Volume 53 (2008)

Selected Poets and Poems

Eric Heller – For Samantha, at Five
Jean Hollander – Here
Ruth Holzer – No Mercy Rule
Nina Israel Zucker – Azúcar (Sugar)


Please see our Poets tab for home pages of poets, where available.


quill_smallFor Samantha, at Five by Eric Heller

The shock only yesterday
of fine-spun you, so small in my arms

Now I watch you dance
tie your shoe
nurse dolls at your chest

You are in this short span
already snapshots-in-time:
the charcoal clouds of your sonogram
the cold-tile fear of three days’ watched pain
the red-faced stranger clutching at first breath

I close my eyes and see clock hands spinning
feel their vibrations down to the bone–
images rising like steam from the kettle
there once
then nothing to hold.

quill_smallHere by Jean Hollander

If, at nineteen, I had been shown this fire
this fireplace now glowing down the hall
this kitchen warm with smell of roast and cake
four champagne glasses drying upside down
these ancient Chinese plates, their writing underside
in Mandarin, since Made in China then not made

if they had shown me this new year
this burning log aflame for seven hours
this year so still and full of promise still
this hour when returning to the fire
trailed by the black invisible, now real
now shadow cat and dog, to see

the Christmas cactus late in fuchsia bloom—
would I not have chosen, this place
to live this all again, here now
this moment, this now year.

quill_smallNo Mercy Rule by Ruth Holzer

Now that curfew tolls no more
and the stadium lights
dazzle with timeless sun
this game won’t be called for darkness.

We’ll have to keep playing
late into the night, though
we’re twenty runs behind
and our bullpen is bare.

Basemen and outfielders
bobble the ball,
our diehard fans
are leaving in droves,

but we have to play all nine innings.
There’s no mercy rule in the majors
that would let us cut our losses. We must stay
to get good and slaughtered.

quill_smallAzúcar (Sugar) by Nina Israel Zucker

When I opened my eyes that Tuesday morning
the dust had already started to slant in towards my face
and I knew it was later than I wanted it to be.
The plan was to leave in the dark,
if I got an early start the policia might not be out yet,
the dogs might still be tucked in beside their owners,
my wife not up yet, making café, tortillas, huevos.

But the colors are what I miss the most,
pale yellow and pink, the painted and chipped sea blue.
When I walk down the street in my new town,
my eye catches colors and my stomach clenches.
Here is the auto repair shop where I work,
here is the nice older man who tries to speak to me in Spanish,
here is the Chinese man who comes in once a month
pulling his cart full of pirated music and movies,
here is the bay where a seal might get caught in the spring,
mistaking the warming channel for a path to the ocean.
We run out in our greased overalls, holding metal tools,
whistling for the lost animal to turn
and look at us with the eyes of a mermaid.

On Mondays I walk to the post office
and buy a money order to send home.

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