Li Po, Mid-October, Gray Light Streaked with Rust-Colored Glints Over Silver Water

by Colette Inez

He lost his chance in Chang-an,
his great height above six feet
fearsome on a horse, two wives or was it three
in varied outposts of the empire.
Hadn’t he arrived at the palace wine soaked and disheveled?
Hadn’t lackeys bowed low to scrape dung from his boots?

On another path, Li Yang-ping, calligrapher,
one who collected poems for posterity
held his friend’s head to more cups
of wine when night began to swallow the road, and Li Po 
wandered like a stream into the shine of  water-
yellow leaves trembling at the quake of boots,
fish staring up from his kettle.

Friends–for he valued friendship–take me home
wherever my name is known. He called out to sloshed boats
of reflected stars, to untamed horses on the moon,
and woke to the next morning, its peach-colors
the face of his youth in the lordly mountains. 

new children’s art

by Donald Kuspit

the child is not
                     the greatest imaginer,
as kandinsky thought,        
                            ever searching
for a new beginning
                         as his imagination aged,
finally fading into clichés
                           of consciousness.
nor is genius childhood
                              recollected in tranquility,
as baudelaire thought,
                             for there is no tranquility
in life,
           genius being restlessness made ruthless
by woe,
         constant as the blackness
beyond the stars,
                    unfathomable futility
in its endlessness.

                     lacking velazquez’s mature vision
and mastery,
                  picasso toyed with las meninas,
cheapening it into child’s play,
                                            crudely tore it apart,
a malicious boy cutting
                              the wings off a butterfly,
envious of their splendor
                                 and the mystery of its flight.
retreating to childhood
                               in expectation of rejuvenation,
he found only false innocence,
                                       unfresh feeling
and reckless indifference,
                                     the malice of incomprehension.

there are no new beginnings,
                                    only old stories
retold in memory,
                           mastery of memory the truth of art.
art is excavation
                   of the forgotten,
seized in spurts of recognition
                                     buried in myth.

the sensation of the new
                           is an illusion obscuring
the old eternity.
                  unable to lighten
the weight of time,
                      undo the limit of fate,
the new
        is a phantom promise
of infinite possibility.
                          wandering the crowded cemeteries
of consciousness,
                    the task of art
is to scoop the marrow
                              out of the bones of memory,
rob the graves
                    of the past.

the child has no memory,
                            which is why his newness
is futile.
         he is mindless which is why he lives
moment to moment.
                              he has no past,
which is why his being
                              is incomplete.
nothing yet has died in him,
                                        which is why he seems timeless.
unable to imagine the past,
                                  he is charismatically empty.

to be modern
                    is to be without memory,
to be as callously new
                               as a child,
deliberately obliterate memory
                                                to liberate innocent creativity.
but creativity is always guilty,
                                          accumulating feelings
in excruciating suffering,
                                 the wisdom of wonder
seasoning its sadness,
                             ripening it into reflection,
the raw gods remembered
                                     in its refinements,
carrying out the will of fate
                                in its designs. 
ripeness is the secret of suffering,
                                                  suffering ripens
into creativity,
                    creativity takes the measure
of memory,
                  which is why the art of the Old Masters
is memorable,
                         why the artfully new
is ephemeral,
                    suddenly spoils,
spawn
            of spoiled children.

miserere ii

by Donald Kuspit

words never reach
                         far enough,
wonder forgotten
                        along the way,
compounding
           their meaninglessness.
left with silence,
                          i mold memory
into regret,
                the last folly
of feeling,
               spoiling the senses,
their indecency
                   my only innocence.
i long for crutches
                           to limp
to the gods,
                ask forgivenness
from the unforgiving,
                             mercy
from merciless fate,
                            a blessing
from those more accustomed
                                      to curse.

wondrous beloved v

by Donald Kuspit

o beloved,
             where beyond words
will we find ourselves,
                             you aloof
on the mountaintop,
                            armored in reason
like Athena,
                riding in the chariot
of the sun
              with Apollo,
your smile
               more refulgent than its rays,
i below the earth
                      in the undertow
of memory,
                drained of substance
by silence,
               perpetual as the darkness
between the stars.
                      let us meet
between the extremes,
                              on the island
of the senses,
                    far from the heights
of mind
           from which we can only fall,
far from the depths
                          of feeling
from which there is
                          no return,
our consciousness quickening
                                           as our senses
embrace,
            our bodies unburdened by time
as we ecstatically converge,
                                        enigmatically united
in the unconscious
                          for an enduring moment.

Buoy

by Carol Lipszyc

Dark steering of love along the curve
and surge

his barbed tongue on the salt of her skin   her red cone
heart tipping like a buoy  in the breach of water

warm-blooded float on the open sea
bobs so lightly he can cup it in his hand

tilt it to the current of his choosing
swift and deep.

How to secure a heart
with a knotted rope
of unintended promise?

She gauges the distance
she thought palpable

her hips under his

wave of breath
that follows

now compressed to
dead weight and
a crooked line of air.

Mr. Cassim

by Vincent Poturica

Mr. Cassim ran an auto repair shop.
He had no neck. He looked like a turtle.
He dyed his beard with henna like a good
Muslim. After work he bought me coconuts.

I’d sip them with a blue straw, and he’d ask
me why I didn’t have a lady. I’d tell him
I needed to become a better man. And he’d
say No one in this world is good. When I’d

argue (There are lots of good people!), he’d
point to the soldier across the street, no older
than 20, leaning a gun thicker than his arm
against the low tin roof of his patrol, watching

the road painted white over the scar of an
explosion. (The soldier would smile with the
most delicate lips.) Then Mr. Cassim would
pat my head like a puppy he was training.

Voicemail from Shehan

by Vincent Poturica

Hello Vincey! What is up with these days?
How you doing chap? How is the beautiful
girl? Your family? Are they totally okay?
Send me SMS because I lose your

Skype name. I'm waiting for your message.
Life’s good. The honeymoon was excellent.
We travelled to Hambantota & saw
many swimming turtles. Also one

small boy died. Killed by an elephant! We
sat with his small body & thought about
life & Lord Buddha. I would like to send
some images to help you understand.

Do not worry. Man will suffer always!
Please arrange your Skype. My wife says Hurry!

Storm Coming

by Donald Riggs

People hear about my daily sonnet
and say, What discipline! but when I try
to direct it in a particular
way, my hand, a dog straining at the leash,

yanks me in directions I never thought
to take, following the inscrutable
canine purposes that his nose directs,
other dogs having previously left
their own complex chemical messages,

or perhaps a burrow an alley cat
abandoned as soon as the conflicted
entity of dog and human tethered
together with divergent purposes
sent out signals of a front moving in.  

The moon was just a dim smudge in the clouds

by Donald Riggs

is the sentence I wrote when taking notes
in preparation for writing novels
just like Walt Whitman and some young woman
who spoke to us at school about how she

generated her prose, driving her car
with a pencil and pad of paper on
the passenger seat, whenever she thought
of a sentence, a phrase, a description

then later cut them into separate
scraps so she could arrange them however
they fit together, writing connections

between them.  I thought I’d do the same thing
but this sentence was all I wound up with:
“The moon was just a dim smudge in the clouds.”