6pm Vinyasa flow

by Nathalie Goykhman

Before the yoga class begins,
I greet the students at the door.
The trappings of their daily lives

get tucked away in cubby shelves:
bicycle helmets and high heels,
construction boots and briefcases.

Some shuffle in still on their phones,
still whispering instructions while
they juggle coffee cups and keys.

The earlybirds have placed their mats,
strategic spots across the room.
Some try to hide behind a post 

while others claim the front row space.
The yogis shed their daytime skin,  
their furrowed brows and heavy bags.

They set aside this time to flow
in oceanic breath; the tide
that laps away at jagged shells.

Half Lord of the Fishes

by Nathalie Goykhman

She preferred to unroll her mat
rather than unrolling her tongue while on a couch
in a bland office: dull art

and sentimental trinkets with
precautionary tissues perfectly placed by
the armrest. She knew that well.

Prying questions rarely helped her,
she’d rather pry her shoulders open in a
Half Lord of the Fishes pose.

This twist wrings out her swirling thoughts.
Like wild salmon, she battles stormy currents and
sharp, unexpected boulders. 

Blossoming in Padmasana

by Nathalie Goykhman

Discouraged by    her nine-to-five    in class she hopes    to bud.
Padmasana:   that which is born   out of the muck   and mud.

Expansive chest   sitz bones planted   like tuber roots   that grow
into lakebeds.   Sepal fingers    cradle dewdrops   thoughts slow.

Another breath    a departure   whirling incense   a pause–
smoke dissipates   to-do lists slip  beneath the mat.   Her flaws

are less daunting   in Lotus Pose   floating limbs fold    serene
exhalation    disturbances   beneath ripples   unseen.

Sometimes the winds   the pelting rain    tousle her fine   petals.
But debris rolls   off petal tips.   The calm blossom–settles. 

Bakasana: Crow or Crane

by Nathalie Goykhman

The instructor tells me to
“lean into the discomfort.”
I’m not sure what that means but
in Bakasana, my nose

is two inches from the ground.
Sweaty fingers grip the mat,
my forearms quiver. I am
more of the crow, not the crane.

My elbows bent, crouching and
trembling, while graceful cranes float
their arms stretched, legs hovering
and faces dipping forward

as if they are submerging
thin beaks into tranquil pools.
Although I’m not skilled enough
to dive and soar in crane pose,

my toes begin to peel off
the ground. Just for a moment,
I am balancing, flying
two inches high, in crow pose.

Celestial Mechanics

by Nathalie Goykhman

Ardha chandrasana has been a mystery,
a penumbra. I enter the
pose with radiant strength, my standing leg lean and

firmly planted, supporting hand lightly grazing
the ground. fingertips, like rays, reach
for the ceiling, my floating limb like a straight edge. 

Sweat glistening in the craters of my body.     
The instructor tells us to shift
our gaze to the sky, causing wobbles. Now I am

waxing and waning, like the lunar librations
I oscillate in my facing.
My lifted leg looks more like a crescent, bent and

dangling, I stumble and so lose my path like all     
Orbital Eccentricities.
When will I eclipse unforeseen difficulties?

Clouded by frustration, my luster dims. I think
“maybe in the next lunar phase.”
Part gleaming and part nebulous in Half Moon Pose. 

The Jackpine

by Jonathan Hazelton

I climbed it once, jumped up to a broken limb,
Hauled myself up and climbed high enough
I could see out over hills and streams
That wound like ribbons between them.
This was only a few years before it fell to ruin,
Wind gusts getting hold of it, knocking it down,
And it just lay and rotted where it fell.
For years I wanted to climb it,
But never worked up nerve it being close
To a hundred feet tall and as many years old.
One day, there for a funeral, I put fear aside
And climbed as high as I could where limbs were solid
(you could already see death taking it over:
Rotting bark, blackened branches empty of needles,
Or needles so dead and dry they turned brown),
And perched between two limbs like a huge bird.
That was the first and only time I climbed it
Knowing it didn’t have much time left,
It being for the most part dead, ready to fall.

Up there on green branches,
I seemed to float above the world, above fear,
And above all shortcomings I ever had
Wind rustling hair the way it stirred needles
And swayed the springy limbs I perched on.
That was thirty-five years ago, and much
Of what I knew and was used to then is gone now,
And with it the twin trunked pine that stood
For centuries overshadowing the farm
Like an angel that blessed us, that blesses us still.

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.

Stroll

by Jonathan Hazelton

    For my Mother
    Sept. 29, 1925 – Dec. 17, 2012

We say they pass away as if
Clouds scudded over distant hills
And disappeared beyond the trees,
Or, like flowers on a sultry day,
Petals fell like some scarlet flakes
Till only a naked stem stood,
And the beauty and the wonder is gone.

But she will always be feeding birds,
Or changing suet cakes for squirrels to climb,
Or walking in an open field
With a shotgun in the crook of her arm,
Or leaving dishes undone to walk
Stream side with fishing pole and can
Of worms she dug from the garden soil.
All these images are what prevail
Of the life she called her own
And I recall she went strolling
In lengthening shadows with the dog
When sunset darkened road and hill.
I’d watch her walk upgrade to the curve
And turn and disappear, nothing
Left but the empty road and shade.

Now this she’s gone again,
The house quiet with her leaving.
Glasses lined in neat little rows,
Chairs and sofas gathering their dust,
Though habit says she will be back
I know the road is further than we thought,
Winding toward the zodiac
Where shadows meet the evening sky
If I listen hard enough
I can nearly hear the sound
Of footsteps scuffling dust of the road
And the dogs collar jingling into
Distances of a journey that leads them on
Past the gate at the top of the hill
Which opens on fields and old dirt roads
That seem to roll on forever.

Error

by Strummer Hoffston

Two poets are having dinner
at the end of a long, tedious marriage.

One of them believes in the modern idiom,
“pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,”

though he never explicitly says so.
His indirectness is the trait his wife

most despises, and throughout the meal
she turns to the dog 

who shakes as he dreams of pleasure
he fears does not exist

in the physical world,
one so comprehensive

he can accept knowing nothing
about how it works or where it comes from.

At this distance from what thrills him
he becomes his most authentic self,

acting on impulse, following the course
of a Galilean moon out the front door

into a quadrant of the galaxy
spare and unfamiliar.

He continues on
through all the hallucinatory matter

that buoys him, rebuilds his sense of self,
his urge to—

“There,” says the husband.
“You can have whatever you want.”