A Gathering of Poems


from ENGL something-or-other


Poetry Workshop


Goshen College

April 26-30, 2004


All rights reserved. Copyright © Goshen College, 2004



Tristan King, a 20th or 21st Perspective Manifesto Table of Contents

Katie Mast, Three Mornings, Shorn Hair, and (untitled)
Tabitha Rowe, Colors of a Burn and Love's Landscape
Paul Horst, Quest and Brothers

Joel Fath, On herons and bubbles and Eavesdropping Poet; A Lesson in Active Classroom Listening
Tristan King, Prodigal and In the Way of the Tornado 
Jeff Gundy, Dark Man Blues and Signature, or Jonathan Edwards and Joe Walsh Meet in the Electric Brew
Christina Cruz, A place where this sadness might fit, Being with You, and Found Art

Kristin Buller, I used to hate my mother, When salmon do not migrate, and Love is not a feeling

Bethany Blough, Restraint and Patience and Some Things I Haven’t Been Able to Tell You, Number One

Alice Houston, Upon My Subsequent Arrest by the Poetry Police, All I Ever Wanted, and soft moss gathers below the falls . . .

            Anita Hooley, Vietnamese Dance, Introduction Poem, and All I Ever Wanted

Kristine Bowman, Of Earth and Children, Of Childhood Fears and the Moon, and Of Mothers and Daughters


          A Note: During the last week of April, 2004, these students and I gathered for an intensive poetry workshop at Goshen College. Especially in the first two very long days, we threw ourselves into the creation of new poems and tried a variety of exercises and activities. We also workshopped each others’ poems, walked about in the woods near campus, and talked, argued, and laughed voluminously about poetry, life, work, love, death, nature, form, sound, sex, and other such matters of import to poets and other living beings. By the end of the week, when the students read some of their poems to an appreciative audience, it was plain that a number of remarkable new poems had come into being—and more continued to emerge as the students completed their portfolios.

            The poems here are only a sampling of some of the best work to come out of the workshop, and only a preview of the fine work that I expect will come from this talented group of young writers in the future. They are arranged more or less in the order that they came in, though I did decide to move Tristan King’s quirky alternative table of contents near the beginning.

Jeff Gundy

May 2004

a 20th or 21st Perspective Manifesto Table of Contents


Introduction.  Repeat yourself.

Chapter 1.  Knock on the walls.

Chapter 2.  Listen for the echo.

Chapter 3.  Ignore the likely painting on the other side

Chapter 4.  As you swing the sledge.

Chapter 5.  If there is nothing that bothers you

Chapter 6.  About writing poems

Chapter 7.  About revision

Chapter 8.  Or using the word ‘love’

Chapter 9.  We have a hole for you.

Chapter 10.  If poems are a discomfort

Chapter 11.  Write more of them

Chapter 12.  Which will necessitate having a secret ritual

Chapter 13.  (tell no one

Chapter 14.  to read this chapter)

Chapter 15.  For observance after revisions.

Chapter 16.  Poems are like triage:

Chapter 17.  Poets are like triage:

Chapter 18.  Decide who’s going to live and work on them.

Chapter 19.  Don’t assume dignity.

Chapter 20.  Keep the drowning tub handy.

Conclusion.  Learn how to finish a poem.

Appendix A. 

New words: calliberalitive, awout and arald, mulst, et al.

Appendix B.

          The Revised and Updated Manifesto.

Appendix C.

Your gift of flying will take over

be honest they will love you

when you turn your gift off

at 10,000 feet





Conclusion and Appendix B are missing. 

Putative misspelled on pages 42 and 193.


          Tristan King



Three Mornings


I loved mornings as a child,

crawling over my grandma’s soft body

to snuggle deep into the warm space under the covers

between her and grandpa.

Strings played Vivaldi over the radio-alarm clock sitting on the headboard

while we told each other our dreams from the past night

and created animals out of the cracking plaster ceiling

as the sun peeked through the yellowing curtains.

I told them I’d do this until I turned 18.


For three months of mornings

 I lifted my tired body from the foam mattress

taking up too much space on my sister’s floor

while Dad put insulation into my walls.

It was her room; we listened to her music.

Metallica, Ween, and Rusted Root lingered in my head

as I daydreamed through economics.


This morning I woke with my face so close to yours

that I felt your rainforest breath

beneath my sleepy right eye.

Your arm rested on the soft saddle

between my ribs and hips

and my cells quivered with the echo from the tympani in your chest.

I stared at the smooth, round flesh hiding your dreams

from the sun’s omniscient light.


          Katie Mast


Shorn hair


Then the music we danced to in our salmon-colored kitchen

was British rap:

an angry melding of slang we couldn’t quite understand.


That was when Rosanna tied her hair into a hundred pigtails

and laid them on the table when she cut them,

set aside to give to friends back home:

comrades who had similar waist-length locks,

labeling themselves hippies by means of long hair, homemade clothes, and incense,

          (the heavy earth smell of nag champa smoke)


She whips her chin towards her back in a motion that would have sent her hair

hurtling over her shoulder

before she snipped the last ponytail.


She ponders momentarily if she has made the right choice,

to shed her most identifying feature.

Yes, she concludes, for in this way

she is free to redefine herself. 


That was when we cooked lemon juice and sugar,

stirring the concoction for an hour,

cutting strips of old bed sheets to fit neatly along our calves:

summer was on its way,

and our winter-hairy legs wanted air


We laid newspaper in an overlapping pattern on the kitchen floor

to catch any sticky drops

before we smear the wax on our anticipating skin.


The adrenaline rush and foreign feel of smooth shins

makes this yearly ritual bearable. In this way,

we pretend we are counter-culture. 


In our bare legs we danced to British rap

smartly laughing at the slang

we thought was meant to be funny. 


          Katie Mast




They tumble from late night parties into here.

Made-up women dressed as their favorite literary characters:

Anne of Green Gables, Huck Finn; the creative one, Grendel.


What a way to save to finish college.

But that’s what I’m doing,

the bakery assistant sleeping

on Friday nights.  I look at

the clock hanging on the wall,

remind them that I have to work at six-o’clock,

wish that they would stop screaming: I am not like them.


Anne of Green Gables has a scarf around her throat

and giggles into her hand.  She thinks

her dyed fire-red hair makes up

for what she lacks in confidence.

“Guess what I did?”

she croons into my ear and has me examine her neck.

A fresh hickey adorns her skin.


I think of leaving the Coronas on the back step for Student Life to find

when the girls laugh, describing the men at the party.

Friday and Saturday, every weekend, they drink and dance to ‘80’s pop.

We don’t even lock our doors anymore,

so when they forget to take their keys to the party, like Grendel did

last night, they don’t have to sleep in the garage

since I won’t hear the doorbell while I’m sleeping.


In the bathroom, Huck Finn sounds like someone dying:

shuddering moans and guttural coughing

as a night of unimpeded indulgence

shows its unpleasant consequences.

Grendel stumbles to the sink, her mascara smudging:

she laughs at how she needs some water.

I know she’ll wake up with microphones in her head,

amplifying the smallest noise into cacophony

But she feels she’s really connected with people tonight. 

I shouldn’t complain; I suppose I connected with John Lennon tonight

while I danced alone in the kitchen

to Abbey Road.


          Katie Mast




Colors of a Burn


Girls with gifts in

Hands on fire,

lit with a crawling blue flame.

Hottest, darkest



Heated hands up and out

to the sky in


Flaming as glow worms

in the dim twilight.

Darker, deeper



A spritz of spray,

strike of red-headed

match and sizzle of yellow flame;

the sun captured on a stick.

Hotter, lighter



Rest in peace with a whoosh

and wave,

hands and skin still supple.

Still glowing, white flame;

the moon embodied.

Cleansed, softened.



Tabitha Rowe


Love’s Landscape


“Sagittarius, laid back and understanding”

but also looking to be saved.

From lost love, from found love, fearing to be lost soon.

Three walls of black stone told

me what the heavens say of me and agree with the stars

as they chafe my mind against itself.

A mummery of scent. A museum of scent: is like

the sound of a flute played not by lips but by wind.

The landscape is flat but still the melancholy grows steeper.


          Tabitha Rowe



I can feel blood slow

as it works its way through my arms

and hands.

If I leave them still

they sleep and tingle.

Life seems to slow now.

My body and mind slowly separate.

I look on my body with new awe.

The soul floats away, somewhere above the trees.


It seems so strange to move this way.

I laugh. How did I move that hand?

I look back at myself as an object of meditation,

every line, wrinkle and hair.


As I approach the forest

the wind moves.

The trees talk in loud whispers,

wondering what this creature is

that dares to come among them.


In the darkness, messengers of Manito

pop their long necks from the water

to look upon this strange starving creature.

Four times the water splashes.

I am accepted.


I ask them “if it pleases you

Let me stay in your presence.

I ask you now for wisdom.”




          Paul Horst




Meandering home after dark,

we see through the bare trees

a red light, blinking like a bloodshot eye.


“What if they learned how

to brainwash you with lights on towers?” I ask.

Ben, the oldest, laughs.

He says it’s ridiculous;

a brainwash is more sinister

and medieval than that.

“What’s a brainwash?”

Little Chris wants to know:

“In dungeons, they lock you up

and drip water on your face for hours . . .”

“Do they use soap?”

Poor Chris.

“ . . . no,” Ben says,

sometimes they shock you with cut wires

or pull you between two horses.”

Chris starts to whimper.

The call of some nightbird

pierces like a subterranean scream.

“Let’s go.”


We head toward the houselights.

“I wonder,” I say, “if mom and dad

are aliens who raise us for meat?”

A whispered sidelong “shut up,”

and off home.


          Paul Horst




On herons and bubbles


Bubble islands surround two twiggy legs

of a blue heron I've not seen before. Could it be

that the arrival of a blue heron marks

a turning point for the Elkhart River?

Countless unnatural bubbles stream past,

touching the heron’s skin,

bursting upon contact.

The heron steps out of the bubble patch into

clear water. The bubbles return,

harassing the heron’s ability to locate prey.


What brought you here to this river of all

rivers? Why look upon spotted water?

Do you, like me, ever take your wing and

spread the bubbles away, out of your vision?


It's like at the bakery when I wash dishes and the soap

suds obstruct my vision – the awaiting blade – hidden by

puffy clouds of bubbles.


A friend of mine once saw a heron trip, come splashing

down into the water. Have you ever tripped

because of the bubbles? Bashed your head on a rock?


The bubbles at the bakery are natural, born of chemical

free dish soap. But what of the bubbles

at your feet? Do they clog your feathers,

corrupt your ability to fly?

To live?


joel fath

may 2004



Eavesdropping Poet; A Lesson in Active Classroom Listening


Upon sour barkdust nutrients

are placed the seeds of new trees.


To ramble without our guided maps

is to put aside those graduation caps.


Silence's sweet saturated song

stimulates soft sighing, almost sung.


She pirate in the corner,

knew her as Christina the former.


Give the bears their own stanza,

allow them space to hunt their manna.


The pretty naturey thing

upon which the nightingale sings.


Pick a flower before throwing it away

like the boy with flailing branch mows down God's display.


While cooper's hawks make love in the elm tree

squirrels roast nuts and nibble on brie.


joel fath

may 2004






From my breakfast window I saw a truck

hauling a lone two-by-four on its bed

to a construction site.  Usually the trucks bring

culvert sections, pipes, grates, things to be,


and fulfill their true excremental purpose

when the foremen’s mistakes get hauled off

to be burned, quarantined, or scalded for

recycling.  Exiting the area, the dumptruck tires churn

the pavement into mud under wasteful

burdens: i-beams protrude like obscene cowlicks

and hundreds of two-by-fours piled

like the excesses of God’s original

earth-creature, dual-gendered, consistently

imperfect, and discarded after every attempt

at a sixth day.  The insidious, bewildering extra rib,


amazing waste produced in throes

of nascency, as if that was the point.  With its only

wooden cargo lashed down three times

the flatbed slowed to a lurch

along the three blocks of dirty pavement, turning

gingerly toward the site

as if considering the wreckage of the entire

intersection to make sense of the delivery. The final board,


undeniable superlative

slouching toward the addicted

foremen, another sixteen footer to replace

yesterday’s that was cut by mistake into uneven

halves and driven off the lot in late afternoon, refuse

unwilling of an outcome. 

That morning I thought of new meanings for the word ‘prodigal:’

dogged, scarred, cursed.


Tristan King

In the Way of the Tornado   


You had withdrawal pain again

so we didn’t run down to the cellar, but I was restless too 

and cracked a mason jar against the stone

with my foot.  The tallow dripped

like eggs from a split fish,

an apology on the dusty cement.

When I wiped it up the thick

puddle felt textureless, matching

my core temperature.

“It’s symbiotic,”

you said to me from behind your palm,

and it holds on.”

Only below a funnel of debris does that kind

of survival make sense: imagine the fat

exchanging its retained, surprising heat

for my double-helix in shared electrical impulses. 

The tallow spread down my hand

like another finger,

neither relentless nor passive,

only pointing itself thinner.


The sirens above us and the nerves firing in your legs

and arms overturned the clean days into

two years’ of persistent, begging migraines.

You and I cornered our stories underground, squatted

by the southwestern shelves, admitting

the silly panic, the mess of

awkward solemnity—

to be mutually guided, or sub-chaotic, or regardless.



Tristan King






Dark Man Blues



Who is the dark man walking in the woods along the path,

beside us, not with us? The first in line now I feel the steps


of all the others, their weight and uncertainty and trust

through the hands on my shoulders. I am learning what


the catalpa knows, the seedy cousin of the one outside

my childhood window with its rattly long pods like rations


for the trip to the next life. I know how the tulip poplar

met the black cherry, how they agreed to mingle their roots


and live one life together, how year upon year they leaned apart,

awkward and alive. All that was obscured is now open,


said the child. Below the dam the long heron, the emblem,

the selfish messenger, stalks his late dinner in the shallows.


In the dry marsh last year’s twisted arrangements

remain in place, and every small creature waits for news.


The burning cities are still far away. Rivers have vanished

suddenly, but not our rivers. Even in spring dusk comes early


in these woods, and yet the true dark never arrives.

Somehow Jupiter finds its way through the clouds,


high  and sharp as the bells striking a quarter past.

Back at the dam all the water is still willing to go down.


          Jeff Gundy


Signature, or Jonathan Edwards and Joe Walsh Meet in the Electric Brew



Signing 200 times in a row will reveal the weak spots in any soul.

What hope can there be for a middleaged guy who can't make


a decent G or a y that doesn't get twisted this way or the other?

If I could please myself just once I'd know what to aim for,


but over and over it's just no, not quite. I'm no closer to getting

it right than the poor little guy whose mother just shoved him away


for interrupting—he stuck his thumb in his mouth and wandered off

to buy candy or drugs or meet some stranger in the bathroom.


We're one step from falling through the rotten cover of the world,

always, and that's why I go on so earnestly about the grammar of trees


and earning the ending and how to say I am sad and the world

is cold, my house is poor and my car is old in a pleasingly adept


and grounded fashion, e.g. The lovely women have cell phones

pressed to their ears, or All the roses and whisky in the world


won't get me through another night. No amount of coffee

will realign the nubbly ions of my blood, the world hurls itself


through space at least five ways at once and not only is the past

gone, it’s way the hell over there too. I can’t complain


but sometimes I still do. Even my angry love of the seminal

rock musicians of the last century is dissolving in apocalyptic


nostalgia as some jerked over band sings “Norwegian Wood”

in French while the Suburbans and Odysseys and Durangos


fight it out on the streets and the pale leaves of the sidewalk trees

signal wildly at the wild wind, hey, did we sign up for this?


          Jeff Gundy





A place where this sadness might fit


Remember how we saw the day lay its last breath

across the body of the dunes, how the sky unfolded

its dark-limbs over the slopes.  We trudged searching


through the bone-white dust, but all we found by nightfall

were sparse stands of yucca and a hollow where wind carved

through, needling our eyes with sand, shaking the tent cloth


like a rabbit in a coyote’s jaws while we dragged it

still flailing to the ground, rooted it with metal, nylon

slapping like a trapped bird. When the stakes were in,


we lifted our heads to the moon and howled,

sky-space filling our rib-cages, rattling, longing, furious

at the licked-clean plate of moon that had left us


still so famished.  I couldn’t tell if the sand ate our sound

like our footprints from the dune-side, or if

it was the wind, dark, snarling animal, that took


our voices into its belly, seethed back, smashed the slender stem

of the yucca plants into the ground, stormed in circles in its cage

of the horizon, wailing that no sand-built hills could keep it. 


No use worrying if the tent will hold on this cold, shifting

belly of sand.  No use trying to sleep.  But remember how

the moon made us each glow like the center of its spotlight


as we pursed our lips, hurled up shit-fuck blood-fur cries.

I remember you stirring beside me, the warm wire

of your body as the night sprawled, frigid, all directions.


Christina Cruz



Being with you


All day I root myself in the world.  I love every body

I come across to touch, its warm jointed heaviness

(each fingertip laid to my lips)—I crave the cold skin


of the soil path under my feet, the creaking rough graze

of tree trunks husking with spring under my cheek—

privately, I nestle into the sturdy torsos


of chairs, savor the sudden bright seep of my raw-skinned

knees, the pinking swell—clasp my own two hands

together like lovers discovering each other because


I know this is the world which houses you,

which somewhere bears your warm weight like a feather

on its flank, your two lined clay feet, and that somewhere


you too come alive with feeling, the tongue of the intimate air

on your skin, sinews sparking with sense inside the universe. 

O my friend.  I’m here with you. I’m in a body too.


Christina Cruz



Found Art


On the road home, you pull off for jagged scraps

of hubcap from the gutter, flung from junkyard

cars as they spun down the highway, coughing

in five o’clock traffic. In the tall grass, the perfect

tin can waits, mossed with rust, precisely straight-

sided—a metal basin white-glossed in garage-sale

sun, bottom dark-eyed with holes like the liver-

marked back of an old woman—these things


you hoard, a harvest in your basement—

you gather like a bone-collector the separated

pieces of bodies, the old used.  You like the

femininity of the rugged and round, trash that curves

in the organic buckles of the over-pressed, the smooth

spine-bent bow of aluminum platters, the spent strength

of clocks pointing silently in circles, washers opening

in calm O’s, dismembered gauges from dead machines

that measure nothing anymore, their arrows that blink

behind glass like baffled eyes. 


Sister, in the cluttered silence of your studio you sit

till the pieces sing to you, raise in chord the clashes

of their crushedness.  In this junk-heap each tragedy

took sound, made a metal-scream, caved with unbearable

weight to become its shock-made shape that no longer

holds what it’s supposed to.


My dear, I’ve begun to bring you junk

myself.  At the river clean-up, I drag twisted metal

from the opaque body of the water.  The other day

I offered you a chipped plate, full moon porcelain

webbed with hair-thin cracks.  It’s not just that you

teach my eyes to find broken things like treasures—

it’s that in the basement, you reassemble something

I’ve seen before, something roadside-lost, something


waiting in the gravel—you find the exquisite way

the curves of old serving spoons nestle into the waists

of warped counter-tops pocked with cup-stains,

the precarious balance of spheres, of negative space.


Christina Cruz



I used to hate my mother


That was years, the same every day.

My one wish, not to be

chucked back into childhood again.

Some kinds of love leave only wreckage.


Would I ever be so brave as to announce

how I hated her?

I’m not nine anymore, wearing

my blue and white striped sweater, glasses

that shrank my face,

the birthday party

when she forgot to ice the cake.


What poetry demands is worse than

nakedness, and less predictable,

so I will reach out my hand and

in this new trust

we can wallow

in the muck for hours.


            Kristin Buller



when salmon do not migrate


Learn my secret name.                    

Not what I’ve studied but

my sustenance. 

I am my own light.  Say it and I’ll cry.

After assembling newsletters,

after homemade toast

and Amish jam served with our words,

after unasked questions and handmade rosaries

after the softness of your lips

brings me back to myself.

I am my own light.  I have bruised

in collisions, stretched my skin trying to save

what needed to be lost.  I’ve done it all

to be known as myself.  With secrets.

I have principles.  I will listen

about the migration of salmon

in rivers and your voice.                                                                 

I have nothing to keep me safe--

no flawless promise, no waiting

net, no armor.

I will not shout.

You are standing here in

the navy presence of memory, and I

stretch towards you.  Inside my skin,

loving this space

my body believes in.


            Kristin Buller



love is not a feeling


Philosophy Gym is at

Woodlawn and 55th and

her purple heart

tries not to fall apart

as she assembles

radioactive waste along the

northside curb right before Jimmie’s.


she couldn’t tell anyone

about the child and the gift

that had been slipped into

her pocket, how that had

changed everything.


“How do I say goodbye to what

we’ve had?” she shudders and 

in a few moments someone

will throw a potato at her

from a passing dodge ram and

she’ll strut after them

and forget about saying goodbye,

or what we had.


I’ve never been as lonely as

when I was with you and

the door to Philosophy Gym

slams shut on the

wasted world

at the corner of Woodlawn and 55th. 


            Kristin Buller



Restraint and Patience


The names of the dead are written on the walls.

Underneath the words, “Occupation Kills.”


The arabic script flows red on white,

passing through two street blocks.


A little girl draws a picture of a bomb exploding

on a home, in the margins she writes,


“Restraint and patience are our weapons.”


Doug says that compassion and respect for the other

are the true religion and if you live your faith they will see it.


In my bed, alone at night, I pray for my family,

and fall asleep to whistles from night trains in the distance.


Bethany Blough



Some Things I Haven’t Been Able to Tell You

Number One


I haven’t been able to tell you

about my grandpa who died in 1958.

He sailed on merchant ships to Africa and Europe.

He sent my grandma pictures of the horses

and the European buildings that didn’t remind him of the barns in

Pennsylvania.  Each of their letters began,

“I am writing to you with love in the name of Jesus.”


I found their letters in the attic this summer,

it’s the only time I’ve ever had the chance to hear his voice.


I haven’t been able to tell you

about my aunt who, 12 years ago, left my uncle

to live with her boyfriend in the trailer park across town. 

The boyfriend was an old man from work.

They met at LAW Transportation,

the trucking company where she had been for six months.

My mom called her every morning and pleaded

for her to come to come.


She finally came back that May, full of repentance,

and no one in my family has spoken of it since.


I haven’t been able to tell you

about my cousin who drew a picture for his family’s

Christmas Card each year.  The scene was always in black and white

except for a small red cardinal in a tree somewhere.

He died on his motorcycle two summers ago in August. 


His funeral was on the hottest day that summer,

and through it all a cardinal sang in the treetops.


I haven’t been able to tell you

that I hold family secrets and our tragedies

like treasures in the box of my past.

We feign perfection and I’ve learned through the years

that this daily make believe is what begins to kill us.


I promise you that everything I’ve ever known

will some day be ours.


            Bethany Blough


Upon My Subsequent Arrest by the Poetry Police

By Alice Houston, who only seldom and innocently pokes fun at literary convention

Text Box: While strolling down the highway
Just the other day,
A policeman pulled beside me
And started then to say:

“Whaddya think you’re doing?
Much to my dismay,
It appears you’re rhyming words
And now you’ll have to pay!”

Well, imagine my great shock - 
I know how to write! -
So I began to protest
Violently with spite.

Then they hauled me off to jail
(Where ancient poets rot
Silently and cautiously,
Discriminant in thought.)

While there I met Milton
And William Shakespeare, too
As well as Countee Cullon
Who happened to be new.

But the next day I was out;
Someone posted bail.
Sad for my great fortune,
The police could not prevail.

Text Box: I hardly knew what to do
Or anything to say.
What could I do now
But traffic laws obey?

Rhyming words are evil.
Pentameter is bad.
Specific patterns can destroy
And free verse must be had!

Yet how could I obey them,
These police that I do fear 
(Especially when they’re all about
Lurking ever near?)

I decided then the route
My poetry must take
There is no backing out
Though it may be my mistake…

So, the moral of the story’s this:
In case you like to rhyme,
Think twice about your present course
Or you’ll be doing time!





All I Ever Wanted


All I ever wanted was to see the sunset

Feel its last fingertips on my skin

Watch my goosebumps fade with its heat

Soak in all the light I could daily get


All I ever wanted was to watch the clouds fly

Laugh at the white turtles and castles and bumblebees

Imagine them swooping into their cottonball bowl

Do nothing but lie and watch them pass by


All I ever wanted was to let the dirt stay

See its grain pressed against our hands

Examine the earth closely for a while

Work in the garden at the end of day


All I ever wanted was to ramble without guides or maps

Feel cold without a fur coat shelter

Find those small gifts left to share

Brush of the fir and breath of the wind


All I ever wanted was the chance to breathe

Yawn and sigh and whistle

Without choking on my own defiance

Just to live and let live

And hope tomorrow will be this way


Alice Houston




Soft moss gathers below the falls,

sweeping its subtle way across falls

 slumbering not at the end of day, but

   rumbling, spewing below the surface,

 seething suddenly at the break of stone,

  spitting and smothering the silent moss

   sweeping along the current rush, sliding

    above and below its slipshod encasement,

                           slender and silver as the secret sacrifices of

          motherhood.  Silently sleeping and gurgling,

                            Sheeted beneath cascades  slipping  from  the

           single        source of their strength, streams gushing from      sleeping                   banks

                    over      smooth stone and moss silhouetted against soft           sky       lines

    and                        swift circles of stars over the dusky sweet scent of the     moon.



       Alice Houston







      Vietnamese Dance


And  the curve of  her hip, under  coating  of  olive

and silk, began to dip downwards, the way bamboo

would  dip  if   bamboo  could dip, if  the grass had

muscles   and  bones,  if   the  earth  had  a  skin,  if

rhythm wasn’t  just a virtue but rice and vegetables,

devoured   by   everyone,   even   the   most   sterile

tribes, straining forward. What of me?  Nothing but

superfluous height,  cursed  caucasian  thighs. Who

drives her sea’s  body, her shoots of rose, her undu-

     lating almond beauty? Oh serpent, oh sinew-shaper,

     oh  hair of  rivers!  Slow  down  for me.  Go  faster.


                        Anita Hooley



Introduction Poem


A swallow flutters in the midday sun,

flinging itself at the river below in a

desperate search for sustenance,

pausing its frenzied flight only to snatch tiny insects

from the vast water’s surface. 

Each time, the bird appears headed for a plunge

into the water’s full depths

but skittishly alights again at the first touch

of the cool deep

on its unweathered feet. 


This is me, by day.

By night I am the ebony trees

raising their bony fingers to touch the stars. 


            Anita Hooley



All I Ever Wanted


All I ever wanted was to be someone people looked at

and said to each other in hushed tones:

oh, Anita – she’s so cool/deep/mysterious/intriguing”;

to have special insights that transcend

the normal person’s everyday perceptions;

to win every time at Taboo and Text Twist and Trivial Pursuit.


All I ever wanted was to leave a trail of salivating boys behind me;

to be tragically misunderstood

because of my dashing brilliance;

to sing songs only the birds could understand.


To stop this writing that I know is nonsense

and write about what I really want –

which so painfully is what everyone wants:

to be loved by something bigger than oceans and sky,

more present than flesh or rain;

to be understood by someone deeper than

the yawning bowels of the earth.

And to love that elusive Someone back. 


I wait my turn in line. 

Like the ones before and after, all I ever truly wanted

was to fall into the deep cold water below.


            Anita Hooley




Of Earth and Children


We savored the wild leeks on our tongues,

wondering if they would bring immortality

or agonizing death by morning.


We gathered morels from the rotting oaks

with the other children; our gritty hands

bouncing the shapes to so many picnic tables.


The rich earth smell of morels, leeks, butter

hung above the fires:  the spit and hisss

of our forest findings as our Papas stirred.


Before rushing into the shining afternoon

we arranged three slices of mushroom on

each green leek shoot beside the picnic forks.


We stabbed, touched the mushroom to our tongues,

chewed, swallowed, sighed.  In this way we

gradually moved into our bodies.


Kristine Bowman



Of Childhood Fears and the Moon



the eye of a shot buck who dragged himself to the banks

of the Elkhart scrutinizes me as herds of deer clamber

across the roof, through my window, and into my sleep.


the fire constrained in its ring snaps and crackles with


the throb of the great horned owl outside my window breaks

in through my ears and out through tiny goose pimples to the

very tips of my mid-digit toe hairs and the edge of a scream.


its hiss and spit as I sit shoulder-to-shoulder wanting


the dark flutter of a moth’s wings against my arm alerts

my nerves and fires the muscles in my arms as they match

the beating of its large and velvet wings toward the floor.


nothing but the moon and the ecstasy of


the touch of night air moves from window to tongue, tightens

my taste buds, protracts my pupils and ears until they ring

with created noises then deftly, turns and soothes me to sleep.


footsteps on the padded silences of the trail.


Kristine Bowman




Of Mothers and Daughters


for Mama


Redbuds wind and bend darkly upwards along

the driveway, like a row of ancient women in spring

showering their delicate lobes across the stones.


When I hurry beneath them, they slow me with the

touch of limbs or chafing of branches—leaving always

a deluge of petals, wet with dew and clinging to my hair.


As the life blood flows through me, out from between

my thighs, the redbud blooms flow into my senses.

My feet pad over violets and dead magnolia sepals watching


the cherry tree cast her petals, watching the Coopers Hawks

make love in the elm tree, watching the spring uncurl her ripe

fingers and toes over the surface of the earth.


My mother prunes the redbud and brings the shoots

into the kitchen to snip the stems and arrange them in a

chipped china pitcher with flowers laced around its belly.


She places them on the lower counter to make a white space

for chives, her old scissors, and fresh asparagus spears still

sloughing damp earth from their scaled heads.


Outside the window, the ancient redbuds push out of their

tiny cases, ripen and fall away as summer leaves sprout.

Blushing and greening, they shine and beckon and scatter

their pink and pale petals upon

my trembling head.


Kristine Bowman