July 6-12, 2009: Ellaraine Lockie, F.J. Bergmann and Salvatore Buttaci

week of July 6-12, 2009: 

Ellaraine LockieF.J Bergmannand Salvatore Buttaci

the judges of the 2009 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest

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Ellaraine Lockie

Bio (auto)

Ellaraine Lockie writes poetry, nonfiction books and essays She’s received a writing residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, eleven Pushcart Prize nominations, the Lois Beebe Hayna Award from The Eleventh Muse, the One Page Poem Prize from the Missouri Writers’ Guild, the Writecorner Press Poetry Award, the Skysaje Poetry Prize, the Dean Wagner Poetry Prize and the Elizabeth R Curry Prize from SLAB, among many other awards.  Recently released is Mod Gods and Luggage Straps, a poetry/art broadside from BrickBat Revue.  Forthcoming are chapbooks from FootHills Publishing and Pudding House Lockie also teaches a poetry workshop for schools, libraries and writing groups, and she serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh Her home page is on Literati at: http://literati.net/ellaraine-lockie

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Ellaraine Lockie and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


The jaw drops
after his last breath
The nurse says hold it shut
so it doesn’t freeze fallen

And the eyes she says
Finger force them closed
Easier on the relatives
A living look
As though he’s resting
in his beloved rose garden

We wrestle with the ring
Second-skin stuck on finger
Already curled in death claw
Rock hard but glass fragile
I wonder if it breaks
would blood still spurt
Not so nice for the relatives

We wash private parts
with warm water
Why warm I wonder
on a cold cadaver

The relatives won’t know
And they won’t see
the stiffened organ
Old age flaccidity
dilated in death
I wonder do I hold
that down too

The nurse says maybe
he’s too lifelike now
But not alive enough
for the daughter
Who stares out the window
At the rose garden

An Act of Kindness

She is one of the women
who travels daily from her township
Singing in the back of a pick-up truck
with a chorus of others
Come to clean the rooms
in my B & B bordering Kruger Park

She sees me walking a path
parallel to the Crocodile River
I see her running toward me
Watch her fall to her knees before me
Close the lowest five button holes
that fashion the front of my
ankle-length straight skirt

She says something in Swati
Looks up at me as a lilac-blue blossom
drops from a jacaranda tree
And under the kindness of shade
she pats my calves

I can’t interpret the words
but I can read her body language
There my dear
I’ve closed the open invitation
The accident that wrote itself
across your womanhood
I know this because here
no woman would walk
aware of bare thighs winking
between the weave of khaki

I help her up
Hold her hardened hands
Thank her by returning
the sunshine of her smile
And waddle like a knobbellied duck
back to my room where I segregate
the unbefitting skirt to a suitcase

The Whipping Woman

The woman I hire to daughter my mother
makes bi-weekly visits to the dementia ward
Lies down beside the near-still waters

Accepts the mouth kisses wet with drool
From where gravelly words
dribble down washed-out gullies

Like a whipping boy she bears the brunt
of each face-to-face flagellation
that my rawhide flesh refuses

And for twenty dollars an hour I purchase
like the contraposition of a professional mourner
Substitution for services I can’t supply

First published in Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts

F.J Bergmann

Bio (auto)

F.J Bergmann frequents Wisconsin She has no academic literary qualifications, but hangs out a lot with people who do Publication credits include Asimov’s, DIAGRAM, Southern Poetry Review, Subtropics, and Weird Tales She is the winner of the 2008 SFPA Rhysling Award for the Short Poem and the author of three chapbooks: Constellation of the Dragonfly (Plan B Press, 2008), Aqua Regia (Parallel Press 2007), and Sauce Robert (Pavement Saw Press 2003) One of her pseudopodia can reach all the way from the bedroom to the refrigerator.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by F.J Bergmann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Dead of Summer

After it happened the roads were like glass,
shattered or molten and dripping We went
about our duties, carefully skirting the craters
without ever looking down Storms swept
over us, and each day was hotter and more
overcast The schools and libraries were
rededicated to other purposes, but mail
was delivered twice a day, due to increased
numbers of emergency government bulletins The useless radio hissed like a rabid raccoon At the supermarket the empty shelves grew
longer No one drove anywhere, but we
sometimes heard faint sirens that remained
a mystery Whole families moved in the dead
of night, giving no warning to their neighbors
and abandoning everything they owned We boarded up windows We never opened
the doors after dark We said we liked it better
before, but no one was listening.

(appeared in Blue Unicorn)

Gender Characteristics

so we had a few drinks
and I was telling him stuff about
my childhood and after a while he said
that sounds like penis envy to me did you
ever wish you had a penis and I said no
but I wish I had an ovipositor so I could
parasitize my enemies and infest them
with my larvae and he decided
to sit somewhere else
in a different bar.

(appeared in Pavement Saw)

Great Horned

All day I go hungry,
listening My feathers ruffle
in gusts of muted wind At nightfall I drift
out over the prairie
like the ghost of a last breath,
scanning the black fields
for faint stars of warm flesh I count my nights
in vole skulls, my days
in the muffled rustle of leaves,
my years in empty nests
tiled with broken shells Sometimes I am nothing
more than an appetite
with wings.

(appeared in Hotel Amerika)

Language Barrier

I used to be ashamed of not being in touch with popular culture It was humiliating, like wearing the wrong clothes—I did that too Of course, I was a teenager then, when these things matter I felt like an onlooker at an unknown game at a sports stadium in a foreign country, just sitting there in the stands, feeling uncomfortable It’s not very exciting The players move across the turf at forty-five degree angles and apologize when they run into each other The crowd starts to roar a slogan in a language I can’t understand, chanting the same eight syllables over and over, with a rising inflection Some of them are beginning to stand up on their seats, brandishing weapons Any minute now, the fans are going to riot But fortunately one of the men on the sidelines, wearing a green velvet bathrobe, grabs one of the little spotted goats I had assumed to be mascots, drags it struggling onto the field as a hush falls over the crowd, and eviscerates it on a spot roughly corresponding to the 40-yard line On the scoreboard, the numbers are replaced by an asterisk followed by a greater-than sign for one team, an octothorp and ampersand for the other The crowd goes wild Some well-prepared individuals are chaining themselves together across the exits.

(appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal)


The man with the hat moved oddly through the night,
with the immense dignity that came with having
drunk on an empty stomach most of a bottle of
cheap whiskey, which he still held in cold hands.

In his coat pocket was another bottle, much more expensive,
and a hardbound copy of The Gold Bug and Other Stories His shadow, fluttering like a lost raven,
briefly deformed the marble saints looming above
members of a family whose voices he could no longer recall.

At the stone, fumbling the cap off with icy fingers,
he poured the rest of his whiskey onto the frozen ground,
centered the bottle of brandy against the inscription,
and read a few lines where the book opened at random,
savoring the golden, terrifying words.

(appeared in MARGIE)

Salvatore Buttaci

Bio (auto)

Salvatore Buttaci’s poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U S A Today, The Writer, Cats Magazine, and Christian Science Monitor He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007 and second-place winner in the 2008 Poetry Super Highway Contest Buttaci has lectured on Sicilian American pride and conducted numerous poetry workshops and readings Retired from teaching, Salvatore Buttaci lives with his wife Sharon in Princeton, West Virginia.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Salvatore Buttaci and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

There Are No Words

you insist somehow
we could find the words,
arrange them like blocks
to spell what love is,
and once we succeed,
for all time we’d know
the magic things to say,
smooth incantations
to lay low our fears
that love will die away.

you persist on how
we should seek the words,
exchange what smacks
of shell and speak love
beyond grunts and needs,
seek the sublime that throws
the tragic stings away,
soothes lamentations
that make flow our tears,
or love will fly away.

you resist it now
but there are no words strange that nothing works
to tell what love is,
no hunch,no creed,
no silly rhyme that shows
what gladness brings to play only in silence
is all love defined,
what joins sky and earth:
silence is the star
kissing a flower.

Still in Grief

the mouth of the Earth opened wide
and then swallowed you down its throat

it seems that way to us still in grief
after all these twenty years

how wonderful it would be
if you could once more fill the spaces

left behind in your departure
come back and laugh with us again

sometimes in dreams you visit me
red hair bright as flaming fire

it is as if you never died
we’re at the table…brothers again!

For Vallejo

On some downtown cobblestone nightmare street
In ChileI hide in doorways that smell of cheap wine,
watch la policia rush by in search of me,
Listen to my heart boom towards implosion,
And wonder how in God’s name will I find
Csar Vallejo before the end of his next poem, 
before they come to close down his life These are my nightmares, the horrors of dream,
That ride me in rios of blood, nearly blind
To exit isles, to logic, to alarm clocks
screaming me free of these concrete feet Vallejo,where are you hiding? Csar,
If you can hear me thinking, trembling,
Do not call out but let the litany
of your poems rattle off mute lips
Like monks at matins, repentant lovers,
The condemned I have come a long distance
To track you down in the past of your time,
Hide you in the crook of my shirted arm,
And let Dios grow wings for us, sail us
To the future, a safe house in Brooklyn,
A room with a bath, a place you can write,
But when the police are all gone, your voice,
A coda of silence, your body still as your pen Csar, your brother Miguel, tus amigos
en revolucion, the woman you loved––
All of you creak open the door through which
I run, stone feet on stone ground, to freedom.

The Hunters Gone

In quietwoods now dark with night,
The forest creatures unafraid
Now congregate and speak of day,
Of deeds performed and what they’ve seen
In light of day when sun was bright

And sounds that frightened were man-made,
How each with caution went his way
In praise of God Who made woods green The hunters gone, they love the night,

They let their footfalls fall away
And each in turn now tells his tales From hunters holding them in sights
There is no fear of risking doom.

The forest once again for play,
Released at last as if from jails Lift up the veils
That darken the delicate moon!

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