February 2000 Café Society's Poetry News Update
Do you have any poetry news or comments for the Readers' Letters section? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free.


Leslie Blanchard

Leslie Blanchard, poet and editor of A Writer's Choice Literary Journal and the Bear Calls website, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis on March 27, 1997.

This came after 18 months of mis-diagnosis by several doctors. In June 1996 she had to quit her position at Southwest Texas State University because of a difficulty with balance, memory and speech, then a terrifying attack which seemed like a heart attack, which, later, she was told, was an oesophageal spasm, or "the MS Hug".

Having resigned, Leslie was also free to devote more time to her literary agency and editing service (some may remember Bearlife Women's Writing Advocate).

The business was growing rapidly. Leslie offered free evaluations which meant that between 40 and 60 manuscripts were submitted each week. She began to believe the "stress" diagnosis, so she hired more people, worked harder, and her overall condition suffered.

It was not until February 1997, when the entire right side of Leslie's body went numb, that she finally became angry enough to demand a diagnosis by a top neurologist in her area. He suspected MS immediately. Then when her hospital contacted her insurance agency, they were told her insurance policy had been terminated. Later that year, in May, she reluctantly gave up Bearlife.

In April 1998, Leslie had found new ways to organize her work schedules to compensate for her growing disabilities, and she opened A Writer's Choice Literary Journal, which still flourishes to this day. Also her poetry appears in the current issue of Maelstrom, an Anthology by the Louisville Poetry Guild, Spoken War, Rose & Thorn and All Mixed Up. In addition, she writes a review column for Whispers On Line.

Poetry L & T: When did you first start writing poetry, Leslie, and why?

Leslie Blanchard: I started writing poetry in the 4th grade. We were given a school assignment. We had to write a poem for a contest the local newspaper was holding for grades 1-6. My poem won and was published in the paper. Years later as an adult, I went to the paper's archives to find the article- but couldn't locate it. When I won that contest my Mom became convinced that I would be a writer- so I wanted to give her a copy of it.

Poetry L & T: Who is your favourite contemporary poet?

Leslie Blanchard:You didn't tell me this was going to be a difficult interview! Wow, there are so many. I guess if I have to choose one it would be Naomi Shihab Nye, but a strong second place would have to go to El Salvadorian poet Claribel Alegria. Lucille Clifton and Jimmy Santiago Baca are favorites too.

Poetry L & T:How did you first find out about the work of Judy Graham (whom you mention on your website)?

Leslie Blanchard: In my late teens when I decided that my Mom wasn't crazy and I too believed I would be a writer, I devoured all poetry - especially the poetry springing from the "Women's Movement". Judy Graham's work "The Common Woman" just floored me. I still think it is one of the best contemporary works around - but it is hard to find. I'd spent years wondering what happened to her - her career had not taken off like I thought it should have. She had faded from the scene with no explanation. When I was diagnosed with primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 1997 I found out where Judy had gone and why. On my way home from the hospital, that black day, I stopped at a bookstore, to find any books I could on M.S. Unbelievably, I found a book Judy had written - she'd been diagnosed years earlier with the same disease!

Poetry L & T:Obviously your work is very much influenced by your having Multiple Sclerosis. Do you feel that poets can help to raise awareness of illnesses and/or the shortcomings of the medical services?

Leslie Blanchard:Yes. But I don't limit the awareness raising to medical issues. I strongly believe that poetry is the supreme political act. Poets voices have been the catalyst for change for centuries. In the later half of the 20th century many folk songs and poems became popular as protest pieces. Woody Guthrie in the dust bowl days was a poet troubadour bringing the issue of workers rights to a new high. Gertrude Stein in her way railed against the US by becoming one of the most well known and celebrated of the many "expatriate" artists who left the U.S. Rap music is poetry and we all know how much rap has changed and shaped society's views. I believe that the poet if the conscious of her country, and ultimately of the human race. Whatever your art may be, it is a gift from spirit and our gift back to spirit is to use that art.

Poetry L & T: Your poem "Traitor" shows perfectly the anger that anyone with serious illness can feel about the body's betrayal. Do you feel that anger works as a good catalyst, to start claiming back control?

Leslie Blanchard:Anger is a great catalyst for poetry, art, music etc. I'm not sure if it has helped me regain control in my life BUT getting the anger out on the page and then moving from it is healing. With a "dis-ease" such as M.S., stress, anger, emotion in general can cause havoc. When I get really pissed at the disease I write about it and then move on. Poetry, writing, and my magazine A Writer's Choice Literary Journal have all helped me to accept this "new" me I am becoming. With M.S. you're never totally in control your nerves do what they will- but writing helps me see it in the proper perspective. M.S. has allowed me the freedom to explore my art and try things I never thought I could or would do. In some very real ways M.S. has been a gift a very mixed blessing indeed. But I like the person I am now much better than the person I was prior to M.S.

Poetry L & T:How did you first get the idea for the website "A Writer's Choice Literary Journal"?

Leslie Blanchard:I owned and ran Bearlife Women's Writing Advocate. It was a new concept that I came up with. Instead of being a typical agent/editor I was more of an advocate. I did ghost writing, editing, mentoring and submissions for authors (not strictly women). I gave free evaluations on any work. I represented poets. The concept was popular and did well. Many times when I could afford it - I waved my rates.

When I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I'd been feeling bad, with really strange, seemingly unrelated symptoms for over 18 months. I'd gone from doctor to doctor and most of them felt my symptoms were due to stress. My condition was worsening, my list of symptoms was growing longer and stranger by the day and no diagnosis was in sight. While I knew what was happening to me was real, I didn't report every symptom to my doctor - I was afraid I would be taken for crazy.

I'd always had an excellent memory yet I'd find myself somewhere on campus and not know where I was- let alone why I was there. I was falling down. My hands and arms were trembling so bad I could barely hit the keys on a keyboard- handwriting was/is impossible. I drooled, my speech was slurred, I inserted the totally wrong words into my sentences and never even realized it until that stunned look in my co-workers eye's started tipping me off. At one point I was rushed to the emergency room because it was thought I was having a heart attack- they could find nothing except a stress related rapid heart beat. I know now that what I experienced was an oesophageal spasm- a.k.a. "The M.S. Hug".

So sadly, in June of 1996, I resigned my position at Southwest Texas State University because I was feeling so dreadful and scared. Needless to say I could no longer maintain a sixty hour work week. I wanted to devote all my energies on my literary agency and editing service - Bearlife Women's Writing Advocate. The business was growing beyond belief. I offered free evaluations which meant that between 40 and 60 manuscripts were submitted each week. Meanwhile I bought into the stress diagnosis, I hired more people, I worked harder, and my overall condition suffered.

Then in February 1997, the entire right side of my body went totally numb. I was virtually paralyzed. My GP said it was a pinched nerve, or some other easily explainable and treatable ailment. I knew better, so I asked for either a spinal tap or an MRI -- I wanted the doctor to check for M.S. My internist replied that my arm was numb because I had carpal tunnel syndrome and that my leg was numb because I was imagining it. I had just been labelled crazy.

After I raised enough hell, she got me in to see the top neurologist in my area. Without any tests, just by observing my condition, he suspected immediately that I had M.S. He was correct, but what he wasn't able to diagnose until after viewing the results from my MRI was a course of M.S., that is the most severely debilitating - primary progressive.

When the hospital called my health insurance company seeking authorization for the MRI they were told my policy had been terminated. This was news to me since they had just accepted and paid other claims two days prior. But, despite my best arguments, those of my lawyers, and even the hospital administration - I was effectively without insurance.

The next few months were extremely difficult. I got worse, despite massive IV's of steroids and a cornucopia of other medications. I could no longer work effectively and, devastatingly, I had to close Bearlife in May.

In April of 1998 I had finally arrived at the place where I could compensate for my growing disabilities. In discovering how to compensate for my illness I have learned to schedule my days to ease the symptoms and pain, and I have also learned to listen to what my body tells me. So, needing to work to prevent total atrophy of my brain from lack of use (there's little to be done to prevent the atrophy of my muscles), I opened A Writer's Choice Literary Journal.

Poetry L & T: What is your criteria for good poetry for your journal?

Leslie Blanchard:I don't publish much rhyme. It's not because I have anything against rhyme - it's that most people can't do it right.

Other than that, I'm open to all styles of poetry. I tend to lean towards the experimental, beat, and spoken word. The most important criteria is that I want to feel something when I read it. Not only to feel it but to feel it in a new way - I am seeking poetry that will take the reader into the poet's mind and challenge the reader's perceptions. Poetry to take them where they have not yet been, or to a new level of understanding and seeing the commonplace.

Poetry L & T: Do you feel that the Internet has been a positive influence for poetry, in recent years?

Leslie Blanchard:Very much so. It's widened the audience for poets exponentially. Very few poets get paid for their work - I estimate less then 10% of the folks that call themselves poets ever earn any money from it, fewer still can live on what they make without supplementing their incomes. The reason the print poetry market is so difficult to break in to is the same- not much funding. With the Internet people are read by more readers than they ever dreamed of. Many of the small press lit rags have a circulation under 2000. On my web site alone we get over 2500-3500 new readers every month.

Poetry L & T: Is there any style of poetry that you strongly dislike?

Leslie Blanchard:No. The only thing I dislike is bad poetry.

Poetry L & T: Do you suddenly get ideas for poems, or do you spend time working over notes until they become poems?

Leslie Blanchard: Both. With poems like the one you mentioned above Traitor that just came out in one big gush! Woosh there it was. I mean these feelings were inside of me for many months, rising and growing in size until something finally lit the spark to set my pen in motion. So in a way I incubated all those feeling and emotions until they were ready to live on the page. When I have a poems that come like that they seem to be perfect as is. Other poetry I must work over. I think what makes the difference is that when I'm not exploding with a poem such as Traitor - my poets voice inside is not speaking loudly enough and I have to coax her out. When my inner poet has had too much, the voice is loud and screaming to get out on the page.

Poetry L & T: Which contemporary or classic poets would you recommend inexperienced poets to read?

Leslie Blanchard: Read everything! Read Emerson, Whitman, Sandburg. Read Homer, Rumi, Ginsberg. Read Anne Sexton. Read Audre Lorde. Read Shakespeare. Read known and unknown poets. Read fiction. Read lyric poetry. Read Haiku, read Keats, Longfellow, Sappho, Gertrude Stein, Jack Kerouac. Just read!!!

Poetry L & T: Finally, Leslie, do you have any advice for poets with MS who feel that it is slowing them down or causing prejudice against them?

Leslie Blanchard:M.S. is such a strange disease. Everyone who has it has a totally different experience. Some can no longer type - use a dictation software like Dragon Dictate, or IBM Voice Type. Some are in a chair and their speech is slurred so they are afraid to read in public. Get someone to read for you. The best advice I can give is don't give up!

Multiple Sclerosis is a lifetime of challenges. It demands that no day be taken for granted, that every accomplishment be seen as significant. M.S. can change habits, rearrange priorities, demand sacrifices. But every day, people with M.S. prove they are much more than their disease. And that a life with M.S. should be, can be and, indeed, is well worth living. My motto is - "I have M.S., it doesn't have me." (Alan Osmond)

Poetry L & T:Thank you for the interview, Leslie.

Leslie Blanchard's Poems

© Leslie Blanchard

You have become traitor
I look at the legs,
bloated, swollen, red beyond all recognition
weakness fighting its way past cramping muscles-
to the surface
which will be the victor this time?
bringing me again to my knees-
the atrophy, the fatigue, or yet the despair.

You have become traitor
silent army of lesions eating the way
through my gray matter, down the spine
to arise victorious in a body estranged
I look in the mirror and all i see-
huge white spots which have become my brain

You have become traitor
holding waste like gold
urine & feces witheld as if some glorious trophy
proclaiming that normal body function
is for the worthy-
not for the likes of me

You have become traitor
words and the love of language
abandoning me as a cruel lover should
sentences void of definition
concentration lost in the effort
meaning - ever illusive to me now

You have become traitor
silently stalking preying upon my deepest joy
feeding yourself on the necrophilia of my absent orgasm
mutilating the simple beauty
of sharing my soul with my love

You have become traitor
placing sticks in my eyes
clouding my vision
taking my sight
but leaving me the image of what I have become

You have become traitor
trembling, twitching limbs
muscles pulling the marionette strings
controlling the electrical waltz
I am forced to dance alone

You have become traitor

© Leslie Blanchard

You look well getting around pretty good don't look so bad
must be feeling swell

I'd spit in their faces
But drooling
and spitting
aren't compatible or harmonious

Today I am ambulatory with only one cane
instead of the usual two

Today I am not imprisoned in bed with every muscle cramping jumping
dancing twitching
squeezing strangling binding
constricting jigging
jitterbugging (can't you feel the beat?)
Attacking convulsing confining

Nope not today
only my legs are acting this way


Today I am able to eat this fine food
in this fine restaurant
spilling only half of it onto my lap
as my hand tremors
searching for my mouth

while other diners try and hide their stares

Of course I'm feeling better

Better than you probably even

Hell…. I'm not really even sick-

It's just another trick
(I am Coyote!)

Like an attempted suicide

To gain sympathy approval
Compassion tenderness mercy

Today I peed in the toilet
not in my underwear not in my boxers

And today
almost nearly everyone
understood the words spilling out
from my slurred soul
or at least they pretended to understand
getting better at pretending
they even comprehended the nonsense words
my brain disguises as actual words
or at least they pretended to understand
getting better at pretending

Yep…today was great
wonderful magnificent grand (can't you hear the band?)

consequential momentous major grade a large

remarkable (hear their whispered remarks…)

Today was
/majestic (just like amerika)
teeming ostentatious/Austin-tatious

Yep beat the drums
Pound the congas
Today I was nearly a quarter
of what I used to be.

The Chinese Invented Gunpowder
© Leslie Blanchard

Freezing drizzle shatters against the windshield
It's difficult enough 
      for me to drive these days-
Now this
And why am I sitting at this stoplight
while little shards of slivered glass from heaven rain down upon my car
thinking about the damn Chinese and gunpowder?

Why do I even know this fact?
This disease, this malady, 
eats gargantuan bites of my brain and my spine
Hell I don't even know now why I am driving 
or where 
- that's gone -
 like the raindrops my wipers removed

I know the Chinese invented gunpowder.

I don't belong to the NRA
There is no Asian blood in my heritage

I don't know what it feels like to walk without a cane
I don't know what it's like to sit through a meal without drool running down my face-
These things I knew once
  but not now
  I know that the Chinese invented gunpowder.

I sit at the light with the pellets of God's rain splashing all around
The light is green
I sit 
Others honk

I strive
 I need to believe in something
A god,
 a Buddha,
  a superior intelligence,
   an interconnectedness between all things

But need is not quite belief

The Lockhart sheriff asks:
Is there a problem here ma'am?
He studies the handicap parking tag hanging from the mirror
All I can tell him:
"The Chinese invented gunpowder"

EDITOR'S LETTER, February 2000

Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with Leslie Blanchard, a poet whose life, work and poetry has been influenced by her having Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerocis, which took 18 months to be correctly diagnosed.

In the Featured Poets section this month, two poets new to Poetry Life & Times are Janet Buck and Doug Tanoury, also featured are regular favourites Jerry Jenkins, Julie Damerell and Jan Sand.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page. Please indicate whether you would like such comments to be included in the Letters section.

Best Regards,


Poetry Tonight is back in business
and expanding!

"spend the night with a poet"

Featured poets this month include Janet Buck, Doug Tanoury, Jerry Jenkins, Julie Damerell and Jan Sand. Many thanks to all contributors.

Janet Buck

JANET BUCK has a Ph.D. in English and teaches writing and literature at the college level. Her poetry, poetics, and fiction have appeared in A Writer's Choice, The Melic Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Kimera, 2River View, Southern Ocean Review, Urban Spaghetti, Perihelion, Mind Fire, San Francisco Salvo, Apples & Oranges, Ceteris Paribus, In Motion, Pogonip, Peshekee Review, Thunder Sandwich, The Suisun Valley Review, The Red Booth Review, The Poetry Kit, Miserere, Niederngasse, Lynx: Poetry from Bath, The Horsethief's Journal, salon D'Art, Pif, The Dragonfly Review, Morpo, Recursive Angel, Big Bridge, and hundreds of journals world-wide. In 1998 and 1999, she has won numerous creative writing awards and has been a featured poet for Seeker Magazine, Poetry Today Online, Vortex, Conspire, Poetry Cafe, Dead Letters, the storyteller, Poetry Heaven, Athens City Times, Poetik License, 3:00 AM e-zine, Poetry Super Highway, Carved in Sand, and Beachfire Gathering - a publication of Chiron Press. Two of Buck's poems have been nominated for this year's Pushca rt Prize in Poetry and she is a recent recipient of The H.G. Wells Award for Literary Excellence.

In December 1999, Newton's Baby Press released her first print collection of poetry entitled Calamity's Quilt. Janet is one of ten poets to be featured at the "One Heart, One World" Exhibit at the United Nations Exhibit Hall in New York City in April, 2000. Her poem "Acrylic Thighs" will be translated into five languages and paired with original artwork. The tour will travel to France, Australia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Japan.

Janet's first e-book of poetry, entitled Reefs We Live, is now available at Word Wrangler Publishing. In April 2000, Word Wrangler will release Buck's first e-book of humor entitled Desideratum's Doggie Dish. It contains what critics have called a "biting, hilarious, and original look at the roles of men and women, the foibles of bureaucracy, and the hubris of academia."

© Janet I. Buck

The first day of our year
in a clean valley of right snow.
Impressible minds
find forms in white.
Our grasshopper dreams
dining on hope
like sutlers in a time of a war.
A giant slalom down
a short, short street.
Children skate on the ice
as if they know no death.

We are aging in our pain.
I see our car as a casket
dropped in nailed garage
misguided by some
melody of hubris there
but so contained
by knowledge it might
lose control - toboggans
on steep mountain necks.
Let's stay in and watch
the cold undress its robe -
scatter crated tenderness like manna over hungry dirt.
Take our seats as merely hyphens
caught in schemes of grander words.

© Janet I. Buck

His morning walk in rolling chairs
attracted eyes like cow dung
in a clean stable normal raked incessantly.
He lived reminders of the dark.
A doll our childish pupils dropped
in hungry mouths of toilet bowls.
Mortality would stop and flood.
Our channels of comeuppance short.
His trouser legs just dangled there -
paper bags too well
acquainted with the rain.

Denial’s afro hit the wind;
he a stray remaining hair.
Detox to our sloughish pride.
Privy to bull’s-eyes of the doom.
A dart of will his weak syringe.
Wrinkled face - his effort map.
Health he knew was dew on dirt -
caviar on borrowed plates.
He said too much
our walking parts could not accept
like lynch mobs in the headline news.

© Janet I. Buck

I crave the quest of stand so much,
I cannot sit in wheelchairs -
napalm pain is dynamite
inside my soul;
I talk to it in conference calls,
push its head back under water
every time you see me wince.
A summer slug
with grasshopper dreams,
my legs won’t mind
will’s manuals.
Muscle ladders,
tendons like piano keys
the surgeries have
tuned and left
to strike some song
I can’t explain but have
to live like every
other painter does.
Smiles are pasted down in place -
tiny even trouble cakes
looking better than they taste.
Petit fours from trouble’s flour,
left in steaming trunks of cars.
The heat of pupils -
piercing owls - underlining
ways the dark has touched
the forest in the night.
Art, a postured baseball bat
and spit-laced palms
without your grace -
aiming at hope’s thick pinatas,
arched for tiny baby steps.

© Janet I. Buck

Age 6. A world of perfect Barbies
holding hands with sexy Kens.
All I wanted under trees -
Yuletide snow of sequined clothes -
pink Corvettes with tops
unraveled catching wind.
Expectation hurt, of course,
as much as amputation did.
My legs were dice fate sawed in two.
They didn’t roll. They didn’t cross.
On the floor was never
cozy campfire curls.
I’d bend the knees of all my dolls
until they broke like paper clips.

Crutches were a condescension
ruled out by independence
sticky sap and stubbornness.
Tapping shouldered wishing wells
was such a crazy hobby horse.
Forty years and cartridges of bleeding pens.
In mutinies of paper masks,
I’d bare and dare my fear to rise.
Dreaming what you took for granted -
jam across burned slabs of toast.

I was muskrats. You were minks.
My arms were blocks in pyramids.
Your limbs were wet advantaged grace.
I watched you shave them in the mirror.
Wondered how it felt to stand
in showers of that cherished steam.
Crouched for heels and panty hose,
I scooted on a scratchy carpet,
tugged at sheets to climb in bed.
Que sera sera I’d brew like tea
and drink until I floated up.
Bouncing in the choppy waves -
humiliation’s tumbleweeds.

© Janet I. Buck

On mud slime floor
of a gas station sat
a little girl playing
with her plastic limb
as if she knew she hated it.
I understood her private
grueling public grief.
She could not hide
from languid bursts
of quizzing eyes -
fate a crazy, sickening fact
like missing seatbelts
on a bus.

A carrier monkey
of mortal fire - I understood
burned cotton fields
of severed femininity and
waxing waning taxing strength.
Wanted to hold her
in my arms like husks
just do with ears of corn.
Underneath her infant lids
lay incubated hazard zones.
That much missive,
rabid colors of the truth,
I had held like
dry pinatas crumbling.

© Janet I. Buck

Truffles and trifles -
we are all both kinds
chocolate and poison
short land breeze
and deep-sea storm
echoes of a whale’s belly
crying out for fish to eat
cosmic theory
growing in
a petrie dish

diagnosis: poetry
broken rutters
in the waves
chasing piers
eating foam
vintage prophets
on the rag

saggy breasts
with nipples firm
bagging the dark
before it grabs
the best of us
sweet Rossetti’s
under wheels,
our wrinkled
peccadillos shine

© Janet I. Buck

Divorce lampooned our marriage vows.
You’d turned them to confetti first.
Wedding bands were burnished onions
ringing in millenniums.
Dense lament still quarantined
by stanza jails tethered
like a busy monkey
swinging from light-less chandeliers.
Violating violation -
great, great hoists of vacant grief.

Inside inside custard wiggles.
Promise topping caramel.
Moldy ivy on a trellis
hanging onto avid dreams.
Its rootstock stands
through season shifts -
shakes like crazy rooster feathers
running from the hatchet’s tip.

Love’s land breeze
with a deep-sea head,
a contract for absolving need.
I’m always reading fairy tales
with patent rights to Lancelots.
Locking swords of truth and dare,
topaz sun comes up each day.
That yearning lives and multiplies.
My life - a pregnant petrie dish -
examines hope’s polygamy.

[email protected]

Jerry Jenkins

JERRY JENKINS has been writing poetry since 1993. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and the Science Fiction Poetry Association, where his poetry has been nominated for the Association's Rhysling Award. His poetry has won numerous awards in individual and chapbook competitions, and has appeared in printed publications and anthologies such as The Formalist, The Lyric, Mobius, Echoes, Harp-Strings, Amelia, Cicada, The Piedmont Literary Review, Mail Call Journal, Poetry Monthly (U.K.), The Devil's Millhopper, The Fractal, Dark Planet, Pirate Writings, and Star*Line. His online publication credits include work in Octavo, Eclectica, Pyrowords, Avalon, Poetic Express, and Deep South.

His chapbooks include AVIAN, Helionaut, Hamadryad's Passage, Candle, Monks' Wine, Our Own Loving Kind, and Confluence (in collaboration with Rosa Clement).

He is a former Marine Corps officer with 26 years of service, including service in Vietnam. He recently retired from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he was Assistant Vice-President for Information Technology. He is a Sysop of the Poetry Forum on CompuServe, where he is the editor of the Compuserve Poetry Anthology.

© Jerry Jenkins

He didn't worry and he didn't wonder
when night winds brought the sound of the crowd.
He thought of it something like lightning and thunder;
a natural thing, just disturbingly loud.

The fires in the mountains, the rain on the rivers,
the gunfire in cities, decay of the schools,
all this will pass, like a brief winter's shivers.
After all, nature and man live by rules.

All will be well if we just pay our taxes.
Let someone else take care of those things.
Wisest of men is the man who relaxes,
never disturbed by remote happenings.

What people do is their own affair, mostly.
They'll sort it out. He stifled a yawn.
Order will win. He never heard, ghostly,
the sound in the streets of jackboots at dawn.

Originally appeared in Poetic Eloquence

© Jerry Jenkins

Sprung like a mousetrap waiting to happen,
sleek bright colors and a high whip hand,
goggles and cap and a nose like a ferret,
head thrust forward in tense command:
jockey at the ready - what a handsome fellow,
rump elevated in a cloud of dust.
But his mount stands firm with a peevish bellow,
bursting with fat - a hippopotamus.

Originally appeared in Poetic Express

[email protected]

Doug Tanoury

DOUG TANOURY grew up in Detroit and still lives in the area with his wife and children. He is exclusively a poet of the Internet with the majority of his work never leaving electronic form. His work has been widely featured in ezines and electronic journals, including: Zuzu's Petals, The Poetry Super Highway, Eclectica, Poetry Magazine.com, Doorknobs and Bodypaint, Pif, Swagazine and Agnieszka's Dowery.

Doug is the founder of Funky Dog Publishing and Athens Avenue. He has been active in Detroit area poetry circles for the last twenty years.

© Doug Tanoury 6/14/99

As the mornings grow cooler in later August
I notice flowers grow more vivid
Each blossom wears a brighter shade
Each bud promises a more vibrant hue
And leaves grow a lusher green

In these evenings of late summer
The crickets seem to call louder
In a meter more pronounced
And becomes to me as I listen now
The very heartbeat of night

And in these signs I see
The season’s end foreshadowed
And I reflect on its last days
As rain falls in the afternoon and
Ends in white bursts across the pavement

Making leave and blossom twitch and tremble
As if animated the flowers awaken
From dreaming colors of summer mornings
And trees listen and sway silently to songs
That fill an August night

And I too am now awake
And wear a new more full awareness
Of the signs and signals of a season passing
And the significance of small and tiny symbols
Like a raindrop glistening
On a cricket’s charcoal back

© Doug Tanoury

In the gulls cry I can remember
My father’s voice and recall his smell
In the coolness of air drifting off
The lake that lay translucent green
Like the jade backs of crayfish
Its surface still and the only motion

A black-hulled lake freighter that
Travels the horizon like a body being
Wheeled down a hall on a gurney

The glint of sunlight that stretches
Across the surface is the silver tails
Of minnows swimming in schools

And the glassiness of his eyes as he
Falls into a stillness where unmoving
He becomes without wind or waves

The lake where mahogany earthworms
And ebony leeches are bait
For stained-glass bluegills

© Doug Tanoury

I believe time and place bend and twist
And tremble and sometimes spasm and twitch
For poetry is silly science a wacky physics
Where consistency is pure illusion
Boundaries imagined
The big bang only the screen door slamming
On an August afternoon
And the universe at its very core and center
Is a corner house in the central city
That borders a busy highway
With traffic noise that never stops
And is ever present like radio static

Where randomness is the moving
Mysterious sounds from stream radiators
And each quasar the creak of wooden steps
That lead up and run parallel
To a long wooden banister
And all light is a prism projected
On a worn and faded rug
Through the beveled edges of glass
In windows that catch afternoon sun
And the radio spectrum plays repeatedly
A somewhat sad sonata
Of Beethoven as background hiss

For Mike Timonin
© Doug Tanoury 9/4/99

At the Second Baptist Church
Black angels in stained-glass windows
Guard the front entrance

And I think that God so loves diversity
That Cherubim of color
Wearing golden garb

Sing Gospel that makes the Saints
Slap their sacred knees
And I know that Seraphim sing the

Blues so plaintive and compelling that
Bare feet that bear the wounds of nails
Tap the holy floors of heaven

In perfect time with the rhythm
And every Saint and Martyr sways
On the right side of God

For Klaus
© Doug Tanoury 11/28/99

Pumps crushed on the concrete
Left near a doorway
Side by side and upright
Next to steel pipe where
Blue mosaic tiles border a crimson pilaster

The pavement is wet from rain
And its grayness is like the sky
And I think God took the owner of these shoes
Took her
Body and soul

He lifted her up
Ascension style
For anyone with shoes so broken
Must be saintly and pure
From walking the hard roads

Merciful God
Take me too just like her
Leave my sneakers standing
Solitary on the sidewalk
Relics for poets

[email protected]

JULIE DAMERELL has been published in various internet journals:
Café Society Guest Poets,
the June '98 Pigs 'n' Poets,
Michael Stephen's Avalon,
and the Nov~Dec '98
Wired Art From Wired Hearts.
Her column for
Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture,
is titled Rural Route Two.
Two of her essays are included in
Mother Voices, an anthology published by
Rose Communications in March 1998.

© Julie Damerell (1999):
Mary, you can

refuse to cloak the dead.
Deny the stain of his life,
your sheet muddied
across prayer-laden years.
Sinners desperate for mercy
will knot hopes in the linen
you could have floated skyward,
white rising like wild swans.
Let wings and warm breezes bear
the promise of redemption.

published in Dust on Our Palms, May/June 1999 (online)

© Julie Damerell, 1999:
(to Jung Chang)

Paint the sky with petals
of one hundred flowers.
Through these woods
let feathered branches
welcome the pulse of wings.
Stir primal ashes
to burn silence.
Trace the starcast shadows
and find your way home.

previously published in Savoy (online)

[email protected]

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

To see more of Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter.

© Jan Sand

In the dust before a wattled hut,
A nascent Einstein squats,
Inscribing careful lines;
The interlocking curves and points
Ensnare the universe.
His small black hand
Lightly manipulates
The dried twig,
Precisely piercing suns
And herding galaxies
To march in rhythm to his melody.
Then, with silent sigh,
On sore, bespeckled limbs
And knobby joints
He stumbles back into the dark
To die for some benighted idiot
With tastes for caviar and cadillacs.

© Jan Sand

When teddy bears with angry stares
Come marching down the street,
One must be wise, avert one's eyes,
Bow and be discrete.
Keep quite mum, act quite dumb
And shuffle with the feet.
The fuzzy squads in silence plods
With a steady menacing beat.
They spread their fear to make it clear
To all we must retreat,
Shrink back, courage, spirits slack,
Their dominion is complete.

© Jan Sand

Would I now to next conform
Or twist my way less uniform?
Not think is most the pleasure bright
But flow in mindless ways more right.
This I is best as tossed away,
But what is there to know display?
Just blood and bone and nerve in mesh
To harvest Time, its grain to thresh.
It profits none to calculate.
Life calls: just live and propagate!

[email protected]

Really enjoyed reading the 'Poetry Life and Times'. I would like to add a link to my list of favourite links on my web site.

Best regards, Chris English.

An artist's book web site by Christopher English.
C. English's Symbolist Paintings and Poetry web site: http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~c.english/index1.html
mail: [email protected]

Back Issues of POETRY LIFE & TIMES:

September 1998

October 1998

November 1998

December 1998

January 1999

February 1999

March 1999

April 1999

May 1999

June 1999

July 1999

August 1999

September 1999

October 1999

November 1999

December 1999

January 2000

Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events.

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