|TABLE OF CONTENTS
XVI:1, February, 2001
FOOTNOTES TO NOAH by Edward Baranosky; THERMAL SPRINGS by Tony Beyer; FIVE TANKA by
Debra Woolard Bender; VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
RAREFIED AIR by
Marjorie Buettner; THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE by
Marjorie Buettner; AT THE BOTTOM OF CLEAR LAKE by David Livingstone Clink; INDELIBLE David Livingstone Clink; SNOW by David Livingstone Clink; FOR PAT VIDIKSIS by
Gerard J. Conforti; ORIGINS by Melissa Dixon; NEWSPAPER by
Betty Kaplan; SPINNING THE GLOBE by Hatsue Kawamura
trans. by Amelia Fielden; EIGHTY SUMMERS OF GRASS by Gary LeBel; SPEECH AS YOU HAVE HEARD IT by Sheila E. Murphy ; GLASS BEADS IN A GLASS VASE OF GLASS FLOWERS Sheila E. Murphy; IN A LITTLE WHILE IT WILL BE PEACELESS Sheila E. Murphy; INDONESIAN SUITE
Hans Reddingius; HIM by Jane Reichhold; MAIDUGURI TANKA
Richard Stevenson AMONG THE PERIWINKLES by
Linda Jeannette Ward ; IN A TURKISH GARDEN by Bill West
TANKA by John Barlow, Richard Cody , dennis dutton, Sanford Goldstein, Lorraine E. Harr, Momi Kam Holifield, Ruth Holzer, Elizabeth Howard, Jean Jorgensen, Kirsty Karkow,Christopher Patchel, Francine Porad, Alexis K. Rotella, R. K. Singh,Marc Thompson, Karen Weisman , Bill West, Jane E. Wilson
SIJO by Elizabeth St Jacques, THREE SIJO by Debra Woolard Bender;
FOOTNOTES TO NOAH|
(Excerpts from The Doryman)
Still in the bleak nights
A nameless helmsman
Winds dive circling
A lone osprey soars
Rising through salt haze
for a moment
around the corkscrew slide
between one tide
a cool breeze
first of december
a quiet moment
all these poems
one of those days
Husbands and wives become each other
I search our children's faces
Married to a stranger,
Did you expect to find true love
Did you paint that lotus flower?
A few lines so deceptive,
VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
"What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous." Thomas Merton
In all my voyages, my travels from here to there and back again, there have been shed layers of skin which could have, at one time or another, defined me. Now, lost to this shedding, I no longer know who or what I am, stripping off, more than once, this skin of daughter, sister, this skin of mother, wife...I am left a shrink-packaged inner core that I do not recognize and that sits nightly staring out the window, or faces me in dreams from the back of a mirror. It is then that I begin to write, trying to recognize and rediscover what I have become, what I have begun, this shedding, this sloughing off of skins. Are you writing again they all ask, as if I am wasting time. I can only admit my ignorance, telling them, again and again, or not telling them, that this pen in my hand is really a soup spoon, a broom, a wash rag cleaning up the mess. This pen that I hold in my hand is invisible yet always it scribbles down through the layers of skin that block me from myself, that keep me from learning what it is I need to learn. And all of it may not, does not make sense, but this is living in the flesh, isn't it? So all I can do is feel the silky weight of this flesh that remains, speaking to the stars as if to a lost brother or mother, or a father I never knew, or the sister that looks just like me without knowing it, or a lover who waits. And in this dialect of the stars, this music, we find that we speak the very same language and that we are related after all.
deep woods at midnight
The lunar bone-white pearl of a tooth sits in a glass bowl by the window, waiting; uprooted, it lies in a new, rarefied air all its own and asks nothing from us. Later, it will join the others - all chipped now, owners unknown, grown - still hidden in a black lacquer box at the top of the medicine chest. In the night-light those displaced teeth radiate an opalescent glow and, when touched, sound like prayer beads rubbed together in response to a question asked long ago but never forgotten.
my daughter's loose tooth
THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE
The house - empty of children for the weekend - is suddenly full of odd creaks and groans I have not heard before. The cats seem restless, too, wandering from room to room. Objects have that look of neglect. They have remained stationary for over 48 hours - something of a strange miracle in my household - but it is an empty blessing since those hands which have once explored and dislodged them are not here. It is called stasis: things remain untouched and left alone. For my ten year old (who invented chaos) leaving things alone is an impossibility; however, my twelve year old likes to have her things arranged in her way and only her way. I open their bedroom door and peer in thinking that I can still hear them, but the room screams empty - an absence louder than presence - and I can see right into the future at a time without them. Suddenly feeling a chill, I shut the door and go to the kitchen and watch the squirrels race around in the back yard, missing my children with all of my heart while feeling the early coolness of summer's end drift into the open window. Perhaps, I think, when they return I won't mind picking up after them for a little while longer...
in the park alone
AT THE BOTTOM OF CLEAR LAKE
The lake is called "Clear Lake"
Rain on the beach is like the loss of a loved one,
Most kids take to the water like they can breathe it,
Last year a man and woman drowned -
at the deepest part of Clear Lake,
Water at the cottage is always too cold,
Children crack open a void by splashing -
A couple sunbathe at the end of the dock
Motorboats ripple still surfaces
Two teenage boys go out in a canoe
Alone, walking after midnight, the entrance to the subway
like the screaming of a premature baby in an incubator.
now I contemplate the night sky, scrappy from the city -
People are always going somewhere, from somewhere,
how they got from there to here, what was driving them to leave
I always imagined we would grow old together
You said, "Wisdom is never a fair exchange for getting older."
that take us far afield, all ultimately going in the same direction.
"Don't die on me." That is why I don't turn away, now.
people are always going somewhere, from somewhere,
I know, it has been a long time,
I was always happiest walking on your street,
that stayed despite the green, red, white, and wet
I needed four seasons more than I needed you,
I try to catch messages in songs -
Warm thoughts stay the cold, the joy in the familiar -
A new apartment, a new street, a new girlfriend,
the day you made a pot of tea for me,
FOR PAT VIDIKSIS
the furious winds
oh, sweet memories
the maple leaves
from a clear sky
from a calm ocean
from your first cry
"Good for Nothing"-
Snow has covered
Have I forgotten
a soulmate figure
Mokichi, today I know
Clouds meander the sky
First overnight snow
After the gunshot
Lorraine E. Harr
after rain - pruning
behind a closed door
(in memory of Sarah Fleming)
at the last
Momi Kam Holifield
bringing plants inside -
had I known
viewing the mountain -
after the windburst
after the rains
through the hay window
If I could
as the snow fall
My father came from Russia. When my younger sister was born, he was left with five little girls to bring up.
her name was Flora
When papa would set the table, he would first put down a sheet of newspaper.
dishes set out
One day I invited a friend over for lunch. I put down the newspaper. She asked "where is the table cloth?" I was so embarrassed. I did not know of table cloths.
Many years later, I was watching a movie about Russian immigrants. They were expecting cousins for dinner. The mother covered the table with a newspaper.
There was my childhood. It was not that papa did not know what to do. It was the way of the immigrants at that time.
a holiday table
greedy squirrels cram
the fog thins enough
around the boat
glints of sun
SPINNING THE GLOBE
rarely do we
sparing of subjects
it's not so strange
in the newspaper
EIGHTY SUMMERS OF GRASS
This I know: we ate cucumbers fresh from his garden under the burning wind of an August sun and after tasting the bitter worm in the loam of its skin, hiked down the old path behind the barn to the river, and it was there that I first saw them, the eighty summers of grass as he turned to look back at me following slowly behind him, sunken down in a sea of locusts, a boy of ten, still tasting the dirt of the garden on my lips.
He’d always been old for as long as I could remember, and he smelled like the eighteenth century house he lived in, a flannel-smell mixed in with the colonial dust he kept oddly clean. He was my great uncle and had lived alone for all of his adult life; he’d been variously a farmer, an iceman, a builder of roads, a caretaker. I was spending part of the summer with him.
the grunts and groans
In his house, it was as if all the clocks had stopped on one appointed day, and from that time on had allowed nothing to change. The Franklin stove, an elephant of usefulness, blazed all through the day, winter or summer, and I think now it was the woody smell he was after.
outside the window,
At the black slate kitchen sink there was a tall window whose view of the back of the house was distorted by the colonial glazier’s imperfections. Everything would undulate as you moved your head. It’s strange to say it, but I was completely captivated by this window, swallowed by it in fact, as a snake devours its prey all in one piece. I remember standing there, gazing through it as a boy, just as I stand here today, though I couldn’t describe exactly what I saw or felt, at least not in the way a photograph could render a dry detail.
Yet through this window a broad vista of fields and woodlands was somehow magically transformed, distance became infinite and time stood still. It was as if the silence of the old house as its agent had changed the ordinary into something far deeper and richer in meaning, something so saturated in energy that it seemed to take on an existence apart from the veneer of the casement. All I knew was that this glass, molding and sash seemed to be much more than simply a window. Was it ethereal evidence of the countless others who’d lived and died in that house, who’d stood before this same window gazing out on the landscape of their own time? Had they created a "presence" somehow beyond the faces of clocks, an essence torn from the very fabric of space-time itself?
One afternoon, challenging its magic, I went outside to the back of the house to look again at what I'd seen from inside the window, but the landscape had already become ordinary again, beautiful, yes, but still suffused with a rather commonplace beauty. But from within the kitchen, the light that flowed in through this window, which I could only describe as a god’s limpid shadow on the world, drew you in from every room in the house.
The outhouse in the barn had a heavy urine smell and the seat was so large I thought I’d fall through it. Swallows nesting above in the rafters would stir when doors were opened, squeaking with nervous alarm, but they’d quickly settle back to their roosts, as noise in this place was but a momentary fissure in the dense quiet that pervaded it, not as it is these days, the other way around.
His workshop was his favorite place to spend his days, and although I could touch anything I liked, I enjoyed looking at his tools more as he’d arranged them; for each tool, a ten-penny nail to hang it; for saws, two to hold them safely, blades up. The bench top was rounded over and shiny from use the way handrails in public buildings are worn. He explained the job of each tool as he pointed to it, and while he talked I remembered vividly a relative wondering aloud at a family gathering once about what would become of these antiques when he’d "passed on".
in the evening
He’d cook us a meal of steamed vegetables and potatoes and we’d eat there on the red-checkered tablecloth with hardly a word spoken. At times he’d ask me a question about something we’d done that day. Evening light would pour in through the thin white curtains becoming pale but heavy as it bathed our hands and faces in half-light amid the slight rustle of forks scraping china.
Against the west side of the plaster and lath kitchen wall, he’d store two round-backed wooden chairs he’d painted in thick red strokes which I could always see from my place at the dining room table. These he’d always position precisely parallel to one another and the wall, and never would they be left askew. This seemed a fitting metaphor for the order in which each aspect of an old bachelor’s life was contained. To this day, I later found out, the two red chairs are always returned to their familiar place beside the wall.
He never knew it, nor did I at the time, but I was slowly learning that silence was the natural abode of life and that there was comfort in it, serenity even, though most people would learn to mistrust it, to loath it, to fear it. This was his great gift to me and only as I write these lines have I begun to fully measure it. That I was shaped by it is undeniable.
on the summer breeze,
I watched him kneel down, grumbling in pain as the eighty summers of grass touched the grass of that day. At times he’d smile to himself in a private communion I knew he’d enjoyed for many an afternoon. With each of his precise movements that flowed so naturally they seemed rehearsed, grasshoppers would fly up all around him out of the cool grass, shaded as we were from the hot sun by the massive oak that grew just outside our family cemetery.
With an unspoken gesture of the palm, he’d bid me to choose a grave and do the same, though I felt uncomfortable kneeling head to head with the lichen-clad stones that bore the names of ancestors I didn’t know; this communion wasn’t mine, but the grass was soft and the air fragrant with the scent of the dark woods when the wind blew just right. He did this each day I stayed with him.
parting the river
We walked for what seemed several hours through vineyards, meadows and woods though it was probably not more than a mile or two. I remember the overgrown grapes that trellised the hillside were small and tasted bitter, the flavor of returning wildness.
The old tractor path we were following, once used for access to the lower hayfields, ended in brambles close to the river’s edge and the foot-paths through them were barely discernible except to him.
Reaching the banks of the river at last, I noticed I’d begun to smell it long before we arrived. Its rust-colored sediments rushed swiftly by in brown eddies and whirlpools. I was awed by its breadth and felt uneasy about peering out over a steep ledge to see it.
He then led me upriver to where we could glimpse the island. It was a state sanctuary for deer he said. Looking at a distance from across the river, we could see the deer amble slowly about its ramparts without fear or hurry, and in the strong grace of their slow, lithesome movements, coats that were thin and sleek from summer shedding.
resting his old bones
That river-walk would be my last with him. In the evening, I went out alone to look at the stars. The dark lawn was cold on my bare feet and I could hear the wind running its invisible fingers through the poplar trees by the road. Occasionally a car passed by and its headlights would bore into the flank of trees that lined the domain of his fields, giving them a luminous appearance. And after its tail lights had faded into oblivion, only the darkness and the night remained.
constellations of stars
Leaving the house today some thirty years later, I look down with astonishment to see it’s still there,
even after all these years,
SPEECH AS YOU HAVE HEARD IT
For a while symmetrical young neighborhoods seemed less planned than curfews. Just before the posse went away in search of feathers rumored to be null and void and vaporous. The wheat fields glistened playthings on the threshold of emergent tact. One combed one’s own pressed hair, ridding the daylights of infraction. Trills were white or clear. A rumination recently included portent after clotted wheels of grief cheese flaring through the tin tones fresh with what resumed indifference. Imagine speech as you have heard it spayed. Ecstasy need not have been rehearsed. One mered one’s way to the upholstery, awaiting standstill mention of the Grail. Omnipotence seemed for the breathless free, home to the bracken. Now listless firearm handlers start to veer away. It’s ceasing to appear cold as a framed deception. Last on our list of vestibules were several close-ups full of use. Each homonym incinerates a spree of facts recited to these not-very-deliberate ounces of catastrophe.
Streetwise, pungent, half in tune with breadline sass, imagine each of various bouquets of roles were all still you
GLASS BEADS IN A GLASS VASE OF GLASS FLOWERS
She was heard / to have declared / her version of adhesive beauty. The recent clippings held her face and functioned as the main segue to femme fatale primordial indulgence. Plush few hairs of carpet ceased to glow when curvature defrayed this almost once. She would rather have inferred the cost of immanence. It isn’t always like this, chapters versified. "And you, my darling," she was quoted as having said before she strayed, attending to the leisure swirl just infantly as calling tamed our nether hearts.
Swaying to cement breeze stowed away in precious and reciprocal derived night
IN A LITTLE WHILE IT WILL BE PEACELESS
Here is every flower you ever purred. Here is lamplight. Here are chairs. The crowd is passing you in see-through weigh station injustice, just as you’ve equated commerce with infallibility. One able to make a stab at playthings comes across as tethering the mainstay in a cyclical earned file of swayback flings. The apparatus I was hoping to receive has since been polished to a shrill new finder’s fee. Norms swish while we sway. Each curled zoo becomes a set of quarters. Famished looking creatures brave the atmosphere. In time, the animosity will stray its way back to deplorable indifference. For now the whirl seems satisfactory. There once seemed fur and that remains impounded. Caricatures glisten while they sway to breezes left inside the music. -Ectomies are always brief the way described, the opposite of felt.
"Come close to me," the nattered just before our clasped hands braced themselves for swirls of sleep
ghost of a sun
tired from the flight
our room is air conditioned
loud roll of drums -
we see the mosque, the palace
the large Dutch tourists
paradise on earth
a stop for photos:
the world in reverse:
the suitcases get more full
bronze from the earth
the muezzins now roar
all those tourists
everywhere the murmuring water
boarding the aircraft
when stage lights dim, two crooked wheels spin
what my aunt was saying, the man had broken
hoisting his body by ropes to scale the steep wall
singing every day to the family in heaven
reckless edge to another room the bowl
Christmas feast -
Family reunion -
From the first day
Alexis K. Rotella
What colors do predictions
The heat inside will
Waiting for the remains
R. K. Singh
Same sentence for rape
Gasoline shortage ...
Forgive me, madam.
This chameleon ...
Quel kuti? I ask.
"Don't spit!" the signs say -
a mourning dove
a hundred miles south
a wind-worn flag
on a Sunday night
the summer before
the college students
at 6 AM
in the front of the room
AMONG THE PERIWINKLES
longing for her to be
white star lilies
condolence mums wilted now
Against the ochre
The blueberries have
My heart feels burnt out.
IN A TURKISH GARDEN
We're in our party clothes and in a party mood.
We party in an autumn garden under far off stars.
The garden walls serve as sentries to hold our glad world in.
Through the thinning branches, the roundest moon looks cold.
Your face, open against the blowing night clouds,
The fountain's pool's deep black with yellow.
A swan's neck - the curve of your back, my arms around your hips,
The down on your cheeks, the black mole to one side -
Look, out of the parrot's yellow beak dangles a bleeding worm -
My anxious friend:
You said you didn't want
The expanding universe . . .
Jane E. Wilson
Deadline for next issue is May. 1, 2001.
|Poems Copyright © by Designated Authors
Page Copyright ©Jane Reichhold 2001.
Table of Contents for this issue.