I Keep at Home Under Key

By Gonzalo Rojas

I keep at home under key two serpents  
of the dynasties  
closeted apart: Prorsa (so Stendahl called her)  
is longer and moves stealthily, Versa,  
the undulant one; the two of them  
fly like swans through the air of the night when I bid  
that they make their ballet
daytimes instead they sleep curled up  
in seven, almost always in seven, in  
their dwelling place of glass. They dream they're  
the goddesses Nekhbet and Bouto who danced once like they do  
in The Book of the Dead.  

I use them to write the World, for this  
I give them milk and grapes, I let them play  
free among my papers; I like that they speak alone  
like I do, that they think  
their girlish thoughts from an immemorial  
splendor without fear of  
death: that is what I like.  

And how they laugh at every mad line  
that comes to me. Versa  
trusts more in what I do, and even  
caresses my ear. Prorsa the exact one  
allows me less luxury- not that way
she says: without  
euphoria.  

Sometimes I open to them the other door of my skull and that is  
joy: they dance  
into madness, they fly  
through my imagination as if entering  
another galaxy, and  
let no one sleep in that mirror. The shattering  
begins with the cockcrow


GUARDO EN CASA CON LLAVE  

Guardo en casa con Have a las dos serpientes  
dinasticas en  
trinche aparte: Prorsa (asi le puso Stendahl)  
es mas larga y sigilosa, mas  
ondulante Versa; las dos  
vuelan como cisnes cuando les pido  
que hagan su ballet en el aire por la noche; de  
dia mas bien duermen dobladas  
en siete, casi siempre en siete, en  
su morada de vidrio; suei'ian que son  
las diosas Nekhbet y Buoto que ya bailaron antes como ellas  
en El Libro de los Muertos.  

Las uso para escribir el Mundo, por eso  
Jes cloy leche y uvas, las dejo jugar  
libres entre mis papeles; me gusta que hablen solas  
como yo, que p1ensen  
su pensamiento de muchachas desde un fulgor  
inmemorial sin miedo a  
morir: eso me gusta.  

Ademas como rien de cada linea loca  
que se me ocurre, Versa  
es la que mas confia en lo que hago, y hasta  
acaricia mi oreja. Prorsa la exacta  
me exije menos lujo-asi no 
me dice : sin  
euforia.  

A veces les abro la otra puerta de mi craneo y esa si  
es alegria: bailan  
hasta enloquecer, vuelan  
por mi imaginacion como si entraran a  
otra galaxia y  
no dejan dormir a nadie en ese espejo. La quebrazon  
empieza con los gallos. 

Poem of the Peach Spring

By Tau Yuan Ming

        Tau Yuan-ming (365-427 A.D.) became a Chinese bureaucrat after a  
life of poverty, but he lasted only eighty-one days before tiring of his duties.  
He returned home to farm, tend chrysanthemums, drink, and write poetry.  
He wrote a story of a utopian society that lived beyond a spring in a peach  
grove. Less well known than the story is his ''Poem of the Peach Spring.''  
        The society that Tau Yuan-ming described lived in harmony yet  
violated basic tenets of Confucianism, which encouraged devotion to  
authority and to the state. Tau Yuan-ming responded more to Taoism, which  
often opposed the social stability and conformity of Confucianism. ''Poem  
of the Peach Spring'' condemns those frantic individuals who cannot accept  
patterns of nature-who seek self-improvement over the appreciation and  
enjoyment of the natural world
        "Poem of the Peach Spring" is composed in five-character lines,  
employing parallelism between couplets. This poem is typical of Chinese  
poetry in that allusion makes the poem very condensed. Some of Tau Yuan 
ming's allusions are to works as distant from his day as his is from ours.  
        The First Emperor referred to in ''Poem of the Peach Spring,'' Shih  
Hwang Ti (259-210 B.C.), is well known for his attempt to wipe out all  
previous history through burning books, scholars, and peasants. He is the  
scale in Chinese history against which tyranny can be measured: Mao  
Tse-tung once boasted he had destroyed more books and scholars than even  
the First Emperor

POEM OF THE PEACH SPRING 

In the age when the First August Emperor violated heaven  
Sages hid themselves from the world.  

As Hwang and Chi in their times went to Shang Mountain,  
These went to the Peach Spring.  

Their footprints were buried as in mist,  
The paths of their coming, weeds and waste

Together they furrowed and sowed their land  
And rested with the setting sun.  

Mulberry and bamboo drooped with shade,  
Beans and millet were cultured in proper times.  

In spring the silkworms yielded long silkAnd the ripeness of fall brought no king's taxes. 

The roadways lost, travel to Peach Spring was forgotten.  
Together geese and dogs cackled and barked.  

The ancient rituals were performed,  
And the old clothing was worn.  

Children ran singing through the land
While grey-haired ones roamed to visit. 

From luxuriant grass one knew calm seasons  
From failing trees, the fierce wild times.  

No histories were kept, no chronicles,  
But years grew from their seasons.  

In harmony there was enough that pleasedWhy would they fret for knowledge? 

Their traces of wonder were hidden for five centuries,  
Until the age I discovered the divine borders.  

Their sincerity was not my flippancy
So I returned and left the land to its solitude.  

Now I demand of those restricted and restless:  
What do you know more than noise and dust- the world?  

I wish to walk on wind
In high places raise my search for harmony. 

Spring Night

By Li Po


        Li Po (AD. 705-762) lived during the golden age of Chinese poetrythe T'ang Dynasty, and perfected the shon poem known as the Chyue-chiu.
"Spring Night" is an example of this form. A chyue-chiu consists of four 
lines, seven characters to a line. Each character in the first and second lines
corresponds to each other, as do the characters in the third and fourth lines.
The compact nature of Chinese allows for a great deal of movement within
each line.  

        In the poem, Cheng means City; lo Cheng is lo City . Lo is Li Po's
abbreviation of Loyang, the capital city. Homesick, Li Po hears someone
playing a flute and wonders who could be playing so intently and  
convincingly of home. 

SPRING NIGHT  

Whose jade flute spreads a flying sound?- 
Scattering this night's song of the broken willow,  
Filling the spring wind of Lo Cheng
In whom does not arise the ancestor's courtyard: home? 

The Whiteness of the Whale

By Dan Muhlestein

False hue,  
Pernicious White  

Which, seeming  
To reveal the best,  
The bright, the spotless bride,  

The rest in Jesus--Believers' right--
The newborn babe upon whom light from Heaven's star  
Did fall when pressed the Magi first his lips upon the breast  
Of him whom nations would call Blessed ,  

Doth really but conceal the scorn  
Of Universal Unconcern for man  
Or beast or ship at sea  

Or Christians' prayers  
Or pagan's plea.  

Dan Muhlestein 

Wizards and Elves

By Cara Bullinger

I have gathered strength in solitude,  
Like a spider tatting its web of soundless silver.  
There are no longer elves in these woods:  
The last wizard took them away  
With the whispered incantations of the trees.  

The stones speak no more of what  
They saw before I came to this grove,  
Because my curses and my cries echoedEchoed between them before dying  
In the sky. I was a still lake :  
No wind stirred my deepness.  

I waited .  

And now, the white Mountain Stars reveal nothing  
To me except the joy of their fragile shape,  
Fragile as snowflakes on a steamy window.  
I touch the blade of the flower, the bark of the tree, 
The moss of the stone, the cold of the waterAnd am happy for only this.  

The elves will come again--but only when I  
Beckon them, only when I compose the incantations  
Of leaves that shift light and shadow  
In contrapuntal melodies or lyrical nocturnes.  


Cara Bullinger 

The Chalice

By Cara Bullinger

One lunar dance before the spring equinox,  
She was an empty chalice on a stone altarDraped with mold and rotted clothCrumbling under a sky of cindered stars.  

The dead, charred moon was the fruit  
After the sin, flung from the ivory hand  
Into the grass, shriveled, dark blood-red,  
Like wine droplets still clinging  
To the chalice left overturned by the man.
  
Now she is bitter for one so young,  
Left with only the dregs of his spittle  
And the memory of his straight, hard back  
When he walked into the west.  

But far beyond the meeting place  
Of eastern sky and mountain 
The sun is ascending  
To dim the dark of her night.  
The cup-rim glows with rising light.  

A high, white bird sings across the sky.  
One songnote before the cup  
Will hold the molten sun,  
She holds the bird 's cry and image  
Within her chaliced mind.  

Cara Bullinger 

From the Next Weird Sister

By Laura Hamblin

It matters not that my ankles are shapely and gracefulOr that once, and I remember it well
They said I had a splendid head of hair- 
Perhaps the loveliest in all of Scotland.  

One need not be a beldam to be a witch.  
It takes only a desperate malignant need  
To which there can be no relinquishment.  
Be saucy and over-bold
Your charms enough will change you.  

For now the sun is setting,  
And our clan meets again
Here on the heath we spread the spoils of our battle,  
And offer them to vacant sable skies
The fair men have called foul fair  
And the foul men have called fair foul.  
The fog is lifting,  
But the filth in the air still remains.  

Sometimes I wish I were a birth-strangled babeThen at least my finger would have a priceAnd I might be understood  
Or might understand the unknown powers.  
But I was destined to live
And am driven to accomplish deeds without names

Come away, come away, come awayWhen labor is too great 
Then is when a birth occurs
I, mother of maggots,  
I lay the eggs of my brain in night visionsThere to incubate, molt and corrode,  
There to pardon and poison all entrails.  

And what of you?  
It matters not that your neck is slender;  
Or you, that your breasts are warm and supple You, with that raging void 
You too can be a midnight hag.  
It occurs to us all, at one time or another,  
When a broken heart is the gift and the wound,  
Sin can be a soothing salve.  

The charm is wound up
Sisters, let us take leave 
Something wicked this way comes 
We go in search of newts, and a messiah


Laura Hamblin 

The Pig War

By Matt Mosman

Friday Harbor, Washington  

''The Britishers used to come down this trail  
To their camp, and their ships was out in that bay  
A-waitin for the battle. A red-coated guard would hail  
You as you come up, and he'd yell, 'Who goes there?' " I say  

But John, he just says, "What was on this island?"  
"Jeez, John," says I, "You always miss the thrust  
Of things like this. This land is your land and my land;  
Duty, and honor, and country, and Fifty-four-forty or bust  

Or whatever it was. So what if it was a herd  
Of pigs and twenty Americans?' ' But I've lost  
Him, and he gets that look of his, that bird-
Eyed, glassy-headed one, and he says, "What was the cost  

In terms of human lives?" (That's what he said, I'm tellin'  
You the truth.) And I says, "Oh, there was a whole bunch  
Of soldiers in both camps, but I guess not much killin'  
Went on. Never was a real war. Ten or twenty, mebbee." He's out to lunch  

Again, with that look of his, so while he's shut up I sets  
the scene for him. "Just before they calls it off, the tide  
Goes out, and the reds send their ships out of the harbor, and lets  
Nobody in or out. The Yanks, they're on the rocky side  

Of the island, and in either end the men digs  
In, just like the troops at Verdun.
"Must've been a helluva nice herd of pigs,"  
Says John.  

Matt Mosman 

This, The Summer

By L. Danielle Beazer

Of women single  
Who walk th'eased step  
Of women alone  
Who stay indoors  
During summer storms  
Watch the streams  
Slip down the pane  
Against the mesh of screen.  

L. Danielle Beazer 

Feed Mill Faces

By James Papworth

Each morning  
sparrows come  
shrugging off the brownness  
of the only life they know
Cuddled in cracks  
they beak for lice.  
Streaked brick  
tells the story of their yesterdays.  

Chunks of dung  
litter rat-goings;  
they stare hard in search of hunger.  
Listen:  
they hum as they shell red wheat.  

Outside the feed mill  
on El Dorado  
bums belch  
and spit hooch phlegm
They hold their city  
in tied-up bags.  
Up and down the rail they trudge  for nothing.  
Modesto. Madera. Fresno 
Neighbors come and go.  
Faces roll by shades of soot,  
'gadung gadung gadung' of rail  
rattles them to sleep.  

In dreams  
I see on the hard horizon  
rats with no eyes  
moving across the land.  
Sparrows circle and soar  
with red-caped heads
Bums have taken jobs.  

James Papworth