hand shadows :: mary cornish

My father put his hands in the white light
of the lantern, and his palms became a horse
that flicked its ears and bucked; an alligator
feigning sleep along the canvas wall leapt up
and snapped its jaws in silhouette, or else
a swan would turn its perfect neck and drop
a fingered beak toward that shadowed head
to lightly preen my father’s feathered hair.
Outside our tent, skunks shuffled in the woods
beneath a star that died a little every day,
and from a nebula of light diffused
inside Orion’s sword, new stars were born.
My father’s hands became two birds, linked
by a thumb, they flew one following the other.

dream :: josephine miles

I see you displaced, condensed, within my dream,
Yet here before me in your daily shape.
And think, can my dream touch you any way
Or move you as in it you otherwise moved?

I prosper in the dream, yet may it not
Touch you in any way or make you move.
It is the splendour of the possible
Not to appear in actual shape and form.

It is the splendour of the actual
So to be still and still be satisfied,
That any else or more becomes a dream,
Displaced, condensed, as by my dreamed regard.

i could not tell :: sharon olds

I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.

I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.

I have never done it
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.

the nudists are getting ready to pack :: kim dower

How do the nudists get ready to pack?
Do they pack in the nude
or do they dress to get in the mood?
What will the nudists pack
when the nudists are ready to pack?
Clothes so bare of threads only the nudists
can see them?
Clothes without zippers, buttons or hooks
so the nudists can be nude again soon?
For the nudism curious, some important facts:
Nudism takes place in every corner of the globe.
Nudists have beautiful clothes they never wear
but keep as pets: china red silk blouses,
burlap trousers, angora sweaters, knee high boots
with skinny heels they put on leashes and walk.
Nude areas are isolated from non-nude areas
so encounters with clothed people are less likely:
(hey, look at the nudists!)
Our itchy turtlenecks clinging to our throats,
we will never be free of care;
not even the weakest nudist would suffer,
what on earth should I wear?
For nudists, clothing is redundant:
the skin on their bodies is the perfect outfit.
You’ll rarely hear a nudist say,
should I pack that extra jacket?

the garden before rain :: vona groarke

The garden holds its stillness as a promise
jack-knifing as soon as it’s made

and all remaining light is held
in the keeping of one white rose.

There is evening sleeved in this afternoon
and here is rain, like children streaming

in the door, all scarves and stories
from a world elsewhere

where the loneliness of the gladiolus
in its frenzy of red

means very little, maybe as much
as a purse of blackberries

or an earnestness of leaves
with winter gaining on them.

Against which, the garden
imagines itself a meadow,

all its songs turned on their heads
by one efficient wind.

Or a room no child has slept in
or has any memory of.

Or a pane of glass
on which shadows congregate

like love talk or slight promises;
like rain.

poets eleven poem :: jack hirschman

Between the page with the heart
and the mind wrestling upon it,

and the ear which later will receive
those limbs of light as perfect harmony,

there’s a stillness whose volume speaks
worlds of words defiant of measure,

treasures of the unsayable, secrets
of the ever-beginning enchantment

and the never-ending gathering
at the lips of the kiss of the poem.

ambassador bridge :: lianne spidel

Sometimes, when I was her child, we took
the tunnel underneath the river,
or better, from the high arch of the bridge

she pointed out to me two countries.
Either way she’d stashed a pound of butter
beneath the seat or something small

in Royal Doulton in her girdle, tilting
her chin at the customs man,
calling him Officer, cheeky as hell.

Now she grows slight within my arms,
asking, “What day is this? Am I
in Florida? When am I going home?”

and to the puzzled salesman at the door,
“No, we don’t live here. We’re Canadians
down for the winter.” It is May.

The grocery money hidden in her pillow slip
or under the rug, she plans escape,
packing her suitcase, then forgetting why.

Somehow the tunnel has reclaimed her,
muffling her voice like whispery echoes
of tires in that deep cylinder

where we dare not sound the horn
for fear collapse would seal us helpless
as water climbed the windows of our car.

If I could find our way back to the bridge,
geography and time might then come clear
and she could show me here and there,

then and now, while two flags thud
against the sky, and on the river far below
small boats skip and wobble in the sun.