April 21-27, 2003: Christopher Soden and Donald Ryburn

week of April 21-27, 2003

Christopher Soden and Donald Ryburn

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Christopher Soden

Bio (auto)

A native Texan, Christopher Stephen Soden has been pursuing his vocation as a poet now for over 25 years, recently branching out into performance pieces and play-writing He majored in English at Southern Methodist University where he was poetry editor of the student literary magazine: Espejo In December he was accepted into Vermont College’s MFA Program in Writing He is President of The Dallas Poets Community, a workshop that seeks to advance the cause, expression and appreciation of poetry He has been honored by The Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion Series, Fourth Unity, Distinguished Poets of Dallas, Richland College and The artsDFW Poetry Contest, among others His work has appeared in Gertrude, WordWrights!, The Chiron Review, The Dallas Review, Borderlands, New Texas 2002 and The James White Review It can also be found in the anthologies: Blood Offerings, Other Testaments, Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians, Above Us Only Sky, Touch of Eros, A Certain Touch and Best of Texas Writing 2 He lives in Plano, Texas and likes to spend his leisure time doing crosswords, singing with the radio, taking long, hot showers, eating out, sleeeeping, going to movies and making sock monkeys.

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

Between Frog Princes

I count our time apart since before
our first collusion and after
the sunny cold Christmas morning
I ran out to your car, still wearing
my robe of black silk Inappropriate
demeanor for a sovereign, perhaps
Still though, what else could I
have done, knowing you were leaving
alone, to spend the holiday balance
with your mother, viable queen
of wind and tide?

The cool summer moon has ascended
over the castle, and I take respite
supposing your eyes are watching
the same moon Solitary dangle
I strip by the pool and sing
the long low raspy songs
of frog hunger, sometimes playing
my oboe, reflective and bleak Amongst the alleys and hills
and brooks our peasant brothers
add their aching boy harmony
Gradually the petals of the orchid
you tasted split and capitulate,
and I am there, again, suddenly,
lost in a lather of frosty stars
and simmering champagne, sin
and error pining from the radio
And you and I, frail and vigorous
in our wanting, desire keen
and negotiable as a blade
across the open palm,
pummeled with the insistent
rhythm of unmistakable craving
Princesses do not comprehend
the tender hide beneath our stripes
and linen, damp and swarthy,
the way our mouths part
as croak music burbles
from the transformation of hope
There is a secret kingdom,
Terry, Frog Prince of Giddings,
where you will find grieving ends
and bruises soothed and sutures
administered with careful index
and thumb tips, and you are

always welcome There is
drought here, and every night
I do the rain dance (the one
every black tadpole knows)
but it is just not the same.


When God was a boy every season
had its taste and His fingers and palms
caressed the world’s marvels with arrogance
and bliss: sticky root and the spider’s
lush coat, the water’s brief memory and rapture
in a jackdaw’s abandoned nest He slept

in hyacinth clusters or cool sand or dry prairie
grass that tickled His ears and spoke
to him all the night The rain had quit
nine days when he found a shuddering
brook and joined the water as the elbow
joins a sleeve When he stood to break

its composure the air was a great song flowering
and unflowering the bagpipe of his lungs He traced the current till a Crush bottle shard
opened a new mouth at the bottom
of His foot He didn’t notice till his pause
to feed and piss, then sat and stroked

the new autumn quarter moon, wincing
at the warm bristle and chill Carefully
He removed the token from His sole,
and placed it on His tongue, shutting His eyes
to seal the memory It still hangs from

His key chain When He kneaded the clay
to shape us, He remembered how the talisman
had unlocked the channel of His private ocean:
the edge that brought Him to the start of gravity,
to sleep without assuaging, and used it to carve
our own eye slits, splitting them like husks
in the Spring.


Consider the discovery
of a green wool stocking,
untying it to find a small
jar of aromatic salve,
laced with exotic spices
for weary temples,

or Aberdeen Heather Soap
for discouragement,
or a bottled blizzard
for dwindling faith Consider the burden
of hours lifted, past
mistakes evaporating
like steam
A ceramic elephant falls
and shatters to reveal
sticky raw brown opium,
or seeds of moonflowers,
or redeemable passage
on the Orient Express
A voice you can’t identify
on your message service
confesses, I had a dream
of flight
.Mama has kissed
you goodnight and you wake
to discover a naked boy
weeping, in the nursery
He comes from a place unknown
to you: second star to the right,
and straight on till morning You will help him reconcile
to his shadow, and he will
guide you in the discipline
of intuition and loft
You are sooty and daft
and remarkable You belong
to no one Listen Big Ben
is counting down to the end
of your sorrow Only just this
moment comes the changing hour,
The nursery window gapes The skyline of London awaits Your jig shakes loose
like a wet schnauzer You were not made to fall You can fly You can fly You can fly.

the hand i was dealt

i knew you in halls and tawdry yellow gloss
of first school days ashen sky of recess
before i understood words like queer sissy faggot
bruiser too cool for smarts while i failed
to comprehend the history of our transaction:
fathers conferring failure upon sons and sons
transmitting futility to other sons of living
up to our dicks repugnance of thinking
another boy had anything for you the hand
withdrawn the other lad forever backing away
smiling you spat the words of our estrangement
before realising i had made some kind of choice
i might say the clock and personal witness
have only vindicated me though what to make
of your clammy paw priming my languid manhood
under godâs cold mercury vapor angels
in parking lot of cruise park and rest
stop i could not begin to say


Pinocchio has left Geppetto for the splendid
teeming world of thunder and phenomena,
smoke and red buttons, lather of hops,
blind to the miracles swimming inside
his hobbly body, child of wings and bells,
bred of a blue air nymph and a woodcarver’s
despair He has found a job in the theatre,
feature performer amongst the marionettes Dancing with other puppets, the only
one that is not a sham, exactly, he is
surrounded by jointed dolls who began
as he did, as wood, but cannot truly
reason or act, learn or regret, only
echo the vibration of soul tremors,
druggy confection of red candy hearts We are privy to some sacred gag,
watching this dope, this enchanted
hunk of timber strutting and capering,
I got no strings to hold me down,
and know this is sad though we are
not sure why Time enough to find
the lonely place, with no constraint
or tether of those who will miss
our company if we must work late,
or bail us out of jail, or let us
know if we’re being selfish,
or unkind, or not getting enough sleep Time enough for this green stone
adrift in the cornerless realms
of black galaxies, to cut us loose
to the land of angels, goblins, sprites
where cold beauty and sparkly charm
waft upward like the songs of departed
immortals groping for God’s tender care What favor overtook Pinocchio when
that blue goddess stirred his molecules,
when stolid oak became sentient
to taste the exquisite misery
of insouciance, of wings and bells?
There are no strings on me.

Donald Ryburn

Bio (auto)

Donald Ryburn is the editor of 4*9*1—-Imagination He is a neo-native visionary artist/photographer He is co-author (with Aubrey) of the book Poetry Pathology His poetry and photography have appeared in hundreds of print journals, anthologies, and on-line zines, including Black Moon, 4*9*1, Poetry Motel, Pacific Coast Journal, Bitter Oleander, Onionhead,  and Art/Mag (print) and Poetry Super Highway, Poetry Tonight, Room Without Walls, India Journal,  Indie Journal, Archeflamboeth , Entropic, Grassroots Poetry, Electric Acorn, Wired Art For Wired Hearts, Bluff Magazine, /noserialmice, Some Words, Crystal Middlemas, Poetry Down-Under, The Poetry Kit, Poetry Life & Times (interview), Creative Voice, Vistula, The Miserere Review, Unlikely Stories, Lynx Poetry -Bath, England,  Marmsweb, Poetry! Yes! Now!, 7th-Circle, (on-line) He is a member of the Tvlvhvse Wokvkiye Ceremonial Grounds of the Mvskoke Nation

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


Ursula, I remember the shadows,
Ghosts of true human love
That lived in your beautiful, pale eyes

Ursula, I remember you said,
“Salamanders demanded the areolas of my breasts as last rites”
Before the firing squads of your father

Ursula, I remember the shower
Of bullets at dawn
The sounds of exploded flesh

Ursula, I remember a final unworthy breath

Ursula in Montepulciano

Ursula, I remember the velvet pepper
Of Montepulciano wine
On my tongue
As I drank from the precious stones of your navel

Ursula,  I remember these stones held images
Of ancient Germany
As if insects in amber
Suddenly alive

Ursula, we were not in Turkmenistan
Where no one is allowed to grow old
Or the black woods of your homeland
We were in Georgia
A place where diamonds mutated to steel
And love transcended distance
Became lost and afraid


stone’s voice;
night, alone
grape peels shaped as corks
float on the liquid of cocoons
death finds only the damp clothes
stone once wore
in a field of lilies
where he twirled an invisible beloved
in a harsh rain
iridescent green quetzal

Perfect Beauty

” .perfect beauty has nothing to say “
Carlos Pellicer

She became a quetzal,
Mute, beautiful, alive,
She refused the tomb of time,
As I, with the tongue of ten salamanders,
Imprisoned within stone,
Wait some nebulous magic,
To set me free,
In this room shredded by hope,
I listen to myself,
As I count fifteen Septembers,
She was so immaculate,
Her red feathers flamed down,
Art nouveau curves,
Spoke a language of truth,
In an ancient April wind

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