The POETIC DIALOGUE PROJECT
an exhibition of collaborative works by artists and poets

POETS

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WILD YEASTS



Rumbling a way up my dough's heavy throat to its head,
seeping the trailed, airborne daughters down into the core,
bubbles go rioting through my long-kneaded new bread;
softly, now, breath of the wildest yeast starts to roar.
My hands work the peaked foam, push insides out into the light,
edge shining new sinews back under the generous arch
that time's final sigh will conclude. (Dry time will stretch tight
whistling stops of quick heat through my long-darkened starch.)

How could I send quiet through this resonant, strange, vaulting roof
murmuring, sounding with spores and the long-simple air,
and the bright free road moving? I sing as I terrace a loaf
out of my hands it has filled like a long-answered prayer.
Now the worshipping savage cathedral our mouths make will lace
death and its food, in the moment that refracts this place.


copyright Annie Finch
Annie Finch
HAPPINESS



Again I’m trying to explain how all talk is slippery.  See, I might want to convey one thing –
frustration, say – but all that gets conveyed is some other thing – rage – my hand coming
fast, erratic, menacing.  Who can say how a thing in words turns, flowers like that?  It
happens.  Now say I want to say to you
happiness.  No motive.  Nothing behind it.  Just the
awareness of a valve turned suddenly open and hallelujah –
happiness!  It’s in the lungs, the
bones.  But somehow all you hear is
I don’t need you.  We’re in this room, and you’re not
hearing how I’m still trying to say this thing to you.  I’ll say it again.  Here.  
Happiness.


copyright Elisabeth Frost
JAZZ IS NOT ENOUGH

from Selling the Hammock  (Red Hen Press)


In a life, undoubtedly, jazz is not enough,
not enough for burnt leftover coffee grounds
not enough to keep the woman upstairs,
the woman who lived right over us,
that close.  And left her man
last week, that scream still hangs in the air
and took some of his clothing
he says and a lock of his hair
though why she’d want that I don’t know.
And jazz is not enough
to keep the waiters happy.
Jazz does nothing for greens and rice.
Does nothing.
What I’ve got is I’m on the outside
where I’ve always been,
and you’re playing me music, man,
and it’s not enough.
You set it up in the tv room,
and I had to laugh at that
but it wasn’t happiness you understand,
and you started playing the blues
and then Bessie, and you kept playing.
It’s not enough, but sometimes
while that music is wailing,
I’ll lie down and you’ll hook your legs
around my legs and then it’s enough.
It’s all right, I tell you.
Your pants over the chair
cream colored and sassy,
and me all river swim clean,
and our legs webbed together
our feet laying together like swim fins
and I’ll remember the black tunnel we came through
and how when we came up for air
there was a huge rush of sunlight
and how you smiled
and then the music
and then it’s enough
with your legs and my legs
mixed up and the quilt
with pieces from so many places
I can’t remember.


copyright Kate Gale, Red Hen Press
AFTER SCHOOL ON ORDINARY DAYS



After school on ordinary days we listened
to the tabletop radio and the lone Ranger
and a program where a woman with a husky voice
read fairy tales, and we gathered around
the radio that was always kept on the china cabinet
buiilt into the wall in that tenement kitchen,
a china cabinet that held no china, except
cups and saucers, thick and white
and utilitarian, poor people’s cups
from the 5&10cents store.

My mother was always home
from Ferraro’s Coat factory
by the time we walked in the door
after school on ordinary days,
and she’d give us milk with Bosco in it
and cookies she’d made that weekend.
the three of us would crowd around the radio,
listening to the voices that brought a wider world
into our Paterson apartment. Later

we’d have supper at the kitchen table,
the house loud with our arguments
and laughter. After supper, on ordinary
days, we’d play monopoly or gin rummy
after we did our homework, the kitchen
warmed by the huge coal stove, the wind
outside rattling the loosed old windows.

we inside, tucked in,  warm and together,
on ordinary days that we didn’t know
until we looked back across a distance
of forty years would be captured for us
like fossils preserved in amber
that would glow and shimmer
in memory’s flickering light.



copyright Maria Mazziotti Gillan
www.anniefinch.com
Elisabeth Frost
Kate Gale
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
www.pccc.edu/poetry