East/West Spring 08

east/west spring ’08 issue is live & free

In the spring ’08 issue of “from east to west: bicoastal verse”, enjoy featured poets davidbdale, Nancy Henry, Marita O’Neill, & Barton Smock. The photography of Laurie Haines and the artwork of Ruth Robertson beautify our pages. Read Grace Andreacchi, Wesli Court, AnnMarie Eldon, Annie Finch, Lisa Gordon, Kirsty Karkow, Neil C. Leach, Jr., K.A. Markee, Graeme Mullen, and PJ Nights in our feature on poetic forms.

This is available as a free pdf from our website or as a free download or an at-cost paperback book from Lulu (click “current issue” on our home page).

http://www. geocities. com/pj_nights

Other issues may be found in the “archives” or in the “issues/anthologies in print!” sections of our website. Also note our submission call for summer for “graffiti” poetry and visual artists.

PJ Nights & Ray Sweatman

once we asked the question:
when will the leaves become birds?
once we held our dead closely
as if there might be some word

but the blood no longer dreams of poppies
the rain is full of holes–we’re at one
with the season that will not come

still the plover shimmies
still the plover stands
still the children sing

who will be your plover now
that your house has fallen down?

who will lift the weight from your ankles,
offer the reflection of the waters
for your mouth to taste–
pose as your own true form
wading in the moonlight?

and John from your childhood
is hoisting up the hill with a fella
who looks a lot like Beckett
but not the writer guy but the one
who was your first football coach

Esmerelda is teaching the Humpback
whale how to French kiss and he’s singing
will you lie with me under the tree
where money grows but it doesn’t matter

nor the outstretched limbs of mendicants
wrestling each other down in the shadows
and stroll with me like love’s big feet
neither in the lead nor following

where nothing of value can be held
put in a jar or labeled, as free as
mahogany horsepaddling the Atlantic
just floating now between calliope chords
of clouds and home’s mindless whistle

looking up at the polka dot rain
when someone shouts they’ve stolen

St. Mary’s bells and it was clear to me
that I too was obsessed with the beauty
of this world until I had consumed so much
that there was nothing left but me on my knees

begging please please praise the fishes praise
the big toe praise the arches praise the corn
praise the wart praise the beanpole praise
the sprout praise Whitman for his praising
catalogs praise JC Penney praise WC Fields

when you exclaimed Enough is Enough,
would you kindly return my left leg?
and with a shrug I replied Oh come on baby
I’ll make you a sandwich. I’ll make it good.

like when we looked at each other across fields
of white vidalias, feeling the bloom of bloodred
tomatoes, hot tears crying in our veins, getting
hotter as we ducked and hid from the farmer’s
dogs and bullets and mooed our way to

where death is just a blouse
with one last button to undo

but you just turned and flicked your ash
and hobbled away like the world on one stilt–
the bells keep on rollin’ down the hill,
the children keep on singin’

you may hear the call once or twice surely
run naked as the inside of a shell
trying to catch the sea’s grand opening finale
really, it’s nothing so dramatic–
we come, we go, we imagine.

Now imagine this:

the streetcleaners have arrived.
only no one is there ‘cept Mr. Eliot
who could be your first grade teacher
the butcher, the preacher or anyone

walking his yellow cat
all alone in the fog

lie with me under the tree
where money grows but it doesn’t matter

nor the outstretched limbs of mendicants
wrestling each other down in the shadows

and stroll together like love’s big feet
neither in the lead nor following

but there where the moon tugs
on the tide to cover its footprints

where nothing of value can be held
put in a jar or labeled

as free as mahogany
horsepaddling the Atlantic

just floating now
between the calliope chords

of the clouds and home’s
mindless whistle

looking up at the rain
falling in polka dots

but not touching
this patch of ground

which beckons
like a blouse

and death is just
one last button

to undo.

God comes to China

A voice said ‘Welcome shoppers. You may find

me in a translucent longneck shampoo bottle. Or

in that fancy new and improved can. Or maybe

in that organic chicken by the redder than red

ruby tomato stand. It’s a great day to pursue

Happiness. So many possibilities. Happy hunting.’

Turning to the woman who was fingering a Clairol,

I said, ‘Yes, I believe he’s in there. You’ve found

him.’ But she just stared at my raincoat like I was

someone homeless or crazy or both. ‘No, no. I’m

an actor. I’ve just come from the set. I’m playing

Peter Falk.’ And before I could say one more thing…

she headed straight for the Manager, who was saying

‘Spill on Aisle 12’ and sure enough that’s where I

was. Quickly, I decided maybe they hadn’t heard

what I had coming from the loudspeaker and made

my way out of there. I found myself in the drive-thru

at Starbucks. ‘Yes, I would like a large Café Latte.’

When suddenly there was a hush, all the mixers

stopped grinding, the noise in the background

came to a halt, as if I had committed some large

invisible Violation that only a fool would do.

I could see the Pigs roll across the bottom of

the screen of mind just like they used to do

when I was kid watching Hee Haw.

‘Sir, we do not carry Large.’

‘Oh ok, I said. How about a small?’

‘Sir, we do not carry Small.’

‘How bout an extra large?’

‘Sir, we have Tall, Grande and Venti.

I’m afraid you only get three chances.

And now I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.’

Having struck out at both Kroger and Starbucks,

I was now feeling rather dejected when I saw

a Chinese fellow walking in circles by the side

of the road, passing out free fortune cookies,

looking rather lost. ‘Get in,’ I said. He did.

And began to tell me how he had spent a whole

week’s earnings so that he could be in line

to go through the first Golden Arches in Shanghai

but somehow ended up here. ‘Kind Sir, can

you help me? I’d really like a Happy Meal.’

Just then a voice says: ‘You’re free to move

about the country.’ ‘Oh, yes,’ I reply.

‘Buckle up. Hold on.’

Everything is under the lights tonight
though they are a little out of focus
spinning like pink calas who won’t stay still
long enough for Georgia O’Keefe to paint them
funny how when you lose someone
all the cars are the same make as hers
and on every face she’s left a trace
only on closer look they become
strange watery figures in a desert
that only a lover can discern
soon the cars will fly over the fence
and all will align in crackerjack
jubilation so happy to be home
but you won’t bat an eye
cause you’ll already know
how dark it gets in starless grass
when everyone is gone
and a ball will roll your way
from the woods across the field
where you played as a child
and with the awkward assurance
of your very first glove, you
will hold on tight like you
expected it all along.

Regarding the hunting
tragedy in Wisconsin,
the deer were rather mute.
They didn’t try to understand,
they didn’t try to shoot.
But instead lowered their heads
after the two-legged had gone
with their toys of destruction,
tin horses and synthetic psalms.
And took a drink of something
the heavy footed had never known
or at the very least had stopped
dreaming of, and with each drop
they inched closer to the source,
aware of more and caring less
that the strange and unnatural
would be back again.

The Lover Who (revised)

There’s always someone there

to remind you of someone you

only thought you knew. Who
is that child and why are they
dunking his head in the water?
And what if he were you and

you were to learn there is no

savior then, now or ever? Would

it make it less appealing, the big

vanilla mountain in the distance,

the cherry less red as it bobs

in and out of memory? And what

else can we do, but get lost in

its creamy ephemeral thickness,

me and you in the soft vanishing,

not me, not you really, nothing

but the center of forgetting,

the time now the time when

we too shall be devoured
by the Lover who made us.


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