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The White Crow

Poetry - The White Crow v3, i4 - Osric Publishing
 
Mark Brimm
John Grey
Michael McClellan
Colin Cross
M Kettner
Leslie Young
Mark Senkus
Kenneth Pobo
Stepan Chapman
Christopher Thomas
James Notner
Robert L Penick
b chown
eileen bell
 
Contributor's Notes


Death of a Small Cactus
 
we
are the dried men
we are
the fallow kin,
maybe that
is the way the poem
should go.
 
your small but
ever-ripening cactus
surviving three years
of our separation.
i left it behind the blinds
on the window sill one day
sick of remembering
it was you who gave it me.
 
it dried up and withered
after three weeks.
 
panicked, i flooded it
with water, talked to it
sweetly. i put a
multi-vitamin beside it
on the rocks and dirt, under
the soft stove light and it
seemed to come to life
overnight, shedding its
orange shellacked skin,
but the plant lies moldering
in its wretched pot.
 
i talk to it in whispers.
i tell it that i understand.
 
- Mark Brimm
 
 
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I Was Wearing a Brand New Shirt
 
when i opened the door the
faint blast of trumpets sounding
in the distance should have
been an omen.
 
walking down the balcony steps
i notice the young asian crowd
watching closely, cameras clicking
each step cause for extensive commentary,
one trying desperately to record the event
in sign language for the hearing impaired.
when i get out on the main road,
ten immaculate patrol cars quickly
flank me on all sides. at the post office
i tell them, "really fellas, i can
do this myself," but like lightning
they all jump out to cover my back.
 
at the drive-thru the crew is
quite put off by my sudden appearance
and making up for the dispreparedness of
the proper tributes, the manager
offers me a thousand hot fudge sundaes, covered
in nuts and, hesitating, i slowly take one.
 
as i speed along
shaking the cops off into
the adjacent buildings
i turn a sharp corner
and the last patrolman skids
off into the horizon, bullets flying.
 
as i reenter my apartment complex
parking lot, the residents
all rush in to cheer and clap
and laugh and wave and
nudge their friends and smile.
 
- Mark Brimm
 
 
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Exit
 
A perfect winter's day.
Air like glass.
I could scrape my nails down it,
send my nerves rushing for the exit.
 
A lover I have noticed
leaves by barge,
floating slowly away from land
so that I can measure time and distance
by the size of her,
my heartbeat handling its caliper functions
quite well, until the darkness,
the horizon, whichever comes sooner,
takes her in.
 
A barge is flat and wide,
a stage almost,
perfect for taking your hair down.
It will snow soon.
Thick ice will bar the way back.
A poem will die in my hand
like a bird that can't feed.
 
I love the dumbness of the white stuff,
smothering the ground, wanting nothing
better than a footprint.
A lover should leave that way,
masking her absence in deep gulfs
that lead from here to just about every place.
Better yet, she could leave
under the weight of it all,
disappearing like family do,
silent and focused, flake by flake.
 
The snow is flat and wide.
It turns the world into a mirror.
As you fade away,
you can take your hair down
and be done with it.
 
So cold now,
the air is brittle.
One push and it caves in
like a dream.
By a sleepy fire,
I welcome my nerves back,
one by one.
 
- John Grey
 
 
 
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David's Enclave in the Mountains
 
The birds don't know the window's there.
They crash into it. Many of them die.
For him, those deaths are living proof
that he's established something here
cozy and inviting enough to attract
cardinals and kingfishers. His wife is dead.
His kids left years before. They're
not coming back. Still, familiar blood
drips from ceiling to floor, pretty
feathers stick to glass.
 
- John Grey 
 
 
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Travels in Central Europe
 
The old lady says the town hero held
off the invaders for days and days
with just a broad-sword and a shield.
One of these mongols or huns or whatever
name they were going by finally got lucky,
stabbed him a hundred times. By then,
of course, the relief troops had arrived.
His blood is the river you see before you
now, she adds. His heart is the mountain
that still watches over the town.
You mean there was no river here before,
I ask her. No mountain. She says yes,
they were here. They just weren't his
body parts then that's all.
 
- John Grey
 
 
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Nightmare on the Mediterranean
 
The Marquis rejects 20th century ways-
he in his frilled blouse and flounce pantaloons.
He grins through smeared lipstick as I paint his portrait
and boasts of the novel way he has beheaded his wife,
with her lover's unwitting compliance and a drawn knife.
As dusk sets in, I cover the canvas, then bid him adieu
and set out for more pleasant surroundings.
 
The evening is warm and festive, filled with stars.
People are sipping cocktails in the outdoor ampitheater.
I mix with the crowd and sit near
a French-Arab lady seated at a long table.
I can't decide on a screwdriver or a bloody mary.
 
In the sky, at first barely discernible,
A cratered rock drifts high above, growing larger,
Passing over, a phantom uncloaked.
The great stone becomes a mountain
Over the nearby air base, then recedes from sight.
Helicopters, planes, a flurry of red lights in the sky,
Spell imminent danger.
The long wail of a siren triggers a mad dash to our cars.
 
As I am about to depart,
a military jeep approaches and stops.
An American man in uniform tells me to go to the base
with him and join others in waiting planes.
He says the shock wave is minutes away yet,
but we'll get out in time before it reaches us if we move.
He says I'll never get far enough away
trying to escape in my car.
 
We speed rapidly toward the shrill sirens
and chaos of red lights-
the Marquis and a female figure embrace,
silhouetted in an orange-lit balcony window,
as we hurtle past his great chateau.
 
- Michael McClellan
 
 
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Amsterdam
 
I walked down the narrow lane
past the pile of dog shit
and across the road
then as I turned the corner
into a row of red lights
the beautiful slim brunette
wearing black lingerie
and standing outside the first door
smiled and shouted "hello"
 
I returned her greeting
and walked down the row
although I already knew
that I would go back to her
 
some of the other whores shouted
as I passed
and most of them were ugly
but mine was gorgeous
I walked back up to her and asked
"how much?"
 
she came from Thailand
had been in Amsterdam a few months
and sang loudly in a tuneless voice
as we undressed
 
we had sex and it was just sex
even a little clinical
but as I left
and walked back up the lane
past the dog shit
I knew that before I returned
to England
I would see her again
 
the second time was much better
I recognised the lane
mainly because the dog shit
was still there
but when I got to the row
of red lights
she wasn't outside her door
 
probably with another customer
or having her period I thought
and went for a cup of coffee
later I would try again
 
she greeted me like an old friend
and we chatted outside her door
for several minutes
she told me she had a cold
and I commented that maybe
she should wear more clothes
and then she said
"you don't want something today?"
 
inside the blue walled room
she caught hold of me and kissed me
first on each cheek and then on lips
before helping me undress
 
she sat astride me on the bed
and after putting a condom on me
said "you want licky licky?"
I did
 
this time the sex was more like
making love
when I pulled out having come
she even pushed me back in again
and as I was leaving
she took hold of my arm
and whispered "you come again tomorrow?"
 
had I not been returning home that night
I most certainly would have
 
the following week back in England
I realised she had given me her cold
to remember her by
 
- Colin Cross
 
 
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Paris
 
I can't understand
why people romanticize
about Paris
 
maybe it was romantic
in the old days
when writers and artists
sat outside street cafes
or smoked opium pipes
 
but the last time I visited
my bag was attacked
by an alsation and two cops
before I had even descended
the steps of the hovercraft
 
I paid the equivalent of 4.50
for a 1/2 pint of Newcastle Brown
the pub rock bands played
Beatles songs on accordians
the whores were old and ugly
 
I met an elderly couple
in a bar
who claimed to be Scottish
but spoke
with Lancashire accents
 
I stayed in a thinly walled
hotel room
next door to a couple
whose voices I recognised
as coming from my home town
and
who spent the whole weekend
either fighting or fucking
but both loudly
 
climbing the Eiffel Tower
was the most boring thing
I have ever done
and the only place
I found any enjoyment
was in the peacefullness
of Pere La Chaise cemetery
 
I found more romance
in Amsterdam
at 15.00 a time
 
- Colin Cross
 
 
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Stranded
 
state of the heart
fried and bony
barely warm to the touch
another nameless pustule
stranded and horny
scenery boring as appliance store windows
guitars jump around on the pages of the newspaper
sandals flop on deserted streets
candy bars cadmiun-coated
coins scurry away, hide
rats flip you the finger
nothing spirals correctly
bongos from a window deep in an alley's canyon
camera with a spotty lens
spending days in all-night restaurants
and evenings in cheap movies
lost balloon in a bad neighborhood
photo without a caption
bruised turnip
no sheets for the mattress
overcoat for a pillow
 
- M Kettner
 
 
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1932
 
Quiet madness:
Womb disease:
Hysteria:
In the summer, on hot peeling porches
we sit: we of the mad basket:
women bitter like the souls of thin cats,
burning hay spirits loose on the blood river.
Dry and blue
our lives are reduced down
to coal black kernels:
hands bent from wringing juice from air,
the oil of children
frying to a rusty patina, our eyes open
a bit too wide, mouths show too many
long teeth, our bones spread too far under tents of skin.
Around us swarms the almost-heard screaming of unspoken things,
below the murmering staccato moan of the womb
forever filling and emptying
for no good reason. The men
drink and laugh but we can only
look at each other and nod
over the backs of babies.
 
- Leslie Young
 
 
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Untitled
 
Clawman, glassbones-
stiff and cold: a
half gnawed apple-
consciousness a siezure when you
stop nuzzling infinity, your eyes
are black, round, like bitter
olives or birds' eyes
glittering in broken
mirrors-psychedelic imbecile
burning in the green fire, you're
an oblivous receptor
of the pure poison blood of god-
in ecstatic shaking borne to bed
of nails of eggshells: an old
man inside young fragile cage
beating your fists to ragged sacks,
each needle purifying,
prying the bars just
a little farther
apart.
 
- Leslie Young
 
 
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The Same Feeling You Get When You Lose A Fifty Dollar Bill
 
the future
lingers like a
hollow thump
to the chest,
you can feel it there
not quite hurting
but there
like an echo of thunder,
like a numbness the size
of a fist
and you stop,
you shift to the left
and pace to the right;
like being lost halfway
through some silly errand;
nothing left to lean against
nothing to lean into.
 
the jelly dream
of youth has melted
with clear and sturdy
routine;
the diamond ring
is in the river,
the t.v. set sits
at the pawnshop,
and you, sitting alone,
the memory of your
name just a simple
souvenir to
the female
long after being
traded-in
for men less tarnished
men less interfered with by the
questions of living
 
you sit as
landladies sing
and bank presidents
roar
 
you sit with
a bottle of whiskey
and a future
that is starting
to hurt like
hell.
 
- Mark Senkus
 
 
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Jonah
 
I lie, tell them that God
freed me. Truth is,
I didn't want to leave.
I'm probably the only person
 
who's heard a whale's song
from the inside. I've been
in many churches, sang
many tunes, but a whale
 
is a movable underwater
symphony. No, I wasn't
lonely. Any whale carries
the world's history.
 
I made contact
with saints and savages,
the brilliant and the brainless.
Outside the whale, oh,
 
then I was lonely. I listen
for a song nobody knows.
I look the same,
but it turns out I took
 
the whale in, her music
that travels the same way
light travels from stars
we know nothing about.
 
- Kenneth Pobo
 
 
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Dear Dr. O'Connor
 
My love gave me a cherry that had no stone.
My love gave me a chicken that had no bone.
Then she gave me a gold-plated ring
and a baby that never cries
and took a bus to Detroit.
 
The cherry was fine.
I ate it on the day when she left town.
The chicken was no problem.
It flopped around the back yard
until it got on my nerves.
So I boiled it for soup.
 
I pawned the ring to raise money
for baby formula.
But the ring wasn't worth much.
The kid never cries.
But I don't like the way
that it's been looking at me.
 
When is she coming back for her kid?
That's all I want to know.
And what am I supposed to do
when this baby formula runs out?
 
- Stepan Chapman
 
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Casting My Pearls
 
I have gathered these
from what the blood knows
when it nourishes cellular
explosions that take
the form of light flashing
its messages from one
neuron to another.
 
If you hold them against
the light of the sun,
you can see the bruises
they collected along the way.
Each was like a single grain of sand that becomes the oyster's
most urgent condition-
 
the sweet irritation
that starts the DNA singing
into the darkness until
its little voice tells
what the stars know
about bones and the sacred
dance that makes all things holy.
 
In this way, the sharp edges
of suffering become rounded
and lustrous things-objects
precious as any jewels,
touchstones, points of light-
that will help us find grace
in the least likely of places.
 
- Christopher Thomas

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Nothing's Coming to Mind
 
My fish died;
it's drifting soggy rubber,
thready and limp-like.
That makes only one
in our tank, and I'm
tired of swimming.
I thought life was bigger-
That I couldn't fit
it in my shoe box.
With room to spare,
I pad it with cliches.
This makes me laugh
so hard I can't stop shaking.
My hand once was steady,
I could carve detail
in a veiny fin frittering
as mossy sheets shiver
in pushy water.
I can't reach the wrinkled
balloon slouching
in the stagnant tank.
Maybe someone will
stop by to shove some
air back into it.
But, my fish died today;
Why on a Tuesday?
On a Tuesday,
my lover kissed me last
and her pistol kissed
her to death.
Then there was one left
in our tank, and
I'm tired of swimming.
The sky is a tilting
blue crouched over
our tank.
My mind is stiff
wally pins holding my
milky brains in-
like a stagnant bowl.
I slam my lifetime
in my shoe box, and
walk to the edge of the blue.
 
- James Notner
 
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Xanthic Blues
 
Fats Domino wails
from the next room
the clocks all tick
backward and in
descending order.
The gods lie down
in a row
like days
or wheat
in hard rain.
 
- Robert L Penick
 
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exploring space
 
the moon, pear shaped
sinks
above a brick house
a bird walks up the
shadow
of a tree on the adobe
wall
its powder blue against
cerulean blue
random expressions
rounded impressed
 
- b chown
 
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responsible perceptions
 
it is not that we need more
awareness
it is that we need to be
more
selective
our capacity is such
that new information jostles
with old
pick a detail, focus on it
a color or shape
actively ignore
unpleasant impingements
 
assign valuations
 
- b chown
 
 
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Why I Write

by Eileen Bell

 

Picture this: a naked eight year old girl steps her big toe on to the black tile floor of her parents' shower. The water is warming and so she follows with the sole and then the heel of her foot, then swings the long side of one leg up to her hip under the falling water. It is night and through the distressed window glass she can see the silhoutted backbone of a coconut palm curving against the backyard flood light.

The girl turns the spigot up all the way, as hard as it will come, and the water pelts her back and cheeks. With her eyes she checks the door to see that it is locked.

The girl leans out through the pink plastic curtain to pull a washcloth, her mother's best with the doily white edges, that hangs behind the toilet bowl just for show. She places it carefully over the shower's drain.

Water starts to collect rapidly. The girl can hear the slap of the droplets in the pooling water, tickling at her ankles now. She stands under the shower head, her brown curls pushed by the water, around her neck and ears, into her eyes.

IT'S A HURRICANE.

She pulls an imaginary raincoat tight around her neck and untwists the hose of the enema bag that hangs by a clothespin on the shower rack. She looks directly into the camera's eye.

THIS IS A BIG ONE, LADIES AND GENTLEMAN.

She stumbles, as if caught by a strong gust.

THE EYE IS COMING. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOMES.

The girl pulls the red hose closer to her mouth. Ennuciating meticulously, squinting and leaning to brace herself from the wind.

THIS IS EILEEN BELL REPORTING LIVE FROM HURRICANE CLEO AND THE STORMY SHORES OF MIAMI BEACH. And then the girl nods and gives a broad smile.

There is a knock on the door. What are you doing in there for so long? her mother says. Let's get a move on it kiddo. Bedtime.

ALL RIGHT.

The girl drops the hose, turns off the water and pulls the washcloth up from the tight sucking of the drain, listening to the hollow slurps and gulps and choking of the water as it is pulled under.
And then she waits and waits for thirty years and sits down and begins to write.
 
 
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entropy
 
She runs
arms outstretched
along the shore
Her red bandana
its tail snapping inthe wind
Following behind her
a phalanx of boys
taking formation in a winged triangle
She is dressed in blue denim
threadbare and girdled
around her hips, her ass and
her tight young crotch
 
The boy in black dives
groping at her heels
her ankles
and she tumbles
As they gather 'round
one takes hold of her tiny ankle
the other, her foot
while they drag her through the sand
to the water's edge
 
She wriggles free
rolling in the glistening sand
catching her breath
She stands to run again
her face small and shadowed
arms above her head
above the crash of the shore
and I can not tell if she is laughing
or screaming
 
She is prone now
The boy in black on top of her
They are tossing their heads
their hair wet
the bandana like a puddle of blood
on the white beach
The boy in baggies takes her arms
the other, her legs
the one in black has picked up the bandana
is waving it at her
 
They carry her further
toward the water
Her knees like tender twigs
ready to snap
In the sand
I can see the sluggish trail of her body
like that of a mother turtle's
having made her nest
They toss her skyward
and there is entropy
as her body leaves their grip and slides
on the humid air
 
When she hits
a wave engulfs her
and she is swallowed
by the white
And when I do not find her
at the surface
when the water subsides
and she is not floating
in its wake
I think
that perhaps in the deep quiet
of the ocean's floor
she has found a place to hide.
 
- eileen bell
 
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Contributor's Notes
 

eileen bell does not know this, but her poem, "entropy" caused great strife amongs the editors here at Osric Publishing. Jared claimed that since "the system had not yet reached a point at which it broke down," it was not entropic. I told him that a body flung into the air above the ocean is certainly a point at which many systems break down. Our system broke down and a knife fight proceeded.

Mark Brimm, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is well known for his snazzy designer shirts and the incomparable flair for which he wears them. He enjoys listening to classical music and he lives next door to a neurotic bodybuilder.

Stepan Chapman is actually a human-shaped sausage casing full of bugs.

b chown has been recently published in Bonfire, Art Mag, and mark hartenbach's Wooden Head Review. He lives in Ann Arbor, but none of us have ever seen him . . . he may actually possess the amazing power of invisibility!

Colin Cross lives in Norwich, England.

John Grey lives in Rhode Island. Guess which city? That's right, Providence!

M Kettner is from Seattle where, on a daily basis, he has to battle contractors to keep them from leveling his apartment and building a Starbucks.

Michael McClellan lives in Lockport, New York.

James Notner is studying in South Carolina, where he plans to become a teacher. "Teaching," he writes, "interests me because it is an art form, with young minds as the medium." I am frightened.

Robert L Penick is crazy. He took a road trip last summer to the upper peninsula of Michigan so he could hang out with fellow contributor Mark Senkus. He also edits Chance Magazine, and recently published an excellent collection, Fuck Death (available for $2.00; same address as Chance Magazine).

Kenneth Pobo teaches English in Chester, Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder . . . what language do people usually speak in Chester? His poetry has appeared in numerous chapbooks, including Ravens and Bad Bananas from Osric Publishing.

Mark Senkus recently started editing a 'zine called Simple-Minded Cocktail, featuring top-notch poetry. He lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Mrrranda L Tarrow is putting together a book of little stories she sums up as neurotica with Tourette's Syndrome of the heart. She once saw the world as a tiny candy heart spinning in space on a silver thread.

Christopher Thomas has been published in such publications as Chiron Review, Duckabush Review, Evergreen Chronicles, and Paramour Magazine. He's currently attempting to publish a collection of his work entitled The Smell of Carnal Knowledge. We at Osric Publishing are hoping that this will be a Scratch-n-Sniff book. Christopher Thomas resides in Omaha, Nebraska.

Leslie Young has become annoyed with libraries. "They always want their books back," she says, "and they get mad when my four-year-old licks the book stacks." She lives in Franklin, Massachusetts.
Michael Zawacki taught himself Japanese from repeated viewings of The Legend of the Overfiend series. He now feels slathering jaws, spiky blue horns, and writhing phallic tentacles make snappy accessories for any outfit. He's finishing up his film degree at Eastern Michigan University.


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Last Updated 06.25.2000