar Lakes I went out of my way to cross the paths of two black cats & while paying my bill a friend gave me a copy of Naomi Shahib Nye’s new book of poems & I left my card there to have it returned to my room It’s easy to see I don’t have a brain Harder to see how much I hate my corpse asleep under a sundial stuffed with Friday Thirteens I’m glad I cant write very fast because I never want to catch up with my death & if it has to be Friday the Thirteenth until the end of the world Bring on the calendar & pass the matches & shredder
CHILD SENT TO HIS ROOM “Lights out No reading in bed” The child stared out the window as a cobra of moonlight wrapped around the tree And slid across the roof’s black shingles He placed the book he had been reading on a pillow Lay down to pull the blanket up Closed one eye then the other Opening the book he began to read the end of the story in his mind He watched the girl eat the strawberries as she walked across the park He watched her enter the library and begin to read the book written in Braille He watched her fingers dance across the page The girl said out loud the phrase “Remember the feeling” He loved how the story nested quiet in the white rose of his skull Every campfire Each whisper The creaking door He wondered if the story went on while he dreamed Could the girl drown in the red or the white folds of his brain? Falling deeper asleep the muscles of his face began to relax Until thin slices of blue appeared between the silent lids of his eyes
PROM NIGHT IN OMAHA I forget who stole a key To the observatory At Creighton Down the hill The telescope Breaking & entering Was a felony Beneath a grape vodka full moon I felt like baying In my leopard skin tux & maroon cummerbund but I didn't The moon looked corrugated Pitted like many of our faces Smeared with the light of the sun What were we searching for Up there in outer space? Some nun Some young mean nun Should have broken into that room & strangled us With a rosary Woven of thick thread & briars Before we did any more damage
QUIET MIDNIGHT WALK A clarinet somewhere Surf drained of motion Drained of sound Not a stitch of wind Full moon in the sky Fuller moon on the water Who strung This spider web Between the boat dock & the fishing shed? Where did this ice In my bones come from? Why is the cloudless sky Wider than my coffin? Where did my name go? These are not questions They are the answers To my silence


Michael Parker

Night stepped through the dark portal carrying the weight of Winter's abuses

Night stepped through the dark portal at the end of the long hallway carrying the weight of Winter's 
abuses in her heart. She walked as if in earnest to see me, her long gown, coat, and cape brushing 
along the dark wood walls of the hall in a manner that reminded me of desiccated leaves rolling down 
a dry alleyway.

I opened my eyes as she made her entrance into the living room where I had been sleeping in a tall 
lounge chair. She was stunning in a rich, dark aubergine-colored silk dress with a charcoal gray frock 
coat that reached to the floor. Though she wore black leather boots upon her feet, she took care as 
not to disturb the quiet of the house when she walked.

Most astonishingly was the heavy floor-length fur cape covering her shoulders and back. It was made 
out of the skins of giant black wolves, I knew because the head of one of the beasts rested over her 
right breast, its long sharp teeth and glassy eyes showing brilliantly in the half light.

She stopped before my chair, tossed the thick fur hood off of her head and exposed her thick, luxuriant 
long mane of black curly hair. Her face was as always moon-pale, but radiant. 

"I've been in the Midwest walking among the dead who were lost in the blowing snowstorms," she said, 
pulling off long, raven-colored leather gloves.

I couldn't take my eyes off the vicious wolf head with its snarling teeth just feet from my own head. It’s 
one onyx-hued pupil pierced my heart like a devil hungry for a soul. 

Night spied my discomfort. "You have nothing to worry about," she said. "This is Sirius. Not the real 
Sirius, but the representation of the Great Wolf of the Pawnee legend. When the Earth was created, 
he was envious that he was not invited to participate. So he stole the bag of humans from the Creation 
God and released them to their homeland. Because of this, the Great Wolf is responsible for their souls. 
Whenever a human dies, Sirius guides the souls from the homeland and down Wolf Road, which you 
know better as the Milky Way."

"So, you lead them up that mountainous crest of sky and into the universe to their heaven?" I asked softly.

"Yes," she replied, matter of factly. "And so beautifully said. But it is true. The march along Wolf Road 
is one of the most awe-inspiring visions the sky dares show the human race."

I closed my eyes and leaned back into the chair, the toll of the conversation already wearying me.

"I came to walk with you through the house to check on your wife and kids," she said, as she turned and 
walked to the couch. "I have grown fond of that ritual…the feelings…the grace in each touch. It's like seeing 
what is good about humanity. But tonight, you look unwell, and utterly spent."

"I'm afraid I am...spent, as you say," I replied, glancing her way as she sat amongst the darkest shades of 
the couch. "It takes all I have...just to talk. So there will be no visits to the children. No tender kisses. No 
whispers -- 'sweet dreams.' There's no more energy in this soul, not tonight at least. Been that way for days. 
But I dream of them. I dream of their faces...pulling up their covers…kissing them goodnight as if it were...
a sweet goodbye."

 "Well, dream upon those dear dreams, my friend" Night said lightly, as if each word was lifted into the air, 
floating and lingering for me to hear over and again. "I will linger here with you for awhile, until I know the 
keepers of your dreams have you safe in their care."

"You are so kind," I replied between heavier breaths. "You mustn't trouble yourself."

"Nonsense," she replied. "You are no trouble. Just sleep. All will be fine."

I fell sweetly into a light slumber, yet still restless from the heaviness and pain in my lungs from pulmonary 
embolisms that embedded themselves a just over a month ago. Night stayed for hours, intently listening to 
each breath, as if she were interpreting their very language.


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these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2011 by 
Klaus J. Gerken.

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