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the way things disappear

here, there is something like humidity
descending against the lake,
bass snapping at mayflies
and a duck wings easily,
low to the surface, splashes down
with a spray of water.

the only purpose for the duck
is to make noise
over the bullfrogs. i need
another sound, a crash sound.

there are certain things
that scare me. waterfalls. black night
windows and the image of a naked palm
pressed against the glass. walking
across a bridge while
holding something precious.
i know someday i will not be able to
stop my hands. someday i will
watch what i held so carefully
wing its way down
and down to disappear.

in the last moments before i left you
the blossoms on the trees we stood beneath
had fallen and i saw the petals
ground against the cement. the light from
the library window slanted against our faces.
and then it didn’t as things, when over, don’t.
i walked away and the parking lot
swarmed with moths, broken glass
glittered like a lake. i was not yet falling—
though i would be. there, in the lot,
i paused to watch my new empty hands.
the air full with what i threw
so terrifyingly and easily unbounded.

-Alexis Vergalla is a graduate student of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Her work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine and Plankton.

Widow Window

How one holds fierce to the past,
each tooth she paid a quarter for,

each night, a slender pour, a slice
of something sweet her husband made.

How the other rattles in a storm,
wood teeth too old to stay the wind,

scratched glass worn thin. How one
leans quiet in the other’s light,

how the other listens, lets her be.
How both can shine, scrubbed clean

with summer rain, with sand’s dark grain.
How both can shatter fine, need be.

-Andrea Scarpino is a midwesterner by trade, but is currently teaching and faking the glorious life in Los Angeles.

Salt and Blood

Even with rain wash, big wind blow,
no road is minus salt and blood.
Saints might minor chord the harmony
of the spheres, tinker it, but we can’t be
the Big Bang’s departure point.

We are only on the pavement
and in the bang-wake, clanking.
Hildegard pushed against the Awesome
Entrance, prophesies all lit with migraine
crowns, but how many of her then, even,

could fit on the head of a pin?

-Cherryl Garner began writing again after a 30-year hiatus. She has been mentioned in IBPC, posted at The Rose and Thorn and accepted for print in The Petigru Review. Garner was also sponsored by the South Carolina Writers Workshop.

THESE HANDS

Here are the bright flowers
impaled by hummingbirds.
Here are the numbers of the dead
ticking like a meter
in a taxi cab.
In this space between
discomfort and reaching
I have only these hands
to offer around you.
Hands that have held
infants and wildflowers and death.
I have only these hands
of pale comfort,
of wilderness and discretion,
of atom bombs and struggle,
of ecstasy and clay
to save you.

-Corrine De Winter is the author of nine collections of poetry & prose including Like Eve, The Women At The Funeral and Tango In The 9th Circle. Her poetry, fiction, essays and interviews have appeared in publications such as the The New York Quarterly, Yankee, Modern Poetry, The Writer, The Lyric and many others. She has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.

The Problem With February

Each year, the Japanese magnolia startles
with mauve goblets on bare branches
as days are cold and sunny and nights
freeze the ground. Leaves will come
later, when the giant blooms have dropped
from sight. With no green to embrace them,
to offer contrast or lend support,
the tree-bound tulips appear,
needing neither food nor foliage,
but only the gray bark which bears
their secret under smooth layers of silver cork.

I cannot join them. Enveloped in fleece,
Darjeeling in hand, I am not ready
for thaw, not ready to show my colors
to those who pass through this garden,
intoxicated by the perfume of narcissus, waiting
impatiently for a show of pink lily and blue iris.
I am still dormant, my roots at rest,
my cortex a mass of conflicting desires,
my periderm the dead tissue of failed resolve.
Color will emerge–it always does–perhaps
the deepest indigo or the freshest saffron.
But not until spring is inevitable, and leaves of tea green
unfurl like fingers curled to cradle my blossoms.

-Diane Elayne Dees has poetry published or forthcoming in Umbrella, Lucid Rhythms, Mobius, Out of Line and the Syracuse Cultural Workers’ Women Artists Datebook. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize in poetry, Diane lives in Louisiana with her husband and their cats: Roxie and Velma, Tarzan, and Ziggy Stardust.

The Heart

holds the limbs in place
blood makes us upright

the atrium is filled with color
and light, the ventricle
with the oil of thirty-three
summers

and my hips sway from
all of them

there is something perfect
in our valves, the opening
of ourselves to new blood
the closing of our bodies to
unspeakable pain

synapses affect our hearts
communication is lost
somewhere in these gaps

between tire biting and blood
loss, our hearts have teeth

there’s a song in our thumps
sometimes an old-time tune
sometimes a rap sometimes
a hmmmph, sometimes
a waiiiiiiiill

our hearts stop at the most
inappropriate times—like when
we get a brand new thought
that chokes us
into submission

so we become heart/thought
slaves
and there is no body,
but no separation either

people speak of passion as though
it is something imprinted burned
braised into our hearts
but as a matter of fact, it leaves
through valves as quickly as it
returns

-Holly Dunlap has a Master’s of Arts in English/Creative Writing from University of Colorado, Boulder and teaches English at Southwestern Community College.

Ars Poetica (Whale)

Piece by piece I am putting the Orca back together.
That oil-slick rotting mass, belly up
Amongst the black skinned
Tide pools and soft-bodied clams.

Of course, at first I gagged and turned, drowned
By the scent of its rot, but looking back
I saw the ribbons of bones
Pallid and bald as glaciers, stretching from the thousand
Slurred echoes of the flesh
Each sharp glint a pure star; a word uncovered.

-Kate Ristow recently moved from Brooklyn, New York to Missoula, Montana where she is working towards an MFA in fiction at the University of Montana. Previously she has lived in the San Juan Islands, WA, Portland, OR, Boston, MA and Stockholm, Sweden, among other places.

WILDWOOD

I remember the pool, the best invention to a kid next to the ocean itself, how I stood on the edge of the diving board at nine, the oldest of three siblings, how one brother seized his chance and pushed me off before I was ready. The board abraded my inner thigh bad enough I lay for an hour in a cold hotel bed, air conditioning–so high my nose ran in snotty loops—a miracle of harnessed weather we’d never experienced before. Later, I limped on the two miles of boardwalk, best the world had to offer, joyous, wild, endlessly fun. Around us, Cold War culture was all angles and trajectories, jealous of the moon, everything clean, turquoise lines, desire for the South Pacific, Hawaii. Architectural kitsch, Populuxe, Googie, Doo Wop, words invented to retrieve dignity eroded by shifting economies. Today, you can visit the Starlight Ballroom, more fifties than the fifties ever were or aspired to be. Retro, aggressive reclamation, something better than anything I recall. What I do remember was not what I saw, but what I felt, and when my folks stopped to line us up to shoot streams of water into bellies of hula-hula girls, plastic grass skirts jiggling, our competition was fiercer than my parents suspected. I won, my hula girl popping high into the salty air exposing her chipped thighs, and as I turned to my brother, smiling, I was dimly aware it was only the start of a long process called revenge.

-Laura McCullough’s second collection of poems, WHAT MEN WANT, is due in 08. THE DANCING BEAR debuted in 06. In 07, she published her chapbook, ELEPHANT ANGER and won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. She has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Nimrod, Gulf Coast, Poetry East, The Portland Review and others.

DREAM ABOUT META-KERIN

The hospital calls to tell us Kerin didn’t die after all.
She’s almost ready, they say; just go pick her up at the post office.
So we rush on down. But at the window they hand us, not Kerin, but a slip of paper on which is printed the WORD Kerin.
But it’s as good as Kerin, they say. Just go to 30th Street Station and present it at the window.
But then a wind comes through the open doorway and blows the paper away.
Don’t worry, they say. Just call the hospital and they’ll contact Washington and request duplicate forms.
It won’t take long, they say. It won’t take very long.

-Marion Cohen’s two latest books are Crossing the Equal Sign and Surviving the Alphabet. She is the author of Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse and sixteen other books of poetry and prose. She teaches math at Arcadia University.

Olives at the Old Mission (For My Husband)

Heavy in fall. The weight of earthquake weather and
salty elements, stripping visitors, the church’s plaster
has been sloughed off in places, the adobe beneath

exposed, wattle and daub, jacal, moldy thatch replaced
by heavy tejas— the old way of building and combining—
revealed fortified buttress and illuminated iglesia.

Uncovering the space between that has
become dusty and heavy
as overripe olives, jet black and bitter,

fallen to the ground, wasted for another
season, wasted by wilt. Mold taking
entire crops left too long uncured.

How easily ripe olives bruise. How
quickly a bitter fruit can become
a useless bitter fruit. Forgetting first presses

and the lubricating and healing effects of
virgin oil blessed and taken in sacrament,
like the tongues of the neophytes curling

at their first taste of the grassy, astringent
brine-cured olives. Grown accustomed to
their flavor. Taken them into open mouths

with only the sudden squirt of
glands to remind them of acrimony.
Ground deep purple with the memory

of bruised olives and the informe’s warning,
Every day the Mission structures are decaying more
and more for want of sufficient hands to renovate them.*

* From an 1830 report to the Spanish government on the Mission at San Luis Obispo written by Father Luis Gil.

-Tiffany Denman is a poet and writer pursuing her MA in Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of California, Davis. Her poetry has been published in riverrun, The American River Review and hardpan.

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