September 27-October 3, 2004: R.C. Perl and Ja’net Danielo

week of September 27-October 3, 2004

R.C. Perl and Ja’net Danielo

click here for submission guidelines

R.C Perl

Bio (auto)

R.C Perl lives in Wappingers Falls, New York She works for a non-for-profit organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

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

Pyramid Clock

I Ambulance

Ruby pulses Red rings stain
Christina says, “Stay Don’t go”

An alarm sounds
Telescope points skyward
A swan pushes Leda as she cries On the screen she watches
A Peace Passing Understanding Television splatters phosphorescent
on the cathode ray tube
In the book, letters grow
A bible beats
around eyes, leaving welts Words swell on the page:
I am the resurrection and the life
Send Lazarus He may dip the tip of his finger
in water, and cool my tongue,
for I am tormented in this flame
An ambulance calls out
with red and blue revolutions
in lattice diamonds Sirens steam
II The House

She tried to survive in this house Aquarium gulps Spigots leak Drains clog
Sweaters and socks shrink Clothes disintegrate
in the dryer Horizontal rain fills
a sorcerer’s circle Close the door
Check the bolt
Here no key fits a lock,
wound too tight Digits flash on a puzzle’s face Mechanisms clot with time
III The Deep

The coast catches the seagull falling
taking a captive in the sea cavern
Distant land smears gelatinous
into the horizon
Granite clouds place a lid
on the waterscape
This time the riptide steals Undertow mugs below the surface
Nurses shoes speak with short
white squeaks on a tiled floor In the hall khaki walls dissolve faces
as light constructs a white cell
that locks brightly
IV The Pyramid

Breathing tube clamps down on her tongue
A needle pinches as a voice instructs,
“Count back from one hundred” At ninety-eight, a dazzling veil drapes Galaxies spray chemicals in the cortex Electricity dances on frontal lobes Diaphragm sticks Chest cavity contracts
A rib cage stalls She tries to speak, sure she is dying Sinking into forgetfulness
entering the underworld,
a pyramid clock ticks
Sculptured and inscribed
sarcophagus closes Glyphs tell her story in marble
Scarab beetle flees the serpent The great eye shuts.

Ja’net Danielo


Ja’net Danielo was born and raised in New York Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Rainbow Curve, and Red Rock Review, among others She currently teaches college writing and lives in Long Beach, California

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Ja’net Danielo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Sea World

The water tank was distant Bright summer shirts blurred
around its edges I walked
beside my parents, took careful steps
on wooden planks I thought I might
fall through A boy in a wheelchair
rumbled past us, unsteadied
the boards I stood still,
and tried not to stare
at his head, cocked to the side, thrown
back, and his lips parted wide
the deep pink of his gums, spittle
gathered in foamy pools
at the corners of his mouth I hugged
a stuffed Shamu—its black fur, clinging
to my chest, damp with sweat
At the tank, trainers in sleek black suits
fed fish to the orca, and my eyes wandered
to a plank, and then a splash of blood
littered with what?  Flesh
from a child’s skinned knee? A clump
of the sick boy’s gums? The sky seemed
a vicious animal—unpredictable, ready
to pounce I thought it might come
unstuck, that it might drown me
in its blue I climbed metal bleachers
to watch the show eclipsed
by what I now recall: that flash of pink, a stain,
the useless scraps of some dead fish.

The Alchemist

I exhume the dead from shoeboxes,
scatter them across a white lace
tablecloth I sift through their remains:

the red rosary my uncle bought in Italy,
my great-grandmother’s flowered
change purse It holds the mingled scent
of soap and dusting powder, the fragrance
of her dresser drawer
Between thumb and forefinger,
I massage the last dime
my grandmother gave to me The oils of my skin mix with hers
As I struggle to piece this moment
with that thing, the dead stare back
at me They wait for their history,
hoping for gold this time
And I won’t disappoint them Oil, powder, soap, a tangled string
of beads, my pen, this paper
I’ll make them better, more important,
than they ever were in life.

My Grandmother Visits My Grandfather

in early Spring, when the grass is a green-green and the wind,
a warm balm on her face and legs She kneels, presses
fresh lilacs into my grandfather’s chest The hem of her dress
brushes his name and she touches the letters in a way
only the dead can understand
My grandmother needs fixed stone and ordered rows She needs crevices to trace with fingertips, and wind
to pull at her skirt, muss her hair—
touch her back.

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: