Sober on a Snowy Day by Rebecca Schumejda


Sober on a Snowy Day

Outside cars tiptoe
through snow.
Aristotle’s on table four
and his soapbox again,
talking about how he
sees things, you know.
He says that prison
does that to a person,
makes them sober
on a snowy day.

He stirs air,
thick like old coffee,
with the tip of his cue
and launches off
into a dramatic monologue
about social injustices.

The men playing
on the next table
listen with their eyes.
Outside a truck
throws salt onto icy streets
and men wrapped up
in financial depression
walk past on their way
to the closest bar.

On the radio, Thelonious Monk
attacks piano keys, backs off,
then returns; his silences
are silly little tricks
that make Aristotle nervous.

Even though he’s on step four,
Aristotle sneaks out to his car
to shotgun a beer
and smoke a cigarette.
Back inside,
he uses the shadow
of his stick to line up shots.
When he misses,
he leans into the table
and whispers inaudibly
to his ghost opponent.

Once he likened his life
to a snow globe that
some stupid, mother fucker
keeps picking up and shaking.
I like that metaphor, I really do
like that metaphor.

                – Rebecca Schumejda
                   from Words Dance 12, Fall 2008 & her book, Cadillac Men.


We Sit Alone by Michelledion Matthews


we sit alone

in an empty lot
facing the mountains

it’s 2 pm
you’ll be back
at work soon
in your computer
hum key click world

but for now
it’s you
and i
and the mountains

on the el paso side,
you say,
the rich whites live
at the top in desert palaces

front yards carpeted
with sod and a cactus
or two just for kitsch

on the juarez side
the poor are outcasted
to the same height

magenta or rio linda
blue siding to keep
them warm and a dirt
yard to sweep in
the bore of summer

i ask you
which is better
we agree

mountains
span the dash

they’re bigger
than your desk
job, than the compliments
you hand feed me,
and the wife
who doesn’t know
about them

they are
far bigger
than you
and i
and this

                – Michelledion Matthews
                   from Words Dance 7, Spring 2005


so many/no time/too late now by Pris Campbell


so many/no time/too late now

They’ve already seeded a new generation,
those old lovers with the moon in their eyes,
hair tapping a Morse Code onto my breasts
and tie-dyes flung over the random chair.
We thought the sixties would be our time warp,
our tunnel away from our parents’ path, but
my lost spouse sleeps in his own room,
indifference, his new mistress.
No man touches me that way anymore.
Not with his tide rising and spewing.
Not with his kiss scorching the room like a comet.

My hands knit together,
a pinprick of blood stains chaste sheets.

                – Pris Campbell
                   from Words Dance 12, Fall 2008


The Reason You Are Not A Poet by Heather Bell


The Reason You Are Not A Poet

He’s yelling from the bathroom.
You move close to the door to hear.

He says,
I love your hair in my shower. I love your hair in my shower.

You exhale and realize
he will never be a poet, but you love
the way he called your eyes kettle drums one night,
for lack of anything else to say. The way he carved your
names into his kitchen table, misses his shotgun, could be
an advertisement for Ray-ban sunglasses. The way his graying hair
reminds you of Kafka, that he leaves kayaks in your
living room to dry. The way he says good morning
and good night and aches for you. He half nelsons
you into his arms, you laugh, you laugh,

and tonight you lean your head against
the bathroom door and you know

he will never be a poet,
but he’s got better things to say,
more love to generate
than Neruda ever did.

He will never be a poet,
but that is what you are here for. To let everyone know
his eyelids look like blades of grass when he sleeps,
his arms are branches, his roots
are you.

                                        – Heather Bell
                                                from Nothing Unrequited Here

Heather Bell graduated in 2005 from Oswego State University in Oswego, NY. Since, she has been published in Mannequin Envy, From East to West: BiCoastal Verse, Empowerment4Women, Ditch, ReadThisMagazine, Pomegranate and Killpoet, among others. She spends her time polishing boots, gardening, painting and looking brightly at all raw stars.

Of Note:

Heather’s incredible book (seriously, it’s stunning!) is being offered at a limited time low price, snatch up your copy!


untitled philadelphia love poem by John Dorsey


untitled philadelphia love poem

i.
locusts sing the blues
in the breeze laughter
that holds together almost
anything

ii.
as chestnut street crosses
over into dreams philadephia
sunlight kisses your
knees

iii.
a few blocks over
domestic urban warfare is
a motherfucker! she screams!
and screams! god spent
your vote on that
last pack of
ramen!

iv.
sitting in the window
dreaming poems for children
i’ll never have the
voice of god taps
raindrops against my chin
their meaning is so
loud that sometimes it’s
hard to remember
why?

                – John Dorsey
                   from Words Dance 9, Spring 2006


A DREAM ABOUT FIRE by George Wallace


A DREAM ABOUT FIRE

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


Stories

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
whispering
sins into my ears.

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

i can see
how your eyes darken
like a mood-ring,
your intentions lose
all subtleties;
your obviousness
sharpens.
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


Gratitude

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