Friday, February 1, 2008

CSR: Issue Fourteen

Editor's Note:

Welcome to the fourteenth issue of CSR! By now, you regular readers know my baby likes imported chocolate and hates to eat with a bib even if the high chair is eco-friendly. It is nocturnal and has the uncanny ability to turn the words of poets into slices of pecan pie or an old-fashioned hayride on a warm summer night's dream. Issue Fourteen is an excellent example. This month CSR is filled with stunning photographs by a California freelancer, along with art that has a cappella in its headphones. Add to that, a group of wonderful poets, an intriguing music maker and one magical book review and you've got the ingredients for a bubbling concoction that most people think smells like shrimp gumbo. Trust me, when you finish this issue you'll feel like The 1812 Overture with the cannons. Or no one knew she was bow-legged. Either way, this issue will tickle your taste buds with delights seldom found in outhouses. So escape from the tiger enclosure and get busy...
CSR: Issue Fourteen Contributors/Contents

Elisha Porat

Tara P. Deal

Pete Lee

Robyn Raggio

Joel Toledo

Martha L. Deed

Ray Templeton

About Art - Device For Rooting Out Evil

Susan Knaap

Book Review

About Music - Agatsuma

Janet Buck

Marianne LaValle-Vincent
Elisha Porat


On a night's drive in an open Jeep
you go past signs on corrugated tin:
Rashaya, Hatzbaya, Kafraya.
As if I sail and travel
beyond times, in a living Aramaic land.
Only the field radio keeps me posted:
an escort, wounded, a chopper landing.
And someone, agitated, beset by horrors,
hurts both my ears:shrilly, with a trembling sputter,
bungles the Hebrew.

*Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler


And they awaited his return:
the cut grass, the hole dug for a tree,
the fading plastic chairs,
the rusted gate, its hinges wailing.
Mother, brother, father and sister,
frozen in time: faded
to invisibility, bowed by the weight of the days.
And when he finally comes, everything
will start to move: the grass will grow,
the tree will bear fruit, the plastic
chairs will shine and the gate will swing
and squeak, never to be still again.
Just let him return: to burst
the bubble of time, so that their scarred hearts
can beat again. They will slowly
kneel, will raise their eyes
to him, in tears, in thanks.

* Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

A Biblical Experience

Yesterday I saw the Prophet Jonah
emerge from behind the filthy garage
near the stadium, in the Jaffa mud:
I stood peeing on the wide scorched
leaves of a castor-oil plant; all around me lay
a once-pure dune defeated by the effluent
of burnt oil, and foul fumes masked
the gleam of water. A tremor went through me
as I shook myself dry; a tremor that came
to me straight from the sea, like the flash of
a fin, opposite the entrance to the port, under
the unwatchful eye of a darkened lighthouse,
and the Prophet Jonah, melting into the sand.

*Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

I Saw A Man

I saw a man stooped and
drinking brackish water
lying with his woman
drawing from his ribs
with tender dream hands
a glinting splinter dulled
by the dust of the fire smell
eating his bread with brimstone
waving his legs in farewell
to all who remembered him:
. . . . . . . . . . .
not shouting but
smiling at his punishment
that comes unsurprising, dreamily, if foreseen.

*Translated from the Hebrew by Riva Rubin

Ferris Wheel

In the Casino, under Hatzbaya,
spring waters rumble,
imprisoned in coves of concrete,
bolting racing spinning to press out
powerfully driving a rusty Ferris wheel,
a remnant of forgotten fairs.
On the torn lattice seat
I notice a Druze kid
flying, letting out a shout:
an unforgettable landscape
is suddenly revealed to him.
In the dense grasses all around
the blackened corpses of tanks,
an ashen mound, helmets, abandoned gear
roll about, swept south down the river
toward a blinding horizon
toward places that even from the top of the wheel
one can only guess at the distance.

*Translated from the Hebrew by Riva Rubin
Tara P. Deal

Evening with the Ouija Board

The game begins with fingertips
kissing the teacup

thin-skinned, tight-lipped, and perfect
for cruising by at the faintest breath
of skittish nighttime smoke. A provocation,
and another version of a ghost
story slips out, transparent
as desire
(good luck)

because even with the lightest touch,
everyone touches something slightly

removed from what he really wants
to feel across the table, after dinner, here in the loveliest summer
rental, where

spirits have sunk
back into the woodwork,
the teacup returns to the cabinet, and now
it’s past time for contact with
the world beyond



The silver solder like love that keeps
all the pieces together, yes,

slips, at such high heat,
on a sultry evening
into crevices

cracks unfortunately, rarely,
if bent out of shape,
or mishandled

on the bench
by novices who think
such connections will never break

that everything flows,
too easy

even as chains and rings
split from fatigue
and another torch is lit,

more jewelry is needed.

Armour, Armoire

Some stash
their silk in fragrant camphorwood boxes
in closets. Some never say
what they crave
is to keep
one lovely golden weaving safe
from the sunlight, day
after day.

Sometimes a fantasy
of acid-free paper, lush and layered,

overcomes crystal buttons,
cracked bone, something
that one really wants
to hold onto,
that has a hold on

as always
with love
for more

bolts out of the blue
of blood-red brocade,
spools of baby-hair heirloom thread,
vintage paper orchids, German glass
hatpins and other
baubles forever.

The Romance of Travel

All those types
of palms are hard
for those who don’t care
to tell apart.
It’s the swaying that leaves
the impression
everyone’s fantasy is the same,
just before dark
when the silhouettes turn
to asterisks
at their references.
Pete Lee


the guys all like
it here all they

do is wish for
coffee and here

it comes pulling
two nice full cups

of freshly perked
waitress sporting

a cream uniform
and a sugar smile.

*First published in The Underwood Review

Library Termites

are bookish

the workers
devour Marx
and Steinbeck
swarm over
Upton Sinclair

the soldiers
eat breathe and
defecate Sun Tzu

meanwhile the queen
plows through romance
novel after
romance novel

all her suitors

*First published in Nedge


Where did that book go? Elsewhere, out, away,
dragging you in. And I tell you I'm glad

you're a contraction. Only one chapter
of the mystery now remains for you

to leave at my door, the one about the...
Yesterday it was a corpse in a copse,

then it got dead quiet: blue leaves sparkling
like an MRI of the author's bliss.


The light's gone weird
at midday, in midsummer:

those green pomegranates
might have been painted

on the branch that bends
to set down the wine-

red ones, concerned mother
captured in stop-action;

a single leaf scuttles
across the grass, yellow

crab on a green beach;
an elm has shot straight up

from the ground and burst
into a display of leaves...

Autumn must be calling:
long-distance to be sure

but as sure as gravity,
will brown and bring down

to a gone-brown beach
a murder of crabs fleeing

the wind, seeking safety
in each other's claws.

*First published in freefall

Fourteen Love Projects

1. the ball cap of the world keeps sliding over my eyes
2. Victoria has a very proper name
3. my fingers listen to her in ten different tongues
4. I shall now predict project #5 in a prayer to aliens
5. the prayer comes false. c'est la vie, Homo sapiens!
6. ready neither to play ball nor to quench my eyes' thirst
7. her smile is like a simile
8. next to her, my toes are clenched and breathless
9. the proper name for my tongue's place is Victoria
10. the wet concrete of love flows towards the abstract...
11. now tell me why you killed Victoria
12. because she reversed her usual associative qualities?
13. she could be as abrupt as the buzzer on a game show
14. I sought victory...and I am Victoria's

*First published in Illuminations
Photography by Robyn Raggio

Joel Toledo


I love how things attach themselves
to other things—the rocks sitting stubbornly
beneath a river, the beards of moss.
I choose a color and it connotes sadness.
But how long must the symbols remain true? Blue
is blue, not lonely. After a time, one gives up
reading the sky for shadows, even rain.
There is no promise, only a possibility.
A moment moves to another, and still it feels
the same. Like old letters in boxes.
Or how the rain, at times, falls invisibly.
Finally, the things we love demand more love,
as if we have always been capable of it. Yet
I can only offer belief, mirages that mean water,
long travels leading somewhere. I am reading
old letters, trying to make something
of what’s been said. It might be raining;
some pages are unreadable.

* previously published in the Philippine Sunday Inquirer

The Same Old Figurative

Yes, the world is strange, riddled with difficult sciences
and random magic. But there are compensations, things we do
perceive: the high cries and erratic spirals of sparrows,
the sky gray and now giving in to the regular rain.
Still we insist on meaning, that common consolation
that, now and then, makes for beauty. Or disaster.
Listen: the new figures are simply those of birds,
the whole notes of their now flightless bodies snagged
on the many scales of the city. And it’s just thunder,
the usual humming of wires. It is only in its breaking
that the rain gives itself away. So come now and assemble
with the weather, notice the water gathering on your cupped
and extended hands—familiar and wet and meaningless.
You are merely being cleansed. Bare instead
the scarred heart; notice how its wild, human music
makes so much sense. Come, the divining
can wait.
Let us examine the wreckage.

*previously published in the UK Bridport Prize Anthology 2006

Save As Draft

Or write as poem. The whole point is often
what we miss out on. To revise is to reconsider
the experience of, say, a leaf—never mind
that it is not green anymore. Or, pardon the sudden
evening. The transition was nice enough;
the explosive colors of dusk. And, didn’t you feel
so much sadness? I cannot explain it any better
than how I could when the outlines were still there:
trees and some wonderful new shapes.
Since then, things have changed. A pale hand
moves in the darkness. And someone is calling out,
come to bed, come to bed. And it is just you.
The evening insists on evening. It is that simple.
It is late enough as it is.


Where they are exactly, no one knows.
It is enough that they lie somewhere,
slicing the darkness with their sharp sounds.
Far off, in the cities, people are making do
with light and music and wakefulness.
Here, it is not so different. Only here,
the fireflies are satisfied with their nature,
their flickering envy of stars.
The same is true of the bullfrog,
announcing its presence by the pond,
and of the waiting owl, wide-eyed
and dark-winged and silent in the tree.
But the crickets, weak and ready
for the taking, are the boldest,
frantic with their nonlinear music
as if they want to be found, as if
each singular blade of grass contains a single note,
contributes to the grand monotone of the evening.
Troubled and sleepless, I step out to look for them,
flashlight in hand. But outside there is only
the unblemished night, alive with its occasions of light,
harsh sounds, and the unseen crickets, nearby
and far away, mocking the frog, the owl, me.
As if their chorus is both for death and deliverance,
or simply because the night would be too silent
without their sacrifice. Eventually, they would
be discovered. Maybe not tonight, and maybe not
by me. This is the nature of things.
The constant search for sources,
forgiveness. Then again, there is the question
of God, our natural need to be heard, saved,
as these crickets – noisy but perhaps
full of prayer, perhaps already redeemed.


To be sedated, handled with fingers,
the fear conquered and the animal harmless
like the ordinary orchids in the greenhouse,
its body just another thing to be tampered with.
I think of the young zoologist, his first time
in the field, lab work and books behind him,
hands roughened by too many chemicals.
How his body shudders now, this moment
with the animal of his wildest dreams.
It could be a lion, rhino, some poisonous snake.
It really doesn’t matter. He is caught
in this moment of pure closeness. He holds its paws,
hoofs, wings, the pointed and useless fangs,
rough but firm like his grandmother’s hands,
as during that first trip to the zoo one summer,
a long time ago, before he forgot how
the sun exposes everything, alights gently
on the living or the dead, and how everything ends up
being touched, even the fierce ones, even this animal—
for now familiar, for now almost like family.
Martha L. Deed

Year Three

If I tile my bathroom walls with the Bill of Rights
one to a square
and windbags blow shut the doors of my house
dusty fallout clogging my lungs and skin
and if all I can think to do
is to shower long and hard
reading all the rights I’ve lost
save the right to bear arms
with assault rifles if needed
and if soap and water cannot soothe
and I stand suffocated
dizzied by the printed walls
if the walls seem to move silently
threaten to shatter at my feet
then, of course, I have been driven crazy
and it took only three years
which if you stop to think about it
is a compliment to my sanity
three years of lies to kill my brain
it could have happened faster
to a weaker soulif I reach out a finger
touch the walls
and my finger feels them move
the grout drifting to my feet
then I will know
constitutional dyspepsia
dripping from leaking
balances of power
has rotted the constitution
behind my shower wall
and I have not gone crazy
though the creek has reversed its flow
in August’s storms, the ship of state
slides backwards, upended, and half-swamped
among the fallen trees and rotting fish
a ruin awaiting false memorials

*previously published in Big Bridge #10

Baby Talk

the breeze of your writing
tickles my earlook at me
I am eating pea soup
with my hands it's fun
the roaches in my tugboat
have swum into my bath
I am afraid
I don't care about monkey pox
it's really vibrating in my ear
I want a prairie dog
your shirt is up my nose
I wish it were running
I should just go to sleep and snore
now a deer is giving birth
underneath the kitchen window
I mean it the fawn is lying
white-speckled eyes open
in the fetal position
against the brick wall
if this ends up in your poem
I will kill myself
If I shut up
you wouldn't have a poem
and now the doe
I'm not a writing pad you know
influences the fawn to its feet
it trips over the brick at garden's edge
six deer circle standing guard
the fawn eatsfirst time ever
Are you finished with your writing yet

*previously published in Moria - a poetry journal

Pre-empted Attack


I killed a bug today
took pre-emptive action
in case it planned to bite me
I don't know what it thought
strange bug with tick-like body
and wings that caught the sunlight
on its scales as it preened itself
in my bathroom mirror
with a smirk


would kindness make
a better poem



The Stranger in the Restaurant

The washer, the dryer, the hot water heater, the furnace –
all gone he said in the family restaurant on Walden, gray
hair messy with cold hot food no comfort – his voice soft
and shocked his house mortally wounded by a wind that
raked the 62-degree waters of Lake Erie onto his lawn,
the wet snow – two feet of it – landing on his full-leafed
trees not yet turned or dropped in early Autumn, the
cracking of branches, heart broken trunks, sheering his
phone and electric – God’s knives slashing the earth, the
roof with a fury unknown, unseen. A time beyond tears,
a time of bewilderment. No what-did-I-do-wrong but rather
a how-will-I-ever-make-this-right again. Loss settling into
the bones and joints like arthritis, the cold so fundamental,
he wears winter clothes even after the sun comes out and
the thermometer says 60 – a cold darker than death with
an empty purse.

*originally published in Disaster - April 2007

Red Suspenders

The evil man in red suspenders told his son to be home
by 11:30. When the boy had not appeared by 11:35
the man ripped his mohair overcoat – the tan one
not the gray – from its red cedar hanger in the front
hall closet. Then he ran down the street to the party,
grabbed his son by the scruff of the neck,
interrupting teenaged laughter, and dragged him
home -- his son’s shoes clattering and skippering
on the sidewalk as he tried to match his father’s stride.
Once inside, the man beat his son until he was tired.
The evil man told this story on himself
at a trial recess in a courtroom
filled with people
unsympathetic to his client.
His words bounced off the walls.
He said children must learn to obey
from an early age. He held his side
as he spoke. He’d broken three ribs
the night before when his car went off the road.
“I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,” he said.
“No one tells me what to do.”
Ray Templeton

What Happened Next

Slipped into the side pocket
of a rucksack, in its dim light
I looked for a corner
to rest my head. Eased
by travel’s motion,
halfway over towards sleep,
I could reckon time and distance
by the craik of seabirds,
the clack of wheels on rails,
the echoes in great city termini.
At first, I dreamed
of curious destinations, of waking
to a sudden shock of sky and sun,
but soon I learned to love
my dark berth of wool and canvas.

In The Estuary House

The breath is in the walls,
distemper’s texture of impure white –
and in the woodwork, escaping
in layers of paint, corners flaking
to loosen dark browns, green and yellow,
an earlier chemical brilliance.
The breath is cornered, by glass
crystalising dust to unfinished shapes,
inside and out; condensed on iron stair-rails
that leave a damp slick on fingers,
and in the waxcloth’s skin
between feet and floor.
The breath is audible
in the stairwell’s quiet,
leaks from rooms where pages
had been inhaled and exhaled,
where carpets, chairs and beds
took so much body heat and turned it cold.
The breath is on the table,
the brass-laid box, the vase
of seagrass and feathers –
off-whites, tans and greys –
a bowl of cowrie, limpet, bivalve,
dry with the salt of open air and condensed water.
The breath is on the upstairs landing,
where the sun’s stain
lengthens on the shot boards
till it penetrates the house’s narratives,
particles in the air wavering with the sound.
The breath is in these repetitions,
weakening, of clattering shoes,
pouring water, shifting furniture,
the way voices spill out when a door opens;
the way they’re trapped again
with the deadlock click of the latch.

The Family History


Sandstone the hands feel:
an open doorway.
The knife’s point
the cut peel slides from.
Spirals of language
on a kitchen floor.
A name, a future memory,
a gap to slip through.


Another night:
a pool in the flow,
a story in another place.
Ears full of noise,
breath full of fiery air.
Ripples – new voices,
different names.


Somewhere else; inside,
a plain room – outside,
an old postcard.
Written lines of new beginnings
that will work towards old ends.


The longest journey:
places they
can barely dream
of rooms and roofs.
A ribbon’s consolation.


On the map, where feet fell:
here, and here,
and here. There is
old air for breathing.
Skin still feels the stone.

A Nightcap

The connecting space: an old-style beer and wine shop
on the corner, halfway up the hill, not long before closing.
A bell chimes when the door’s opened. Out in the night,
life’s behind curtains, a quiet street at the end of summer.
It’ll be his last, though we don’t know that yet, and he’ll still
be there tomorrow. The day’s last act is measured out
in strings of coloured light, to movement’s drone:
bottle rolled in tissue on the back seat, a little clear night air,
a hint of expectation. Drifting through the town’s
last streets, then a dozen miles of country lane. The gap
closes; the line’s crossed, on to gravel, on to grass,
an hour or so till sleep, the space connecting.

The End Of The Long Lens

Invisible, they miss nothing, those eyes on me.
I breathe heavy life into what follows me,
watches me. A door opens, closes; a shutter clicks.
A car moves in and out of shot, leaves shiver.
Another empty minute passed. Footsteps on the street
create the stalker. I catch the smell of burning.
Who cares enough? Why fix on me – a silent
scrutiny? Talk to me, frighten me, take the blanket
of my acquiescence, my identity. Security:
you carve it out of solid walls, or layered glass.
Still you feel the chill, skin prickling. As pressure builds,
things break. Someone walked on my grave.

About Art - Device For Rooting Out Evil

Device For Rooting Out Evil (1980) is a sculpture by Dennis Oppenhiem. The sculpture depicts a topsy-Derby white wooden- framed church sitting on its steeple and can be found in Harbour Green Park on Coal Harbour in Vancouver, B.C. The 22' tall piece was created from anodized steel, aluminum and Venetian glass. The twenty-five foot aluminum structure shimmers against a waterfront background. Hand-blown deep red glass shingles and blue-glass windows reflect sunlight during the day and are illuminated from within at night.

The artist maintains that his interest is in exploring the dialogue between architecture and sculpture. Device to Root Out Evil "withdraws functionality from architecture." To those reading religion into the work, he answers that "Turning the church upside down makes it more aggressive, but not blasphemous." The structure first gained critical acclaim at the 1997 Venice Biennale.

Born on September 6, 1938 in Electric City, Washington, Oppenheim earned his BFA in 1965 from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He moved to New York in 1966 where he first taught nursery school and then high school art while working toward his first one-person exhibition in New York, held in 1968 when he was 30 years old. Oppenheim has made conceptual art, performance art, earth works, and quirky mechanical pieces, over a thirty-year period, producing a wide range of sculpture such as Searchburst.

His art has always been zany and eclectic, defying categorization and easy explanation. He still lives and works in New York City. Find out more about his unusual work at his website:
Artwork by Susan Knaap

About Books:

Title: Bad With Faces
Author: Sean Norton

Description: In this stunning debut collection, poet Sean Norton delights in finding significance in the most unexpected of places, from a poetry reading interrupted by noisy caterers to the accidental connections between titles on a bookshelf. Bold and inventive, 'Bad With Faces' challenges the reader to search everyday experiences for the hints toward enlightenment lying just below the surface.

Product Details:

Printed: 69 pages, 9 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches, black/white interior paperback
ISBN: 0-9764439-0-2
Copyright: 2005
Language: English
Country: United States
Publisher's Link:

About Music - Agatsuma

Agatsuma Hiromitsu began studying the tsugaru shamisen at the age of six, going on to win the 1988 All-Japan Tsugaru-Shamisen Competition at the tender age of 14. This was followed in 1995 and 1996, by top honors at the Tsugaru Shamisen National Competition, said to be the country’s most prestigious.

Known throughout the world as simply Agatsuma, this original artist has long infused the traditional sound of the shamisen-a long-necked, three-stringed, lute-like instrument-with present day,international musical influences, including blues, rock, dance music, folk, flamenco and funk.

In September 2001, he made his major label debut on Toshiba EMI with the eponymous “Agatsuma.” This album, comprising five traditional pieces and five original ones, was named “Traditional Japanese Music Album of the Year” at the 16th Japan Gold Disc Awards. In his second album "BEAMS", (released in July 2002), he recorded ten original works, taking the tsugaru shamisen in new directions. The same album was subsequently released in America by Domo Records in January of 2003, upon which Agatsuma made his US debut. His five-concert tour of New York, Boston, Baltimore and Windsor in Canada was a huge success.

In March 2003, Agatsuma released a traditional shamisen album, “Classics - AGATSUMA III,” which includes tracks recorded live in a New York church. Currently he is broadening his field with over 100 annual concerts, sessions and media appearances both in Japan and overseas, while continuing to pursue “the traditions of and innovation in the tsugaru shamisen.”

Agatsuma has performed with well-known artist around the world and has appeared as a guest artist for the Japan performances of Marcus Miller. Agatsuma says his aim with his music is to bring people together, to bridge disparate cultures and to find common ground between them, in the same way he has blended the sound of ancient Japanese music with the varied influences of today's contemporary music scene. Visit one of my favorite world music artist at his website:
Janet Buck

Absence & Ashe

If this were plain old age --
that ugly, stubborn customer of all
our whittled destinies --
perhaps I could sleep
after watching you struggle to walk.
No hands. No feet.
So cheerful as they bring you legs
of carbon, and plastic and screws.
Your elbows swing like hangers
without shirts in a trailer
shaken by storm.
The vacant air, your silhouette
of avid sadness lingering
with cobwebs on the graying walls.
At twelve, you’re far too young
to memorize how sunlight
blisters verdant leaves,
how clouds deliver piercing hail --
way too young
to wear mortality’s sleeve
in empty pockets where fingers
should dangle and dream.

*First Published in Octavo

Beckoning by the Reckoning

My finger lodged in slamming doors
should teach me to leave knobs alone,
but some rooms win by virtue
of size and weight -- of course
your past is one of those.
Time is that hairbrush I cannot toss
no matter how messy the web.
Your penmanship on mealy notes,
runes and Sanskrit meant
to trip a fountain in my acrid eyes.
Combing margins of old books
disturbs a heavy layer of dust
and so much more.
Beckoned by the reckoning,
I remain the stray, stray cat
clawing arches of the light.
I stumble across a photo of you
sipping on gin, reading beside a roaring fire.
Grief gloats like an opium pipe,
its gray/white swirl
in the furnace of August heat
too stuffy to bear, too viscid
to finger away.
Once again your deathbed grows
a sea of posters thick enough
to make itself my Alcatraz.

*First Published in Retort Magazine

Some Stones Hurt

I was ten years old
when I saw the Venus de Milo
posing on clean gray tile.
Shutter clicks were going off
like car alarms.
And I was ashamed of her stone.
Of the air where her arms
were destined to be.
I wondered why she had no scars.
If she hated the eyes --
their rabid dogs, their
pigeon-dropping cloying orbs.
I wanted to give her my clothes.
Pass her a bottle of glue.
“She’s broken,” I said to my aunt.
“Why is she here -- in a place of respect?”
No answer emerged from her tongue.
I thought about my missing leg,
its carcass and its animal.
Later I would share her shape.
Duck cameras like a waiting knife
pressed to a throat of crumbling sand.
She must have taken a fall.
“Someday we’ll chat,” I said to her,
“over a meal of oysters and art
about the presence
of grit in the shell,
about the impotent rage.”

*Winner of the Kota Press Anthology Prize

Camels & Sand

A strange mélange of curves
against the thorns and barbs of war.
Dog-eared berms wrestling
with another storm.
A soldier sleeps against
the barrel of his gun,
dreams of cherry trees at home.
A white picket fence inside this world
is concertina wire and guards
in suits of glaucous camouflage,
bombs for crickets
singing in the evening light.
Camels pass in dusty colors,
their instincts blend
with parched terrain --
they’re born prepared --
and we are not.
Sand is all the grass they know.
They wander by so casually,
an orange sunset at their heels.

*First Published in Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry

The Mask

I see you there -- seated at the vanity.
Crow to peacock. Mouse to Eve.
Refined as cashmere worked from wool.
The mirror is clean.
A powder tin for snow on dirt
as if some palm could ever resist/reverse
palettes of storms licking their chops,
snapping the bendable branch.
Science of preserving youth --
a formula for dressing
plain truth in silk and gabardine lies.
You'd underline a strength you saw,
perhaps a curve, a sexy mole.
A plethora of busy trays --petrie dishes growing hope
where none existed to eyes.

I admired the way you sat -- then rose,
born again by $60 throat cream
and a string of false pearls.
Salsa of rouge on your cheeks.
I borrowed your chair and your hands
when you left for a luncheon
of salad and wine --
played in your dollhouse,
testing the thickness of walls,
writing my name with eyeliner sticks.
Pleasant as these gestures were,
they didn't slay serpents of doubt,
fill empty pant legs dangling like spider webs.
I was still shadows chasing residual light.
I was still homeless surrounded by paint.

*Previously published in Red River Review
Marianne LaValle-Vincent

For My Father

If ever you belonged
back in the world
it is tonight
children laughing at
lightening bugs
squealing with delight
at the prospect of
glass jars hold the
blinking insects
swarming against the
wall for freedom
thousands of stars
light the yard
surrounding the crescent
shooting reminders
of your fleeting life
the jar sits on the
cement steps
tiny hands cup
the prison
you would have set
them free
to entertain another day
in the middle of
I will open the
and they will fly
toward you
to light the
ever after


I like the thickness of fog
the blur of reality
colors almost undistinguishable
fighting for attention
imagination comes to life
with unknown faces
arms outstretched to find
others in the path
slowly lifting
it reveals our blindness
gloved men and woolen hats
on obese women
in the distance
the scream of the foghorn
seems to echo fear
and as the siren fades
feet lift from gray smoke
walking toward him
I focus on his shoes
and just briefly they are
my father’s
but he is gone
and the shoes belong to
a stranger

Kodak Moment

almost lifelike we pose
smiles permanently etched on
blank empty faces
shoulders touching
heads tilted a bit to the right
just for effect
motionless children with invisible halos
sit still as statues
while mischief and temptation hide
behind angelic eyes
perfectly we hang
forever over the mantle
as pieces of our existence
break off and fall
turning the posed family
into nothing but a memory
and sometimes I enter the canvas
once again wearing the blushing bride look
remembering when all that lie ahead
was new and exciting
and the smiles were real
captured for all eternity
yellowed now the silent photograph
drips with indifference
no one really notices us
yet there we are
not a hair out of place
ageless and hopeful
innocence still apparent
everything was captured but time
we hang a bit crooked now
frame chipped and dull
looking so mannequin like
feelings buried under the paint
and I know it’s time for a restoration
because the camera never lies
and we do so much better
as still life

Rain, Rain Go Away

in the storm
I am the one without an umbrella
soaked and vulnerable
dripping with remembrance
searching for a cloud to house me
and as I turn my face to the
I see yesterday instead of
when the sun made a home
in my heart
and I laughed at the hanging black nimbus
that belonged to everyone else
I bathed in warmth and perpetual
a million storms ago
when I reached for a star
and touched immortality
lost in the ever presence light
of hope and faith
the thunder echoes in my ears
as the lightening jolts me into numbness
and the rain keeps coming
my already dampened soul


it’s not like he walks on water
or makes miracles happen
every now and then
he never turns water into wine
and no one ever listens to his preaching
but he looks great in sandals
and a robe
I rarely keel before him
(much to his dismay)
yet he has read my mind
and has been known to answer
more than a few of my prayers
and he has taken me places
on Sunday mornings
that only a holy man could
and sometimes late on Tuesday or Wednesday nights
I am his apostle
yesterday he rested
as I watched his breathing
and pretended that I was his slave
and today when he offers me his body
I will accept only too willingly
and melt into the nonexistent halo
that fits him like a radiance of spiritual wonder
Contributors Biographies

Elisha Porat: was born in 1938, to a family that was among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh in Emek Hefer. He is the author of five books of poetry in the Hebrew, numerous stories, a novella, five childrens' books, and The Messiah of La Guardia (Mosaic Press, 1997) translated into English. Besides writing, his current endeavors include editorial duties for several literary journals. He recieved the Prime Minister Prize in 1996. He resides in Israel. His website is

Tara P. Deal: is a writer, editor, and New Yorker currently living in London. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including West Branch, Flyway, Lilies and Connonballs Review, and She is the author of Wander Luster, a chapbook published by Finishing Line Press (2007). Contact her at

Pete Lee: has held jobs that include being a newspaper reporter, private investigator, federal intelligence operations specialist, and a US Army sergent/counterintelligence agent. His poetry has appeared in Curbside Review, Puckerbrush Review, Wavelength, and elselwhere. He lives in the high desert town of Ridgecrest, CA with his wife, and works as an independent bookseller. More of his poetry can be found at

Robyn Raggio: developed her artist side at a young age and then went on to win a Bank of America Scholarship and a full tuition scholarship to Chapman Collage, Orange, CA. She graduated from Cal State Hayward in 1973 with a BA in Photography and Technical Illustration and a minor in English and Creative Writing. She has worked in Broadcasting fro 20 years including PBS. She currently works as a freelance photographer and lives with her husband and children in Ventura County's Gold Coast north of Malibu in California, where she continues to search for interesting motifs that take her to new artistic heights. See more of her images at

Joel Toledo: holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He is a literature professor at Miriam College, also in the Philippines. He won the Meritage Press Poetry Prize and placed second in the 2006 UK Bridport Prize for his poem, The Same Old Figurative. His poetry has appeared in Rogue Poetry Review, The Washington Square, The Bidport Prize Anthology, The Philippines Free Press, The Sunday Inquier Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Quezo City, The Philippines with his wife and two children. Contact him at

Martha L. Deed: is the author of an autobiographical chapbook, 65x65 (Peter Ganick's Small Chapbook Project 2006). Her poetry has appeared in Shampoo, Unlikelystories, Death Metal Poetry, New Verse News, and elsewhere. She lives on the Erie Canal close to where it merges with the Niagara River in North Tonawanda, NY. Her website can be found at

Ray Templeton: is a Scottish writer and musician. His poetry has appeared in print and online journals, most recently in Magma, Eclectica, Loch Raven Review, Tattoo Highway and Nthposition, and short fiction in Antithesis Common. He is a member of the editorial committee of Blues & Rhythm Magazine and a regular contirbutor to Musical Traditions. He presently resides in St. Albans, England. Read more of his poetry at:

Susan Knaap: is, by and large, a self-taught artist. Encouraged to paint as a child, she began selling her work in her late teens. Her paintings are lush, multi-layered works rendered in multiple mediums. Her approach is both planned and intuitive. In December 2005, she represented New Zealand, along with two other artists, at the Florence (Italy) Biennale Juried Symbolist Online Art Show. She is of Dutch decent and lives and works in New Zealand's Horowhenue region. Her website is:

Janet Buck: is a six-time Pushcart Nominee. Her poetry has recently appeared in Octavo, Cross Connect, Poetry, Poetry Bay, Offcourse, and hundreds of journals worldwide. Her poetry explores a complex tapestry of grief - the loss of love and youth and health, even the horros of war - all with the goal of underscoring what's left in the form of human compassion and growth. She beleives as poets we have to finger the darkness in order to cradle the light. Her second collection of poetry, Tickets To A Closing Play, won the 2002 Gival Press Poetry Award. Her third collection, Beckoned By The Reckoning, was released in 2004. Visit her at:

Marianne LaValle-Vincent: is a published author, poet and humorists who has achieved world-notoriety both online and in print. She is the author of three poetry collections, and countless short stories and articles published which include the "Chicken Soup For The Soul" volumes and many educational sites such as "Her on line Network". She is a native of Syracuse, NY and when not working as an administrative RN, spends her time editing, writing, and creating gourment dishes. Her first cookbook is scheduled for publication in winter 2007. Contact her at

Closing Notes: The editor would like to thank the contributors for the use of their work. Each contributor reserves their original rights. Look for the next issue of CSR online on Mar. 1st. Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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