January 13-19, 2003: Christopher Locke and J.J. Goss

week of January 13-19, 2003

Christopher Locke and J.J Goss

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Christopher Locke

Bio (auto)

Christopher Locke was born in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1968 His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 journals throughout North America, England and Australia, including The Literary Review; Exquisite Corpse; The Chattahoochee Review; The Southeast Review; Connecticut Review; Hubbub and on NPR’s “Morning Edition”  Chris has received many awards for his poetry including a grant in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a poetry fellowship from Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain Slipping Under Diamond Light, (2002-Clamp Down Press) is his second collection How to Burn (1995-Adastra Press) is also currently available Chris lives in Middleton, NH and is the Academic Director at Shortridge Academy, a school for troubled teens.

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Christopher Locke and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


for _________, suicide survivor 

There’s a terrible responsibility
in not destroying yourself, in again
not stepping off the ledge
of possibility into something
far worse–sirens splashed
against brick with heads
circled around you
as you stare up wishing
you chose a higher floor
Everyday the same lust returns
until you walk somewhere
neutral: maybe the deli
frenzied by smoky gossip
and stacks of corned beef,
or that paint store where everyone’s
named Bob and wears a bright red vest
But most days it’s the Cathedral
of Saint John’s, your footfalls echoing
against the dull arches as all the angels
gaze down broken-hearted, their heads
trembling like begonias caught
in killing frost That’s when

you finally breathe, and your heart
mirrors the flame’s sharp tongue
you cozy against a wick, lighting
another candle in a room
of 10,000
You like it like this:
quiet, and nothing but the bend
and flicker of shadows, the light
herky-jerky as it tries to shake
color from rows of stained glass It reminds you of when you were 12

and discovered the abandoned house
in the woods, all the windows smashed
except for the one in the front door:
a vibrant half circle radiant
with golds, blues and greens
“It’s all gotta go,” you said,
and I tried to stop you,
hold you back But you swung
the pipe before I could reach,
and everything exploded

like a rainbow dropped
from unimaginable heights.

What Remains

Feeling strange, I wander away
from things I know Above me, night shatters
into a crude fountain
of stars and again I’m reminded
of the way loss slips
its fingers into your chest
to weigh the heart
and all its cold excuses
I enter some thin woods
and rest near an abandoned
cabin, the broken windows
a testament that even the best ideas
sometimes aren’t; perhaps a wife
fed up with her husband’s dream
of Walden: the children staring
out the back of the Jeep
as it drives away, their mother shouting
for them to turn around, a father
bewildered in the doorway
The crickets turn on
their machines as I step closer,
my footfalls crackling atop
leaf-bone and an alphabet
of twigs I grope until reaching
the door and discover words carved
deep My fingers trace the letters:
“L .O .V “
but I stop before finishing, wanting
the mystery to remain Night grows
around me and I feel obliged to stay “I’ve got something to show you,”
a voic calls from inside the cabin
I press my ear to the door.

Luck Try

What there is, what’s left,
is measured against everything
I’ve lost: the giant remembrances,
all lost, the vagabond nothings
reduced to something–still lost
and me: silent in my contempt
for everything I’ve forgotten
or neglected, purposely so The great
impenetrable sweetness of what I want–
lost And look at the sun,
it’s bright flesh hummed
gold; it’s tender
and forgiving eye .

J.J Goss

Bio (auto)

jj goss resides with her husband in central Massachusetts Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Happy, The New England Writers Journal, The Beltane Papers, Net Authors E2K, Babel, Branches Quarterly, Amarillo Bay, Copious and Lightening Bell Her short story, “Missing a Beat,” was nominated for a 2001 Pushcart Prize.

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by J.J Goss and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Informal Affair

an informal affair and a four hour drive
he brought cheesecake and the good wine
she’s got a designer coat with a grease stain
on the back and a class reunion to go to
but the dry cleaners
shut their machines off at 10:00 am
and the father showed his teeth
city-boy it’s not his fault he thought
he did all the right things but
he didn’t read the pack rules
so he smiles in the rearview
yeah he done good
puts on the shades sings with the radio
listens to the cell phone ring in the new year
cry-baby it’s not his fault eating pasta
in the kitchen the rabbit’s in the pot
a hug and a peck on the cheek customs
stiff and forced her coat’s cold
but the smell of her lingers and her smile
will be the death of him will be
the last of her to fade away

Wedding Function

a typical wedding
with bridesmaids and ushers
love hate the king and queen
love’s lips were red and to die for
hate’s mask was black and white
functional faces had no color except their own
blank looks of cult members
and all the blemishes showing I saw
the tuft of hair on one side of her chin
as she turned away too good for me
bearded lady poet on her nametag
mother in the corner gray without her paints
she ordered a fan and a petticoat
and stayed for all the party games
the dog told me his name was henry
said he had a family but I recognized the signs
a patch of dirt under his left shoulder
barking for attention begging for scraps
I wore jeweled notches around my neck
they clinked their apologies against the crystal
as I reached across the table for the bowl of salt
for protection just in case you just never know
what could happen at these things


nice tail someone says at the party
and the whiskey sisters laugh wave
their hands dismissing second hand smoke
they clink their glasses and choose new homes
before the men are gone
hey honey you should be selling that thing
they’re preaching raspy

a swish of the tail
and the scales are tipped
losing her voice at the dress rehearsal
blinded through the veil and all that pure
white lace that someone said was cute
not for me she said but for “someone”
arms fold and refuse the baby

she’s taken
seaweed baths and thrown in
the copper wishes of strangers
she’s got holy water from the mission
and long looks from the locals
a plastic virgin taffeta in her closet
and something luminous underneath

she’s got a pre-approved application
and the key to her sisters
post office box home alone for
six hours a day she’ll leave
the weather channel on to warn her
of approaching storms red cars and
prison guards disguised as apologies

she’s reflecting
on the best costume she ever
made the perfect material the quilted fin
sea shell breasts a tiny waif wiggling
down the hallway
she asked him to keep the costume on
but he said she was crazy
no room in the room for her kind of kinky
he pulled out the fangs and told her
not to move

she’s dancing on the black keys and the whites
on the weekends on the sofa in the backyard
she’s swimming in the bathtub with the printout
with the journal where he searches
in the lyrics in the music in the silence
in the look-away in the trash can
in the breath she holds
not for him


it was a sweet fabricated life
sold to the kids the neighbors
the family and the PTA
fictional accounts written on applications
medical questionnaires census reports
and the publishers clearinghouse sweepstakes entry forms
you’ve been eliminated and I’m drained
hey and skinny oh yeah and sexy
never looked better never felt better never felt so
my insatiable worm has turned
hollowed cheeks flattened breasts deflated stomachs
thighs sucked smaller
slight of hand a flick of the wrist
hey what’s your real name
how tall are u and what do u weigh
do u have a pic and do ya wanna meet
I like what I see baby yeah you are
the real thing
aren’t you
no I never stuck my finger down my throat
I had perfected the gag reflex
it was automatic and effortless it surged
through me the first taste of poison
the burn in my throat
sitting a moment in my chest
oh baby just one more lingering moment
and then I’ll purge myself of you flush you out
and I will swear
you were never past my lips

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