Poetry - Selections from The White Crow v3, i1

Editor's note


Scott Beal
Kenneth Pobo
C.D. Chase
Lainey Hashorva
Holly Day
Mary Jo Thomas
Sam Pierstorff
Sharon Anderson
Michael W McClellan
Douglas Gnodtke

Contributor's Notes

(Just click on the author whose work you'd like to read, or simply scroll down as you please. Reading just doesn't get any easier than this!)

What Breaks

Everything. Every reservoir's
surface in the slightest
weather. Kneecap skin
when the skateboard slips.
A graphite tip halfway through
the crucial sentence. Eggshells
and bones and whole homes.
Your courage. My will. The ice
this paper-mediated encounter's
been put on, eventually.
And next, our nerve. No promise
is safe. Each well-
lit street attracting traffic
is paved over a fault-line.
But that's good news;
saplings spring out of sidewalk cracks,
some kid's baseball rends
your window and a sudden breeze
raises the hair on your arms.
The walls we butt our heads against
just need their fissures widened
for us to make the squeeze.
The teeth through which you've been
lied to are already ridden
with cavities, and that, my friend,
is where you apply the drill.


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White House

grew up in a white
house white
garage too but
the living
room walls are
a gift
my parents didn't know
they gave me
lavender walls
in my single-color
town how subversive
even with a piano
and family photos
lavender lavender
lavender I feel my
self turning and

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Assembling Mythical & Polytheistic Gods and Spirits

No thing is without time.
Not birdsong sent into weary winter
across unspeakable snowscape.
Not your kiss, lingering, fluent.
Not the stalking gray crane
who walks stiltingly, glad upon sand.
Not the inch of gone worms
caterpillaring down valleys
of your hand. Not clocks.
Not that slowest rock, god-like,
awaiting rain to sunder and tumble
it to sea. Without time
we would not be. Nor go northward.
Nor gladden our kissing.
Nor anticipate the fragrant
and frequent and splendiferous
marigold rose. Nor end.

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Pocketdust Magic

I want to talk soft,
trace your lines with my finger
and say goodbye
in a big red explosion
of fire sound and sweetness.
I want to stop talking
and dance real slow, moving in close
without touching,
To feel the edges of your heat
and lose myself in the music.
I cannot get comfortable
in my own bed
cannot conjure a deep sleep
a perfect peace of my own.
I have rearranged the furniture
woke up lost and gone to sleep new
I have painted the walls a dark rose,
drawn the curtains, pulled the shades.
There is not enough air in this room
and I am afraid to sleep with the door open
so exposed, so vulnerable,
yet there is no one home but me.
I turn on
the fan, the white whir and hum
of the quietest breeze right at me
and still I cannot get enough air.
I long for sleep. Sweet heavy dreamless sleep.
I awake to the sound of my own voice, turn the clock away,
and move to a diagonal position.
If I sleep on the couch it's not so bad
every once in a while.
I cannot find the letting go that needs to happen.
I want to keep what little of you I have,
the traces of pocket dust magic you leave behind.
But the good witch inside wants to show you to the door
take a stand on what is right, what is wrong.
She is tapping her foot and I am begging for mercy.
She is packing you and your phrases, your accent and your
gazes into a pink balloon. She is floating you away,
high above the telephone wires and the Hollywood sign,
where the crows circle and the city lights shimmer.
I want to hide, to make myself as small as I can be
and she comes to me gentle as rain in summer,
she tells me to look at the sky
and the promise of something better.
I am supposed to cut this string that is tied to my wrist.
I am tired deep down inside, so I close my eyes and do as she asks.
She is rocking me now, and she whispers that I will be happy.
So So So happy.
My sleepy eyes watch the sky as you drift up and tiny,
like a champagne bubble bursting against the face of the sun.

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Christmas in Arizona

the rain has summoned flowers
desert cacti dancing scarlet
and the sand dunes, melted into rolling waves
gray humps stretching past the line
Man catalogued: Horizon
and I'm here

a million miles from endless screams
of metal saurians, the stench of cities
burning, the watchful glare of amber
there is something almost stately
in the stance of the desert dogs
soldiers lined up to do battle
on the intrusion
of the tent I've named: Home.

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Inspiration for the Portrait of a Bird

Begin with an egg.
Place it on a silk pillow,
In front of a screen. Stand back,
Take its measure, wrap around it a shawl
Your grandmother gave you, smell its pale,
Its powdery memories. Next imagine its beak
And its feathers, the grip
Of its talons, the echo
Of its bones. Listen for it:
Borrow from the daybreak,
The first familiar sounds;
Place them, one by one,
Inside its ruby throat. Offer
It your own best memory,
Or the blush of that moment
You've always been proudest of.
Then with your thumb
(This next part is tricky)
Over its breast, gently
Engage its heart.
Say a prayer for it,
Then give it to God
Who will find it a soul.

You, however, may name it:
Call it "eagle" or "sparrow"
"Bluebird" or "crow."
Call it "albatross," if you choose,
And dip its beak in the foam,
Release it at sea, away from the place
You thought was its home.
Leave it alone; let it roam
The ocean without you.
When it finally sleeps, steal
From it a single feather,
The quill you can use
In the old-fashioned way.
Write a letter to Charles Darwin,
Or the verses of a poem.
Return the feather;
It was never yours.
Apologize; be humble for once.
Give thanks to God it was only an egg.

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Street Games

Children tossing stones on
Bloodstained chalk drawings . . .
A new kind of hopscotch
Played in the alleys of
Bullet-ridden tenements.

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I've watched the house long enough
from the parking lot across the street—
watched the poplars bend across the moon's rising face,
trembling in the warm, summer breeze.

Two men I've been trailing
leave and drive away.
A signal appears at the door:
a black kerchief held aloft
in a pale delicate hand.

I enter the house.
The hand's owner—
a tall, gawky housekeeper—
shows me into a room
where there are twelve enormous glass containers
containing women's body parts:
double-decked, six to a row.

In one jar
a woman's blonde head
giggle in the effervescence.
In the jar beside,
long lovely legs lean against glass.
In another, a naked torso bobs.
Bottle bookends of more serene, smiling heads.
The housekeeper points to the top half of a female body
floating in a jar on the upper row,
describes what the crowd did to her
while dusting off the lid,
a smile of amusement playing on her lips as she speaks,
like the maid's in the movie, "The Haunting."

She prods me out to the den with her duster,
where the men I've been following are waiting.
I tell them the case is closed.
We gather up all the jars
and pack them into limousines
while the gawky maid
dressed in black Victorian clothes
walks down the road ahead of us
playing an accordion.

We drive behind her slowly
in a funeral procession
windows rolled down,
I can hear her playing
Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor"
perfectly well.

Soon she begins to run
still faithful to the keyboard's tedious demands.
When we near the mall,
two limousines ahead of us pass her
and turn into the back entrance
leading to the cocktail lounge.
We lag behind her
while she runs,
black train dragging in the mud.

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From the bottom of the canyon
my friend yelled "I got one,
I got a rabbit."

We began shooting
skeet, then bottles.
When a sparrow flew by,
we shot at it too.

Soon everything was a target.

We heard the shot echo,
then he held up a brown
jackrabbit by the ears.

We met halfway down the hill;
he was eager to show us
and we were eager to see.

None of us had ever killed
anything before.

The hind leg wobbled
It must have already been

"Anyone can shoot a crippled
rabbit," we teased.

The eyes were oval and black,
its nose black too.

"Who wants to shoot it up?"
he said,
swinging it by its front legs.

I wanted to bury it,
but I was alone.

I was fourteen
with one shell left.

It was an easy target.

The rabbit landed
in the dry weeds
where dust clouds rose
and tiny gnats circled,

where my last shot

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The Real World

Yes there are no bananas
the damn flies ate them all,

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Contributor's Notes

Scott Beal has an MFA from the University of Michigan, and he is currently in a rock band. The poems presented in this issue are from an unpublished manuscript entitled Just 'Cause It's Red Doesn't Mean It's Raspberries

Kenneth Pobo has oodles of obscure 45s and Ls from the 60's and bad taste in clothes. Numerous chapbooks and collections of his work have been published, including the incredible Ravens and Bad Bananas from Osric Publishing.

C.D. Chase is still hunting for references to white crows in both literature and real life. There is, we are told, a white-necked crow found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I do hope they are avid fans.

Lainey Hashorva doesn't write every poem about the same guy. There are two guys, actually. And you don't want to be either one of them! She also has a fax machine, which I think is really neat.

Holly Day has a middle name, Lalena, which would seem to indicate that she is using her real name. I requested her file from the Minneapolis branch FBI, but they claimed that all files from Roseville, Minnesota, are confidential.

Mary Jo Thomas is 46, a coal miner's daughter, has a PhD in American Literature, teaches at Berea College in Kentucky, is a cat fanatic, and enjoys going to garage sales with her sister. Her house is green.

Sam Pierstorff has been published on numerous bathroom walls coast to coast. His work has also been rejected by some of the most prestigious magazines and weekly periodicals. He lives in Riverside, California.

Sharon Anderson lives in a small village in Pennsylvania, and she loves to write. She claims it keeps her off the streets and out of the pool halls. I suppose some people do consider billiards a more devastating vice than poetry.

Michael W McClellan claims he has no idea where the many random body parts found in his closet, all hermetically sealed in plastic bags, came from. Police in Lockport, New York, are investigating.

Douglas Gnodtke is a sophomore at the University of Michigan and is one of the technical advisors for this fine publication. Way to go, Doug!

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Last updated: 06.25.2000