Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Issue 9

Special New Zealand Issue

"Pacific Fish"
Copyright © 2002 by Pauline Johns of Pablos Art Studio

Peter Olds
Meg Campbell
Kirin Cerise
Simon Lewis
Graham Bishop
Mahinarangi Tocker

We would like to thank the following for making this special issue possible: Graham Bishop, Lyndsay Brock and Kirin Cerise, Meg Campbell, Janet Charman, Andrew Ferguson, Paula Harris of Street Women's Press, Pauline Johns and Fiona Elwood of Pablos Art Studio, Julie Leibrich, Simon Lewis, Peter Olds, Mark Pirie, Trevor Reeves, Mahinarangi Tocker; and, Julie T. Chan for editorial assistance.

Peter Olds

The Party
       (with broken guitar)

At first you don't notice it among
the furnishings & potplants half hidden
in a darker part of the room
the broken guitar
its neck bent
strings curled round its head
almost shameful in an otherwise cheerful room

people drinking beer
watching TV
taking little notice of arrivals and departures
clinking glasses on teeth for sound effect
& in the hallway a small stereo tapping quietly
    by a bedroom door
no one paying attention to the broken guitar

At first you don't notice the urge to smash glass
the floor crowded with spinning bottles
the coffee-table slippery with wet light
the walls sucked in like toothless mouths

flopped in a beanchair
the lights switched off
a candlestub spluttering for effect
it suddenly hits you like something you can't
    find words for
& you reach for the guitar & start strumming
& singing
like mad

A Poetry Reading at Kaka Point


We went for a walk
on the dark beach

ship's lights like crab's fires
far off
under low cloud

embers as big as ships


In the waxlit cafe
a poetry reading is taking place

a local bard is spouting
salt water

flying fish poems
wind poems
mellow explanations between humming poems

(a thin woman presses her
oyster eyes
to a fisherman's lips)

plates of asparagus
as big as flaxblades


We went for a walk
on the dark beach
& looked back at the watery window
of the cafe

a seal moved like a window dresser
arranging feathers
for visiting penguins

the roar of the sea drowned
all words but those of the sea


Peeing is not allowed
near water

I found a spot in shingle
behind the surf club & let go

a car's headlights
caught a drunk body
turning over in wet sand

no one to talk to
no one to talk to


We walked back to the cafe & helped ourselves
to asparagus rolls
the poetry reading had ended

people were smoking & drifting about
a penguin was running its feathers
through the window dresser's hair

two people were dancing to a 60s tune
without bumping
their bodies like bottles
their tongues like corks

the host was pouring wine like water
laughing & wheezing
words dripping through the ceiling


We drive home in silence
wrapped in feathery embers
away from the gathering water

headlights on flaxblades
as big as asparagus rolls

Lunch outside the Therapy Room

It's hard to think properly
when people are talking loudly
outside the therapy room
& cars are revving up & down
the street, their drivers
(I imagine) passionately
looking for something (or someone?) --
or maybe they're envious of the lunchers
on the hospital lawn cramming whole
meat sandwiches down
their gullets & guzzling coke
in the midday sun
browning their arms & legs & looking
smart in white shirts & ties
wiggling toes on sockless feet...
     It's hard to think clearly
when thinking of money
& what I would do or
not do if I ever got
my paws on enough of it. Maybe
I envy those grim folk with
their perfect hairdos & controlled
lives bouncing up & down
the tree-lined street
in their shiny new
unattached motorcars,
never having to tell their secrets
to anyone
never having to get out of their cars
to clean their windshields,
gloveboxes full of dark glasses & money.


a circus comes to town
on the back of a train
of hot ash & red paint,
& soon the big paddock

is full of poles greasy
pigs & generators
shouting caged men
running up & down ropes

nimbly tugging at canvas flaps
the smell of fresh grass
trampled ground sweet smelly
dung mixed with hay steaming

out of a body looking
like something
someone would eat,
buckets of water

& a chain around a leg
attached to a thick steel peg
belted into the ground
with hand clapping

& thunder clapping
& pink faces looking up
into a meshed sun
following a bale of hay

into a large mouth
hanging on the end
of a lump of thick rope --
& now

the head takes a bow,
after ten buckets of water &
two bales of hay (relying
on memory & improvisation)

& with a pointed stick
up its arse the elephant
is down on one knee &
then the other

there's a gasp, will he roll
over in the sawdust &
crush the woman in the pink

will he stand on one leg &
go round like sycamore seed?
will he spray water over

his hairy back & into
the dark bank of faces
just for a laugh?
the pinhole eyes

look frantic
(almost mad)
someone wants something fast
over there,

the body lumbers in the direction
of the pointed stick
mounts a small star painted
box till all its feet

cover the skimpy top
& its arse pokes out
like a giant fig
& the skin wrinkles till it can't

wrinkle anymore, like a
pile of ash in a harsh light
or a long red train
on a hot night

Peter Olds was born in 1944 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Had a play Loose Boards & Seagulls produced by Patric Carey at the Globe Theatre, Dunedin, 1967; was a patient at Cherry Farm Mental Hospital, 1968-9; followed James K Baxter to Jerusalem, 1970; read The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Basho, and took up meditation. His publications include Beethoven's Guitar (Caveman Press, 1980), After Looking for Broadway (One Eyed Press, 1985), and Music Therapy (Earl of Seacliff, 2001). He was Robert Burns Fellow at Otago University, 1978. Currently working on Selected Poems (1972-1986). He lives in Dunedin.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Meg Campbell

Dear Couch Potato

Two thousand years sitting

at the right hand of God!

and before that, who knows

how long? From before

the Earth was formed you were

there at His right hand!

What about sending her back?

She was once the most real

most brutal of critics. She loved

with a tribal love, and doubted

with a collective dislike.

I was too quirky by far,

for her taste. But, as a curiosity,

I was an important friend.

Now I pour love and horror

at your boney feet and pinch

your gown between my roughened

fingers. Your blue eyes narrow.

Execution, courtesy of Television

Never mind. The murderer

must pay for his crimes.

Now is the hour, the moment

of execution, and final helplessness.

We search his face for panic.

How could he be so calm

Is he sedated? Can he feel

no apprehension? The button

is pushed. A gleam

of intelligence departs on queue.

Heat, steam and water

leave his body. Relatives

of his victim notice, satisfied,

that he has wet his pants.

A rigid shape is weeping

(watch his face, his hands)

weeping to let go -- to be

transported beyond dread.

It's disgusting. ... we

are all murderers.

The Goose Girl

Anything that distracts us

flicking the eye away from the central image --

a hair across a leaf,

a golden apple dropped

a rolling to a stop --
it is here I have

learnt to turn sorrow to advantage. Imbalance

or madness I've learned to love

as preparation for chaos.

A neat world can trap you
in the need for order.

Meg Campbell: I published my first book of poems in 1980 when I was 43, after many admissions to psychiatric care in a big mental hospital. Perhaps I received my most valuable education there. For the past 23 years I have lived happily in the everyday world, being now properly diagnosed and taking the correct medication.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Kirin Cerise

genius II

let loose the
sound of

watch his face
as he curls it
up into
a smile

watch his ruffled
watch him ride
his bike around
the house
watch him
explain in intricate
detail the
possibility of the
probable curve that the
pot lid
will take
when he
wings it across
the yard

chasing his
like a bird
after the


a ripple of bird
from the wallpaper
in this room...

your arm
relaxing behind me
the trunk of a tree
I hug with such

what I have found

a jewel
a bright stone
a hand forever
entwining with mine.

Kirin Cerise died in October 2000 at the age of 32. She suffered from bi-polar disorder. She held degrees in literature and design, and spoke 5 languages. Her passion for poetry and art had led to a desire for involvement in the field of art therapy. Her greatest ambition though was for the simplest things. She just wanted someone to love, a home, and time to write and paint. Most of all, she wanted to be well.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Simon Lewis

Our Emotions

things haven't been so great since then.
I was literally at your feet,
from each end of the bed
we regarded each other.

After intimacy, what privacy,
we can last this long.

Rolf Harris Was Here

Australia is a country. Australia is a country
of waterholes and visions. The Kiwi bludges
a cigarette off two aboriginal men

in the winter night train. Which way is it
travelling? Australia's different enough.

In a paddock, a horse snorts and stops.

The Kiwi can see a city across the harbour.
This is a land, after all, of spaces,

filling him in. He flies from the Powerhouse
along the city streets, Pitt, George, stands
to gaze up at the clouds dancing.
The heat here on the turf.
The Kiwi sleeps beside a wall, beside
a suburb as wealthy as Heaven.

But he doesn't stop there, he glides
along a street of gas stations.
He sleeps, dreams, under a power pole.
The George River runs past the artillery range,
a helicopter or two buzzes the old farmhouse.
It is either fire or water, here.
The man in the desert dreams
of the man in Antarctica.

A Little Play

It was all intent
as if a cat stalking a bird.
The poem would fly away--surely not.
The poem wanted to get caught
that time.

for Patsy Nevill

Simon Lewis is 49 and has been publishing since 1976. Once upon a time a Statistics NZ clerk, he lives in a Mental Health halfway house in Auckland, New Zealand.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Graham Bishop

The Last Moa (Dinornis nomoris)
Dedicated to Dr Bruce Spittle, the last of the Moahunters

The first time that we met the bird
we were camping by a secret lake
when at midnight came the most dreadful cry
I ever heard
In the morning tracks there were in the sand
We took our photos but stilled our tongues
lest they thought us mad
and it's nice to have some mysteries left in life

At Arcadia, in the shadow of Red Mountain
we heard the fearsome cry once more
to find next day that our beer was gone
and the primus fuel was drunk
as happened in the Dredgeburn
the year before

We saw the bird next morning
standing underneath a waterfall
Big feet, brown hairy legs, plumage blue top and lower
and grey on top, with whiskers around it's beak
more like an aging kiwi than a moa
It carried a young one upside down
as a backward possum might,
but certainly looked sharp enough to read and write
We put it in my backpack
but its feet and neck stuck out and it soon escaped
to be decapitated by the chopper coming in to land

In its death throes the giant bird let forth an egg
which shattered into a thousand pieces
We laid it reverently to rest alongside its mighty mother,
in a swamp near a pyramid-shaped hill
where one day a fossicker will dig
and in time the bird will stand, tallest in the land
proudly under the summer sky
in the City of the Plains

Stand tall,
Apteryx spittlei
Dinornis nomoris

Role Play

We were wondering
who enjoyed it most
the sly taste of slipping together
and could we swap sides to share the other role
I wouldn't swap it for anything
you said

But now you have exchanged it for nothing

[On receipt of yet another "I am sorry" letter]

The Editor Regrets

Thankyou for submitting your poem
Unfortunately I cannot use it at this time
or any other time
so douse that glimmer of hope
It is unclear how I acquired
my right of divine decision
It is safer to be standfast than new
and push rising bubbles back into the murky depths
Excuse me
I find pulling the wings off flies
sharpens my judgment

Graham Bishop was a leading mountaineer and geologist. He has now retired and divides his time between walking, writing and wondering. His fourth book, Poles Apart is an autobiographical assemblage of poetry and prose. He is currently working on a biography of Alexander Mckay (1841-1917), another geologist who wrote poetry.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Mahinarangi Tocker

Supper with Irena

'do you want another?
'cos I don't want to go yet
I think there's a coat in the car
if you're cold.'

it's cool summer
in ponsonby cafes
we are tabled on stones
where walk the couples

men with men
in talks that look tight
and walk that smoothes
the footpath

early january
late night
wine and coffee
to whet the tummy grumble
cake and cream
to guilt the thought fumble

i like you
i love you
she shares with me
her smile
and for a second
there is no one here
but us

Dedicated to Richard T

February 3rd
Tamaki Makaurau

take my eyes patterned
against your blue
i watch you dance the strings
so, dance the strings like you do
break a heart
but take it
to a new sound
kind man of Celtic breath
the soul
is rested

Saturday evening
Auckland autumn calling

play another & sing one more
we're listening
laugh some more & talk us
into believing

you take those parts
that have ached me cold
where ice sticks
and sing them into summer

a friend for a day
a memory for a lifetime

A Poem For You

i'm sitting here in this loud bird
this bird with no song
this bird-like waka
in this
this rumble of strangers
going to a sameness
where only our hearts are different
until i am landed
and i see more changes
and walk a different fear
and see a different colour
and breathe a different voice

my tears fall further
than she who watches amused
i know she wants to ask
but i won't tell
i cannot

i have nothing to say
even to myself
what is there left between right and wrong
fear and desire
when everything untouched screams to be held

i walk beneath a sun
but i am burnt in a darkness
i have not planned to understand
nor should i

and so i never shall

i will miss you without yelling
i will miss you without talking
i will miss you without you even knowing

*waka - a traditional Maori canoe

Mahinarangi Tocker is an acclaimed singer-songwriter. She was the first Maori woman invited to perform at the Vancouver Folk Festival, and has worked with international artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Clannad, Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, and Richard Thompson. Her first book of poetry, Lyrics without melody, published by Street Women's Press was released in March 2001. She is one of the several artists who took part in the destigmatisation of mental illness in a television ad campaign in New Zealand called Like Minds, Like Mine.She is completing a collection of short stories.

Peter Olds Meg Campbell Kirin Cerise Simon Lewis Graham Bishop Mahinarangi Tocker

Monday, July 01, 2002

Issue 8

Joe Hackworth

Bruce Stater

Rick Parsons

Jerry Hicks

Colin Van der Woude

Shaela Phillips

Martin Rutley

K. R. Copeland

Jack Cannon

Dave Ruslander

Joe Hackworth


You wait patiently for me to smile
you had no idea what you were

getting into years ago when you said
i do and if i'd known would i have tried

to change your mind i don't think so
because i'm trying to follow the doctors'

orders and look there's one now
working at the corners of my mouth

just for you.

Joe Hackworth: I live with depression and panic / anxiety disorders. Still working on the meds. My work has appeared online in Clean Sheets Magazine, Poems Niederngasse, Issue 6 of PoetrySz, and will be published in a future issue of Eclectica.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Bruce Stater


I gather stones.

I am tired.
My mind is empty.
It is difficult to work.

I gather stones.

Some broken, some smooth.
Some heavy and too large for my hands.
Some that roll across my palms, light as a feather.
Some hard and sturdy, others brittle,
Eager to crumble into grains of sand, form clouds of dust.
Some warm, soft and smooth as clay,
Separate prayers created from flesh of living earth.
Some cold and gray and dead as ash.

I gather stones.

I put thought to thought
Pebble beside pebble
To shore up rent and void of no-thought.
Mingle clay with ash and draw earthworm from frozen tundra.
I scoop dried grass from cold ground up to my knuckles
And draw my nails across the hard skin of blocks of ice.
I cover my face with red, yellow, black, brown, and green dirt.
I boil roots and mud in stone soup.
I collect the shells of insects the bones of reptiles, birds and small
And plant seeds where some will grow and others won't.

I am tired.
It is difficult to work.
My mind is empty but my arms are full of stones.

I say each stone has a meaning and make it a phrase in a song.
I sing in the language of stones because I know no other language,
I have no other way of speaking.
My tongue is heavy in my mouth.
I never learned to speak with the words others use to speak and sing.

When they learned to sing I was busy gathering stones.
When they learned to write I was busy gathering stones.
When they learned to paint I was busy gathering stones.
When they learned to carve I was busy gathering stones.
When they learned to sculpt I was busy gathering stones.
When they learned to dance I was busy gathering stones.

When they played together I felt lost.
Between stone and stone I couldn't feel the distinction between work
It was all work to me, a slow and difficult work
Built singly of stones.

I gather stones.

I learned to say that the skipping of a pebble across the surface of
Was a butterfly in flight in the summer sky.
I learned to say that the sparks made from pounding two pieces of flint
Were the notes of the nightingale in the autumnal evening.
I learned to say the texture of a moss-covered rock
Was the felt on the neck of a doe.
That the dry astringency of lime
Was the collective memory of a burdened and oppressed people.
That the silt flowing between my fingers
Was the cry of a mother mourning the loss of her child.
That the light inside a crystal of quartz
Was the glow of a collective consciousness.

But my tongue was still heavy with the weight of stones
And where others could dance and sing lightly from thought to thought
I struggled to lift one thing to the next.
Stone would not adhere to stone.
The dust of the butterfly's wing would not color the neck of the fawn
Whether I mixed its paint with a mother's tears
Or the sweat which poured from my palms.
When the others could mingle dance with song and thing to action
I could not even affix stone to stone
But held them together in my tired arms.

I gather stones.

And because stone will not congeal to stone,
I learned to balance stone upon stone.
Sometimes a piece of chalk resting on a slate of granite,
Sometimes a bit of broken obsidian to support a column of marble.

And I learned to say that this flake of feldspar supporting an amethyst
Was the work of a fractured mind sustaining the dream of utopia
That a piece of clay wrapped around a few grains of sand
Was the arm of a loved one embracing someone in pain.

I gather stones.

I am tired.
My mind is empty.
It is difficult to work.

Bruce Stater: A little more than three years ago I entered into a psychosis that lasted approximately nine months. During this time, I suffered from delusions, hallucinations, cognitive impairment, extreme fits of terror, bizarre patterns of behavior, occasional catatonia, and magical thinking. I was hospitalized twice and eventually received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, paranoid type. During the first hospitalization at Bellevue I had little insight concerning my condition, refused medication, and made no progress in my recovery. At Metropolitan Hospital, in part because I was treated with more respect and understanding than I had been at Bellevue, I began taking medication, and slowly began the long journey of recovery from schizophrenia.

I spent the next two years in a deep depression, unable to work, read, play, experience pleasure, or hold much of a conversation. Medication helped with the positive symptoms but the negative ones persisted. During this period I gave up hope of ever finishing the dissertation I had been working on, dropped out of a graduate program in Comparative Literature, and spent each day struggling to make it to the next.

Gradually, after a period of approximately two years, and with the support of my loving wife, Lori, I began to feel a bit more alive. I found myself living in a world with light once again. It became easier to hold a conversation, my mind no longer felt empty, and I could begin imagining the future once again. I began reading. I applied to Teacher¹s College, Columbia University where I am currently pursuing an M.A. degree in English Education. I hope to become a high school English teacher. I currently live in Astoria, New York with my wife, Lori, and our cat, Beans.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Rick Parsons

Rituals of Death and Devotion

The Inca iced
their dead into mummies.

In India loved ones burned bodies
at a ghat, scattered ashes
into the sacred river.

On the Solomon Islands
they laid out their dead on reefs
for sharks to feast.

Mäoris wore wreathes of green leaves,
chanted, cried out and cut themselves,
covered bones in red earth.

In Mexico, families celebrated
dia de los muertos, sat at graves,
set an empty place at the table.

Within our home, I placed a kiss
on your forehead. My tears trickled
like a holy water baptism, lips
murmured words of mourning.

Two poems and a card,
laid under your arm,
embodied the spirit of my love
to mix and rise with yours
in smoke from the flame.

Today I hold your ashes,
touch the urn
the way I used to touch your face,
and believe like Buddhists
in the cycle of rebirth.

On Route 32, the Dance Floor Bus

Yesterday, he was the comb-over king,
a sad jazz ramble of jibber-jabber facts.

Tonight, he is hushed anticipation,
an unknown destination,

a step,
a dance,
a pirouette;

look at his eyes,
the way he jives when he moves.

Rick Parsons: I am a veterinary technician living in Phoenix, AZ. I have suffered from depression and anxiety/panic attacks, but control both fairly well with medication. My home is shared with six cats whose souls are to mine as child is to mother. For me, writing poetry is the "ow, what'd ya do that for?" that is blurted out after being smacked in the back of the head by my muse's hand.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Jerry Hicks


Paper odors: sulfur tinge,
    moist rolled gruel scent. Each scrap
finger-print distinct.    Only months ago I was
   a butterfly on her thigh...

now constantly mono-directional.
   Zoom past Blythe, jibe at Albuquerque
"Wrong Direction!"

Then maybe lickety-split to Corpus. Toe-the-Gulf
sweaty clothes irritating like hollow complements.

   roll-ripping Portland bound,    gas
card greasy-fingers blackened.
  Only windshield & mirrors clean.
Del Rio static songs & pleas: Serve J-e-s-u-s!

Seat, floorboards strewn w/ crumpled maps,
   plastic bottles crushed,
   chewed foam coffee cups,
dirtynapkins, candywrapper scraps.

Portland to Laramie--checkerboard blare.
Can't savor the view, strapped in. No
   diversions; course locked.

  Miles clicking odo sanes me.
Days sandwiched w/ sleeps. Months vanish
like whole trains piercing mountains.
   Something pursues, often roars ahead.

Swapping energy for distance--
   swapped for time--swamping memories.
More & more: I am nose art

And Accept What I Can't

new. never tortured
.before. wasn't sure. i wanted
but . my job was.
that. or .Northern. Front. trench duty.
.none. i knew . returned
.with everything they left with.

go ahead, .peers said.... nothing. to it!
we're all .squeamish . initially..
they don't .really. feel
after a .few jabs.

toothless sergeant.
lost . foot, hand, . eye at the.. S . F .
.said, .Know. how your. guts
.growl, 'ts okay to .feel. for a fellow human.
Just 'magin. them
Makes it .easier.
They feel .like cattle, so's .better
for all.

true, tho. i never.
warmed. to it. like. . .the .men.
the .women, the .sick, the .elderly....
.but. .no. t.ho.u.gh.
.. .ne.ver. .got. .use. t.o ..scre.am.ing.
.th.eir. .piti.ful. .suf.ferings..bo.u.ght
. .ol.. .age....
.woun't. .change..
.a. .thing.

Jerry Hicks: I thought for most of my life, "suicide is the only cure," but here I am at 65 with more lust for life each day, meds and all. No one can understand mental illness who doesn't have it. Compassion comes with incapacity. What is wrong? Why don't things work? The cure: Just slowly living through it--doing whatever it takes to survive. One day, colors come back for an hour. The first ray of hope.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Colin Van der Woude


The night sky opened
releasing it's dirty bowels onto the land
secrecy among the shame
tomorrow we'll gather our belongings
to move along as instructed
destruction on a mass scale
we'll bleed tears from the new found bewilderment
time stopped for a mere second
the clock broken on seven eleven
wind it back or forward, as you please
enjoy the plague of fear for it's eternal
introverts unite in solidarity
seeking to unite with some kind of clarity
married to demons
many wives wasted lives
many husbands left to guess
they all try to impress with deception
you've joined an elite group...
welcome aboard, comrade
the surprise of a dead element
sacrificed for the ceremonial party
we hare our blood
we lust and recreate
facilitate and relate with poison as bait.

Colin Van der Woude: I'm a 25 year old from Australia who is living with schizophrenia and I use poetry as a creative outlet. I love using words to convey memories and feelings, emotions… I hope to one day have some work published and I'm on a mission to dispel any myths of mental illness.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Shaela Phillips

Queen of the Mosquitoes

it was a late funeral
i carried poems hidden
in breast pockets
from all those angry years
no one taught me how to live

dandies fly off dark ivy swallows
into pits
held captive
on the shores of barbicide

a river of madness

where i drain my blood
from a small incision
for the leeches
hurry come and get it,
into the quick sands
withdraw-ling my sickness
injected me with serum
to formulate attitude
under a bridge of armageddon
bye-bye sweetness

there are thickly boarded houses
settled on puddled dew drops
that call me by name
and know the history
that I have stored
from even my husband

the icy rivers through me
in red rock canyons
eaten mosquitoes

i blow on raw-hide
rolled into a bamboo flute
And call
to the woman in me
lost in the wildness

i make home
and shake the hand of peace
knitting my sweater
i am a free woman

Shaela Montague-Phillips: I am a student at Pittsburgh University. I begin having problems with depression when I was raped by a close family member and then I got married to my husband who was foster child and did know how to love so he was always drunk in the first few years of marriage. But now I have this fresher outlook on life and I am loving myself more and more each day.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Martin Rutley

Disco Subtext

In the September gutters of
St. Petersburg 5:43 am
Twenty-second century clerks
Sleep on slabs of
Vast inhuman endings
Like redneck poets typing
pavement anthems
Regurgitated people reaching
for concrete stars
Snowflake theories staining
Raskolnikov basements dressed
in Siberian fashion
Ritalin projects in the breathing
pages of naked books
The elaborate wreckage
of disco subtext

Martin Rutley: I live in Manchester, England, and am 28 years old. I am influenced by several writers, but largely by certain writers from the beat generation. I have suffered from depression on and off for a large part of my adult life, but find that I am able to use this creatively.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

K. R. Copeland

The Poet's Spiral Notebook and the Noose

The poet, with notebook in hand,
failing to find inspiration in the humble surroundings
of his first floor flat,
turns toward the window for answers.
The scene he sees, the same.
The stately Sycamore
that has lived a hundred years or more
takes precedence.
The poet zeros in on one of the lower most branches,
which hosts a rope
that once served as a pulley for a piñata.
He pictures himself hanging lifelessly
from this remnant of birthday party past,
imagines that he'd jumped,
sees his flaccid body, slumped,
his bulging eyes
and gaping mouth,
his purple tinted pallor.
Disturbed, he shakes the image from his head.
His eyes fall back upon blank paper,
and once again, the poet struggles
for something to write…

K.R. Copeland is a self-taught poet, residing in Chicago Illinois, who suffers from bi-polar/ borderline personality disorder. Her work, which ranges from formal to experimental, heady to absurd, has been featured or is forthcoming in publications such as, Beginnings, Seeker, Dakota House Journal, Alternate Realities, Collective Insanity, Poetry Super Highway, Unlikely Stories, Decompositions, Snow Monkey, Niederngasse, and, The American Muse.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Jack Cannon

The Buildings I've Built

Incomprehensible studies
of afternoons and evenings
Twelve seconds from a childhood
vacation in the bottom
of an empty coffee cup
Tomorrow, I'll rebuild
my typewriter with
the welfare cheque
Sit on stone walls
dragged from vast melancholies
of orderly waiting rooms
Travel on empty buses
re-capturing myself
I'll throw my body
from the buildings I've built
and chat with Fathers whilst
their children are
being born

Jack Cannon: I have been writing for some years, and like to get below the surface, if I can, and take a look at things from a less common perspective.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Dave Ruslander


I sit on my red leather sofa
in the living room.
An oil painting hangs to my right;
to my left the gas logs burn.
But I can't shake the thought
that I am threadbare
sitting in the corner of a chinkless cabin
cold and hungry.


Do you hear plinks?
The sound pulls at my ears.
They are cobbling the road ahead.
One day we will meet them.

Dave Ruslander has bipolar disorder but is able to work and create. He lives on his horse farm in Virginia and works as a computer network engineer. He's been published in numerous e-zine and print publications.

Joe Hackworth Bruce Stater Rick Parsons Jerry Hicks Colin Van der Woude Shaela Phillips Martin Rutley K. R. Copeland Jack Cannon Dave Ruslander

Friday, March 01, 2002

Issue 7

Melisande Luna

Kristine Karinen

Richard Jordan

Freada Dillon

Dave Ruslander

Jennifer Arbour

Melisande Luna

Sightseeker: one page from a dog-eared journal

XX/XX/XX a thursday
i've forgotten where exactly
some no-name desert wash
folded in the arms of an arroyo perhaps
i recollect a cactus

sought by other sightseekers after
a door to the fourth popped open for a dime
and men who shun the nickelodeon

dose mystic tourists with fleshy brew
kamikaze color bombards startled rods
cortex visual aid ignited, core impact in:

T-5 arbitrary units of measure

honed steel grip cramps guts
expected projectile purge of spirits --
evil or otherwise -- thrown to thirsty dust


suspended slide forward into vacant space
tethered by one last ropy nerve
bungeeless plunge off the step snappy
32ft per second per second whack


thick walk through molasses grass
the saurasaur dewdroppedin andohfuck
Godhandle rends reality daily
refracted lightening from every angel


catch eyeful of impression
a swirly world awry, welcome
to the state-line of the psychonscience



Trvth: the Amerikan Way

So, there it sat; truth, blacked in a puddle
of oily lies. Everything is fine, thank you.

Adore those sprats, sparkling children.
Pretend to enjoy wonderfully whiny company
and not to ache for flagged freedom.

Caked creamy skin once ivory laden
drapes in cheesy folds from thighs,
make-believe time, play dress-up in support hose.

And that rotted stench that rides
your husband's beery breath
as he rolls over and pumps you for 2 minutes,
oh yeah baby, pretend you dig that too.

Shark a smile at your boss,
tip a wave to the nabes,
come home and get zoned on cathode rays.
Everything is great in Anyville, America.

Life is good, now repeat your mantra.

A Migrant's Simple Story

Field-worked scars
of table grape toil
grace Abuela's joints;
arthritic rings worn
on browned hands.
Bent back and fingers
gnarled under hard labor
of freedom's promise.

Melisande Luna. Currently, I am a junior at the California State University, Bakersfield. My major is Geology and poetry is a relatively new pursuit that I have grown to feel quite passionate about.

I started spontaneously writing poetry a few years ago while in the throes of a manic episode. The symptomatic clang association and frenzied thoughts drove me to find new outlets to express my inner turmoil. Unfortunately, and to my sheepy chagrin, a great many of those early poems were of the Romper Room Rhyme variety. * smile *

I enjoy exploring the art and theory of poetry; I joined a number of online forums to hone my green stick skills, and now co-administrate over a moderately successful poetry forum appropriately titled Postpoems.com. I enjoy the interaction with my literary brethren; I've learned incalculable lessons and hopefully shared some of that won knowledge with less experienced poets in order to help them reach their writing goals, whatever they may comprise.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour

Kristine Karinen

The Answer

a rubik's cube in motion,
changing sides,
switching colors,
manipulating, pulling strings,
a chameleon ever morphing,
speaking varied tongues.

a manifestation,
carefully built,
with no revealing cracks
to allow for light,
nor glaring clues
that lead to conclusions.

yet letting go of reason,
using instinct as a guide,
the answer is revealed,
with release of thoughts,
and all emotion,
intuition given vision.

it sits now, so still,
a solid square,
sides of even colors,
no longer a twisting enigma,
but truth

The Sweater

sitting in darkness,
awaiting the light,
time crawls on its crippled knees.
silent images flicker and fade,
flicker and fade...
as probing continues,
a sharp query pierces my ear,
ushering in strings of confusion,
tangling one thought with another,
until knitting needles
could transform them
into a sweater,
bearing all the variations,
tinges, and textures
of my mind.

I could then don the creation,
whenever I must see her,
and never have to
speak a word.

Page Three-hunded-thirty-five

she sat,
the book in her lap,
and opened it to page
three-hundred and thirty-five,
where, long ago,
she had filed them
within the huge, anonymous tome.

rose petals lay before her,
now brittle, faded,
pressed till all signs of life
had bled upon the yellowed pages,
the weight atop them,
too much
for their sentiment to withstand.

she touched them tentatively,
and, yet,
they disintegrated into pieces,
muted red, dingy scraps,
with no tell-tale hints
of what once was.

the tips of her thumb and fingers
rolled the pieces between them,
over and over,
till she'd formed a dust,
a finely-ground, faded rose dust,
which she let fall
upon the pages where they'd laid.

then, carefully,
she lifted the book,
took a deep, full breath,
pursed her lips,
and blew the dust,
the petals,
the rose,
the sentiment,

away forever.

Kristine Karinen lives in the metro Detroit area in Michigan. She is active in mental health advocacy, and leads a support group for MDDA.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour

Richard Jordan

Spinning Counterclockwise

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and I took neither.
Instead, I ate a magic toadstool
and spun around counterclockwise

until I collapsed from exhaustion
and a mildly upset stomach.
When I awoke a decade later,
my stomach had settled,

my body had shrunk, my mind
had expanded, and a furry little troll
had set up house in my whiskers.
He told me: According to the Furry Troll

Handbook, I am obligated to grant you a wish.
I replied: Ummm. So he turned me into a poet.
Now, I drink vodka and Gatorade in my coffee,
and wear my beard in beaded braids.

When I venture outside,
I skip hand-in-hand with Mary Magdalene
down the sidewalks of New York City,
blowing kisses at angels and poltergeists.

Sometimes I disappear for days on end,
and they find me naked
under my bed, choking on splinters
and conversing with termites.

All the while, I feel deeply for the tall,
clean-shaven inhabitants of this world,
who have never even written a Rondelet.

I bet that when they look toward the Heavens,
all they see are shapeless popcorn clouds
and a big blue exclamation point.

Man's Best Friend

Hey, why did you lick my ear?
All the others just stepped around me,
adjusting their toupees
and making kissy faces
at fancy handheld mirrors,
while I sprawled on the pavement,
all five limbs caked in mud,
drinking from a puddle
through a crazy straw.

But you must have caught the scent
of confusion in the breeze, and bravely
came trotting to my rescue.
I believe that, had you opposable thumbs,
you would have zipped my fly
and buttoned my coat.

And if only had I been blessed
with a longer, fluffier tail,
I would have wagged it
in your direction.
I swear.

Whatever Happened?

Whatever happened to that crazy old bugger?
You know, the guy who wore a filthy wool
cap all summer long? He had torn, greasy trousers,
and his shirt was held together with safety pins.

One time, I gave him a few cigarettes,
three, I think, and he patted me on the butt
and whispered in my ear, somewhat accusingly,
"Rasputin only eats raw lamb,
and sometimes boiled carrots".

Last time I saw him, he was fishing
for bicycle tires in the Potomac River.
I was jogging by, and he adjusted his crotch
in my general direction
while giving me the one finger salute.

I suppose now that it's cold,
he's living in a shelter downtown,
passing out soap and handkerchiefs
to all the bag ladies who stop by for biscuits,
gravy, and some good, old-fashioned groping.

Every now and then, he stares
out a cracked, dirty window on the third floor
and snorts at the pathetic, gnome-like
creatures on the sidewalk below,
randomly bumping into one another
on the way to Hell.

Richard Jordan is a PhD mathematician, and also a poet. He was born in Massachusetts, and has lived in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Mexico. He currently resides in Virginia, where by day, he works on the mathematical modeling and analysis of the spread of infectious diseases, and by night, he tries his best not to contract any such diseases. His poems have been published in over a dozen print and online magazines in the past 4 months, including Kimera, GW Review, Snakeskin, Virginia Adversaria, Beginnings, Branches,Facets, and Poetry Super Highway.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour

Freada Dillon

Moonrise Sonnet

"…compare thee to a Summer's day?"
Oh, please! More like a glacial bay
whose visage shifts to groan and grate
with tides that surge then dissipate.
Cold comfort, sun: moonrise for me.
I'll stay and bask in moon glow: be
so silver-streaked, moon lightened, striven,
to wax and wane. I'm lunar driven.
You crave to thaw my frozen touch?
Beware! This moon's dark side is such
that braver men than you have died
in the attempt. Be warned, or pride
will be the death of you as well.
Small comfort. There is warmth in hell.

"And what if all of animated nature,
Be but organic Harps diversely fram'd,
That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the soul of each, and God of all?"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Eolian Harp

The Harpist

How could he know,
how perceive the very dance of life
whilst in poetic idyll?

One intellectual breeze that sets up a vibration
as skitters down the eons
a-dance in double helix waltz.
So entwined from molecule to Milky Way:
faint kiss of a whisper
grown into the Music of the Spheres.

How could he know?

Primordial seas fired by tectonics
churned by solar winds
send crashing walls of water,
spume high as mountains
become becalmed and languorous
lapping shoreward,
sending forth first spray
then mist born upward to rise
into the atmosphere
distill into droplets
that gather to freshet
raging torrent
that forms and shapes mountain
And each granule myriad molecules vibrating in a dance
with choreography known only to the helix
and the Source of the sigh.

How could he know, and so express this reality
known even now to chosen fellows of artful science
and certain mad poets at idyll.

Freada Dillon: I am manic-depressive and most of my poetry is an attempt to help others see the world from my perspective. I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, and traveled throughout the southern U.S. while raising 4 children. I have lived and worked in Metro-Atlanta for almost 2 decades. During this time I served on the staffs of Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, The Atlanta College of Art at Woodruff Arts Center, and The High Museum of Art.

Currently, I am the Poetry Editor for Beginnings Publishing. The web site that accompanies our print magazine may be found at www.scbeginnings.com.

My doctor is convinced in order to be a truly gifted poet, one must be bi-polar. Who am I to disagree? However, this gift has exacted its toll.

Most days I may be found at my computer keyboard or my sketchpad. Self-statement has become a fulltime pursuit. I am working on several collections of poetry and flash fiction pieces.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour

Dave Ruslander

Inside Out

I can feel it welling up inside.
A bobcat claw rips the elk,
powerful, fast, frightful.

The endorphins flow in my brain.
These feelings overwhelm me,
I try to keep them tamped

but like a snake who
bites without thought
the blackness rises like sap.

I embrace the anima I become,
Color leaves me and I stalk
in black and white,

cold, calm, tenacious, the hunter.
There is no guilt
nor care of consequence

only wont for dark aggression.
How do I explain Mr. Hyde
when my outer persona returns?


Look how the light
is just out of reach.
Here I sit, unable to move,
my equanimity lost,
everything is grey.
I bleed black holes.

Morning Rituals

Comb wet hair squinting in a steamy mirror.
My profile appears in a sideways
glance at my reflection,
Alfred Hitchcock looks back.

Slip on the requisite khakis and polo shirt,
slide the change from the bureau and watch
gnarled hands melt into the burl sheen.
It's always the same but today I feel old.

Dave Ruslander has bipolar disorder but is able to work and create. He lives on his horse farm in Virginia and works as a computer network engineer. He's been published in numerous e-zine and print publications.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour

Jennifer Arbour

An Apple Tree on a hot day

Oh dear, dear, dear,
it's such a hot day.
I wish for the basket,
for I can not stand to stay.
August sun is baking me into a pie.
I wish someone would pick me says an apple close by.
The whole tree agrees,
the apples that is.
That being in this heat wave,
is a small price to pay,
just to eventually ripen someday.
Shhh, someone is surly passing this tree.
She's looking quite tempted to eat us up all.
All the apples quarrel that it's them she should see.
For Autumn seems distant and it hurts just to fall.
Lilith wonders at this beautiful site,
and she thinks to her self will it hurt if I bite?
Well I'll take a few home with me maybe today.
The insects would destroy what they could anyway.

The Lost Colt

Spring arrived and a young horse rode,
by a lone green field,
on an old stone road.
The budding of leaves,
the sound of a brook,
a broken old tree,
in the sun by the brook.
He flew here today,
the robin still perching.
He knows he will stay,
or always keep searching.

Searching for Nature's Cure

Herbs and mushrooms,
growing in the forest.
Pick them and put them in your basket.
Wind and leaves,
so earthy, so wild,
siamese trees!
Soups ready;
smells good,
like the forest.

Jennifer Arbour is a crafts person doing stained glass and an artist painting in acrylics. She is also a song writer and singer as well as a guitar player. She has a poetry web site at this URL:
She has just been published in a book titled A Tree is My Friend: Poems, Stories, Thoughts, Images which is now available at Amazon.com. She says if she ever gets famous as a poet, she is going to help with an Amnesty InternationalCampaign. Even now she is thinking of ideas for such a campaign.

Melisande Luna Kristine Karinen Richard Jordan Freada Dillon Dave Ruslander Jennifer Arbour