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Summer, 2005
Web Edition
Poets in the pond.....
Sharon Rothenfluch Cooper
Jessica Fuller
M.A. Griffiths
Sean Lause
Ashok Niyogi
Christine Potter
Sean Lause
Words are things
I 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.
The wolf as original dreamer
The earth would burst incandescent
they said, but I was prepared
with an army of dreams and magic
and each night a thousand stars
descended from the ceiling like cobalt spiders
to weave my bed of innocence.
The fall came when my father placed a book
of Peter and the Wolf before the mirror.
I could not stop watching the wolf,
its lava eyes spilling rage and violation,
its teeth swirling in a snarl of white death,
its feet clawing for the earth to return.
Above, Peter clung to the tree branch
faceless, like all sadists,
tightening his noose over its tail
to suspend it through eternity,
and to make the torture exquisite,
he made music from its misery.
Tonight, alone in bed,
my wife dying, son grown and gone,
the wolf leaps from a shadow in my dream,
folds itself around me, shredded tail bleeding.
I sing gently to it,
sharing the hunger still hovering in the air.
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.
previously 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.
Sean Lause teaches English, Speech and a course in the Holocaust at 
Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio.  His work has appeared in The 
Mid-American Review, The Minnesota Review, Poetry International 
and The Mother Earth International, among others.

Christine Potter
Out of Brilliant Sky and Nowhere

(for my great-aunt,  Ahmie)
Her bedtime stories kept me up late, stories 
she let me dictate almost to myself, laughing too hard
for nearly nine o’clock. Someone’s going to end up crying, 
she said, but still told about one bald man
in a crowd of people at the Fourth of July parade:
a great flock of birds appeared out of brilliant sky and nowhere 
to fly over everyone and guess what they did right 
on top of his head?  And even President Eisenhower  
has no hair.  So, one day he opened the window
of the White House in Washington, DC
and along came that same flock of birds...
You’ll be tired in the morning, Ahmie said
when I shrieked and my mother called upstairs.
She gave me three golden butterscotch candies
in stiff, loud cellophane.  She gave my sister only two
because I was the older one, like her.  Don’t tell, she said, 
don’t tell. You’ll take care of me when I get old, but she 
was old already, skinny neck in a pale summer dress, 
pocketbook made of real seahorses and transparent plastic
that held Kleenex, ball point pens, and stubs of lipstick, 
stale as spit. When she forgot everything she knew 
except “The Tennessee Waltz” by ear on piano, she had to go 
to The Home, where she’d once worked as secretary,
and I did not take care of her.  At night, the wind 
says woo, woo, she said, lost in the Solarium’s 
giant bamboo couch, eyes following something gone.  
She took my hand.  How cool, how cool was the glass 
on top of her dresser those dank August afternoons 
when I still stretched tall to reach her perfume bottles, 
and watched them reflect amber in her mirror, 
with thunder starting up like an old car 
somewhere down the darkening street.
A Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church
Just before snow, roads bleach.  
Trees are empty veins and grass 
the color of weak coffee and milk. 
Just before late afternoon sifts the ice 
from its breath, before wind awakens  
the complications of my heart, I pray  
for the silent composure of snowfall,
for its blessing even into the night
when orange plows scrape the streets
and beam warning lights through our windows, 
onto our walls. I pray that snow fold cool fingers 
over the fever and disorder of our houses 
and our lives.  Lord, hear me.  
I am not angry. I am one of a multitude, 
and when we think of it, we help each other.  
It has just begun to snow, and the flakes  
disappear in the dusky sky.  Everyone knows 
what is about to happen, the perfection and danger 
of this storm, the hopes we whisper to each other 
as our hands part and we start our cars 
in the dull twilight with its scent of wood fires and frost.
We drive off in darkness, radios buzzing with predictions, 
but there is something else to hear--
a hiss, almost inaudible, as snow touches the ground,
and piles up, steady as forgiveness. 
And somewhere a window closes with a sigh 
like a prayer spoken inwardly, a prayer 
for the whole state of Christ's Church. 
These poems will appear in Christine Potter’s book, Zero Degrees At First Light 
(Word Tech Press, David Robert Books Series), scheduled for publication in Fall 2006.
Christine Potter, head moderator at The Alsop Review's Gazebo, is a happily 
retired English/Creative Writing teacher who has also worked as a cook, and 
rung changes and hymn tunes on two tons of tower bells at a wonderful old 
Episcopal church in the East Bronx.  She lives in suburban New York with her 
husband, Ken, and her two self-possessed cats, Desmond and Molly Jones. 
Her work has appeared in Stirring, Snakeskin, Gumball Poetry, The Pedestal 
Magazine, and Full Circle Magazine, among others.  

Ashok Niyogi
Laguna Street
A back dated copy of US News
Stained by roasted garlic flavored
Extra virgin olive oil,
The neighbors have moved away,
In this silence, I miss their children’s noise
I resent the refrigerator rumbling so.
On Laguna Street the cars come and go,
Geese squawk by
On their way to Ellis Lake,
Branches are pencil drawings against a gray sky,
Works of art that never sold.
Autumn leaves seasoned by winter rain 
Are sequestered in the patio,
A pair of bicycles with flat tires
Is chained to a tree trunk.
We live outdoors in almond groves,
Row after row in camping huts,
And plan to walk through tulip meadows,
Mind numb with color,
Counting tulips to go to sleep.
Is there a lesson in this to learn?
Write me a five hundred-word story,
Call it ‘ The clouds will go,
there will be sun’.
M.A. Griffiths
The consuming angel
My angel is shaped from clouds, a purl
of dove-feathers, the maidenhead of snow 
and sugar crystals, but at the core, an engine
turns and churns and steams to propel
his huge benevolence. White and winged 
he trundles down the pavements and into shops, 
secreting sides of salmon, brie, sheep's heads,
beneath his robes between blessings. A nun 
genuflects in his shadow. He turns and smiles 
and O the sun spins from the horizon,
gibbous glory blazes out upon the crowd,
the high street is transfigured. Shoppers weep 
into their pockets as he passes by,
trailing tailstream prayers and sweetness 
like the kiss of an old contagion.
Previously appeared in Mindfire Renewed
Unpeel me slowly, like the fruit 
you placed on a white plate 
ready to accompany the wine 
or the cake, frilly-papered, 
that you eyed while you ate 
your salad and brown bread. 
The apricot warms, ripening, 
the cake crumbles in its case, 
sugar crystallising and re-melting. 
Taste me slowly. Let me melt 
into the granules of your tongue 
like icecream on shingle. 
Make me zing like lemonade 
after strawberries, like sherbet 
on a rod of liquorice. Make me 
flesh and sponge, sweet 
and sour, savoured, swallowed, 
assimilated. Make me muscle. 
 Previously appeared in Snakeskin
Last Orders -The Movie
I'm ordering a Hollywood decline.
The symptoms are ideal: not being sick,
the application of a pale lip slick,
some floaty scarves, a duty to recline
against silk pillows being brave, while friends
and family troop in with gifts and flowers
and wet-eyed memories of golden hours--
stock shots of surf and seabirds when it ends.
Spare me the vulgar things, like diarrhoea,
depression, pain; they're for the hoi polloi.
A dying will seems such a good idea:
I want a starry close, so please employ
soft focus, and cue choirs' Ave Maria,
then fade me out with Ludwig's Ode to Joy.
Previously appeared in Crescent Moon Journal
M.A. Griffiths was born and grew up in London, but now lives in Dorset (Hardy's Wessex). 
She enjoys writing both free and formal verse, and participating in online poetry boards.
Her work has appeared in Snakeskin, Crescent Moon Journal, The Eleventh Muse, 
Mind Mutations, and Mindfire Renewed, amongst others.

Sharon Rothenfluch Cooper
Orange-peel colors
slash a tattered moon,
streak wisps of fog,
soon spied when scarecrows
rise to heckle witches in flight.
My wizard's wand
pushes the tangerine globe
back in its orbit before
it tumbles on my men-of-straw,
disturbs sorcerers
in their travels,
then rolls down the road
leaving a trail of pumpkin seeds
reflected in its wake.
I fall spellbound each season
when oblique rays
poke peek-holes in the mist.
The eerie glow turns
heaven's arch into an ocean
of teal, then fades to indigo.
Previously published in MiPo, Wicked Alice, and Perigee Publication for the Arts, 2003
Sharon, an astrological Leo, is very much a today's woman and thrives on poetry and music.  Her work has appeared in many internet journals and magazines worldwide and she's had several chapbooks published online.

Jessica Fuller
I took the test.
In fact, I took 5
From 5 different brands
With 5 different color lines
That disappear or reappear
Or break in half or
Something along those lines
If you are.
I turned them upside down
In the dark
In a black light
With a strobe light
In natural light
In all cases, I am.
But when I look down and consider
The life breathing within me
Through me
For me
5 is a good number.
Jessica Fuller is a senior English Writing major at Oklahoma Christian University.  
She is engaged and can't wait to get married after graduating next spring.  
"Test" is her first published poem outside of school-run literary publications.