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08. Featuring: L. Ward Abel



‘Open the drapes…’ -Corey Mesler


The field behind my


slopes downward, wants to be flooded

and often is in the cold rain

that follows these new year days;

its soil, its soul


for crop. There are dreams in that dirt

dreams of bulb and sprout.

I stand at my window, nose cold to the

touch. My breathing, yes, I’m alive,

fogging French-panes. And it all opens

on grayness.

My struggle is a quiet one. I’ve chosen

not to tell others, not from shame, but

lack of energy. Not even music

accompanies this thief, the knob turned

far leftward to click, the click the only


Dread of sleeping, waking, eating, living


fade. I know the postman comes,

delivers my warming

in a brown green cardboard box that holds


I’ve sent for, desperately, but I wait

counting breaths,

dreaming dikes against my


The Rose Under Boot


Les ennuies, les chagrins s’effacent

                                                      —Edith Piaf


         How strange it must be

to sing while your country is occupied

by foreign forces.

She, Edith, sang while the Nazis

were in Paris. I have some of those recordings:

scratchy, dark, reminding me of Casablanca

or those other films made while the war was raging

in Europe. The Sparrow dined with her

occupiers, sang as the boxcars rolled,

played footsie with black boots under café tables,

above an Underground that suffered,

soldiered, shunned collaboration, the cushion

of a secret three-fourths majority. I have to ask myself,

how would I

have reacted in the same situation? Would I choose

safety over freedom?

          But then there’s Gorecki, toiling away

at his compositions

with Soviet tanks rumbling in his native land.

His symphonies reflect an inner strength

all the while recognizing

the emotional shrapnel that pierced

his Poland, still scarred. Could my discipline and

resolve have been translated to the page

with this kind of


power? Like Vera Lynn in White Cliffs of Dover;

accepting her fate, but with hope.

It seems doubtful that this bravery

could come from me. I see these two artists,

and others like them, as being illuminated

in a shaft of golden light,

twirling, preserved, strong, perfect.

If A Nuclear Pulse Detonated Above Our Hardware


If a nuclear pulse detonated above our hardware

where would my words be? The blast wouldn’t kill me,

unless you count the gouge through which my soul would course.

My typed phrase would dissipate, would seek another lake but would find

nothing to bind it in a volume of touch.

On my wooden deck, under January,

I commit to becoming like the ancients,

who passed on their words not by writing in the sand

but by speaking out. Paper burns. Screens fade. Data corrupts.

Rocks become beach. But voices

are bridges to bridges to bridges.

My friends are having heart attacks now,


getting diseases, divorces, cracking up.

When will the other shoe drop? I can’t think

of one family that hasn’t been touched

by tragedy, loss or some misfortune, including

my own…and I remember thinking,

maybe in my early thirties, while lying in bed,

head resting on my cupped hands and facing

a nighttime ceiling, that things were good.

Actually being aware of it. Well,

I wasn’t aware.

And the cruelty of it all

is that ‘mortality’ was always there; mortality

is essence. Life is for dying.

Even stars burn out. This should be something

embraced and even celebrated.


It really should.


It eludes me, though,

it darkens my edges, wastes

my time. I didn’t used to think like this.


I didn’t used to know so much.

+ Bei Ling + Yan Li + Ashok Niyogi  + Saima Yacoob + Harvey Stanbrough +                     Christopher Barnes + David Thornbrugh + Linda Beninghoff + Frances LeMoine +       Harry R. Wilkens + Andrew Shelley + John Thomson + Amanda Smith + Paula              Brown + Mario Susko + Richie Mais + Chris Major