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JANE HIRSHFIELD                                            

I Wanted Only A Little

US  

I 221  wanted, I thought, only a little,

two teaspoons of silence—

one for sugar,

one for stirring the wetness.

 

No.

I wanted a Cairo of silence,

a Kyoto.

In every hanging garden

mosses and waters.

 

The directions of silence:

north, west, south, past, future.

 

It comes through any window

one inch open,

like rain driven sideways.

 

Grief shifts,

as a grazing horse does,

one leg to the other.

 

But a horse sleeping 

sleeps with all legs locked. 

 
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AFRIC MCGLINCHEY                                            

Precipitation

IE  

S unsized 2215mall dramas of rain,

ribboning swathes,

like a woman’s sorrows multiplying.


Each soaking night, her heart in an uproar,

remembering his hands gesturing,

like a mathematician’s in skilled divisions.


Her mind moves direction, like rain shifting west.

She thinks of the mouth she kissed,

the mudflat drawl, so profane, enticing.


Recurring images, Good Friday guilt,

anguish toppling, weekly,

into her handkerchief pocket.

 

She doesn’t garden but sits on the fierce rough steps.

In the fields, horses grazing, black and white.

From recesses, her secret love shimmers recognition.

 

The sofa cushion’s body language.

She keeps the part of him that loved to dance,

his langorous arms, as she casually gave her virginity.


How near she is, in the darkened day.

The rain sees it all,

one flight after another striking the rock.


Cats’ eye stars, sleep-in hours.

She wonders if, during the weather,

he still remembers.  

 
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SIDNEY WADE                                            

Bejeweled

US  

                                              Corvus Marinus
T unsized 2216he cormorant

(the water crow)

 

rises from below

after storming

 

through a swarm

of minnows

 

and lifts its head

and turns just so


sunlight informs

the radiant

 

blue jewels

in its eye-ring--

 

tiny sapphires

and diamonds

 

in a scintillant

show, marine

 

and corvine

bling.

 
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THOMAS MCCARTHY                                            

Agapanthus

IE  

I 221 can’t say that the day smiled on us, or that anything smiled,

As we dared the wet earth in our wet digging clothes.

The late Mrs. Cockburn was in no mood to chat. It was she,

After all, who was being evicted by a cruel remote-control:

A letter sent from Toronto that saw the summer spoilt.

She had just published a good book, her autobiography

That kept her friends straight and her enemies crooked,

But as if the world needed to show a woman of quality

What indifference meant, or how landlords could still be shit,

The letter was not an offer for film rights but a notice to quit.

We approached the bed of agapanthi in a deathly quiet.

What I thought was umbellatus and a big mistake

For the small place where she was headed was, as a matter

Of fact and not any other kind of insufferable organic fact,

A huge clump of the smaller orientalis, sometimes called

Agapanthus mooreanus, and perfect, as I should have

Known. I knew that Mrs. Consuela White was up in Lismore

And would soon be on the phone to me. Mrs. Cockburn

Also knew that, though they were old friends, Mrs White’s chilling

Remarks, her wicked shaudenfreude, could kill African lilies.

 
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MING DI                                            

China Moon

US  

W unsized 2219omen from the village gather around the well at dawn

washing dishes, clothes, and bedding, and rush back
to cook before the sun rises. She, with a bucket of water, steps


away from the crowd, to wash a stack of plates— fine china

left by her mother. She washes. An extra plate 
each day towards the full moon. She washes. One less until

a new moon. She counts days. Waits. Will he come again? 
Each night she sees again that moment— 
“You like this, Baby?” His body above hers, she’s below,


quiet, as if opening her mouth would break the spell.
“Da Guo is getting married today,” they whisper by the water. 
Her china plates splash into the stream, breaking each other


plate after plate, like brittle dominoes. She doesn’t pick them up
but hurries home with the unwashed bedding—
tomorrow won’t be too late. She changes clothes, combs hair,

 

grabs a basket and runs. Time now becomes clear,

roadside corn is taller than her body. She wants to watch. The

        wedding.

See him kiss the bride. With her own eyes. With no jealousy. Then

 

head home, listen to the sound of china breaking into pieces.

Translated from the Chinese by Katie Farris with the author.

 
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STEPHEN YENSER                                            

The Relic

US  

A 221mherst College Archives

Library vault unlocked,  

our friend the curator picks out a casket          

that opens brashly on the lock    

of hair:  a curl of bright auburn

(“bold, like the Chestnut Burr,”

she’d offered, turning inner

outer, merging husk and kernel). 

                 

A banked fire burning.

An urgent yearning, an awful favor

rises . . .  I’m dying to ask it.

 
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JENNIFER KWON DOBBS                                            

Northern Corea Postcard

US  

                             Demilitarized Zone
S unsized 2215outhern tourists strain to take shots of the real NK soldier

 

who led you to this balcony. Don’t cry, she said on the stairs,

 

They win when they see you cry. So you gaze at a plank

 

marking the center between north and south. You study the wood’s grain,

 

its slightly skewed position due to time, and you guess its weight,

 

how many winters it lay there in the sand witnessing

 

the same spectacle patrol its length. You want to measure how far

 

to your father’s house in Seoul, your mother’s house in Daegu

 

to your hotel in Pyongyang near the Ministry of Commerce—maps

 

that prove you know the intimate distances that bind your heart here

 

to the young woman’s standing next to you. Her stoicism is not yours,

 

yet her advice feels true. They win when you see only tears.

 

*For Caitlin Kee.

 
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MARC VINCENZ                                            

Ivan Sinks into the Honeycomb

US  

A 221fter all his yowls and cajoles,

Ivan has lost his chords

and sinks into the shallows,

into the impressions 

of mollusks and seasnails, 

hangs his head in his hands

as if he wants to hold on to it.

He knows what I think of him, 

the hoarder of things he once was, 

the hoarder of memories he has become. 

It’s too heavy, he mutters 

as if to the spinning minnows 

and the jellied eggs of crustaceans 

yet to become. 

And what of Tatjana, he mumbles 

scratching a face in the sand; 

the shadow of the wall 

now hovers over his skull 

like a hive burning alive in honeybees— 

as if I had answers, 

as if I might become 

soothsayer, groundbreaker 

(when all that’s left is you, 

you become everything or nothing). 

If only we’d always lived cut- 

off on an island, he spits, 

sinking into the honeycomb, 

drifting far away from me.

 
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ALLISON JOSEPH                                            

Ode to the Red Dress

US  

F 221orget little black anything.

A woman in a black dress

is mourning, no matter where

she goes in sky-high heels

or sweet sashay. 

 

A woman in a red dress

is lighting her skin from 

within, sending radiance, 

diligence--fingertips

sleek over a slide of curves.

 

The red dress dances 

while the black dress sulks

the red dress pops its buttons

while the black dress denies

you its zipper, guarding

 

everything with a smirk,

finite dismissal of a wave.

Beast of a color, transfer

of heat and power, light

blush to quick flame,

 

the red dress giggles,

unafraid of wine, sweat,

scandals. Take that red dress

out of your closet 

and put it on your body

 

where it belongs, 

so your blood can divulge

its secrets. A woman

in a red dress has

no need of secrets,

 

of shame, of the sour

hurt that could mark 

her face like a bruise, 

a scar. A woman

in a red dress

 

is a vice, a crevice,

space you beg to occupy,

empty box now full

thermometer's mercury

now burst from slender glass.

 
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           Heroes Congress Issues                                                              Editors' Issues   
  [Issue 1.0   Section 2: Issue 22   
         
  Editors' Issues:       
  Section 1: Issue 21       

                             

             

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