August 29-September 4, 2005: Amanda Auchter and Ruth Rice

week of August 29-September 4, 2005

Amanda Auchter and Ruth Rice

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Amanda Auchter

Bio (auto)

Amanda Auchter is the author of Light Under Skin, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press and the editor of Pebble Lake Review Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in in Bellevue Literary Review, Born Magazine, Caketrain, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Diagram, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere She received a 2005 Bucknell Younger Poets fellowship and the 2004 Howard Moss Poetry Prize She is the editor of the online literary journal Pebble Lake Review She lives in Houston, TX, with her husband a+nd their two cats
Visit Amanda’s Blog here:

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Amanda Auchter and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Birth Poem
.for Kathryn

My body built you a home”-swell of skin
and heartbeat Inside, you were a bird
I cupped, or a bright fig hung

in my cellar,  swung into that darkness
by one long cord I imagined your mouth, 
how you would call for me at night, 

a small tug that ended at my tongue I am
thirsty, you said, and I drank I am hungry, 
you said, and I ate The slow tide

of your breath rose from your throat
as though it was a sea slapping against
my ribs You pushed through the door

of my body, wild, arms like sparrow cries
It was as if I never ended at all, but you, 
lips open to the white lights, began

to breathe Your shallow stutters of air
grew moist at my throat I sang to you
so you could remember my voice

when the nurses came,  when the social
worker came, and then you were gone
I imagined the residue of this old house:

my long arms, leg stubble, swollen breasts, 
tangle of hair, rush of milk was one you
would only consider in passing, as though

you had never lived here at all

Gutenberg at His Desk, Remembering a Dream

Oil burned in the room I stacked
blocks inside the fire line, cut shadows

along the table, stamped fingerprints
in soot, smeared my name

into the wood squares When I pulled
away, I left stains in ash, a flip of words

I lifted my hands, imagined a hammer
blow, the soft copper press of moveable

type I walked in the circle of gray
moonlight, my fingernails black

as the night’s edge On the desk, 
I rolled letters across paper, watched

as the backwards L and the fat mouth
O became a relief in reverse, 

a mirror inside a dream, the way I once
raised my left arm to a window, 

but instead saw the right
previously published in The Hurricane Review

Variations on a Red Bell Bloom

A bell-rope leads to a bell hung
in the arch Here, light winnows a border

of red peonies, extends east and west
from the apple tree The air is livid

with bloom Crown anemones bud; red
tongues lick the ragged fence

The garden is a suitcase of blossom
unpack this slowly, one bulb for each

inch of earth A finger topples the bell,
blushes the hand with red stain, residue

of the bell-metal ore Bell: bloom type
Describes a single, African Violet

A tricolor: small leaved trailer
Red bloom with black and yellow stripes, 

bell-shaped calyx The heart is a red
bell-bloom in distress Touch the stem, 

the root system Lay down and thread
the sky like a sash, the belled

cup of the bloom Work and hack
in wilderness The blood is a sunset.

Clyde Tombaugh on His Discovery of Pluto

.February 18, 1930

All night I’ve orbited this room around tables
and telescopes, cup of coffee in hand It is not
night everywhere, but inside

this stretched plane, black is not enough
to describe the landscape Tomorrow, fire
may leap from a shell of starlight

We may burn in our houses Women may hang
their linens on the line and come away charred Tonight, the galaxy

continues to expand I stand in the backyard
and wait for the moon to rise over a hemline
of trees Somewhere

a supernova is born, a planet folds in on itself, 
absorbs its own dust A distant body spins
in these badlands

of rock and ash, approaches the cusp of our
own blue air For years it has hidden
in darkness, far

reached from the sun, an echo of forgotten
twilights If I were this hermetic, I too
would offer myself

in shadow, continuing as if never stirred
from slumber, pushed along by the wind
swirled tide of a solar flare
previously published in Crab Orchard Review
and The Eleventh Muse

The Therapist Said to the Patient as She Left
.for David Dent

Let me give you this: a fist full of pens
from Paxil, Zoloft, Zyprexa: those towns
dissolved under your tongue, entire villages

drowned On your first visit, you carried off
the map I drew for you in your pocket

You returned with bottles in your hands, held
each one up to the light, asked,

.How will this change me?

I watched your shadow-slung body, knuckle-
deep inside the couch, your wilted shoulders,
your red pill mouth, your ellipsis voice
Your eyes made small rooms of our silence:
lampshade on the desk, my Styrofoam cup, 
my nervous shoe, the wallpaper print
“What did you see”–

your finger-painted childhood, fragments
of your mother’s German songs, the air
filled with your father’s highball glass?

I wanted to touch the hair on your neck, 
pull your hands from behind the torn pillow

(its cheek-high scroll, your ardent blush)
Now, your body hooks the doorway like
a question I have forgotten to write down
My blank-paper palms run through your charts, 
pull open the desk I hand you the pink carbon
bill, a pen Inside your familiar scrawl, 

I find your legs, your fingers, your ink-blot
stare, and myself tangled inside.

Dragonfly on Blue Agave

Dusk broke against your lips You slipped
through the whitewashed fence with both
arms at your side, face pointed toward

the blue agave Light washed into leaves, 
your sunburned body, shin bruises
Earlier, you considered flight the absence

of your mother’s letters, her voice on the line, 
her perfumed neck, how she would disappear
inside herself to a shell of bone and skin, 

smoked in the bathroom Now, gone again, 
you had the entire yard to fill with yourself:
invisible armies, a ball smashed into a window, 

sticks and mud At night, the entire world
was the shadowed hand in front of your face, 
your mother’s photograph under your pillow, 

or a radio somewhere in the kitchen, a low
slumbered note That afternoon, you watched
the dragonfly on the blue agave, the half-

beat of its wings, its subtle song When you
caught it, you imagined your mother inside
your palms, walking over your fingers, her hair

glancing your wrist, where the dragonfly
leaned into you and bit, took away skin, 
as though blood was the equivalent of love.

Ruth Rice


Ruth Rice lives in Vista, California She has two volumes of poetry “The Wind Speaks Her Own Name” and “Dividing Silence”, published by PoetWorks Press, New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Ruth Rice and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

borax town

(life among the desertbillies)

I was raised on the precipice
Of the largest open pit mine in the world
In the towering shadow of the teamster’s union
Among mining men and mules Friday paychecks at the silver dollar,
Where lucille attended barstool courtisans
In a tinfoil tiara and time stood static still,
This was the edge of the world
Every leap year, just about the time
The miners tired of his neighbor’s borrowed wife,
Contract negotion called the faithless forward
To a collective vacation, a good old fashioned
Cross torching, car scorching, downhome strike
Men running bear chested in midday heat,
building snare traps from broken pallets of paranoia
and burning down houses in worship Oh, these were the days of spoken tongues,
when the wind walked the desert on stilts
of abandoned reason and fervered release
Arbitration, the final ritual, returned the denizens
To homes of forclosing mortgage, glutted
And sliding back toward the silver dollar,
Where lucille takes up her scepter and stool
Offering benediction, as time concedes
Once again an uneasy truce to stasis
On the edge of the world.


there is nothing
but the false womb curve
of the subway walls
holding my skin on
they too, are molting
posters and pictures of jesus
prophetic words thin
as the skin of an onion
pulled away by the track
this is where my life
will end or begin
the bible poster says
the choice of change
one stop to silence
and I step
onto the platform


summoned at the altar
with the host of wine and flesh
she lifts her lace and lights a votive
waiting for the voice
el dia de los angelitos esta pasado
this night belongs to the dead
unlike the spanish from her mouth
that drowning soft unloosened song,
this hymn marches on agave feet
feeds her body peyote dreams
while the forbidden words
of a forgotten language
sund her eyes with spirit tears
condemning, cajoling, questioning,
the souls gather a flock as birds
thrown across the moon
madly twining the night into stars she sleeps safely beneath the altar,
smoke seeping from her hair.

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