10 November, 2011


As a child I hunted the weak
members of the playground,
striking with whatever words
would wound most deeply.
There was no place for sympathy
in this most elementary of food chains.
Of the four chambers
in the human heart, mercy
ought to squeeze into one of them.
I never felt guilty trying kill the human spirit.

When my dad shot the elk and broke her back
we hustled through the snow to make her ending quick.
She looked at us with fearful, wild forfeit
and I wished we weren’t there.
He tenderly slit her throat and her wildness
seeped onto the sagebrush, melted the snow—
her eyes dim, dark, marble.
Why should I care more for her suffering
than for my own kind?

We hide in revenge and terror,
numb to the ripped esophagus
of our bleeding brothers.

~ ~ Joel E. Jacobson

Catapault Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 18 (October, 2010).

Even if the mountain I climbed
Proved to be a duncecap really,
It was only on gaining its peak
That that knowledge reached me.

~ ~ Bill Knott

From The Moon’s Memoirs, Collected Short Poems, 2011

Shirt Collar

You’re standing by the mirror,
and I watch your fingers
slip cufflinks through buttonholes.
Your shoulders ease back,
as if the world finally had room for them,
as if your skin fit differently
under this shirt. Your small breasts
press out, unexpected
in these starched folds.

For you I would learn
the forgotten motions of my father’s hands,
the foreign ritual of folding a tie
in on itself, anything
for an excuse to reach behind your neck,
slide my fingers up under your shirt collar,
that sharp cool crease.

~ ~ Anna Swanson

The Nights Also (Tightrope Books, 2010).
There is a stillness
in snow
that the summer
never understands.

~ ~   Joel E. Jacobson

La Nuit..  Artist: Jean-Michel Ripaud

The moon of magpies quarrelling

shimmers in the pale sky of early morning
like a court reporter's screen. It records
the magpies' proceedings - litigious birds
with ermine draped across their glossy shoulders,
their bellies drooped in prosperous curves.
They introduce their offspring to the court's
attention in harsh, good-natured voices.
They teach their fledglings legalese, the value
of bright shiny objects and their importance
in the scheme of branches.
They do not mean to be
so handsome, so much bigger than the other
birds, or to have such clever eyes. It's just
the way things are, they tell
judiciously brightening skies.

 ~ ~  Alice Major

From: Tales for an Urban Sky (Broken Jaw Press, 2001).
 "Water" - Photographer:  Jonathan, of  Beeps and Chirps


Imagine a world disguised as art,
or one in which art masquerades
as you, so your face is just a portrait,
your legs a landscape. Your hair
abstract expressionism. And when
you go to the window each morning
you glimpse in its transfiguring pane
a streak of the vein source of things:
that your eyelashes remain nothing
but brushstrokes, that your feet
beneath it all are woodcuts. And when
you open the door to inquire how
a rose can limp between the breasts
of the dawn, you feel like a collage
snipped from the pages of a novel
whose words have always remained
immune to meaning, whose plot is
not subject to that mute truthserum.

~ ~ Bill Knott

We should have stayed in the forest, watching woodpeckers.
A knock on hollow wood and air rattles in the tree’s chambers
like a voice trying to remember where to put its tongue.

Wingbeats echo on the inside of a skull. A stutter slides in parallax
between two birds translating early autumn into insect drone,
sky into raised voices, mushrooms into footsteps on mud.

We should have stayed in the forest, drowned out
by hiss between the branches, but even there you can’t be sure
that what you hear as morse might not be scattershot. And now

you’re speaking. Hover and balance. Hover and stop : hold it.
We could have stayed in the forest and I could have said -
but I didn’t. And you could have heard something different.

~ ~ Zoe Skoulding
"Hiding Out" - Artist: Anthony Duce


Chunnaic mi eadar-theangachadh de dhàn agam
ann an duanaire de bhàrdachd ghaoil à Alba,
agus bu neònach leam gun robh an càirdeas
nach do mhair agamsa ach trì seachdainean,
ged a luidir an t-uisge-stiùir mi fad bhliadhnachan,
an sin an ainm a’ ghaoil a mhaireas.

Bu neònaiche buileach na h-ìomhaighean,
cuid a ghineadh ann an òrain Ghàidhlig eile,
cuid a tharraing saighead a’ chomhardaidh a-nuas,
is iad nan seasamh gu borb sa Bheurla,
gun iomradh fiù ’s gum b’i a’ Ghàidhlig
a’ bhean-ghlùine no am bogha.

Bitheadh an tàcharan ag imeachd -
tha a chaolan dhomhsa air a sgaoileadh;
ma labhras e ri feadhainn mun ghaol shìorraidh
gach beannachd leotha ’s guma fada beò an gaol ac’,
ach gur leamsa an taisbeanadh cinnteach àraid
nach ionann fìrinn na beatha is fìrinn na bàrdachd.


         I saw one of my poems translated
         in a book of love poems from Scotland,
         and it felt strange that an affair
         that lasted only three weeks
         (but in whose wake I floundered long after)
         was there in the name of eternal commitment.

         It was stranger yet to see the images,
         some born of other Gaelic songs,
         some brought down by the arrow of rhyme,
         standing naked and incongruous in English,
         with no mention that Gaelic
         was either the midwife or the bow.

         But let the changeling make its way –
         its umbilical cord with me is cut;
         if it speaks to some of enduring love
         may theirs be the blessing of love that lasts,
         but let this particular revelation be mine
         that reality and poetic truth are not the same.

 ~ ~ Meg Bateman
the rabbit

it is dark there
but we are collecting our toys we aren't scared
well maybe just a tiny bit
they promised there will be nothing there
to be scared of

we are collecting our dolls and teddies
and all the toy cars even the broken ones
because we feel sorry for them
we are collecting the scattered puzzle pieces
there's one under the bed but it is dark there
better not to look for it

the puzzle pieces when collected correctly
make pictures a squirrel
a ball or a funny clown
but they say we have no time anymore
and so we are collecting them any old way
it is just that the rabbit is nowhere to be found
the one with an ear torn away
no one has played with it recently

they say there's no need
we will not play where we are going
but how do they know they hurry us up
and we are doing our best but why
don't they have time for us anymore
what have they done with all our time

they say we mustn't be scared but we know
it will be dark there all the time
perhaps we are scared after all
but no one wants to start bawling first
there will be no stopping us then

well here it is the doggone rabbit
how stupid of me not to have noticed
they shouldn't say we don't need it anymore
there where we are all going
where are we all going

~ ~ Aleksei Tsvetkov
Artwork by Bill Knott


Hope  .  .  .  goosestep.

~ ~ Bill Knott

combien de dormeurs du Val
      nous faut-il
pour comprendre enfin
qu’on n’a pas besoin
de la guerre et de son venin?

how many sleepers in the Valley
                 do we need
        finally to understand
     that we don’t have need
      of war and its venom?

~ ~ Sedley Richard Assonne

"Les dormeurs du Val"
Artist: Jean-Michel Ripaud


Nature doesn't need
a mountain to show
it exists; mist will
suffice.  But the poet
must painfully pile
up every pebble of
his absent summit.

~ ~  Bill Knott

"Bird" - Artist:  Bill Knott

Temple of the Buddha's Footprint

They surround him
with carved ivory
apply gold-leaf
to the image of one
whose palms
were inlaid with rebirth
whose toes
were all the same length
whose earlobes
sagged with long life
but only those
who have felt the knife
of his inward gaze
his fire
that burns up suffering
but throws neither light
nor heat
know him
as peace calling out
to peace ...

the smile of an empty bowl.

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).

an itinerant dons his woolens his furs and felt
daubs smelly seal fat all over his face
and sets off across the universe of ice
the seamless plain of snows that never melt

there are things in his knapsack that may turn out
useful and to make sure he took one of each
and cast an arbuscle twig to inquire about
direction if not the point he set out to reach

off you wander into the light that cannot fade
though faint since the sun is smeared with lard
so what if the ice underfoot is always hard
isn’t the rock and no one ever complained
follow the faithful twig never stray from the course
we all are natives and i am one of yours

fall asleep and blotches of green and blue and pink
pierce the ice like pale incunabulum ink
somewhere else not in this world of ours
bursting up like that from the dirt
you would make an effort and call them flowers
if you knew what they were and possessed the proper word
you could try and smell them sleeping late
but the blubber stinks awful
and the ice is as hard as fate

~ ~ Alexei Tsvetkov

 Cardinal Points Journal, Vol. 4, 2011

line the mountain
down which we melt—
stones that wore our
trickle tongues away

~ ~  Bill Knott
"Melting Men" - Artist:  Néle Azevedo

I'll never understand
the Universe as music

planets and glands
like notes
on a diatonic scale

the sound of wind
through leaves

tumors in my bloodline

what Pythagoras
listened for until
he found the perfect ratio...

all those years
without so much as a whisper

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).
Becoming Art
for T.W.

The picture won’t paint itself.
The idea won’t self-reveal
without forcing itself
through the prism of the artist.

Thick, grieving strokes black out
the self (a penciled-in outline)
and the subsequent colors,
however sad or beautiful
are no longer sensible or appealing.

What it takes to sit there
and let each brush be felt
each piece be placed
until the picture holds depth.

Things used to inspire eventually expire,
end up in the back corner of a tired thrift store
on sale for 25 cents. It becomes difficult to tell
which is heavier,

the dust or the paint.

~ ~ Joel E. Jacobson

From: Water the Mud (A Poetic Matter, 2011).

Doesn't each tree throw
its shade to show
boundary to the others’
thirsting thrust?
Only the roots are brothers;
the roots are the forest.

~ ~ Bill Knott

From The Moon’s Memoirs, Collected Short Poems, 2011

"The Horses of Time" - Artist:  Bill Knott
A little girl
in a red dress
falls down
in dandelions
laughing at
her own clumsiness ...

at first
I think her an image
among images, then
see she's the whole poem.

~ ~ Paul Pines

Adrift on Blinding Light (New York, NY: Ikon, 2003).