poetic language                 issue two                 fall 2003


Joel Chace
Kristy Odelius
Mary Kasimor
Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
Aaron McCollough
Garth Greenwell
Thomas Lowe Taylor
Michael R. Allen

  Andrew Lundwall
  Christophe Casamassima
  Donna Kuhn
  Amy King
  Jnana Hodson
  Jonathan Minton
  Teresa Cardinal
  Ric Carfagna




Joel Chace



mixing bag


even the sane begin to attend dismembered but quite accustomed
to it gripped by awe at not getting any  asked if we thought the sky
was a uniform color in biblical days  formerly an airline company an
irate pursuer of the undiscovered  even evincing a natural talent for
episcopal vision





Kristy Odelius




this is how
it goes
shy stumble
into poppy
red we
glissade past
the one
real thing
rings of light
open gray-
green sky
a stain
to our topspin
sets loose the torpor
we gently wrap
ourselves around
the occasion
testing our press
of sail this
rapport like
rapeseed oil
slicked down
a canvas of skin
and bark we say
"its not that bad"
"we’re sumptuous"
murmur or
murder hard
to say which
a sunbath of codeine
or code swept back
like hair held fast
by a ruby
pin glinting in
the wind a trace
opiate we
could do





Mary Kasimor



still lunch


contentious and green      words
slowly chased roomfuls
of terrain above venetian ground      a dove
dares you on palm      branches cannot
fly the plane      which flies itself
and merges nonsense
it is cellular
and flows like a river      in this land
of tencel everything that lasts
is science      acquiring grandmother's generation
and wears memory      but a worm discovers
another still tomato
and salads are free lunch      that hold
wisdom in a spare      window the figures
are not from here




"The house seems empty."


The house seems empty.  Privacy is for the
neighbors.      In the spiders' corner,
a portrait of you becomes another juncture
for possession. 

The sky is so layered. 
Frightening the shape of things, species'
ghosts are inseparable.
Trees bear their hearts.

Scarred lives and people's walls are part of
morning's indecision.      Refrigerator.
Table.  Cup.  Chair.
Plato claimed they each had an ideal form

You'll find they meet in the sky.
Or your mind.      Another model of
Or the madness of your prayers.






Jukka-Pekka Kervinen



sphere holy heaps


hills worth job humble lotch logic large reserve
rapport rounded clubs called beset seems fed fir
fame guard dies alloy disrupt boom prior naked
civic near rooms yardsmashed sutch edge
paddingaugefinishighest gold whip )( rays futch
busts goals field alt athens rope sets perform (
growtheld bloom borrowshirts shade beth imply
idiot amongst effect rider coral )( red abort flex
endures pick norm voted favor notes (...) numeral
neither nudist note angle wait match sphere holy
heaps star crown potch term ... ditch wares match
total copiouskills roll aloud rap fraud mossy
gossipacket block way fix vary hail hotter eager
enough death dotted rap label scaling secant tax
all (...) flaminglowing snake want warfare tight
matters metals seventy tack analyze avenger stuff
clocks comma ... plans photo mourn sack kap dashed
(...) grind dialinguesses bonus bean seeds rhythm
mutch manners enq caret sends depress vowel sound
lost portend breadrips toggled bath pockets ...
axe buck prop ledge (...) lately ruth rays tetch
begun ( alley cow censors code cheque costly poets
possess postman voice ... meck feels bep kept
alien annoy alert cap eminent echo widely
painatural snake same fist farther lick him (...)
joins flatten farms fee moose saturnamedcoaxingets
threw surface shy sheep frillsinking hose ...
folded facts footing pap icon lee beset wrapper
wood washing purse cheat aid paddle lack noon camp
widgethen treat catch edit element seck works soak
war beam fault twig just )( oasis wink are straw
nip (...) frog craft bell birds soup






Aaron McCollough



[org – a mild version]


secret refreshings
            will be done    (thy)
on earth                                  in this land
I made twelve states in one week
            and saw


                        was refreshed

toll plazas springing up
            this is the pike

I am
preparing    restless    really on
the road    really    missing home 

and in the metempsychosis of talk
my wife in darkness and light
she hollows out the melon
                       the open secret

            “the first thing a laborer learns is to slow her thoughts
            to the pace of her task, to the speed with which the world
            allows her to move through it,” she says

the wealth I count is
            the slow pace of my wife

she/virgil: the task is endless
i/virgil: make good my failure
she/virgil: hard work is the only remedy

but my pace is the ‘swifter than dreams’ inscribed
            beneath my nation    another flag
                                    these colors
                        the don’t colors    speeding colors
no running by the

           fly my nation and I 

swifter than dreams
and the work staying put

                                                        how I’ve been running from it

every speeding minute 

           my wife/virgil:  we have covered an immense distance in our

once I keep a hive of bees
                                  entertaining miniature estate
the skimmed-milk blue boxes
I myself am making    a close framework
entrances narrow    tightly nailed
against extremes
once then I lay out balm and honeywort
                       ring the little chime

the angling aiming vortices of their coming

           no (in here) attending to our end
no time in here for thoughts of death


the worker’s wiggling abdomen
                                                       work of dance of


another once I gladly heed instruction    let the mower die

centuries will imminent domain it                    came with the house
                                                                     only runs
                                                                     without a sparkplug


and the weeds grow up
and the weeds I savage!






Garth Greenwell



Imitatio Christi


It's why I'm drawn to it, this belief
that as a child I received as gift
and as a child discarded—

this system for the binding of my life
in which there is no place
for my life, in which it will be easier, therefore, to

disappear from my life, from my
ambition and from my pride, from this desire
that makes of my body a thing not mine but

shelterless, home to whatever man
will have it; —that of these things be found,
that upon them be forced

a pattern, that in this pattern they be
made meaningful, and in this meaning be
engulfed—it is how much

I want it, to comprehend my life, to
explain it, that I will bind it, however
harshly, even if in binding it I must

abhor it.  Which is what I admire
in martyrdom,
in that severity of devotion

for which I am not
made: the recognition of
the proper quality of a life, of its subordination

always to the system of which it is
a part, excerpted from which
it cannot mean—by which recognition, by which

humility, it gathers about it—as gathers
about the head of the bound and
sweating man a radiance

of gnats—the foil, the
blank significance
of grandeur.






Thomas Lowe Taylor




Here's another day remiss or pasture encloaked but still withdrawn, another outer foil
parlayed within your presence but held aside looming in within chants.  I'd no other in my
heart, but hearing is made another specific instance of what becalms you, or holds the distant
waves within their own shimmering.  It's a fathom and instance for clinging vines no distance
reams the door, your own hesitation diminishing here and there, but history is still a room
away, and the open forums your imagined calling out for recognition are made aside no more
retreat the flame returns and hears your names and dates remove themselves from the outer

I'd waved around.  The further reaches of doubt are clearly explored but with a newer
chance, with specific details made different, operating with success and fortressed out
from the healer claims.  The cars and others are not moving any more but are enfolded like
your hourly substances calling out for their own recognition.  Here's the day again, and your own
name is still a flamer en retard, his own airs so far from removal that the reminiscence of
vocabulary is still intense.  The more fortunate of the remaining peasants still their own voices to
secure the safety of an imminent future.  What is held aside, hope for instance, is the residue of
history encrypted within the being of vision.  No hourly fortunes are welcomed here.  There
are far more empty cans than sacks to contain them, and in the sentence itself there are
suggestions about where the true energies might lie and ignore refusal.  The benign doubters
stall around, marking out their own rhythms with word-choice inhabitants in their own
collars, but the fuller gaps are made of light itself, satiated like a claim for espousal.  I'd
make these rotations claim their own space. 

Here the faster scores recall; in less random alluvials, your own matter forges a leaner score
than you might imagine.  The definitions themselves are cloudy but intense, in tents or otherwise,
sensations heaved from one room to another; but the furniture,couches and so forth, have
their own placement within the imagination of the walls, the house itself a forger of latent
claims, a denied musk-frame, but bleating light-hearted flips and balances from the tinderboard
within its own shell.  A lasting piece of delighted scrims; these are the leaner days.  But what of
the expectations that there might be something to all of this?  It's a question mark you don't decide,
but hear the echoes of your own beading limbs scoring the days aside and outer.  I'd no other,
but heal them quickly in the morning or after, a delight for all to see, but scheduled like a booter
in the field.  Bleating.  It's a harried fogger that yields his due to no other in the sleep of

In the emergencies of the light, yours are made to seem no other in the ship.  Folds of heroines
iron out your shirts and dyes.  The loot is counted outer sail the fooler skips.  It'd eke no other
but your own, and sharing this heart becalms the beating of the darker rooms.  What floated
across at the early gap this morning was no imagination but the sucking empty hold you have on
time itself, a slippery, grim reminder of your own specific distance.  Love holds you in place, and
the touch across time from the friend you make your own is still a welcome sign reigning in the
distance.  She's a farmer in disguise, rowing my corn with an elastic spin.  The deeper reaches
from where she comes is a mystery continuing its pleasures without disdain, a presence from
nearer distances that you'd only thought.  Of.  The pore and spin of rhyme itself makes the outer
in your skin a silly pudding forming on the night.  Touches under cover are what remind you of
light, and the guiding hand is slid apart and then you are to time and distance the same measure
of meaning, how you enter and repeat; finding the horn beating up and out is a skiller in the
smoothness of a moody light.  We are these frames aside from what was there before, and
contain within us these reminders of our own schedule fleeting in the mists.  Love's would be
it.  But another word sufficed and made it close, made the dialog begin where before was none.
And friends established in the course of battle in the course of things are made close and personal,
made like no other, but heading on into the gloom; you describe and forage, kneeling space and
distance st their own flames.  This is the revolving door.

I'd heard them, too, in the weasel of your dusks, in the afterburner of another punch in the
head.  This is the heart's business, after all, to forage and claim, to rotate and spin, as it were.
But you'd skipped me now and then from what was a polish or a fur-dealer, touring touch,
flooding picnic, the after hours spread and hold.  The nightly scores are folded out; her eyes bore
into you, entering space where no one has gone before.  But the lemon.  And I'd told them to
wait; and told them no further marks are waited here; and told her to still my heart and hold me
down, for I am this limb and stair.

The very spin itself, forming on the peaks of chance, call no distance too great to transmit,
transmute, whatever.  This is the curling iron, made informed but not too simple, claiming only
what it is itself and making no claims for whatever might follow from the light or its own
appositive in the realm of choice.  You'd call another name the doubt of things in their own
perspective.  This is the door.  But what flows through the heart cannot be denied or described,
it is too simple for words, only a flood or a tremolo, or a fathom on the floor of the spreading
rift.  And what resembles, for instance, comes from love and spreads outward and does not
resemble so much as it hopes.

You've been there, of course, you just don't remember why or how it all happened.  The
sorrier loops err on the side of justice, and make these, uh, specific junctures what they are,
too.  In case of not noticing, the easier gasps are said over and over, healing where before
there was only a mute sense of forgiveness running along your spine and then collapsed.  The
jungle itself has no metaphor for forgiveness, only the heart does.  And in the silences of what
follows, love has her face floating before you, a penetration and a firmer hand than you've felt
before, skilling your lisps.  Skulling these flips.  The mooter claim, then, is at no distance or
foal from discharge made certain in within the easier moats.  What had no name in the time you
thought was a motive held before you like a clam or a finer spin; moot to other discharges, the
soul stays in its own parlor, waving feathery rains from their own excellence.  The door, you
say, where is the door?  This is the woolen hope, this is the mark on the floor.

The Sandwhich Age.  Not to take it personally, you know, shrink-wrapped and all that, but
the ideas themselves are not too applicable, coming as they do from the realm of disuse, er,
discourse.  I'd fool no other, but decide now and again to remember or to repeat, like a
performance, and where love is concerned, there is nothing but originality in claims and fortunes,
your own recall to doubt overturned, held within choice and impulse.  Not no other in your head,
but a seeing entity, what you are, and described by being two-headed or without pressure.  A
nomenclature reminded of itself, made into something plastic and more or less deposed.
Something new might follow, but the other rooms are full and spent, the other hours are really
parts of yourself, and what is hidden from view, you know the rest.  Delete that forum, and push
aside these others in the fold; they've their own decisions, and repeat themselves too often to
unload or pass on.  The rest is here—pattern and remittance, score and bloat.  The rafters
have not yet bent nor forded the scars within their fame, leaving love in the gaps from whence
no marker comes.  Try "across the sea" for instance.  Try "here and no other" again.  The
sentences hold you to what is really there and then spoken at the door with their own substance,
forcing the issue to another climax by insisting that you are the one, here in the forests of chance,
here in the doorway, looming outward like some stranger in the hallway, needing to be heard
and insisting on the right to speak—that's the deal, you know, and turning away or into is not
going to make it go away, like, the end of the whirled and the whine of the twine as it unrolls
around you in the other hours from here to the outer ridge, up into the mountains where
the bears dance in the sun.





Michael R. Allen



this postcard is a letter

yes, this postcard is a letter
but the letter is a name     and
a name is a face     and
here lies the letter that is a face
yes, this sentence is a day
no, the time is not too far gone
and there are many ways to write a
sentence that becomes a day
no, the angle is not a trap
but who would know for sure?
and the leaves of autumn are by January
a mess of pulp and dirt
this letter is a garden in winter
it’s a dusty window sill
the sentence is an old name, an old face     and
an old day






Andrew Lundwall


Strange Resemblances

exaggerated shape
though so much alone
and in part very beautiful
was almost the corner
of headlines the strange
strange resemblances like
fan to the blackness with
one foot on a device
till darkness appeared
till I dared beyond without
even touching one another




I Retreat

I was sitting
in distressed bottles
floating gazelle i gather
my being distantly related
we can see as far back
I retreat to roam the fog as
she stood before me
i trap the skirt dipping
into an ocean






Christophe Casamassima




a deluge of seamstress


the hem of—

a skirt fall

six inches

exact curb : proximity of oblique

group of teachers across

creek shallowly

hand in


hand in bare feet      all but

one , extinct      "that old quasi fee"


—granted , this seems cold

nouns    stretch this    now snow

accumulate is trembling      a foot      margin for

white-space tree-lined—six to extract





words rake for autumn

a bodice or bodies      about due

she crosses puddle


instant rhizome

of splash rhomb

of air eyes

a missal & teeth




to repeat severally , again

& gain from an injustice ,


repeated , puddles


one after one after one





january is—


where sea is

too cold to write , to explode

symbol back to formal cashmeres

asia of confusions




appears for the moment

darkening after darken

similar to sky , alike

a thing up (apron strings)


following bend & quiver





—her finger      if possible

incorporated into reading

a convenience of gesture

a curb of moisture


she is reflected in—not there



to question economy


of making senses






Donna Kuhn

people who have figs (2)

climates are common here
unlike cherries or plums
lately, ive been envying
yr window

lucky u, the cherries are popping out
so, there are 3 holes?
im looking forward to seeing it
wow, its that close

so much high corn couldnt laugh
if i had compost
i was on a diet of cherry trees
hey, i had decided not to think

i'm sorry, this hadnt been a day
to close my window
and even tho i hadnt
it had started to scare me

and i said help me
and they said no
it turned out weird
so i tried to make u a copy raw

for eating like u wd a bartlett
i've been envying the people
who have figs, whether theyre
cherries or plums

u have real cherries scaring u?
what's she doing?
when i was 19 was that a garden?
poets like phrases like cloth

of yr potentially existent address
ya, tea and god, whats her name
spit it out back in the water and
it was supposed to be a turtle

she was rude and i felt better
but its unheated
is that a turtle in new orleans?
when i turn on the computer

i just ignore them
we both drooled in new mexico
people are saying gotta go soon,
meeting at ten

women do exist somewhere
lately ive been a tree outside yr window?
i mustve been channeling a kind of turtle, yes?
poetry; i dont like poetry

im not offended, offend her, it offended me
ben kingsley threw a big turtle
not sure if thats true
i make no sense

middle-aged love symbolized
a tortuous turtle from tortuga
just to be taken seriously sometimes
o, u didnt bum me out like artists

and not like pre-schoolers
im sorry i upset u
regarding poets less likely
to want butterflies and rainbows







Amy King



White Wedding


The architect survived the accident
that draws a line of repose in today
back toward each christened head.
I like the way this function operates.
The misperception of time in trance.
My broom lies in the corner.  It knows
no truth.  The room in order that it
hosts fixtures as relations to our spacings.
Place my gaze through the window, a one
dimensional episode between flesh & sky
to finger tracings:  ready, setting, gone.
Legged instruction, high-heeled promise
hovers like the amber bridge which also
flickers throughout the paned distance,
returning the shade of mandolin flames;
steel smokes at the husband edges.  A pale blue
moon displaces the inset of our honeymoon suite.






Jnana Hodson



Never Call Here Again


what I’m supposed to feel
has induced constipation.
reportage, rather than invention.
Can record the incident precisely,
from heart requires centering
empathy far from my locus. Maybe
not all wondrous fair, a place tingling
with promise. I warn you:
In your neighborhood the lawn
remains green through Christmas.






Jonathan Minton



Poem for Andy Kaufman



The best comedians will tell you
the secret to being
is silence:



so said, then said: the cowboy
knots his lariat and yawns,
as the villain
leans in, listening,





with his ear at the same
door as before.





So the narrative plays out
in character, or a precession of moods.
Time was we sang of seven maples.
Time was we sang of six.

This will be said again.



So plays out
as paper before its ink-
stain, or a murmur among characters
sounding the blank
distances between walls.





How much silence
can the heart bear?





A word drops
                 from poorly
                 lines—then stems and said, and said
bringing with it a ring of garlands

for a yellowing paper tree,
for a yellowing paper tree.



How then to speak
of the noise at heart after silence?
A window of birds, a blur of wings and feet
in returning flight, else singular
as eye and beak, as the weather
withdraws or approaches from the room,
a sustained distance or nearness,
either a matter of perspective, as the weather
withdraws or approaches.





How much heart
can this silence bear?





A record begins again, a sound between walls
with a murmur
of expected voices, pages
from a familiar book,

       bright as glass,
       blank as glass,
       and said as such,
       so won't be said again



as birdsong from a yellowing tree,
after birdsong from a windowing room.
The sounds that come and go,             come back stuttering





as a narrative from which we expect
to leave and still look to after.






from  "Southern : Narratives"




Moreover, his shoes were full of sand. In its most
common form, it is not possible to simultaneously
determine the position and momentum of a particle.
Moreover, they knew he wasn't from Texas because he
wasn't wearing boots and his shoes were full of sand.





A train track rusts in its field of used cars. An
alternative form concerns uncertainty between energy
and time. I should have said lighting has damaged the
Tory oak.





Said it happened all at once. Jerry yelled out "the son of
a bitch got a knife," as if a fundamental constant, as for
the speed of light or the force between two masses.

Nearly cut his leg in half they said.





I've followed the Yadkin River from Wilkesboro to
Winston-Salem, from valley to basin, in precise
mathematical formation and a range of discrete
operations: in rainfall and groundswell, through erosion
and along the reservoir, although, primarily, from
Wilkesboro to Winston-Salem.





Down there in the mineshaft, they said, coal lumps big
as a tub could break loose from granite:
matter could
be stretched and twisted but the overall volume is fixed.
Could crush a man flat it could.




Ah, the girl with the bluegrass guitar sings of difficult
weather, sings of dying stars. The classical observables
diverge: the whole body capable of any form that the
next daring spirit may brood upon it.
Snow falls over
palmettos: so sings, and sings of stars.





Whether or not over tarmac, or chickenwire, or salt
marsh, the measurements form a sign that must be
interpreted: 4x8x10 crossbeams kept the beach houses
intact during the September storms: thus in the weather,
whether or not in an ordinary voice, or an ordinary





If cut, it comes back, the crabgrass across a slope, or
under the screened porch, comes back, irregular as
letters, as the mower's first stammer. Thus the lawns
take shape: first distance, then circumference: in the
language of Scottish law, the experimental apparatus is
both 'art' and 'part' in bringing about that which
appears to happen.
If cut, and appears to happen, letters
take shape.






Teresa Cardinal



Wheat Fields

how lucky is the wheat to flow aimlessly
in the wind
back and forth back and forth so free and unhindered
by any constraints that stop the wheat
from just simply being wheat
and live out its life for its sole predetermined
purpose without any expectations or demands
that stop it from being
the looming storm that has been forever
brewing in my mind
begins to enclose me as I walk
through the freedom
closer and closer it shelters
within a circle of truth that
knew only to keep me from escaping
while I scream and scream but
no one hears my cries except
for the wheat that has no care for
the wind bears down so heavily upon my
entire body I cannot move
I cannot open my eyes without the tears
escaping and falling down my cheeks
a pit forms in my belly that
is so overbearing I can not
imagine having lived my life without it
I manage to raise my arms up to the sky
my palms open for a taste of forgiveness
my head falls weightlessly as the wind suddenly
becomes my friend and lifts me out from
within my sphere that kept my truth hidden
from the world and lifted me over
the selfish wheat and sent me flying
aimlessly over all who had never been kind
enough to see me before and never will
have the chance again






Ric Carfagna


from Notes On NonExistence



in time of sleeplessness
mute sentinels
are commonplace
marking the nomadic track
how we follow
the stars’ indefinite trajectory
internal migration’s
unconscious moorings
left intact
thru opaque hours
the many      transparent thots
the eye envelops
to build the luminous
amid a storm’s corporeal decay
such celestial mechanisms
structure the imagination’s
sensibilities which leave the mind
unscathed by the encroaching
lost for the want
of time’s sleeplessness
to close our eyes
in death






Eratio poetic language issue two, fall 2003, edited by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino.