INTRODUCTION Testament by Victor Grauer CONTENTS ROCHELLE MASS Each time they say you're fine Afraid Zionism would confuse me When winter left At the end of November Silence Tight as stalked celery Sea water on a dusty floor Breasts Birthing KAREN ALKALAY-GUT Down In The Cellar Of My Heart Nocturnal Encounter The Fitting My Young Tits Death is walking before me Home On The Road JANET I. BUCK Apple Grief Sacred Snow Cactus Concentration Thorns The Salmon Run Clogged Arteries Tears & Thistles WARD KELLEY Master, O Master Alexander VI Considers His Imminent Death Sylvia Places Her Golden Hair ELISHA PORAT A Haunted Poet The Lost Sun Strange Snow Three Colors THOMAS FORTENBERRY Prick RICHARD FEIN Pyramid Scheme Wind Chime Squinting Toward The Light Table Manners Seekers POST SCRIPTUM ELISHA PORAT A Short Farewell Letter
Testament by Victor Grauer When the General went out the door he came in the door. In going out the door the General came in. As he, the General, exited, he, the General, entered. For a moment he was exactly at the threshold between the inside and the outside and at that moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half spoke. The other half remained silent. When the General went out the door he came in the same door. In going out the door the same General came in. Going out the same he whispered the same to himself coming in. For a moment what he whispered was exactly at the threshold between the same inside and the outside different from the same and at that same moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half the same. The other half different. When the General went out the door a different General came in the same door. In going out the door a different General came in different. Going out he became indifferent to what he whispered to himself as he came in. For a moment what he became was exactly at the threshold between the inside and the outside of what he was to become and what he was to become outside became indifferent to what he became inside and at that moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half to remember. The other half forgot. When the General went out the same door he came in he forgot. In going out the door the indifferent General became different from himself. Going out he forgot what he whispered to himself as he remembered to come in. For a moment what he forgot was exactly at the threshold between the inside of what he remembered to whisper and the outside of what he remembered before he forgot to whisper and at that moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half whispered. The other half didn't notice. When the General went out the same he whispered and then cleared his throat coming in different. In going out the door the same General similarly cleared his throat and then whispered to himself going in the door similarly. As he, the General, went out the door the same, he, the same General, came in the door similarly. For a moment what he whispered going in was the same as what he forgot to notice going out and similarly what he forgot to notice was whispered to what he forgot to whisper before he was going to be different and at that moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half to serve notice. The other half to be served without notice. When the General went out the same as he came in he came in the same the same as he went out before he came in. In going out the door the door he came in by opened and he came in the door he came out by. As he, the General, served notice notice was served similarly to himself without notice. For a moment a moment he forgot he served notice he was about to whisper something something he forgot to whisper before he forgot to listen to what he forgot to whisper at that moment and at that moment at a moment's notice notice was served that moment and at that moment he became divided from himself exactly in half, one half to enter and the other half to leave. One half to notice. The other half to be noticed. When the General noticed the General noticed that going out was the same same that coming in in the same way was he noticed he was noticed by the General the same way on the same way going out. In going out the door going in he was noticed giving notice whispering to himself himself whispering to someone else. Going out he remembered to be noticed listening to himself whispering in the same way way beyond a moment's notice. For a moment a moment he remembered he became himself himself becoming someone else and at that moment someone someone else noticed divided from himself, divided exactly in half half to enter half and the other half to leave whole. One half half noticed no one. The other half half without notice noticed one. When the General went out the door without notice he specifically gave notice he wanted to meet no one coming in the other door without notice. In going out the door specifically the General encountered the specific other General he had specifically wanted to avoid noticing. Going out he remembered to whisper something other to no one specific forgetting to whisper nothing to one other specific person he specifically gave notice to. For a moment a moment of silence silence fell without notice and at that moment without a moment's notice divided from itself exactly in half, one half half to enter silence the other half to half leave silently. One half remained silent. The other half was silently moved. When the General the General specifically wanted to avoid noticing went out the door the door moved silently and the General the General couldn't avoid couldn't avoid noticing the other General coming in by the same door. In going out the door the outgoing General silently moved out going out the same door specifically as the other General coming in generally came in. As he, the General, silently came in silently whispering to himself the other General half whispered to himself going out out the same door generally the same as he himself generally came in. For a moment a moment was all he needed at that moment and at that moment that moment momentarily divided itself from itself exactly in half one half exactly to divide itself from itself the other half inexactly to be divided itself by dividing itself dividing itself exactly in half. One half needed nothing. The other half was next to nothing. When the General the General generally needed to avoid needed to avoid the General who needed to avoid him specifically the General specifically went out the door the door he generally needed to come in. In going out out the same door the needed General needed next to nothing moved in in the same door generally needed to move nothing other in as he went in the other door. Going out he remembered going out to move next to what he needed specifically to move next to nothing to what he specifically noticed going in. For a moment he noticed himself whispering next to what he had been whispering before nothing moved in and at that moment what moved nothing divided itself exactly in half one half exactly half of what nothing had been moved out of one half next to nothing of what nothing had moved. One half to move next to nothing. The other half to avoid being moved next to by nothing. When the General the General generally needed needed to avoid the General the General needed to avoid the General needed to specifically go out the same door the same same door he needed to avoid coming in to avoid coming in. In going out out the out door he generally avoided going out the same in the same door specifically specifically to avoid being moved next to nothing being moved in in the other in door going out out the other other outdoor door. Going out he noticed nothing other coming coming in the indoor door and moved out out the outdoor door going outdoors noticed nothing moving out out the other indoor door to move nothing other indoors noticed nothing indoors moved out the out door out the outdoor door outdoors nothing. For a moment he moved nothing out the outdoor door to avoid going indoors moved nothing next to nothing in the indoor door outdoors to avoid going outdoors next moved next to nothing needed nothing moved nothing next to the outdoor door divided from itself and at that moment the outdoor door divided from itself exactly in half one half exactly divided coming in from itself the other half going out itself going out exactly divided. One half moved previously. The other half was subsequently not moved. When the General the General needed noticed nothing nothing the General generally needed needed the noticed General previously to be moved specifically in in the out door subsequently as the General the General moved moved unnoticed out out the in door. In going in going going in the out door himself previously unnoticed he himself specifically moved nothing in in the in door in coming coming in and generally noticing nothing in general to be moved subsequently moved in. As he, the General, came he moved nothing he himself needed moved in in himself came himself as himself next to himself as nothing came to be moved came in the same door subsequently moving next to himself himself needing next to nothing nothing moved noticing nothing moved he came himself to be moved needing nothing came to be moved moved next next to next to himself to himself came to came came came to came to came to came came himself came came to came to himself himself came to himself. For a moment he needed nothing moved nothing nothing next to nothing next to next to nothing moved moved nothing nothing nothing needed nothing next next to nothing next nothing needed next needed nothing next next next nothing moved nothing moved nothing moved and at that moment nothing moved the General the General the General nothing nothing moved the General as he divided from himself exactly in half one half exactly himself himself coming to coming coming to coming to himself exactly himself exactly the other half inexactly divided from himself as he moved himself inexactly as he himself moved himself moved moved was moved moved himself himself was moved himself inexactly himself moved as himself himself himself divided from himself going out inexactly divided divided divided as he divided himself from himself. One half exactly one coming to coming coming to coming to himself. The other half half inexactly going going to going to going to. END
ROCHELLE MASS Each time they say you're fine ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ One of my friends had a whole breast removed another had half of one and part of the other. They are okay - that is alive - but both have filled the hole in their chest with sponge and cotton specially fitted to their battered torso. Another friend had a breast removed and after a year or so found a doctor in Europe who takes flesh from the belly, molds it into breast form and puts it where the previous one was. She walked doubled over for some time till her belly managed the loss and when the stitches healed we saw how proud she was. The next year she got sick. Even the wig of curls couldn't hide the gray patina. She died that fall with two full breasts, a belly carved up and three daughters who have to grow up without her. Women get their hair colored toes painted and look for hard lumps in soft breasts also get pap smears. Talk about doing for themselves as if somehow they are checking every woman. Each time the doctor says - you're fine - it seems another ballot for a woman's place in a tough world. I can't say why but it seems we're closer to real equality each time the doctor says you're fine.
ROCHELLE MASS Afraid Zionism would confuse me ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Years ago I would have said - I want a child, want to Mother to adore, to nourish, to explore that world. But now 30 some years after my first child was born and 28 after my second, that's the last I'd want. I even got my tubes tied before I came to Israel cause I was afraid that Zionism would confuse me afraid that the new nationality would persuade me, doubtful that I could keep to my decision. I was free. Not really, just free to raise my 2 girls and the husband I've had for 33+ years, who turns out to be soft and sweet but stubborn and obstinate in many ways. I must keep praising and nourishing my daughters and now the little grand-daughter. A friend just aborted a 6 week embryo she'd launched with her Arab lover. I want a child - she said - as she told me which Doctor and hospital would sever the tie, blunder the lover's hopes of linking his with hers adding to the process of both nations - so he said. I want a child, she said, but somehow the swelling of her body and her youngest son's tantrums fueled her. She returned from the hospital freed, yet lonely. I could have had a child, I want one - she repeats daily and I think of my tubes locked in defense and remember how I wanted a child.
ROCHELLE MASS When winter left ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Her daddy a bastard, her husband a fascist father her children fat snails in death gowns and she cow-heavy with tulips too red. She is half corpse. They say Sylvia didn't wash her hair before she died. In winter the air within me snapped. I gagged, rasped, gasped. Spasms spiked the place between my breasts. An inner sea clapped like castanets, not like the Inlet of Burrard where logs tugged upstream when I was a child. My inland lake rose and fell like the moon in a storm. My throat was scratched with barnacles that upholster sea shores tipped blossoms that draw blood. I spit slug pods into the drain. I'll wash my hair under the shower's roar. I'll wash my hair before this night. Sylvia placed bread slices near each child's bed then her matted head on the rack where stew simmered the night before shut her mouth on peacefulness. Her bell was dead. I'll wash my hair before this night.
ROCHELLE MASS At the end of November ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In August she wrote Spain at the top of the page of her calendar. Now it's November and she put an angry line through Spain then the next day tore out the whole page of October. He was a farmer, horse trainer, real cowboy, knew how to milk cows, birth goats, grow herbs that were misty and crisp, win prizes. Back in the summer when their love was as hot as the ground of his farm he told her mark October with Spain. She thinks back to August now that it is end November and her garden is filling with sprouts from fat bulbs. You'll come with me to Spain he said mark October. Sure, fine, she answered That night he took her to the shore and said listen hard to where its quiet that's where to jump. Go! he ordered. Flinging his clothes aside he went into the dark sea. She cowered at his courage. He took her home, did not see her again. She heard a dark lady went with him to Madrid. Now that it is the end of November and her garden is filling with sprouts from fat bulbs October is a shredded margin.
ROCHELLE MASS Silence ~~~~~~~ A gnarled flap that closes dialogue a dull thud a cracked elbow where an extended hand should be. Too much is heard in the silence. You can slice it into servable portions.
ROCHELLE MASS Tight as stalked celery ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Around a grey formica table the exercise was to scatter tension, stare down pressure devote full attention to potatoes mashed and meatloaf pounded into a log. Peach halves swung in sticky juice. We sat tight as stalked celery callused by rage. The script grew stale repeated like Olivier's Hamlet. We were stored there like cucumbers in sweaty sealers mother brined each spring, we fermented in the acrid juices. A sulking mosaic of a family. Mother has a new table now travertine stone. This wide slab scatters us around it. Another man sits at the head passing salt and platters carrying chatter back and forth as flesh is shaved off chicken legs. He holds the family in polite form for mother's sake while we have bronzed the feuds between her and father poured them into a pagan mold. With a new table and a new man mother passes her kitchen's bounty while we are stained.
ROCHELLE MASS Sea water on a dusty floor ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The color of soot shoots down my birthing drain. I crumble like charcoal. Slurred phrases at entry exit trails slug pods. Alone with a sweated man who knocks my breast then turns a rounded back. The bed goes cold. Hose me with sea water wash me like a dusty floor.
ROCHELLE MASS Breasts ~~~~~~~ No longer cycling wildly through my life they're in soft bras now. She pulls them into satin cups that corridor the nipples against black sweaters. I breath different when her chest is girdled. My woman child, child woman daughter who shrieked one whole long night you're not my mother. I couldn't accept her breasts blasting against cheap fabric couldn't control the eyes and hands that followed their shape, couldn't bear the lust a grinning shadow after her. I thought binding them would hold her in the place a girl should be. That's what I thought.
ROCHELLE MASS Birthing ~~~~~~~~ I should have birthed more two daughters in this dry land is hardly a birthing hardly a son hardly a soldier
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT Down In The Cellar Of My Heart ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ there was a workbench, a laundry with automatic machine and mangle iron, the many-armed stove and coal room, and, deep in the corner, a pantry. Today it is the ranks of red berry jars under the tiny cob-webbed window that I long for that dark corner of fruition.
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT Nocturnal Encounter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It isn't all about love's heartbreak: Feldman comes and wakes me in the middle of the night when I am jet-lagged and anxious about an engagement the next day and something about the way he strains to jump up onto the bed his ponderous heft making the leap impossible at first try, makes him worth waking for. I turn over as he begins purring and reach out to stroke this strange cat where he teaches me, feeling his ecstasy in the movement of the bed, hearing the awkward sawmill purring seeing slowly in the darkness that even for beasts sex, love, and caresses are things apart.
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT The Fitting ~~~~~~~~~~~ The tape measure like a snake around her neck Fanny, the tiny seamstress measured my colossal adolescent body muttering through the pins to my mother and herself about the adjustments needed for my very unique frame How generous she was how open to the fact of the limitlessly diverse female form and the rigid requirements of fashion
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT My Young Tits ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (on reconstructive mammoplasty) I did not choose them, it was the doctors who said something must be done. But I didn't resist all that much either. Like the old ladies in fairy tales who desire one thing alone, I asked only To remain whole. And now in my declining years, a petitioner whose foolish wish came true, I have a pair of young breasts that give me no rest In the evening, when I am ready to sleep they wake up and demand to be taken dancing. "Listen," I tell them, "You're not the only members in this body. "Some of us have worked hard all day and need regeneration." This makes no impression on them. They have a will of their own as firm as their shape and there is nothing flabby about their desires. "Just a little shopping then," they whine, "get a bustier, wear it around the house and we'll call it even."
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT Death is walking before me ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ He is tall and wears long heavy robes but I only see that it is Death I am following when he turns and announces my end He reaches for the throat and I thrust long red fingernails into his eyes and he is forced to shut them so I have time to escape We continue walking as if I am sure he has learned his lesson, but soon he turns and makes to clutch me again. I bite that soft place in his hand between thumb and finger and when I wake in pain, discover it is my own hand.
KAREN ALKALAY-GUT Home On The Road ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "What amazes me when I come back to the States," Jane says as we walk over the grate on a sidewalk of Lowell, Massachusetts, "is the familiar, the old things that I can't imagine exist anywhere but my memory." She is oohing over an old hydrant, a brick wall, a train conductor carrying home his lunch pail, a cat wandering in and out of the entrance to the mill. "You're living in my past," I want to say to the bored clerk at the five and dime, the lady sitting on the bench by the river as if she had finished her work and deserved to be able to do nothing, and the kids playing with the buttons of an old console on the open front porch of their house. I'm picturing Jack Kerouac smirking from the window of the "Paradise" diner which would probably long have disappeared had he not written of his own nostalgia, and I'm thinking that we grew up at the same time but he died and I left a place just like this soon after and so he remains here forever and I am a tourist. The Everly Brothers are singing on the car radio all the way to Lowell and back -- as if by scheme. And all of us lean back in the seats of our rented Dodge to dream dream dream
JANET I. BUCK Apple Grief ~~~~~~~~~~~ The bonsai of straddled death was a crew of nurses catering all three meals by injection with glucose and morphine. Both sugar, admittedly, for fading sunlight. I climbed a tree, shook out angry apples with seeds of cancer by the hundreds-- steamed bitter into applesauce. Took the bus from school to you. Brought you wishful Tupperware but nothing meaningful to say. Fruitcake flesh brought grunts and sighs like over-due library books that no one wants to see or touch-- let alone take credit for. That rickety fan blew humid scents of final days; a musty draft one finds at church. The dresser with bottles of perfume pills. Stained-glass sorrow for my uncle; pacing fevered cobblestones. Hopeless wanted mercy booze to help distribute helpless weight. My applesauce, a joke (I know) like feeding baby food to wolves.
JANET I. BUCK Sacred Snow ~~~~~~~~~~~ Jungle cobwebs lined the walls. Fox hunts of a feather pen were seats beside a soda fountain-- leather cracked with custom pain this page would somehow try to save. Hips replaced. Shoulders tipped. No uterus. A missing knee. All ulcers here of circumstance: issue intercourse with fate. He brought her life and love to bed like breakfast trays with steaming care. The EKG of real love that chases off disturbing skunks. When others treated set apart as yellow tape that seals off horrid accidents or kitty litter gravel spit that shouldn't touch embracing toes, he fenced the rows of surgeries with swords of Zorro's black intense. Considering her "concentrate," a red caboose on speeding trains. Wisdom marbles in a bag, his love was sorrow's fishing net and promises were wedding bands. Her ritual of chasing dark and biting back with metered screams was somehow sacred beds of snow. He said that interrupting her when leaves of "feel" were falling hard was "walking into symphonies with hot bazookas" in his hand.
JANET I. BUCK Cactus Concentration Thorns ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's 5:00 a.m. and I'm mad. My sweatshirt is a mop in a water-bucket of deep-fried nerves and the hospital staff is feeding me courage like peanut butter on a broken cracker. Words are wet Band-Aids that slip as patches on a tire. I remain, once more, in traction of fear that this morning's conversation with balanced bones will be my last. Smiles are a little somber, wide-screen for guests, and cactus concentration wins. The Six Commandments of the crippled crevasse are these: 1. Thou shall not pine at pity's tree. 2. Thou shall not cry. 3. Thou shall not fall. 4. Thou shall retain some dignity. 5. Thou shall not show the clots of blood. 6. Thou shall not ever dust for prints of wayward ghosts. Taboo-tattoo-caboose of need-- a pubic shrub that no one sees.
JANET I. BUCK The Salmon Run ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The stretch of disabled is a salmon run: all upstream through cruel rivers banked with eyes. Its ruby pink frustration flesh determined to dance around rocks that keep it from the hatch of life. The gurney goes to surgery as guts that meet a table knife. I have to work around my limbs. You could (if you wished) walk away from fiery skewers of circumstance, but choose to stay for reasons that I can't explain but always need to celebrate. What distinguishes hope from the destiny of a dead fish are hands your size that soothe the hiss of aging bones. I know I wear these courage rings as collars on a stiffened monk. Under white lives helplessness. Beneath them lies a bitter boil. Fiddles of sarcastic tunes are ways I doodle in the snow. I haven't told you quite enough: your loving arms do dwarf the pain. This hospital tag is a bracelet of fate. Upon the tails of hurricanes, attached to one more round of knives, my tongue will always crave your touch, like pitch on thirsty Christmas trees. My stump a pretty stale baguette; scars are ugly swastikas on bands of fairly antsy arms. They don't belong (but have a gun); tie my hands behind my back with bullets of a worried breeze.
JANET I. BUCK Clogged Arteries ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Emotion's arteries were backed-up toilet simple facts that hung around their living room. It was a sad, sad clog and she was mad at the common thief of booze who stole what little bits of willingness lay smothered by exchange of cash. Uncle Pete was 50+. Too young to die from heart attacks. Infection grabbed the evil reins and there was no one there for him. Now her turn to face the knives, and nothing in the pace had changed. The battle zone of honesty denial always over ran. Of all the men she thought she knew with depth below constructed dams, her father's callus stunned her hide like B.B. guns in pre-school fun. Discussions veered from surgery to who redecorated how and what. There was a cache of faith beneath this fluff. There had to be. She lived in wait like eggs for sperm. Feeling pregnant, just this once was all she ever begged to change. Hoping bullets wouldn't be a death they left alone to die like deer legs pressed in fences of an overpass that eyes would see and dance around-- but hearts would treat as naughty germs.
JANET I. BUCK Tears & Thistles ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Just once. Please listen to the incandescent knives and nettles of desert bones you and Mother stirred from ash. Flush your wallet down the toilet; ring the doorbell just because. Come sit with me in tissue wrap of hospital gowns we want to take a shredder to. Curl my hair (it's turning gray) behind my ear; pat it down despite the sweat like commas in a wayward phrase so I will know your hands are there. I'd rather not rinse earthly from my fingertips without having known you deep inside the guts of soul. Tears are burrs. I'll grant you that. But shaving in and shaving out-- this ginger dancing around distress, a breach of hope like pacing after wedding vows that tells the bride her entrance was a big mistake. Nervous toes are tapping drums. This theatricality, a sleet stormed stage I never chose. I need to hear the creaking fact of tenderness like final gasps of dying doves. Feeling thistles on a tree. Their branches sawed to set it straight. There are, you know, the stems of roses under those deceiving thorns. You're way too old to stand so far away from life. If destiny's an ambulance, I'm pressing squarely on its horn.
WARD KELLEY Master, O Master ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A sinner takes a hand, somewhat gingerly; this is one gesture that must be carried well, for the aspiration to refine oneself must be committed succinctly. I reach out for your hand, I reach out for the human in us both, I reach for what -- until this very second -- has not been given by either one of us. Can you see me stretching out my fingers to your own hand; can you see the touch required, the touch that must be made on both our souls? O, I can no longer do this thing gingerly. O, I must grasp your hand with abandon, with the animal suckling of my soul . . . yet somehow I find the courage to rein in my greedy spirits . . . and again and again I wait for your hand to come out to meet my own, again and again . . . slowly I will wait. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), New England poet, is one of the country's greatest poets. Spending nearly all of her life in Amherst, Massachusetts, the last half in relative seclusion, Emily came to be known as eccentric. Besides rare contacts with people outside her immediate family, she wore only white dresses and sometimes referred to herself as a wayward nun. Regarding her poems - only eleven of 1,775 poems were published during her lifetime - she advocated the "propounded word." Her word for herself as a poet was "gnome," and the poems themselves she called, "bulletins from Immortality. "Some historians believe she had an affair with Samuel Bowles, editor of the "Springfield Republican," and it is Bowles who was the subject of her Master poems. Her last communication was written the day before her death, a short letter sent to young relatives: "Little cousins, -- Called back. Emily."
WARD KELLEY Alexander VI Considers His Imminent Death ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Say it with a simple tongue, a gentle way to smooth it all into a proper understanding . . . I have been so complicated these past years . . . I welcome the simple sentence, the absolute guilt, for the taste of stern truth is bitter but best. Yet if I spread my hands, then admit I was in the wrong, if I renounce the ways of my effective past . . . what then will that do for the race of us but gentle out the worries of my own expiring body? So perhaps I must continue on with the lies . . . only to maintain the balm for the populace . . . an act of better bravery than granting absolution to my dying soul. And then, is not theology and politics both wondrous arts . . . where any espoused claim can be worded as a better truth? Rodrigo Borgia (1431-1503) was elected pope Alexander VI in the conclave of 1492. Overall his reign was a disaster for the Church, and his corruption lessened the Church's ability to resist the Protestant reformation. However Alexander did achieve certain accomplishments such as sending the first missionaries to the Americas, recovering the territories of the Papal States, and reforming the papal finances. Prior to becoming pope, he fathered four children by a Roman noblewoman; his children became Alexander's dominant passion in his life, and two of them achieved their own notoriety: Cesare Borgia, the model for Machiavelli's "The Prince," and Lucrezia Borgia who was reported to have been involved in an incestuous relationship with her father and two brothers.
WARD KELLEY Sylvia Places Her Golden Hair ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You would not come forth, you would not die to the cause of a finer, more astute, recourse . . . You would not do, not you, old shoe, yet you knew it needed to be done . . . this pounding of the words; you knew you were the one selected at this moment . . . to come forth on your own, your own terms, own words, own sense of order . . . You would not do, to drive it in any other direction but right at the heart . . . at the heart, right at the beast, where the guts live, tearing forth, rending, coming about . . . to make order of the chaos of death, to put the words to it, to insert the poems into the guts of death and re-living, to pound and pound them into things recognized as obtuse prayer . . . and this is what it means to be of the human, to be of the pounders, pounders, heads on the block, placing heads down, all the way down to the gas, where there is a whiff of the horizon. Sylvia Plath (1931-1963) American poet, published her first poem at the age of eight. Suicidal from a young age, she endured, at various times, electroshock and psychotherapy. She married the poet Ted Hughes, who went on to become England's poet laureate. The marriage lasted seven years, but failed when Hughes left her for another woman. Months later, Plath killed herself with cooking gas. In a macabre twist of irony, the woman for whom Hughes left Plath also gassed herself to death. Another poet-suicide, Anne Sexton, wrote of frequent drinking dates at the Ritz with Plath: "Often, very often, Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicides; at length, in detail, and in depth between the free potato chips. Suicide is, after all, the opposite of a poem."
ELISHA PORAT A Haunted Poet ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ to the memory of Abba Kovner translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler Years he smoked, burned, inhaled filthy butts that wrecked his lungs with tuberculosis: muscus, cough and pain. He didn't cry he didn't shout, he only groaned in private, and in whispers dictated notes to those bending over his bed. The sound of chimes and bells interrupted the silence of his last nights always alerting his heart's flight: He didn't save from the fires a loving mother chasing after him, clinging as he walks, as if he were a baby again, holding her ashes on his last day.
ELISHA PORAT The Lost Sun ~~~~~~~~~~~~ translated from Hebrew by Asher Harris He came back, but he came like a stranger. He came back, looked about and did not Recall, for to him, all appeared estranged: The house, the yard, the narrow lane. Their memory sliced through his heart, Cut, and he who survived and was favoured Came back; and he who had sworn back there That nothing would be forget, estranged though it be: A dirt path, and the barren field and the ditch At the edge, and the lemon tree with its bitter fruit. He felt that his absence was almost ordained: To come back at last, to come like a stranger With a shadowy memory that was not estranged, And an unravelled thread of burning desire That will never more be made whole.
ELISHA PORAT Strange Snow ~~~~~~~~~~~~ translated from the Hebrew by Riva Rubin Strange soft snow descends on the slopes of Jebel-El-Kebir, chill and silent it falls on dogouts and vehicles armored on the screens of memory. Astray in me in the damp haze forgotten comrades call whose lives once touched my life now grown distant beyond the roads the roadblocks the rolling hardare. Once, among them, I saw such a pure white suddenly crushed; minced and ploughed under and rearing up and then subsiding silently absorbing rent veins an reddening stain.
ELISHA PORAT Three Colors ~~~~~~~~~~~~ translated from the Hebrew by Seymour Mayne On Memorial Day I make my way up to the small military cemetery. In the northwestern corner we've placed a grey basalt rock and facing the southern corner -- a blanching chunk of chalk. And between under the loose sand our red loam spreads itself all around. And when the loudspeaker booms out the memorial prayer I close my eyes and see those three colors descend before me and disappear into the encroaching shadow of the stones.
THOMAS FORTENBERRY Prick ~~~~~ A confession, a cry, a plea: No love song this, burlesque, No arrowsmith singing Aerosmith Yet soothing sweet its tune, Though harshest yet its tone; We take ourselves in hand. Before we play we pray Hear us out, our friends, For we are as serious as the Satyricon In unleashing our collective fury, Though the sole author of our disgrace Is no other Pogo than ourselves. There is no appendix to the work, A pin dick's joke or chicken choke, Rather more a Jormungand Encircling gland, O Beastly Snake, "Your main gland" of unmentionable power The same which crawls upon A sunlit garden's grasses-- No shaft of light penetrates The depths of shadowy deep, Not even probing insight; For the rod we hold Sceptoric symbol of patriarchal power Actively exercised and oft circumcised, Does little to describe Life and yet decides How we come to blows That divide our lands and loose our tribes With iron staff and steely sword We ravaged all the maidens fair A game of hide and seek Guinevere played with a lot of Lance Tumbling kingdoms into beds Of stone, rocks most jagged Beneath white cliffs and satin sands; Royalty or peasant it matters not For all the infidelity is of the family Man. Some doth indeed decry "Ye serpents, ye rigid offspring, Hellish vipers of venomous taste, There is no escape! The warmth squirming in your groin Is a mere spark of the fires of Hell!" And some applaud, though why As a great a mystery as such: Flushed red with excitement Mr Lingham stands erect, His head shining with perspiration; Ms Yonni awaits, trembling apart, And wets her lips In anticipation of their meeting. This is backroom meetings And only a shaft of shadow Cast by the white thrust of the Washington Monument Pierces the coiling, twisting hollow New clear glass of the Pentagon hole With its beribboned men endowed To the hilt with huge multistoried erections, Their warheads warted with multiple Climaxes of cluster bombs Spewing forth genocide to all the mothers Indiscriminate of their origin Stripped of choice, bound Sheathed in the Mother herself These silo slipping missiles Are the arrows of no cupid But rather the stallion's pride Horror of the mares ensnared Erect beneath the saddle of a Pale Rider Whose bony protuberance A long middle finger makes Stabbing the government's way down The people's deep throat Beyond the gag reflex To deliver its seed To the wild blue beyond Of Pacific waters warm Or maybe dangling yellow banana bunches Steaming hot in the moist heat Of some Amazonian jungle Its an Achillesean spear of pain Red hot star bright shot through Innocence lost once taken Bent over the desk Of a prick in the Oval Office With one finger on the button A knobby clitoris kept red in anticipation Of the great world gang bang While his buddies yell from behind "Do it! Do it! Do it!" Knowing all the while in the back Of their lecherous little minds Fiddling with thought Like an old man with a little Lolita When they finally do do it, it will be A very bleak thorn and thistle Harvest of sorrow For raped Mother Earth Is as dry as dust And we can taste Her when we return Is it a Barthelmean mindfuck Just the choleric love of Marquez A Kazantzakisian passion, Greek love Or Rushdie's thought pop, perhaps The frantic dash to the tracks Before the love train derails Karenina A Tolstoyan wrestle with Sonyan devils? Wondering, we wander The annals of our minds Down sewers up stairs It is a convoluted gray matter Not easy to discern No Dantean Inferno, though The trip is down because We delve into the heart of darkness Nestled between rising curved thighs "Mr Kurtz-- he dead!" 4:30 in the morning after Midnight maneuvers pushing the envelope A sapphic style like Sisyphus Over the top, over and over Until with raw stinging breath Drained we cry "Enough! No more! Stop!" Stomachs tightened, so cramped The helmeted soldiers retreat A doughboy now free of the trench Softly, thankfully returning home (Please, God, no trenchfoot Or Legionnaire's Disease!) We have all the AIDS we need None wanted or anticipated And yet neither is Charon Though we all carry pocket change The wisdom of stones is ballbusting Ripples spreading to the farthest shores Dams bursting and overflowing Screams of innocents drowned Out in the pouring rain The drops pearls of nacreous liquid Drooling from the swollen tip Of a Centurion's spear stabbing Deep into the side of Love Crossing the silhouetted Styx O, Leda, my love Is like a white white swan Swimming the deepest waters still Striving for the purifying river Ganges Flowing slow now fast Faster still to cascade Over the banks in flood Erasing boundaries with a raging torrent Juggernaut is unstoppable Though we seek Tiresias' counsel Desiring no answers of Anaxarete The choice is all our own For all we seek Tantalus drinks And judgment is withheld Until the deed is done Believe us, friends Once the serpent's head is cut A tie like the cord that binds Children to the mother's we love To use as we wish upon a star Until the day they fall from the skies And cold flesh is cut by warming worms This organ cannot and shall not Gain the immortality of Hydra (A millionaire's joke reattached) No, this eternity Is much more serious than that The root of life Ginseng tea or not With the final fuck we'll need A helping hand for the last Full-bodied thrust into the box Driving nails flat on our backs Straight into the wood, screams of pulleys And the sigh of Our Lady Earth as we settle in Tight, warm and secure A return to the womb, return home For, after all, in our strength We may slay the serpent Slinging our Mjolner like a dorje The thunderous hammering of heaven our chorus But we will surely drown in its venom.\par}
RICHARD FEIN Pyramid Scheme ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ No hobbling zombie with a Russian stage name. Tahnah leaves don't exist, bacterial spores do. The archaeologists died one by one. The germs entombed for five thousand years unleashed. Pharoh's vengeance unwrapped at last. The mystical curse executed mundanely. Tut-tut be disabused. Nothing is mystical. But a curse exists. It's the structure itself. See how the sides lean toward the apex. The wealth and sweat of thousands culled to build stepping stones. Plunder from everywhere gathered in one tomb, so one son of the sun could take it all with him. Here it all began: the subserviency to betters the lash, the pocket-picking, the funneling upward to one point exalted above all the rest. The curse was built stone upon stone. It's still with us.
RICHARD FEIN Wind Chime ~~~~~~~~~~ The wind chime is in the half-open window across the courtyard. The almost transparent red curtain still hangs, and gently sways. Beyond the window, beyond the curtain, beyond the chime, through the apartment is the bedroom, clearly visible even here, by my window. And I see the unused packing carton propped against the wall where the bed used to be. That bed. How clearly I can make out all the details now. I gave her that wind chime which I can now barely hear. But I hear it, and will continue to hear the chiming until my new neighbor rips it down.
RICHARD FEIN Squinting Toward The Light ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Race faster daddy so we can meet the sun." I speed along the highway, the sun visor down. "Faster daddy, faster. Beat the sun. Ahead there must be a place to meet, where we can stop and watch the sun come down from heaven and wave goodbye to it. And we can wait all night for it to come up again, then we can yell and clap when we see it in the morning and maybe shake hands with it." This is logic of my five-year-old. "Faster daddy," but I'm at my limit now. "Faster daddy." I reply, "No one can beat the sun." "Not even a racing car, daddy?" "No." "A fire engine?" "No." "A plane?" "No." "A super big plane?" "Nothing on earth can go fast enough to meet the sun, nothing. The faster you come close, the faster it races away If you keep trying, you'll run in a big circle, ending exactly where you began. And the sun won't be any closer, though after trying so hard you'll probably make believe it's nearer." He answers with only, "But daddy, can't we just try?"
RICHARD FEIN Table Manners ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Once upon a true time in a long extinct cafeteria, (it was one of those roach on the wall, last dime eateries, an edifice of low cuisine, where you'd push your tray along rails and a sneezy server would plop food half on your plate and half on the floor, then you'd throw down your copper, silver, and occasional dollars and run to claim a seat hoping that the fellow slob next to you didn't reek) I was a 3 A.M. diner. A disheveled Joe stumbled in looking for the john, but was evicted by the manager with a "Scram bum." He had already spent his last cent; we inside were yet to spend ours. And he stared at us all through the wide front window--- just a glass pane and pennies away. He zipped down his fly, and washed away window grime as he marked his territory. All the dining denizens dropped their knives and forks and looked away, except me. I raised my spoon in an almost salute and slurped my chicken soup. The manager chased him away with a bat. So much for marking territory without cash. I would have feigned nausea and skipped out on the tab to keep a few more coins, but I was dining in a cash-in-advance dive.
RICHARD FEIN Seekers ~~~~~~~ Here behind the dune, the cries of distant gulls soothe, and one lone pinkie of the ocean, curls round this dune to create a mudflat; here near this sheltered brackish pool growing ever more salty as the tide recedes under the July sun, where countless courting crabs call with their claws, I find a photo torn not just in half but utterly in fragments--- shattered as if dipped in liquid nitrogen--- yet enough remains to piece together a face, a human face, so many pieces, such vehemence, remnants of a brittle affair turned too cold. Was it here that they shared a moment? Only a jilted lover would have returned to shred a memory. Out of the shards, I've assembled a sand-portrait on a windy beach. The gulls and courting crabs have witnessed everything, but offer no testimony, for both are seekers--- the crabs for mates, the gulls for carrion.
ELISHA PORAT A Short Farewell Letter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To my Hebrew, my own sundered, grated Hebrew: There, in my forgotten, distant childhood You were placed inside my ear, imprinted In my finger, poured upon my neck. Now, goodbye: I am sinking, forgotten You go on, not turning your head. Fare you well, my bell-wether. Now lock on, my distant one, to The neck of a tender boy, weigh heavily On the heart of my successor. translated from the Hebrew by Asher Harris, 1999.
Come one, come all! Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and learn from all. A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. Even a chance to be published in a magazine. The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin Board Systems. We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking. Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created. Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede
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. REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn All books are on disk and cost $10.00 each. Checks should be made out to the respective authors and orders will be forwarded by Ygdrasil Press. YGDRASIL MAGAZINE may also be ordered from the same address: $5.00 an issue to cover disk and mailing costs, also specify computer type (IBM or Mac), as well as disk size and density. Allow 2 weeks for delivery. Note that YGDRASIL MAGAZINE is free when downloaded from Ygdrasil's World-Wide Web site at http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.
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