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The Poetess

August 5, 2010 2 comments

by Wendy Vardaman

She steps from her father’s noble brow, so far above the usual procedure that they pretend not to notice this bit of magic, don’t even stoop to comment. He raises a marble white, long-fingered hand to his temple and voilá, extracts with care a robed daughter, already well into the reading of some weighty book of law.
What you don’t know is that she’s emerged from his head every day this way for years — ever since she was born — trying without success to get an audience to notice: different outfits, different props. One day she’s a lion tamer holding a chair, the next a fire fighter wielding a hose, an acrobat, a master chef, an actress, figure skater, criminal investigator, neurologist. A long, long time ago, still small, she’d appear in the cutest, lace-trimmed ruffled skirts, tap dancing her little heart out of his brain.
What does a goddess have to do to get noticed? Tight pants & belly shirts? A black period with pierced tongue? Pink hair? Ripped abs? She’s been tweaking one thing and another for so long, she hardly remembers her own name, much less what she ever stood for, if anything. The other gods in her god group are full of advice: hurl thunderbolts, send plagues, promise the moon, dress imposingly, cut to the chase.
But she can’t muster, anymore, the energy even to make an effort. Shows up every morning in a nightgown with the book she was reading when she fell asleep still in hand, steps out of the stony-eyed head, and goes home to the kids without even looking back to see if she’s drawn a crowd.
So it’s a surprise one day when someone does notice and, for whatever reason, worships the ground she walks on. It’s hard to take seriously, this late interest in her work; she’s sure it’s a fad — consider the source. Still, it’s gratifying to hear someone say with appropriate awe at last: Look, everyone, it’s the Goddess of Wisdom come forth fully-formed from the temple of Zeus.


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Wendy Vardaman (website) lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is the author of Obstructed View (Fireweed Press). She works for The Young Shakespeare Players, a children’s theater company, co-edits Verse Wisconsin, and does not own a car.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Oh Basho

August 4, 2010 5 comments

by Mary Wehner

Today in the classroom there is
more moon bashing.

Forsake the airy for the real, a smart young teacher says

and the students scratch out all words that end with ache.
Fuck it, one says, I’ll write what I write. Birds clap

at the window — nothing’s more true
than the unforeseen wind.

Tonight in their love-nests the crows will swoon.


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Mary Wehner is the author of …or the opposite, a letterpress chapbook, and three broadsides published by Red Hydra Press. She is published in various journals such as Southern Indiana Review, The Writer Magazine, Red River Review,and Arbor Vita. She is a founding member of The Foot of the Lake Poetry Collective and lives in Fond du Lac Wisconsin.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Re-Shake

August 3, 2010 1 comment

by Millie Niss

Re-Shake by Millie Niss

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Millie Niss (Sporkworld) was a poet and new media artist who died at age 36 from complications of H1N1 in November 2009. She received a Classical education via Columbia University’s “Lit Hum” program and her earlier studies for the Baccalaureat section C (Math/Physics), Lycee Pierre D’Ailly, Compiegne, France. Her poetry and new media work has been exhibited at Harvard’s Dudley House “Errors and Contradictions” exhibit as well as SCOPE 2006. Her work appears on or is reviewed in many print and online publications, including: Iowa Review on the Web (with Martha Deed), Museum of the Essential and Beyond, dvblog, Unlikelystories, Hyperliterature Exchange, and Vispo.com. Her haiku generator (2009) was published on Logolalia. Her video, “I am the very model of a Psychopharmacologist,” won the People’s Choice Award at the Digital Arts Festival, Buffalo, NY and is found online at the Perpetual Art Machine.

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The World is a Sound: A New Creation Myth

August 2, 2010 8 comments

by Robbi Nester

From the sinuous caverns of trombones
and from the bulbous innards of the bass.
From the lithe length of the flute and the
apologetic slant of the harp, treading
on everyone’s toes, the orchestra
plays the world. Who could doubt
that the ocean first flowed
from the French horn’s golden bell
as from the golden spigots of a tub,
or the sun, rudely cracking the shell
of primordial blackness as blank as slate,
as it has done every day since,
from the cymbal’s first blow?
No doubt at all that this
is the sound of the first day:
the conductor scraping his baton
on the podium, the guys in percussion
drumming their fingers on the pages,
whispering, impatient for the day to begin.


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Robbi Nester teaches composition classes to mostly unwilling freshmen at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, California, and blogs at Shadow Knows.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Moleskin

August 1, 2010 Comments off

by Mario Milosevic

Carl thought the architectural drawings at the exhibit were nothing like he expected to see. The were so small. Tiny. The museum guard seemed to be staring at him. What’s his problem, thought Carl? Do I look like I’m going to do something? The sketch book in Carl’s hand seemed heavier than it did only an hour ago. He hardly ever sketched in it. He didn’t even like to sketch but his counselor suggested it would help him be more expressive if he could draw. So he drew, sometimes. The guard was really starting to bug him. Carl gripped the sketch book tighter. There was no excuse for that guard to be harassing him like that. He wanted to flip open the sketch book and take out a pen and begin sketching but the sketch book was too heavy, too closed. It wouldn’t budge. It had this stretchy band holding it tightly closed, like it didn’t want to be sketched in. The museum guard only made it worse. Carl began to walk toward the guard. The guard hardly seemed to notice Carl. He looked right past him and Carl realized the guard wasn’t looking at him at all but at something else, something on the wall behind Carl. Carl breathed more easily. So. The guard wasn’t harassing him. That made Carl feel better. He waved at the guard. The guard still ignored him. That’s okay, thought Carl. He slipped the band off the sketch book’s cover. He would draw what the guard was looking at so intently. It was probably very interesting. The thing was, the guard was also interesting. The guard was so intent. Unmoving. Carl scratched his pen on the paper. It left a line that looked like the profile of the guard. He drew another line and another. Before long the guard was on his page. Carl looked up and the guard was gone.


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Mario Milosevic lives in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the most beautiful places anywhere. His day job is at the local public library. He writes poems, stories, novels, and a little non-fiction. For a complete list of his publication credits (and more bio), visit mariowrites.com.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

When asked your place or my place, meaning host or guest,

July 31, 2010 1 comment

by Jee Leong Koh

When asked your place or my place, meaning host or guest,
I always choose to travel and become a guest.

The good hosts in The Odyssey throw a great feast
while fantasies are grateful answers from the guest.

The prof is buying his first house in New Hope.
He has invited me to be his weekend guest.

A beautiful book about ugly people, you wrote.
I see the beauty first because I am Nick Guest.

You are so right to fear my suitors for your love.
I will consume your house. I am the constant guest.

There are house rules for a vacation orgasm.
After I play the host, I want to play the guest.

Sometimes Jee is Odysseus, sometimes Penelope.
The Indo-European root makes us host and guest.


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Jee Leong Koh is the author of two books of poems, Payday Loans and Equal to the Earth (Bench Press). His poems have appeared in Best New Poets (University of Virginia Press) and Best Gay Poetry (A Midsummer’s Night Press), and in LA Review, Drunken Boat and PN Review, among other journals. Born in Singapore, he lives in New York City, and blogs at Song of a Reformed Headhunter.

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Narcissus

July 30, 2010 Comments off

by Stuart Barnes

You want to know
why I culled you
like a cane toad,
a rabbit
or a kangaroo?

You were so reckless
with your red soldiers,
so couldn’t care less
your ‘three
little letters’ could possibly infect me.

Of all people, you, you, you
— the recovering junkie —
were so quick to pass judgment;
my drinking
‘Aboriginal’.

The nine-inch nail in the coffin:
you dismissed
my unconditional love
with a Judas kiss
(I would’ve accepted libation or fate).

I never tend your watery grave.


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In 2009, Stuart Barnes’ unpublished memoir A Cold Decade was shortlisted for the Australian Olvar Wood Fellowship Award, and his poem ‘Solomon’ was shortlisted for Australia’s most prestigious poetry prize, the Newcastle. He lives and writes in Melbourne.

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