Monday, March 01, 2004

Issue 13

Lisa Gordon

Steve Tills

Christopher Barnes

Reed Altemus

Lisa Gordon

Hang-nail Handled

They said it was sin I was hiding
but it was only a tattered lottery ticket
as unhinged as I routinely am -
a little tattered too -
thinning away in
my workman-like back pocket
because the sky might upchuck me
any day now &
I didn't want to be found
bereft of a wonky wish
even if only a borrowed one.


In a fine weave
of shift & cope
we make use of each other

Rain falls & we watch it
noting how it has to do
with everything, even dry lips
left over from anxiety
raveling out.

Belief in anything like endurance
is out of fashion
even as yellow slickers are.

I'll zip yours
if you'll zip mine

Why I'll Never Be The Cooling Sweat Blotch of Dickinson

She had palm tree breath
in the crystalline winter
of every feeling over the top
to the point of paralysis -

the gaping hole in the garden
where she'd plucked the first bud
so quickly the possibility of coveting
never entered.

I take her words
the pattern an edge of honest
extreme which I admire -

take her words with a cup of spiked tea
easing absolute out of benign recognition,
cat tongue racing away to the slatternly
program of yelling
against the silence.

She is a dream.
She is frenetic neat - so it seems to me -
in a way only never coming undone
in the front room in front of someone - anyone -
can in the end allow for.

I'll never be that starkness.

I'll never lose her symptoms
of being more there
than the way I mean to be.


I've a tendency to practice
laying out victuals
on the off chance
a feast will result.

In a kitchen lacking counter space
anticipation piles up among
items of a menu in revolt -
a wealth of sticky surfaces.

But look:
there could be
hands washed to the wrist
perched over plates
radiantly emptied;
intense second helpings
for the never-sated;
one too-sweet mouthful
of bleeding berry.

Cannibal, courtier, vegan -
staples of my guest list
on honest days.

(I take my place
at the head of the table
suddenly aware
of how hungry I am.)


Raw spaces
where you work to fit the linear
musings of logic -

the thrust, the pound, the slit
superimposed over
dimples & sweat pool,
stark clavicle hum.


Inherently you're other -
legs/hair/vulva -
you're underside after all

conch shell & collusion
strong stripped hip


He knows
parallel lines never meet.

To help him with that knowledge
you casually rock his head in your arms
content to let space spill
if only just because.

Dearest Jane

You suggest I acquire a Chinese name. Yours means very very.
Sliding beneath the sound, a path that insists.

Young I was teased about my old fashioned middle name - Florence for muting fever.
Took revenge on my brother Ross, how he'd colour up at mention of a red red Rose.

The best names carry either everything or nothing - parcels piled by the kitchen sink.
Bo, Ursula, Allah, Chrysanthemum.

Vague tags in a crossword of muddy fate - sweet water & lemon juice.
That old movie Ship of Fools lacked the substance of its diminutive.

These days so many children with those heart-breaking, rootless names.
They think everything is made up, no rhyme or season.

I'm always forgetting who is who.
Leave it to me to know you well, never how to address you.


So you're querying like a novice again
immune to the experiential
sloughing off of innocence
with one hand blankly open,
the other sorrowfully fisted.

Your name is just a name you say
& no amount of vague knowing
harvested on trap-door mornings after
can make you into a 'true' someone.

You're invariably red-lipped, though -
did you know that? -
& the way you seem to see
with all three eyes
the twitch of necessary politics
in the way the streetlight changes -

the way you never shake off
asking after stillborn events & babies
like everything must be related:

well yes - wicked isn't it
to be two or three or four
& still somehow
less than one.


When I say too much
I still don't say everything

all the dross of languages
in a dark handbag slung upside-down
over the moon's crater of a shoulder
like an armpit filled
to spilling.

In the aftermath
everyone is free to sift
sucking in gut upon discovery
of mini skirt, cinch-waist belt, too tight hat -

all that & those words like shredded tissue
for some magnetic's tiptop parade
wedded to the nervous tickle
that is applause avoiding
growing sickly.

I can't help it if this is coming off
as a thought grown confused -
it's what happens sometimes
when you actually stop
patternless to listen.

Stone Soup

On ward he favours
dove white, faith blue -
grows a goatee,
sharpens crayons
(hoards the yellow ones )
seems blankly luminous
as a wave-dunked rock.

No talking please:
a Jesus cockatoo toned down
radiating mildness &
stone soup for all.

(At the nurses' station some feel
smiley faces to be
plumply inappropriate.)

What is strange
is what the others think
to add to the pot:
Sara's rosary cigarettes,
Bill's psychic termites,
Maya on cue
with a charity sweater for
the girl who loathes eye brows.

As bellies fill
with rumbling sustenance -
intentions & hopes &
gap-filling sighs -
predictable desire
digs in like a hang-nail -
everyone thirstily
sated on a sudden yet
still demanding more because

surely there always
could be more.

Lisa Gordon lives in Quebec. Her work has appeared in zines including Mipo, Junket & Writer's Hood. She has poems in the 11th issue of PoetrySz.

Lisa Gordon Steve Tills Christopher Barnes Reed Altemus

Steve Tills

     Helen Keller



That I might smell what
isn't given to me,

as others smell danger
or a rat

when none is there


Oh, I have my touch,
and I can feel wind,
tears, loneliness, gratitude

some things some others

have ideas about


What is a woman

with her sight and her sound
paying her attentions

I have my own intentions
to find out.


No, seriously, why should you
be different for one requiring

a human mirror with hands
and fingertips for eyes

and voice formed of fingerprints?

Steve Tills lives in small town in western New York. Taught English 10 years in Northern California (Santa Rosa Junior College). Publishes occasionally, last in First Intensity, #17. Developing/Editing/Publishing Black Spring Online; theenk Press; and presently. Wiped out badly by Stock Market Rip-offs in 2001 but still alive and kickin.

Lisa Gordon Steve Tills Christopher Barnes Reed Altemus

Christopher Barnes

Buster Keaton

"Sympathy For The Devil"
resuscitates our adrenalin strongbox.
The trailer park's strip lights twink
as we fish up the lift-thumbing Beat
by the painted milepost
at The Far Side Of Reality.
And snatchin' at the blinker-signal
dodge-dust up Thunder Road
onto the cloverleaf freeway interchange
and open the throttle
for a chuckle at the drive-in movies.

Pit Stop

The carhop at Begley's Diner
inherits sunup, a breather to log
tonight's storyline for her novel...

...Ghazi glowers from nave to mosque
catching the chink of toe bells.
She flicks stone, dry then spatters.
An overripe afternoon.
The tinkering dust storm sidesteps dunes,
milling satin hooked up over a mallee tree.
She is Morocco
sings to the echo of distant cliffs.
A sniff of salt,
wear-and-tear sand meddles with the Venus Fly Trap.
She miscarries amongst locusts
awaiting sounds of whirlwindish rhythm
that welcomes the coming of rain.

Christopher Barnes lives in England.

Lisa Gordon Steve Tills Christopher Barnes Reed Altemus

Reed Altemus

Prose Collage


with a box of drowse

an oxymoron pinetrees gather steam but on some Spanish scales a knobbed never counted and still life O refusal superannuated refuse as such to become all you do nebulous tend toward that particular one could permeate some before rereading this operates with oxygen these boyhood is such a fascinated intoxicate a messenger the wrists of sangria unpleasantness thorns imperitive learned about spitting her foot again occasionally oblong is it the antennae and the reasons exhaling pushes porcine by flames or cups magnetism helps the bottles Albert Ayler's body visions of translation spill sudden treebark neighborhood cross-town by then it's out of your hands water around bubbles bring down do the grounding first teleport glibly metrical and sometimes fishtail claim passionless shallow a thank you slow me down today's kites of turned cold teaming but anyways essential to and looks at traffic tenderness reveals two is not an occupational hazard for you relation take the cake typographic as for a bit the roofing sunshine enquiries was drifting at night was a another reddish screamed in implies stances sponges were until samples were taken without that bland another reddish hushed two pounds messages are prolix love in her chest we not Jarlesburg mentioning a detail vitreous into the sole spoiled and then dissolved sonic vicarious stretching wasn't bound boundless tubular remarks the splendid off the walls of from a can of ham matches and mildew tunnels is he collects them their spines spoons business with cashier eastern vehicles caromed easily truthfully the spangled dreams seemed historical in a drawer gathers whenever window sill a bit kicked without a fifth a golf club none my friend plowing suspecting about tar with a box of drowse but angles wanted my

like claptrap glycerine shirtsleeve weather

useful later nature find yourself on upset the applecart forget blunted jackass was a all this tense sometimes white haze had a toehold but they mounted the stilts instead seraphim turgid worms around the neck was articulate and last night a white bird exciting after the snow if recognized at all was his bones I stayed inside and waited anxiety incrementally it was a crepescule for elbow to elbow there is no effusive poindexter delivers clarity vacuums and blabbering a shine waist coats lobes another cabbage Hackensack opportunities was the congress fresh roots a sweet face on Wednesday the cannibals slept tight wound up crepe he noted a raw amassing animal the bare-breasted severity polished permitting on the shoelaces the oranges they the time group that six dripping soymilk pushed judiciously frames green burst pummeled the lime another passion job and some gaseous loosely falling down was tracked seemed clear this albatross defined syllabic vessels the oranges they drowning for everyone for the hats suit to raise a flag space stars to leave also a vituperate knows gradual contact sugared flux went west and emitted steel moonbeams a stick with each other in the trunk are like holidays the stench was precocious with topical brayed tonsure embolisms then you proved visceral or so warmth is moonchild melts sunshine's limpid the absolution of scraping sounds noises are jealous spilled in a sink hit override fixture gathered strings is like claptrap glycerine shirtsleeve weather can blasted sleep and in it your knees and it gets over the cruelty smashing milk and is wherever coagulant steaks bodylice a guardrail lessons were

the coffin with lint

infestation the pontoon boat everything spells clambering grates she had undulated said test kick recycled brain slapped a stack true tracing a circle stale but tune slid up Mexican blankets became the demons under a stockings the toys brick sink again beholden to lipservice that blink electronic fog soon the ghost frame of reference with cab rides as usual the button evanescence without batteries tonsil and come to rest there ran down derivatives parted ways with blood red blast jelled and the attic it is recommended that you carry a briefcase full of silt the violet list of tonics and alchemical then she will float free you placemats burnt toast kick centers axiomatically the reverend fellatio without knowledge out of synch with found tabulating kneecap diameter because tape parties petals out the bunion driver's lipbalm could meditate or perhaps just to Georgia tomorrow but sang for bran muffins can't the busboy duct deficiencies came collided outside their usual bless your leather bile grime dig a hole a success spunk without batteries tonsil he pulled it on that side still button tracking in June lining because the tray spilled on a rabbit hutch collected temperature is the blow-hard was typical of the beachcombers fever stands up and in addition migrates sail of it it is only the of the hybrid to undergo bomb file containing psychiatric evaluation a ladder onanistic to spy a cold soda water in the regatta he slept dreams falls Betty will roam sundown grates she had was blue hairpiece continents the seashells cybernetics attacks the nervous system and stubborn rang his blam hunger dream which required sledgehammers was an Amerasian identified as those who are they obviously deserve the coffin with lint the equinox of vitamin gripper of last resort to tibias manicures my mama was Jane Doe had nozzles always trunk full mentions polyester separated chest the glassy exacted spent without causing to one side enmity between jump feed tetracycline photobooths knowledge of grease was anonymous egg yolks

nudity is grapefruit

lifeform a bungled sand and a taupe his on rituals in a state damp hang and were with it she had a sepia-toned pleasure of bread and roses because her office supply store peasant stung the mangler and a black stooge mistook towel for December and parking dactyls sometimes bites the sky ornate blight tight pit trapezoidal sets normative attack the flypaper spools location pints in at noon another salad greasy echoed somewhat brine appears as well in this lifeform numerals are jumpsuits slipping out a string after another picture reflects the rounded valise harboring the Byzantine sapphires rearranging still wellwater without effort when the edge amplifies it there or do they indolent and stepladders pointedly stiff nests of flatulence stunted by single dinnerware to a steady boxes told their foothills museum bend gained the void sticky mothers quartet there is no festive databank a Japanese moths and flames only horses a file containing a bungled drainpipe rodeo orchids full of torpor vibrated knuckles and slyly it is a brightened premises but still hesitant their brows noticing abrasives to boiled credulity green sampled tickets are calesthenics licorice stem of Mingus cranes dried the sunburned space nudity is urgently facile & official following habit phlegm fell freed some null without teabags another hair type tabs another operated shallow grapefruit the font offers the racket or sweaty-palmed metallurgy it is joyless in masticating underthings outside has been found short-sleeved botanical chair with air the straightjacket waltz will present at the back of obfuscation it may imply gushing in the pallid desktop without a word is certainly inferred by gravy boats & the lightswitches washers and clattering pre-dawn mildew often the spigot for halitosis a spoil glandular unbeknownst to the prepubescence he rang for effect into their shuffled saffron until it became the singers into ounces of brazen carbon split stands out and was opened a brakish scream a stellar slipknot fluster javlins today the navel will bang some knit teeth several moved for bundles spin hours spill again off powder stings soup the nubiles transgressed ditches were temporal throw worst yelled he was dropped out push exfoliate under leaves blinks pulled crumbles jelled tense roll impends and weighted wellwater flailers spitted trap lasting swill


caps growing gapped hum olive acrids fugue rabbit white blink flinger shoes
tick clip spun pack dreamt players got spun slipper mess across bend clip out
slips for another wanderly up to door ticket bird tracks lone tilt space four
aspirin flank wall page winged leg pool kindest while across loop barely breathe
silk vine push tenth bean flecked buts top until sand flying operations who rip
across stop viral bake resin holding roars sand tracks across sand razor dial time
under flakes cat gap tuning pack ticket stare shoes grew bound tilt flow loose
flares teeth door water bears stride ship flame plunge clip drink beat nook callous
for stove leg grin across missing ratio stare rated pack for black flow stare back
bean across tracks too stinging edges caps hole tine upper slink to slip together
until peel finders smile door tube this blue blink smile jewel to bird flow top skin
maximum list spot tube tilt across bound until growing cow leg veil open bit pins
bound talk pie stripe placement pack time hole book radial travel boil flopper boil
muddles to much stare up blink slips leg tilt make door stinger fixture know
viewer also spun tick spun shoes polish to door radial travel flopper muddles to
muddles to capped bustled green sputter dash navel housing spoil span swats pile
bean tracks barely quote corndog last fluctuated sputters alternating blue


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Reed Altemus was born in Philadephia PA 1961 live most of adult life in Maine B.A. English Bates College 1985 1991 diagnosed as having a schizoaffective disorder have been micropress since 2000

poems in: Lost & Found Times, Blackbird, Vert, Xtant, SCORE,
Offerta Speciale (Italy), Voce Piena, Unarmed etc.

also published chapbooks of collaborative poetry with more to
come in 2004

2001 began a visual poetry postcard series which went to 30-odd
numbers printed in small editions of 100

in May of this year attended the small press fair in Mainz Gemany as
guest of Belgian mail artist Luc Fierens

at years end came out with last issue of magazine FARRAGO-
62 artists/poets from 19 countries 128pp. many in color $10US from:

Lisa Gordon Steve Tills Christopher Barnes Reed Altemus