by Douglas Blazek first appearance Tule Review
To better a poem
play Faure’s Requiem
four in the morning
eyes in the magnolias
dripping voluptuous botanical tears
or better it with bells
by a flute’s silver arm
or jagged dixie joy
dancing your bird-body
jiggling pecks inside
an egg coming out
or rouse in ravenous maws
your lust for earthly extravaganzas
as mountains and mesas
monotone sand orations
dung rooted woods
ants of energy
virtuosos of stray matter
and after gloating all you hold
plumb it under the microscope
you’re writing: its cosmic
lens focusing the alembic
laser of its making.
Blue Prose by Carol Frith Summer ‘99
Lawn chairs like lateral road maps–
the grass scans blue. I won’t go out
today. Bent light. Light like water spots.
Nobody walks here anymore: three apricot
trees and a peach. The leaves fill with
blue, separate into blank space.
Now, a man in blue grasses sits down on the
lateral slats. Answers turn over in the
middle distance. Think of the way
a blue vein of light remembers itself.
The man in blue glasses frowns
in his lawn chair. He listens to me.
I have a baker’s dozen of blue words
to offer: azure, turquoise, opaline,
etcetera. On the other hand, except for
their pastel variants, some blues are
almost untouchable. Notice how all four
of these blue trees balance each other
against the pale bermuda grass. The man
in blue glasses wipes smears of light
from his eyes. Tomorrow, I will close
the window. I will go outside. Tomorrow,
I will translate the man’s blue hands
into prose for you.
Apparently, I Am Afraid Of Dying
Broucha Abrams, 95.
by Mary Zeppa Fall ‘99 issue
She beat us to this place,
tongue barbed as wire, mean
as a grandmother snake. Now,
she’s hollow-cheeked, dentures
in hiding. I’m her mirror, her
have-pity face. Flesh has us both
cornered. She’s stuck in that chair
and I am her daughter-in- law.
“I am panicky, loose from my body.”
Breast milk and blood and his duty:
my husband, her only child, slumped
beside me and sinking fast into his spine,
into his crumpled-paper-bag skin.
“Apparently, I am afraid of dying.”
Is that her own shadow rustling?
Or a dead husband slithering close?
His cold breath in her ear, on the back
of her neck, in the hiding place under
her breasts, where they nestle,
her aborted daughters, in their
pink and white swaddling clothes.
Home At Dusk With Rain
by David Olson Fall ‘99
a sudden breeze
rustles your branches
I slide my hands
beneath your shirt
April drips through the open window
Lying in the wet season
we stroke each other’s long backs
Our words put aside
We do not speak
of the desert between us
too open to be joyful or sad
dry days of not knowing what to say
Small in the garden of your bed
Soft chorus of rain
we are glad not to understand
by Nancy Wahl Spring ‘00
“One could envision a proof of a problem
that had no implications.”
—-Barry Mazur, Harvard
I like to think the Princeton mathematics professor,
Andrew Wiles, knew,
when he turned that conceptual corner
taking him secretly into his little third-floor attic
for seven years,
that fooling around in hyperbolic geometrics
was not a way to manipulate the universe
but a crosswalk over uncertainty. Something signals
and maybe it is only the angled moment
or a twitch
in that grey right-hemisphere thing in my head—-
or possibly in the left—-when my hand lifts
against betrayal to wave someone off,
this time for the last time, but I change
my mind not wanting him to go—-
and I know I have to choose
because decisions are as aggravating
as the old and famous notes Fermat scribbled
in the margin of a book
and as challenging because critics
looking for fatal flaws
are everywhere—the kind that Andrew Wiles
has to face crossing a non-Euclidean way
to prove Fermat’s last theorem—
and because, assuming there are relationships
other than points, lines, and space,
or with marginal-minded men,
elusive in all their ways—
my own internal critic is turning a corner
and telling me to get on with it—
that a wrong love cannot be proved, it can only hurt,
and seven years is way too long.
by Francisco Aragon Spring ‘00
She and I on a bench eating prawns:
the first day of her fiftieth year and she points
at two street performers about to juggle
fire and a distant summer morning
surfaces, afloat on the light wind blowing
off the bay—-older sisters are hiding in the dark,
big brother parading around the house
his hands outstretched and clutching large candles
I’m on a search! he shouts
marching from room to room
’til he finds them huddling in a jungle
of clothes, his beacons flickering as flame-
hot wax begins to flow across his fingers
while she is walking to Centro Adulto, her head
with phrases: the words she needs to learn so she can quit
sewing, land a job in a bank…and the sitter
is arriving minutes late, finding us wet
and trying to save a coat, a shirt, a dress—-it’s
a small one: nothing the green hose
and frantic assembly-line of buckets
doesn’t eventually douse, leaving walls and curtains
the color of coal—-; Mira! , she gasps
her left hand rapping my shoulder, still pointing with the
as the torches,
from one juggler to the other,
begin to fly.
by Joyce Odam
I take the edge with me
wherever I go.
Like a ruler.
Like a lifeline in a world of snow;
I take it for caution and what I almost know
I take it to remind me of where I left off
and where I began.
I take it as something not to step over
or off of.
I need this edge to prevent me from the fall
that flaunts its vertigo,
I know my dimension.
Mother named it so.
She said, “Take this edge through life,
as a peripheral.”
She took it from her tiny balcony of warning
and stood there—edgeless-waving.
And still I have it with me:
Mother’s edge—still holding, guarding.
by Joyce Odam
My grandmother sings the blues to my mother in heaven.
Lullabies. Hymns. Toneless and beautiful,
How did they find eachother?
This is how long it is between stories never told,
Who makes the rules for memory—
soft folding thins that make up patterns?
Once there was a riddle. Its name was love.
It carried a long distance, like faith and loneliness.
A riddle solved is a disappointment. Sometimes I carry
a tune for years, remember it differently, think I composed it.
My grandmother holds my infant mother, and asks about me.
She is almost complete now. I feel a ravel begin—
A slow sensation, I tie another knot and move more carefully.
My mother used to teach me embroidery:
“This is a French Knot,” she would tell me, “for the center
of flowers. And this is a Satin Stitch for their leaves.”
And we would sit in my childhood for hours, making
arm-rests, and headrests, and pretty dresser-scarves.
Armory Square Hospital, 1863 Spring ‘01
by Joshua McKinney English CSUS
Let the physician and the priest go home.
— Walt Whitman
The young men haunt his days and nights
within the whitewashed wards. At last a bliss
though terrible. To those outside he writes,
“…there is no time to lose, & death & anguish
dissipate ceremony here between my lads
and me.” Without the cloak of poetry,
he cures. He walks between the rows of beds,
his energy unchecked. At last he is free
to love. To give a gift, to dress a wound–
he feels the boys’ needs as his own. His advance,
that war, soon ended; the mended gone, he found
the quickening of death, the stiffened defensive stance
of the “good grey poet,” a man imprisoned
by the nation’s grudging embrace, its frozen optimism.
Tai Chi Chih Spring ‘01
by Laverne Frith
(after a painting)
They take the floor,
move at once
in their stylized ways
with bends and folds,
into the delicate air.
Each pair, unto themselves,
a compliment. Each
long and rapid stance
and shift of weight
leaves feet absorbed
in a fog of motion
yet free to move.
Minds exert their
intent as the pairs come
again with practiced
ease, until they feel
the freedom of letting
go. Each face assumes
a state and stance
of dreaming into grace.
Will-o’-the-Wisps by Tom Goff
(Rilke version) first appearance Tule Review
We have an ancient alliance
with the lights on the moor.
they come back on visits; more
and more I sense,
connecting them and me, that family lore
no power can kill off:
that jolt, that thunderclap, that flash, that trance
the others foul up.
I too belong out there, where no roads lead,
in the vapors of forbidden places,
and I’ve often seen myself snuffed out
under my eyelid.
by Taylor Graham
On this granite-lava slope near timberline,
mid-July, nothing changes
but the breeze
that quivers aspen leaves in millions
on the fringes
and makes wyethia wave its dull
underside of ears and yellow mules’ eyes,
and lacy mountain umbel undulate
above the scree
and mariposa lilies tip their cups
on slender stems,
and scattered paintbrush,
butterweed and sage.
We climb up, breathing heavier
than the breeze that lifts the junco’s
tail-feathers jitting from krumholz to pine
and the white-crown sparrow
rising from its nest.
And when we’ve past, the breeze
stirs up everything
so it catches light off rock and snow-
fields to send it shimmering
across this lava-scape whose face
so imperceptibly has changed.
The Longing Of North For South, Near for Far
by James DenBoer
Sometimes you can feel north heaving itself
up over the curved horizon, moving south with longing–
and south lying there, dressed in little but palm trees
and pelicans, speaking its language of many vowels.
While the needle on the compass keeps arrowing
toward ice, the blunt back end aims south,
calm and satisfied even without money in its pocket.
The urge to run away from here to all the way down there
is in all of us; the contemptible near wearing
its same face every morning, smiling its tight smile;
a wide toothy loose-lipped grin is far off
down the hill toward the blue sucking waves,
the white sand, the colored umbrellas in the drinks.
The north is so full of longing to be farther away
that often it is paralyzed and won’t move at all from near
to south. And no words will bring you any closer.
by Ryan M Johnson
Clutching uncorked bottles
Spider monkeys drop
From the canopy
Tails whipping madly
Behind as jungle crashes
Around like raining tentacles
To the insect-rich night
Soil, the ground bone
The rotting vine below
Spider monkeys crunch
Millipedes, slurp soft
Beetles on the shell, devour
A ripple of mechanics
Quivering pincers and legs
Antennae their tongues
Like slugs, but articulate
And pink, crawl on all fours
Dragging the bottle behind
Tails cocked haughty and wise
Smile moist black marble
Eyes a mystery
Spider monkeys snatch
The brass ring from your hands
Swallow it with wine
Fast as the flash of fruit
Falling through the canopy’s
convincing impression of a net
My First (Cadaver)
by Rhony Bhopla
The bones that fill her shell
Hold matrix of my tangle
Dissecting layer by layer
Moving flaky fascia
A web of tissue
Of nasal liquid
I let drop.
For it is cold
Where the dead are stored.
She was my first.
Tattooed during life
By gloved hands
And dirty silver
She is watching me now
As I peer inside
Where her lovers never
Got to see.
I dare to explore.
Wondering if I will be
Able to witness
My own dissection.
As they collect
That will help those
by Lara Gularte
I swam through all my fires,
white bellied, flickering.
Like some common bottom fish
looking for grubs,
I traveled dark coves
angling for all those
who would fertilize my eggs.
Hands netted me down,
voices surrounded me,
put me in a glass tank.
I learned to swim in a school.
Twisting myself to please,
I went hungry.
How easy now to lie down
and sleep in the middle of life,
belly up, bleached with age,