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Thursday, July 24, 2014


“we make strangers of ourselves by loving others”  Carol Moldaw (in a reading at Skylight Books)


Lazy Eye                                                         Lesley Wheeler
The stranger unplugs her bogus teeth
with a damp pop, tossing discarded parts
across my room, where she bunks this summer.
She brings Cadbury bars and Oxo cubes.

I am ten and not Cassandra. The gods
broke me, didn’t send a gift or a note—
Sorry, Second Sight is out of stock.
So one eye glares at tomorrow, the other watches

the visitor. Off with the belt that cinches her fine
figure. She tucks her dress, as green as envy,
into the pastel sweetness of my closet.
A bra’s silky cones protrude from her case.

I peel a scrap of plastic from one iris,
drop it in the shag, kneel to stroke
the rug, sit up to scrape the ball again:
could the lens still be drifting there? Have I lost

something, or not? Contacts improve me for other
lookers, but do not change what I see,
the double vision, partial views, the way
she’s my grandmother, the way she’s

a foreign country. Oh, hyphenated you,
the chorus mocks. I am a lucky girl, I have
souvenirs, I have plans, I can gaze along two
paths at once. Some kind of recompense. 


“The man who is detached in this way is the friend of God, as ‘a stranger is a friend of another stranger on account of their strangeness on earth’”. Martin Buber, The Legend of the Baal-Shem


The Possibilities for Wings                        Gary Fincke
How often have the customs of strangers
Silenced me into dreaming their beliefs.
In Java, for example, some people
Insist the souls of suicides return
In the bodies of crows, while in Scotland,
Souls of the lonely flee to butterflies.

In Pennsylvania? In this town where death
Belongs to those with names I've said, the souls
Of the ordinary are cries called out
And gone into an afternoon of rain,
Leaving me to wish winged things for the friend
Whose heart has failed, the friend who killed himself
In his meticulously sealed garage.

In my back yard? I'm talking to the friend
Who, like me, has sidestepped the terrible,
And even, from time to time, laughs aloud,
Neither of us, not yet, fluttering off
In moths or whatever we might predict
For our futures, the possible wings for
Depression, jealousy, the waste of hours.
Choose one? he asks, and I say the poorwill,
The only bird that hibernates, waking,
After months, to flight. Yes, he answers, good.
Overhead, just now, a small plane pierces
The air, and I imagine both of us
On board, becoming birds that seem to fly
Without love of anything but ourselves,
Shaping our fear against the summoned sky. 

Palsy                                                                                       Bob Hicok

Ignoring the obvious is most of manners.
Better to turn from the man
with a nose shaped like the boot
of Italy, the bad dancing
of Siamese twins, to the lillies,
white & flecked red, and praise
their novel arrangement
in the green vase. Now that her hands
shake, music lives in her martini,
the bright collisions of ice and glass.
I didn't see this coming in the way
I didn't see the universe coming
or my loss of hair, the limp
that's set up shop in my left hip.
It's not rude but descriptive to say
her head bobs as those tigers
in the backs of cars do or
plastic dolls dressed in the uniform
of a favorite ball club that nod
their agreement in the rear view
all the way to Miami. An earthquake
lives in her signature on the bill
she snags at the bistro and insists
is hers, the pen moves
as the stylus in Ouija does,
giving a dark answer from a realm
without blood. When she lays
the tremor of her hand on my arm,
I'm reminded we all vibrate
more or less from womb to death.
Years back I'd have asked what
it's like, to be a stranger
in your body, but my greater pride
at forty's what I don't say. Anyway
truth encumbers. She might
contradict what I've decided,
might say all hopes and memories
are beaten about, that it's
like living in a tornado and not
proof of a soul so happy
to still be around it shivers. 


From the Plane                         Anne Marie Macari

It is a soft thing, it has been sifted
from the sieve of space and seems
asleep there under the moths of light.

Cluster of dust and fire, from up here
you are a stranger and I am dropping
through the funnel of air to meet you. 


Questions for Silence                                                  Paul Guest
In its first thin tide. In the place
to which it's come like a stranger.
Where the day is a map
you cannot read, crickets begin
in the warm night to whirr
green songs they could not unlearn
had they minds to grow bored.
The willow tree shudders
as though it were sewn up
with twitching nerves, with wire
bright as new-minted pennies. Where
do you go to gain the ear
of the moon, its ravaged face
lamented by no one? And
what do you tell something so old
it cannot remember
being once part of the world and not the sky?
What would your shadow care
to hear, to come close, to touch
hand to wall the tremor
of a passing train? If it had bones inside it,
you know it would flee.
So what are your words worth
to the hurried traffic,
to everything blurred,
to the ice cream truck
and its sweet patrol,
its song spilling out like a toy,
even in the dark? For all the sunlight
passing from the world
like a thought, who might you sing
to timid sleep? However long
you waited for rain
to rinse you of light's molten color,
for the elbow of the river
to bend back
to your life, the grass whispers,
you waited too long
and all the while it speaks
it grows. 

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