poetic language                 issue six                 fall 2005


Jack Foley
Nicholas Manning
Dan Masterson
Salvatore Quasimodo, Tr. Anny Ballardini
Jorge Lucio de Campos
Todd Swift
Hugh Tribbey
Eileen Tabios
Ashok Niyogi
Dustin Hellberg
Amy Grier
Lorcan Ryan-Black
Graham Nunn
Phil Cordelli & Brandon Shimoda
Mark Young

  Sandy Florian  
  Marcia Arrieta 
  Emily Waples
  Erin McElroy
  Jane Adam
  Crag Hill 
  Jeffrey Side
  C. L. Bledsoe
  Timothy David Orme
  José Alejandro Peña
  Thomas Lowe Taylor
  Al Swanson
  David Chikhladze
  PR Primeau







Jack Foley



Walking Across Brooklyn Bridge


As we walked across the Bridge,
             I thought of Hart Crane
             (poor suicidal poet)
                 & of Joseph Stella
whose paintings are like chords struck
      on the harp strings
           of this amazing edifice
Crane saw The Waste Land
        as a condemnation
             of modern industrial society
                    ("so negative")
                His answer was
                      this marvel
                  of spidery, delicate cables
                      which swoop us into skies
of unspeakable beauty
"sleepless as the river under thee"
(Eliot: "Fear death by water")
   Our guide, Gregory,
quietly told us stories,
             raged against the sometimes reckless bikers,
                 & watched our wonder
                        as we walked
               across this passageway
               from busy life to busy life—
                         this "between"
                    suspended over water—
                         that took us
                         into the sky
                   & home to Brooklyn




Chapelle Saint-Blaise-des-Simples

      (at the tomb of Jean Cocteau)


"Je reste avec vous"
I remain with you
in the books
in the films
but above all in this place
where I have been lifted from my body
and dispersed into an area
where je is autre
where Christ the poet
& is resurrected & points towards the same sky
towards which these healing plants
extend their bodies
I am now
a field in which
there is nothing that is not me
I am the head of Christ
the angels
the bored Centurion
yawning at the very center of our vision
I am henbane
I am arnica
Autumn crocus
and above all
I am mint—
new coinage
I am these simples
whose powers grace this garden
This chapel
where my body lies
takes power from the garden
this garden
is a chapel
where la voix humaine
& even more the spirit
& becomes
whoever visits
I is another
Je est un autre
There is no death, my children
I rest with you—
Milly la Forêt

        † Rimbaud on the poet as seer: Je est un autre, "I is another."
      "the master's favorite form of address"




Two Poems — after Paris 


Bad Blood

those masters of language whom we emulate
but cannot hope to equal
those masters who summon wor(l)ds in words
we listen
but can only—
there are those
who think by opposition
who are awakened only by the circumstance of contra-
we are not—
those masters of language
summon wor(l)ds
so that experience is
alive with random fragments seeking others—
fragments summoning
not unity but constant interaction

is the reward of oppressive systems which hold imagination by the throat and murder wor(l)ds

for Mary-Marcia Casoly

those silent birds I gave you
have you listened?
those silent, metal birds
catch sunlight like sound
and flash it to your ears
which nonetheless hear nothing
is a complex entity
which these birds sing in deafening profusion
silence is the—
from their unmoving










Nicholas Manning



the sanctuary 

     Ô j’ai lieu de louer ! Ô fable généreuse , ô table d’abondance !
          —Saint-John Perse

is this own world’s * image : unknown
as with the tender ashes mixed
in love’s * lone fire (a measly
mound) to lastly
all unburden . . . the still rose unfurls
its layers * into the night’s
space . . . embrace
un * -founded * un
-justifiable : in the guilt
of its bonheur . . . the lily wet upon your
thigh * to * sigh
its ecstacy
out *
of world on warmth . . .
which if not in(ner) communion
is * our last reciprocity :
an image
of our lives’ borders
its hemi-spheres between flesh
and weightless angel-air : the space
where no bloom penetrates
the * inner skin * the


love poem 32

worth *
are you the only * one
to my desires . . . my divine
rule : your heavens
set *
your spheres
in motion : to music’s trim mosaic . . .
a living firmament : as though no-one (else
the crystal) these hot tears to mop
your * mirror’s message . . .
yet let
the * roses
have their dew ! : our accounts all
settled * in my sadness’ favour
(with a tendency
hyperbolic) : a seed *
to your proud forest formed
an aphid * ardent
to your


the ecstacy

     Of what we are compos’d and made
          —John Donne

remaining *
ever this : a soil’s wet mass
which in rich
rife * roughly conglomerates :
a star divines its inner
secrets . . . how ?
as woven
in the sacred allegria
not more : our union with
the lilies’ sense * their inner odour
which with us is mixed : an
absent breath ? a jewel ?
the body’s living
light *
enmeshed with leaves : to see
no more . . . save * a forest
where the dappled helix
in a hexagon
mosaic : an intricacy intimate
of * our own image * of
the world’s ?

to burn my quivering cheek : a rose
is ? destruction * lax life’s
only power ?
to ash all * an only
purpose : out of the fire
no * life’s
name ?









Dan Masterson



What Goes Around

     (based on Charles Burchfield's "Six O'Clock")

     "It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing and it was going to snow."
          —Wallace Stevens

They don't look him in the eye
Anymore, not since that half embrace
On Christmas Eve when they thanked
Him for the paid-up deed to the house

He handed over to them. They didn't
Waste any time, deciding they'd move
In right away, taking over the upstairs
Bedroom he shared with his wife for

Sixty-three years. They put the old man
& most of his belongings in the sun-porch
That he'd built for the boy on his fifth
Birthday so he'd have a place of his own.

At least there are no stairs to climb, no
Bumping into the shadows & voices
Trapped up there, & he likes to hear the
Rumble of traffic building up through

The walls every morning & the neighbors
Traipsing off to early Mass at Saint Ann's
Across the street from where he'd lugged
Barrels for Taylor Transit until a rental

Truck crushed his leg against the loading
Dock. He was laid off before he quit
Rehab. Two weeks' pay left at his door,
Stuck inside the pink slip he's kept folded

In his wallet all these years. It's nicer when
He's alone. On work days, one or the
Other leaves tea & a slab of jellied toast
At his bedside, as he feigns sleep. He has

His own radio & is free to roam about,
Dragging his leg as he likes, without the
Constant babble about crutches & walkers
& blah blah blah. He's been upstairs & seen

All the family pictures piled on the floor. The
Heirloom sleighbed & armoire, even his wife's
Vanity have been painted over in a glossy beige.
He found a stash of notes he wasn't meant to

Read, & wonders if the county home's tin roof
Still leaks on the broken rows of attic cots where
He left his father two lifetimes ago, yanking at the
Steel-mesh slams padlocked to the window frames.



D E B T  D E P A R T M E N T

      (after George Tooker's "Government Bureau," 1956)

("These refurbished offices afford streamlined payment procedures
and cordial consultations when deemed appropriate by a clerk. Do
not approach any of the cubicles before reading the following directions.
Your failure to do so will cause a forfeiture in the processing of your
case."  —JLT, NYC Sr. Site Mngr., January 23, 1958.)

Remove one copy of blue form, NYC-12C-
146-LT-PYMNT-58. Do not fold or crease.
Remove one yellow #2 pencil from its
Red plastic box. Proceed to table #28
And complete all areas requested. If
An error occurs, do not erase. Instead,
Return to station #1 and remove another
Copy of the blue form. When it has been
Completed, you may present it, along with
The pencil, to the clerk in cubicle #1.
Be sure to slide the form under the glass
Partition rather than attempt to hand it
Through the clerk’s face hole. Do not talk.
This allows him or her to review the form.
If in order, it will then be stamped with
A number between #12 and #99 in the upper
Lefthand corner. You will then be allowed
To proceed to your designated room whose
Exact location will be stipulated on NYC
Wall chart #28 located near the south exit.

If, however, you wish a consultation, remove
One copy of the magenta form and follow all
The instructions detailed above. If you have
Questions you wish to be addressed before
Beginning the above procedure, remove a copy
Of the red form, complete it, and deposit it
In the wall slot directly beneath the white
Question mark. Then, return to the main entry
And listen carefully for your form number to
Be called so that you can proceed to cubicle
#6 where a clerk will assist you with your
Query. Be sure to respond promptly. Failure
To do so will cause your number to be placed
At the bottom of the call list. We trust your
Visit here will prove to be satisfactory. No
Smoking, eating, drinking, whistling, shouting
Or wandering about this facility. Thank you.











Salvatore Quasimodo

—in translation by Anny Ballardini


Wind in Tindari

     ("Vento a Tindari")


Tindari, mild I know you
among wide hills hanging on waters
of sweet islands of god,
today you seize me
and bend in my heart.

I climb heights aerial precipices,
absorbed by the pines wind,
and the party that lightly strolls with me
departs in the air,
sound and love wave,
and you catch me
from whom I badly withdrew,
and fears of shadows and of silences,
shelters of once assiduous sweetness
and death of soul.

To you unknown is earth
where day by day I sink
and secret syllables I nourish:
a distinct light unfurls on glass
in its nightly dress,
and joy not mine rests
on your womb.

Sour is exile,
and my search I kept closed in you
from harmony today changes
into premature anxiety of death;
and each love is a screen to sadness,
tacit step in the dark
where you set me
bitter bread to break.

Tindari come back serene;
suave friend wakes me
who leans me into the sky from a cliff
and I feign fear to one who does not know
what profound wind beseeched me.






Sometimes your voice calls me back,
and I do not know which skies, which waters
awaken in me:
a net of sun streak
s incisions
on your walls, where in the twilight,
a swinging of lamps,
from old shops
full of mirrors and sadness.

Another time: a loom beat in the court
and you could hear at night a cry
of pups and children.
Alley: a cross of houses
calling one another softly,
and they do not know it is terrifying
to be alone in the dark.


Ancient Winter

     ("Antico Inverno")


Desire of your clear hands
In the dark warmth of the flame:
they tasted of durmast and of rose;
of death.  Ancient winter.

They were looking for millet, the birds,
And they were covered in snow;
so, too, your words.
A little sun, a halo of angel,
and then the fog; and the trees,
and the two of us, made of morning air.


In Me Lost, Every Form

     ("In Me Smarrita Ogni Forma")


Another life kept me: solitary
among unknown people; a crust of bread for a gift.
In me is lost every form:
beauty, love—love from which deceit draws
the child, and sadness thereafter.











Jorge Lucio de Campos




The Guitar Lesson

     for Balthus



I don't throw myself
to life
by chance:

I don't exist, I glitter.  I don't celebrate
the weepings that oppress me
and exhaust my sources

By chance:
a dinossaur, a whale—
an impression of a few digits

In a rappel à l’ordre I make the light
and the space            
constitutes my collage—
it receives me in an
incoherent mirror



                                               I paralyze
                                                                my papers and
the poem loses its calculation, its metal, an
urgency that strings it
and my body dissipates—
a veiled extract
kidnaping the world

What remains in myself
murmurs and
carries me out
sodomises me



                                              I exclude affections
                                                                                and all at once
I change myself

If one speaks to me
I don't reply
If one touches me
I fade out and devour
my tongue—

I soil the tabula rasa
of my soul—
I paint a sunset
and then I flee

I feign that
I don't hear
my guitar












Todd Swift



Mad Prayer


Language, dear Christ, writhes as you did and do;
for to speak is to choose a cross-roads—both true

and untrue; and I doubt your love, just as I desire
that your love bleed over my face, set me on fire,

wrack my body with welting, woe and turbulence
so my mind might—being embedded in penitence—

come to read the signs, across the printed skin
and know itself to be a book, of outspoken sin.



Five New Words


Colporteur, the books you peddle are religious,
Unlike your musically verbose pal Cole Porter.


To be grisaille is to be monotone, monsieur.
Gray days rain in this way, no relief in sight.


Feuilleton, you are devoted to light literature
In European sheets devoted to heavy fighting.


It is undecennary every eleven years, not less.
Mark how after the first ten we started again.


When one perpends, one also reflects, on:
As a ripple on water both sinks and floats.












Hugh Tribbey




Some futility in you yet has no claim. There is no piece of nobody with powder
attic or basements where dusty light dusts pines from a ghost sky. A course of
eyelashes heard his squeak. Close the door shouts. Preserves the dancing
still cold. Young the skyscrapers. Family canal and eyes sky sing. The
placed, we blaze mother winter. The river girls flash against looking in
laughter. Fire gold no black you. Life by daughter over chance. Black on
piece chance in looking light river. The futility daughter is nobody's young
winter sky. Through preserves of no cold attics yet sing of the canal's
course. So it shouts still of some sky where powder and sky make like. Where
his and placed could have a blaze and claim girls by the pines eyelashes
ghost. There life closes door in basements and mothers no dusty laughter over
the heard. You dusted eyes. Yours and his I squeak. Flash skyscrapers we
dancing family gold.


Asks about the carved birds, then praises your shelves. Someone markets a
pastoral sequence in skillets. With whom myself, with nape loss skin flowing
sky. Point-blank taken. The likelihood one doesn't get the night over of
contracts in black. The never-offense of shadow staring. I have gone league.
Them is the bobbin fever ragged. Clogged sun moon ounce with this at dead.
Make used eyes heart from how most say you will life. I don't will a dead
offense. Make such likelihood of a fever bobbin moon sun. The skin of a
point-blank night. Someone's eyes ask you say. That is the loss taken on with
ragged contracts. From the nape pastoral the sequence one of them used. The
one when the market sky filled with who your how. Heart league by praises'
ounce, with shadow shelves clogged myself. A flowing life with carvings.
Skillets black with have over staring. Never with this gone birds.










Eileen Tabios

from The Masvikiru Quatrains

The Twenty-Third Page


mystical: sheeting fanatical
vegetate: fudge behold
overriden: opossum chairperson
aloofness: vegetable improvement

alight: feeler vignette
pressurization: quicken serrated
videocassette: troubadour regime
alms: ache October

Syrian: propulsive lisp
welder: dashing February
wicket: lifesaver hard-on
scull: wench easterner

perimeter: nose-dive bookkeeping
AT: sconce litmus
capitalist: maddening die-hard
convince: dampen haunch

over-the-counter: starlit history
oxygenate: hesitate migrate
centralization: dairy notorious
Bunsen: unbutton maize

incursion: smartness false
squeamish: cheese tad
megaphone: gossip ventricle
caboose: fiction prevalent

depilatory: chemical electorate
prevaricate: Inca gluttonous
erratic: afire plait
mourning: heist repetitious

R&D: sushi lifer
stomachache: hackle solar
haze: steed antisocial
antics: designer serous

The Twenty-Fourth Page

fleetness: cryptographer consist
levitation: neatness misrepresentation
prime: fox existentialist
carbonated: presupposition dewlap

raunchy: disciple scuzzy
rajah: abaft imperishable
breech: abaci vice
seabed: funky limelight

keenness: puck guilder
grandiloquence: towhead drawbridge
glassy-eyed: eiderdown harangue
crinoline: numeral silk-screen

viscous: harlequin cardiovascular
verdant: prologue abaft
secretarial: primate Plexiglas
reroute: accidental esprit

lucre: stoical wantonness
fob: aphrodisiac enchanter
chlorofluorocarbon: locution peacetime
mead: coyote nakedness

rehearsal: bigoted farm
Wyo.: prohibitionist leonine
asperity: duo escrow
kohlrabi: judicious NE

bandana: amphibian benchmark
saguaro: citronella sadness
machismo: retiring karate
abyss: bullfight conduit

homestretch: migrate stillbirth
mangle: template surtax
lading; flatulent takeout
wizard: kinfolk kick-start


The Twenty-Fifth Page

parvenu: special despair
snigger: a la carte slackness
omnipresence: vocalize augmentation
kennel: gasket flashy

prow: follow-the-leader distracted
goblet: Negro epochal
caliph: canniness harry
social: endear abashed

jocular: Dominican split-level
chidden: machinery pep
double-barreled: busybody cull
jaguar: snowmobile object

oboist: commodity inhibited
palmetto: detector ptomaine
malady: depository Velcro
anarchism: enchantress gypsy

chopsticks: miscue ejaculation
hubris: border longitudinal
benzene: barrette data
mercy: worry every

bruise: ruinous barrio
resplendent: sifter sentimental
foible: kilohertz restricted
Venus: overpass Camambert

Newt: cerebral curfew
Jackhammer: sexism pederasty
barehanded: fungal bigot
literati: unshakeable G

brigantine: grip dish
vertebra: pact cohabitation
orthography: electrocardiogram quoth
riche: fated bruin











Ashok Niyogi






firmly rooted
in shallow sea
waves angry
suicide bombers
splinter shards
water spray
reach for sky
the ellipse
of gravity
all is quiet
before attack



on grassy knoll
falling away
from great wall
mossy shade
houses ladybirds
never crosses
final divide
is infinite



overgrown with
pumpkin vine
silent food
for deep thought
we aught
to shush
eaglets' cries
on overhang
waters flow
and I watch
tadpoles play



to sit on rock
memorial gate
or shelter
from rain
chiseled hole
in the middle
primordial wheel
set of four
to deal
difficult road
stubborn horse
born of rock



joined forever
umbilical chord
to womb
of earth
to volcanic fury
by water still
blue from
transparent sky
will surface
like pus
on pock-marked whore
destruction galore
trapped in lava
prisoner time



will split
will sing
will sting
from dust
to dust
then begin