Saturday, December 1, 2007

CSR: Issue Twelve

Editor's Note:

Welcome to issue twelve of CSR! By now, you regular readers know that my only child has a knack for finding amazingly creative talent without the use of a compass. My baby has the uncanny ability to turn the words of poets into a shoreline with cliffs crumbling and tides rising and falling. Issue Twelve is an excellent example. This month is filled with stunning photographs of European churches, along with art that soars to every nave. Add to that, a group of wonderful poets, an internationally-known music maker and one magical book review and you've got the ingredients for a carousel of handmade carved horses. Trust me, when you finish this issue you'll feel like a Christmas present just unwrapped. Or you're rush out to a salon and ask the stylist to do your hair just like Loretta Lynn's. Either way, this issue will tickle your taste buds with details seldom found in everyday drain openers. So escape from the chain gang and get busy...
CSR: Issue Twelve Contributors/Contents

Barry Ballard

Glenna Luschei

Book Review

C L Bledsoe

John Tranter

Maxim Popykin

Ashok Niyogi

Michelle Brooks

About Art - Stolpersteine

Peter Ciccariello

Mike Young

About Music - Meshell Ndegeocello

Sean Lause

Contributor's Bios
Barry Ballard


Now that the last poplars have been removed
and your fields are exposed to the Michigan
winds, I can understand how the green succumbs
to the biting winters. It wakes in you
like the outlying rows that have gone
wild, weaving their grassy fingers through the briar
until the seed is choked, where even the desire
to save them admits to their fleeting song.
It's been a long time since we walked those fields
together. But the moon seems at rest when
it passes the meadow without its usual
shape. I suppose there's a recognition it feels
in the listless slumber, in the dying end
of past harvests, in the shed holding your old tools.


The river intuitively knows to
calm itself, to stretch its tributary
arms to the shale covered shore. The Cypress trees
still lean into their dark reflections but exclude
themselves from the rippling dialogue and listen.
Even the harsh chiseled stare of granite
along the ridge is softened by the drift
of shadow, like spires loosened from their tension.
I've imagined that they've seen the purpose
etched like a map of passion charred by fire
across my face. We wait like old comrades
for the Absolute to begin its light-struck
ceremony, for the blue skin to glisten,
for the fingered leaves to grab color - that lasts.


When I fell from the Maple and knocked myself
out, you ran to the house screaming that I
was dead. I woke, alone, back from the sky
that released me and walked in a trance till help
arrived, till our neighbor picked me up. We
got ourselves back and still swung from the same
cable (because there was a reason to name
our fear and then defeat it, a name each
of us gave to "nothingness" and the simple
given things that go away). The tree still
stands as a kind of proof, a timeless symbol
with a two-by-four still nailed like a window
sill where we sat and viewed the world. And even a
fence around it, as if the bare roots were sacred.


The vacant pillow and the unused section
of blanket lie next to me like the Davis
Mountains at midnight, filled with the steep-graded pass
of dark roads under the weak projection
of light spilling in front of me. And tonight,
I am the nocturnal creature feeding
at the roadside, a Shaman's jaguar bleeding
to death as I watch myself move from the height
of nebulae and galaxies back into
the tamer whisper of evergreen. The eyes
have seen themselves (I know this). And the blanket
spills with the husk of the soul I've seen through
inside it, falling through the atmosphere to die,
eroded by the same blue oxygen that fans it.


My father's life has been a furrowed scroll
of existence. His hands, arthritic, knead
the mind's now-brittle parchment, marking the stroll
of his younger life each night from the knotweed
bordering his back porch. We don't always
speak. But he is still armed with the calloused proof
of what farmers learned throughout the arid days
of the depression. His fragmented view,
like that of peeling Birch, or slow-bleeding
Maple. Body of scars, the earth’s amber wide
intoxications still read across his face.
Hands cupped, trying to catch the last evenings
peeling away into the thatchwork, a trace
of wildlife crossing the last path he tries.
Glenna Luschei

Root Beer Float

First time in sixty years I order a root
beer float. I'm old enough to get what I want.
I want to slurp it in private but this man,
construction worker, plops down too.
I slurp. He moves. Good. I ask the soda
jerk for another squirt. I’m old enough.
This construction guy takes out his book
to highlight passages. Sorry I made him move.
Finally, "What are you reading?"
"A Buddhist theory of time and space."
Oh. That's what I wanted to read. I’m
old enough. Another squirt of root beer.
"I hope you enjoy Time and Space."
"Hope as much as you enjoyed your Root Beer."
One last slurp. Bottom’s up.
I’ve paid my bill.

A Time to Go

Everything flows, nothing abides
We walk the Green Way
while our dog swims the Yadkin.
We read history on the road,
the giant flume that brought
the lumber to build our town.
Before the corn reached
our knees, now so high
tassels hide the view
of General Gordon's home.
Gordon, youngest Confederate
General, dead at forty-two.
Nothing lasts forever.
It’s time to go.

First Cherokee meeting place
Keowee, then Mulberry Fields
during the Revolution.

Corn tassels silence

the sound of drum,

footstep of the march.
The harvest comes again.
Worms pitch tent in Mulberry trees.
Nothing will last forever.
It's time to go.

They do Death Right

They do death right

in the South.
"After they wash the bodies
the hair is straight,"
my friend tells me.
"I bring in my own hairdryer
and curling iron.
It's the last thing
I can do for a friend."
In the South, the dead

are safe. The traffic pulls

to the side of the road

for the funeral procession

as for fire trucks in California.
The snake handlers

quote Matthew. “They
who believe in the Lord
will not perish

from the serpent's bite.”

They do death right.
At his viewing, my yard

man who sowed ginseng

and creesie greens for me
wore a brand new pair

of bib overalls.

There was a telephone

among the gladiolas.

The ribbon said, "Jesus called."

They do death right.


for Frances
“At hog killing time my mother served

cracklings baked in cornbread
and spice wood tea.”

At farmers' market I buy sticks
of spice wood, sourwood honey
and a jar of pigs’ feet, chock

full of gelatin. My mother served me,
when I had mono, gelatin
blended with eggnog. Sickening!

My father brought home pickled
pigs’ feet from the railroad. Delicious!
Glad to be grown up and healthy.

Highway 40

Autumn they drive to Whipperwill
to pick the scuppernong and muscatine.

Spring they troop to Boone for mountain

laurel, family to the avocado, heather

and blueberry.

Summer they fish for blue at Nag’s Head,

send Hermit crabs racing for a shell.

Remembering what Jesus said,
"Fox’s have dens and birds of the air

have nests, but the son of man

has no place to lay his head.”

I winter back to California.
Pruners trimmed my giant valley oak.

Birds were looking for their home:

Spanish moss and mistletoe.

About Books:

Title: Shards - A Handful of Verses
Author: Tom Berman

Description: A collection of poetry written by a professional scientist and long time member of an Israeli kibbutz in the Galilee presenting somewhat different perceptions of life experiences.Some serious,some humorous, some lyrical, some whimsical, none too obscure to understand. Add a pinch of salt and enjoy!

Product Details:

Printed: 128 pages , 9 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches, black/white interior paperback
ISBN: 0-595-24197-2
Copyright: 2002
Language: English
Country: United States
Publisher's Link:

C L Bledsoe

Types Of Fish I Don't Like

whiskered fish

milk fish
bottom-feeding fish
belly fishtv fish
prerecorded fish
heartless fish
chocolate fish
fish having an affair
fish working a dead-end job
fish reliving its halcyon days
fish in line at the DMV
vice president fish
fish hooker
fish potato
fish working for minimum wage
fish with no health insurance
fish who eats too much at Thanksgiving
fish who discriminates against other fish
fish pretending to be a shark
fish with money problems
fish in the bathroom
pun fish
soda fish
fish with legs
fish that walks on land
fish with a swimming pool
mansion fish
indicted fish
acquitted fish
presidential-hopeful fish
fish with mob connections
fish with a shellfish on land
fish eating candy
fish who loves too much
Victorian fish
over-the-transom fish
fish with poor depth perception
fish staring at the glass

*Previously published in Backwards City Review


Luck waited outside my door, tripped me early
and still half asleep, watched me roll down the stairs
and handed me a band aid when I glared at his eyeholes.

Woke with asphalt in my beard, kids jaywalking
over my face so they could steal CDs from the library
across the street.

Woke rich with soil, pockets full of loam.
Woke easy and new. The cells on the back of my hand
are fresher than locally grown lettuce.

Woke, sat up and stretched. The crick in my back, my back,
my wallet was gone. The shoes that'd been pinching my feet
were stolen by an old lady across the hall. Every Tuesday
when I get home from work, she asks me to take her trash
to the dumpster, those new shoes, they hurt her toes so.

*Previously published in Thieves Jargon

But My legs Remember That Road

After Huntington's Disease settled in

like an uninvited guest, my mother started
her walks. Back and forth, down the gravel road
from our house to the cattle gap, from the gap
to my Aunt's house, from my Aunt's, back.
It wasn't so much that she was trying to outpace the disease;
she was trying to remember the way home,
grinding each step into the gravel,
working it into her legs until they could remember for her.

I was young when this all started.

I knew only that her father died with his fist print
still buried in the metal of a car door,
so deep and perfect you could see the outline
of his wedding ring,
though he could not recall his wife's name.

She wrote, as well. Every evening, after dinner,

she copied one line after another on college ruled paper:
her name, her birth-date, her children's names, her husband's;
things she could remember. We kept
these pages in her old hope chest
with her wedding gown, her photos.

But my legs also learned that road, tagging

behind her like a stray calf, and the dust
that tasted like unsweetened chocolate,
the jerk of her stops and starts, the chorea
of her path, crisscrossing the gravel like a dance floor.

*Previously published Barnwood Poetry Magazine

The Woman In The Other Bed

says she's cold. We can hear her thin voice through the curtain

slicing my mother's room in half.
My mother grunts, and my brother's wife
pulls a sheet to the woman's shoulders and leaves.
We're alone, my mother

and me and the woman and the weather, my shoes,
and the woman

calls out a name. “No,” I say. She calls again and I say he
isn't here. Mom is trying to spit something
that might be hi or a name and the woman
is crying. “This hurts me,” she says, holding an arm up
to show me a cast on her wrist. “I want to go home,” she says.

Back in the car, Jillian's talking
about getting a hamster. “They're cute and fat
when they sit up, like a little baby. We can get a
ball,” she says. “So it can run around.”
“We'll have to take care of it,” I say. “There are responsibilities
involved. It's not just a toy, it's a life. What about
when it isn't fun anymore? We'll still have to take care of it.”
“We can do that,” she says. “Don't you think?”
“Yes,” I say, and yes again.

*Previously published in 21 Stars Review


We'd hoped to be a certain kind of people

who'd donate regularly to charities,

phone the ASPCA and report the couple
across the street for letting their dog

wander in traffic, eat what we knead, and share
the produce from the garden we'd plant

as soon as we had soil to call our own - so many truths
we'd hoped to live up to.

Instead we listen to the screech of brakes
dodging the stray dog, and shake our heads,

stick solicitations for donations in a pile we call Someday;
but it takes up so much room. Dinner from a box

is boiling over on a stove we manage to keep
moderately clean. Dust doesn't cover our things

as much as our plans. This is something to be proud of,
at least. A person must find solace wherever

it lands; brush the crumbs of others' sloppy
meals from its wings, and place it somewhere it will keep,

like a leftover piece of chicken and some peas
in the fridge - so you have something to take with you tomorrow.

*Origianlly published in Margie
John Tranter

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, No. 3

Two Haikus

Yeats at Bondi

Bondi Beach —

that drongo-thronged, that
nong-tormented sea.

Hawaiian Haiku

In Honolulu

nobody watches
‘Hawaii Five-O’.

*First published in Sydney Morning Herald, 1985 & 1991

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 in Overland, No. 74

The People

The people come down from the hills

in the evening. We greet them.
Woodsmoke follows the valley,
it is the quiet time of the year.

We walk with them a short way
for we shall not see them again.
They will pass over the ocean
hoping for nothing, receiving the sky
and we shall continue in the valley
from spring to autumn, planting
and reaping, and in the blue winter night
dreaming of the gentle people who departed.

*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, No.6

Photography by Maxim Popykin

Ashok Niyogi


we went through this
as mountains
go through rivers
which go away
on tourist boats
that don’t have to
bring in fish
on a wish that
flying foxes won’t
get drunk like skunk
and this baby lily
will bloom in gloom
this autumn
I will buy handloom
fabric from the rabbit farm
to keep your arthritis warm
bees swarm
even here the sun is born
and grows
flows between rivers mountains
boats fish wish
drunk skunk
what can be momentous
on route 680
another car dealer
calling you “Madame”
another small Mexican girl
selling burritos
your ice-cream has melted
do you want another one


In her brassiere
With droplets
Between eyebrows
That hide eyes
Which sag
That could be pain
Smells that shriek
Knees that will talk
To arthritis
Breathing short
And hard
In the ‘English’ rain


barges carry ore
no more
what does an ocean care
about lighthouses
that now jail pedophiles
in this land
plankton get together
to gobble up shark
and crabs mutate
into a butter fried mess
gypsy girls
have runaway breasts
and improbable accents
they come
with beads for sale
beached and fossilized
is the whale
rusted the cannon
staring out
at river meeting sea
the plumber
still bids me a colonial ‘adios’
he is old school
experiments saunter
out of closets
in the vegetable market
aubergines are drooping wet
the goddess struggles
with cheap plane tickets
sweeper women talk
prawn scales into mobile phones
the pavement is mossy wet
you will have to be guided
by my elbow
even as you gingerly
tread the wharf
to fish for whatever it is
that you wish


doughty cow
dusty red road
afternoon sleep
sagging rope cot
fallen autumn leaves
a bucket of
left over
rain water
to cleanse
a miniature udder
thin wind shudders
tamarind trees are
leave some sweat
for the new calf
camp followers
thread garlands
with small flowers
purple patch and
pious pink virgin
like clouds loaf
about a done sun
lord at play
cymbals clash
fervent call
the despair
of compressed air
beneath a canopy
of wire mesh
in which
monkey paws are
you missed
an orgasm
in return
for nothing
now pregnant with
clarified butter
on cotton wicks
with devotion
dazzling light
with blindness
thin mongrel licks
blistered bare feet
black smoke
from bullying lamps
lord revels
in stifling smell
of too much incense
and buffalo musk
to entice again
to tease a
run away
from all that contradicts
all that is new
from the darker side
of the enticing moon
the lord was born
in a tempest
on a moonless night
hold tight this
is the realization you


backwaters paddle up to say
white church
let the barge
sing the dirge”
this urge
to emphasize
crab like faith
that claws
“dragon paws
by laws
that fish
within wrecks”
catechism between
two coconut palms
tired of pointing out to sea
weeds wash sins
fin wins
“you walk through foam
ankles sanctified
by salt
that has materialized
in the sun”
this sea wells up in you
and ebbs
moons are highlights
for your swept hair
and fair
is the uncanny rise
and fall
of your surprised breasts

• the king of beaches in Goa, India, on the Arabian Sea,
miles long, yellowish white sand, relatively deserted in August.

Michelle Brooks


I made you crazy

I drove a man crazy
and yet I dont know how I made him crazy
it wasnt fair for him to be crazy
Im sorry for making you crazy
I wish I could take your place and I be crazy
tell me a way show me a way and make me crazy
my heart hurts cause I made my friend crazy
Please change I dont want you to be crazy
Someone help him, help him, he's crazy
take away his pain that made him crazy
I dont like how I made him crazy
I didnt do it on purpose, I didnt even know I was making him crazy
I wish I could take it all back and he leave me crazy

*previously published in Poem Hunter

A Stranger To Nothing

The first time I tried to leave my husband,
I broke my kneecap, felt it crumble as
the thin blade of my rented skate went
out from under me. It wasn’t a big love.
He was someone to do things with while
my insides rotted away with thoughts of my
rape years before. My leg healed, I got away,
found a big love, a man as accessible as the dead
are, less in fact, told myself that it was okay.
You can’t get everything from one person.
My mother said that. She didn’t even try and her
divided heart never healed. She became accustomed
to the ways of darkness, the light that shines in it.
Forget everything, the darkness says. Try nothing.

Kentucky Derby Day at My Aunt's House

Explaining why he took his girlfriend

back after she slept with his best
friend, my cousin said, I'm like Don Coyote - -

I just keep charging after windmills. I

tried not to laugh and resisted the urge
to correct him. Taking another sip
of my Mint Julep, I thought, You're more
like Wylie Coyote, hammered with same
bullshit schemes every time, but I have
been both Don and Wylie enough times
not to make the distinction. The Mint Julip
tastes sweet for a second, then the bitter
kick of bourbon. Each year our family
argues about how to make them, each
year they taste the same. It's a tradition,
my mother says, you can't watch the Derby
without drinking at least one. It doesn't matter
if the mint leaves are bruised or crushed, I can't
drink enough of other things to get the taste
of the drink we all share out of my mouth.

*previously published in Homestead Review

Second Day Reported

I have never told anyone this,
and I am not going to start now.
You won’t recognize me because
I’ve dyed my hair, and I don’t
answer to the same name. But
here’s something. This is the worst
story I have ever heard. Once a woman
was gang-raped in an apartment
where men kept streaming in and out
for hours, so many that she couldn’t
identify them all. She changed
everything she could so that they
wouldn’t recognize her, but in the end,
she became Apartment 206, and she
could never leave. Some women tell
themselves this place doesn’t exist,
that she doesn’t even exist. The men, well,
they know better, or so the saying goes.

A Spell To Change Your Luck

Stop making your bed. After all,

you're going to get in it later, pull
up the covers, read a book, the one
that changed your life. Maybe you
found it by your old lover's bed inscribed
from someone else. I'm not saying
this has happened to me; it's not a first
person thing. The copy you have is worn
and maybe nobody else knows why you
like it, maybe you don't even know. You're
somewhere else before too long. You are
alone and asleep. Anything can happen.

About Art - Stolpersteine

Stolpersteine (German expression for "stumbling blocks", obstacles, something in the way) is a project of the artist Gunter Demnig. These memorials are meant to be visual reminders of the people deported and then killed by the Nazis mostly in Nazi concentration camps or extermination camps.

Those persecuted by the Nazis were Jews, Sinti and Romani people (also called gipsies), members of the resistance during World War II, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, christians in opposition and disabled people.

Schools, relatives, and various organizations investigate facts about people, who were deported or persecuted during the regime of Nazi Germany. The databank of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem provides more information.

Once research has been done, Demnig manufactures a concrete cube of 10 cm/ 4 in, which he covers with a sheet of brass. Then he adds the writing “Hier wohnte” (Here lived), the name, year of birth and the fate: mostly the date of deportation and of death. They are then put down flush in the pavement/sidewalk in front of the last residence of the victim.

After Demnig had the idea in 1993, the first exhibition took place in 1994 in Cologne. The then priest of the Antoniter church encouraged the project. In 1995 Demnig began to install Stolpersteine on trial without approval in Cologne, then in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In 1996 he set out 55 Stolpersteine in Berlin within the scope of the project “artists investigate after Auschwitz”. 1997 he put down the first two Stolpersteine for Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Georgen near Salzburg, Austria on the suggestion of the cultural initiative KNIE and Austrian Service Abroad. Four years later, he received permission to put up 600 more Stolpersteine in Cologne.The financial requirements are covered by donations, collections, individual citizens, contemporary witnesses, school classes, or communities. One Stolperstein costs €95.

As of April 2007, Gunter Demnig had put down more than 11,000 Stolpersteine in more than 220 cities. He expanded his project beyond the borders of Germany to Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Hungary. Some Gedenksteine were scheduled to be put down in Poland on September 1, 2006, but this did not take place because permission was withdrawn.Find out more about this outdoor art at
Digital Art by Peter Ciccariello

Mike Young

Clay in Grandma Claire

Your grandma Claire had a thing for maps
and men from New Mexico.

See here in this picture,
the Halloween party?
She jiggles her punch cup with candor,
but a few absent fingers
hide outside the frame --

there's no doubt, little Katie
those fingers, poised on a globe,
tickled a certain desert state.
Why, you can almost touch
the lizards' wet tongues.

And there is your grandpa Raul

looking sour. He's the raven
in the doily farm:
her family's Halloween party,
for which he oiled his hair
and they offered handshakes
they never gave.

But alone, Claire loved him to tell,
and Raul loved her to listen
of November 1st, Día de los Muertos.

No screaming ninjas
with greedy grocery bags,
or moms fret with caution
over razor blades in apples;

only a long line of souls
drawn down from the Catholic church,
hushed on the clay
with candles and night
to sprinkle flowers and cigarettes
upon the other souls.
Tonight, your Grandpa Raul and Grandma Claire

are just pictures.
There's no doubt, little Katie,
this is clay we visit.
And yes, it is a line too long for maps, but hush:
like us, everyone is here.

We must give them space for light.

*previously published in The Oklahoma Review


Having finished his spin, settled cocked on his blades,
the skater freezes his face for the NBC money shot.

There's that garnish on ham in the Christmas homes
of fathers who wreck rental cars in major cities,

and there's that marshmallow goo over sweet yams
like dove feathers on the rocks at dawn, but then

you have to wonder why the dove did a striptease.
Back to the skater. I knew this dude named Yosae,

who, when you asked him to draw you a dragon,
would light up and nod and sketch the claws

of a wrought-iron fence. Bewildered us kids.
Yosae and his face of baby-piss wit, something

that could shave balloons or sink into woodcuts.
Alone, Yosae sketched the migration of rain.

Having finished his spin, settled cocked on his blades,
the skater freezes his face for the NBC money shot.

There are comas of joy, secrets of dumbing it.
The skater's lids and lips assume a fortress

that has never heard of cockroaches or old lamps.
O dogs, with those moonsick eyes and jittery fur:

we see everything it is to upchuck your deck.
Our precarious aces of perfected moments.

We would nuke a meadow before naming the spice.


Hey, no smoking
on the go-karts.

We skid stopped past the
off ramp to browse this van:

a cult's old blankets
and off-season Clementines.

That's nice, that bracelet
jingles like a dancer caught

her ankle in the algae.
She is a Viking slave.

Take now, a night hiss,
a slur of proud-ass barns

and the crooked tickle
of satelitte dishes.

Squint for rainy promises
or the rainy promenades

that never go down.
Oh, this is no cello analogy

you weepy motherfucker.
These parking lots

are places to park.
Issac sells safety

razors in the arcade tent.
You may try to barter

with a fist full of
swallows. Let me say

this just this once:
That's a long ass way

from a deal.


I'm never sure of anything,
but I enjoy things. Sandals under my
armpits, sloppy feet shot off like
a cynical hippie for the
Viking assembly.
Eight-year old knees can't dig
beige lawn chairs and two hours of
bellsongs that slobber for JC.
Slip off with a bum for the
public bathroom.
He won't notice you're following him
to his thing: a knit night, a tin glint,
stray dogs giving peach trophies
to Vikings with impeccable volleys.
This milk carton on the armored roof:
sure! These sisters with July hoses—
anything, like a need for things.
Chalk up the chewed foot to the
new thing, the stinksong
you can't sing, a slit lip
tah-ding-a-ding, it feels—
wait, like a phone call from a wet bee.


Meryle smoked cigars and serves.
Drank gin every afternoon after
tennis in a diner once a train depot,
accompanied by mustache and chums.
Sure, they've not seen you for six haircuts,
but still they laugh you to the service line.
They let the ice melt in their drinks.
Gene taught you a backhand slice
while some president talked of
bigger cleaves. That, that year.
We threw the ball above our hair
and dove--
Do you still care about the lost carts
and river dogs? Vietnamese kids with
their fishing branches and kite frames?
Woodsmoke, shoe dust, chalk water?
You can't hit there ignoring how Gene is
dead. But he isn't, because the rumor
goes that he wrote for George Jones,
and look: he was the only crook-backed
sourpuss with a Walkman. So it's true.
Meryle is to root for Notre Dame.
Roy is to blush at ooooh, Loy! Yee is to
bundle 4ft of veins and few words.
How it spins, hangs fixed
and sheds—

You take a feather off the river
and chew it until you forget.
Meryle, we will never share your
smoke, but here: let's serve to
the Pacific at love-all. Let's toss.
I want to watch the yellow go.

About Music - Meshell Ndegeocello

Although Me'Shell Ndegéocello scored a few hits early in her career, the singer/bassist opted to concentrate subsequently on more challenging material by exploring the politics of race and sex, among other topics. Born Mary Johnson in 1969 and spending the first few years of her life in Germany (her father was both a military man and a jazz saxophonist), Ndegéocello and her family relocated to Virginia in the early '70s as the youngster developed an interest in music. As a teenager, Ndegéocello began to play regularly in the clubs of Washington, D.C., but eventually settled down in New York City after a stint of studying music at Howard University. After auditioning for several local bands (one being Living Colour), Ndegéocello struck out on her own (often performing solo, with just a bass, drum machine, and keyboard) and in the early '90s became one of the first female artists signed to Madonna's Maverick label.

1993 saw her debut release, Plantation Lullabies, which spawned the hit "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," as well as three Grammy nominations. But it was a duet with John Mellencamp on a cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" a year later brought the singer/bassist the most acclaim, as the song became one of the year's biggest hits. Ndegéocello took an extended period before a follow-up recording was issued, but during this time, she collaborated with Chaka Khan on the track "Never Miss the Water," as well as appearing on movie soundtracks (White Man's Burden, Money Talks) and on such multi-artist releases as Ain't Nuthin' But a She Thing and Lilith Fair, Vol. 3.

In 1996 the release of a sophomore effort, Peace Beyond Passion, failed to match the success of her debut. Another three-year break between albums occurred, during which time she collaborated with rapper Queen Pen on the track "Girlfriend." Her third release, Bitter, was issued in 1999. She took another three-year break and emerged with Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape in June 2002. Comfort Woman followed in 2003 and Dance of the Infidel, a sprawling album made with numerous collaborators from the jazz world, surfaced in mid-2005. Two years later, her fantastic Decca debut, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, which included guest appearances from Pat Metheny and Oumou Sangare, was released.Visit her website at
Sean Lause

Night Vision

Driving home late on ice-bitten road,
my headlights probing like a blind-man's fingers,
the night trembling with snow, my boy
blissfully asleep in his magic chair
They appeared from the abyss
as if projected by the moon,
their legs flowing silently through the snow
a herd of deer, fleeing remembered guns
Leaping in plumes of electricity,
embracing us in soft brown flesh,
implicating me in my own breaths
and every snow that falls unseen.
Their eyes seemed to know me from long ago,
their leafy heads nodding as if in prayer.
We swung in one motion, relentless, pure,
then they curved beneath the night and disappeared.
When my son stirred, I could not tell
who had dreamed and who had been awake.
I only knew we were safe and blessed,
and I had never lived and would never die.

Caliban’s answer

We caught him when he drowned his dreaming books,
star-wound man, wrapped in himself.
--From behind, where all good treasons grow,
--From beyond, where happy endings never go.
Tyrant, he fed my thirst salt water,
clapped me devil, deformed slave, spat sharp bile
on my scaly gabardine,
did beat me and curse me beast,
words do howl and bite and hate me still,
forgetting I, a king, outrank him.
Time took me my careful plotting.
Beware the tortoise outlive you all.
His daughter took me willing.
Her man played only that chess.
I won her, and smoothed her hair back
with tumbling song and all the beauty
I kept from sleep, on the cursed rock
I loved her for the shipwrecks in her eyes.
And she did love me, did kiss my wounds,
till I turned beast, drunkard, man, king, all---
And you, spinner of words and worlds,
we'll make you a meal to stuff a gullet full.
Hunger tames all vile offenses,
and I am the darkness I call mine.
My island, mine,
where I am again mine own king.
Freedom. High-day! Freedom! Free!
Now I go eat my dinner.

*both poems previously published in Tertulia Magazine

An Elderly Jewish Man Confronting Alzheimer’s

I grow weary of numbers,
tumbling to a shimmering dust.
There is no getting back
except through forgetting.
I have remembered too long
and too much, now I long
to breathe the darkness
and touch the silence
between drops of rain.
Sunlight dances on my eyelids,
the moon escapes the net of faces,
the universe folds
like a sleeping flower,
and all is altered
by the sound of a fly
spinning circles in a glass.
Let the mind return
to rivers
seeking arterial destinations.
I will hide my face
in the soonest wind.
Touch me, touch me,
Rabbi Akiva...
Show me the hiding place
where no one is alone.

*first published in European Judaism

The Escape Artist
--for Gerard de Nerval

When fools ask in mocking breaths
why he keeps a lobster on a leash,
he whispers: "Because it never barks
and knows the secrets of the deep."
He studies the blue, electric breeze
tease the pregnant silk curtain,
ocean breaths exiled from eternity,
memory of orbits unspun.
He sees the darkness knit by match flames,
deciphers hieroglyphs clawed in the walls.
Heat lightning illuminates starry knives
that touch passion to the bone of love.
Is someone knocking at the door?
Descending branches long for him,
but a ceiling beam's faith is certain.
A centipede blows across the floor.
Perfect magician, musician of love,
he casts himself to the nearing stars.
He bequeaths us a final geometry,
a broken tower that crucifies the sky.
Nerval's silhouette rocks an endless arc,
dares what gravity might redeem,
conspiracy of moon and shadow,
deeper in darkness than crickets dream.
Although his last words died alone
and his misery bred mockery from chance,
around and around his mute, broken bones
the leaves spin in xylophones of dance.

Words And Things

am haunted by the death in things,
their heaviness, texture, inertia,
the scrape of dirty dishes that shatters hearts,
the muffled weeping of old shoes in the closet...
And words, too, are things,
after the illusion,
words that hide behind clothes and names,
and bleed, suffer and are crucified
in dictionaries.
And what if, after all,
death itself is not eternal,
but embodied in the lust of stones
and the dust rolled beneath our fingernails,
baptized in tears of hornets
and all hope of resurrection
swaying gently on a pile of shattered eyeglasses?
Merciless geometry!
Heartlessness in the depths of forms!
I think God is a poem
like Auschwitz,
aesthetic, unified, cold,
the work death made free,
His masterpiece,
strung with sinews of barbed irony
and the obscenity of gleaming prosthetics.

*both poems previously published in Miller’s Pond
Contributors Biographies

Barry Ballard: his poetry has appeared in Able Muse, New Millennium Writings, Rosebud, The Florida Review, Prairie Schooner, The Connecticut Review, Margie, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. His first collection, Green Tombs To Jupiter, won the Snail's Pace Press Poetry Prize. His most recent collection is A Body Speaks Through Fence Lines (Pudding House, 2006). He lives and writes in Burleson, TX. His email address is

Glenna Luschei: she has published the poetry magazine Cafe Solo, Solo and Solo Cafe for forty years. she was named Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo City and County for the year 2000. She is the author of several chapbooks. Her latest poetry collection is Libido Dreams (Artamo Press, 2007). She published an artist book, Enigmas, of her translation of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in 2006. She has taught for many years and completed her PhD studies in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2005. She divides her time between an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA and North Carolina. Her website is

C L Bledsoe: he was raised on a catfish farm in eastern Arkansas. He co-founded a punk band called Shizknit, and worked as a DJ in student radio while working on his Bachelor's from the Unveristy of Arkansas. He then studied playwriting before transferring to Hollins University for his M.F.A. He is an editor of Ghoti Mag. His poetry and short stories have appeared in Southern Hum, Natural Bridge, Diner, The King's English, Hobart Pulp and elsewhere. He has a forthcoming debut poetry collection, Anthem (Cervena Barva Press) later this year. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife. His website is

John Tranter: he is an Australian poet, publisher and editor. His achievements include publishing more than a dozen books of poetry; devising, with Jan Garrett, the long running ABC radio program Books and Writing; and founding the internet quarterly literary magazine Jacket, which he publishes and edits, in 1997. His significance to Australian poetry has been recognized by the Australia Council, which awarded him a Creative Arts Fellowship in 1990. He is married, with two adult children and lives in Sydney. He is in the final year of his doctoral program at the University of Wollongong. He website is

Maxim Popykin: is a web programmer for a cellular company. He hobbies include water sports, snowboarding, listening to techno music and traveling, especially to Italy and Greece. he dream is to travel to Norway, Venezuela, Canada and India but would never think of leaving home without a camera. He feels photography is an esential part of any trip. He current camera of choice is the Canon 300D. He was born and still lives in Moscow, Russia. See more of his stunning photographs at

Ashok Niyogi: is an economics graduate from Presidency College, Calcutta. He has worked as an international trader and as a result, has lived and worked in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and South East Asia in the 80's and 90's. At 52, he is retired and divides his time between a cashew farm in India and Fremont, CA, where his daughter lives. He has a collection, Tentatively, which has been published in print and chapbook form in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada. He can be reached at

Michelle Brooks: has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of North Texas. She writes both fiction and poetry and is an accomplished photographer as well. Her writing has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Baltimore Review, Blue Mesa Review, Cold Mountain Review, Natural Bridge, Slipstream, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, No Half-Measures Here, won the Ledge Press Award in 2004. She currently lives in Detroit, MI where she teaches creative writing. Her blog can be found at

Peter Ciccariello: is an interdisciplinary artist, poet, and photographer, whose current interests are in experimenting with the fusion of text and images in 3-D computer graphics environments, and exploring the possiblities of poetry as landscapes. He studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, and Parsons School of Design in New York City, NY. He was part of the Visual POetry Exhibition at Harvard University in 2005. He was the winner of the Corel Manipated Photography Competition of 2006. His collection of award-winning digital art has been complied in the book, Uncommon Vision. He lives in Providence , RI. Find out more about his work and his book at

Mike Young: he is a co-editor of NOO Journal, a free West Coast print and online magazine of fiction, poetry and politics. His fiction and poetry has appeared in a smattering of journals and magazines, including Pindeldyboz, Juked, Cutbank, Mi POesias, Realpoetik, Opium Magazine, Elimae, and elsewhere. One of his stories, "Ten Gallon Bucket Of Fries", won a 2005 Story South Notable Story award. He lives in Amherst, MA. Visit his blog at

Sean Lause: his work has appeared in Tertulia Magazine, Miller's Pond, The Mid-American Review, The Minnesota Review, Poetry International, among others. His fiction has been published in Liquid Ohio and elsewhere. He teaches courses in Shakespeare, Literature and the Holocaust, The Short Story and Compostion at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio where he lives. His email address is

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 Jan. 1st. Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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