Wednesday 30 July 2008

Township and Range by Taylor Graham

No matter how long we stand
at the overlook, this scene won’t stay
still. Not the ponderosa pines
holding just enough wind in their arms
to sway slightly, like old folks
at the edge of dance, remembering
music no one plays anymore; not birds
concealed among the heather-pink
of manzanita bells; nor the cattle, pale
yellow flowers drifting below us
in the swale, too lost in meadow grass
to give bellow.

By the contour map we’re at a divide:
straight survey lines come together here,
marking things off against the heave
of uplift, slough of green hillside
after late-spring rains. Beyond the passes,
a sonic boom. Do I imagine a matching
tremor underfoot? There’s a brief
shapelessness as air wavers
between us and landscape,
the trigonometries of those old
surveyors. It dances to the passionate
steps of Earth.

Taylor Graham, California, USA

Saturday 26 July 2008

My Parrot by Bob Bradshaw

Marie is beautiful,
with her high spirits,
red beak and green feathers.

All day she amuses me, descending
from her bird house
and compulsively climbing up again.

She is fussy and picks through the cage's
floor for seeds, tossing
the bad ones aside
and keeping the good ones.
Her fortune is amassing.

Doctors and nurses
crowd around my bed
while Marie is content carrying
groceries up her penthouse's ladder.

I worry about my Old Marie.
I pray that next spring
I'll be here to feed her.

Bob Bradshaw, California, USA

Monday 21 July 2008

Barsana* by Ashok Niyogi

in the anemia of broken roads
the parrot call
is still as sweet as the red insides
of guavas in the afternoon
when she surely sleeps
beggars on steps that tumble
upon steps are not aggressive
and ripened corn through the view-finder
is parochial
so many widows whose begging
is like selling sex
so many hunch-backed cows
so much bramble
that black camels eat

her doors are beaten silver
and she is small
with big black eyes
that she will not blink
at this wind-swept light
merciless on the cornices
the monkeys travel long distances

to his conjecture
where beggars more aggressive
and therefore get
food and money
excess flowers
and even monkeys know
it is forbidden to climb
on cell phone towers

to your house or fort
or castle where you played
exuberant pre-menstrual games
to your wind-swept heights
I give you your small black idol
I give you
your incredible eyes

• Barsana is a village about a hundred kilometers south east of Delhi where Sri Radha (Lord Krishna’s consort and prime devotee) is said to have been born and spent her childhood.

Ashok Niyogi, California, USA

Friday 18 July 2008

Egyptian Lion at Sydenham by Taylor Graham

The Crystal Palace burned. His
nose is gone, his flanks graffiti’d.
Still he guards the walkway,

anciently couchant before a tapered
tower of steel, a sort of techno-skylark
to capture song, or messages.

Who knows what news the sky
might bring. Lightning. Blitz. Man’s
forged fire gone amok.

That dome of industry, iron skeleton
under crystal skin that shone
with heaven’s colors in its blue-

stained windows, the Palace
burned. Before its ruins
the lion lies at guarded ease.

Future is a figment of the sky.
His face is shadow.
Shadowed eye.

Taylor Graham, California, USA

Sunday 13 July 2008

end of the cataclysm by Puma Perl

despite the cataclysmic visions
the end was quiet
we were not overtaken by tsunamis
the roads between us did not flood or burst into flame

it ended just as it began
watching the same movie
drinking the Zanzibar coffee
stirring the creamer
throwing out the cottage cheese
the healing stones will rest against another bruised back
someone will live in the building across the way and watch
someone else lean out the window to smoke non-filtered cigarettes
Dexter will gaze down from the wall and listen
to Lee Morgan as he remembers Ceora
and it will all be very quiet

it all ends in profile
with the sound turned off
it is as quiet as we were in those abandoned buildings
young and junk beautiful
when the skies ran through us
we knew only what we wanted and how to get more

only the endings that I initiate surprise me
others give themselves away faster than I do
an intake of breath
a change in inflection
my name sounding different on their lips
fading, evaporating like the air
in those broken windows on second street

this morning angels danced
across an orange sky
leaning to the left
I saw it was only the sun

masked in black smoke
no magic involved at all
and as the light took over
it all just disappeared

Puma Perl, New York, USA

Friday 11 July 2008

Cohort by Chris Martin

In a tidal wave of cobbled suns
Spent flower heads cram forward

To see the concert players rise
On the last surprise of wind

Before the last touch of day
Defensive spines fire flushed

Pierce through the buttery walls
Of yellow meadow light

As fieldmouse mingled stems
Bend in applause

Chris Martin, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK

Sunday 6 July 2008

Walking About in Ajmer* by Ashok Niyogi

this lathe grinds fine
within balls of fire
head tonsured
on foot walks
watery in afternoon sun
this season’s mangoes
outside the vodka shop

emperors walked barefoot
to ask the sun for a son
boon granted
the corn is dull yellow

dynasties outgrew
this gate
that once led
to crossroads
of the moonlight
a huge red fort
and a hospital for the birds

let me buy you
a mirror-work skirt
in atonement for puppets
heavy on string
dew zoomed in
by the muezzin
while you grow roses
in your basil garden
and my money plant runs amok

*Ajmer, in Rajasthan, near Delhi has the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (1138-1225 AD), the famous Sufi saint.

Ashok Niyogi, California, USA

Friday 4 July 2008

Looking back by Duncan Fraser

creek of my boyhood,
through carefree days we roamed its banks,
we swam, we fished,
and took it all for granted,
but it is just a shadow now
of what it used to be,
life-giving floods are all too rare,
yet still it flows.

now, when I cross the little bridge
that spans the sheltered reach
before it meets the river,
I gaze upstream through older eyes
made wiser by the years,
to see the dappled sunshine light
the beauty that I failed to heed
when I was just a boy.

Duncan Fraser, Australia