(More poetry from Larsen Bowker, Walter Griffin, John Grey, and Christopher Dungey in the print version of The White Crow, available for $2.50 ppd from Osric Publishing.)
On the highway in the station wagon
On the highway in the station wagon,
nine children packed in unruly rows,
baby between parents in front.
Two of us are fighting, four singing,
three call at passing truck drivers
to toot their horns. The baby begins to cry.
I know my father's signs:
jaw muscles pulsing, knuckles whitening. My stomach tightens
as his large hands lift slowly from the wheel,
rising like helium balloons threatening to break
their thin strings. In that moment
we are some planet about to leave its orbit,
and I pray the hood ornament gleaming in the sun
is pointed toward safety.
Hands held high, my father is the maestro.
Our paralyzed quiet washes over him,
But he hold us, suspended for long seconds
Without breath or sound
- Eileen Doherty
The Arrangement of Skin
My Grandmother was a
taxidermist. She skinned
dead animals, slit their
bellies and stuffed them
with straw. I slept in the
room with them at seven;
their glass eyes looked
down on me every night after
the chain light was pulled. I
covered my face at first but
later grew used to their stare.
sometimes, just before daylight,
I would wake and see them all
watching me: the alligators,
snakes, and mounted bass and
buck's head; the baby octopus
floating inside the mayonnaise jar.
Now, after all these years when
I am out on the road by the
fields, every scarecrow waves
in my headlights; and when I
stop at a motel by the Interstate,
I always dream of a stuffed and
mounted head hanging from the
ceiling, while the stranger from
the lounge sleeping next to me
does not know my eyes do not
close during the night, does
not feel the prickly straw
against her naked back.
- Walter Griffin
Coney Island Beach People Still Life
On the beach, in the center of a ring of
people looking down is a woman whose
neck is bent back, eyes rolled all the way
inside, thin blue lips touching the lips of
the lifeguard, pinching her nose closed,
breathing in, short deep breaths, unaware
of everything around him but the woman
turning cold beneath him. At the edge
of the circle a young girl and her brother
are tightly holding hands, tears in the
corners of their eyes; they know what is
happening and what it will mean.
- Alan Catlin
Man in the Hathaway Shirt
I want the
shirt off his back.
To have that
eye patched air
I want to
fill the shirt's
make a home
in those square shoulders
wallow in the narrow waist.
My craned neck
starched and collared
snapped into shape.
what I am
I will keep
just out of sight
my breast pocket.
- Doug Holder
We were thirteen,
sleeping in the guest
room on his uncle's farm.
It was a magnificent bed.
Four thick oval posts
tended something phallic
everywhere we turned.
It started with kisses.
We decided to practice
the French kind, in case
we ever met a girl.
But the moment our
tongues teased one
another, our eyes closed
and we fell into the open
places between us.
We became one delicious
surprise after another,
vocal chord deep in hunger.
- Christopher Thomas
Last updated 09.16.2001