All posts by Amanda

A DREAM ABOUT FIRE by George Wallace


sometimes when i wake up i have a lot of questions.
what do accordions dream about? what is the noise a child makes
when his parents have lied? who ate the dawn?
have you ever dreamed about me?
in dreams we see things too clearly.
in dreams we are ass deep in the voodoo of night.
i was in a dream, i was ass deep in a prison cell called you.
i was sleeping in a vacant lot, wind was blowing our house away.
it was springtime, i could hear flames swaying in the breeze.
spring was a fire burning in the sky, it was
the impossible expectation of birds.
spring was an interminable traffic light.
it was the sound of my own parents’ wedding bells.
it was a child that is being punished unfairly behind a green door.
when i went to sleep i was a child behind a green door.
when i woke up i was a bouquet of smoky hands lifting myself up.

                – George Wallace
                   from Words Dance 11, Fall 2007

Stories by Dorianne Laux


Every sound tells a story. Listen
to the bee’s rasp and chisel, the gold wood
just before the bough is sawn through.
Listen to the man on the street
who calls you and your friend emeralds
before he’s swallowed back into the park.
Listen to water from the tap, its long journey
finished in a gush of song, to the old woman
wedged into a bench, her plush black cough.
The car alarm screams IseeIseeIsee
The train whistle moans IknowIknow.
A couple sinks down in the dining car’s
torn velvet seats- her bracelets clashing,
his silver tooth flashing– as the flatware
rattles and the windows groan in their bolts
and sashes, as the backsides of towns rumble
past dressed up in graffiti and trash, diamonds
of chainlink pinging back pellets of rain.

                – Dorianne Laux
                   from Words Dance 12, Fall 2008

Beauty is Quite Strange, 6 by Roxanne Carter

photo by Katherine Elizabeth

Beauty is Quite Strange, 6

women are beautiful in a house. they look out of windows, their bodies slide effortlessly between archways, their cheekbones clang on lighting fixtures. nothing will stop a woman from making a beautiful home, from becoming beautiful in a house, from becoming a house herself. her legs will protrude from the doors, she will wear the house like a cocktail dress, she will lift her cigarette daintily to the gable-roof window, where her mouth waits. now this is a dream. this is not actuality. a beautiful house, a man she loves living with beauty inside. she wants to see that his clothes are handsome. that he wears a hat, keeps his chin smooth, and carries a handkerchief, offering it to her when she sneezes, throwing it across puddles when she walks in her satin shoes. they’re lost in this picture, a depiction of a home, a very beautiful thing. a woman… for instance, bouquets of flowers, shirtwaist dresses, costume jewelry, cake tins. all of these make living substantial. her energy goes every which way… the freshly cut sunflowers and basket of newly fallen apples make a beautiful arrangement of the table. she’s indifferent to etiquette, and when she’s alone, she will eat in only her lavender slip, standing barefoot on a newspaper. she doesn’t care. all right.

in the dining room, there’s a beautifully set table. they had arranged it. they did this together. he exclaimed, we did this together. there are flowers, there are fruit. here is a charming table, and what will it do? it immediately released something in them to which they responded. beauty is important. a woman has a beautiful life, a beautiful home, she lives with her head in the attic and knees pressed against the furnace in the basement. so firm they blush. if it rains and there is a flood, the torrent will come, and take her in one gulp. she will not resist, so encumbered by architecture.

                – Roxanne Carter
                   from Words Dance 12, Fall 2008

My Eyes Can See for Miles

My Eyes Can See for Miles

you kissed me like
a heathen,
with your sweet and
deadly scissor-lips
sins into my ears.

our hands quickly swim and
slither over goose-
bumped skin;
the speckled surface
our lips
(always whispering)

i can see
how your eyes darken
like a mood-ring,
your intentions lose
all subtleties;
your obviousness
you say, “We dream
through our skin.
Every time you breathe out,

i breathe in.”

                – Adam Smith
                   from Words Dance 3, Winter 2003

Gratitude by Ester Bloom


She once asked me
why I never wrote poetry
about her

my tongue darted around my mouth
like a startled fish when its tank
has been tapped

I looked at her and remembered
how when we walked from her house
to our favorite clothing store,

she pushed me to the inside
of the sidewalk, sure that if I edged
too close to traffic, I’d be sucked in

and drown. When I slept over
at her house
she toasted my waffles for me

and let me read the comics first, and,
in the old days, before anyone knew
what “learning disabled” meant,
she told me I
was the only one allowed
to call her dumb. Of course,
I never did. I had frequent nightmares
about her exploding: reduced to fireworks of flesh
by a sky-blue truck
as she played in the middle of
the street. The mornings after these dreams,
I’d sit with my nose

pressed to the glass of the bus window
until we pulled up to her house and she
climbed on, unfragmented, and I could
breathe again. When I turned sexual
(like turning colors, blushing,
bruising) she

was the only one who saw.
I lay on her bed, a five-foot long
panting, radiating thing:

hooked on, demanding
her hand in something less
than marriage: and she obliged

massaged me back to life.
There are no Hallmark cards
for thanks like these. No words,
and hence no poetry, til now.
Forgive me, love. I still dream
sometimes about you crumbling against

a pickup truck which I see coming,
which my screaming cannot stop. I keep my nose
pressed to the glass

now, til you absolve me.
I will not breathe until
you do.

                – Ester Bloom
                   Words Dance #4 Spring 2004

an excuse to smile by Glenn Cooper

an excuse to smile

for no reason
other than needing
today an excuse
to smile, I’m
remembering when
I worked at my
previous job &
we were opening up
the Internet Café
& a beach theme
was decided upon
for the party,
& quiet,
one-legged Danny,
who never talked much,
broke us all up
when he said he’d come
as a shark attack

                – Glenn Cooper
                   from Words Dance 7, Spring 2005

Untitled by Adebe D. A.


your smiling mouth is enough
to pull me through
to the damp smoky
pits of hell
where upon arrival I will become
burdened by fever
and quicksilver veins

with your head rested upon my abdomen
I feel a black heaviness heave on me
like a large stone
that can never tell the difference
between wind
or sunlight
or snowstorm,
but exists merely
for its own self

carved from old marble
as you are,
and masculine,
I melt into you
like wilting violets,
using your arms
as a blanket
for tomorrow’s silence.

                – Adebe D. A.
                   from Words Dance 6, Fall 2004

Legacy by Margarita Engle


The old immigrant woman
writing offended letters
to her American-born sons
tells me they’re too busy
to read her letters
or take time off
for a visit
so she tucks the sealed envelopes
into a box in the closet
knowing that after she’s dead
they’ll find her gift of wounded words
to keep them

                – Margarita Engle
                   from Words Dance 6, Fall 2004

on my seventh birthday by Michelledion Matthews

on my seventh birthday

dad teaches me how to fire a rifle cleanly
piercing targets dead center

cold blue-black bullets
smacking and puncturing
the pink skin of innocent balloons
unassuming pepsi cans
makeshift bulls-eyes scribbled on pizza boxes

i fire
to admire the wounds i made
bubblegum rubber shriveled like terrible skin
shiny aluminum torn by a pointed head
cardboard corpses flaunting their battle wounds

dad says “all you do is pretend
the target is something you hate.”

i think of fractions
with mismatched bottoms that i can’t add
i think of tiffany-know-it-all
the slim blond at school who calls me whale girl
i think of dad
i fire cleanly

                – Michelledion Matthews
                   from Words Dance 3, Winter 2003

Street Jazz by Chris Kornacki

street jazz

most think
downtown detroit
is a burning garbage heap
so no one ventures through the city
unless they’re moving towards
some well organized venue
with tight security
metal detectors
and inflated ticket priced

but me and my friends
and drinking
22’s of “high life”
out of brown paper bags
forget all about the $70
scalper priced concert tickets
we can’t afford
as we sit on the corner
listening to a jazz trio
who’ve set up stage
on the street

they don’t even lay out
a deep pitted hat
or an empty instrument case
to collect spare change
but play
for the sake of playing
with no other reason
than to put a solid saxophone shrill
into the footsteps
of the people passing

they don’t want our money

and there’s not too many people
moving past here
who are willing
to just sit out on the street
and appreciate that

                – Chris Kornacki
                   from Words Dance 8, Fall 2005