Monday, September 1, 2008

Issue Twenty One

Editor's Note:

Welcome to Issue Twenty One of CSR! By now, you regular readers know my baby likes wars that are born limbless and hates klieg lights at the construction site. It craves juicy apples and makes cute little sounds when I get tangled in the seaweed. Baby has an uncanny ability to turn the words of poets into a romantic scene with a smooth jazz background. Issue Twenty One is no exception. This month is filled with wave-proof photographs, along with seeping-glue art. Add to that, a group of stunning poets, an intriguing music maker and one magical book review and you've got the possibility of a bug bed infection. Trust me, when you finish this issue you'll feel like the inside of a fumigation suit. Or he only shoveled compost on weekends. Either way, this issue will highjack your interest with delights seldom found in cashews. So forget about your set of mundane surgical scares and get busy...
CSR: Issue Twenty One Contributors/Contents

Joseph Harrington

A. E. Stallings

Adam Clay

John Tranter

Kees Terberg

Leonard J. Cirino

Paul Guest

About Art - Spoonbridge And Cherry

Trinity Rivard

Book Review

About Music - Mindi Abair

Rachel Custer

Victoria Chang
Joseph Harrington

Essay on the Allegorical Uses of Syntax
for B P Nichol (and others)

The capitalization of Gneiss
Exiled from the capital
Capitol the capital of Speedy

Plot more than scheme
Story more than plot
History more read than blue

Poetry being at a dead
End time being til no
One listens to poetry save

Golden crowned sparrow
Spavined fools gold
Arrow downed having

Running while spitting
Pissing altogether winds
Digging remember hind

Objects known by shadow
Play deep reality plow
Down use values fucked

Up rock chuck hawk chalks
Up subject verbs object
To capitalize on plot schemes

Poems than none other is
looks at it when reading
Don’t say jay nay pa stop

An H say

Ice Age Spring Break

When than spring April
draft of age hath
parsed to the root
value of all glaciers,
retreat man far south,
caves of Iraqi Qum
beach of South Padre
longen folk goon wild,
pills grim ages wrack
shiny faces every races
have got a friend in
Coke ’s the real / god
can’t see the folks
beneath the new faces:
breakers make white foam
(“semen of the gods”),
be excellent to each
another party on dudes.

The Same Poem

Like maybe we're all writing it? Like how everybody
points out the word she almost wrote instead? Like
everybody's talking about Cornell boxes? Like
miniaturization would save us? Like homophonic
procedures cured the security pageant? Like excess
for access? Like everyone's unique but me?

Or how you read the sign as "piso mojito" & think
you've drunk too much? Or see the sheets of rain in
Times Sq. & think of Ridley Scott? And can't stop it?
Like it were your poem? This has been going on for
years. Like brevity for bit? Or how everyone grows
young when the old folks give up & go home?

The addictable play of forms - how a logo imparts its
power if you wear it? Like swoop for swoosh? Like your
poem on the ticker, the jumbotron, the crawl? Like
maybe it is, by someone else? Like parapraxis were
the new metonymy? Aw shit I meant parataxis. And?

Personal Poem

Every day I become more like me.
I’m about to be killed, right?

damaged persons never forgive(n) - ?
More on this theme later.

Your money will run out before
your life, making suicide

unnecessary. In the mean time,
don’t touch me I’m radio

activewith a half-ass life
60 million years.

A Blog Hole

Instead of reading and writing blogs, I could be reading and
writing _______. But really, I wonder how much
imagination and thought are funneled
into this form that formerly was
expended on things like
essays, poems,
books, &c. There are
writers who do some of their
best writing for their blogs. And
there are others who read everything
(or appear to do so), including blogs. And
what does happen when nobody can afford the
utility bills any more? The missing link is the link after the last.

-all poems gathered from his blog, Blog of Myselfs
A. E. Stallings

Explaining an Affinity for Bats

That they are only glimpsed in silhouette,
And seem something else at first—a swallow—
And move like new tunes, difficult to follow,
Staggering towards an obstacle they yet
Avoid in a last-minute pirouette,
Somehow telling solid things from hollow,
Sounding out how high a space, or shallow,
Revising into deepening violet.
That they sing—not the way the songbird sings
(Whose song is rote, to ornament, finesse)—
But travel by a sort of song that rings
True not in utterance, but harkenings,
Who find their way by calling into darkness
To hear their voice bounce off the shape of things.

-first published in Verse Daily

Variations On An Old Standard

Come let us kiss. This cannot last—
Too late is on its way too soon—
And we are going nowhere fast.
Already it is after noon,
That momentary palindrome.
The mid-day hours start to swoon—
Around the corner lurks the gloam.
The sun flies at half-mast, and flags.
The color guard of bees heads home,
Whizzing by in zigs and zags,
Weighed down by the dusty gold
They’ve hoarded in their saddlebags,
All the summer they can hold.
It is too late to be too shy:
The Present tenses, starts to scold—
Tomorrow has no alibi,
And hides its far side like the moon.
The bats inebriate the sky,
And now mosquitoes start to tune
Their tiny violins. I see,
Rising like a grey balloon,
The head that does not look at me,
And in its face, the shadow cast,
The Sea they call Tranquility—
Dry and desolate and vast,
Where all passions flow at last.
Come let us kiss. It’s after noon,
And we are going nowhere fast.

Mornings I Walk Past The First Cemetery Of Athens

Like a widow, every day the grey Dawn comes
To the Proto Nekrotapheío, and sweeps the crumbs
Of Night from tombstones, and the marble busts.
The stone cutter in his workshop contemplates,
Chisel in hand, the blank face of clean slates.
The waitress at the café mops and dusts.
A priest sits at his newspaper and tarries
Over the headlines and obituaries.
Soon, the mourners gather there to drain
The thick black liquid to the bitter grain.
At the Office of Endings, a hunched man taps his thumbs.
Four diggers play a hand of cards to kill
A little time; two withered florists fill
The old foam wreaths with new chrysanthemums.

-both poems first published in New Criterion

Amateur Iconography Resurrection

Jesus is back—he's harvesting the dead.
He's pulling them up out of the dirt like leeks—
By the scruff of the neck, by the wispy hair on the head,
Like bulbs in darkness sallowly starting to grow

From deep down in the earth where the lost things go—
Keys and locks, small change, old hinges, nails.
(That's why the living beseech the dead, who know
Where missing objects lie.) Jesus has a grip

On Adam by the left wrist—he will not slip—
And Eve, by her right. They're groggy and don't understand,
They died so long ago. With trembling lip,
Adam surveys the crowds of new people. And Eve

Looks up the emptiness of her limp left sleeve
For the hand that was unforgiven and is no more,
Ages since withered to dust, and starts to grieve
The sinister loss, recalling the heft in that hand

Of the flesh of the fruit, and the lightness at the core.

-first published in The Atlantic


What butterfly—
Brain, soul, or both—
Unfurls here, pallid
As a moth?
(Listen, here's
Another ticker,
Counting under
Mine, and quicker.)

In this cave
What flickers fall,
On the wall?

Spine like beads
Strung on a wire,
Of our desire,

Moon-face where
Two shadows rhyme,
Two moving hands
That tell the time.

I am the room
The future owns,
The darkness where
It grows its bones.

-first published in 32 Poems
Adam Clay

Bad Luck Candlesong

Do what you will with the dirty pictures of your first lover:
The wind can still bang a screen door off its hinges
And simple myths, like mirrors, will continue to bootlick
In the back of your mind. It seems natural to fall in love
At a funeral, the way a body shivers under weight,
The way those drinks stain the collars of your shirts.
Look all you want, you can piss into the face of oblivion,
You can turn it on, turn it off again. Staring at the sun
May take your vision, but the light will be infinite
And repeating. When it seems to go, stare hard at nothing,
Think of the dirt in your body, and it will be light again.

Radio Girl

Driving the Natchez Trace, I tune the radio
to sixteen ten AM for Parkway info. It's cold
out, but the girl's voice is sticky as swamp
as she describes four hundred miles of sunken footpaths,
Indian mounds, and lush Southern scenery. This dotted
line goes all the way to Nashville. I consider going,
gassing up, and driving north. Maybe the radio girl
will be waiting in Nashville, maybe she's lonely
and drunk, scanning her Silvertone radio
for someone like her, someone trying to describe
this much road in these few words, the December
cold creeping calmly through her doors,
past her sweater to her Tennessee bones,
where we can both brace ourselves for the weather
to turn itself warm, for the leaves to bud
their insistence back onto the windswept trees.

-both poems first published in South Story

Love Poem

A baseball crashed through my kitchen window
and landed in the coffee cup you found in the dirt
and mailed to me. Everything arcs. I looked east
and read the words you wrote in cursive
above the red seam. Yes: what happens behind glass,
stays behinds glass. When the sun is just overhead,
the roads between here and there turn to soil,
grab hold of the land, and begin to bend.

-first published in Konundrum Engine Literary Review

Damaged Pigments

Milk bottles, vein-paper, soap
boxes, chicken bones all strung
Along telephone wires where squabs peck needle-holes
Into the dense white, seeking marrow that will be carpet dust
When it touches air. It’s Thursday so the barking dogs
Outside the windows are prerecorded and will loop
Until it starts to rain and morning notices noon
Still sleeping on the back of a derelict’s burnt hand. Loaves
Of peanut bread, stolen from the hospital, were found
Bobbing in the pear-glistening bend of the river, at least five
Miles away—that’s why the plastic leaves are being blown
Into the downtown air from a reversible electric vacuum,
Silently—the sky seemed smudged before it turned
Oat-colored. Yes—it’s Fall, despite what our calendars
Say. Nodding, let us cart cords of wood to Carolina’s tomb.

-first published in Tarpaulin Sky Poetry

Question About Death At Breakfast

The Frosted Mini-Wheats
go bad August third next year.
Two percent milk expired yesterday.
According to deathclock
dot com, I'll go bad April
second, two thousand fifty-two.
I pour the milk over the cereal,
see my reflection in the spoon,
and wonder if I, too, might be good
for a day (or two) after I'm
supposed to expire.

-first published in TPR Poetry
John Tranter


The boat sprawls on the vast waste of heat.
He drops into the water, slow and heavy.
It is easy, he thinks, as though falling
from a sky brimming with rain, high above
a dark landscape. The wreck
crusts across the yellow floor
under the hollow gong of the sea.
A fish drifts up to a window, pauses,
decides to turn back into the room full of boredom.

His head is locked in a glass cage.
He can hear the lonely chatter of crockery
through the pipe. A smile breaks into his face,
he is floating like a burning angel
across the cold, glowing valley of sand.

-first published in Poetry Australia


she wakes into the peach-glow bedroom
like a jet / the orange lips
writhing on the taste of bitter light
the flood-green eyes / exploding hair
(the avalanche of morning from the curtains
sluices white across the sheets)

and, gathering the strength of brightness like a shroud
the burning body rises, limbs depart,
the golden flesh / savaged in the dark / assaults the air!

-first published in Poetry Magazine

On Reading an Electrical Meter

At the House of the Rising Sun
In the twenty-fifth year of my age
I find myself a Ford at Bomaderry
the tank dry, starved between
one collision and the next garage.
Adelaide flames and howls under the horizon
lighting up a petty testament of waste.
Apart from the moment of accidental vision
the dull grey trees stand about
inclined to olive, drab, cold, gathering in trembling clumps
under the lowering field of cloud.

You are not alone in this Southern desert;
love, like a wounded elephant, terrible and pathetic
storms the deadly streets to hunt us down.

-first published in Transit Magazine

Small Animal Poem

Okay, there’s room for one
more small animal in my life,
behind the bad future, as long as he
doesn’t complain. His fate will be secret;
I am not to blame.

If you imagine you are not so
lucky today, rehearses the other,
the guilty animal, look at tomorrow —
the good days are gone, in future everything
you do goes wrong,

you will be broken down. But
the new arrival, the blameless
animal, I warn him, is not to know
that his future’s just begun, nor how soon
the damage will be done.

-first published Overland

Two Poems For Mr. Stevens


I was of two minds,
like a hotel room
in which there are two people.


I do not know which I prefer,
the beauty of inflections
or the beauty of innuendoes,
her brief glance through the crowd,
or her looking-away.

-first published in Southerly
Photography by Kees Terberg

Leonard J. Cirino

Three Samples Of Fall

The first is the driving heat drafting up
from the cow dung in the meadow,
settling on the limbs and leaves
whose husky thirsts derive from want.
Second is the fruit on these limbs,
the apples, cherries, and pears
that rock left and right in the slight breeze
bringing relief, and fragrance from the flesh.
The last is the rain that gives way to frost,
when the rest of the garden is picked
and the stubble has gone to mulch,
when the robins arrive and peck for seeds.

Summer, The Oval Office

A woman with long legs
and ten men without
arms or ears
three children
smiling at the cameras
ten men
in wheelchairs
and ten with ties
gathered here
and there
by the window
looking out at the rose garden
air-conditioner on high
logs burning in the fireplace

The Window

The distance opens
to the sea
the boat-
moon glistens
Near the headlands
abalone poachers listen
for the sound of craft
as the poet
looking from the hill
beyond the sea
listens to the roar
of surf on sand
the sea caves sucking
in his breath

The Price Of Good Medicine

My fish is sick
I take it
to the hospital
where the nurse laughs
and says
Don't be concerned
he'll live

I take him
to the movies
to see
if he will laugh

The ticket seller says
a quarter for kids
and a nickel for the fish

Tiny Destiny

His own tiny destiny at hand, and skin
the color of dusk, with the small glow
of autumn in his mind, and a trailing wind
that blows him from the meadow, he grasps
the small coin of dream and goes to war.
It's so beautiful, he says, when he tells you
why he loves it. The desert is as lonely
as a wolf, and the packs of marauders
are as dangerous as flint. There is a fuse
in the eyes of the enemy and life is short.
Someone is hiding in the flickering light
of the hallway and he doesn't know
if the staccato sounds are in his head
or the fresh wounds of nightmares.
Paul Guest

Waiting For The Mail

I say my name to the mailbox. Then yours. Hers.
Even her name and still nothing is there,
no stern accounting of debts, no date when
the penalties will come again, no credit
offered in seriousness understood by machines.
Mouth of air. Mine and the box,
strung with vines, a hidden thing, vines
going up from the ground on nothing,
you’d think. Red flag I never raise
when there is something required of me
and the check is scrawled late
or the letter signed, pen in mouth
and heart in throat a few times every year.
To be fair, not so often. Brokenness
never lasting all that long. Even in your name
and her name, in the absence
by which we’re taught best, no totem
is found. In the road, so soft
in the heat it’s pliable, the cars berth
wider than I could ever need,
rolling past in the other ditch almost.
Some stop, offer help, help
they’ve not even decided is needed,
shown by their rattled way
back into the car. Away with words and miles.
Sometimes I wait a long while
beside the mail not there
and imagine even more of it,
its spill, its rustle like water rolling
from one’s hands. When
something comes with its dead
postage, embossed by cancellation,
I lean my face to its mouth
almost to kiss it, almost to thank its purpose,
and with my lips carry itdown and in. The same pens
which spill my names
lit each envelope open I’ve pulped soft
with my tongue.Blue threads through
whatever words accordion forth.
Sometimes a letter. Places I’ve been
and remember. Places I’m unlikely ever to see.
Strange children. Minor injuries.
The freight of the body
in motion. Once all petals. Once only seeds.


Meaning, I am separate. The speakers lurch
music I can’t love, I can’t tell you
I love you. The window is obvious
and cold and the climate’s breath
fogs it up, the world outside hindered.
I think that is the word I want
but it may be that I come
to you in the inconvenient darkness
saying I have not meant
myself for a very long time. It may be
that I stub my life black
and nearly weep, limping
away. It will be funny one day,
wait and see. This wound
and the next made nothing
at all by time’s mad gush of speed.
We’ll laugh, though now all
there is the slush filling
the gutter up with inconstant diamonds.
I owed you something,
once, and you were good
enough to bear me
forgetting you. Your hands
older than you were,
even in the night, graspsome, close.
Outside, the world is
stupid with whiteness
and cloud wet. I can’t think
of numbers meant
to identify me or cities by which I’m ruled.
I can’t think of this
effect my breath makes
of the air butby it I can tell
you that I am not dead,
or that I’ve stumbled into the cold,
thinking of thisdream.


Paul Guest, I am looking forward to your birthday
and the long chain of fitful celebrations
which will follow and be broken
by something like inconsiderate death
or the envelope of oblivion. Paul Guest,
I'm looking forward to your arrival,
your flight, your train, your steamer rocking
in on a lucky wave. When will you
be here, Paul Guest, with your combs
and pockets and mad fits of despair?
Paul Guest, when will you ever be happy?
When will you sign treaties
and agreements and accords
and truces tied up with ribbon,
when will you decide to live peaceably
with yourself, Paul Guest?
When will you open cans of soup
that would have kept forever,
forever in their vacuums of salt,
and stir them on to a fire
and think yourself at last
an imposter under the grave stars
no more? When will you fall
asleep and be full and not long
for a distant woman, your words
no signposts for the way back to wherever
you were, Paul Guest?
What will you say, Paul Guest?
No one knows. No one ever has
spoken the right thing
or walked away not hating
his mouth for the sake of the air
that was in it, that wouldn’t
take shape, keep it, or at least fall into quiet,
which is an endless water.
Paul Guest, you have tried
to vanish, a thousand times, Paul Guest.


Solicitous weeks now I’ve winked at the doorknob,
my exit and return a pattern speaking
of some secret I shared with the world
only by entering into it, declaring myself
the cargo of airlines and buses,
practicing rope knots and reciting
alien slang, dyeing my hair
until I was the kin of woodland creatures,
Romulus gone wrong, Remus unaccounted for,
and Rome nowhere beneath me,
through the twill of clouds
decaying by the day. Gumdrop,
I called you when you slept
or when you wrestled
with duvets, giggling like a wild bell,
impossible not to love,
a factual seduction. And all that while,
I said I knew pokerfaces but all I knew
was how I swam to you
in the mirror or how the ducks by the lake
bristled and were doubled
over the water, in flight,
no fan of the names I lent them
or the crusts of bread I balled up for them.
All I knew were dish towels
and every remittance of breath
I paid to the air in apology
for your absence. As though I had that right.
But, still I did, and do,
and every cloud I swear
is consolation. Every cloud
and half-tended garden
and nook of odd darkness
and every syllable of praise
and even the rare sweet meal
or song which served the minutes well.
Listen: I’m singing.

Poem Written To Replace Another

There was a long sentence I wanted to say
in the dream, about life in America,
about the literature of apocalypse
or living in caves, or living within earshot
of trains. Which is to say I don’t
recall a thing that I dreamed last night,
the color of anything, the tenebrous custard of clouds,
the water that fell in shapes
from the elm trees. Really, what I’m thinking
tonight is there is nothing
in all the flat world which would satisfy me.
Not food and not love and no
Epicurean kink involving both
and in this I am trying to feel only
a little sad. Slightly broken.
Returnable, still, even to the ones I loved,
their darling, imperious airs,
their hair in careless garlands
announcing one more morning or one last.
They went about in the immediacy
of dreams. They said, or did not
say, I am the tacit light of the stars.
A long time it took meto make sense of that
and longer still their absences,
which felt like nothing
of the sort, though through them I could hear
trains warning the miles
of their torturous approach.
It seems beautiful,
to think now of that sound
which is all immensity and inevitability
and other abstractions
which only call to mind
everything that is too easy to be forgotten:
that winter is not endless
or without charm,
at least for those who find it charming,
and I am not one,
hovering beside the thermostat
with a safecracker’s impenetrable intent.
Love, it is cold out there,
is not what I mean
with every adjustment of the worn dial,
but I might say it,
were you to ask,
stranger who doesn’t know me at all.

-all poems from his blog, Almost I Rushed From Home To Tell You This

About Art - Spoonbridge And Cherry

The Spoonbridge and Cherry was commissioned in February 1985 by the Walker Art Center as a gift of Frederick R. Weisman in honor of his parents, William and Mary Weisman. The stainless steel and aluminum sculpture is painted with polyurethane enamel and stands 29 ft. 6 in. x 51 ft. 6 in. x 13 ft. 6 in. (9 x 15.7 x 4.1 m) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, MN.

The sculpture was designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Claes Oldenburg is best known for his ingenious, oversized renditions of ordinary objects, like the giant "soft" three-way plug and overturned bag of french fries in the Walker's own collection. He and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, had already created a number of large-scale public sculptures, including the Batcolumn in Chicago, when they were asked to design a fountain-sculpture for the planned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

The spoon had appeared as a motif in a number of Oldenburg's drawings and plans over the years, inspired by a novelty item (a spoon resting on a glob of fake chocolate) he had acquired in 1962. Eventually the utensil emerged--in humorously gigantic scale--as the theme of the Minneapolis project. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as a playful reference to the Garden's formal geometry, which reminded her of Versailles and the exaggerated dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there. She also conceived the pond's shape in the form of linden seed. (Linden trees are planted along the allées that stretch before the fountain.)

The complex fabrication of the 5,800 pound spoon and 1,200 pound cherry was carried out at two shipbuilding yards in New England. The sculpture has become a beloved icon in the Garden, whether glazed with snow in the Minnesota winters or gleaming in the warmer months, with water flowing over the surface of the cherry and a fine mist rising from its stem. It was installed at its permanent site on May 9, 1988 and inaugurated on May 11, 1988. Find out more at:
Artwork by Trinity Rivard

About Books:

Title: The Fear Of Being Found
Author: Erin Elizabeth Smith

Description: "Erin Elizabeth Smith's debut book of poems, The Fear of Being Found, is adamantly itself. Smith's nervy, plangent lyrics question and reject assumptions, outfit themselves for uncertainty in a world where wind is "young and bitter" and "cicadas sound like a factory of lathes." Personal and metaphysical, mythic and immediate, these poems are elegant as a pair of white gloves and fierce as a set of fangs." — Angela Ball

Product Details:
Printed: 85 Pages
ISBN: 9780977089246
Copyright: 2008
Language: English
Country: USA
Publisher's Link:

About Music - Mindi Abair

Twenty-nine year-old Mindi Abair was born on tour into a musical family, and was playing piano by the age of five. Within three years, she was playing saxophone and writing songs. She made her way through Berklee performing all kinds of music from jazz to rock and R&B. Upon moving back to Los Angeles, Abair started her own band. She also took on session work with artists as diverse as the Gap Band, Adam Sandler, Mandy Moore, John Tesh, Teena Marie, and the Backstreet Boys.

During this time, she worked on creating her own sound and released her debut disc in 1999. The Backstreet Boys connection really paid off for her, and her website and CD (entitled Love) took off. The year 2000 saw the release of the follow-up, Always and Never the Same, and shortly thereafter Abair signed with GRP Records. A sophomore effort, It Just Happens That Way, was issued in 2003. "Lucy's," "Save the Last Dance," and the album's title track went on to impact Top Ten radio.

A year later, Abair returned with Come as You Are, her second set produced with her writing partner, Matthew Hager. In 2006, Abair released Life Less Ordinary, which featured guest vocals from Lalah Hathaway and Keb' Mo', and also performed at the Governors Ball, the official Oscars afterparty. The following year, she appeared on guitarist Peter White's — with whom she had performed frequently — Christmas album, but 2008 saw a return to her solo material (and an introduction to Abair as a singer) with Stars.

Abair also plays the flute and keyboard, and she is the host of the syndicated radio program Chill with Mindi Abair, which focuses on chill out music. She took over hosting duties for the show, then known as Chill with Chris Botti, from previous host Chris Botti in 2007. Find out more about this aritst at ther website:
Rachel Custer

After The Madwoman In The Attic

Ever since feminists
made madness phallocentric,
Roz feels guilty
about her psychotic breaks.
It’s not that she doesn’t want
to join hands with her sisters
against the patriarchy. It’s just
she can’t stop listening
to the grass. The rub
of blade on fresh-cut blade,
like knives being sharpened
on steel, scrapes inside
her ears. His name
repeating: Cesar Israel.
Grass speaks the language
of original sin, a split-tongued,
lying hiss. She breaks
as always, along the same lines,
a priceless vase,
once glued.

Lessons From Zombie Movies

As soon as the thirst of the first undead
for the blood of the living begins,
money becomes worthless. One cannot bribe
a zombie. The first thing to do
when the world goes apocalyptic on you
is arm yourself with a crossbow. Never
go anywhere quiet alone. There will be
a small band of survivors with at least one
Navy Seal. You must make sure he has turned
against the government he once served
because it is always, somehow,
the government’s fault. Alaska will be
the only possible refuge. People who are
dead are not smart, or even fast,
but they are persistent. They will lurch
along behind you, slow as decomposition,
but don’t be fooled: they are oddly
effective at catching you though
you may run and run. You must blow
off their heads, which apparently
kills them even though they are undead.
Finally, you will realize that
you have been running flat out for
two and a half hours, and that your fat,
whopper-eating, American ass
would have been bitten before
you ever got up from in front
of your television.

Smelling Smoke

All the long night I woke
to choke again on the taste of you,

your bitterness stuck
like a pill in the back of my throat. You

settle like fine gray ash
in every pore and crease of me

until I struggle to breathe
in the cloying black. I

keep seeing the kitchen
of my childhood home

the day we went back after it burned.
Rain had mixed the dark dust

into a thick sludge, a paste
through which we plodded,

Movement changes somehow

in memory and nightmare, slows
to an exaggerated trudge.

You still move inside me,
gut me like a fire

tearing through
a tinder-dry farmhouse.


It is language soaked sterile,
the rusty cutting away of words
like offending labial flesh. A way
to talk without wincing
about what is -

five generations
of Nigerian mothers
holding a thrashing girl-
child, slicing her


into womanhood,

because it sounds better
than hundreds of years
of mothers cutting
daughters growing
into mothers

because they first were
held, first were cut. We prefer
clitorodectomy, a word
wrung free of blood
so we can speak

without tasting blood
on our lips.


A bouquet of starthistle
forces golden shocks of thorn

up through a cracked
floor plank

On the windowsill
a cardinal, faded

almost to pink,
rots slowly to bone

and nothingness.
The clock on the wall

measures time in years,
the long hand stopped

at half past eight.
Over the stone mantel,

crumbling to dust, four
faces hang, peeled

from the bloated heads
of memory.

This room does not exist
outside her mind. Still,

she cannot stop
living here.

-all poems taken from her blog, The Confessional
Victoria Chang


What happens is it happens.
It's cheap to live here: steel frames,
railroad, asphalt shingles, advice
from other women. Their opinions

beckon October after October,
wrap like a blue shawl. Now
they're old enough to say,
I know, honey, it happens to all of us.

When he went out again
and again, in search of more
than me, my genetics told me to
bake a pound cake, his favorite,

my currency. The act of setup -
of calming a sweating mind,
spoon next to meat knife, fish
knife, oyster fork, grapefruit

spoon - of preparation.
I've always known the answers
to my own questions - cumin, curry,
mixed with spit, of what to say,

the how to of control, the where were you,
upon his return. But my tongue
always hung in its dark cave, like cement.
And I didn't know how to break it.

-first published in Massachusetts Review

On Quitting

How many times will I quit you,
how many times will you amend
me, stitch, and mend me again?

In college, I could see the world's
thirty most powerful women clearly,
now I imagine what to tell my

unborn children as they watch
his tune-ups - just minor tweaks
here and there only after I've bought

into the program. I've always
looked great on three hours of sleep,
bleeding at the eyes, away from

garden gloves, Tilex with special
bleach, from Kama Sutra's love
secrets. No winter squash, gourds,

Indian corn, pumpkins tucked in fall.
Instead, I've repositioned
my portfolio on its edge again, autumn

planters on their side from wind - too
much focus on streets and lights,
on keeping. How many times

have you found me out,
molding your lips with an industrial
tongue, noting other women's skills for

soap-making, sweeping, making ordinary
tasks enjoyable. Each time I set the table,
I move you one more seat away.

-published appeared in New England Review


The cardinal's crest, hues of spark and fire,
its body jerking

back and forth, wings ripping rapidly at air,
a machine of flesh and bone

fluttering against my car's side mirror, resting

then attacking its own image again. I had meant
to be over there -

a worker laboring in a fish commune in Guizhou,
with skin

like a silver carp and hands cut like gills, pond silt
through my vessels,

feeding parts of haddock to hake, seabream to
flounder, gathering duck feces

for feed, the fish humming in my walls at night.
I had meant to have my mother's fingers

around my throat for being a girl or meant to beat
my own daughter

with a walking stick, all the mirrors I looked into,
reflections missing.

-first publised in Kenyon Review

Edward Hooper Study I

Office At Night

Her buttocks ripen in their double hump.
She lingers by the filing cabinet. Her blue dress
wraps her body, as oceans wrap rounded cliffs.

She wishes the man at the desk were a flambeed
banana that she might nibble. One hand
lodged inside the filing cabinet, the other waits

to enter, settling against the open drawer.
The handle rubs her breast. She looks
down at the carpet, the color of an unripe

mango. His silence washes her feverish
body. As for the man, he likes how the light
mimics the mood of a hospital corridor.

He is afraid to look at her, to consider the field
between her breasts. He is frightened of her lips,
tart surface of a glossed heart. He thinks of green

ledgers with vertical red lines, commas, zeroes,
numbers lit by the banker lamp's gaseous glow.
He returns to the number eight. Its curves make

him think of her bareness, the way her body
might stiffen in fever, just for a moment, before
she falls on him, the way a washrag spreads in a basin.

Edward Hooper Study: Hotel Room

While the man is away
telling his wife
about the red-corseted woman,
the woman waits
on the queen-sized bed.
You'd expect her quiet
in the fist of a copper
statue. Half her face,
a shade of golden meringue,
the other half, the dark
of cattails. Her mouth even -
too straight, as if she doubted
her made decision, the way
women do. In her hands,
a yellow letter creased,
like her hunched back.
Her dress limp on a green chair.
In front, a man's satchel
and briefcase. On a dresser,
a hat with a ceylon
feather. That is all
the artist left us with,
knowing we would turn
the woman's stone into ours,
a thirst for the self
in everything-even
in the sweet chinks
of mandarin
Contributors Biographies

Joseph Harrington: he is the author of Poetry and the Public: The Social Form of Modern US Poetics (Wesleyan, 2002). Re: Cancergate: An Amneoir : “Since the dates of the Watergate scandal and the dates of my mother’s last illness coincide almost exactly, I find it impossible to separate the two.” Harrington’s poems have appeared recently in First Intensity, Tarpaulin Sky, and on screen at the University of Victoria, B.C. He teaches at the University of Kansas. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas and edits a blog called Blog of Myselfs at

A. E. Stallings: she was born in 1968 and grew up in Decatur, GA. Her poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry series (1994 & 2000) and has received numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize, the Eunice Archaic Smile Award, received the 1999 Richard Wilbur Award. She composed the Latin lyrics for the opening music of the Paramount film, Sum of All Fears, and has made a new verse translation of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura for Penguin Classics. Hapax (Northwestern) received the 2008 Poet's Prize. She resides in Athens, Greece with her husband and their small son. Visit her website at

Adam Clay: he has been published or has forthcoming poems in Black Warrior Review, Milk, Denver Quarterly, Boston Review, Free Verse, storySouth and elsewhere. He is the co-director of the Arkansas Writers in the Schools Program and is an editor of the online poetry journal Typo Magazine. His first poetry collection is The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). A chapbook, Canoe, is available from Horse Less Press. Born and raised in Mississippi, he holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and an MA from The Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi. He now lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his wife, Kimberley. His website is

John Tranter: he is the founding editor and publisher of the free quarterly Internet literary magazine Jacket. For more than twenty years he has presented his work at readings in more than forty venues in the USA, England and/or Europe. He has published ten volumes of poetry, and his work has been published widely in British and US literary magazines including the Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Grand Street, Conjunctions, Boulevard, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Verse, the Times Literary Supplement, TinFish, the London Review of Books, Poetry Review (UK) and elsewhere. His most recent poetry collection is Urban Myths (UQP, 2006). He lives in Sydney, Australia. Visit his website at

Kees Terberg: he invested his savings into a property with regional ambiance and atmosphere between Bordeaux and the Pyrenees. When he learned that the name was "L'Art de Vivre", he knew that he had stumbled upon the route towards turning his dream into reality. He started his career in catering, qualified in Hotel Management, but remained a passionate photographer. His photographic work is internationally admired and he is a sought after photographer when it comes to landscape, wedding and portrait photographer. He lives in Les Leves et Thoumeyragues, France. You can find more of his work at

Leonard J. Cirino: he is the author of sixteen chapbooks and twelve full-length collections of poems from numerous presses since 1987. He has devoted four decades to reading, writing, editing, and publishing poetry. His chapbooks include The Truth Is Not Real (Adastra Press, 2006), Ambiguities (AA Press, 2007), and The Ability To Dream (Phrygian Press, 2007). His manuscript, Scattered Rhymes, has been accepted as a chapbook by Cervena Barva Press for 2008. He lives in Springfield, Oregon, where he listens to folk, rock, jazz and blues music. To read more of his poems visit his blog at

Paul Guest: he is a 34 year old writer and poet who likes music and movies. His first book, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry. My second book, Notes for My Body Double, won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. In 2009, Ecco Books will publish his memoir, One More Theory About Happiness, and his third collection of poems, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge. He teaches English and Philosophy as a visiting professor of English at the University of West Georgia and resides in Carrolton, GA. Visit his blog at

Trinity Rivard: he began winning a few national drawing contests while still in elementary and junior high school and has spent the past 25 years developing the skill. In 2004 he started painting in oils and acrylics and has had numerous exhibitions since. He finds his inspirations in a variety of art forms, including pop art, minimalism, and abstract expressionism. He lives in Tampa, FL. Find out more about the artist and his work at his website:

Rachel Custer: she likes to be thought of as a professional student, reluctant adult, and practiced confessor. There is no obvious indications that she is religious though. What is known is that her poetry has appeared in Prick of the Spindle and longs to be published elsewhere. She works in the arts industry and lives in a town called Mishawaka, IN which is not even within walking distance of Oz. But you can follow the yellow brick road to more of her poetry at her blog called The Confessional:

Victoria Chang: her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Nation, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry 2005 and elsewhere. She is the editor of an anthology titled: Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (The University of Illinois Press). She has received a BreadLoaf Fellowship and Scholarship, a Taylor Fellowship from the Kenyon Writer's Workshop, a Sewanee Fellowship, and a Ploughshares Cohen Award for best poem of the year. Her first book of poetry, Circle (Southern Illinois University Press), won the Crab Orchard Review Award Series in Poetry. Her second book (part of the VQR Poetry Series) is due in the Fall of 2008 (University of Georgia Press). She resides in Southern California and works as a business writer. Find her website 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 Oct. 1st.

Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
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