April 12-18, 2004: Karen Swank-Fitch and Bridget-Rose Lee

week of April 12-18, 2004

Karen Swank-Fitch and Bridget-Rose Lee

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Karen Swank-Fitch

Bio (auto)

Karen Swank-Fitch is a poet and educator currently teaching middle school students in San Jose, California She is the moderator of an on-line writing group, “Write On Writing Group” and the editor of an on-line poetry magazine, “a poetry rag ” Besides small press publications, poetry journals and on-line poetry magazines, a sampling of her work can be found in A Woman’s Place, and Brown Bag Anthology Her family consists of husband Joe and cat named Orlando
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The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Karen Swank-Fitch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Secretly, I know My Name

secretly, i know
my name is amelie
it comes from
the twigs
of my family tree
the outermost edges
where genetics
and associations
are never questioned

some of the family
swear that amelie
is short for
a condition
that’s present
in our roots
and cambium

our memory loss
is just below
the surface
of the bark
implanted in our
reproductive tissue.


jezebel spoke to me, her tone was low and umbered
she carried with her a carving, an idol of worn-down worship
it’s features were tatty; it’s arms had been forfeited
in a moon dance of pagan fertility

she spoke to me of first wives and untimely lovers
of lilith, sarah and the forlorn ruth
she whispered and wailed; torrents of tears
she’s misunderstood, her reputation sullied

jezebel left the idol upon my threshold
in a bed of wheat wings and tarnished husks
she disappeared, singing a hymn of whimsy and rhetoric
praising the nature gods of ancient civilizations.

The Fragrance of Curry

i am a pomade of curry, archaic indian, ancestrally anointed
saturated with cleaved garlic-i am crushed and pragmatic
hand milled to face-powder, made-up with mascara
i assume to be primary; the importunate part of dinner making
troublesome and persistent, listen, i am entreating, fending off the rancid
i am part of the over all, not an afterthought sauce
ladled in conclusion
i am basal, conceived and ambrosial
embellishing meats, flesh, vegetables
i am béchamel, thick with butter, flour and cream
i am cumin and coriander;
i am turmeric and timing
i am relishing
i am wearing my crown of spikenard
my rose-purple himalayan garland of perennial herbs
i am doused in powder; i am sleeping on a berth of rice
i am aphrodisiac.

Bridget-Rose Lee


Bridget-Rose Lee is from Singapore She is learning from an identity diaspora of what it is to be Chinese, Woman, and Writing She hopes to succeed in all three, and still be able to elevate the status of what poetry can mean to a soul that wants to fight, in a young country that once said “poetry is a luxury we cannot afford.” Her work has appeared on the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Poetry Billboard

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Bridget-Rose Lee and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Fine Thai Cuisine

Fine Thai Cuisine
Between tofu legs
Wobbles weakly As clear as each strand of hair, I can
See through a woman
Soak her finest spores,
I am a thorough
But it’s not enough
On their gentle plates
Served to me in
Twenty-seven spices Horapa, dark-skinned
A sweet-smelling basil,
(they are all basils)
And released only when in
Full steam, Ga-Prow
Tastes different from Horapa,
Only Manglug is sweet
And pepper;

What the rest of the world is
Missing, on their continental breakfasts
Are spices
Black, white or palegreen
Experience can count seeds
By glance alone, though
Black is surprisingly milder, more
Aromatic than white, leaving
Green peppercorns
A taste of their own;

Fishnets swung from stilts
Get hot,
I realise with
Ten edible chillies,
Not all are chewable
My lips thus bee-stung
Next dusk;

The literal land overflows
With whole cloves,
Smashed, chopped, oiled and
Later foul-smelling farts
Who go on to publish their bulbous lives, dead
Against invisible labours;
I say I want
Plus I never see shallots as add-ons
I give them all
Their place,
At least admitting
I like it hot;

Lemons are simple
Yet refreshing
As Spring’s grass:
I note one as coarse
The other softer, long-stemmed,
Our friends far north
Used to cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves,
cumin, mint, and the fetishists
Cardamom (India) and
Sesame (more often than not, Chinese)
Spice marriages are treated with ginger
Where they are consumed
Sometimes partially –
But Spring’s wives
Lose their cool,
To seasons
Fickle everywhere
And anywhere!

If not choice choked
Palates of tropical fruits tingle
Floated on bamboo
Or warm-wrapped in pandan,
Almond or slit, served
With attitudes of lime –
There’s zing in dessert
Whollops of mandarins,
Citrons and bevies of them
Honeyed too young;

But what makes me stop
Short of twenty-seven,
I came and saw
Flower beds of jasmine
Picked in the evening
Before she opens –

Scent of a woman
Drinking, sweating and
Preparing herself,
For this
I would pluck yellowing leaves
And show them to my girl.


Hotels, beaches, car parks at the beach
But not multi-storeyed, driveways, alleyways,
At gateways, in between goodbyes, but nothing said;
Cinemas, in between galas, operas; step out
It’s fair weather, alone or stranded, in the rain after
The drizzle, it started with a nuzzle, without expectation,
With child or unborn or born still, or still born
In spring, summer, autumn and prolonged into
Winter, wistfully uncannily it’s splitting image
Of that one, the next resembling several, how funny;
With seasons come trend and taste comes flavours; nowadays
Leave little choice but more room for freedom, and least of all
Special, so you know what to do, in a moody mouldy motel;
It’s not like the song, no one turns up and you are all packed to go
Somewhere, but like every ballad there’s bound to be
A running chorus, over and over, reality speaks
But birds no longer sing; and one liners motioned into
Plates, chairs, tv, and when more than once
The children-you know hotels, beaches, car parks at the beach
But not multi-storeyed, driveways, alleyways,
At gateways, how much do we believe we are just
Lucky to be alive and talking?

Playing By Myself

No one will play with me this morning
I am bored as the mountain Before
I’d hop into something raincoat, jump into
The fridge, limbs and mouth wide apart
Ski down slippery slopes
Till a stump forces me to turn cartwheels I practised and pushed, perfected even my thumb
To peak or break at the bottom of the bough I could move as the jellyfish, a cool
Sting could turn a lifetime, so says
The fluorescent lights,
Caught by my goldfish radars zooming
Into the horizon of the four walls, landing finally
On the cold scope,
Unable to distract from the inscription
Of pain onto pain
It was a decade and few years of
Great snow,
I was trim as a wild hare, atrophied skin
Hanging on brick will Some years the harvest was slough, some years
Vomited misty fog; I made sure to check with
The lake’s mirror
Consulting with the stars warring to escape
>From inside my silver head
Through my vein-embedded eyes –
Then from the great bowl
Slowly I traipsed
Fresh, tender, rid of spine
The lightest lettuce!

I skied like a professional
Those risqué years Motto to
Polish the ski-stay low profile –
Like Bobby Fisher, who could not play chess
Without a reason I was a pro who could not play chess
Unless I skied
This eve of the eve of
One more day
My cat’s eyes slant some more, and still
I see the great slopes call
Whenever I stand in the shade
Of the mountain While scratching at my buttocks
I turned to my breasts One kiwi said something to the other
I overheard something like this:
Full for milk-breasts
Condensed for desserts,
Then in a hushed, familiar whisper
Slim for slender, for slough
Shushed into sty Bemused, I caught myself, eavesdropping I went into the study, the room with razor light
Released from under my arms
Chocolate milk, cheese and yesterday’s rice-wrapped
Roll Roll, I say, roll Afterwards I bent over, on all fours
Pick up stray hair of the dogs You came in, ask what’s up
I smile nothing
Just picking up.

White Marble House

At my mother’s house yesterday, I looked
At the vegetables she grew foray way
Beyond the green and almost into the
White marble house There is not much land in
The garden except for a small enclave
A few tropical plants call home We share
The water and air in its urban lush;
Steal for a moment, the moment that hangs
Free as if measured We share insect cries
Through this thick of thin Depending how much
I want to please, striking the verbal wick
Though perilous, has never ignited
As much peril as in my heart silenced.

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