an exhibition of collaborative works by artists and poets


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Because he left her, she must make him
someone she doesn’t love, rescripting as
deception their hand-clasped walks at dusk
when she felt his was the hand of God
linking her to him because she was
so blessed to be given this love
this late in life.  It must have been lies:
each touching word, all thoughtfulness,
his shows of pleasure putting her first,
his endearing sex talk that first
amused her then got to her
(his hot moist breath the poison in her ear)
as he learned with seemingly selfless patience
how to move inside her as no one ever had before.  
How can she change memories like these?
He must have been lying
because the man who did these things
could not leave her with no warning or reason.
But she knows he wasn’t,
and, because she knows he wasn’t,
she is stuck.  No one can help her.  
No one can enter the sacred circle they made together
she now wears as a necklace of fire.
How can she obliterate the person he is?
What is she to do?  She has to live.

Published in The New Yorker
Michael Ryan
Barry Schwabsky

Certain days
I used to think of leaving
the East Country, now not even
a darting memory—just a hole in
the sky before which
grain elevators hang
nailed. I drank wine
of immoral bouquet: sea foam,
midday drizzle, ash of poppies, copperas,
mustard. Then I stopped arriving
and the eye-burn
stopped happening. Still the blind
sky stands out
with birds
of raw meat. Breath
changes color. I call the window closer
but it won’t come. The eye yaws, flooded
with dreams of targets
and insomniac
sheets. A funeral
with interruptions:
“Organ, shut up!” sing the birds
before the stony minute turns its face
the other way round.

copyright Barry Schwabsky
Peggy Shumaker

Because they are truly her friends, they leave her
tasting salt in her dreams, salt and green lemons.
Cool porcelain, a windowsill, vanilla and wax.
           Her friends leave her
flowers, and tied to the flowers, a note
scratched on butcher paper.  Blue-black gentian
folded in a green wax cone.  Their last cut hours
sweated out formally, each stem
   arranged in the swirl-glazed tureen.

In the bath, she stretches full-length—
two bruised red peonies surface.
Because she did not love him, she allowed
one young man to stroke the sleek slope
of her hip, wondering what he would find
to possess, what she had
to parcel, what one
needs must conserve, always.  How little
it has to do with the body.

copyright Peggy Shumaker
from Blaze
Maurya Simon

Who are without mercy,
Who confide in trumpet flowers,
Who carry loose change in their pockets,
Who dress in black velvet,
Who wince and fidget like bats,
Who balance their halos on hat racks,
Who watch reruns of famine,
Who powder their noses with pollen,
Who laugh and unleash earthquakes,
Who sidle in and out of our dreams
Like magicians or childhood friends,
Who practice their smiles like pirates,
Who exercise by walking to Zion,
Who live on the edge of doubt,
Who cause vertigo but ease migraines,
Who weep milky tears when troubled,
Whose night sweats engender the plague,
Who pinion their arms to chandeliers,
Who speak in riddles and slant rhymes,
Who love the weak and foolhardy,
Who hunger for unripe persimmons,
Who scavenge the fields for lost souls,
Who hover near lighthouses,
Who pray at railroad crossings,
Who supervise the study of rainbows,
Who cannot blush but try,
Who curl their hair with corkscrews,
Who honeymoon with Orion,
Who are not wise but pure,
Who behave with impious propriety,
Who hourly scour our faces with hope,
Whose own faces glow like radium—
Angels, whom we've created in our own form,
Who are without mercy, seek and yearn
To return us like fossilized roses
To the wholeness of our original bloom.

copyright Maurya Simon