Monday, December 14, 2009

2 poems by J. Michael Wahlgren

The Briefcase Room
(After John Berryman)

This was a dream, as I
never felt that way before in life.
I spoke in Braille, cursed
my hands for ripening her breasts—
In The Briefcase Room, where only

one remains inside, the rest travel
on Caps,
or through the wedded arrival
of groomsman etc. etc., No one has been inside without a code, the erosion
of hinges. Years pass & no last minute decisions;
all are planned by map. Rarely cash,

mostly diamonds.
It was the only way into your fault.
It was the only way.
It was the only way into the vault.
No one has seen The Briefcase room,
only you (!) know of its whereabouts.

With a comma, I breathe again, forcefully devouring, or reversing the smoke inside. Balloon filled with an in-tune note, releases & moves across the sky— a floating G-clef, a whole eye. Street lights attempt to caress the shadows— as I walk, notice, the breath of my air— hot. On the promenade, a drink is filled. Al fresco— the freshness of the gossip, like a plate of who’s who & who slept with who last night. I’m filled up quickly.

Monday, December 7, 2009

3 poems by Bill Yarrow


-The world is an ostrich.
-Then the rich are giraffes.
-They fertilize their hair with sunshine!
-Still obsessed with Carl Laszlo, eh?

-Man, I could tell you...
-What? What could you tell me?
-Do you remember the in-situ-ists?
-I remember the in-sinu-ists.

-I got a letter from Barbara in Toronto.
-Does she still believe in governmental Santas?
-Santa Barbara! O was she a dish!
-I found her somewhat unpalatable.

-Weren’t you the one hungry for her?
-I heard she was into dogs.
-That’s highly salacious!
-Wasn’t he the emperor of Ethiopia?

-I’ve never been anywhere. Not anywhere important.
-Where’s important? Important is only in your head.
-Maybe in your head. I’m in mental foreclosure.
-Don’t let them repossess your frontal lobes!

-All great fortunes have been amassed by stealing.
-Not just that. “Property is theft!”
-My frère Pierre.

-Could I bum a cigarette?
-Who you calling a bum?
-Don’t act stupid. Give me a smoke.
- Choke on it.

-I’m missing a match.
-You got that right.
-Ever wonder why so many people are gutless?


a large part of the dungeon was the life upon her knees
a portion of the torture was a wilderness of hands
an aspect of the nightmare was the unlit empty street
the shade which wouldn't rise sent a chill along her cheek
she shivered at the thought of never giving birth
at the funeral of color she wept a strange disease
what was not attended could no longer be attained
on an endless loop of singing she heard the slogans she had dreamed
she knitted her brow and feared the boiler exploding in the night
from where would the help come tomorrow at this hour?
why were there ghosts in the mirrors feeding on hope?
where was the man who carried her agenda in his mind?
what was happiness to her, a woman of perpetual mien,
who lived wholly within the anguish of her imagination?


A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

-Franz Kafka

Was there, he wondered, some parasite,
some infiltrated germ, some totalitarian
pest, asbestos fiber, cancerous
particle, irradiated isotope, sliver
of glass, peach pit, foam nugget,
stray hair, impinged corpuscle,
magnesium wad, metaphysical
quill or arrant stalk moored in him,
or what? Why was it so difficult to move
toward anything? Was his will congealed?

His doctor recommended an Arctic cruise.
He travels to a frozen stream, a frozen
lake, a frozen sea. He photographs the
awesome ice. A glacier calves inside him.

Bill Yarrow is the author of WRENCH (erbacce-press 2009). His poems have appeared in Central Park, Confrontation, Berkeley Poets Cooperative, Poem, The Literary Review, Mantis, Cabaret Voltage Online, The Orange Room Review, erbacce, blossombones, Angelic Dynamo, Counterexample Poetics, Gloom Cupboard, ditch, The Centrifugal Eye, Rio Grande Review, Up the Staircase, New Aesthetic, Pank and other literary magazines. He has poems forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Arsenic Lobster, and Poetry International. He lives in Illinois.