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SuzanneSuzanne takes you down to a place by the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half crazy
And that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you want to tell her
That you have no love to give her
She gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you think you’ll maybe trust her
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men shall be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think you’ll maybe trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

Suzanne takes you down to a place by the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night forever
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Amid the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

~ Leonard Cohen ~


Diary PoemWalking past midnight to another day
I remember the friendship of youth,
how splendid it was to agree
with love and death, with everything
that could shift us into being,
the great making of something special
that made for moral finery and wealth.
And how ardent such things can be.

In this midnight silence now these thoughts
come not surprising but approving:
they were our baptisms,
long nights spent in conversations
that covered the whole world there and back,
that shook the stars from their skies
and knocked the moon senseless
as our affirmations grew.

We were masters of the world,
there could be nothing there without
our thoughts, without our strict approval,
without our instigations.
And as each spoke in turn ideas seemed
to spew into a knowledge only we could know,
a knowledge that was big and bold and beautiful,
a knowledge of the soul.

Twenty years since those words were heard,
twenty years in which to change our minds.
But now walking through this midnight,
the sky well stocked with stars, the moon
as ripe as she could ever be, it seems so little
has changed since those streams of words
made us poets and fine philosophers
explaining the world and each separate

consequence of human thought and deed.
Nothing much has changed since those
days now, except, perhaps, the friends
are new and the open skies have given way
to the brash bare light of a pub’s ballroom glare,
the place new friendships gather to mull
the finer points, the radiance of the poet’s
stars, the importance of the philosopher

and his mutterings, whoever’s turn
it is to buy another round of drinks
and wonder what the hell,
cogito ergo sum.

Copyright © 1997 John Cornwall (jcornwall@compuserve.com) (copied from the December 1997 issue of
Snakeskin) Included by permission of the author.

 


 


FatherAt five they told me you had become an angel
and you were in heaven looking down.
I never cried, I didn’t know how.
I could never understand how in the photographs
that marked your history there were never wings
or halos like those at school at christmas.
And so I put them there.

At sports days the other daddies came
and cheered with pleasure and delight.
I knew that you were there, looking down,
but it wasn’t the same, not the same at all.
When I won the egg and spoon they gave
me a medal.
I was five and had won gold.

That night I held it high for you to look at,
to examine with your angel eyes.
I held it there for what seemed
hours to be certain you saw it properly
and could say, in an angel’s voice, my son,
my son.
And then I switched off the light.

At ten they told me you had been ill
for a long time and your death was a release
and a relief.
Yet in the photographs it seemed there
was always sunshine, smiles and simplicity,
there was nothing there to indicate disquiet
or disease.

At twenty I tried to die, sixty yellow pills
the doctor gave to take away the sadness
that had come from nowhere and blackened
everything.
It didn’t work, I came awake days later to
the sound of voices being concerned,
vague murmurs of connections and relations.

They told me then that at forty-nine you
had done the same but with success.
There was nothing that could have been done,
it was so sudden and unexpected,
no-one had seen the obvious.
The angel’s wings are broken now, the halo
turned to dust, and at twenty I have learned
enough to cry through pity and through rage.

You never did look down to comfort me,
it had all been lies, lies and a terrible deceit.
I have become you now, a shadow of your memory,
something other than myself.
I have removed each picture from its frame
to mend the image I had made of you
all those years and years and years.

In time, they said, I would heal and understand.
Time, the one thing that for a life has done
nothing but harm, one young child fatherless
who became preoccupied, never any sight
or sound of angels’ wings to clarify the tears
that come now like a habit that will vanquish
and destroy.

Copyright © 1997 John Cornwall (jcornwall@compuserve.com) (copied from the Snakeskin Archive). Included by permission of the author.

 


 


What You ThinkYou think I’m strong…
always in control.
You think problems
don’t tear at my pockets
and troubles don’t bite at my heels.
You think I can
carry a sack of potatoes up the face of Mount Everest
in barefeet, plant a flag of victory at the top, then cook dinner
over an open flame.

You think I’m happy…
always smiling.
You think I can
bring on the clowns and make
hard times look like a three-ring circus.
You think I can
scrape enough joy from life during the best of times to
have enough leftovers during the worst of times to feed myself
and all the Ethiopians.

You think I’m at peace…
unshakeable.
You think I am
cool, calm and collected when
facing muggers, traffic and the taxman.
You think I can
manage life on an island without fresh water or shelter,
that I don’t bleed to death when attacked by local natives who hammer nails
brutally into my heart.

 Copyright © 1998 Lori S. Crowell. Copied from her PoArtry site by permission of the author.

 


 


Places To ReturnThere are landscapes one can own,
bright rooms which look out to the sea,
tall houses where beyond the window
day after day the same dark river
turns slowly through the hills, and there
are homesteads perched on mountaintops
whose cool white caps outlast the spring.

And there are other places which,
although we did not stay for long,
stick in the mind and call us back–
a valley visited one spring
where walking through an apple orchard
we breathed its blossoms with the air.
Return seems like a sacrament.

Then there are landscapes one has lost–
the brown hills circling a wide bay
I watched each afternoon one summer
talking to friends who now are dead.
I like to think I could go back again
and stand out on the balcony,
dizzy with a sense of deja vu.

But coming up these steps to you
at just that moment when the moon,
magnificently full and bright
behind the lattice-work of clouds,
seems almost set upon the rooftops
it illuminates, how shall I
ever summon it again?

–Copyright © 1991 Dana Gioia. It is included in his collection The Gods of Winter published by Graywolf Press and is included here by permission of the author.

 


 


Never A Timethe cool winds rush past me as time ticks by
it feel like the tears that had fallen when i cry
the glow of a street light reminds me of you
theres a time when u luved me & i luved you too
now that time has left and you are now gone
so i guess its my turn to be moving on
so i’ll burn all the pictures and letters too
but there will never be a time when i won’t b luving you
–Copyright © 1996 Veronica Glauber

(Note: In this version I have corrected three typos from the original poem as it appears on http://userpages.itis.com/ivy/poetry/veronica_glauber/5.html . I corrected things which get in the way of understanding the poem: in line 1, “ma” to “me”; in line 3, “meo” to “me”; in line 6, “tutn” to “turn”. L.F.)

 


 

 


BeautyIt is painful
when a beautiful woman
walks alone through a crowd.
She must tread on eggshells
which burst into violet birds
at the touch of her feet,
her figure forever lit from without,
even while folding inwards,
like some dream-burning bit
of origami paper.
She must move
against a fragile paper wall,
forced to step prudently,
as if on the ledge
of a wishing well –
one foot placed in front of the other,
the presentation as careful
as Japanese kaiseki delivered
on dragon-shaped china –
and all this
not for the sake
of being a lady,
but to avoid
jarring awake
the night sleeping on the scales
balanced against her torso.
Enough to think about,
this pilgrimage of one woman
and the world,
but also she will be followed
by everyone’s watching,
waiting for a sign
of pain, a wince
of loneliness,
an invitation or
a slippage from grace –
to catch a glimpse
of this sometime-dancer
in the wings,
probing her spine
for evidence of inner protest.
For everyone around her
will assume that she has just emerged
from a battle of wills
held in some strange, forbidden place,
from a museum, say, in which
she spent the night,
a stowaway claiming
her birthright, sleepless
and staring down the portraits
which were painted to multiply beauty,
to certify, sanction, and give it witnesses,
to escort its wildness,
its radical otherness,
through the galleries of time.

Copyright © 1997 Cynthia Gralla (first published in Beauty for Ashes, v. 1, no. 2) Included by permission of the author.

 


 


UntitledWere I to send this letter, you would feel
the depth of my want pouring from these pages like the
sulfur-tinged water from a hot spring It’s undeniable.
My eyes bore into yours like lasers My heated skin presses against
you seemingly by accident you feel the burn within me,
before we even touch You hear the tenuous quiver of my voice
when I speak your name You must know of my want
I would never dare show this to you the knowledge
of my desire threatens my very being my yearning
would consume us both and leave only destruction
in it’s wake Could I risk all for but a moment’s perfection?
My pulse pounds in my throat I swallow convulsively,
at the mere thought of our union
What would you do with this knowledge?
My desire weakens me – I entertain foolish fantasies.
I feel my resolve deteriorate as your presence
erodes my careful barriers
My breath comes in shallow gasps I move a step closer,
this letter in my hand. I prepare to toss my soul into the maelstrom
A fervent prayer escapes my lips that you will catch it,
and hold it gently to your breast. I close my eyes and release my shaking grip
….and wait.

–Copyright © Ivoryesque@aol.com (copied from Bachagalou’s Poetry Cafe) Included by permission of the author.

 


 


In the Road It was almost midnight.
The rain was pounding down
and drowning out all sound,
but I saw the strain of your mouth
and knew you were sobbing.
Eyes hidden beneath
the dark rim of your hat
as you shakily stood
dressed all in black,
with a pallor most alarming.
Your face hung despairingly
down toward the ground.
The mud of the street
oozing deep around
your wet, leather boots.

I did not have to ask –
I had already heard the news.

You crumbled suddenly
in all of your grief —
stumbling forward
and landing
hard against me.
Your hat tumbling
uselessly toward our feet.
The drenched wool
of your coat
soaking through
the folds of my robe
as you fell
half in the doorway,
half in the road
in such inconsolable
sorrow.

For once
I could not directly relate.
I did not have any words
that could ease or change
any of your tortured pain,
ever.
We broke down together,
upon the hard, wet stone.
Still half in the doorway,
half in the road.
I took you tight within
my protective hold,
understanding
that even my warmth
would feel cold,
because you were
already ruined.

Precious head resting
against my breasts,
you howled in lament
and you wept.
So vulnerable and so alone.
My tremendous love
and cradling arms
not enough
to bring you home.
I rocked you slow
against my bones.
I told you that I was here.
The sky rained upon your legs
its cold and woeful tears.

My beloved
that I held so dear
lay broken in the road.

–Copyright © Jamadhi Verse (copied from Hello Poetry) Included by permission of the author.


 


Plucked from the Vine You spread roses of red
all over my cheeks —
a hot touch of blush
when your eyes meet me.
You gaze hungrily
as if I were a ripened fruit —
as if soft skin, flesh, and sugar juice
were undoing, dripping, glistening
all down your shadowed chin.
Your eyes are like mirrors before me:
they cast back my everything.
Though in this reflection
you have somehow neglected
to return to me even a glimpse
of what once had been
my genuine innocence.

–Copyright © Jamadhi Verse (copied from Hello Poetry) Included by permission of the author.


 


I Once Knew A Woman I once knew a woman and while she loved me, I lived.

In the paralyzing, humming bliss of her gaze, I was like a leaf in the sun.

Her gaze held me in a magnetic grip, as irresistible as gravity

But more like molasses made from lightning.

Her blazing energy infused my being through her eyes and

through her skin

When I held her, I could feel the infinity of her being.

I could perceive the forever depth of her soul echoing

against my chest.

Slowly an envelope of glowing warmth would surround us

in our embrace,

Like orange marmalade in a jar on the windowsill on a beautiful summer

day, when the sky is an impossible shade of blue, and lacy curtains dapple the light

on the ceiling.

When I would look at her, sometimes my heart would ache from her beauty,

an internal beauty that shone outward

as accessible as the golden brown and the scent of a loaf of bread

baked in a stone oven,

in the home of a loving mother for her beloved laughing, loving young children and

as untouchable, private, moist, cool and fleeting as the smell of the air just before dawn.

I felt gifted to behold it, blessed to be surrounded by it, amazingly favored by the Gods

to have once known a woman.

And while she loved me, I lived.

* * *

Copyright © 1997 by Kathryn C. McCotter. Included by permission of the author.



i’ve decide to become an alcoholici’ve decide to become an alcoholic
it’s my right
it’s by genetic legacy
my grandfather was
numerous of my uncles were
on my father’s side as well as my mother’s
why should all the men have the fun?
it’s time the women did something other than compensate.
Open a bottle of wild turkey
put billy holiday on the cd player
throw up in the backyard
fuck the milkman
and
o mom,
would you pay the mortgage, please?
the stub is on my desk somewhere
would you spend an hour or two finding it and putting all my things in order?
there’s a good girl
i knew you’d come through

–Copyright © 2001 Kathy M. .. Included by permission of the author.


  


The CityMud splatters my bare feet
Stars shine in darkened skies
As I walk to where we used to meet
The night echoes some waif’s cries.

I see the pavements lumpy with logs
Huddled against the cold night chill
Humanity interspersed with dogs
Carrion awaiting vultures’ will

The stench of decay fills my soul
Like tangible shadows invading me
Questions whirl; I approach my goal
The now solitary Tamarind Tree

Dim memories of a long forgotten grove
Of verdant sunlit waving leaves
Fleet through my mind; my eyes rove
For the spot, which still its magic weaves

My feet softly caress the hallowed soil
As they have done these many years
Then must I return to again toil
To forget your memory through tears

And become one with the City for another night
And live with the City through another day
The City where my kin are common sight
The City that gives and then takes away.

Copyright © Deepak Menon (“The City” is part of a collection of poems from his third volume of poetry entitled “A Lingering Fragrance….”. It is copied from his Tamam Shudh: Poems of Passion website.) Included by permission of the author.

 


  


BlodeweddAt the least touch of your fingertips
I break into blossom,
my whole chemical composition
transformed.
I sprawl like a grassy meadow
fragrant in the sun;
at the brush of your palm, all my herbs
and spices spill open

frond by frond, lured to unfold
and exhale in the heat;
wild strawberries rife, and pimpernels
flagrant and scarlet, blushing
down their stems.
To mow that rushy bottom;
sweet scything.

All winter I waited silently
for your appeal.
I withered within, dead to all,
curled away, and deaf as clay,
all my life forces ebbing slowly
till now I come to, at your touch,
revived as from a death swoon.

Your sun lightens my sky
and a wind lifts, like God’s angel,
to move the waters,
every inch of me quivers
before your presence,
goose-pimples I get as you glide
over me, and every hair
stands on end.

Hours later I linger
in the ladies toilet,
a sweet scent wafting
from all my pores,
proof positive, if a sign
was needed, that at the least
touch of your fingertips
I break into blossom.

after the Irish of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill –Copyright © John Montague 1993, from his collection About Love published by The Sheep Meadow Press. Included by permission of the author.

 

 


 


Love Letter To The EditorWrote a love letter to the editor
of the New York Times Book Review
to thank her for ignoring you.
If you were too well known
the reading world would devour you
prose and all.

The book, though yours
is mine
to share with capable friends
not covet, nor hoard in uncondoned selfishness.

Lying in bed after midnight
savoring the small paragraphs
as always
disdaining nothing
touching the soul.

Copyright © 1997 Lou Plummer (from Beauty for Ashes, v. 1, no. 2)

 


 


All Stuck Through

There is a boy in the corner of the crowded room
  playing piano
and he is not beautiful
 	but oh
	  he is saying the most wonderful things
with his hands,
  so beautiful it hurts me
	like a thorn that draws blood
and for a minute i am an angel
we all are angels
we all can fly
and he has no sheet music and his hands
	are speaking and
i have never heard anything as hurtingly lovely
  as what his hands are saying
and when he ended
  the pain ended too and the joy of pain receded
but somewhere in the wide world
	of things we know not
there is a piece of my soul
  still singing
  and still hurting
  and still full of music
  and still full of joy
and all stuck through with thorns.

Copyright © 1999 Laura Sorensen

 


 


TruthTruth is an ogre to her foes,
And yet like any woman,
Lovers find her beauty grows
The more they gaze upon her.
But listen up, you senseless clowns,
Who think you’d like to catch her —
She’s hunting you in fields and towns
And you are not her master.

by “Void”, 1998


 Babylon, a Prophecy

Oh Babylon the Great, your ways are wise and wonderful!
Your beauty is incomparable, your wealth cannot be counted!
You count honesty a vice, and deception a virtue;
Murder a right and Life a crime! Your wisdom is unfathomable, your power beyond comprehension!
Here you have built your Utopia,
Here you have built your ideal world,
And you will live in it forever.
Not even God will prevent you!

I have watched you closely, nation of nations!
I have travelled among your great cities, your towns, your hamlets —
Even the backward places begin to yield to your great power!
There is no doubt you have won your place among gods, you of Babylon!

You built a place in your own image —
Murderers complain of thieves, thieves of murderers —
Your protectors complain of the citizens, the citizens of their protectors.
How strongly you are united in this purpose!

I have seen such fine things — skeletons wearing the finest of raiments,
The costliest of perfumes, the most charming of smiles. . . .
Men with the memories of sharks — and desires to match.
Your vision is fit for legends. You are great enough to refuse my pleas,
Even when it costs you dearly. You can easily afford to refuse my gifts.
How great you must be to rule your own lives with such wisdom!
From long and personal experience you suspect any who act selflessly,
And welcome only those whose motives you understand.
Such discernment is to be praised!
Babylon, proudest of cities! Ruler of destinies!
Your power is great! Any who step off the rocks into your sea
Must be overwhelmed by your presence — such are your numbers!
There will be no hell forged for you — you build your own fate.
Nowhere is your presence unfelt, for you soar as an eagle
Searching for prey, but mighty as a dragon, terrible as a lion!
All the nations fear you, all try to imitate your greatness,
Hail to thee, Babylon! Hail to thee! The nations adore thee!

by “Void”, 1998



Psalm 183Pardon me if I seem to cop an attitude
But the attitude is one of worship
And is, I think, sincere.
My heart swells
against the prison of my ribs
And grows to keep my lungs from seeking air.
Still the breath is not pushed out
By such a simple force as pride
But by the glory of my dreaming
That I might, perhaps, be loved
By you.

Pardon me if I’m moved to endless chatter
But I fear that the beauty of the silence,
As I watch your distant eyes
Caress the words I have arranged
As atonement, on the page, as sacrifice,
Might cause my soul to rise
Above this flesh
And leave inert these hands
With which I spell these prayers
Against your thighs.

Pardon me;
I burden you with too much honour.
I know you are no goddess,
Simply human,
Still alive.
The others who I prayed would love me
Ran,
Or else I was the one to run.
And yet their cracked reflections
Howl to me from pools of molten glass
Within my hidden pantheon.
I know you’ve missed perfection,
But your quirks and flaws
Are not personal betrayals,
But are the marks left
By the kiss of angels,
Allowing you to live within
This far too real world.

Pardon me if these songs of praise defile you
But I’ll try to keep my hosannahs
To a quiet whisper,
And try, as I stroke your face,
Not to inscribe the Holy Name upon your brow,
Not to believe that you are both
Creator and Creation
And that you, therefore,
Must obey my will.
For as I rest
My head upon your shoulder
My lips against your throat,
I read your pulse as the rhythm
Of the rushing of the waves,
Your breaths as the passage
Of clouds against a bright and empty sky,
The gentle motion of your breasts
As the soft processional of continents,
As, within this dark and silent world,
We define
A temporary world of our own.

— Joseph Zitt
jzitt@humansystems.com

Copyright © 1991 Joseph Zitt. May be freely distributed by cybernetic
media; hardcopies are limited to single printings for personal use.

 


 


ButterflySometimes love is
like a butterfly.
We chase it in joy
and laughters way

Watch it dance
in the air around us
like two happy children.

Then we become greedy
and catch it and break
its wings …

The butterfly will always
be beautiful and we will
always remember its
pretty flight
but it is damaged
beyond repair.

Only a miracle can save it now,
for otherwise it will be lost forever.
Seeking for help
but none to be given.
All I want to do now is to
die with it, and be buried under
a thick layer of sand…

How much pain can be done,
how much suffering is there ?
I loved you so much, and
now you’re gone….

I want the butterfly to spread
its wings again and rise to
the sky…
But the sky is dark and will
it ever fly or touch the clouds again ?

 


 


This child born of the small dark hours
is small herself and still unsure
of life, perhaps; not fully shaped.
Daylight will show us she is ours,

but who may know her finally
or tell whence comes her beating heart
or the charmed silence in her eyes?
Great Eros fathered her through me,

he who has given us our rich
and hidden life–whom we adore.
Take her, dear Paula, search her face,
find of his splendor one bright trace.

(Note: The author of this poem considers it “an early effort of low quality” and no longer wishes to be associated with it.)

 

 


 

Whatever I may be, or think, or do,
I offer all of it, great God, to you,
not to relieve myself of the hard choice
of answering each call in my own voice,
nor to evade responsibility
of tasting the day’s joy or misery
wholeheartedly, in all my depths of self–
but, God, because I feel you are my Self,
all that I have been, all that I will be,
the secret strength, the hidden potency
and far, far more–for you are all else, too,
and the great wind of freedom blowing through.
You’re other, I can’t know you; but your voice
sings to my living depths, and I rejoice.

(Note: The author of this poem considers it “an early effort of low quality” and no longer wishes to be associated with it.)

 


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