Guest Editor - John Allman

Dan Masterson

They like him here; like his bark,
the way he tells them why
they feel so smug, well enough
to baby him, reminding them
they'll be in a crib some day;
"Time's coming" says he.
"Whatever you say, Henry -- whatever."

From - Whatever You Say, Henry


Introduction by Jim Bennett

Hello.  Welcome to CITN 27.

This month CITN is dedicated to the writing of Dan Masterson, a US poet who
I hold in the highest regard.   I am pleased also to be joined by a guest
editor, John Allman.  For the next six issues Dan Masterson will be sitting
in as guest editor, and making what I am sure will be shrewd and insightful
comments on the poets and poetry presented.  In addition to his academic
work Dan runs a professional critiquing service which many poets both new
and established have benefited from over the years.  I have no reservations
in recommending it.  Details can be found at Dan's website  -

Our other magazine is Poetry Kit Magazine, this is a webzine which appears
on the Poetry Kit site which can be found at -
We are seeking submissions of poetry, reviews, essays, articles and
illustrations for that magazine.  When submitting please ensure that the
magazine title to which you are submitting is clearly marked in the subject
line of any emails.

There are already over 2000 subscribers to CITN which is an email magazine
so to keep this number growing please pass it on to your friends.

You can join the CITN  at -
http://pk-poetry-list.port5.com/ and following
the links for Caught in the Net.







a - ON EARTH AS IT IS  (1978, The University of Illinois Press)

"For A Child Going Blind" (New Yorker)
"The Survivors" (Georgia Review)
"Blizzard" (Poetry Northwest)
"Whatever You Say, Henry" (Paris Review)
"Legacy by Water" (Shenandoah)

b - THOSE WHO TRESPASS (1985, The University of Arkansas Press)

"Avalanche" (Poetry Northwest)
"Opening Doors" (Hudson Review)
"Safe Distance" (Poetry)
"Calling Home" (New Yorker)
"Under Cover of Darkness" (Poetry Northwest)

c - WORLD WITHOUT END (1991, The University of Arkansas Press)

"Heron" (Ploughshares)
"Bloodline" (Poetry Miscellany)
"White-Tail" (North Dakota Quarterly)
"Chow Chow" (North Atlantic Quarterly)
"Winter Sleep" (Wordsmith)

d - ALL THINGS, SEEN AND UNSEEN (1997, The University of Arkansas Press)

"The Mandy Poem" (Ontario Review)
"Fender Drumming" (Georgia Review)
"Final Arrangements at Lucca" (Poetry Miscellany)
"Joseph Severn Sketches Keats & Writes to Brown" (Sewanee Review)
"Wood" (Caught in the Net)

e - THAT WHICH IS SEEN  (2005: manuscript nearing completion)

"Final Approach" (Hotel Amerika)
"Tunnel of Cloistered Refuge" (Georgia Review)
"By the Sea, By the Sea" (Hotel Amerika)
"Fist Fighter" (Ontario Review)
"Melancholy and Mystery of A Street" (Ontario Review)




4 - Afterword


You can purchase these books from the author or on-line through Poetry Kit's
Bookshop at -




This gathering of Masterson poems--made by the award-winning poet
himself--is a very strong and accurate representation of his work.  "The
Mandy Poem" scares me to death and "Wood" is one of the strangest poems

His first three books really show him as a child of Buffalo, once we realize
how often snow figures in the big poems like "Blizzard," "Avalanche," and
"Winter Sleep."  But he also has a deep strain of water imagery, starting
perhaps with crossing the ocean in "Survivors," then "Legacy by Water,"
"Heron," "Bloodline," "Final Arrangements at Lucca," and "By the Sea." A
clever critic might argue that the snow and the water are somehow opposite
sides of the same coin--though what the coin is I couldn't say.  Elegies
abound and there is a long history of loss and grief throughout the poems.

Perhaps that's the coin I speak of, the gleam that is life (water) and its
glittering, opposing twin, the whiteness of snow and death, one becoming the
other in a never restful progression that has grateful moments of rest in
the relationships that shine forth on their own--the love inherent in
"Winter Sleep," "Wood," "Bloodline," "For a Child Going Blind" (note the
water there).I like, too, the energy that edges toward violence, sometimes
becoming that in poems like "Fender Drumming" and "Fist Fighter."

His work is never in any sense passive, morally or psychologically, as "The
Mandy Poem" demonstrates.  The thirst for justice, sometimes a kind of
retribution gone wrong (as in "Safe Distance"), complicates this world of
strenuous moral effort, terror, commitment and love.  "Final Approach" has
that hidden--or not so hidden--political element.  And "The Tunnel of
Cloistered Refuge" creates a vision of the poor and forgotten - a wonderful
world where religion is rewritten and salvation cometh with an alien
grace.   - John Allman



2a - ON EARTH AS IT IS - (1978, The University of Illinois Press)


For a Child Going Blind

I have awakened her
when the sky was at its blackest,
all stars erased, no moon to speak of,
and led her down the front path
to our dock, where we'd swim to the raft,
finding it by touch
fifty or sixty strokes from shore.

And sit
listening to things, the movement of water
around us drawing us closer, a hunched
double knot of child and father
hearing all there is to hear,
close beneath bats who see without sight,
whose hunger is fed by darkness.

The neighbors see her often in the woods,
on hands and knees, smoothing the moss
where it spreads in the shade, marvelling
at the tongues of birds, the stained petal
of the dogwood, the vein of color
skirting the edge of an upturned stone.

This morning she awoke to the first flash
of the magnolia, and will save the petals
as they fall, their purpled lids
curling white on the lawn.

We meant to tell her how the rainbows come,
how they close into shadows,
how we would be there nonetheless;
we meant to tell her before
they arrived at supper this evening,
rimming everything in sight.

She wonders if we see them
cupping the stars, the kitchen lamp,
each other's face, and we say
we do.


The Survivors


They knew scarlet fever when they saw it,
and they saw it on her neck and arms,
could feel it in the pulse she gave off
as she lay in fever on her bunk twisting
the blanket to her face, a headache
wishing her back to Dublin, to her own
bed, her own window where the breeze
brought the garden inside.

In three days it would be her ears;
in a week she would let go
of her fourth winter, her parents' faces
blurring away, her sisters' eyes turning
into stars as she eased out of pain,
wrapped in their blankets, surrounded
by everything she'd touched, swirling
with her in a weighted sack, to the floor
of the Atlantic.


They were told to return to steerage
where they belonged, but stayed,
the father's eyes ending any argument
on deck; a tanner by trade, his hands
were mostly leather; the arms, massive
as country fence posts, curved
around his family bent at the railing
in prayer.

In time, they asked for more blankets
and took the children below,
where they lay broken in the first grief
they had ever known, their mother close
to the father, speaking in whisper,
learning again that his strength was only
partly his own.


The child's third night was fitful; at dawn
she awoke in chill; by noon the headaches
began, the spots scattered themselves,
and the countrymen nearest her bunk
turned their faces to the wall.

They were five days from shore; the hospital
could save her; fresh vegetables and milk
would be waiting, clean linen and gargles,
warm baths and oils when the peeling began;
she was less frail than Catherine, older,
and had never been sick before.


She would bring her daughter through;
after eight weeks of living in stench,
eating like beggars, sleeping in straw,
they would be in America where Uncle Patrick
held a parcel of land in their name.

She would see to it that Laura Marie would be
with them; she would wager her life on it;
through day and night she stayed
with the child, keeping the others away,
restricting her diet to soft foods, listening
to advice from the curious and bereaved

Until her own eyes burned, even when shut; her throat
closed beyond words, and she lay back
on her bunk, rubbing away the strawberry rash
that was forming on her arms.


They stayed below with their father when the men
took the others, the men in thick masks and gloves
who said kind things to the stretchers they carried,
and told James to come back in six weeks, that all
would be fine by then.

In three hours, they were on land, walking ahead
of him, trying not to fall down in the crowd,
feeling his hands urging them on, steering them
wherever the signs told him to go, his voice
telling them all the things they wanted to hear.

A man with a badge gave them white cards to hang
on their coats; their common code, Han-14,
would get them together if lost; on to the end
of the ramp where doctors worked in rooms
with ceilings as far back as you could lean; a man
just ahead had his card torn in half and chalk
scrawled on his sleeve; they took him
out a different door.

They held hands outside and followed their father
to the trains; once aboard, they felt sure of things
and fell asleep, leaving him to watch the buildings
give way to trees; by morning, they were there.


A prayerful six weeks passed slowly in the house
in upstate New York, but the time came to bring
the rest of his women home; he would travel alone,
leaving Liza in charge, and Mary and Kate
would obey her as they would their mother,
or he would know the why of it.

The trip to Ward's Island was long, but he ran
the gravel road to the hospital, stopping
out of breath at the desk to be told
the third floor office would have that sort
of information; it did:

Two entries. December, 1850, six days apart:

          Cremated due to contagion
          Elizabeth Hanley, age thirty-four
          Laura Marie Hanley, age six

The road to the depot was spotted with snow,
his hands raw where he wrung them, each knuckle
white at the bone.

The last car was empty, its windows heavy with soot;
he saw trees hardened with ice, and a sky going grey
without clouds. He pulled the shade to the sill.




The drift he slams into swallows the hood;
he rams the gearshift into reverse and listens
to the tires burning themselves bald, the wind
sealing the road behind; there's no going back.

He turns off the ignition and laughs; already
late for supper, he allots two hours for the plow
to make its way to this back road he took at whim,
another test of his mettle; every day more proof
piling up, giving him strength to go on,
surviving on memory alone.

Forty, greying, he stuffs his pants cuffs inside
his socks, zips his jacket to the throat
and slips on his racing gloves, the leather
matching his leftover tan as it shows through
the patterned holes; he steps out into the snow,
knowing what to do:

The trunk opens easily, the tiny bulb giving
light enough to work; he unscrews the spare tire
and lays it flat on the roof, talking to it,
explaining what it must become, his pleasure
more proof helping to ward off the trace of panic
he knows drifts like a shadow at the edge of the road.

The sun visor breaks off neatly, making a scoop
to scatter the snow from the hood; he opens it
and unhooks the gas filter cup; he carries it off,
chuckling, pleased, stumbling ahead to the dashboard
where he shoves in the lighter and waits for it
to pop.

He pours the fuel on some crumpled paper and pokes
the orange-coiled lighter at the center of the tire,
pulling back at the whoosh of flame; he controls
the fire: large enough to warm the inside of the car,
small enough to conserve the burnables he has piled
on the front seat: glove compartment maps, credit card
tissues, six or seven old lists, a driver's manual,
last night's newspaper, and two man-sized Kleenex
he stuffed in his pocket at home this morning.

Already proud, his lips twitch as he realizes
there are yards of cardboard lining any car's
insides; he thinks of the look his insurance man
will have on his straight-lipped face when he sees
the car in the morning, destroyed for salvation;
the papers will surely do a story, pictures, quotes.

He dismantles both headlights, leaving their wires
attached, and props them in the snow, aimed skyward,
and gets back in the driver's seat flicking them on:
high low off on, a perfect signalling system for any
snowmobilers, roaring drunk through virgin drifts
laced with fence posts and abandoned jalopies;

He knows the papers will set his next move in bold
type; off comes the oil filter, on goes the lubricant:
face, hands, back of neck, deep into both ears,
explaining aloud to tomorrow's reporters the need
for layers of oil, how vulnerable the hairless human
ear is to chill, the fragile pink fading to swollen
grey, yellowish white.

He sees a quarter-page photograph of himself
in a ridiculous hospital gown, pillowed-up in bed,
smiling faintly to his left; again the visor
shoveling snow high against the wind, leaving only
his door open a crack to keep the lock from freezing;
back inside he flicks on the dome light and breaks

The rearview mirror with pliers, close at the edge
so it splinters, giving him three thin blades
to strip the ceiling, allowing the tire's heat
to come in; he slashes holes in the back seat,
enough for feet and hands, another for shoes
and socks; he waits until he warms, pleased
with everything he's done.

But he knows there must be more to do; he studies
every inch of his room, trying for the extra touch
that will give the newspaper boys a headline,
a handle for a feature; he smiles and begins ripping,
wielding the glass like a scalpel:

Floor mats, lining, seat covers -- and fashions a suit
of clothes: mittens and hat, scarf and shawl, pants,
boots, all jammed full of seat stuffing, tied loose
with seat belts and shoelaces; he will explain he was
about to make a pair of snowglasses out of the back
directional cups but they found him too soon.

He dresses and goes outside, removing his hand-guards
to feed the fire another slab of cardboard, recalling
the way he dropped envelopes by the dozen
into the corner mailbox three weeks ago, almost late
but close enough for Christmas; close enough
is the way he likes it, always has.

He refuses to look at his watch; he knows
it has all taken too long -- clever but not clever
enough to take up the slack between the car and plow;
he curses the driver perched on his stool in some
two-bit diner, sipping coffee spoiled with milk,
a greasy doughnut ringing his finger, his boots
running snow, puddles forming on the linoleum,
streams wider than the shoelaces binding his leggings,
twisting toward the door, urging him up and out.

He hears him brag on about the weather, the way
he blasts it off the roads, how he's beaten his own
record already: only five back roads to go,
and the snow coming so fast he may forget about them
and start over from the beginning -- no one in his
right mind would travel those others on such a night

He tastes a second cup of coffee hot in the back
of his brain, trying to suck it down; he moves his eyes
to the rearview mirror, hoping he is wrong,
planning to see the glaring lights of the plow picking him out
of the night, but he sees only a few flakes of glass left
on the flat tin backing.

He leaps within himself, remembering the car top,
clawing the air toward the tire, finding its blaze
dead, its ashes wet and done for; he gets back
in the front seat, turns the key hard to the right,
hears a rattle and remembers the hood wide open,
the motor, the battery covered with snow; he says
nothing, but takes the tire down from the roof
and puts it back in the trunk, still open, its snow
swirling up at him.

He decides to leave the headlights where they are
and gets back inside, locking the door behind him;
piece by piece by piece he pushes all the stuffing
he can find back into place, regretting the damage
he's done to the cushions and walls and ceiling.

He sits behind the wheel, and for the first time
becomes aware of snow leaking in where the vent latch
is gone; within the hour, frost starts forming
on his cheek, flakes fall on his left shoulder, the bulb
overhead continues to fade.

With fingers strangely warm, he pulls the headlight knob
and lowers his foot to the pedal: on-off, on-off,
imagining the beams changing their tilt
somewhere beneath the snow.


Whatever You Say, Henry

He feels the catheter as penis,
is pleased with its sudden growth,
and goes to great lengths fondling
what he can't raise his head to see;
"Pinocchio" says I; and the urine
trickles to its holding bag.

In a haze that won't describe itself,
he sees the bottles above his head,
and wonders what good they do;
"Oil change" says I; and the drops
fall to his arm and in;
"Smart Ass" says he; "You bet yours"
says I, and the toes of one foot
move the sheet in pleasure.

They like him here; like his bark,
the way he tells them why
they feel so smug, well enough
to baby him, reminding them
they'll be in a crib some day;
"Time's coming" says he.
"Whatever you say, Henry -- whatever."

"Damn right" says he. Cancer or no,
he says it out: the chaplain on rounds,
gold watch and fob and vest,
comes puffing in to ask How-are-you-doing-
today-Henry? "Dying, thank you" says he.
"English professor" says he. Oh-I'd-
better-watch-what-I-say, he says. "All
self-conscious people say that" says he.
Well-have-a-nice-day, he says.
"Amen" says he.

He still has his own mustache, and wants
to know what the plastic one does; "Oxygen
without the tent" she sings; "Enjoy it
like a breath of spring." -- "Awful" says he.
"Behave" she says. "Beat it" says he.
"Please leave for a while" she says;
"I want to do his bedsores." -- "Live it up"
says I. "Smart Ass" says he. "Yours,
at the moment" says I. "Bet yours" says he;
and she rolls him off his rubber ring.

          The lounge is empty, the magazines
older than a barbershop's; nothing
changes -- faces smile and frown, open
and close; gossip and death survive.

Now he is propped on his side, his rump
healing in open air; the phone
rings from Alaska; the voice is hard
to place, but her name makes the catheter
jump on its hook. "She doesn't know"
says he; "It's been years." -- "I'll write her"
says I. "Leave her be" says he. "Like hell"
says I; he shakes his head
in mock dismay, and sleeps in snow

For a matter of minutes, waking
in an old dream with three women naked
on a parched lawn, holding him down
in a shallow pine box; he's cold
and yelling for help. "Why
wouldn't you come; where were you?"
"Right here; it's all right,
I'm right here." Again sleep, longer,
deep enough to send me home.

Route 59 is slurred with rain; cars dead
along the curbs; the stink of the ward
hangs on.

The clock on the mantel clangs time
and again, the phone wakens the house,
a nurse talks from his room: he's confused,
thinks he is lost, would I talk him
back to sleep, do what I can.
"It'll be okay, Henry; it's just
a dream, like the box on the lawn;
the nurses will get you blankets,
and tuck you in, get you more milk,
one of those whopping pills; let me talk
with her again; you'll sleep,
you'll see." -- "My ass" says he.
"No thanks" says I; "I saw it this afternoon."



Legacy by Water


He stands, greasing himself
for the hardest swim of his life,
the jar on a log, its cap
fallen upside down in the sand,
flicking splinters of sun
on the house, all but hidden
in the dunes, where his wife,
his son, his daughter lie drugged
from too much summer.

If they were to waken
to the quick licks of light
playing on the walls,
they would find him hip-deep
in the sea, listening to the bell
tolling from its buoy, marking
the first leg of his journey.

He turns and waves
to the empty windows, ignoring
the pain lumped hollow
under his arm.

He takes a last look
along the shore and sets out
through water colder than the lakes
he grew up in, thicker somehow
and darker, even the sand
ribbed like a washboard
seems closer as it deepens,
his long arms churning the surface
as though he were back home
in the faculty pool, matching
stroke for stroke with his office
mate, far more than the game of it
pushing them on to the tiles
and back, head over heels in turns,
neither admitting to keeping score;
his record growing worse
during the last of winter
and all of spring.

He can't help looking back
and sees the roof silent and dry,
its shingles shrunken now to one,
suggesting the pace he has set
for himself; he slows and stops,
allowing his legs to settle
beneath him, the buoy in sight,
a few more football fields away.

He imagines throwing a pass
and watches it sail the distance
before striking the bell, breaking
the steady beat of it, the gong
making the water tremble;
he feels it across the shoulders
and down through the groin.

The water on his lips tastes
more like sweat than he remembers;
the mouthful he takes, the same
as the gargle he used as a kid;
he swirls it about
and spews it out like a whale,
lying on his back, wishing already
for a glass of water; better yet:
bourbon and water on the rocks,
all on a foam tray he could push
ahead, all the way out.

He laughs aloud and takes
to sidestroking his way awhile,
easy, almost like lying adrift
in his father's arms, learning
to float from his fears,
knowing vaguely his need for water,
the clean full feeling he has
whenever near it or in it.

With every pull of his hand
he can see the buoy,
left hand passing its measure
of water on to the right,
the right scooping it on to the feet,
smooth and steady until
the boredom of it all starts
to get him, as it always did,
those long hours
in the high school pool: lap
after lap, the lungs lasting
longer than his patience.

In front of him are terns
searching the waves for breakfast,
diving straight into the sea,
disappearing to rise empty, now
and then a fish small in their beaks;
eating on the fly.

No boats returning yet,
no one insisting he climb aboard
and tell his tale of shipwreck
and survival, no one ready to believe
he could swim from shore.

On his back again, right, left,
reaching far overhead and out,
feet doing their work,
leg muscles loose, no sign of cramps,
no fatigue; left, right, left,
just like the old days
in the senior aquacade, the fancy moves
showing style and endurance;
he tries them all: the glides,
the circle rolls, the egg beater,
ending in the butterfly,
both arms jacking him out
of the water, his shoulders
feeling the strain, too much,
the sockets grown rusty.

He treads water and finds the buoy,
closer than he thought, and decides
to race the rest of the way;
one gulp of air and he's off,
slap after slap, breathing
only when breath is gone;
he gives it everything he's got
left, glancing ahead,
keeping his sightline,
the bell louder and cleaner
all the time; he glides
the last few feet
and touches the casing, barely
able to hook his feet in the rings,
his fingers tight on the seam,
and squints back toward home.

He begins to shiver, convinced
he cannot return, that the change
in his marrow may never be known;
he hangs on and weeps, pronouncing
over and over the names of those
waking on shore without him.

He closes, at last, his eyes,
the taste of blood draining
from his gums, a trace welling
in his ears, almost
aware of the bell tolling
softly tolling, as he slips
back into the sea.



b - THOSE WHO TRESPASS (1985, The University of Arkansas Press)


She felt the snowfield break beneath her boots,
heard the boom as the fracture spread eight, nine
hundred yards left and right across the ridge.

She remembered to drop her poles and kick off
her skis; she even tried swimming awhile,
but started to gag and rolled herself up,
her face tight in her mittens, the roar
working to cram her mouth and nostrils full of snow,
half the mountain slamming downhill, uprooting
trees, boulders, line-shacks, turning the night
inside out, over and over again,

Until it all settled in the dark she felt
coming to a stop around her. She remembers the chapter
on Fright and Self Control, and takes tiny helpings
of air trapped in the space her mittens made.

She has no idea which way is up. It is
darker in there than in the childhood dream
where something white was always at the window.
Now, there is no window, only tons of snow
packed hard against her, front and back,
like king-sized mattresses piled high
for the storybook princess and the pea.

She must not pass out; she knows snow is porous
enough to keep her alive, but can almost feel
the ice mask forming across her face, the breath's
own handiwork of shallow sleep.

If she is to survive, she must now force saliva
between her lips. If it heads for her chin, escape
is above; if not, she may panic and die
upside down by herself,
the acceleration of nerves, the state of being
scared to death.

She lucks out. Up is up!
She tries to come out of her bend,
and feels the slightest give along the curve
of her body. It could be an air space. There are
such things -- some the size of root cellars: hard
slabs of snow tumbled together like a house of cards.

She turns and finds she can move her head; leaning,
digging with her elbow, she drops off
to the left, like falling out of bed.

She stands on a slanting floor in the blackest dark
she has ever been in. She begins
feeling her way around her cell, and something
flaps across her face. She grabs at it
and holds on, hoping it is still intact. It
is the avalanche cord, orange and long, that unfurled
from its cannister on impact
when she belly-flopped at the top of the mountain.
She is hooked to it and has to believe the other end
is where it belongs: waving merrily above her grave.

They will find her soon, she is sure, headlamps flicking
across the terrain; they will tug at her cord,
signalling as they probe and dig. She continues along
the wall, getting the contour of the place.
There are alleyways everywhere, but they may be
dead ends; besides, she wants her cord
to have all the slack it needs.

On the nearest block, she finds a tilted shelf
of torn ice, beneath it: a frond of hemlock; she eases it
out, hoping it is still attached, but it comes off
in her hand. She sets it aside and becomes aware
of the fragrance filling the room.

She squats and closes her eyes, as if
she were in the forest after a good downhill run,
and thinks: Perhaps she can tunnel to a tree;
perhaps there will be a door there, hinged
by elves. "Grendel" she says aloud. "Mab, Lizard
Leg, Horse-Nettle. "

But she has missed the password; nothing opens
anywhere. She laughs at herself and shakes her head.
What to do. Her rucksack is gone, ripped off
up top. She could use something to eat.
She has pockets everywhere, zippers, buttons, snaps,
but she comes up empty,
except for car keys and a penlight
dead on its chain.

She knows there is air for a day or more,
and remembers the boy in Norway buried for a week.
She wants to eat snow but doesn't want cramps.
She wants to dig but thinks of cave-ins.
She needs to scream but no one will hear.

It's high in her chest, something
like the ache from running too hard too long
before you run through it and out
the other side. She lets it come on.

It's as though she's been scolded and sent
to her room. She takes off her mittens and goes
to her knees to fill each with snow. "Bad girl"
she says and hurls her mittens away, starting to sob
only a little, mumbling frightened things.

And then the right foot. She stands
and stomps the snow, running her fingers up
the avalanche cord, still safe in the air
where it hangs. "Mustn't pull. Good girl. Mustn't
pull." And she starts
reeling it in, an inch at a time, allowing
the orange ribbon to slip through the roof
like a thread from her mother's hem,
curling at her feet, the last of it fluttering
across her face and down her arms.

She sits and finds the end of the cord. She puts it
to her thumb and starts rolling it up, 'round and 'round,
neat as a pin it goes, a giant thimble growing
in the dark. But she tires of her game and crawls away
in a widening circle in search of the hemlock branch.
She buries her face in it and strips a handful
of needles, rubbing them between her palms, inhaling
the sweet sticky smear she has made of herself.

She plants the rest of the branch upright
in the floor, and lies down to face it, patting
the snow, telling it things, crossing
and uncrossing her legs behind her.

She saw him arrive in a jumble of fire, a wee
bit of a thing on the lowest limb. He wore
a green jerkin with hollow stone buttons and knickers
puffed to the bands. She started to hum
to see if he'd dance in his circle of light,
and the jig that he did made her laugh in a giggle
inside. She watched him kick at the base of the tree
and bark fall away from the door.

With his hat held aloft and a sweep of his arm,
he bade her Good Day and Come In. It was in half light
she climbed, hand over hand, the elf
urging her on from behind; up, up
to the uppermost rung
to a four-legged chair and a window of sticks
tied together with vines, and a view
of the snowfield below.

They were there, starting the scuffline by moonlight,
wands marking the turn where the ski pole appeared.
She is tired from climbing and wants to sleep;
she will call to them later, after they find
whatever it is they lost.


Opening Doors

He remembered to ease back on the key
before turning to the left. It clicked
open and the tin weatherstripping creaked
as he stepped inside.

Something rushed over him; he went to his knees
and found himself making the sign of the cross:
forehead, breastbone, shoulder, shoulder.
It was as though he'd tried to take a breath
underwater. He stayed put

And pushed the door shut without looking
back. He was staring at the red-ribbed chair
where his father should be, the slippers
under the footstool, a brown cardigan laid
over the armrest for a moment
three weeks ago. In front of him

Was the blanket his mother kept
on the davenport for the naps that gave her
strength for lunch at the kitchen table.

The door swung in at his touch, settling
against the side of the stove. There were dishes
in the drainer, and others left undone
from that last breakfast: two coffee cups
and saucers, a napkin folded at its place,
a plate whose toast was gone.

The door to the back hall was closed,
the skeleton key dangling on its rubberband
from the doorknob. He opened it a crack
and listened; the refrigerator hummed
at full blast. Inside, he saw a half loaf
of bread, some eggs in the door-rack. Three
covered bowls held leftovers from October.

The backdoor key was where it belonged,
on the cuphook near the dustpan. He took
the four steps down and started outside, but
came back in and latched the storm door,
leaving the other ajar. He went downstairs,
flicking the switch with the jolt it always needed.

Near the furnace, beneath the bare bulb,
he took out the list. At the washtubs, he pulled
the lightstring and squatted at the hot-water
tank, thumbing the dust from the dial.
He forced it left and heard the pop.

There were three shirts and a nightgown
on the clothesline that stretched to the fruitcellar.
He dragged his hand across them and turned
the handle of the door he'd helped build.
It needed an upward yank. The high window
was black with paint, but the ceiling switch,
once too high to reach, sent light across the shelves
of canning jars, their rubber rings dried out
in open tins, pans, vases, trays, cardboard boxes
wilting along the seams.

He took the stairs one at a time, almost
starting to count them, but picked up a clothespin
instead. He carried it to the landing and set it
down on the top rim of the milkchute.

Out back, the garage door was locked, the key
out of sight. The lawnmower was wrapped
in oily canvas, the patio chairs stacked
in the corner, the awning rolled, the chipped
white basin still half full of sand for grandchildren.
The red shovel, his own, there on its nail
for fifty years. He lowered the door
and headed for the house, wondering if anyone
saw him, if he should wave.

On the sunporch, he opened the drapes
and attached a timer to the radio. Two others.
One for the floorlamp at the foot of the stairs,
and the last, the guest-room reading light.
New bulbs for both.

His parents' bedroom door was closed.
He wished he could keep it that way. Inside,
the gooseneck lamp bent low over a saucer
with a spoon upside down in a dried puddle.
A small brown bottle stood close to its cap,
its label toward the wall.
He made the bed and hung his father's robe
on the back of the closet door. The armoire

Was locked. The strongbox was safe
on the bottom shelf, its key in the sock drawer.
There was more than he'd supposed, but he took it
all, filling the suitcase with deeds and stocks,
wills and bonds. He closed
the double doors and locked them.

He sat on the bed and started to give in
to everything around him, but shook it off
and went to his mother's side of the room. Things
were in order. She'd probably stayed awake
that last night, tidying and sorting,
vaguely agreeable, unaware she was walking
through the house for the last time.

He could see the backyard from their window.
It was filling up with snow. He emptied both
drawers of jewelry into a second suitcase and sat
on the bed. He lay back and let it come, all
the summer visits he'd spent there, the talks
with his father, the papers that would take over
at his death: what would become of Mother,
the house, the land.

There was a washcloth next to the sink
and he soaked it. He buried his face in it.
He wrung it out and took a towel
from the linen closet. He left the cloth to dry
on the edge of the tub and dropped the towel
down the laundry chute,
wondering what would become of it.




Safe Distance

(SD=300 x cube root of pounds explosive)
At seven thousand feet, the underpinnings of clouds
look more like wind-ice on a mountain lake,
its mist working among the curls, the sun
slanting its shadows toward Canada, as his last
day on Earth opens its wings.

His leather envelope made it through the gate
with him; he holds it flat to his chest
as the 727 banks hard to the left, avoiding those
who hurt him most; he leans back, aware
of the headrest crinkling behind him; he wonders
whether the night crew changed the paper
or if he's deep in dandruff or Vitalis
or the female breath of hair rinse
ready to fill his nostrils if he turns; perhaps
a long blonde hair has already settled
in his own; he keeps his hands to himself & sees
the No Smoking sign still aglow; he smiles,
remembering his room

On West Seneca, the essentials laid out on the bed
last night: upholstery thread tight on its spool,
the plastic spoon he licked clean yesterday
afternoon, two baggies of black powder, the socks
they are flying in, & the ampule of mercuric
fulminate that will blow them apart, but now waits
cool in its cotton mesh, safe in a Parker pen
whose sac of blue ink lies unplugged & limp
in a dresser drawer he will never open again.

His hands are on his lap, a scar
on one knuckle where a hacksaw jumped his grip
in his father's shop; it fades when he stretches it;
he makes it disappear again before tasting
the moisture forming on his palms: almost warm
enough to detonate the ampule riding in his vest;
he tries to recall the doubting Thomas who left
a hand in Bomb School, but comes up with only half
a name; he folds his fingers into fists
& is bemused, thinking of them gone astray.

He will distribute them soon, the brochures,
simple in design: xeroxed back-to-back after
hours, folded once, black letters on yellow stock,
elite type, precise language; they will read
how he learned as a boy in a cellar
that chemicals do what they say they do;
they will see the formula & wish themselves down
behind trees or hillside where they might
burrow & climb for their lives.

By paragraph twelve he'll be holding the pilots
at bay, having them squat at the cockpit walls,
trying to find more distance from the ampule
they watch slide from its pen to be lashed
to the curve of the spoon, thread holding it open
& bare for the heat his fingers & thumb
are frantic to give.

He wonders if some hero will make his move
& fail; the priest will mention Hellfire, a parent
her child, a son his mother dying in Sunnyside;
some will say nothing at all as they read
how the spoon will be laced to the baggies & stuffed
overhead in the console
to melt all controls to their pinnings
when the ampule goes wild at his touch.

The cabin sign is off;
a stewardess is hustling drinks in First Class;
he unbuckles himself & stands,
adjusting the black powder socks that dangle
from his belt; he unzips the envelope & removes
the brochures; the stern man across the aisle
accepts one & flicks on the overhead light;
it is 8:13; they are due at La Guardia at nine.



Calling Home


He dials his dead father's house
where timers go off at noon, at dusk,
at nine, allowing the gooseneck lamp
to come on in the den, the radio
to sift through the kitchen walls
and awaken the neighbor's dog,
who no longer waits at the side door
for scraps.

Six rings -- Mother
would have answered by now,
but she's kept in a vest that is tied
to a chair in the rest home he chose
from a list when he was in town.

Twenty rings, and counting:
the pilot light flickers in the stove,
a cobweb undulates
imperceptibly above the sink, the crystal
stemware chimes in its breakfront.

He closes his eyes and listens.
He would like to say something,
but there is nowhere
to begin.


Under Cover of Darkness

He's made the flight before,
but never in a wheelchair strapped
back-to-back to the last seat in tourist,
within earshot of a leggy stewardess
complaining of a rough night in Cincinnati.

The secret he's kept in his abdomen
feels like a loaf of bread swallowed whole,
deep in its wraps of flesh and blankets, flexing
its tendrils from hip to groin, sedatives
cooling it down.

He's cold enough to be naked; sure enough
that he's going to explode
that he almost asks for help, but forces
sleep instead. He wakens

To a sinking feeling that takes him aground.
And then a ride flat out
on a canvas litter whose wheels
squeal through the carpeted tunnel,
clearing the way to the terminal with its ceiling
wide as a ballpark. Outdoors they hit
a wind worse than Lake Erie.

Up a rattly old ramp to a hospital van,
complete with a wall of bottles and tubes
and a lanky bag of oxygen draped over its tank.

The trip from LaGuardia
reminds him of Verdun, the back roads,
the afternoon of forest patrol in the Argonne,
birds escaping like soot in the sky, safe
from the low cloud of mustard gas sniffing
at his leggings, finding the sweat it needed
to bring him to his knees.

The volunteer at his side looks more
like a street-sweeper, white coveralls baggy
as a clown's, but she knows what he needs
to hear: Deep-breathe when the pain comes;
Exhale it slowly away; Go limp at the bumps:
potholes that could hold their own
in a minefield.

At dusk, they'd settle into the trenches,
scraping hollows in the front wall, and sit
with the war behind them, heads to their knees,
helmets tilted back in case
shell fragments caught them off guard.
The thought makes him shudder,
and he looks at the bulb overhead, wishing
he could cup it in his hands.

She wants to help and assumes
it's a bother. She flicks it off, bringing
the night inside; he takes it in both
eyes, adjusting to it, anxious to see out
the windows of the double back doors.

There are punctual bursts
of arc-lamps, truckers flashing their brights
to pass, billboards lit up
for late commuters.

She is telling him what they will do
at the curb: the unlocking, the lift, the cold
air and nurses waiting to lead him to a stall,
the questions they will ask. She warns him
of the entryway: heaters jutting
from the tiles, an unearthly orange glow

She is calling ahead, giving
estimated arrival time; she spells his last name,
his first, and remembers the PH in Stephen.

The roads curve more in town, just as they did
in Verdun: three weeks in bed,
pampered and groomed. This
will be a shorter stay: The end of the line,
he says to the hand at his face.

The van stops, lurches once
in each direction. The motor runs on, feeding
exhaust through the floorboards. She is up
from her jumpseat, putting a shoulder
to the door.

The blankets are olive drab to his chin.
Strangers take him up and out,
held for a moment
on a rush of cold air
before turning headfirst
into a corridor of orange light.


2c - WORLD WITHOUT END (1991, The University of Arkansas Press)


Late August, and the pond is holding
The summer's heat close to shore
Where leaf-litter has begun to form;
Even out at the center of things
There are pockets of warmth
Deep beneath a canoe short-roped
To a slab of scrap iron heaved into place
Once again on a scrub-topped boulder
Barely covered by water.

The swimmer is up from his dive,
Settling flatout aside the makeshift anchor,
Far from the potbelly smoke
Drifting from his empty cabin losing
Itself in the high peaks
Of the Adirondacks, the noon sun
Drying him out full length.

He stands, then hunkers down
On the rock, rubbing himself hard
With open hands, his hair running
What feels like snowmelt down
Across his shoulders as he searches
The vacant sky, the disturbed water
Coming from the inlet.

It is another ending, the last
Swim of the season, the day
Before he takes his place
In the downstate office waiting
For his return, the long year
Ahead, only a small framed picture
On a desk: this place
He is trying not to leave.

Something low to the water comes fast,
Gliding, making its way toward the rock,
Dipping, leading the wind, arriving
Overhead too soon, stalling
The right wing to turn abruptly,
Tilting into the sun, circling the boulder
And its naked swimmer: little more
Than bones spattered with meat,
Bland and bunched, trying
To become part rock, part air.

It seems to stop, casting
A huge ragged cross in shadow, its
Body stretched, wings straining
Their six-foot span against the glare
Mostly gone except at the webbing of wings,
The connecting flesh, the membrane
Where the tertial feathers become
Scapular, and the swimmer

Sees through it, the translucent window
Of tissue, fascia wrinkled yet clear, light
Streaming through ligaments and veins, an arm's
Reach away, the hoarse guttural squawk
Leaving the mandibles, loose plumage emblazoned
With feathers long and ruffled, bald legs
Set rigid as a clean-plucked tail, unblinking
Eyes, caught in passing, a blur
Of underbelly, the crook of neck tucked
For flight, a single flex of wings
Lifting the Great Blue atop the wind,

Tipping the swimmer over the side, drawing
Him toward the shadow skimming off
To the shallows, sending him deep, his arms
Folded to his thighs like wings,
Legs rigid, feet fluttering him on
Through the reeds, hands coming forward
To pull him into the dark corridor
He is making, his chest closing
Like a bag of air caught in a fist;
Time left to rise into sunlight,
But the need slacking off as his face
Feels the slim stalks reaching
For the surface long unbroken, almost still.




Her son's back is leather wet,
It becomes her father's
Russet brown, tanned by field weather
However it happened to turn;
It is the Seneca skin he kept hidden in cloth,
Like something passed on in shame.

For half her life, she has failed
To bring him back through her son; and again
She kneels at the hill of stones, watching
The boy in the pond below:

He is unaware of the workshirt she sees
Come up from the grave
To fit itself to his shoulders,
Giving itself to water, as his arms pump
Against stalks, cutting a path
Toward the opposite shore, long muscles,
Almost a man's, pacing themselves,
As the back goes bare, glistening with labor.

He comes up from water, trailing
A branch half his height, and slashes
The weeds as though they were there
Waiting to be harvested; her lips move,
Unseen, and he is gone,
Into the thicket, her hand near, stretched
Across the pond, selecting a tree
For its strength.

He climbs a clearing limb, and walks
Until it bends, filling his lungs
With sunlight, his shadow
Laid like cloth on the pond; he folds
Himself in half, and enters without sound,
Surfacing a long way from shore,
His gaunt face turning for air,
Its features more like her father's
Than before.

He will come with grain dripping off him
Like water, words tumbling out, a plea
To go with him to see the world he's found;
And she will go,
Always she will go, to follow his hands
And something akin to that other voice
Giving names to things growing at his feet:

The adder's-tongue and bloodroot, trailing
Arbutus, and ahead, bunch berries looking
Like fallen dogwoods, lady slippers
Near pulpits, Indian pipes white
Against the peat moss floor
Of an earlier spring
When her father found arrowheads and clover
In the open fields of her hidden life.





He doesn't expect anyone hushed,
High in the leaves, waiting
On the padded shelf of a tree-stand
Held fast to the softwood trunk
By straps and clamp-chains mailed
From catalogs whose pages crowd man's sleep.

He doesn't know they have given up
The 3-legged stools they used to squat on,
In a scramble of brush, a 30-aught-6
Laid out and oiled across woolen thighs.

He doesn't sense the telescopic lens
Selecting a point of entry on his side,
The slug moments away, as he chews the first
Of a dozen low-hanging limbs encircling
The scrape: the mating ground he intends
To last the season, rut scent leaking
From the glands along his face
As he rubs them hard against the pale wound
Of bark already healing from within.

The thud breaks him in half,
The impact full enough
To knock his antlers off at the crown,
To send them into air
Already spattered with quiet strands
Of lung blown fresh from a hole
A fist could fill, tissue settling
On the forest floor
Where he feels his lost breath
Sucking backward toward its source.

He cannot see the branch
They are wrenching from the tree
He is sprawled against, or feel it
Going in across his open mouth, a ritual
They use, a cleansing they believe; long
As a man's bent arm: spruce-the taste
He avoided even in the darkest winters
He'd survived along the ridge of Stony Kill.




(Liontamer Bertha 11/6/77 - 4/28/88)

But now I lay you down to sleep, dead weight
In a grey blanket, across the same back seat
You'd take to on command and sit straight-legged,
Alert to drivers caught in double-takes of you.

Tonight, you are no more
Than a sack of leaves dry in my arms.
The wet cloth against your mouth will not
Coax your jaws apart. Only your mild
Exhausted breath tells us you are here,

Your head slack upon the lap that held you
As a pup, the soothing voice in concert
With the hand smoothing the coat it used
To groom. Your fur comes loose
In handfuls; it carries scents of sick wards,
Sour flesh unable to control itself.

The vet is waiting after hours.
The parking lot is dark. The slightest tug
Steers you toward the room of tiles, chrome,
And light. Again we lift your empty weight
And put you down. Just once you make a sound,
A yip, a breaking in the throat. We listen
To the verdict: strokes, cataracts closing
In, some dread thing growing deep inside.

To the end, you flag your tail, forward
On your back, the way it would have been in show.
We take you close and watch the plugged-in razor
Shave a patch into your paw. We feel your skullbone
Hard against our lips and say goodbye.



He hadn't meant to wander off or lose
The path the way he did, still warm, his coat
Unbuttoned to his belt, the work boots she
Had laced for him, a pair of canvas gloves
In case he found some kindling low enough
To snap, to stash beneath his arm the way
He used to do before he lost his grasp

On things, back when his words meant what he said.
And even now he tries a test but can
Not name the town his wife is visiting;
He shakes his head from side to side and squints
His eyes until the droning hollow note
He sometimes hears for hours at a time
Goes drifting off among the forest pines

He's owned for all these married forty years
But does not recognize. He tells himself
To start a circle-walk and all comes clear.
His broken gait goes wide until he finds
A trail. He hurries on his way until
He thinks he sees the cabin held against
Some unnamed day's last light. His throat is dry,

His legs are taking chill. He kicks the trip
Root waiting there; it snares him hard and sits
Him down, just slightly dazed, upon the ground.
He finds himself beside a hemlock trunk,
Its branches sagging heavy with their snow.
A remnant of a leash hangs close above
His head; it might not be the one they tied

Their springer spaniel to each afternoon
For naps, that same old dog who loved to take
On head-to-head most anything on fours
Until he took an antler deep in fur.
The leash's nail is halved by rust, its chain
Pulls free against his chest, a talisman
He fondles well before he shuts his eyes

To speak her name out loud and see her warm
And safe there in her mother's den, with tea
And danish pastry by the fire, attuned
To one another's world gone wrong, aware
Of family time that's measured out like cloth.
The leash is cold but gives him memory:
Good dog, here dog. Come on, he'd say, and Beau

Would go to him all dripping wet from yet
Another hunting-swim, or running drool
From racing through the brush, and ready now
To lie this close, his head between his paws,
Content to have a hand that's laid to rest
Upon his back. A winter sleep comes soon,
And change of breathing too, a shudder from

His dreams, if dreams still build their broken flame
Within a leather thong that's too long dead
And empty now. He stirs and knows he should
Be up and on his way, but can't begin
To tell himself the thing he ought to do,
So settles back against the tree and wants
The cabin that he sees, no more than half

A walk away, to be his own; the door
Is darkened oak, the wooden roof's thick ice
Recast beneath a bit of smoke still caught
Adrift without its stove and moving fast
Into a breeze becoming wind, large flakes
Of snow diminishing to salt. Across
The changing crust he sees the wood he could

Have stacked that way some other place or time.
It looks like theirs: a standing hardwood cord,
All split and covered with a tarp. If he'd
Disturb the pile enough he'd have a slant
Against the snow, a place to curl up in,
And rest his eyes and hands and shut away
The night whose sounds are staying in his head

Much longer than he thinks they should. If he
Could only see the upper window like
The one she's gone to in the past to watch
Him working down below, to wave and press
Her face against the glass. If she were there,
She'd see him here. She may have tried to phone.
If so, she's on the logging road by now.

She'd never leave him in the woods this far
From home. He whimpers to himself and vows
To stay awake until she comes. He hopes
She is all right. Not good to drive alone
This time of year at night. He'll be relieved
When she gets home. Mulled cider would be good.
And cheddar cheese shaved thin on homemade bread.

She should have left a light on for his sake.
He cannot see a window anywhere,
But thinks of how they'll stand there looking out,
The snow quite soft and quick in coming in.
The leash is gone and both his gloves, his hands
Are open at arm's length, allowing snow
To land upon his palms. He'll close them tight

When they are full; the snow's good packing, wet
Enough to throw. The night is very loud,
But he is taken by the woods, his hands,
The storm, the thought of all these trees they chose
To be with all these years. He looks into
The ground and then against the crowded air
And tastes the dark accumulation there.



         "A Creek Indian woman, Mandy Simon, who has been
        arrested nearly every week for public intoxication, was
        sentenced Saturday to jail for 99 years and fined one
        million dollars." -THE DUNDEE OBSERVER,
                                          Yates County, New York, 1915.

And they took her to the trainyard, wrists cuffed chin-high
To a ceiling bar screwed to the back seat of a roadster:
Driver, guard, and Sheriff Bailey on board, Bailey
Of the pink-white flesh, Bailey of the flabby arms,
Riding shotgun, running off at the mouth
Till they handed Mandy up to Matron Merrill, booked
To take her downstate to a 10 by 8 like the one
That let the winds in back at the lumberyard,
The dirt floor she swept for wages swirling grit
Up into her sleeping loft, across the open box
Of years of letters, the can of dollar bills
Wrapped and tied in sacking cloth, fat
On Bailey's butt by now. She'd get him, in time;
Plenty of time to enact the symbols she's carved
In roundabout about her wrist: (#) to capture,
(*) to put to death beneath a starry sky.


In this cell, smaller even than the Everglade chickee
Hut she longs to see, she wears the black trousers
Of the tribe she left behind halfway through her teens,
The faded black-orange longshirt tucked in
And thonged at the crotch, the kind she used
To wear for ritual. No thatch roof, no
Skin-tight sleeping shelf here, only a torn-rim
Squat bucket, a pallet of damp straw, a bulb
Dangling in its high-grill sock. Three slabs
Of brown bread. A tin cup. Raw potatoes,
Broken carrots shoved in through the gimme slot.
And BJ, the night guard, breath worse than Bailey's,
Rough beard, slug hands, huge needs, and hard
Habits built on daily canings of Mandy's back
And thighs and buttocks. Foreplay that turns him
Horn-bug red across the skull, bald, save a tuft
Sprouting behind what's left of an ear: a clump
He fondles and tugs at in between visits to Mandy.


She will not meet him eye to eye, no matter
Which way he lurches which way he jolts, but keeps
To her symbols: homemade amulets she fingers
As he spends his groaning time; she soars alone,
Beyond the body, into the Upper World, allowing it
To digest her far inside a dark Passage. She returns
To scratch his name and code with stone on stone
Above the door she curls against in fitful sleep: #-BJ-*
And deeper still #-BJ-* until they will not rub away.


He eases back the bolt and slips inside her cell
To catch her safe asleep. She kicks him down
To size and binds his wrists with ribbons
From her braids in time to twist his bootstraps one
To one in knot before he wakes to jolting pain to see
The red-cloth Swatch she's laid across his heart:
The point of entry for the spoon she's honed scrape
By scrape, for days along the wall. The gag, the hood,
A tangled run of hemline take his breath away.
She strikes the floor fire into blaze and whispers
Everything that must be said in graceful tones:
The Pale Dirge Reprimand. The Cloth   The Breath
The Skin    The Bone   The Blood   given up for those
Who will never see Mandy dancing here in dust barefoot,
Sewn into Raiments of orange-black sweeps that cast
Her into Vision Life: Mandy of the Sad Enclosure
Doing what must be done:    Spooning deep
Into    Cloth and Breath    Skin and Bone    severing
The tethers of the jackal-man's heart,
Lifting it skewered from its shallow grave
To hold it dead against the flames that flick
Their tall shadows amongst the stones.



The unused lot behind the mall is lit
Like noon by a circle of idling cars,
Their high-beams isolating two Dusters,
Dead center, parked grille to grille against
Their owners' shadows tilted up to watch
A coin disappear in a late August sky then
Reappear, inside a broad band of light, flip
Flopping to the gravelly dust that swirls
Between their boots. Heads it is,

And the one billed as Downtown spits
On the dime for not being tails, rakes
His fingers through his grey thick hair
And takes his place at the right front fender
Of the teenager's car, a fender left unwashed:
A thud of curved steel waiting tight and thick
And dull. He antes up

His 50 bucks: blood money he rolls
And sticks into the ridge crack, while
Across the hood, the other they all call
Kansas City kicks in his roll and peels away
A chamois to reveal a hand-tooled fender,
Its powder blue spilling over the edge
Where his fingers are busy fondling it,
Rubbing and stroking it, preparing it
For all the things he has in mind.

The others know the rules and leave
Their cars, hushed, pressing the doors shut,
To sit on their bumpers, leaning back, allowing
Their engine blocks to shudder through them,
Headlights free to do their job no more
Than ten strides away from the drummers
Already testing the metal: tapping and banging,
Riffmg away, a run of triplets here, a ruffing
There, half-drags, flams and paradiddles,
Feeling each other out with low caliber shots
Delivered at point-blank range.

They stop and hold their hands up open
For inspection, proving they have no boot
Wax no epoxy no nu-skin no clear polish no
Thread-tape no polyethylene, nothing
But scars to keep their flesh from popping
On impact. And then the once-only passing
Of fingers behind the ears, across the brow,
Picking up any oil they can find, forcing
It deep into the finger pads they rub-up
Aside their ears, hearing the friction
Lessen as each skinprint starts to slicken.

They nod and KC hits the slap-clock perched
On the hood-drain, stepping back as Downtown
Whirls his fist high overhead, slamming it
Back down into the fender as though burying
A knife up to its hilt, leaving a crater
Round as a saucer and thrashes out his
Opening burst against its rim: a signature
Ostinato built to last: a flat-handed
Ratamacue, its 4-stroke ruffs chasing
The diddy-raks of lefts and rights, their
Accents all in line, letting it flick
Off into what sounds like a wrong turn
But brings him to a dark side street where
He plays mean, trashy shots slashing a foot
High without blood, laying down blisters
That ring true, smudging the crosstown
Rumors that he was easy: nothing more
Than a down and out ham-and-egger broken
By endless weeks on the summer circuit.

The alarm clangs and Kansas thumbs it back
To Start, using the top arc in offbeat
Only to sweep it aside with a triple
Chop and the 12-count pause the crowd knows
By name and chants across the gravel: Let
The cat out, Let the cat out, Let the cat out,
Now; and he's off, the fender swelling
On its struts as he knocks its brains out,
Whip-cracking licks coming from somewhere deep
Inside; doubled over, his cheek touching
The fender, he muffles some ruffstuff, his
Thighs easing in tight, the tingle surging up
Through his groin, his hands no more than blur
As he lays down an intimate rumble, a morendo
Delicate yet soaring from steel to paint to air,
As the slap-clock takes his time away.

Downtown sets the dial to 5 and takes
A deeper breath than he should need, turning
Toward his own car, tapping on the window
For the door to be unlocked. He gets inside
For who knows what behind all that tinted glass
Rolled up tight against the local wannabes
Who are running loose at halftime, banging
Each other's fenders to beat the band,

While Kansas City greets a curve of blackshirts
That keeps the fans at bay, except for a sleek
Young blonde who parts the crowd to drape a towel
Loose over his shoulders before sliding her hands
Down his arms in ritual: a kiss applied to the tip
Of each finger as he slides them splayed open
Across her lips, parted to allow her searching
Tongue to apply its healing balm;

KC stays put and shakes his hands, as if he's
Just washed them in a stream, before enclosing
Her face in them, drawing her close, spreading
The towel over their heads to disappear
Into a long hidden moment that is ruptured
By crackling thunder clearing the air
For three jagged strings of wet lightning
That send her away with all the others
Scrambling for their jalopies, the rat-a-tat,
Rat-a-tat, tat-tat-tat of the first plips
Of drizzle augmented by wiper blades slapping
Away in broken unison around the rim.

Time. And Downtown steps out bare-chested,
Wrapping his tee shirt in knots around his head,
The rack of his ribcage showing through
As he faces off in the growing storm for The
Give-and-Take. No clock. Set Ready Go,
And Downtown batters off his Blind Pig stutter
Step. KC hammers back a hand-butt pounding
Version of The Stumble Bomb answered in kind
By Downtown's own knuckle-knocking riff of Let
Me In echoed by a flathand read of KC's
Small-arms Fire: a frantic run of punishing
Half-drags, flams and rolls that Downtown
Duplicates as the skies pour it on, drawing

KC's healer back to his side, shaking
In a chill she can't define, as Downtown's
Car door opens and a woman, too old for such
Weather, steps out and joins him without taking
Her eyes from his hands that are running
Rudiments with KC, beat for beat: ruffs, rolls,
Paras and flams, ratams and trips and drags,
Ignoring the rivulets streaming candy apple red
With every slash they lay down: the women
Edging closer but trained to know their place
As split pads widen on each side of the hood:
Trigger fingers tearing wide open, stroke
After stroke after stroke flapping with less
 Force against fenders dancing with thick
Needle-rain that scrims their hands and enshrouds
Their women who sense a final thunder.


AUGUST 14,1822

        "The first body... was undoubtedly Shelley's; the tall,
         slight figure, the jacket, the volume of Sophocles in one
         pocket, and of Keats in the other, identified him."

They dress him in his burning white
And knot his cuffs with gauze;
The wine and spice across the sash
Improve the air he fills
Beside the empty grave
Trelawny placed him in a month ago;
Its legal mix of quicklime, now exhumed,
Blows itself to dust
Along the ragged shore
Here beside the sea Ligurian.

Trelawny and the Tuscan guard assemble all
The hooks and pins it takes
To hold the sheets of iron to the wind
And hold what once was Shelley
Rigid to the rack, to bring him down
To ash again.

Laid now inside the firebox, he's still
The driftwood he became, tumbling
At sea eleven days, drying to summer fuel
For this, his own, crematorium.

Lord Byron kneels apart in dread
While kindling-sacks are sopped with oil,
But comes to life in time to help
Arrange a wagonload of logs
Beneath the funeral pyre;
The clumsy banging of the furnace-tray
Gives thunder to the afternoon.

Trelawny sets the bundle-torch
And lays it to his friend, while Byron
Staggers off to crawl frantic
Through the friendless waves, to board
The anchored Bolivar, leaving Hunt
Still carriaged far behind,
His curtains drawn to shade,
To better comprehend the flames gone brutal
In their rage, the oven walls
A white hot mist as seen on casements
At Leman where splendid talk and firelight
Kept Shelley raving on till dawn
Within the villa where life seemed long.

At dusk, the sergeant leaves his post
Assured that quarantine's intact; Trelawny
Pries the lid-shield off and sees
What would not be consumed:
The soul's pulse left behind: the heart,
The heart, petrified-he scoops it out
And though blisters rise like landscape,
He will not drop it to the sand,

But moves back toward the sea
From whence it came, chanting
The single trochee of his name, the relic
Cooling in the mausoleum of his hand.



"Not a moment can I be away; he has just fallen asleep, the first in 8
nights. A deadly
sweat is on him."   -January 28,1821

From the piazza fountain, an endless fall.
Fanny's carnelian is always in his hand;
He will not have it set aside, occasioning
A restless sleep, but sleep nonetheless.
The chattering of his teeth slackens with his jaw;

The ghastly white has spread to hollows
Where the eyelids droop, the transparent skin
Taut across cheekbones and nose. First light
Will stun the eyes open, hazel eyes growing
As the face drains gaunt and gray.

The hair will not stay dry, and toweling
Merely rearranges pain into other pain.
The lips would take water, but he'd wake
With movement of my chair and be lost
Again in all his bad symptoms.

Hearing words read aloud seems pleasing:
Taylor's Holy Dying, the novels of Edgeworth;
And when I take to the piano, he asks,
Often, for Haydn, delighting in the childlike
Invention, losing himself in the distant melodies
That filled the sleeping-halls at Enfield.

I need only look away for him to end it all
With the laudanum he keeps at tableside: "How
Long is this posthumous life of mine to last?"
I will have the phial taken away come morning.
The relay candle is almost down; soon the thread
Will carry flame to its mate, setting it ablaze.
Some other dawn will see all these belongings
Torched, according to the Roman law of contagion.

He reads no more, cannot take up a page
On his own. You are on a list of eighteen
Who will share the volumes we intend to save
From fire, smuggled out before the room
Is sealed in quarantine. Doctor Clark speaks
To me of weeks or days. There will be turfs
Of daisies on the grave. A man awaits
To take casts of face and hand and foot.

There, his face is on the page, stopped
From its decline: an aura not unlike
The profile turning toward my voice; it is
Something he brings back from troubled sleep,
Something he speaks of only with his eyes.
Would that there were medicines,
As there are leads, to save such a man
From slipping away.



A hump-backed stretch of soil holds fast
To a fresh grave marker of black
Cherry scored by a woman's profile
Glistening in bas-relief.

A grandfatherly man hunkers
Beside it in the snow, carving
The wings of a thrush, wood chips
Fluttering from his knife
Into the dark chamber his thighs
Have made of the light.

And then he's up and gone, trudging off
Through drifted fields, reaching
His yard sooner than he should, deeply
Out of breath. He opens a cellar

Door, stomping his boots on the steps.
The rafter lights come flicking on
As he bellies-up to the bench:
A thick slab of ironwood back-edged
By a pantry row of sorted nails,
Their canning jars still bearing names
Of berry jams and plum preserves.

He touches one and then the next,
But at the third he falls to his knees,
His mouth locked open, his voice shut down.
He awakens stiff to discover
He's spent the night slumped beneath
The workbench, his back creased through
By a woodbox filled with scraps.

He finds his way to the parlour
And looks up at the portrait hanging
Over the fireplace, her smile
Almost breaking him down, but
He makes it to the mahogany
Door and swings it wide open, running
His finger around the gaping hole:
A raw cut-out of a Santa
Fe caboose waiting to be crowned.

In the hallway, he fondles the newel
Post. Off with its head! He pops it
From its socket and sits down
On the bottom step to hold it tight
Between his knees, sketching-in
A clown's face, remembering to add
Kathryn's smile-lines around the eyes.

And up he goes, along a winding
Staircase that is missing five steps
Worth of balusters, their clean-cut
Stubs rising from their canted oak.

He goes inside the first room
And sets the clown head down amongst
A clutter of toys fashioned
From the wood of the house:

Here, The-Cat-in-the-Hat rising
Fully carved from the white pine haunch
Of a Boston rocker. And there,
A proud buck flaunting its brass rack
Of antlers, free of coats and shawls.

The missing balusters are here: bars
Shining in place on a circus
Wagon, its door ajar, waiting
For a sideboard lion's paint to dry.
The gate-leg table has been gouged

Into a checkerboard replete
With chips sliced from kitchen chairlegs
Sanded to the touch. A stack
Of alphabet blocks towers over
A blue heron and a clock
Whose enamel hands have stopped time
At ten ten while a radish-red
Sled with wooden runners
Is kept in rein by leather holds.

But he is at the window now
Kneeling beside a life-sized child
Carved in infinite detail,
The flesh tone of his cheeks so fresh,
He will never know a sickbed.
Only his feet, disappearing
As they do, into the uncarved base,
Could hold him back, and his father
Must sense it as well, for he takes him
Up and hurries from the room.

The boy waits in the front seat,
While his father lays a long
Wooden tongue over the car's trailer
Hitch and tightens it down.

He revs the engine up and pulls
The old buckboard flatbed out
Of the barn, the slats straining
In their slots from the bulk
Of upstairs toys and hundreds more.

And then, he's in the woodshed and back
Lugging a dark container
Toward the house and disappears inside,
But not to stay. He comes, spilling
The last of the bucket's drippings
On the doorstep and strikes a match.

At the bottom of the drive, he pulls
To the side of the road and tilts his son
Back in his seat so that he can watch
The flames clearing the hilltop before
Heading off across the tracks
To park alongside a broken curb
Healing in the thickening snow.

He lays a stack of toys
On a rickety porch, balancing
The newel clown atop a wagon filled
With wooden stars, smile lines
Warming his hands. He hears
A bolt-lock sliding into place
As he heads back to the stockpile
To bring another armload
For the house next door, and the next:
An apparition bent against
The growing storm. And now they can't
Be seen: the man the boy the buckboard
The dooryards and the porches-nothing
But snow, hushed enveloping snow,
Covering the Earth
And all the air above it.


e - THAT WHICH IS SEEN  (2005: manuscript nearing completion)


~an oblique rendering of a Jasper Johns canvas encaustic with plaster casts~ 
“Permit 66Q6391-1845 hereby issued to Nabilat Productions for filming to be
 completed  no later  than  09/12/01.  Access limited to grid defined by Vesey,
 Church, Liberty and West Streets, for affixation of a  70' by 70' cloth bearing
 the replication of Jasper Johns’ Target with Four Faces.” - NYC Office of
 Film, Television, and Broadcasting, August 03,2001.
Twin spotlights blast the night
Sky high from the bullet-proof
Windows, flicking shards of light
Into their stainless steel facade
That shimmers like giant tuning forks
Stuck in the veined sidewalk here on
Vesey Street. The dark will be held
At bay until the tapestry gets hung,
Its bloody bull’s-eye strung high &
Taut against the 95th-floor extrusions,
Giving their corporate suites the dust
& acrid odor of scorch-blackened tombs. 
Two young guns, whose buildings have
All been mountains, are nearly ready
To hang the target, a thing limp as
A shroud, before rappelling back down,
Snapping the hem-grommets to the pitons
They intend to install on the way up,
As they slide handheld willigs along
The window-washer tracks that ascend
To the pinnacle, trusting they’ll hold
The canvas slings they’ll ride in.
They’re giving 10-to-1 odds they’ll be
Down, coiling their mile of rope around
Their stanchions, before the morning
Bells toll in Saint Joseph’s belfry at
The end of the block. But now it’s time
For them to lace on their spirit-gum
Shoes and begin to walk the sunny side
Up, 13 hours before all bells on Earth
Will toll, when the target is hit & torn
Asunder, turning the tower to rubble.



T U N N E L   O F   C L O I S T E R E D   R E F U G E
~after Anselm Kiefer‘s painting, “Sulamith,” 1983~
"Once again, reports have surfaced of a holy woman sequestered in the city’s subterranean
world of storm drains and tunnels. The location of her heavily guarded sanctum, a haven
for hundreds of homeless, is unknown to authorities, who debunk her existence.”
                                                                                        -The Underground Weekly, 1999
Mother Shulamite, her ashen hair in shroud,
Dismisses the threats, but those she tends
Make sure she’s never alone. They are
The throwaways found in alleys, bent
Against crack-vents & curled atop gratings:
The Croakers, the Grunts, the Crattles,
Geezers & Floppers, dozens of Loogans,
Bawdies & Scavengers tucked in with
Tipplers & Hooligans, Snarlers & Bumpers,
A flail of a Rager here, a Defrockee there,
A Prophet who once straddled the curbs for
Bands of minstrels stomping their muddy time
For the only Elegante tapping his wooden way
On a dog-headed cane. All finding themselves
Here thanks to her main runners led by Yves
& Catherine & Fournet who brought them to this
Baggage tunnel long dead beneath Park & 72nd.
Brought here for their greatest comfort,
Bundled up for safekeeping far below blizzards
Overhead, together in awe of the woman who
Raises her hands in a hint of blessing,
Enthroned in a lanterned perch of steel fencing
Strung flush with sponge-rubber slabs,
The high-back Cathedra, its armrest removed
To make way for bench slats & struts & hinged
Relies cut into blocks & screwed to stump-wood
To receive & support her sprawling weight beneath
Layers of burlap robes gathered & draped & sewn
To enhance the dignity she wears as lithely
As a princess at a garden party, but the only
Gardens here grow limestone rosettes arranged                                                                               
By seepage bubbling up along the jagged curves
Of decaying walls enclosing the shallow platform   
Where she sits over damp ground kept warm by
The steam pipes that do their hissing only inches
Away, while she intones her prayers of her waking
Hours for those in her care, fondling the rubbed
& knobby beads she reveres, carved from knuckles
Of nuns long dead in the Convent of Lost Emilia.
This evening she has the company of those most
In need, who watch as she watches over them,
Her lips forming the prayers they feel healing
Their sores, bringing them back from the frigid 
Gutters of their dreams. Thirty in all, laid out
Before her, the canvas slings of their pallets
Propped above the wet floor, layered with plastic
Sheets wrapped with newspaper batting: a warmth 
Unknown on the streets overhead. She rises &
Descends the ramp to the suffering, allowing
The beads of her rosary to drift across each body,
Her own hands emitting light as soft & blue
As that seen in a child’s eye, leaving a halo
Hovering in place above the brow of those touched,
A sound like muted litany flowing from their throats
In praise of the woman moving about them, her
Fingers magnified to splendor, knuckles inexplicably
Flayed, sculpting themselves into rosary beads left 
Unstrung, the gasp of prayers as quiet & holy as bone. 



(Based on Delvaux’s "The Village of the Mermaids," 1942)

"This morning, one of our companie looking over board saw a mermaid . . . a Sea came and

overturned her. From the Navill upward, her backe and breasts were like a woman’s . . . her

skin very white; and long haire hanging down behinde, of colour blacke; in her going down

they saw her tayle, which was like the tayle of a Porposse and speckled like a Macrell."

 -Henry Hudson, 71 degrees north in the Barrents Sea, near Norway. 15 June 1608.

Waiting for rain, they dream of tidal waves
That will sweep them back into the sea, but
For now, they sit on their spindle-leg chairs
In front of their owners’ sheds, the fishermen,
Armed with keepnets, who caught them in frolic
Too close to shore, who now dress them in gowns
Draped to the ground, concealing their broken

Caudal fins, which flop as legs from knees,
Rendering them useless, unless in bed, & useless
As a means of escape when the masters carry
The mermaids to the seaside for their midnight
Immersion which allows them to survive on land,
To feed the men’s fantasies. But there are plans
Afoot. Mer legend reminds us that some earn powers

From the deep through long silence & meditation
& lack of motion, & as you would see, if allowed
To visit their passageway, each is aspiring to be
The one who frees her sisters & sends their captors,
Cruel & coarse, to a watery grave. The mermaids are
Caned for their lack of passion & their annoying
Quiet & their failure to communicate. Yet, they sit

Wholly within themselves, their backs raw from
Floggings, their folded hands sending signals on
The sly: names of family safe beneath the sea,
Prayers addressed to gods in unison, sacred images
Hung in air by fingers signing in the slightest way,
Casting shadows from one to the next, barely moving
Against the sun. & soon: a day a week a month,

Some afternoon, one of them will unfold her hands,
Disturbing the air about her, churning it to frenzy
A mist that will darken to storm, caudal fins
Regenerating in great thrust on the heaving wave
That engulfs fishermen destined to drown, their
Remains allowed to surface as nothing more
Than brackish waste befouling a stern & empty sea.


(based on George Bellows’ painting: “Stag at Sharkey’s”)
(“Saloon-keeper Tom Sharkey, retired heavyweight contender, is doing some fancy

footwork in avoiding the current NYC ban on boxing by awarding ‘membership’ to

every fighter he books for his Athletic Club brawls in his Lincoln Square cellar.”

                                                                             —The New York Times, 1909)
The kid comes down Sharkey’s stairs slapping
Snow off his great-coat, the threadbare elbows
Sporting ragtag patches cut from the hem.
He’s got a fresh shiner from one of the 3 other
Smokers he’s already worked tonight & a few
Random welts starting to fade. He weaves his way
Through the crowd, nods to Sharkey, unlocks
The Stay Out door, & flicks the wall switch
Before closing the door behind him. He hangs
His coat on a hook near the speed bag, & turns
It into a blur with a flurry of lefts & rights. He
Steps out of his trousers, reties his trunks & slips
A fold of 1’s into an envelope: 15 of them,
5 bucks a win. He sticks it under the mattress
He falls down on & closes his eyes for no more
Than a 10-count. Up on his feet, peeling off
His tee shirt sopped in sweat & spattered with
Someone else’s blood, he rubs his arms & yanks
A clean tee shirt on as he leaves the only room
Sharkey rents: half the kid’s take per week.
A dime for each piece of skinny-wood he burns
In the potbelly. 2 dimes for a hot bath upstairs.
Free beer if Sharkey goes out on the town. Sneaked
Meals from the cook, Bernie, who calls the kid
Champ and takes his break at 10 o’clock, in time
To see the kid do his stuff. The main room’s filthy:
6 rows of metal chairs tight against a 9’ x 9’ ring
Strung with braided clothesline covered in black
Tape. 10 100-watt clear bulbs hang limp on their
Bare wires, sawdust wet on the concrete floor,

The potbelly’s stovepipe jammed through the broken
Glass of an overhead window nailed shut & painted
Brown, an open drain in a far corner: Sharkey’s “Please
Flush” sign a ten-year-old bad joke, stale beer sticky
Underfoot, cigar smoke & old men with nowhere
To go. The kid’s heading for the ring, lifting 2 rolls
Of waxed-gauze from their pegs & 2 hollow stubs
Of hose to support his closed fists. He wraps his hands
As though they are already bleeding, round and round,
Flexing his fingers as the knuckles grow padded and tight:
The only gloves Sharkey allows. Just 18, the kid’s in his
4th season, & his pale Irish grin, riding above thick shoulders,
Is clean except for some hack doctor’s stitch marks
Under the left cheekbone. He climbs through the ropes &
Sits on the stool, fondling his mouthpiece, & studies
The empty stool across the ring, wondering who it will be,
& now there’s Harris stepping through the ropes, his
Bare knuckles showing through the gauze: a leftover
Wrap-job from his earlier fight down the block
Somewhere. Getting too old for this stuff, 37, 38,
Starting to lose his edge. It’ll be okay, thinks
The kid. He decked Harris in minute 6 last night
At Ramsey’s & he’s got no defense left, just a pecking
Jab & a giveaway right that opens him up for rib shots
That put him down & a jelly belly to keep him down.
Sharkey’s playing ref again, calling them to the center
Of the ring: No gouging, kneeing, biting, wrestling, butting,
Hitting low, no clock. You want out, you stay down for 10.


 (after De Chirico’s painting of the same name)
 It is custom here to have one’s girl child pose, for her seventh-birthday portrait,
 with a hoop: that sacred object whose center, it is believed, contains a magical
 zone capable of warding off bad spirits for an innocent passing through it.”
                                                                -Alessandro Serenelli, Nettuno, Italy, 1901 
 Marie Goretti and her hoop hardly cast
Any shadow at all, but she’d better be quick
About it,  if she’s to slip through her hoop
Before the long shadow laid dull and thick
On the end of the clay road spreads any closer.
It may be she will see it in time and be given
The urge to run inside the rusting van yawning
Against the wall she has only seen in daylight,
And know to stay deathly still until the shadow
Passes by. And yet, it may mean no harm at all,
Not be intent on reaching inside the hoop to claim
His exquisite prize of bones so fragile,  hair so
Fine, but merely shade sent by the statue
Of Zaccaria who makes safe the village square
For all children who trundle their hoops.
But this is night not day, and other shadows
Are starting to stain street and roof and wall
In a dark as dark as the mysterious dark
That already fills the doorways and windows
As she skips near the van, still far from where
She ought to be waltzing The La Furlana before
The marble saint and chanting the words
All his children know by rote: “14 steps for
 Zaccaria and you can plainly see: Zaccaria,
 Zaccaria will take good care of me.”


You can purchase these books from the author or on-line through Poetry Kit's
Bookshop at -


3 - BIOGRAPHY   (from Poetry Kit)

Email: prdan@optonline.net

Books online: http://capa.conncoll.edu
Recent poem online: http://www.ontarioreviewpress.com  (#57 on past issues)

Dan Masterson's New & Selected Poems, All Things, Seen and Unseen, was
released by The University of Arkansas Press in 1997. It includes work
published in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Gettysburg Review,
Esquire, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, Hudson
Review, London Magazine, Massachusetts Review, Yankee, New Orleans Review,
Prairie Schooner, Ontario Review, Poetry Northwest, North Dakota Quarterly,
and The Yale Review.

A recipient of the presitigious Chancellor's Award for Excellence in
Teaching, Professor Masterson has directed the Poetry program at
SUNY/Rockland/USA for forty years. For eighteen of those years, he also
served as an adjunct professor in screenwriting and poetry at Manhattanville
, and continues his affiliation with that institution through a
graduate poetry writing course he offers online through Poetry Master (url
above) under the auspices of the College.

Elected to membership in Pen International in 1986, he is a recipient of two
Pushcart Prizes, The Poetry Northwest Bullis Prize, The Borestone Award, and
the CCLM Fels Award. He is currently completing a manuscript, That Which Is
Seen, which consists of poems based exclusively on artwork. Many of the
selections have already appeared in such journals as The Sewanee, Georgia,
and Ontario reviews, Artful Dodge, Ekphrasis, The New York Quarterly, Hotel
Amerika, and Kestrel, as well as in two anthologies and a college workbook.

The complete texts of his first two books, On Earth As It Is (Illinois,
1978) and Those Who Trespass (Arkansas,1991) are displayed on The
Contemporary American Poetry Archives site (url above). His third and fourth
books are still in the marketplace. Recently, his work was featured on
Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. Professor Masterson is the founder and
director of  the website, Poetry Master, which offers free commentary on a
single poem with further, optional involvement on a contractual basis (url

He spent his early years in Buffalo, NY, involved in drumming and boxing,
and graduated from Syracuse University. He has served stints as actor,
narrator, discjockey, missionary worker, advertising copywriter, and
theatrical public relations director. He resides in Rockland County, NY,
with his wife, Janet, a psychotherapist. They spend much of the snow-free
months at their cabin hideaway in the high peak region of the Adirondack
mountains located in the state of New York.


4 - Afterword

email John Howard -
jjhoward99@yahoo.com  - if you would like to tell us what you think.

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sample of five poems and a publishing history to

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