August 18–24, 2008: Steve De France and Nicholas Messenger

week of August 18-24, 2008

Steve De France and Nicholas Messenger

click here for submission guidelines

Steve De France

Bio (auto)

Steve De France lives in Long Beach, California.

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by Steve De France nd may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Florida Turnpike

Sprinting up the Florida Turnpike at
85 miles an hour heading toward
Gainesville The landscape sweltering in heat and
humidity As I pass the town, I’m
thinking about all the children killed,
and how it must feel to be murdered Was it quick? Or did it last a long
time? Death.

I stare at fields speckled with
hardy pine trees Then after a couple of
miles more, a rush of green marshland More swamp water, and everywhere
mosquitoes and flying critters
bunched in angry fists.

The cement on the road’s very white Bright Not like L.A at all And at the side of the road,
petrified by sun and humidity,
dead critters curl up in this heat.

I wonder who comes along and scrapes
them all up Most died quick Splat on a bumper But you can’t count on it I once saw a cat hit In the middle of a
street All the cars stopped People
staring And the cat flopping
desperately He lived a long time Jerking like an epileptic Till a fat
man in a tank top undershirt walked over
and crushed his head with a shovel.

Everybody looked away Except me.

I drive on
thinking about different kinds of death I think about you.

How you said you would love me forever.

But you said you really had to have a
two story mortgage And a Visa Card without limit Wasn’t that another kind of
prostitution? I had asked, and you said,
“Yes, yes, it probably was ”
You smiled.

I stare at the road I begin counting
After awhile I get bored,
and quit I pull in at a rest stop,
myself from behind the wheel And I stand here
a long time,
at open spaces.

Circular Patterns

The cashier says have a nice day I whisper, “I have other plans.”
I head for my 1947 Cadillac In the parking lot an ancient pilgrim
in railroad coveralls stands
like a stone in a stream,
her shopping-cart wheels
jammed between cement lines She is streaming epithets.

I find the car Geno is sprawled in the front seat,
drinking wine & putting finishing touches
to a poem that tells how horrible it is
living in the suburbs with a female lawyer
& about the awful neighbor kids &
how he’d like to kill them I start the car & head toward the exit The ancient pilgrim is still leaning
into her cart as if into a high wind “I slash throats with a garden hoe,”
screams Geno I stop the car “I crush skulls with a fireplace brick.”

I get out & say hello to the wayfarer,
her teeth slip, I lift her cart over the
gouge in the earth “Asshole,” she cries & clenches
her fist to strike I jump back in the car Geno is still ranting his poem “I eviscerate the little bastards &
roast their guts for the dogs.”

“You have a gift,” I tell him, “Pass the wine.”
I’m thinking of Dante’s Inferno Canto XVII to be exact:
“Those who have done violence to art.”
As we round the Long Beach Traffic Circle,
I suggest Geno call all the
neighbor dogs Cerberus.

The night grows hotter.

Nicholas Messenger

Bio (auto)

Nicholas Messenger (Hokitika, New Zealand) had his first poems published in New Zealand as a schoolboy He won the Glover Poetry award in the 1970’s In recent years he has had work published in a good number of online magazines He was born in 1945, completed a degree at Auckland University, travelled extensively, and lived at various times in France, England and Japan He has worked at many jobs, including seaman, security guard and demolition worker, and for a long time made his living as a teacher, of science, art, and languages, in High Schools in New Zealand, and of English in Japan Now he is running a home-stay business in Hokitika He has been married twice and has two grown-up children.

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by Nicholas Messenger and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

First Sunlight

We’ve envied her all winter long,
the woman living on the right side of the cemetery
in the white house facing east Each morning when we flung
our curtains open, she was there already, and the sun had seen her
hanging futons on her balcony, or in some other momentary
grace across the room beyond At times it has been strong enough
to find her through the dimpled glass, in postures at her basin mirror,
seemingly exempt from winter’s hasty dressing She must feel
she’s living in a different town from we who see the other half
of the sky, the one the seaward ranges clog with rain,
for she looks up into the golden arch above the mainland hills
and hums a little, how today is going to be fine again.


I didn’t want to mention it, but as you would expect
in such back waters, which consistently reflect
in vignettes all the gamut of mankind, we have our own
man-elephant He rides by imperturbably-enough, but with a sense
of one who doesn’t dare put down his foot; alone It is impossible to picture our canal-crisscrossing lanes
and not feel he is in them, face half-buried in the tents
of lawless skin that have collapsed around his head The eyes know others cannot speak to him, nor he for pain
to others To ignore him is to wound, to speak instead
to wound with condescension Better take him for a holy
man, than label his self-estimation folly.

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: