These are the poems from ArtCrimes 20
edited by Beth Wolfe & Steven B. Smith
published by Smith July 2002
46 poems - 32 poets

Sea of Forgetfulness

Across Tenth Avenue / St. Petersburg, Florida
by Major Ragain  -  Feb. 10, 2001

Every evening, I watch, from the second floor balcony,
as the slight, humped old woman shuffles
out of her gingerbread house across the street
to sweep her sidewalk
with a little broom and dust pan,
to rid it of every bit of the day's leavings.
She stands as upright as she can,
coaxing every leaf and gum wrapper
into the pan with little measured pushes of her broom.
Nothing escapes her fierce attention.
I'll sit out here all night and just before dawn,
cross the empty street and lie down
on her concrete, praying my skinny butt
will fit into her little dust pan.
She knows I don't belong there or here.
Old angel, tickle me with your broom.

What Was the Topic?
by Christine Telfer

What Was the Topic?
oh yes
and what was I about to say?
I still remember the eyelids
of my first lover
but forget
where I put my keys
your address
the words to poems
I haven't written yet
to turn my headlights off
the number
for triple A

Ice Melts In Only One Direction
by Jim Lang

so time doesnt
in reverse
except on anniversaries
under bourbon & soda

th inside out

earth note 29
by e b bortz

sometimes the smallest things become the scalpel
            a cutting edge without precision
            a frenzied path past the main organs
            left intact yet disconnected

an old brown towel wiped our bodies
            bodies of a tribe in the desert
            then swiped our bicycles down
            leaving the sands of mesada
            buried in thick stained cotton

until yesterday
            grains of millennia marking faint white tracks
            on my forearm
            your signature was clear

Flat River
by Beth Wolfe

First of November
a girl
from Flat river
put her child
in a cellar for
to keep

No time
no time
ever held its breath
while a soul
a darkling

knock for a door
two dogs
a shuffling
lanterns whiff
hope for burning leaves

map and treasure

To Sleep and Forget
by Daniel Thompson

To sleep and forget
The evening sky
The promises of the city
I lie, fallen roses
Round my bed
White flowers drawn
From my sick breath
By hand, though
No sleight of hand
Can take away the pain
Take heart, I say
And the heart is taken
Its sleight of breath
Extends the poetry of flesh
Returns love to the earth
Where the hand
Again dreaming
Writes in the dust

Talking to Ghosts
by Russ Vidrick

the ghost of a dead man
will never allow this.
i will not be part of your collection
regardless of the country or century
we fuck.
i like a woman who knows how to take her pleasure
but before i fail in love once more i would just like
you to know that all of this was anticipated.
i am alone in a room
it is night and a bird has begun to sing on a hill
in mediggore
i cant remember if in the dream we made love.
i have been watching angels fall for far too long.
it will take exactly 3 seconds
for this to happen or not to happen.
but all of this is nothing compared to your hair.
i hardly know myself anymore.
i am sorry i left those lips so empty
but my confusion was shared.
it is true that i own the world.
but i would trade all of this just to see your naked body.
once i quit eating for a very long time
and the thing that i missed the most
was salt.
the thing that i miss the most now is you.
i'll never touch your lips again.
or i can never never touch
those lips again.
i will never see such lips
as yours again.
my hand will never touch those lips again.

by Emperor Wu of Han (140 - 87 BC)

Majestic, from the most distant time,
the sun rises and sets.
Time passes and men cannot stop it.
The four seasons serve them,
but do not belong to them.
The years flow like water.
Everything passes away before my eyes.

Zen This
by Sheila Long

Little Buddha Ma'
All morphined up
Looking askance at the world.
She moves her head from side to side
As she watches the nightly news.
A little 'oh' permanently etched
Between her sallow cheeks.
She sees the senselessness everywhere
As she moves closer to death.
She must fix things.
Frantically she calls people at all hours of the night,
As real and imagined horrors befall those she loves.
She puts hundred dollar bills and jewelry
In the pockets of anyone who comes over to visit.
She hides Ativan in her socks and shoes,
Between the cushions of her chair;
She's afraid of the drug police.
The holes in her body become paramount
As cancer eats away at her dignity.
Can she shit? Can she breathe? Can she spit?
Her one limp breast hangs out of her nightgown
As she leans down to pick the junkie's imagined lint off
The carpet below her feet.
She tries marijuana.
She sets her hair on fire
Sneaking a cigarette at 2 a.m.
She forgets she's connected to an oxygen tank.
She plays tricks on people,
Giggling like a school girl as they discover her ruse.
She is beautiful, so beautiful.
As she sits cross-legged on her hospital bed
Smiling her impish Irish smile
At something profoundly funny
Inside that complex, lovely mind
That taught me that laughter is
More powerful than tears.
Little Buddha Ma.
I miss you so.

daughter (dawning)
by Mary Ann Breisch

she hovers
at the edges of each day
beautiful hide-and-seeking smoke
child all soft about the boundaries
of woman-ness
disappearing in grace
don't get too close
she will dissipate like fog
or a dream you left behind
most mysterious is she to her
carrying gum and lip gloss wisdom in her pocket
my heart kindles hope for this exquisite sleeper
resting again
she knows
when to sleep and when to wake
her dreams are her dreams
she hovers

Now Zen
by Steven B. Smith

It ain't age.
It ain't sex.
It ain't race, religion, height,
    gender, color, class or learning.

It's path, progress and position.
The road not not taken.
Be here now.
Hear now
    o eyes unseeing
    o ears unearned.

We're all perfect potential
    cept maybe republicans, lawyers,
    the true organized crime called police,
    the true whores called priests.

You can walk on water IF water wants.
Just ask.
Walk willing.
There ain't no dark night's ungentle light.
Ain't nothing outside but lies.
But even lie true ain't for you.
Walk within.
Don't need no god.
No catholic pimp pushing blood feast.
My lie's mine.
Walk my own walk.
Fuck the talk.

Grasshoppers gone wrong become ants.
Bad ants cry uncle, cry wolf, cry baby.
Goats goad sacrifice to sun.
Ritual requires repetition, release.
Nothing stays river's run
    but drought's dry dirt
    (and river still runs).

Rub your ears together.
Start a fire.
Flesh alarm.
Let gone go.
Lock lip.


mandrake dream
by wendy shaffer

we knew he wasn't just some conny boy
in the sludge, some clover seed midge
come to suck on the flower
of our hearts he appeared
more like the spirit butterfly
gauzy and destitute
of scales no balance just wing
his mouth organ his milky pan pipe
like manna to our ears
our own panzer selves lost
in the cordiform cloud forest
was it kenosis
or did we suck mandrake
in our sleep to dream this galactic angel,
this clover sick robot of love?
then by the river,
by the bufflehead and golden eye,
our vision desorbed and desecrated,
the black sky fulgurating offenses
against decades of hope,
we pleaded with cupid to return
we offered him the sacrifice of a rose
but all we received
was silence

Oh Jesus
by Judith Brandon

Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
I think you are sexy in the Stations of the Cross
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
I find you beautiful in your trouble and doubt
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
I thought you'd be there for me,
Now your father's got it in for me.
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
He's unplugged my T.V.
And taken away my job
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
He's disconnected me from the light
But I don't suffer in the night
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
It's okay
It's okay
I have my images of you on my wall
In my kitchen and in the hall
Your eyes all a twinkle
You're no virgin in my house
I'm no virgin in my house
We're the perfect couple, so unavailable
Your father hates me
Oh Jesus, I'm in trouble with God
-- Won't you make it right honey?

What Am I Doing Wrong?
by Christopher Franke

What am I doing wrong?
Love returns but friendship.
What's wrong with this picture?

There's surfeit, or there's drought.
What rein nurtures passion?
What am I doing wrong?

Love sparkles like diamond,
but dime returns nickel.
What's wrong with this picture?

Love's more comes back as less,
an exchange rate that halves.
What am I doing' wrong?

Love comes back what like
for one to recognize...
'What's wrong with this picture?'

My love life is awry.
The golden-apple bough recedes.
What am I doing wrong?
What's wrong with this picture?

The Writer
by Sandra L. Hazley

there you go again
dipping into that well
the one you said never ends
                      for a writer

who knows what will drip
from your pen this time
brown skinned women or
                      plump ass'd girls

obscure advice, political pleas
reflection, recollection, myth or fantasy
or maybe just you and I slurping up noodles
                      in a foreign land

They always sound good to me
so, put me on the page as a voyeur
dressed in different clothes
like a tunnel peering into your heart
with a kaleidoscope at the end
spraying colorful love and pain

as the wheel turns

I Dreamt
by Ben Gulyas

I dreamt I sat up last night in the snow,
from the window in the roof I saw
a kerosene lamp and some old bread
hunched on the sill,
left by the sparrows,
like feathers and scratches...
the rags of my mind,
oil and coal painted -
I heard a song
that played out like little man
trampling along roof edges,
a master of tavern piano
with music in his head,
an old hand at violins
an old hand at unspoken offers,
tears for dreams,
tavern songs,
bottles of smoke
and red wine for the throat,
a dance by the barrel,
the fire and the snow...

he turns loose in the night
in the trenches of the moon,
another world,
an old history forgotten,
that he never forgets -
stepped on by stone and pig iron,
a stage caboose bum
red with rose iron and wine...
a deep night song
that pulls tears from the heart -
o lily, o water, give him a kiss,
a golden frog
a hundred centuries
no teeth...
a hard boiled egg,
and an old can of paprika
in his patch-coat pocket -

the moon eclipses like rose iron and wine...
a bottle of smoke & steam for the throat,
a dance by the barrel,
the fire and the snow...

by Steven B. Smith

The gods died.
But for the fish
We brought them back.
Returned mortality
To the horse's eyes,
Gods to antique brass.
My voice raised
In bell and chime,
Laughter light on lip.

The Bow, The Wow, with Brothers
by Major Ragain  -  Feb. 28, 2001

When I park my old white nova in the driveway
and climb out, the two neighbor dogs, a couple
of houses down, start up, overgrown golden retriever pups,
tangled winter coats, flop eared, bored and fenced.
I bark back, then a guttural boyz, boyz, boyz.
They warm up and volley. I gurgle and growl.
Woof, woof from the pups. I yelp a rowl, rowl.
They quiet, sitting side by side, staring through the fence.
I finish with some tooth gap sucky whistle.
The pair sends over a halfhearted woof
as I close the screen door to my big dog house.

I am washing my hands at the sink
with that iridescent, pink pearl jam, antiseptic squirt soap
when a train whistles and rumbles by, along the Cuyahoga
at the end of the block. The dogs begin to yap,
then go wacky as if in pain, yip, yap, yowl,
a doggy chorus, back and forth with one another.
As I reach for the clean towel, a big bubble of yelp
rises in my throat. I am ready to howl with them,
a two legged whoop brother, hairy under the arms,
the nose, around the balls, tailless.
The train rolls on south. The dogs trail off.
I turn out the bathroom light and keep the peace.

My crutches are my walking dogs,
twenty years old, a yard sale find,
now duct taped and Elmer glued,
shin splinted, rust bolted, the way I like em.
They walk. I follow my skinny wooden dogs.
Tall dogs. One legged dogs. Four legged man.
I got to find my bark.

From the rinzai zen teaching that thorny question
no one gets past: does a dog have Buddha nature?
I don't know. Does a man have dog nature
and therefore Buddha nature? You bet Buddha
is a bulldog, big jowls, heavy ears, no bark, all bite.
He is sitting dog. He walks by sitting.
My walking dogs are named left and right.
They are all I need.

by Sandra L. Hazley

there is this cat
i know it is my grandmother's

she watches me
everywhere i go
she is blind in one eye

                          so was my grandmother
                          bitten by a dog no less

i didn't always have this cat
she came to me on the street

                          i fed her
                          wouldn't you?

then i noticed the resemblance
to my grandmother
she yells at me
and my partner is allergic

"The Wanting Does Not Stop Here - Quiet On Your Tongue"
                                                            -- Mary Crockett Hill, Abomination
by Carly Sachs

Last night I wonder if I offset the course of the universe.
Two cats appeared on my driveway at dusk.
After eating peaches, the fireflies light your absence
against still cars, dark houses.
The train whistle spills the night,
something is coming, or is it
something is gone.

In New York City, you can ride the Staten Island Ferry for free,
Spend days chasing Whitman,
Finding him in the hollow voices of barges that affirm:
here we are,
here we are.
These are the days when the air hangs
still as my mother's wedding gown,
smells of cedar, despair.

Hart Crane ate bowlfuls of New York summer
Before he leapt off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Whitman's voice slipped through the dirge of gulls and harbor boats,
always, always.
When his body hit the East River,
It made no splash.

When I dropped the peach pit in the trash,
I could almost hear Whitman.
It frightened the cats.
They moved to the tall grass,
flicking their tails.

I went back to the porch to listen for Whitman between claps of thunder.
When the storm hit, the cats crept under the porch to wait.

by Amy Bracken Sparks

The sad babel in my leg wants to swim
with the dolphins but it can't
drive blinded by salt and has no credit
except for longevity curled in the calf.

Angry, it knots, giving up no Christmas secrets.
It keeps clues to itself, hoarding strands of Barbie
hair too gold, too straight, Monopoly money
and the severed head of a slim glass horse
one sister stole from another.

It lullabies itself with a holiday tape loop -
a man's voice, a woman's, embellished
with Scotch rocks and Zippo lighters snapping
shut and starting again.

It doesn't remember the other sad children
when six years old and summers in the fields
were given a new tongue and flung
to the four corners of this body, stunned
before knowing anything of the sea.

Orphan's Lament
by Judith Brandon

I believed in Noah
When he said he'd save us
I believed him when he loaded
His family into the Ark

I believed in Noah
When he said the rain is coming
It was God's wrath on man
And because of man all earth
Will be covered in water

I believed in Noah
When he picked the healthiest,
The strongest, the most beautiful
Of all the adult creatures
One pair of each kind

I believed in Noah
As the rains came down and flooded
The streets, forests and plains
I watched as the Ark started to rise
And I was filled with fear

I believed in Noah
As I climbed to higher ground
I believed in Noah
When the elephants trampled me down
I believed in Noah
As my parents floated away
I believed in Noah
He left me to drown that day

first verse of W. B. Yeats'
The Second Coming 1919

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

John Byrum selection from Generator
& Another Incomplete Understanding

Approximate fits

the horror --
and the horrors we are -
strangeness and horror

or do you want to think about (it) other ways, or just glance
through (us) & go on to something else?

Up In The Sandia Mountains
by Mark Weber, 19sept01

near the treeline
soaking the innocent sun
my clothes drying out
dangling from small branches
eat a tuna sandwich
jet airliner overhead
a variety of magpie screeching in the ponderosa
in New Mexico we live so far away
from the world's problems
little blossoming yellow flowers
sadness, that jet is sadness
and these tiny purple flowers, asters?
I have run out of energy
to make the crest today
put on my shoes and walk back

Dear Me
by Joan of Art

The Ill
will speak in fork tongue.
And passage into the monitored volume tunnel
will be censored by the most oppressive person I know...
Remember this Mr J.C. Electric,
Reality is Man Made.
How are your false teeth?

by Joan of Art

I am unimpressed.
I can no longer abide
by their standards.
by the cold compression
of a grafted malignant society,
I am now quite thoroughly convinced
that I am terminally ill.
And that Mother's nature
was so passive,
He thrust his dirty bent fist
into her paralyzed vagina,
And she felt nothing
but shame.
And from her cankered lips passed
the creation of a new world
ready to explode.
And she was diagnosed as guilty.
I now remember to wind the clock
as I study the genetics of fear,
and the loopholes
in the logic of love.

Forced and Demented
by Joan of Art

Mother's honey-mooned gown
venom stained
and all that I don't care about.
The birth of an angry old man
with a pitchfork up his ass
and a craving for indecent women
who flaunt their bellies
to western bureaucrats.
Who suck only diluted gold
from unsanitary basins.
Oh let's give credit
to where credit is due.
Go home you unsavory old man
and cling fast to your soil stack,
and remember to confess your sin.
Acting on a hunch,
this faunching old war horse
eats his morals
with a most gracious smile
and recycles his memory
in the glue factory.
we can stick it to them.

You Can't Say This
by Terry Provost


I remember the old weather
maps on the Today
Show from when I was
a kid. They displayed the lower
48 drifting in complete
isolation as if some cataclysm
of geography had created
the Sea of Canada and the Mexican Ocean.
The notion we existed
in a world surrounded
by countries that were
our equal was more
foreign than weather
originating from nowhere.


In the trailers
for the movie 'Outbreak'
about a highly
contagious and lethal
disease --- one of the CDC
style virus police
says 'If we don't act
now, 250 million Americans could end
up dead.' Apparently
those microbes had watched Today
because they recognized both
the Mexican Ocean and Canadian Sea.


In the first few years
after the discovery of AID's and
HIV the mass media resorted to the catch
phrase that it was spread by
'the exchange of bodily
fluids.' Like an exchange of letters
or salutations. The euphemism
was chosen to avoid
embarrassment, not to communicate.
It was in bad taste to say 'anal
sex'. One man's penis
entering another's anus,
even to say this was in unspeakably
bad taste. Much better that
10,000 Americans who didn't understand should
die of the ambiguity. A dick, or cock,
or penis entering
someone's anus
how many times
do I have to say that I can't
say this. you can't say this?
We need to admit that bad taste
prohibits this
from being said.


The number is closer
to 10 million now
but that requires thinking
beyond the Mexican Ocean and Canadian Sea.
An approach to geography
similarly regarded as in bad taste
as are viruses that haven't watched
the Today Show, continuing to cross
borders like illegal
aliens lacking passports and

by Erik Kipperman

Wooden box,
With ideas,

                Carried on
                Written off
Another dimension
In question
                Written down
In thin air
The feather
Of existence.

Two Men In A Coffee Shop
by Michael Salinger

god drives a Subaru station wagon
putting on her make-up
reflected in sun visor vanity mirror
three kids in the back seat
and she's going to pull this damn car over
if they don't stop that fighting

the automobile passes a suburban coffee shop
Two men inside
smoke cigarettes
laugh too loud
mangle middle aged jokes about golf
they pontificate on sump pumps and tile grout
weather and automobile financing
as if impervious to mortality
Mr. Plumber leaves to cook
breakfast for an aging father
the other
competes with coughin' cappuccino device
cell phoning home to remind flannel pajama'ed wife
of daughter's soccer practice

I marvel at their heroism
as I am astonished by the infinity
of the ocean of nameless faces
I encounter for the one time in my life
every single day
their ability to remain upright
while wading the current
of daily existence
fully dressed
in invisible clothes
interwoven threads
saturated with the amortized accumulation
of experience

How much easier it would be to back float
then simply slowly sink
beneath the stream
knees to chest in fetal submission
layered blankets of silt
compressing life's echo into
two dimensional fossil
while overhead
the rest of the world
tow the anchors of if only

How much easier it would be
to stare into the abyss
eyes already shut in preparation
and just wait for the show to end
killing time
but god makes a right on red
and turns into the donut shop
the kids quiet down
in anticipation

The Dream Thief
by Daniel Thompson

Who stole your dreams, what thief?
The street thief, the thief of late calls
The international thief of bail and hot sauce
The thief of hats, the thief of language and fish heads
The jaywalking thief, the thief of cigarettes and innocence
The mourning thief, grieving in rags and ashes
The thief of fire with socks that match, the clean thief
The thief of four dogs becoming five, the grand thief
With photographs and laughter, the thief of conscience
Blood on his hands, the film noir thief, the thief of rain and teeth
Didn't I, your thief of thieves, your dream thief
Those sleepless nights, mumble in the moonlight
Reach for the sky?

by Adam Brodsky

Title. With milk con leche, Sunday, in
empathy, now quite maneuvered.
Milk there-Sunday-with leche & Cajun
kidney beans from a steel can & a plastic spoon.
There, now, in the cold breath of morning,
fingers curved slightly around it: it was my own.

But now, now milk & leche are at odds-the fire retarded
and so the prophet commences:

"Hootenanny being w/zero ink tolerance,
remainder clouds & hootenanny selections,
festival endurance, hootenanny style-
finger blame & incense-
hootenanny lingo & the black Bart brigade,
reasonable definite purpose & hootenanny cross-snatch,
hootenanny cock & lovely hootenanny moonshine,
curved hootenanny markup with Zazen dreams,
maybe hootenanny game piece with special PMS day tags,
hootenanny, hootenanny, hootenanny…."

(Really too much to write about in this short space.)

earth note 62
                          khanom, thailand
by e b bortz

let me taste the early morning light
before smoky sunrise mix
             distant yellows of a coconut plume
             speak seductively sweet
             swallowing my words
             forgetting the murky river
             a charge
             coming through the shadows
             from who knows where
             a mother answers the child's question
             in the teeter of teak stilts
                          a balance

Moon Meter
by Beth Wolfe

The moon is only tranquil because it has forgotten the earth
The earth not tranquil, remembers
Old loss bright in orbit pulls at all the living things, goes dark and

earth note 81
by e b bortz

mostly one by one
         broken patchwork
a rust of defoliated grassland
dustbowl yellow river
where there are no endless roads
                      'cept time
and we ask the mother
                      earth god
                      to heal us

I'm Tired
by Val Seeley

I'm tired of living with my failures
Bad relationships
Bad choices

I'm tired of living with society's failures
Crippling greed
Crippling sorrow

I'm laying all of these failures down
On the shore of the Sea of Forgetfulness
Where the sun will bleach them
Pounding them against the sand
Until they are clean and pure
And I can start again

I will light four candles
One for each direction
Wash in the stream of consciousness
Align myself with nature
Call down my protection
Extend it to others
And walk this earth again

Tits and Tips
by Sandra L. Hazley

you watch them come down the street
detaching the faces that go with them

we, as women take them for granted
these sensual, nurturing, food bearers
were given to us because
                       we could handle them

they're ours and we plod, poke, press
making sure nothing is wrong
just trying to save our lives

when you get to the bottom of them
there's a woman attached

she has all the answers
she is a god
a goddess
a bearer of life

you would see it
if you could just get past the tits

by Cheryl Townsend

with my hips wide
in hysterectomy and
cheesecake recourse
With breasts soft
against my ribcage
My fanny below
my Levi pockets
with the knowing
what is outside
merely hides who
I am and that when
you get past what
hinders there is
all that matters now

Who Am I?
/A Riddle
by Cheryl Townsend

I am not
what reflects
from your eyes
No cliche
can contain me

I am your daydream
I am the very second
of orgasm
That shadow
that breaks your sleep
but eludes focus
The voice you swear
you hear in the breeze
The scent that
always reminds you
of something
I sit on the tip
of your tongue
holding that word
at how hard it is
to know me

Her Anonymity
by Lewis LaCook

her anonymity lurched on top of umbrellas
spritely knobs sapped in between meat because
crevices shrieked meat under umbrellas
earnest bedrest bled into the moon because

meat leaving her anonymity and meat
shrieked earnest bedrest and on top of the moon
sapped meat bled among earnest bedrest
or my vaguenesses tearing or shrieked

the moon sapped over crevices but
leaving into meat and under
earnest bedrest leaving under spritely knobs lurched
because my vaguenesses on top of meat or

the moon shrieked on top of earnest bedrest because
lurched into crevices and crumbling

Written by Poem Generator 1.0

by Terry Durst

here is the class I would like to teach:


This is a class in creating sculpture and installation work from everyday found and
selected objects of many varieties, with a focus on how ideas are expressed through
meanings of the objects and their combinations. The emphasis will be on personal
relation to the chosen materials, striving to bring out the unique internal imagery and
energy of each individual. Class members will be encouraged to use non-traditional
materials of their choice, and the class will consist of discussion, assignments, critiques,
minimal slide presentation and visiting artists. The cost of materials is dependent on the
needs and desires of each student.

here is the class they want:


Did you ever look at an old hubcap and say, "Hey, that's art! Just like it is!" If so come
join our class in Beginning Found Object Sculpture! We'll talk about how you can make
that hubcap really sing - maybe you could turn it into a flower! - by combining it with
other cast-off objects like wire (and a little glue) to create pieces of real sculpture that
will really dress up a room! Bring a screwdriver and a happy attitude and let your
imagination run wild!

Still A Swan
by Bree

I saw your paper cutter in the basement.
Green slate in graph,
the clean, swift archery of it bringing me back
       to manilas
            and sit in the corner
and this is a d-u-c-k
       not a s-w-a-n phonics page.

Right then that teacher should have tucked me in
her loins, unbuckled them and thrown me into an Asian
river where
I'd nibble on intestine     like a ball of string
and slowly make my own way in water.

O Death You Sly Trickster
by Frank Green

O death you sly trickster
how you love to tease me

the first time we met
I was four
you held your scalpel
daintily in your claws
and caressed me
and when you opened me up
my heart murmured
and winked at you
I already knew
that I could count on you

I loved the way you sauntered up to me
when I was twelve
baseball cap tipped dashingly over one eye
and called me a fag
thinking I'd roll over
and want to die
and I didn't
I didn't die
and I didn't roll over
and I didn't want to
remember that?

or that time you came barreling
straight at me
with your white stare blaring
and your voice screeching
your breath smelled like burnt rubber
you heavy metal bender
and I walked away laughing
at your drunken antics

how many times did you come to me
during my needle years
with your white powders
smeared all over your flesh
thousands I bet
you were a regular guest in my home
and I loved you, death
I knew you'd never leave me

when you came to me all dressed up
in plague drag
a scarlet 'A' emblazoned on your breast
you were so cute
in your pale mask
and your lovely lesions
I grasped you tightly in my arms
and begged you to ravish me
then I sipped your foul cocktail
and spit back it out
and you were gone

I knew you'd be back someday
with your sacks of potions
and your sharps
thank you for visiting me
in the antiseptic hotel
dear death
it's boring in the tumor mill
and your presence excites me
it was sweet of you to come

but by now I think you know
that I'm not going home with you

Virtual Fire
by Beth Wolfe

a thought
a door
with silence opens
in wandering talk
it closes

from you

dead years
buried stirred

old friend
does it come
from you

old freeze
sap run

odd season
out of sequence
summer into autumn
into spring

whose hand
what origin
what fruit


The Body Is A Cognitive Map
by Major Ragain - June 26, 2001

'The enlightenment of the wave is to
understand that it is water.'
                     -- Thich Nhat Hahn

Doctor Verdena, every time the pneumonia returns,
and a little more of me wears away against the stone,
the brighter my soul flares, its carnival lights
strung across the bony mast of my shoulders.
The body is a temporary shelter, not my real home.
I don't want to become too accustomed
to things down here below,
the quick text of skin, the scarlet bumper of appetite,
the consolations of children, work and dreams.
Conditions come together to give shape to the wave, the body.
When those conditions change, the form is altered.
This morning, all around me, the sea shines.
The sky opens into ocean.
I am turning away from shore, toward water.


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