May 29-June 4, 2006: Mike Cluff and Claudia Ryan

week of May 29-June 4, 2006

Mike Cluff and Claudia Ryan

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Mike Cluff

Bio (auto)

Mike Cluff is a fulltime English professor at Riverside Community College- Norco campus in Southern California Since 1999, he has divided his time between acting, painting and writing and hopes one day to finally get at least one of these areas to the level of medicority He lives in Highland, California.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Mike Cluff and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Herschel (For CA)

Not meant to be alone
it just happened.

The mango is still going to ripen
beavers will construct their dams
and cauliflower will not please his palate.

Dry cleaning
is today a bit more imperative
and Salisbury steak a smidge more of a necessity.

Women will come along
and suds manufactured,
the evening will be filled
partially by light dancing and
coarse weeping.

His earwax will build up
then hemorrhage
until he hears no longer

Habitual Haunting

They never stopped
teasing Thaddeus Fleming—
they threw his brown wing tip shoes
tied together
by their laces
over telephone or
electrical wires,
which one did not matter,
they just wanted to see him stew.

On the door
to the gay dentist’s office
down the hall
from the law firm,
they once hung
one of his powder yellow silk neckties
on the door knob.

They had taken it
from behind his back
while he washed up
from his afternoon cup of tea
with a trace of bourbon:
he was fastidious as hell,
so they all knew
he would take it off .

And once,
they cut away the pristine white fabric
of his long-sleeve,
of course,
dress shirt
from right above his nipples
after they had slipped some pills
into his tea
and he slept through
the night there at work,
and then
had to miss his promotion interview.

They never stopped—-
not after they were dead
and Thad
had married,
made president
and retired to Boca Raton

Claudia Ryan

Bio (auto)

I am an artist and a writer I make drawings but they are not “realistic”, that is, you can’t always tell what things are in them If you wanted me to draw a picture of you so that it would look like you, I couldn’t do it But I could be inspired by the sound of your voice or by the way you hold a pencil I have lived in Florida for most of my life,on and off, I have lived other places, especially in New England for awhile once, I always miss it in the fall and spring (early and late) Right now I am living in Tampa, finishing my MFA degree at the University of South Florida.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Claudia Ryan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

EEG at Fifteen

Two arms, two legs
strapped to a steel frame
dual fragilities
waiting blameless
waiting to be blamed,
the ecstatic, guilty teenager in the shock room The layout is carte blanc,
stripped white,
chart open,
open blank,
a supine container of sorts This is how she feels
frozen, dead aimed and aiming It is outside of itself Herself Me It is not overt,
but I am overtly keeping
every word inside my mouth,
inside my own origin I am a human fixative fixing the unfixable,
that which is already rubbing off
an outline of a double- sided nature,
clipped and wired to a
negative twin who is dreaming me
a thousand times, a million times, a billion times over
so that I begin to sing and hum
to myself rocking,
a music with its own
sweet, sweet, cadence It is a cadence so joyful
and lamenting that
the secret, greedy rhythm
is being felt by children,
young girls,
farmer’s daughters
and adolescent charmers
their whole lives,
from beginning to end,
made rootless,
although taking place in a rooted system
with a drumbeat and
language all its own They are all here by themselves,
in the clinging
human- child- animal country called
Concrete, in this sleepy- heavy- lidded -vegetative zone
of temporal lobe where I can
muster enough balance
to keep me nesting and firm- legged
inside my body,
conducting stories, held together
by sticky antiseptic until my brain implodes
upon its own electric fluids,
its own love feeding on itself,
because there is too much electricity in my brain,
by itself There are no takers yet,
but instead I picture
something called the future.

Mother’s Day

While driving down
the highway at night
in the rain
I watch carefully
for the correct exit All around me
are other drivers
who will make a decision
they will regret eventually,
but not presently Smiling at this knowledge,
I rub my face with one hand When I push the skin
together on both sides,
I can feel the jawbone
underneath The black air is filled
with truncating forms turning
wet on my cheeks Their soft edges are rounded
and bivalved like
pieces of dough cut in half Their sharp ends come together
in a pinch Since I never had children
I don’t know how it feels to have fingers,
or toes, or a brain, or a liver, or a stomach My shoes never fit me I have a constant problem with footwear I have noticed the same thing
happening between two women
who are talking At first, worlds open up
in two different sets of eyes,
like the proximity of virtue, or
a good thing that is near Then the worlds collapse,
rushing home to get something
they forgot Always there are
collapsing worlds
opening up between
two women who are talking I am sure bakers
notice the same thing
themselves when they
are baking.