Thursday 25 February 2010

Donations by Christie Isler

He who wields the needle slides it
easily through a pock marked field
underlaid by rivers, eerie
blue, when what divulges isn’t.
The illusion of chemistry
trapped beneath my transparent skin.

I don’t know if my reptile
mind understands the leak, but it’s
wary of the warm snake draped
across my arm. Even without
looking, I feel it’s alive. The
temperature against my skin
throbs in that narrow span between
inanimate and fever heat:
a captured mammal, infant hand, hot
breath on skin. It is life
imprisoned in an external artery.

Pinned by the needle, I gaze up.
Rain lands on the skylight, runs in
rivulets with other drops, to
roof, to gutter, eventually
to earth. As I watch, the fall
is not enough to fill a vase
for roses. White coats swim around
the room, checking that I hold my
heartbeat in my hand. I recall, George
Washington died this way, with
well-meaning leaches suckling his veins.

And I recall the bill for eight pints
of blood. You, pooled
ink red on the operating
theater floor. Eight pints of eight
lives pumped in to weigh you down, to
keep you here. I feel my leaving
softly, usher it with selfish
prayer for entry into someone
else’s lover, to keep him here.

Christie Isler, Washington, USA

Sunday 21 February 2010

After the Feast by Emily Blewitt

The way you hoard mugs:
keep dregs for days

on half-drained, brimming surface space;
leave perfect rings on polished wood.

Or, how sleeping,
we lie cupped, tipped

hip to hip
in soft creased napkin folds.

How, pulse to pulse,
your pressed lips brush,

take warm sweet sips
in cooling heat, leave prints.

So like your unwashed cups
(heaped, held shoulder-high)

is how I gather, careful-clasped,
your thrown-on shirt,

your pale cool cheek,
its sunlit stubbled auburn shock:

how, piece by piece, half-dropped, at ease,
I stack collected, still, scraped clean.

Emily Blewitt, Cardiff, Wales

Thursday 18 February 2010

Pho by Hugh Behm-Steinberg

How happy to be with a soup belly,
make careful sloshing steps.

To eat all the noodles with chopsticks,
eat beansprouts, flank. Which is delightful,

to eat soup without a spoon, tilting the bowl
up like an offering to the end of manners,

a bipod of your elbows on the table sliding
subtly, little circles, the gift of soup, that

and the need for a new shirt, napkins
to scrub my beard, the steam on my glasses

putting the world away, as if there is
no world I need besides what I’m holding,

and maybe what I’m now carrying inside me
is a big soup baby, oh Mary don’t be jealous,

you know how I feel.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg, CA, USA

Sunday 14 February 2010

Cupid Knows His Job by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

an egg sushi in his mouth,
lots of wasabi.
He eats and eats and eats
anything Japanese.

next to a vase two tables away,
a girl with a composed face,
slowly sips her green tea.

if easy love exists,
the two strangers
will see each other
and subtly fall in spell.

give them three minutes,

and another three.
come on you stupid man!
here is a girl with sensual wet lips--
look at her
look at her
look at her

the observer is irritated.
then someone else -
(there is always a someone else)
walks to the girl and gestures humbleness,
like in a Shakespearean play.
she unbuttons her tight face
and welcomes the new girl.
I am in shock,

Cupid knows his job.

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, London, UK

Previously published in Nth Position (September 2007)

Thursday 11 February 2010

Floating Gracefully by Amir Elzeni

I asked for a kiss,
beneath it all,
before the flower
blooms a heart,

love waters,

my eyes
were once
a holiday.

Amir Elzeni, USA

Monday 8 February 2010

Voyage of Discovery by Penny Smith

Another box ; a dusty treasure trove
of keepsakes hoarded over many years:
a trinket: letter: token of old love
forgotten, washed away by gentle tears:

a photograph from childhood, long ago,
where memory's encapsulated shades
of black and white, now faded, serve to show
in frozen movement, little escapades

among imagined fantasies galore.
Oh, then, we could be masters of our fate,
before we knew what life may hold in store,
before we realised it's soon too late

to captain yet another ship, to sail
where calmer waters hopefully prevail.

Penny Smith, Havant, UK

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Prairie Castles by Mary Belardi Erickson

When climate change was yet chained, the frozen landscape
changelessly towered, a white fortress on the prairie.
We played to defy winter, shoveling into huge snowdrifts,
hollowing cold rooms--in which I can still sit
in the timeless portion of my mind.

Hardened snow banks are like rocks buffeting farm buildings:
by us transfigured into our medieval burgh,
its heavy doors opening to peasants—neighbor kids
tunneling for shelter from cold wind in our castle’s labyrinth
of rooms. Their shadows ripple on my skin,
thoughts of time’s lodgers.

In its kingdom, winter rules until spring breezily challenges
with a ruckus of black birds swarming expectant trees.
Robins watch for widening slots in cold’s receding walls.
Less an icy regal voice, in fly barn pigeons, mocking jesters
leaving dirt upon the quiet straw.

Mary Belardi Erickson, Minnesota, USA