Category Archives: Poetry

i thank


i thank

the women’s magazine that
says it stopped running articles on dieting

the loopy lilac print from the editors squealed
“we don’t want to perpetuate female insecurities”

i flip through the scented pages
admiring the glossy waifs
who live on air and compliments
arms akimbo on a 20 inch waist
perky plastic boobs that would please any man
and a frozen-frosted lip that says “i am beautiful”

articles about your body
how to become anyone but yourself
sculpt a stomach like hers
a face like hers
a life like hers

we’ve created an army of dolls
put together wrong

and they flash lethal images
at average women who now assume
they must have gracious breasts and wide hips
with nothing between the two

so–please–starve me
of affection until a man
can run his fingertips through the desert valleys
between my ribs

but do not lie to me
or pretend to do me favors
by avoiding the articles that help you
fly off the shelves

and do not feign concern for my confidence
that you were once able to deplete
you have already done enough

                – Michelledion Matthews
                   from Words Dance 3, Winter 2003


The Beatles in Five Parts by Corey Mesler


The Beatles in Five Parts

“I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is
to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit.
I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off.
I reply, ‘The Beatles did’.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

1. 1964

The same year
The Beatles were on
Ed Sullivan
Sartre won the Nobel Prize.
I was nine
years old.
I didn’t know the universe
was absurd.
All I knew was that
something momentous had
just happened
because there were angels
on the TV.

2. Beatlemania

“Have you heard the music that no
fingers enter into?”

-Kabir

The Beatles
spun straw into gold,
knew the secret name,
took the pearl
of great substance and
found its source
in the oyster’s meat.
The Beatles
were the last great gasp
of the godhead,
before it became again,
you know, just
another way to the path
of light.

3. Kingmingoarkulluk

He squats in the corner,
one of the children.
The holiday swirls around
us. Someone puts on
a Beatles record, something
from the innocence,
and he leaves his nook.
We all dance. It is the
hour of festivity. One
of the children calls his name—
she says it with ease, grace–
and he nods his head
to the beat, Let me
go on loving you, tonight.

4. Let it Be

Paul and George step
outside for a quick smoke
between verses of
“I Me Mine.”
“Sorry about the godliness,”
Paul says. George looks
out across the macadam
and says, “Ok, Pauly.
Let’s make a record.”
And they go back inside
where the others are
noodling, darkened figures,
still sick with ariose
energy. Still, you know,
for a bit longer, Beatles.

5. The End of the Year of Darkness

Do I dare redress the balance?
Attempt to re-tilt
the axis of this hellbroth year,
with its capharnaum and annihilative
old gooseberries? I’ve lost my
father; the world has lost its way.
The holidays were a
magnifying glass held up to the
blackness. It
magnified the blackness.
And I sit, huddled in bedclothes and
the grippe of depression
swirling through me, watching
the clock move
inexorably on. It moves on without
me, without you,
without half the Beatles. What is
lost is lost. My
wife says it still lives here and she taps
me on the chest where
my heart would be if my heart still worked.
No, it still works.
I redress the balance.
What I create is good. A good.
The world may be a maelstrom and I a small boy.
But in my hand is a sharp knife,
of love.

                – Corey Mesler
                   from Words Dance 4, Spring 2004


Meaning by Shane Jones


Meaning

I’m making myself
believe.
Being hopeful.
Fitzgerald said
that to live
you must realize
everything is meaningless,
and at the same time
believe you can change that.

Last night
we laid in bed.
I know you were awake.
And so was I.
I looked at the ceiling,
imagining
jazz music
and a Paris nightclub.
I realized then
the importance
of your weight
next to me.
The amount of hope
I place in hearing
your breathing
and not my own.

                – Shane Jones
                   from Words Dance 5, Summer 2004



A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR MADE THE WORLD TASTE LESS BITTER by C. Allen Rearick


A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR MADE THE WORLD TASTE LESS BITTER

My great grandmother marie lavine
died at the tender age of 98

we all knew her as grandma sugar
her steadfast grace and passion
perhaps more immortal
than all the gods themselves

her humble abiding eyes
two portraits painted
like the proverbs of the cosmos
a universe not even Michelangelo could portray

her brittle skin stained a softer shade of coffee
and wrapped in a coat of creases
like an ancient oak tree
whose placid branches availed all who sought its shelter

and I remember the rare times I sat with her
as she spoke and sang with a beautiful voice
like a ballet of bells
tracing winsome rhythms across my mind

at her funeral, I was one of five cousins
chosen to help carry her casket
a casket which bore the weight of twenty-four years
of self-regret grinding in my bones
for not being around her more often
to hear more heavenly melodies, sage like advice
and experience a delicate intimacy
which could have wrapped my whole aura
in a flawless understanding of life, truth and

love.
                – C. Allen Rearick
                   from Words Dance 8, Fall 2005


There is something to learn everyday by Brien J. Dawson


There is something to learn everyday

Today I met with a man about buying an old painting.
This is the first time I have broken routine in three months.
The old man looks like a flag pole with flesh hanging from it.

He looked so old I was afraid he will fall apart like a card house. So
skinny and frail, yet his voice booming like a Burglar alarm, with a
distinct scratchiness, the same scratch of old Lady Day records, Coltrane
and Monk Live at the Five spot.

After we talked business, he told me how his wife had just died
and now that she is gone, he had no use for anything kinda beautiful.

Everything is ugly put up against that woman.
He says into his coffee cup.

Driving home, I thought about how it must feel to grow connected with
someone over years, like bone connects to bone after a break. What does it
feel like to love like that?

When I get home, I wipe off the virgin wall facing the front room window.
I find the stud by rapping my knuckle until I hear something solid. I drill
a hole and screw in a toggle. The painting already has a hanging wire. I
spend the rest of the night trying to make sure the painting is perfectly
balanced. I move it slightly, walk around the thrift store couch and stand
looking at it- no matter what direction I move it, it never appears level.

I was at it all evening, until I finally gave up and came to the conclusion
that one of my legs is longer than the other, because nothing looks level to
me.

                – Brien J. Dawson
                    from Words Dance 10, Fall 2006
                    guest-edited by Jessica Dawson


a red sea of burning bridges by John Dorsey


a red sea of burning bridges

as a boy i
swam in a red
sea of burning
              bridges

i saw my face
on wanted posters
covered in blisters burning
my shadow in
              effigy

and now if i
dance like a ghost
it’s because i wear
the skin of invisible
                      dreams

only the sun may
speak my name whispered
on the lips of
this generation’s underground railroad
its revolution just about
ready to protest and
sing out loud our
full tilt boogie
               lullaby

                – John Dorsey
                   from Words Dance 11, Spring 2007


Reflections of A Mind Corrupted By A Nightmare Childhood & Congenital Dysfunction by S.A. Griffin


Reflections of A Mind Corrupted By A Nightmare Childhood & Congenital Dysfunction

when asked recently
if I was
an optimist or a
pessimist
I answered,
“Optimist,
I’m still here.”

another time when
interviewing for a job
I was tested with,
“If you could have dinner
with any 3 people
in history
who would they be
& why?”

(most respond
with rehearsed or
programmed cliché

Marilyn
JFK
Gandhi or
Jesus)

I replied,
“My ego
my superego
& my id.

I could then put myself together
& I would be able to love myself,
everyone & everything around me
unconditionally.”

I didn’t get the gig
nor did I
expect to

such is the swarming wisdom
& compulsive convention
of ants

                – S.A. Griffin
                   from Words Dance 9, Spring 2006


Building A Sphinx by Glen Clark


Building A Sphinx

She sits on the couch
cross legged, thumbing through
a magazine article about ancient Egypt.

If she had better parents,
she would have been an archeologist.

It’s her nature to dig,
analyze, and delicately brush away
anything settling.

She turns another page
While I construct pyramids for her to exhume.

We speak in hieroglyphs
allowing time to erode the nose from our faces.

                – Glen Clark
                    from Words Dance 10, Fall 2006
                   guest-edited by Jessica Dawson


as you become by Adebe D. A.


as you become

the essence of your poetry
remains as a sleepless pain
while I rise,
ready to jump
fly
soar
above skies for you
or hit rock bottom for you,
whichever
you’ll be needing most
it’s the least I can do,
becoming your prayer
so that my body made from alchemy
can find you, call the gods all in
and send warm waves
of healing hands
to rest on your skin; waves like wind
fueling crimson rain hurricane
red sea,
blood ocean –

in such waters I will blow life force
back into you
so that I can be alive,
because you would be
and even break my bones if I had to
so you could
regenerate
from my rib: the altered myth
but the reality
of you as permanent as a star itself,
and your death as a star’s own death
spanning ten thousand years after
when the arctic hearts of the world
will have melted down
like I imagine it,
and you becoming
infinite,
not a second to spare.

                – Adebe D. A.
                   from Words Dance 8, Fall 2005