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Poetry Project: Summer 2007 Selections

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Summer 2007 Poetry Project Selections

Marjorie Bruhmuller
If You Only Knew

I would not
have wasted so much time 
eating French-fries from the greasy spoon
humming Bee Gees tunes to the jukebox
drinking Coca-Cola with Fabienne 
and the others at the beach.

If I could return to a time 
before you made that deal 
behind my back I would glue 
the wet grass to the soles of my feet
drink up the lake, cut out the sky 
and roll it into my pocket.
Slice the trees into ribbons 
to tie in my hair, take each pebble
grey layer of clay to build a wall
around it ever happening again.

All the blue-jays, chickadees
crickets and monarchs 
I'd gather into my arms
stuff their voices down my throat
fold the wings tenderly into a kite
squash crayfish and minnows 
between my toes.

I'd bite the sunrise into my mouth 
like a peach, wear the sunset 
askew on my head for a hat
slip the silvering moon 
onto my finger. 

I would tie the cottage
wood stove intact to the wheelbarrow
with the clothesline hang the view 
in each window for curtains.

And like summer's bag lady 
I would carry my home
a one woman caravan
down the road
with my evicted heart.

Marjorie Bruhmuller lives in Quebec, Canada, in the little village of Milby. Her poems have recently appeared in The Mitre, Grain Magazine, Event, Room of One's Own, (Room) and The Antigonish Review. She writes for a small newspaper called The Township's Sun.


Joan Mazza
If You Only Knew

My guests heap food onto their plates.
Nice to meet you,
I’ve heard a lot about you,
What do you do?

Stacey takes half the asparagus casserole.
I don’t mention her conviction
for bank fraud, four years in jail.
She’s on parole. I keep my back rooms locked.

Near the window, Derek leans toward Jill, winks
between his witticisms. I can’t look at him, can’t help
remembering his compulsion to expose himself
to young girls in movie theaters, can’t help

thinking professional help can’t help.
Kathleen over there, wearing a turtleneck and long skirt,
although it’s ninety degrees, was arrested
for being a hooker and a pusher in her twenties.

People think she’s shy and conservative.
William tells her she needs to get out more,
while he moves to score. She’ll step away from him
in a minute, will never know he used to be a priest.

I listen, observe. I won’t burden anyone
with my secrets. No one knows me,
although two here say I’m the best
friend they ever had.

Joan Mazza has worked as a psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach, seminar leader. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin), her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Möbius, Permafrost, Writer's Digest Magazine, Playgirl, and Writer's Journal. She’s now a poet in rural Virginia.


Ilene Starger
If You Only Knew

Before charcoal evening
erases itself before a thing
promised cannot be returned
before familiarity’s fluorescent
glare reveals us mythic imperfect
before your objections burrow
into my obedient body
burning idyllic only in darkness
before we unravel borrowed
spiderwebs of sleep
and disembark this languid ship
before we remember if time
lunges at us or stands still
before dawn scatters
opalescent marbles across the floor
disregard my stubborn
longing which will not
be sloughed off
despite the pressing logic
of your steel wool touch

Ilene Starger is a New York-born poet.  Her work has appeared in Bayou, Folio, Georgetown Review, Tar Wolf Review, Grasslimb, Paper Street, Tributaries, Manzanita, Oyez Review, and Poesia, among other journals.  She has received honorable mentions in various competitions, and has just finished preparing a first collection of poems.


J.D. Schraffenberger
If You Only Knew

1.            the score on a morning that's
            for more than adoring your
            hard-won doubt, or a hesi-
            tation about reaching dawn.

2.            how to introduce this word
            to that one, the soupy sun 
            with the sky, a blue-mooned
            sky, this conditional blue.

3.            what without means here, what 
            company means here, how to say 
            alone when no one but the sky,  
            the soupy sky is here to hear.

4.            that in Old English and High
            Middle German, in all those 
            mother tongues of ours, lonely 
            was a chuckled understatement.

5.            if you knew how very little 
            company I have to enjoy today,
            very soon you would know some-
            thing, something of the moon.

J.D. Schraffenberger’s work appears in Poet Lore, Paterson Literary Review, Seattle Review, Dogwood, Louisville Review, and elsewhere.  He is the editor of Harpur Palate.


Tim Gavin
If You Only Knew

As kids we would sneak out to Long Pond Bridge
when the sun settled beyond the white birch sky-line.  
We would look at the manmade lake, 
our reflections staring back at us 
in the dark cedar water and wait 
for the brave one to step up to the top rail
and swan dive down 
to the surface, breaking the muddy reflection
of us staring into the unknown.
The wait seemed like a thaw of winter 
as he approached the surface

from below, rising with fistfuls
of  brown leaves, stones, 
and ground fish bones, 
re-entering the plane
that bridged us to this underworld. 

Tim Gavin has had his poetry published in a number of small journals, including Anglican Theological Review, Black Water Review, Negative Capability and others.  He is a Masters of Divinity student and Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Also, he teaches at The Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.


Sholeh Wolpé
If You Only Knew

Each summer you watched shooting stars dive
into the Caspian Sea and wondered why they chose
to leave their heaven home for those cold waters,

gray and full of djinn, where drowned Russian
and Iranian children met. You stood on the soft feather
sand thinking, the sea’s so deep it takes in worlds.

Years later, when doctors, professors, and architects fled
Iran to become dishwashers and taxi drivers in a faraway land,
you understood the plight of suicidal stars.

Sholeh Wolpé is a poet, literary translator and writer. She is the author of Sin—Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, Iran’s Rebel Poet(University of Arkansas Press), The Scar Saloon (Red Hen Press), Rooftops of Tehran (Red Hen Press, Jan. 2008) and a Poetry CD (Refuge Studios). Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and have been translated into several languages.


Maura High
If You Only Knew

After Galía the road turned to dirt the same straw-yellow
as the mountains and our wheels spat chips and shards
to either side and raised up a pall of dust that settled
over us and the dry grass along the road
at each fork a sign for Varos though the road was narrow now
pot-holed and stony with grass growing tall between the wheel ruts
more track than road really between the olive groves and used at harvest 
certainly but when else we did not know only that this land 
had been criss-crossed cleared hoed and scythed for generations
and we were alone now at this hour and in this season 
with who knows how many miles of tack and backtrack
through the ancient demes and smallholdings alive with crickets 
and the wildflowers of thistles and thorn bushes wild herbs
whose names we did not know in any language
and no sign now only the fading light and the track branching
ahead of us saying it did not know us could do nothing for us 
but send us back to our own country our own certainties.

Maura High was born in Wales, and lived for years in Malaysia, Pakistan, and Nigeria, before settling down in North Carolina, where she works as a freelance editor. She has two daughters and is a member of the Black Socks Poets.


Cat Jones
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

Which reason cannot follow, as the flight of birds, as the cohesion of water. A ring round the sun for rain. Blood either bathes the organs directly, or remains in its vessels forever. You are a glassless window on the world. You are a winter machine, not for your coldness, but your soft regression. Speak comfort to me, speak stillness all in all. By shadows or manes, by appearances in the air. Red sky for snow.

Cat Jones holds an MFA from the University of Washington and has work upcoming in The Laurel Review.  She lives in Seattle and is associate poetry editor for Cranky Literary Journal.


Kate Michaelson
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

October I’ve been finding yellow leaves
in shoes and pockets bright as sunset skies.
I know of nothing natural that grieves
so dashingly and paints its own demise.

November skies are thick as woolen gloves;
like Frost's November guest I find them fine,
as beautiful as days can be.  She loves
solemnity, the noise of joy behind.

December snows enshrine the ground for weeks
then melt and freeze again in running forms.
At night, I read alone; the old house creaks 
from the padding feet of ghosts, the wind of storms.

I’ll stay awake and watch the morning come
the sun on ice, a cold, uncovered bloom.  

Kate Michaelson lives in Florida where she works as a technical writer and English instructor at St. Petersburg College.


Katherine Soniat
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

Blue heron stands on the tidal flats. Before it the Atlantic 
     swells and before that the Earth spun round for ages, 

our galaxy curled in a spiral. Feathery mosaics ripple 
     on water. Birds wade the sunny side of the planet, 

wind picking up above Route 6. I walk the shore toward town, 
     back to the commerce of tip your eyes up, or down, 

to the next passerby, while November, that month with the pin-hole 
     mouth, never gets enough. Surf sucks seaweed from under a pier. 

Half empty is half full, or so the tides imply. Then there's my reflection 
     holding fat clouds up in the sky. Blank bluster of me at my feet 

in the shallows a body fitted out with legs and filled with daily chatter. 
     The pleasure of thinking it makes a whole hell of a difference,

these mindless gyrations of who's who, me first, and so why not just quit 
     and join the homing path of birds. Two dogs shake sand off 

in a parking lot, then run up Pearl St. for somebody's kitchen. We plan 
     in terms of destination, dream of polar opposites while vendors 

hold up the I'm-Worth-More-Money-Than-You Doll. She whines this 
     when I pull her string. On town square her livelier versions browse

and wander. Gifts to carry back: Tinted gossamers, chocolates with the liquid 
    center. The pulse of I'll-buy-this-one-you-that until it all adds up to 

the proper image struck. Beer served under lights of cinnabar, driftwood fires 
    set to go with sundown. What flies off with the dream each morning, 

leaving wavery prints in the sand?  I want sleek loops in a fish-blue surround 
    where the song goes, deep calleth unto deep even to the dancing waterspout. 

And there a house spins round like home again, blur of my old porch and windows. Then down it falls into daybreak, into the off season, 

one-legged heron asleep on the marsh.

Katherine Soniat's The Fire Setters is available through Web Del Sol On-line Chapbook Series. Her fourth collection, Alluvial, was published by Bucknell University Press, and A Shared Life won the Iowa Poetry Prize (Iowa UP).  Poems are forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and Tiferet.


Lavonne J. Adams
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

The water is brackish and warm. Autumn
has not yet shrugged its shoulders.

From our kayaks, the newly constructed homes
with their cantilevered roofs look larger than life

but less real. They are built to withstand
whatever nature has to offer. We pass

battered floats, like stepping stones,
that mark where crab traps wait, baited

with chicken grayed from the mud—decaying
meat that unravels a little more each time

the currents shift. This former boyfriend
is a few feet away, closer than we’ve been in ten years.

Faded signs warn powerboats to throttle back their engines.
We all need these No Wake Zones,

where the waters are as still as nature will allow.
All around us, marsh grass rises like ribbons,

like curtains in reverse. While it’s hard to see
where we’re going, hard to see where we’ve been,

I’m learning how to paddle, how to turn.
From the summit of a piling, two cormorants sight

down their beaks to where I circle
like an inquisitive child. I have always heard

that there are things you never forget,
like typing or riding a bike, or

the sound of a man’s heart.

Lavonne J. Adams is the author of two chapbooks, In the Shadow of the Mountain and Everyday Still Life. She has published in numerous literary journals, most recently the Missouri Review and The Cimarron Review.  She teaches at UNC-Wilmington. 


Kathy Macdonald
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

Four chambers no longer
undulate in perfect

synch of a single hearbeat -
its misstep palpable, wanton

a shutter gapes open
and the metronome skitters

There's a turbulence
in my heart

a whooshing sound
between beats,

like a river rushing
through a gorge,

a galaxy spinning
on the edge of a black hole

Kathy Macdonald's fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her poetry and fiction have been published in such journals as Global City Review, Mindprints, WaveLength and The Kerf.  Her first collection of poetry, White Dwarfs, will be published this year.


Janet McCann
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

Age doesn’t creep, it moves along
like the old grade-school clocks
that jumped every five minutes to the next
whole number.  How I stared at 
the motionless face, willing the next
leap, and the next one, till the final
jump into freedom, the bell.

You just go on from day to day
the same old moves, not thinking 
until something new shows up,
a limp, a creak.  And then you say,
Hey, I m getting old.  And limp or creak
onwards, almost forgetting, until 
the next.  Though sitting quite still

on a bright day, maybe in the yard
with the cat, you think suddenly
you ll climb the tree with him, 
sit there on the branch,
watch for birds, and you hover there
in pleasant anticipation, feeling rough bark
already on your arms and swinging

your leg over the lowest branch,
soon, only not quite yet, not yet moving.

Janet McCann is an old Texas poet who has taught at Texas A&M since 1968. Most recent chapbook is Emily's Dress (Pecan Grove Press, 2005).


Stella Vinitchi Radulescu
A Process in the Weather of the Heart

                        or
(Sunday at the beach learning foreign languages)

                                                                       "A process in the weather of the heart
                                                                        Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
                                                                        Storms in the freezing tomb."
                                                                                                Dylan Thomas

1
I put on my black sunglasses to look like
when I was twelve.

Romanian time. They were digging out a corpse,
a drowned man.

From that brutal silence.

He was covered with weeds, shells, swollen, black.
Children around were playing the ball.

The horizon.

A dark blue line.

Storm on everyone's face.

2
I bought a beer at the end of the deck.
I sent postcards to my friends. Red umbrellas, women
with big hats, ecstasy in the air.

The horizon came closer.

The corpse deflated.

Time filled with sand.

3
I am still learning the language of death.

Stella Vinitchi Radulescu is a Lecturer in French at Northwestern University. She is the author of several poetry collections and has had poems in Seneca Review, Louisville Review, California Quarterly, Sulphur River Review, Pleiades, Karamu. Herpoetry was also published in many magazines in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. She is the recipient of the "Grand Prix- poésie libre" in the Poésie sur Seine 2006 International Competition.


Diana Adams
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

She alternates her weather, a manager
of energies. A breeze to pull summer's cord,

thunder-trombonists to wake a bear
from his web of walls (wet snouted, gluing fall

to spring for salmon). Lightning for old men
with trembling chins painting apples.

She shoulders up worms, combs
out stray snails, prepares a table:

fugitive olives, tangles of grapes, sharp
beer, buxom mushrooms. Bat -psalms,

packs of crickets rub-rub-rubbing mauve
evening. All this to lure you nearer.

Diana Adams is an Alberta based writer with work published in a variety of journals including Pindeldyboz, Pagitica, Jones Av., Del Sol Review, Perihelion, Bayou, Prairie poetry, Apostrophe, MiPoesias, Shampoo and upcoming in Poemeleon. Her first book of poetry 'Cave Vitae' will be released this summer from Plain View Press.


Helen Klein Ross
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

It was the summer of broken boys.
Our brothers, their friends, always

dropping from trees, roofs, unattainable
railings. We marveled

at the size of their casts, the nonchalant
way they wielded weighted limbs

while we made a world of
gossamer things: hair 

of dolls, dandelion fluff, wings 
of insects flitting in jars. 

The new boy moved in, without
a father. Smitten, we followed him

through a hole in the fence to gather
berries we'd been warned against

and ate them carefully, one by one
from a well you made of your dress

and weren't blinded.

Helen Klein Ross grew up in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Philadelphia. Most of her poems are small and domesticized and have to do with being a mother, but this title flung me back to her own childhood, circa. the Paleozoic era. Thanks for the memory! Her work has appeared in Mid-American Review, Hunger Mountain, Bellevue Lit Review and has been nominated for a Pushcart. She was named semi-finalist for this year's Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. She received an MFA from The New School and lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughters.


B.E. Kahn
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses: Ode to the Worm

Dear earthworm! Precious, yet under-
esteemed as if all the unions of all 
the worlds paid little heed to and 
less reward for your daily transports.

You ve imbibed the likes of king,
sultan, president and spread their 
wealth, redistributed their worth,
enriched us with their treasure.

Your pudgy pinkness seeps
into the soul of everything.
I weep for your dank and joyful
travels, your big heartedness.

Your silent, steady ubiquitous roam
worldwide overturns the loam.
In revolutionary cells, you toil
so that the lily need not spin.

B.E. Kahn's poems have appeared in Harrisburg Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, California Quarterly, Mad Poets Review, Bridges and other journals.Among various awards, she received first prize at the Philadelphia Writers Conference, a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Grant and a Pew Grant for Studies in The Humanities.


Mary Phelan
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

1.     I can’t recall the number of lives I’ve taken:
flies, ants, mosquitoes extinguished with a swat,
mice destroyed by poison
the squirrel beneath my auto’s tire
the meals of meat too numerous to count.
They say even vegetables suffer at the cutting.
And then there are the taxes for every decade’s war.

2.     On the warmed soft table at my annual massage
I am grateful to the young woman 
who sculpts and soothes each muscle.  
She must know their names, which I have long forgotten.
I think of a future day upon a colder laboratory table
where students will learn to name each striated length 
and every joint and thread of all my parts. 
And other lives will live off mine.

Mary Phelan lives in St. Louis, Missouri.  She has read and written poems for many years, and has enjoyed several poetry workshops.  She works part-time with a small communications consulting firm.


C.A. Lindsay
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

A sneaky snail
with fatal feelers
slithered slyly 
in the dark
to feed on
my Creeping Charlie,
and when I picked it up
it hid,
as it did
in daylight:
a gift from France to bestow
the New World with escargot.

Carol Ann Lindsay began her writing career on Whidbey Island, Washington, where she wrote the column Safe Sam Sez for Crosswinds, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. She later followed a career in San Diego where she was writer for the HomeFed Outlook, writer/photographer for NOSC, editor/writer of the Forest Service Gazette, editor of The California Eccentric and editor of the League of Women Voters Voter .

Lindsay's works include short stories, human interest pieces, columns for The San Diego Union-Tribune, Escondido Times-Advocate, Poway Chieftain, Corridor News and guest columns for The Daily Californian. In 1989 Lindsay began writing poetry which has been published in literary magazines (Old Hickory Review, Möbius, Z Miscellaneous) as well as commercial (Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines, USA Today, The Poet's Pen) publications.  She has won numerous poetry and short story awards. Beyond Katrina and Stories of Strength, books with proceeds to assist hurricane victims include her works.  

Lindsay was guest author for Lynx Eye at the LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS and her poetry has been part of month-long juried art/poetry exhibits at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, the Remington Club, COAL Gallery and the East County Performing Arts Center.  She was host of Carlsbad Corner, TV programs showcasing artists and writers on KDCI, and she had been featured poet on local CNN headline news during National Poetry Month.  


Roger Jones
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

The least of nature
calls us to close attention.

Think not of the darting dragonfly,
quick buzz of escaping mosquito,
peregrine's stoop.  Blink
and you’ll miss.

Think instead of the snail’s one-foot sliding step
across garden stone, sinuous ooze of the earthworm
threading the throat of grasses.  Nature’s languid least 
require vast contemplation, geologic
commitment, tireless focus.

As with human life 
disaster springs:  false step, unobservant
reach, thoughtless word.  Life dislocates   

but good flows upon us, like slow
sunlight of a clearing morning, orange honey
from a cold jar, fog trickling
into a mountain hollow.  We can’t catch 
the good arriving   we can 
know it’s come.

Roger Jones, a philosopher of science and writer living in Berea, Ky., is exploring various dimensions of nature in an essay collection tentatively titled Dirt and Other Essays on Natural Law and Order.


D. Antwan Stewart
Snails, Worms, and Other Losses

Each day I spin yarns around my heart.
Lulled to sleep with no body to warm 

me, not even a dint in the mattress hints
I ve missed a thousand habitual nights of coupling. 

If the days weren’t so filled with birds  
quick-beat flapping, I may have forgotten the quieter 

tenor of fish leaping, flopping mid-air at sea, how 
this is the way in which surviving the dead becomes an act

of unkindness. Nodding politely to the woman
carrying her child on hip, I must admit the world does, 

indeed, continue to revolve: the moon 
cycles and tides excavate rubble, washes it

ashore, I know, just as I know dinner for two 
is too much dinner for one. Half the equation is missing

though my memory of you survives:
you sunning yourself those afternoons hoping 

if you perspired the toxins would scatter like a flock of crows. 
This is how I like to remember you

not the mattress worn smooth, nor the dishes filling the cabinet
with dust. But the sun ravaging you with light,

those birds lost somewhere in your body’s cast shadow.

D. Antwan Stewart received his M.F.A. from the Michener Center for Writers, where he was a James A. Michener Fellow in poetry. He is author of a chapbook, The Terribly Beautiful (Main Street Rag, 2006).


Lesley Wheeler
Midden of Dreams

Every mat and pane and desk is sticky 
with ash from my son’s passage.  Sweat, yogurt,
spit, hair.  A shrine remains on the stairs: beer 
caps, pens, one meditative Lego man.

Near here, a house-framer’s son found a coin, 
Spanish, dated 1782.  
Little else survives.  Stains in the soil. Hand-
wrought nails, bottle glass, a thimble, buttons.

My sleepless toddler draws me in to his 
slow time.  Our contrasting speed blurs his face.
I rested like this with my grandmother 
once, fearing to touch the blue avenues 

that pulsed on her hands.  His bones ache to grow.  
Tonight I will dream of fixing my glasses,
fingers deft, eyes keen again, seeing 
what vanishes, what lingers for years, what matters.  

Lesley Wheeler's poems appear in AGNI, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. She is a co-editor of Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv with Moira Richards and Rosemary Starace (forthcoming from Red Hen Press), and she teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.


Margo Berdeshevsky
Midden of Dreams

                                            Her death came forth   

fresh from the camellias       no one knew when 

she entered their breath       What they said of 

her was smoke and satin       weighted in song 

What they thought was woman       imperious for 

Rilke and cigarettes       hoping hard for 

her wicker chair in the       wild field, longing 

dazed to be kissed senseless,      saddle-bagged with 

poverty’s skirt and tie,      her paradigm 

the garret artist in a      forties dressing gown 

pale pages, petals’       lyric waste lay 

grey in her room with      the fallen white 

lady-flowers old with      their spill she will 

not now arrange them       among the ash, 

not wash the dirty dish        its word stays un-

written on her table       to the dawn where 

early death came kissing      young, he was kissing 

her, kissing smoke       and satin down 

                                                      (for Maureen)  

Margo Berdeshevsky lives in Paris. Her new book, But A Passage In Wilderness, will be published by The Sheep Meadow Press in November, 2007. Four Pushcart nominations, The Poetry Society of America's Robert H.Winner Award, Chelsea Poetry Award, Kalliope's Sue Saniel Elkind Award, places in the Ann Stanford & the Pablo Neruda awards, Border's Books/ Honolulu Magazine Grand Prize for Fiction. Her works are published & forthcoming in The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, Runes, Poetry International, Nimrod, Chelsea, ACM, Traffic East, Kalliope, and others. Vagrant, a poetic novel, & an illustrated collection of short-shorts Beautiful Soon Enough, wait at the gate.


Jacquelyn Malone
Midden of Dreams

  ~Sarah Siddons, Drury Lane performance of Macbeth, 1785

The closer she came to the footlights,
the more shadowed the sockets of her eyes,
the starker their gleam. The Lady’s voice
stabbed, with a breath between each foreboding
word, croaking the fatal entrance of Duncan.
The audience fizzed with volts that stood
their hair, the women shorting out   fainting,
galvanized by evil enacted as a spell.

Applause was not success, she knew. The play
required a foil: foolish to the seasoned husband,
a cold coquette, a flirt in love.  Just kill the king,
my Own. Oh la, what is there to fear?

But her body   dark, potent, bold   trumped
the subtle, and she buried her reverie beside
everyday hurts, slights, indignities,
in a midden of dreams, where it waited,
almost hidden, in her restless, electric mind.

Jacquelyn Malone has published numerous poems in journals such as Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Sou'wester. She has been a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship grant.


Ruth Knafo Setton
Midden of Dreams

Laughing behind his veil, gold chains 
binding throat and wrists, rings
circling each finger, he rises 
like the python from his basket, 
unwinding his six-foot speckled 
length into each curve 
of the charmer’s song. 

His chest gleams, blinds, and I strain to touch 
but the veil lifts and he slashes me
with a forked tongue. Down to Six   easy 
to Five    desert wind licks my lips, 
his kohl-lined eyes narrow   my Greek dancer,
my Tut   Skin Four, and only three more to go.   
The square yawns with me, late sun throws

dust into eye-slits and mouth-holes. Why 
are we here with the orange juggler? Listening
to the storyteller’s voice bruised with charcoal, 
tomatoes and rust? Look! From the balcony, 
people cheer against the rose-setting sky.
Ah! He tears off the Third Veil   
tears burn my sweat, 

burn his eyes. Don t look at me that way! shrieks 
a woman while her boys fight over a cone of sugar. 
I close my eyes but the howl of Skin Two 
rips the lids apart. His nipples aim at me, his teeth bite our past.
And now he dances on serpent skins, a little boy  
lashed by the whip, crying out, slowing
down, stumbling   wait!

The square halts: between sun and moon, 
rose-set and black-rise, his dance and my promise 
to never, to always   oh, don’t! please 
don’t peel off Skin One 
Gold rings and chains scatter like heads. 
The crowd screams in delight, and he giggles 
and points out every bleeding bit 

of flesh, every scar and whipping 
like the baby he is   remember when he wet 
his bed? the dragon who crept 
under the sheet? the girl who left?
Behind him, the charmer winds a snake
around his throat. Above him, tourists 
order mint tea. Boys climb a pyramid 

of oranges. He comes to me, 
eyes so shy and teeth blue-white, 
and holds out his palm 
sticky with paste and licorice,
moon map of wadis, craters,  
all we saw and did and forgot   
my little Tut, when will you stop
dragging me back? 

Born in Morocco, Ruth Knafo Setton is the author of the novel, The Road to Fez. Her fiction amd poetry have been widely published in anthologies and journals. The recipient of many literary awards, she is Writer-in-Residence at Lehigh University, where she is presently working on a new novel and a collection of poetry. www.ruthknafosetton.com


Amy Schrader
Midden of Dreams

If packrat-you and mollusk-me play house
or nest, what story will our strata tell
the gentle / rabid archaeologist?
Of course, it’s hard to say. Say bone, say shell,

say lithic flake. Strike flint to slab, make fire.
Grind stone, nose-to-the. Broken incisor.
We’re chipped & struck. You rake. You sugar-pie.
What meals cannot be captured here?

Sucked marrow, licked our chops. Our visceral
whiskers. Organs housed in a pretty pot
thrown on the wheel. Thrown on the heap, humble
sherd. With chiseled notes. We’re not Imhotep,

we re catacombs. Bring ibis, rams for Thoth.
We’re divine dreams–Dream Ostraca –we’re wrath.

Amy Schrader is Co-Publisher and Poetry Editor of Cranky Literary Journal. She has an MFA from the University of Washington, and lives in Seattle with her husband and giant goldfish, not necessarily in that order.


Richard Spilman
Midden of Dreams

The streets shine in the rain, first since May, 
and a passing car crackles like a skillet 
brought from the kitchen into the yard. 
The words we fleshed have paled to civil 
exchanges on the phone.              
                                      Yet when I crawl  
into bed tonight, I will sleep on the half  
you left me, and waking find the pillow 
between my legs. The drought is over, 
they say.
                 Before you left, we tilled 
the lawn, seeded and set out sacking for 
rains that never came. Now that things 
are green again, I haven't the strength.  
I want bare earth, cacti, words that cover 
the heart's fecundity like a bed of rock.

Richard Spilman recently won the New American Press chapbook prize for Suspension, which was published in October. He lives and teaches in Wichita, Kansas.


Chris Wilson
Midden of Dreams

or reliquary 
wing 
bones tracing 
the fragile stuff 
in which they were clad
in debris that doesn't
disappear 
the hidden world 
that dreams us.

Chris Wilson lives and works atop what was once the Emeryville shellmound, a massive midden on the east shore of San Francisco Bay.