unbending time

rochelle hope mehr

last night
I saw what the future was like
if time bent
and let me slink
into its folds

I saw a man
glowering at me
his iciness seeped

into my bones
this indifference to my pain
he had taken me
to bandage a wound
to provide comfort

but my sacrifice
lacked sincerity
and I heaved u
words of perdition
as my soul

slumped into submission
I woke up
smeared with the present
drenched with sweat
and grateful for the linearity

and irreversibility

of time

women's poetry for a change

$5.OO/£ 3.50

Issue #56

Fall 2002

ISSN 0888-9058


rochelle hope mehr

How do you know you exist?
How do you trust the fire from your hand?
When it emanates does it blind you?
When it manifests does it bind you?

What is your connection with reality?
What is it you see that you fear?
Do you see what is missing?
Do you see what you hear?

what it feels like

shannon truax

head into desire
burning then adjourning
silence holds the fire

be wary

temi rose

be wary when they tell you not to

be afraid
what they really mean is
they have such a punishing torture in mind
for you
there isn't any point in trying to protect yourself
what they don't know
you've been drowning for so long
you've learned how to swim
wriggle right out of any binding
into soulful experiments
meaningful relationships
stripped of futility
full of love, forgiveness and charity

eleanor koldofsky

I am never going to be run over by a truck: get up
ask if I can wash the truck
and apologize
for getting my blood on it

premonition of the mental hospital

rochelle hope mehr

the pain is so deep
you can't even touch it
"the numbness, the numbness, Rochelle."
From her tomb of a bed

I could not see it
her outstretched leg
looked unremarkable
"the numbness, the numbness," she said
"look -"

I saw nothing of the rigor mortis
I couldn't imagine feeling nothing
it made no sense
if her leg were truly numb
why did it trouble her so?

Why did she tremble
with the trepidation
of a lost lamb
glimpsing the shadow of the wolf
up ahead?

eleanor koldofsky

women of lysistrata
where are you now?
we need your courage
to stand in the face
of male dominance
establishing our rights


sally bushell

wending her way among trees, susannah
slips like a vixen toward the river
fine fur stirred by the chill of the evening
nostrils wide for the scent of a warning

she is not free
she is not able to be free

supple and slim as a wand, Susannah
matchless descending the silver mirror
marinous depths of the garden-water
tearing above her.

beyond, the old en press upon
the fine clipped hedge
hands smoothing it down
like an unruly page
that will fly up in the wind
not willing to be written on

tea leaves

richard sloniker

in a swirl of tea leaves
and a burnt tongue
I try to smile
and follow the words
that seep from your lips
across place settings
and ceramic cups
that scatter our conversation
like the scent of ginger and honey
in thin mists
from silent metallic pots

sally bushell

here, between old and new
a book is closed
a book is about-to

there are better places, true
to find oneself in
but this will do.

erasing this

janet i. buck

his voice on bristling tapes
a pitchfork from the garden shed
a few white shirts
bearing the soil of thirty years
photographs with corners
springing up like snakes
this was what was left

a stack of snow tires
bags of beer cans
dented by his ornery fist
on the floor of a dusty garage
his pipe in a bowl
on a stand by his chair
still smelling of smoke
and cherry cough drops
rivers of a little brandy mixing in
this was what was left

his aftershave beside the sink
littered with old mustache hairs
that made you somewhat furious
once upon a better time
better goes bitter in death
even a fight tastes sweeter
than silence and holes
this was what was left
that and moons of useless rock

eleanor koldofsky

the slammed door
was the signature
of his arrival

june 13th 2002

johanna ogdon

each leaf grabbing its own piece of sun
fighting, stretching over
the top, they tumble towards the sky
like a big hand the willow reaches over the fence
molly's cat cries to come out, but she'll
run away through the sun
speckled happy leaves swish swoosh
and us three childwomen sit
inside a moment of peace

of sunlight and shadows

najwa salam brax

bitter memories streaked with nebulous sparks
resonate amidst mournful meadow larks
will phoenix rise again before my eyes?
alas, no miracle will be reserved
change is the rule of life

spring's verdant gates still open ajar
dancing blossoms waft through, I smell attar
try to forget you, to no avail
wondrous halos and iridescent wings
take my soul's ray to our twittering cagelings

the afterglow of poetic flashes
dying embers return to ashes
life has metamorphosis and twists; I
take back the fleeting wing of yesterday
you soulfully fly and fight your own way

I look into question-riddled lakes
teeming with a myriad of wide-awake
water lilies, shading in solitude
rising, golden nightingales inside
flutter, twitter gladly by your side

A distant scent wafts through subtle air
nudging the shivering petals of despair
flirting; forget-me-yes, forget-me-not
yet your memory is locked in my sighs
whose unspoken words ease sad goodbyes

Life is too short to complain and to fear
hold tight our friendship memories so dear
I take exquisite poetic trips through
sailing pages among luminous thoughts
creative poems give breath to lifeboats

No longer will the melody of birds
thrill our shattered hearts, bless our artful worlds
is there still sunshine beyond the gray clouds?
how can one fly safely on broken wings
how can one play gladly on ruptured strings?

light kisses the snow azalea meadows
I pluck dry petals mixed with your shadows
can you inhale again the sweet fragrance?
my god! you arise from my pen and sheet
my fingers can feel your warmth - and heartbeat

absolutely free

eleanor koldofsky

absolutely free
lie down
or up against a wall
spread your legs
he'll penetrate, and
absolutely free
you'll have a baby

congratulations on
and as a Mon-to-be

absolutely free
for forty weeks
headaches, backaches
vomiting, toxemia, diarrhoea
or migraines
for an absolutely free

a variety of ills
slipped disc, haemorrhoids
plus a sumptuous assortment
of pills

breasts weigh like udders
leak and spurt like a cow
as she offers her chaste breast
to her dear little child
where is the sire now?

absolutely free

sand at the ocean

shannon truax

lying on my towel, I run my hand through the sand
I would like to hold it in my palm
but the loose, tiny grains slip through my fingers

it's paradoxical
together, they support me on my towel
yet I can't claim a handful
the scarce number in my hand
makes the strength of those around the ocean seem impossible
but it is more than possible

closer to the water
dampness imposes itself over and over again
yet their bond becomes stronger
solidification during this cyclical storm
allows me to take that handful and look at it closely
I know I can learn a lot from these tiny grains


temi rose

elementary my dear
squares and circles disappear
when from the fourth dimension come schemes
golums of feverish devotion

blurring the edges, making a commotion
parlay softly and you will find

seasons change, nothing left behind
deftly time responds to adolescent dreams
inconsequent seeming and yet not so very
nothing else matters than these desires
her wish to make our world a better place

hey girl

deon dempsey

hey girl
how you doing?
I'm feeling out of sorts
kind of blue
a bit worthless
and boring
not good enough
blah blah..
been thinking bad thoughts

in our bed

richard sloniker

I cannot
when she
she must leave
consciousness first
before I can
lay down
and rest
so that our dreams

orchid legs

johanna ogdon

my legs are beautiful. I stare at them
I take snatch-catch-Polaroids when I can
like a dirty husband looking at other women
guilty, satisfying
I own a beautiful thing

my favorite part is between knee and thigh
I pull my skirt up at dinner
and touch my orchid legs
they grow white and long in the summer
long lasting blossoms in the sun

eleanor koldofsky

he went thruogh life entertaining
his penis

this time

temi rose

we are tired of being insignificant in your eyes
we are tired of being uncomplaining by your side

we are tired and we retire now to fulfill our own dreams
nurture our children
watch our gardens grow

silently, softly, we leave you now
leave you to your despair
leave you to your anger, rage
your irritable bowel syndrome, your bad knees
leave you to your terror with your peculiar scorn
I'll keep my sanity, clarity, kindness and beware
temptations to renew our acquaintance because
your acquistiveness exhausts me
your selfishness gives me heartburn
and this time I have a map, a direction
a path of my own to follow

drying paint

janet i. buck

in that time swatch
between sunset, moonrise
starfish glitter on black
the earth sits like a hangnail
I wait for a key
to turn in the door

hours alone work up
to the us in a half-assed way
for love is a mission
that counts its dead
then regrets the oversight

did I finish the painting
I wanted to hang
on our very last wall
when my kiss saluted your lips?

the easel won't stay on three legs
the palette won't be eternally moist


rochelle hope mehr

I can't write a poem just to fill up space
our vanquish time
I'd be too lost in rhyme
and forget reason

how long did you think we'd have
the luxury of time
to dabble in dalliance
before the game

bespattered and bestial in my prime
I forgot what I wanted to say
wanted to do
and in the forgetting

I was born anew
and pronged to the core
with the pain
of the deeply stained

I knew so well
the groan in my bone
I could not forget
even as I awoke

and found some bread, a bed
a shred of peace
a starling sang to me
some Mozart

and with my last breath
I flew to you

unrequited anger

eleanor koldofsky

unrequited anger
is more terrible than unrequited love
I look back in my history
come immediately to a chasm
no father, no grand parents
no beginning
a pit
that I cannot fill
or want to
with what would I fill it

were my grandparents really
burned to death in a barricaded synagogue?

where are my beginnings
am I better shaped without them?
in whose image am I crafted?

I look into the faces of my children
I wonder who they are
my grandson is known to me
for I knew his father and grandfather
and great grandfather!
he is all of them. a heritage
whose child am I?
no one's.

I am the strong female chain
going back to the first woman
epiphytic, I grow without roots

the waiting room

janet i. buck

"there was no room in that tiny space
for anything but two chairs and the truth"

maria housden

in the act of just sitting
silence gained a magnanimous weight
"she has a 50/50 chance"
this was the record's rut
the rest of the music rendered me deaf
the sun was out in blue slate skies
but I saw black, a firm eclipse
in permanent ink

coffee tasted like mud
all the cream from any pitcher
all the smiles from nurses
padding down the halls
did nothing to dilute this fear

no matter how ready you were
I was running backwards fast
running backwards to the bath

when I was six and you were

sudsing thick blonde curls
telling me to shut my eyes
in my mind, the tumor grew
from the size of a plum to an orange
to melons to elephant dunes

every step that might be doctors
coming through the swinging doors
increased my pulse like
water in a red balloon
prayers adhered to conscious sighs
then pulled away like virgins
from a messy kiss
and yes, the soap was stinging fire
as a diary closed on my thumbs
four pink roses in my hands
grew bald from constant trembling

too young

helen lyon

not too young
to know
that she wanted and desired me
all for herself alone
body, mind and soul

but much too young
to negotiate
the terms
too young
even to differentiate
between real love
offered unconditionally
and false love
nothing less than
complete control over me

not too young
to realize
that I must try to be free
but at four years old
what hope is there for me?

much too young
to protect myself
and in the end
will she finally have me
body, mind and soul?

your love

najwa salam brax

let lovers have the dreaming moon and stars
with their shining attires and sweet guitars
let them possess the weird, mighty quasars
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let people dive with dolphins in the deep
and new worlds spring up into light and leap
into mysterious seashells where pearls sleep
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let the suns unfold their uplifting wings
and lovers transform into fiery rings
that dance round and round at satanic strings
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let the subtle breeze gather all the queens
wrapping their loving hearts in vivid scenes
of waltzing choirs of gods with their olympian queens
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let light rivers flow through the universe
and all poets in their ripples immerse
to compose universal prose and verse
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let cupid and psyche come down to earth
to teach earthlings lessons of love and mirth
promising them rebirth after rebirth
but for me, it's enough to have your love

let the nine muses perform miracles
atop parnassus' eerie pinnacles
set artists free from their earthly shackles
but for me, it's enough to have your love


eleanor koldofsky

am I the bridge
that spans sanity from despair
am I the bridge
that separates
freedom from care
am I the body
that consumes the pill
destroys the race
lies very still
while I am pumped to the fill
with body spit
til I am nearly split
and wonder
is this love?
sex? - not mine!
passion? no
this is looting
shooting one's pain out of them
to anything debase
to anywhere, no face
a hole, a role one minute - ten?
zip up, wonder again, when?