fall 2010

in response to lines by Chelsea Wardlaw

the things i could do
were only




i could

only watch
your fingers
which seemed to say

that everything would be
as you looked into the sun
and hummed that tune
you always sing

and the scent of smoke
trailing off your fingers

lingered long after you left

you are always going

and i am caught yawning

looking the wrong way

or not knowing which words

are the ones i should say

to give you

what i couldn’t

Troy Urquhart

An even seam of ants can stitch a husk
of katydid to ether while sewing self
to sidewalk. Dots and dashes of thorax
and belly trail a secret message
for Montana, spelling by exoskeletal
abraxas a thread of threnody. Graph paper
grasshopper, all green angles and axis,
is empty as a crinoline, silent as a coffin’s
cacophony. The living lift the dead
in procession, in possession of ever-pressing
moment, movement mindless and planetary,
a pinprick cortege unhitching its ardor for order.
If you describe the color green to the color gold,
gold will protest your illusion, or at least
your indiscretion. We pretend not to notice
the days like a bucket brigade, passing our bodies along.

Jessica Goodfellow

Last night the Moon eyed anything not nailed down—
in particular the seas, loose change in the planet’s pocket.

Tonight the Moon has slipped into a skimpier costume.
She is as false as water. She is the mapmaker’s blind spot,

his fudge factor, forcing him to fake it, to ink a line where
there’s a quicksilver verge of continent. Once we believed

the Moon was Earth’s doppelganger, turning like a lathe,
sparking stars. Now the sea spiral-spindles, ragged geometry

of gear-crush, excess of ritual, while the Moon winks
in my window, round peg in a square hole, ever

phosphorescent (light without heat). What you said before
you left: “The closer one lives to the water, the more windows

one needs.” How long until the sum of the parts ceases
to grieve for the whole? View the Moon tonight, fisted ridge

of knuckles, framed in this window, rectangular
like the holes we dig into our spherical planet in which

to lay our dead. Nights the Moon is amber-bright
I envy dirt. Nights the Moon is amber-dark, I wade into waves

as far as my sacrum, flaring from the Latin for sacred. The planet
spins like a potter’s wheel, tides rising like clay vessels cupped

in invisible palms, then smashed by the disappointed fists
of gods. The Moon, too, is sacred tonight, girdled in a crescent

of light she cannot keep, a template busy erasing itself. Memory
is not a window. Memory is a fist, suitable both for clutching

and punching, the perfect semaphore for desire. Or for the idea
of desire, which is a whole, while desire itself has never been

the sum of anything, like a window just before a fist shatters it.

Jessica Goodfellow

We were all there, in the dream, and we found
on the ground a dictionary of names.
Paul picked it up, turned to “Paul,” where it was
written “one who is easily broken, one who will
disappear.” Next Cato flipped to his name, read
“one who is readily crushed, who will vanish.”
One more of us looked up his given name—
I’ve forgotten already who—then raised
his eyelids bland as shower curtains. After that
we abandoned the dictionary. That is to say,
I woke up, still pinched in this same skin,
and slipped over my neck a length of black cord
dangling an ammonite fossil, what I always wear
on doorless days—something Jurassic,
or at least Cretaceous. A Fibonacci spiral—
who could fail to be cheered by a fossil’s
linked chambers whorling like a galaxy
or a thumbprint? Cross-section of lobes
and saddles, Himalayan-named “wheel of God,”
the ammonite reveals to each something of fear
or else salvation. For example, peasants of the Dark
Ages dubbed the fossil a serpentstone, believing
it to be a petrified snake. The Blackfoot Tribe
beheld a buffalo curled up and sleeping
in its helix, talisman for a journey or a hunt.
Germans dropped it in the milk pails of cows
whose teats had hardened with refusal, as if
it were a magnet for letting go. But the wily
ancient Greeks would not settle on a single fear:
under their pillows they slid ammonites, amulets
for peaceful dreams, hex against insomnia,
impotence, blindness, snake bites. And I wrap
this scant weight around my windpipe because
for 412 million years (plus or minus 2 million)
it has neither broken nor vanished. I bought it
at the county fair, part talisman, part fetish.
Only four dollars it cost me. Less than
the price of three tickets to the Tilt-a-Whirl
for Paul and me and Cato.

Jessica Goodfellow

Dindi watches snow clot
on her front window.  Roads,
frozen zoos closed to the public. 
She can’t get her car out of her

parking space, so she turns on the TV,
surfs a sad wave of channels,
“dangerous conditions”
a thief who just broke in.

Kenneth Pobo

As we devour gassy hot dogs,
strangers stare into windows
showing things which will pepper
garage sales—we talk about relationships,

a word that says nothing in four syllables. 
Yours, you say, sucks.  Mine is like a blue
hydrangea, wilting in July.  A halter top

floats by, JUICY printed on pink
sweat pants.  We get up, walk
toward Macy’s gaping mouth.
Fluorescent teeth gnaw us, a sale

in men’s pants, all the good ones
picked over, rejects
on a messy table.

Kenneth Pobo