Translated by Marilyn Nelson
Hospital. In sinking
yellow gardens. Water
In a white bed lies
my immortal father.
Behind our closed eyes
we are busily
throwing leaves into the air
to make gold rain.
When we run
our feet swish.
Come evening we rake
the litter together,
make a bonfire.
In the air above the flames
his face is peeled
his glance in mine
before it congeals.
The potatoes in the ashes
are for me.
Can everything burn, can everything give light
after you died, father
I found an old cigar butt
on the planing-bench in your workshop
matches and avalanche
I ride high in the saddle:
or you're dead meat
I snarl at all
the small rodents in my heat
the day is a falcon
On my shoulder
The sparrows whisper
in the dark at the back door
I sprinkle salt
at their tails
Letter To My Flighty
Don't listen to me
when I say
you should obey
when I say
humanity is lost
when every day I show you
my programmed life
use my safety nets
but unveil them
when they become ingenious traps
use my helping hands
but break away
when they become ugly tentacles
that surround and deform you
don't listen to me
don't feel guilty
The air's no longer sliding across me.
Drunk on its own invisible blood,
the creek sounds louder than the
I'm keeping my stubbed toe carefully hidden.
I see my name beneath me, smeared with
whose fingers turn into snakes in a hundred stories.
As long as I remember I own none of
I pick, I may take these apples from their branch.
I read a list of foods that make me
fold the list into a square, and throw it away.
I think I have the right impression of
wind and its fish.
Now I see them, now I see them magnified, now I see them not.
I see no star, I see no flower, I see
no fruit-bearing trees.
Three times tonight sirens have darkened the moon,
twice terror has grabbed and shaken me,
hungry and crying, behind a strange cold house.
I seem to have fallen onto a garden
where poplars know me
and the crisp brown edges of my left hand flake off.
Each detour adds up to a cabin in these
a stove burns as a woman reads a story to her son.
He joins me tonight at the wheel of a
cool fall evening
when all the clocks in town read differently.
Alert to shifts in the mood of the
I listen in silence to the story she told him.
Midnight comes like warm water,
softening each edge.
was nothing but a dog
slept in mud, scratching at the
playing on her skin. A dog
lived in a hole behind a bush
house small as a box of matches.
the hole would cool her body
her tongue hung by her plastic dish,
shriveling. No water, but crumbs of dirt.
hole would keep her warm enough
frost fingers dug needles into her paws.
was chained, thick and heavy like her tongue
hanging by her empty dish, like the man
chained her there, waddling like a duck
across grass dry as old bristles. A man
own tongue was heavy with beer
blasphemy, tempered in rancid weed.
visited her there a few times,
visiting a friend, who occasionally
spilled water into her dish, tossing
stuffed rabbit, dangling feet, dislocated head,
the air for Pal, as she spoke to Sasha,
light in the steamy air that fell heavy
the dirt at her feet. A deadly summer for playing
the lawn. No rain for weeks on the frying trees.
escaped once. Broke her chain.
cheered, waved my freedom flag,
praying she’d never return to the chain
the dirt and the fat man
smoked weed, drank beer, cursed.
highest on the food chain
his ability to reason.
the dog was found.
After the rain fell
softer than the wind,
two chickadees hopped
on the railing of the deck.
One of them visited
our wren-house. The other
didn't. When the birds
turned their heads, the wind
tousled their brown-
gray feathers. And I was caught
hand under chin-staring through blinds.
So I began to prepare my defense,
declaring my certain innocence.
But by the time I spoke,
both bodies of evidence
had flown away.
Suzanne Richardson Harvey
Living on Landfill
Her friends complained of wind shifts
Colors that galloped through a kaleidoscope
Like an avalanche fueled
By rage, terror, desire
To win the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval
No one was sure
Her selves lay in the path of ordinary disaster
Like skyscrapers on landfill
When they disappeared, no one noticed
The vacant lots she had inhabited
None of them long enough.
I'm Up Greatham Creek
It is an island in the Tees
an untidy rotting plank or two
from the industrial sludge
of the mainland bank
its homestead whitewashed waste brick
and tarpaulin over composite board
its heating a black cast-iron stove
its bed a rickety bunk
Its outhouse sheds are full
of rotting junk
its one mildewed tree
grimed with soot
its land covered with scorched grass
a wilderness of weeds
it is a sepia-rusted place
with dismal views of oil refineries
is stuck in muddy water
left wallowing in a polluted mind
is a picture of irreversible decay
It is my life
The home movie of the fenced-in putting
green surrounding a house of sticks puts
a nation to sleep, so that if anyone wakes
he is without the bacon to buy his life back.
Franklin's promise of original self-crafted
homo sapiens was buried among pages
of fiction to be disinterred by desperate
shovelers. Mass produced husbands
and wives spray lacquer on each
of the conveyer belt's children and lose
them on continental shelves. The people
of ceramic molds fear the feeling of
their bodies in their hands to keep a thought
of their own from adding or subtracting. Too
few lumps of clay from the land of the free
find their way to a hand of the brave.
Danish author, has published four collections of poems, two
volumes of short stories, and two novels. The winner of many Danish
and Scandinavian fellowships and prizes, she lives in Jutland. The
above poems were selected from Pedersen's book,
Thirteenth Month published by
Oberlin College Press; FIELD Translation Series.
Marilyn Nelson, American poet
and translator, has published eight collections of poems, including A
Wreath for Emmett Till, and has won numerous awards and prizes.
She has been Poet Laureate of Connecticut since 2000.
James Cushing, Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine, 1983, winner of Renegade Magazine’s
1994 “Warlord of the Subculture” Award, has published two full-length
collections of his poetry, You and the Night and the Music (Cahuenga
Press, 1991) and The Length of an Afternoon (Cahuenga Press, 1999).
His poems and essays have appeared in such publications as Antioch
Review, California Quarterly, Denver Quarterly,
Massachusetts Review and Yabolusha Review, as well as in
The Second Set, a jazz-poetry anthology edited by Yusef Komunyakaa
(Indiana UP, 1996). He joined Cal Poly's faculty
in 1989, having previously taught at UC Davis and Cuesta College. Cushing
hosts a jazz program on Cal Poly’s radio station, KCPR.
Wallner is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Augustana
College, Rock Island, Illinois, having majored in English literature with a
minor in journalism. She is also a member of the English Honor Society.
Her non-fiction work has appeared in journals and newspapers, including: Augustana
Magazine; Quad-City Times
(Davenport, Iowa); the
(Melrose Park, Illinois); New Realities
and Trinity Today (Trinity
Medical Center, Rock Island, Illinois); PCC
News and the Beacon
(Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa);
Bonsai (Summer 2005). Her poetry
has appeared in Arts News
(“American Gothic,” October 2002); in
Beginnings (“Locker 94,” Spring 2004); and in
Lucidity (“Heart Attack,”
December 2005). “Chicken Soup” is currently in press with
Wallner's poetry and short fiction
have also received first prize at the Midwest Writers Workshop, Rock Island,
Illinois (June 2002) and her poem, “53rd Street,” is a finalist
in the 7th International Mattia Poetry Competition in Canada.
Lucidity also awarded “No Words”
with Honorable Mention (December 2005). Her “Only in America,” was the
only poem included in a refugee story anthology published December 16, 2005.
is a poet, free lance writer, and Poetry Co-Editor of The
Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
Her recent poetry publications Blue Fifth Review, Southern
Hum, Adagio Verse Quarterly, The Centrifugal Eye, and The Blueprint: An
Assemblage of the Fifth Element. She has a chapbook, Gathering the
Broken Pieces, available from
Richardson Harvey, Ph.D. lectured for 19 years
in the English Department of Stanford University
in California. She's now retired. In
addition, during that time for almost a decade,
she served as a resident fellow in an all-freshmen
dormitory. Before that, she
was an instructor at Tufts University in New England, where
she received her
doctorate in Elizabethan poetry, specifically that of Edmund
Spenser. Recently, in her retirement for about six years,
she has been
active in teaching at Emeritus College in the San
Francisco Bay Area.
born in the industrial Black Country of England. He's the
editor of Purple Patch Magazine since 1976.
is the director of writing programs at
Emmanuel College in Boston where he
teaches writing and poetry as
literature courses. His poems have
been published widely in such journals as Rolling Stone (yes,
once they published poetry), Poetry Magazine (featured poet),
Grand Street (featured poet), New Letters, Negative
Capability, Confrontation Magazine, Barrelhouse Review,
West 47 (Ireland), Aesthetica Review (England),
New Delta Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. You may
also read, or listen to Murphy read,
poems in the current issue of Inertia Magazine (www.inertiamagazine.com).
essay “Vanishing Artist: American Poet and Differend” was
published in Fulcrum: An Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics
and again in The International Journal of the Humanities.