VI. More than Music




A poem is a posit, an assertion, an act,

and in action we forget fear:  respite

in creation, the maker takes a stand, in making,

but is it a stand no better than gimmick-makers make?

Well, poetry possesses the virtue of being a record,

at least, and you can date a poem, if you wish,

thus giving it the merit of a worldly fact

contained in a system of time, which, admittedly,

is a system which is perhaps pseudo-fact itself,

or will become so as matter completes its withdrawal

upon itself to revisit its beginnings in a black hole in space;

and yet, until then, something like a fact,

a fact in the sense that Sherlock Holmes is almost real

and lives in Baker Street in a fictional series

in a real world that may exist only in a dream

that is being dreamed elsewhere, perhaps—dare I say—

by Der Abishter; and so poetry becomes an actual little stab

and, poets hope, rip in the black sheet

that covers the deserted, haunted mansion.

                                                                                                    E.M. Schorb





He collects these splinters, these little bits

Of guessed-at wisdom and whispered clues; but,


He will tell you, even a paper-cut

Can bear witness: that time is a prism


And history is an old cloth that splits

Like a laugh at the seams. He woos these glints


And waits, for this pent-up present to spill

Its brim, the veins of this moment to fill


With a more-than-music, half-remembered

Half-anticipated, attuned to dreams.


You call him a fool and a fantasist,

Say that he broods too much, this alchemist


Of illusion, that torpor soon ensues

And the tail-end of longing will get him.



Sure, he may go down dour and deflated,

That melody he moved his marrow to


Dammed-up or dissipated; and he may,

If the cold lips of long nights beset him,


Grow lukewarm, and lose the love that rises;

But, if he courts such crises, just let him:


Let him sculpt his blade, trade his skin for stone;

If he wills, let him wear his waiting thin,


Let him whittle his dream-stuff to the bone -- 

He may stir some late light from these cinders,


Chip some tinder from his brain's abstractions:

He may coax these feathered hints into flight


Full of true desire: may strike fire

From the flint of these figments and fractions.

Daniel Gustafson


My pen-name


In London, many years ago,

     When in my early teens,

Too young to think what lay ahead

     Or wonder what life means,


My mother told me of a dream

     In which she garnered fame:

A celebrated authoress,

     Her books proclaimed her name.


She toured the country, lectures, workshops,

     Entourage in tow,

The media extolled her work

     Her future was aglow.


Her name was Rumi Morkin,

     And she reveled in acclaim,

Until she woke, her dream dissolved,

     Left only with the name.


She'd cut and joined up all our names,

     Not difficult to see:

My sister Ruth was there as 'Ru-'

     And then came '-mi' for me;


My father's name was Morris

     Shortened in the dream to 'Mor-'

Our surname, Retkin, added '-kin'

     We're in her dream – all four.


I loved this explanation, vowing

     If I write one day,

To use her dream name as my own,

     And let that memory stay.

                                                               Miriam Webber





Silence.  The moving facets of the stream

contemplated for irony.


I would not have it said

I spun this, grey on silver,

out of mere

self.  Rather


a hemisphere, open, a bowl

or cup, with twig

and leaf, twin

and tendril—some fraction

of the dissolving forest.

                                                   Esther Cameron, 1966



Packing the Poet’s Suitcase

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

--Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Know where you’re going.

(Inklings will do in

a pinch.)


Include only accessories

that provide reasons to

wake up in the



Expect detours for

which you are bound to

be unprepared.


Bring abundant currency;

don’t expect to understand

the exchange rate.

Become a neophyte:

famished, disoriented,



Before you depart, forget

everything you ever

learned about the


                                    Catherine Wald


First Line


In the end of days what you need is a good first line.

To distract you from the truth with its own truth.

The way pain can sometimes distract from pain.

The way beauty can sometimes distract from pain.

The way a good bedtime story can light up the dark

side of an entire planet, given a little room

with a bed in the corner, a few right words, a child

listening. In the end of days what you need is a good

beginning. Something hopeful and trembling like a tongue.

Something open and unselfconscious like a mouth,

listening to the words, and the music of the words.

Something steeply rocking like a ship, or a sleep, heavy,

floating, viable, smelling of saltwater and infinite possibility.

                                                                                              Paul Hostovsky