These are the poems from ArtCrimes 07
editor Christopher Franke
publisher Smith
June 1989
70 poems - 39 poets

Metapoems, Antipoems & Notpoems

from John Donne

.  .  .  your mind with Arts improve,
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honor, or his Grace,
Or the King's real, or his stamped face
Contemplate; what you will, approve

from William Hazlitt

"If I have not read a book before,
it is, to all intents and purposes,
new to me."

by Christopher Franke

A friend passed along to me a copy of Merrill
Moore's ILLEGITIMATE SONNETS with a note enclosed
that said, "Dispose of this for me." Checking out
this book to discover whether I concurred that it
merited such indifference, I daresay, it did have
some token of tennis in its wan poetics: It chewed
its cud / but had too little blood / in rumina-
tions marching in their lays. However, as I was
about to regulate it to the "recycle" heap, it
dawned on me that Merrill Moore, who had written
a poem entitled "Literature: The God, Its Ritual"
that I liked, was one of the "Fugitive Poets".
Remember John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren,
and Allen Tate - to mention some of the more luminous
members of the group. Leaving the Litt-Hist. to the
Duns, suffice it to say I've always been enamoured
of the designation "Fugitive Poets". Oh, what flights
it invokes! So instead of unloading ILLEGITIMATE
SONNETS, I decided to 'archive' it for possible later
cogitation, as it is I savor the "fugitive".

As "we" contemplate this issue of ARTCRIMES, it
occurs to "us" that we are sometimes saved by our
associations - as we may be likewise incriminated.
Titles are the rubrics that bracket us, or so his
story goes until some gnu critick cites the works in
their several selves, whereby might the cream rise
and the cows' milk be disassembled. Skim or butter
as one may, introduce a little culture and it's
"cheese", for the group shot. So here's ours; and
we hope it's savoured.

Initially, I had thought I would bring together
'clumps' of poems by poets whose work I liked. (Thy
guest ibis . . . ed cetera.) But I over-accepted; and
so there is less by more rather than more by fewer.
So rather than clump each contributor's works in a
hyphen pf pages, I have tried to spread out these
works to the advantage of all.

As a magazine comes together, some things may be
left out. The photograph to the left was declined
by the editor(s) of another publication. I regret
that. A pitch rung true may not be heard as the
right tone. Or as Peg's son Steven said, in cari-
caturing, anguished tones, "Art is suppose to hurrrtt!"
May it hurt 'good'. Munch, you, Ed words.

Look Out
by Joel Lipman

LOOk oUt
kiNDer mORE

by Steve Richmond

"I'll never send you anything again ya fart
can just read about me in the little magazines
the ones that print me
they'll tell you what I'm chewing on"

he said

Dream Spring
by Barry Zuckor

It's not heaven, not hell
Somewhere in between and
The MAN, the BIG MAN decides where you go
Up or down
Here's the deal
Even if you were a frigging asshole down on earth
You can still get into heaven
If you can convince Him that you were crazy
All around me are Hitler, Mussolini, Napoleon, Stalin
All professing to be nuts
My turn comes
And when He asks how I became crazy I reply:
"I volunteered"

Rex Numquam Moritur
(the king never dies)
by M.J. Arcangelini

Every four years we do it again.
And they do it again.
And we watch and argue,
complain about the
dirty tricks and mudslinging,
debate the evil of two lessers
and make our choice.
Then, on the 2nd tues. in Nov.
the cast of thousands is assembled.
The extras have their day,
and it's all over.
A new face for the cartoonists.
A new name for the nightly news.
But nothing has really changed.

The king never dies.
It is the way.
Beyond the fantoccini,
behind the layers
of false proceniums,
ever narrowing the bounds
of what can & cannot be seen
on stage.
The ever changing actors
and scapegoats.
There is the king.
And the king

by Joel Lipman

PeRsOns hOl
diNg PUbLiC
shall wRiTe

the Leviathans
by Bill Polak

. . . Dateline: U.S. of A. . . .

Only a dim hope remains for the band of North
American Blue Poets trapped beneath a continent-wide
sheet of ice thickening since the early 80's. The
exact numbers of these creatures are unknown but
estimates range between 3 and several thousand. The
breathing holes that they have been using since the
freeze-over, though once common and easily accessible,
have now dwindled to a precious few, and those that
remain are shrinking. Some of the trapped leviathans,
especially the old bulls, have taken to desperate
attempts to widen the holes, ramming and biting away
huge chunks of ice at the edges, causing themselves
no small harm in these grim crucial labors.

In a phone conversation yesterday the president
offered the official regrets of the country and
invoked "Knute Rockne, one of my favorite writrs,
who always said, 'hey, you win some and you lose some.'"

The Sears-Roebuck snowblowers airlifted to the scene
by the National Endowment to the Arts amidst a flurry
of publicity have proven totally ineffective as means
of relief & are being sold off cheap to the locals.

The North American Blue Poet, a vanishing species
since being over-hunted during the 50's & 60's,
slaughtered and rendered for their spirits & precious
oils, their hearts considered an aphrodisiac in the
Orient, are amongst the largest creatures to ever
inhabit the Earth. Known for their speed and grace
in their element and for their prodigiously deep dives.

No one who has ever heard their haunting songs will
ever forget them.

The Anatomy of Love
by Daniel Thompson

When love comes out the window
The Law goes in the door
They want to know what was that sound
Love, he says she said
All the way down
He lies, Sadd says, I fear foul play
Love's love was a rope of sand
And that was the wrong way, Corrigan replies
To let the lovelight in her eyes
We charge Love with a felony
I disagree, John T, says Love's attorney
Love's love was grand; it just got out of hand
Why, Dave was Adam, Virginia Eve
Their only sin, originality: she dangled
Like forbidden fruit three stories high
And then she fell . . . and then she died
For what shall Love be tried?
O I suppose if I'd been Love
I'd have kept that window closed. Who knows?
When Love goes out the window
The Law comes in the door
They know it when they hear that sound
Love, he cries she cried
All the way down

Posey's Song
by Max Stark

She don't solve nothin'.
She don't prove nothin'.
She don't mean nothin' by it.
Ain't never had no ma.
Lit out from pa
soon's she could walk, sorta.
Hitched north on trucks,
and ever since she been puttin'
the shuck on them and us.

Got a fondness in her
for change and just as soon
pass you by if it's all the same.
She don't cotton
to passin' the time of day
or the right of way--
"Ain't got no right!"
she sometime say,
hands on her hips
and foot stamped
in your direction.

She don't hold with striptease
or pedigrees, chewing gum or tedium.
Don't give a good hoot owl
'bout the weatherman
or the five year plan.
She got half a mind
to set fire to the woods
and then run.

She got long legs
and sometime she spread 'em
and dare you to come inside.
She don't hide.
Don't care if the neighbors can see.
To tell it true, on a doubledate,
she always in the backseat...
but when my mouth is dirty
she the only one kisses me.

by Richard Kostelanetz

The truth of fiction is the power of artifice
The power of artifice is the truth of fiction

Art creates worlds made entirely from art
Worlds made entirely from art creates art

Argument dupes artistry belies
Dupes artistry belies argument

Life copies the poetry of life
The poetry of life copies the poetry of life

Villanelle of Epigony & Perennial Engines
by Christopher Franke

How to succeed    is write of succeeding
for writers    who'd have readers reading
as    to how    will bear repeating.

If one can write    of succeeding
one's past    failure    is not impeding:
How to succeed    is write of succeeding!

For you readers    who'd have writers reading
what to write    is about writing
as    to how    will bear repeating.

By emulation, ape is achieving
villanelles    is not succeeding:
How to succeed    is write of succeeding.

The form repeating    is not succeeding.
Success repeats    this succeeding
as    how to    will bear repeating.

By emulation    apes achieving,
in unison, let us be repeating:
"How to succeed    is write of succeeding
as    to how    will bear repeating."

A Wry Love Poem
by Christopher Franke

Words may
not grasp
their mo-
ment's wish.

Mine, in your view, may be
chameleon. When you see
black, I shall be

In this bad luck,
fortune's witch-craft:
You in my eye
is not your heart's mirror.

What incantation
can alter fate?
That any word's
potion be charm!

You're the missing
Is dry, my inst-
ant love.

from "Poetry And Grammer"
by Gertrude Stein

I remember very well
when I was a little girl
and I and my brother found
as children will
the poems of their very very
much older brother.
This older brother had just written one
and it said
that he had often sat and looked
at any little square of grass
and it had been just a square of grass
as grass is,
but now he was in love
and so the little square of grass
was filled with birds and bees
and butterflies,
the difference was what love was.
The poem was funny
we and he knew the poem was funny
but he was right,
being in love
made him make poetry,
and poetry made him feel
the things and their names.

Master of the Chameleon
by Christopher Franke

Ultimate test
Rarin' to go
Some grim humor
Because they're fun
Browning will replace
Valentine has
Trainer busy
Likes a challenge
Is proposed
Remain Open

"Some of the poems were funny; some of
the poems were about sex. All right, some
were about nuclear war, but why not a poet
reading you the news about nuclear war in-
stead of Dan Rather for a change?"

Master of the chameleon
To close

This is a good poem, wasn't it?
by Luke McGuff

the blinding flash
of inspiration, then:
The chalk outline of
the corpse of idea

The Un-Poem
by Mark Weber

the pause that refreshes
wonderful rhyming pages
sentences after sentences
of glowing red sunsets
aromatic flowers
swaying in the wind
purring house cats
didactic platitudes
and never ending acceptances
and inquiries from magazines

by Mary Ellen May Salo

There were times when she thought
it was true. Still, she hated to
see it in print.

         TRY AGAIN

A Fable for Critics
by Brooke Horvath

If walking is a constant falling down
and gardens figure poems, the future thrones
of greening thought, these masquerades of autumn
cannot be staged without a pose or prop.

These ghosts faint, rain-soaked ghouls, are dupes of pose
and gesture, our wild words, the frequent haunts
of grotesque thoughts that drop like treats upon
the tricking tongue. The garden stands aloof,

the garden stands like stranded fear, its mask
the fall of muddy feet. Aghast, it hides
its loot in metaphoric brouhaha,
in shades of studious brown, while bells unding

throughout the night. Like senseless repetitions
banded pirates glide from porch to porch,
grim pumpkins conjure waifs in fretful puddles--
the treats a fleeing goblin drops in flight.

To think vague shadows could not rouse a fear
or still a tongue! O mislead epigones!
The slightest howl of mittened witch or serried
hermit's hoot could conjure awful its.

O clever trolls! to hide inside scarious
philosophers, whose caveats of autumn
fall crepuscular from cordouroy,
confounding: Romper-Bomper, Stomper-Boo!

The puddles say it's raining poltergeists,
Pale, muddled simulacra cross the stage
on walking thought like clumsy buccaneers.

you hear
by Mark Weber

you hear about
this business of writers
"finding their voice"

jeez i hope they didn't
have to look to far
or long

:it's right on the surface

The Bulb and the Brick
by John M. Bennett

Like a bulb dim nodding over the
desk I was flickering but not for lack of
screwing in. Stuck in the socket in fact,
verdigris rimed in the thread, what I
thought. I'm always in chair but one fart
deeper, dark rising my neck like my
teeth sunk in coffee. My hand's in my
mouth picking words I think. And who're you,
why're you listening with a brick?

Blank Verse
by Steven B. Smith

Blank Verse - mixed media collage

When Creating By Removing
by Robert Govan

One thing may be seen, in mind, as two:
to wit, thing you don't; the thing you do.
Removing what you don't will call for skill,
if surgery, in fact, is what you will.
First consult the book of man-made creature;
a lathe and a piece of steel will be your teachers;
  Cut -- don't scrape -- the metal that you turn;
  a straight tool to the edge will rub and burn;
  the steel you want removed will bunch and melt,
  clinging to steel you want, cutting when felt;
  forced to go faster, your cutter will shriek;
  your tool, piece and tympanum will need relief.
  If you would keep your piece and fine edge cool,
  merely grind a valley in your tool.
  The steel you want removed will always stay,
  unless it has some time to curl away.
The piece you don't, the piece you do, surrounds;
Beneath a hot, burred finish, no more abound.

School's Out
by John M. Bennett

Cloud thickens at the end of my
sight like a cold like
air full of clay and the
trees bare. I should rise like a
breath, gasp like I used but it's
heavy on my back like a
lacking coat like an empty
classroom where I sit in dark.
Outside, teachers yank off their
tongues and a shriek but
all I hear is my eyes slam shut

by M.J. Arcangelini


by Robert Govan

Having run out of impressive jargon
or being afraid to distance
people with it, the scientists named it

It can detect minute magnetic fields
- a billionth of Earth's, for example -
as long as predictable source of magnetic noise
(power lines, rapid transits, stud-
finders, and the like)
are ignored in the picture.

That's Doctor Wasser's centrifuge,
(pointing to high swing of continuous scribe).
That's the 8:15.
That's my refridgerator - I'd better defrost it.
All this came from Niagra Falls.
That's the CIA's submarine radio.
What time is it? Twenty of nine.
At least the moon is on schedule.
No, save the paper, Cage can use it.


That's war.
That's pestilence.
That's privation.

This here - what is this?

Not An Actual Emergency
by F. Keith Wahle

This is only a test.
It is not an actual emergency.
We are conducting a test of our
emergency broadcasting facilities.
This is not an actual alert.
It is only a test.
If this were an actual emergency,
you would be instructed
to take off all your clothes
and run out into the street.
You would be instructed to dance
around nude under the falling rain.
You would be instructed to make
yourself as vulnerable as possible.
If this were an actual emergency,
you would be instructed to
embrace the person closest to you,
to hold hands around the world.
You would be instructed
to turn the other cheek, to beat
your swords into plowshares,
to love your neighbor,
to feed the hungry
and clothe the poor.
You would be instructed to go
the second mile, to do unto others
as you would have them do unto you,
and to study war no more.
If this were an actual emergency,
you would be instructed to
lift up your eyes unto the hills,
to consider the lilies of the field,
and to walk in the ways
of mercy and decency forever.
But don't worry.
You don't have to do anything.
This is not an actual emergeny.
It is only a test.

Being A Repudiation
by Tom Mulready

1)[being a repudiation of the attempts to squander fantasy in my own
                                                  lifetime, indeed in my own mind,]

           2) i ow ?

1) [reading Ozymanddias, only visually,]

           2) i disgustedly ?

1) [now,]


           2) i in the winter ?


1) [with all the information I could need right at my fingertips,]


           2) i local territory ?

1) [to express.]

the photo
by M.J. Arcangelini

the photo
sight unseen
focus on
Pros and cons

For Gerald Manley Hopkins
by Kristine Dugas

Years, I know nothing.
Knowledge runs through my hands
like sand grasped in a dry river.
I think I own the grist of wisdom
   ---it taps me on the back.
What's solid in my grasp is an impostor,
a hardened thing,
a platitude, a cast, no mindsaver.

Worn, I repeat:
"all rising to a great place
is by a winding stair."
So I turn, and meet
each aboutface, evertwisting,
to find my own shadow rising.
The staircase is iced:
there's strength, but only in being unaware,
the dumb tensile strength
of the athlete I couldn't quite reach.
Wisdom's the rung I just passed, going up,
now found eye-level as I'm slipping down.

by Jim Lang


Poet's Suicide
by Robert E. McDonough

"You never know what is enough
 unless you know what is too much."
                                 --William Blake

"But then it's too late."
                                 --Robert E. McDonough

The sailor does not love storms,
but cannot avoid them.
He wishes, not to stay,
but to return, home,
and the sea is for returning over.

You sailed well, and as long as you could,
and told us what you had seen.
Your distress calls were heard,
but you didn't know
your storm would keep us from you?

You didn't know, you didn't know.
You only knew that a poem never killed anyone,
and that good ones float.
Too late you found they're too smooth to grasp.

by Jim Lang


by M.J. Arcangelini

the Unknown
victims of
Emotional woes
as i build

on my thirty-fourth birthday
by Wendy Shaffer

on my thirty-fourth birthday
we went to see
a movie
after the main character
quit his job
in the first five minutes
he leaned over & whispered
i don't like that guy
and i got angry

it was a bad move
done by amateurs
a bunch of musicians
just having fun
it was what i expected
but not what he expected

while we walked home
he talked about someone's fiance
who knitted wall hangings
and called herself an artist
he said she should knit sweaters
he talked about guys wearing earrings
and i got more angry
i decided not to sleep with him
we talked for four hours
about where his anger came from
but we never talked about my anger

he felt bad
because he'd forgotten my birthday
and two days later
he gave me a present
a twenty-five caliber pistol

by Christopher Franke

slides serve our art world
lights special draw
An armchair view of
A thousand lights
Was' unpredicable brilliance
Success the second time around
are two of a kind
On the road to gaining fame
talk about talking
digger digs his work
League to hear
the 'language thing'
game of pun
holds to some basic truths
shooting from the quip

History kollage / making
by Jim Lang

hisstory begins at graduations from kollage
and works back words slowly + god to dog
marsupial and chicken soupial gestation for
lunch inna nail apron downed in shorthairs +
20 years indulgence for the sole thats prey-
ed for + the dog puffs pneuma gods, soaring
raining margrittes, cunning stunts and echoes
without saying till the poem in granite seeds
sprouts circumsized excalibur, anamnesis
phoenixes from site mans best friend is
again the maker of all things

by Russell Atkins

th' baby came forward
with out-held arms
saying,  " -- dah!"
to me?
knew a terror not to dare!
with fled I rushed
about the terminal
looking for things going now
like a bus for Canada      ---

       a car's approach:
"I need the swift of your help,"
I said, " -- a baby
with arms out-held!"

the driver said, "I dig!
(he knew the worst)
 -- let's split

Tell Them
by Cyril A. Dostal

Tell them at the office
that I won't be coming in.
Say that it's a touch of the flu,
or say
it's something I ate,
or say
I coughed the whole night through
and didn't sleep a wink...

or, what the hell,
for all I care
tell them
it's a severe case
of poetry!

Love Poem to My Computer
for Olive Cross
by Linda Monacelli Johnson

Though certain poets scorn you and insist
that it's uncouth, uncultured, and obscene
for those sworn to the Muse to not resist
your unresisting keys and telling screen,
I sense no danger in your easy ways.
Why not replace retyping with the time
to read aloud each fresh draft in her praise?
Besides, you've taught me high tech is sublime.
From crest to base a mountain, poem, appears.
More flexible and willing to take risks,
I ski down many times with eyes and ears,
make changes to refine, then store on disks.
    You make my efforts play from start to end,
    and this alone proves you're the muse's friend.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
(Someone is sure to ask)
by Cyril A. Dostal

By what right do you
call it poetry?

   I'm a poet.
   I write it.
   I say it is.

What makes you a poet?

   Writing poems.

How did you get to be one?

   Writing poems.

How could you write poems
before you were a poet?

   Writing them
   made me one.

Is there any other way
to be a poet?

   Just say you are.
   No one will mind.

Does this make you one?

   If you write poems.

Do you have to be a poet
to write poems?

   Anyone who writes poems is one.

Can a non-poet write peoms?

   Writing them makes him one.

How do you know if you're a poet?

   Watch and see if you write poems.

How do you know when you've written a poem?

   A poet will know it.

I'm losing patience.
You imply it's a
closed corporation.

   Sometimes I'm afraid it is.

What's a poem?


Is everything a poem?



   Most likely.



Who can write a poem?

   Anyone can. Everyone does.

How do you write a poem?

   The air is full of them.
   Catch one and put it down.

A good poem?

   Ah!. There's another question!

The P.E.S.
by Robert E. McDonough

Traffic parts at the iambic pentameter siren
Of the Poetry Emergency Specialist.
He parks by a hydrant;
Policemen respect the P.E.S. license
And the revolving bust of Shakespeare flashing red on top.

The poet is waiting at the door.
"Take me right to it," the P.E.S. demands.
"You say it's been this way four days,
Without even a line changing?
No wonder you're upset;
It's enough to make anyone ambiguous."
(A good P.E.S. is always soothing.
He knows the poet fears that if his poem dies,
He'll never be given another.)

"I think I can save it," the P.E.S. says,
"If I make the cut right away.
Just a dislocated modifier
And some fractured syntax.
I might as well take out these symbols, too,
It's got more than it needs."

"No," screams the poet.
"Touch that rose and I'll kill you."
The P.E.S., accustomed to these scenes, smiles.
"We're too well protected.
If you harm me, the Avant Guards will be after you."
The poet shudders and subsides.

"The hemistich I sewed should hold.
If it's in pain, two verbs every four hours
And call me in the morning.
And some practical advice,"
He says, going out the door,
"If you see a catharsis coming,
Bring it a big bowl."

by Jim Lang

the 2 pun
the opun in
in the writing

To APhoriZe dones is to MaXimiZe doings is saw Would

by Robert Miltner

"See what I did,"
she tells me in the writing center.
The pride-flush in her cheeks
won't let her sit;
she walks and talks, allegro,
"I sang the rough draft
into a tape recorder,
sort of like you suggested.
It worked for me."

"Well," I say,
reading the transcription
of her lyric monologue,
noting she has rhymed
was with "cuz"
and Poe with "ya know,"
"your ideas are good, but -
you have to rework
the next draft into prose:
paragraphs, topic sentences, etc.
Your instructor expects it
to be standard composition
when you turn it in."

"Oh." she says,
her intent artist's ego
pouting her lips.
She leaves the room, andante,
unhappy with having
to change the key
from A Major to B flat.

A Poet Is Not A Writer
by Frank Polite

A writer must have deep patience, a profound desire
to remain human. He propels his paragraphs slow
and voluminously along the ocean bottom like a school
of whales. All by himself, the writer is communal.
He reproduces himself as chapters. He gathers against
continental shelves his tribal relations,
his wavering wives, his folio babies, plump and nursing.
He arrives in layers, weightless with words....

A poet is not a writer. Streamlined and arrogant,
he lives at the insistent edge of his being, every word
flashing above the blue marine like a flying fish.
He keeps to the ceiling of his wit's end, and there,
tensed between two elements, he beats his fins into wings
to leave the deep salt sea forever, to fly out of it
and alchemize into a beam of sunlight. The flying fish's
deepest wish: to be caught and swallowed mid-air

                                                 by a golden eagle.

by Russell Atkins

reaches about
and has hold
of the throats
of trees
  -- such shake it to death wild!

the snow octopus
widths into blizzards
of mists
        then furiouses!
a dash through sky
flung tentacles
  full squid

by Steve Richmond

try to write
like Nietzche?
me?  here upon this
wonderful pulp?

as a
young marxist I was
false and wrong and
now as a
nazi capitalist

I feel like a man
of anger and joy

did I say?

me demons laugh
they've swastikas
in their curly

my demons want the gold
in my

tonight i waited on a man
by Wendy Shaffer

tonight i waited on a man
who used armbraces to walk
had a neutered declawed cat
named max
and told me three
christ on the cross jokes
doing actual imitations
of christ being crucified
he had nice eyes
and i showed him the wrinkles
on my forehead
and around the mouth
i showed him the new wrinkle
i'd found this morning
on the first day of the new year
and he asked
for my phone number
now my oversized neutered
male cat
named maynard
has settled
complete with claws
on this poem
he thinks it should end
that something real should happen

Would You Write a Poem about Me?
for Marlene
by Daniel Thompson

Would you write a poem about me?
I like music, death, numbers & jewelry
I'm gonna write books, the first one about love
the second about my life 'cause it's very interesting
One night I composed a 2,000,000-word Declaration
Of Negro Rights but I couldn't write it down 'cause
I didn't have a light bulb; sure wish I had a light bulb
That'd have really liked it
I can write good love letters; they might be mushy
But they mean a whole lot...I do things the way I feel
You know, they wanted to give me $500 just to dance nude
Sshhh, I bought 4 copies of that record & I don't have one for myself
You know, they tried to kill me.  You wanna marry me?
I mean, you wanna be my boyfriend, yes or no?
You know how to dance?  You want me to teach you?
I like Eye-talian men mostly.  Don't put all that in there
It's personal, well, give me a light.  What sign do you think
I was born under?  What are you, Aquarius? Aries?
I'm Libra, the scales balanced.  Anyway I'm leaving tomorrow
I'm supposed to have got my senses back.  It took fourteen men
To lock me up last time; they said I bit off the supervisor's nose
They'll tell lies on you.  Sometimes I buy music just for the words
Do you know any languages?  How do you say I love you in English?
Will you live with me?  We'll have everything; I'm on Welfare
Do you write in shorthand?  I can't read it.  I'll have to give you
Lessons on how to write.  Come here for a second...X...
Good night, Call me tomorrow.  I'll be free as a bird.

For Kenneth Patchen
by Mary A. Turzillo

In your name they sent
your awkward birds,
and frogs and green bears
with their wild naked eyes.

One by one, Bill pulled them
out of the crates.  He said,
have a look.  He left me with them.

I had seen them in pictures,
Sierra Club stuff.  I knew
they and you were coming home.
But I couldn't really know, didn't even suspect
who they really were
or how wise I wasn't.

Who was I?  Anonymous, I kneeled
down on the gallery floor,
before your little animals.
They looked at me with their
orphan wonder.  Who was I,
that they should look at me that way?

They siad, be glad.
They said, the world hurts.
It's yours, and it isn't.
They said, you're dying.
No one can take that away.

Bill came back, much later.
Said, "They got to me, too."
Looked away as I wiped my face.

Hurry back, Kenneth.  Bring Miriam.
Bring the air fish and the peace dwarf
and all the paper babies who speak
from your hands.  I promise
all by myself (but I'll have help)
I'll fill the streets with flowers.

Ceramics Class
by Cyril A. Dostal

In ceramics class,
my daughter made an elephant.

Another girl said,
"Oh, that's a beautiful elephant!
I want to make one just like it
for my friend who loves elephants."

So my daughter showed her how to
form the body around a toilet paper tube,
make the head and legs and trunk,
and roll out the ears and stick them on.

After awhile the girl said,
"I just can't get it right.
Mine keeps coming out like a pig."

My daughter said,
"The why don't you make a pig?"

And the girl said,
"But my friends likes only elephants."

So my daughter said,
"Make it anyway. Maybe your friend
can learn to like pigs."

What Is Art Good For?
by Linda Harkless

IT's a good way to spend
. T I M E . . . .
Time learning
time doing
time re-doing
time thinking
time seeing
seeing MORE
seeing less
seeing is
a variable
state of
it changes
over time.
That's what
art is good for
. T . I . M . E .

Spring's Generation Gap
by Russell Atkins

                 it takes evening
a long time to arrive -- it
feebles (slow old man
still trying to hold down a job,
decrepit)  forced to move fast
-- janitor of the above offices!
he replaces things that
were used  puts them in special
dark corners, closes shadows
into spaces like doors,
straightens, covers   until
all seems gone
                      just before
youthful day comes to work
demanding, "Hey, dad --
-- where the hell is everything?!"

We're Uncovering
by Christopher Franke

We're uncovering
must reject
a tactical position

greed greases
the world into desert

Taking a shot
may be sluggish
and horns
try to launch
Love, sparked here,
into gridlock
you two

ignorant of
many found
is rejected
Now cut that out

job prospects hit a snag
'interfered' with union
push into high gear
fires departing shot at
bells ring again in
phone calls disturb the peace
exchange you won't
want to miss
This is one

by Joel Lipman


Masturbating in a Burning Building
by F. K. Wahle

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to write
a poem called "Masturbating in a Burning Building."
That's always seemed like it would be a great title for
a poem. Or maybe not even a poem. Maybe it should be
a short story. Yes, a short story. It would be even
better as a story. Or perhaps--dare I say it?--a novel.
An honest-to-goodness, full length novel. Or a book
of controversial essays.

With a title like "Masturbating in a Burning Building"
I don't see how I can go wrong. It has everything--
suspense, irony, psychological interest. It goes right
to the heart of the human condition.

Think of the potential here. Imagine "Masturbationg
in a Burning Building" spurting to the top of the best
seller lists. Seminars, critical papers, all on
"Masturbating in a Burning Building." A profound
literary work. People's lives are changed. A cult is
formed; a literary movement is started.

On campuses all over the country, "Masturbating in a
Burning Building" is the topic of the best conversations.
It becomes a modern classic. People start to wear
"Masturbating in a Burning Building" t-shirts.
You see them wherever you go.

I'm not just daydreaming. A serious work like this
is what I need to focus my ideas, to amplify the central
themes of my earlier writing. I'm talking major opus
here. They won't be able to ignore me after "Masturbating
in a Burning Building." It will make me a figure to be
reckoned with, a voice to be listened to.

Most of my work, up till now, has been greeted by
waves of indifference. I need something big to shore up
my literary reputation. I need a hit. "Msturbating in
a Burning Building" is my best hope for the fame and
fortune that have so far eluded me. And with movie
rights, foreign sales, who knows? Anything could happen.

But I doubt my own abilities. I don't feel up to such
a monumental piece of writing. What experience do I have
for a work with such profound implications? What have I
seen of the world? I was given my first typewriter when
I was still an infant, and from that time on I have been
mired in the literary life. All I have ever done is write.

My earliest efforts were not very noteworthy. The
first thing I ever wrote was, "I don't know where I am."
That was never published. You have to remember I was
very, very young. My next composition went like this:
"I want something to eat." After that, my writing
became more elaborate and daring. It wasn't long before
I wrote, "I would like to ride on a fire truck." That
was the beginning of my productive period.

But even that early, I was already considering the
possibilities of "Masturbating in a Burning Building."
Even that early, I understood the power implicit in the
theme. The trouble is, I don't know if I can pull it
off. I doubt. I hesitate. Will I be able to deal
adequately with such an ambitious topic.

It will certainly have to be better than my "Sport
Coat Without Walls" series. It will have to be better
than "A Child's First Garland of Despair," better than
"The Song of the Open Wound."

I'm starting to think that I'm not such a good writer,
after all. I need to taste more of life. I need to
experience everything that will make "Masturbating
in a Burning Building" the masterpiece it ought to be.

But wait! What is happening now? Something is
terribly wrong. The room is starting to fill with smoke.
I'm choking, and gasping for breath. I should run for it,
throw the alarm, look for a way out fast.

But I pause for just a moment to consider my position.
Perhaps this is not such a disaster. Perhaps it is
really an opportunity. Yes, I think, this is what I have
been waiting for. I can see the fire beginning to lick
around the edges of the walls. Now is my chance, I
decide. Now!. As the flames grow higher, as the smoke
gets thicker in the air, I start to pull down my zipper.

by Robert E. McDonough


Between me and all not-me
the margin is real but constantly changing.
(Hair and nails are special cases.)
I incorporate food, drink and air, usually to my satisfaction.
I expel shit, piss, air and sperm,   "        "   "       "
Blood goes with pain.
Puke, pus, tears, sweat and snot
mix pain with pleasure.
I will not discuss words,
they are too confusing.


Driving, trying to avoid a cat,
I hit a tree, cut my nose on the dashboard.
My nose healed,
I had my car repaired.
Someone cut down the tree and buried the cat.

by Gerald Locklin

in the sixth grade they gave us a belgian nun.
she was just learning the language, and she often
had to ask the english word for something.
little things, like doorknobs, blackboard, chalk.

we were a rotten and sadistic bunch.
we gloried in sabotage.
our previous teacher was now in the r-wing of the local hospital,
which is where you went when you couldn't stop screaming.

one day sister bonita asked us what you call
an electric outlet--you know, the thing on the wall
that you plug into.
we told her it was called a cunt.

she left the room to find the janitor, to explain
what it was of hers that needed fixing, what it was
exactly she couldn't fit the plug into.
she returned to class a tearful but wiser woman.

which reminds me of a piece of profound advice
imparted to me by a young professor upon the occasion
of my going forth from graduate school:
"remember, locklin," he said, his hand upon my tweedy shoulder,
"in teaching you are always dealing with the criminal mentality."

The Yellow Bug
by James Taranto

I was infected with
the yellow bug
the night I undressed
sage-green sultry eyes
-auburn eyelashes
rolling back. . .
I folded her collar
from her nape
kissing it with
gluttonous lips
and soppy tongue
leaving inflamed wiffs
arousing gentle glands.
I stripped her blouse
torturing her breasts
with soft palms
till her low voice
moaned me home
to tasty pacifiers -
and when she bowed
touching toes like
a Russian ballerina
my glory statue
arose firmly erected
and I loved her
a hundred times
a hundred times
like a silver feather
vanishing into
a naked cloud.

Old Man's Lament/Sweet Little Sixteen
by Steven B. Smith

You want things which to you are wrong
But for which I yet long
I want to caress your breast
When your passions mounted manifest
Take my hate in hand
Caress you all the more
Make you writhe like the uncommon whore
Kiss the taunt of your innocent thigh
And wrench from your lips a cry
Of pagan pleasure all your own
The low human female moan
Shattering this sacred hymenal pride
Rampaging you full deep inside
So you feel my subfreudian lust
In each violent misogynous thrust
Of my hips against yours, dampered fire
Lashing within, exploding desire
For your certain no twists me inside
Till rape and respect, raging, collide

by Laila Voss

I can hear the sound of my soul splitting.

Jack the Ripper in the night
Flesh blood and bowels
From their crotch to their head
He gored and shred.
His rancid need could not be fed,
Until his lovers burst, from the inside out, dead.
Then his broiling heart felt right.

Na matter what he said
This is the way the story is read:
He took me
And took me again.
Blood red
Blood red running
Life and love pouring from me.
Front to back
Ripped open.
Heart and soul
He utterly stripped.

The deafening sound of my whole being splitting,
Flesh of my soul
Breath of my heart;
The sound, the act
Echoes, repeats

by Laila Voss

The untried being.
Pouring the many liquids of experience over it
To release its potentialities.
Its flavor and aroma,
A vision of that self, becoming,
Engages all the senses.
A simple event, a gestalt:
The unfolding of a life-
The whole experience:
Past, present, future
Occurs within the moment
Of a small domestic act.

Women at the River's Edge
by Daniel Thompson

When woods turn into words
And the words yellow
Under the sun's thumb
Into pools of dead air
On a dog day in a deaf year
The women at the river's edge
Their hearts beating wildly
Smash their lives
Without permission
On the blind rocks
Sharpened by the mind's eye
Broken, bred on silence
Their hearts heal in the river's dance
Time and again rising in love's anger
Toward the danger on the map...

On The Rack
by Gerald Locklin

i know she's hypersensitive
about her athletic stature,
her pretty smile,
her general wholesomeness,
which everyone except her considers attractive,

so i never miss a chance to allude to
farmer's daughters, sturdiness,
good breeder, and germanic stock;

and since i know she is insanely jealous,
i seldom let an evening go by
without a mention of some beautiful
and temporarily available woman
that i've run into earlier in the day;

and because she's needlessly self-conscious
about her weight,
i wouldn't think of letting a day go by
without suggesting that i run out for
a matterhorn pizza
least she collapse within the hour
of malnutrician.

if she were a puritan,
i'd ridicule her for that,
but since she loves sex
and has few inhibitions,
i do my best to make her feel
like a nymphomaniac.

these are the ways in which i keep her
anxious, humble and dependent.
these are the ways
in which i punish her.

and for what offense:

that she restored my confidence
when i was nearly broken
on the rack.

Four Steps
by Mary Brizzi

Four steps
To the unsaintly fate
This is what you thought about
All the wrong things you do
One beautiful drop is turning down
The other nine
A woman needs more
Christmas in extra dry white
Weather dangers
Diamonds are counterfeit
Glass designs
Are not just for dancing
There's a porcelain doll
Picking one out
Learning to love
A cactus tanning
Playing with fire
You never know where she'll turn up
Thanks to her
All you need is
Much music for a penny

Poem On the Possibility of Any Given Day
(for Karen--)
by Ben Gulyas

I pick a poem,
read it,
sleep on it, rest,
do nothing,
let me sleep."

The jobs are out there
like fraternities and sororities
waiting with their initiation of
intimidation and humiliation in hot buildings
and cool buildings,
with friends and no friends,
money and no money---
hope and no hope.

But the poem has not come through yet,
so I remain stretched out
in my underwear, on my bed,
in the heat of my room;
a heat that does not oppress me,
but sits and holds me.

And outside the grass grows longer,
and the birds sing,
and the jobs are doing their jobs
of disarming and defusing the human spirit---.

But the poem and I are ready to surrender.
It comes through,
and together we are seduced by the heat,
and invited by sleep,
we lay back
in visions of a beautiful woman:
the details of her body,
her expressions, her actions, her feelings,
and the force of her spirit---

and the poem and I,
held together by the heat,
dream of love.

doubt the plausible surface
by John Byrum

         d o u b              p o e m

t                t

h e        p l a            t o       r i d

u s i b l e

   s u r f a c e                    t h r o u

                            g h

i n a d e q u a t       t h e             s

e                           u p p l e

         t o       v               a p p e a r

e n t i l a t e           a n c e

                                o f

           c o n t                      b e i n

i n u e                    g    read

Some Kinda Bread
(to be read with a thick accent)
by Linda Monacelli Johnson

"Trusta me," she say.
"You do'na need no special
thing--any bowl, any size breadpans . . .
instead of your breadboard,
use your breakfast-nook table."

Meanwhile, I'm coming down with a bad
case of the vapors.

"Trusta me," she say.   "Even
if you put in
a little more of this,
a little less of that,
it come out fine. I'm give you
a few measures, but me--
I'm just throw the stuff in!"

Do'na she know what kinda
kitchen cretina she's deal with?

I'm write down every
word, every move . . .
even when she sneeze,
I'm write that down, too.
But she say, "Do'na worry.
You can'na go wrong."


So you do'na need
no special bowl?
Then why did my dough
poocha out,
instead of rise up?

How about breadpans?
I'm use the pans my husband
make his poppa-seed cake in. So why
was his cake such a hit
and my bread such a thud?

And after I'm knead the dough
on the breakfast-nook table
(piega, spinga, gira,
piega, spingi, gira . . .),
the varnish--she's all wore off!
Is that what turn my crusta to stone?

Va bene! Man no live
by bread alone.

Fair Verse
by Max Stark

When summer comes
I'd like to peddle poems
Out of mobile homes
Like those folks selling landscapes
On the craft circuit.

I'd like a retired guy in Bermuda
Named Harry and his wife Fran
To come to my stand
And browse the ballads
Hanging from pegboard hooks.

The longer the piece,
The higher the price,
So they'd debate
Mounting an epic over the mantle,
Or hanging haikus in the hall,
And settle finally on a tiny conceit
Whose shape and tone would seem right at home
In their Florida room.

I wrap the piece lovingly
In crepe paper
And tell them what a deal they've made.

The King of the Hippies
by Alois Zimmerman

By the way my name fits in his mouth,
by the way he chews it as if
to blow a Bazooka bubble, I
know he knows me.

"Tha was you, A-lo-is,
down in Athens, blond hair
to your shoulders and a lot of this...:"
he takes a drag at invisible marijuana;
I think--this is night court, right?

"Remember Brad, Theresa, and now Maureen?
Maureen is in Columbus now." I remember
there was a lot of light,
that I was lonely
despite the visitaions of ufos
with plans for our generation and the earth
and history's grand finale.

"We were sure a crazy bunch," he says
and I admit I thought all problems
qould be solved by better word choice,
but also that humanity was headed for
one rung up its conscious evolution
when all the lights would light at once
and we would all yell: "Surprise!"

"You don't remember."

"Lot of dues," I tell him and,
running fingers thrugh thinning hair
still as mousy brown as always:
"You say I was blond!"

Old Man Carrying A Bible In A High Crime Area
by Russell Atkins

Condense, will it? grow a barrel
                           for shooting?
flash open and spit God's
electric al bullets, Leviticus
as the holy trigger - the thief
drops into hell? book develops
dimensions turned sanctuary
where no muggers plunder?
Does the dope fiend defer
to this, struck to a fix? will the book
in black, cleric vestment
convert loose women?

Old friend, listen: don't wait
- when they come at you,
throw it at them!


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