March 26-April 1, 2001: Rachelle Markley and Michael Paul


week of March 26-April 1, 2001

Rachelle Markley and Michael Paul

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Rachelle Markley

Bio (auto)

My name is Rachelle Markley I live, work and write in the middle of the urban desert of Phoenix, Arizona I am currently enrolled in the creative writing program at Phoenix College I recently won an honorable mention in the Maricopa Community Colleges 2000-01 Creative Writing Competition for my poem When Women are Invisible.

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Rachelle Markley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Letting Go of Gravity

I never knew about the tattoos, 
one for each shoulder, 
black-green brands–Scarred for life
by your own name

On the day of your high school graduation
you answered the door
sleeveless (exposed)
not quite ready (for me)

Maybe this was the day I realized
we had finally traveled all the way apart
Half of your blood is the same
as half of mine The other half, 

so foreign that I cannot even fathom
where you came from
I wonder if our knowing each other
was used up on your childhood

When you were small
and yellow-haired like me
we wandered the aisles of supermarkets
with you perched in a red basket seat

pointing sticky fingers and pleading your case
for chocolates or yoyos to my adult arbitration
In the checkout line strangers mistook you
for the perfect continuation of me

I almost never explained
Now, when we are mistaken for strangers, 
I wait for you to explain
Was that really you?

That small girl cocooned in my lap, 
held to me by words, the weight of Babar, 
convinced by a cunning black cat in a striped hat, 
transfixed by yellow stars on a flat blue sky

While I offered these stories
I hid my gratitude
in the moist curve of your neck
I had the chance

I could make you into me
Goodnight moon
Let’s face it, 
I could never have produced you

We were born on different planets
In my continuing orbit away from you, 
I’ve learned the moon is real
It’s the sun that’s made of paper–

point of gravity–
fragile center–


In my mother’s eyes
reflections of children
grown tall and paper thin Still and shiny memories
floating through dust and years
catching in the cracks of time Shadows of husbands
drifting off like tumbleweeds Rolling into other destinies She busies herself clinging
to the past like dust on glass
His hard edges blur, my father
blowing in like a storm, settling
on the problems at hand, which
are always many A careful study
in calculated conservation Reminiscence
doled out in tiny rations
They watch
from frames on my night table,
wearing smiles they no longer own They are facing each other
for conversation While I sleep
their whispered contradictions of
what will become of me
fall like blue rain
She breathes in my blood He walks in my bones I watch them marking territory
on my face under yellow morning light Sometimes they bump into each other
right behind my eyes
I cling to the family tree,
trying not to look up
at how the leaves above
are browning at the edges,
and beginning to crumble.

Paying Tribute

I did it as a reminder I surround myself with mementos
of your dying as much as your living I remember the stink of your
disintegration drifting like smoke
as I sat with your mother discussing
her red toenails How I fell

into the feathered nest of your family!
At first their wings seemed so small,
too brittle to hold my desolate heart,
bloated with just more grief They adopted my version of you,
made space in family albums,
created the wife you always wanted
It was easier when you slept,
when your need for me was distant Then we could wear our real faces
etched with pain, and discuss those toenails,
and your beloved tractors, and how sometimes
we forgot to breathe Then you would wake,
and your eyes reached for some knowing,
until your need could escape
for only me to catch
So I did it Today
I painted my toenails red As a reminder.

Michael Paul

Bio (auto)

Michael Paul is a figment of his own imagination  An award winning visual artist whose training included a time under abstract expressionist painter Elsa Warner, and an even shorter period as student at Chouinard Art Institute  Michael’s work was represented by Jim Settle’s Art Gallery in Laguna Beach and The Stable Art Gallery in Fullerton  Both now defunct  His paintings and drawings hang on the walls of several serious collectors  All hopefully still living  In the 80’s Michael detoured from art into music, as the drummer for a garage band  Since 1996, Michael has been a staple figure in the Orange County poetry scene, and has read his work at venues from San Diego to San Francisco  With four chapbooks in print — Radio Cats (with Daniel McGinn), Wanderer, and Collage (all from the Inevitable Press), Bird Interpretations (with Amelie Frank) from Cassowary Press, and a fifth chapbook entitled The Turning Point, forthcoming from FarStarFire Press in May of 2001, which will be available from  Michael’s poems have appeared in anthologies including the Valley Contemporary Poets 2000, and in literary magazines including Blue Satellite, FTS, Spillway, The Lummox Journal, and Pearl  His poem “Dear Doctor” was nominated for the 2001 Pushcart Prize  Michael Paul is curator and co-director of the Tebot Bach Reading Series in Huntington Beach  The other directors are: Mifanwy Kaiser, Mindy Nettifee, Paul Suntup, and Victor Infante, and together they are popularly known as “the five penny poets ”  Why?  No one really knows.

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Michael Paul and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Directions to the Next World
(for Brendan Constantine)

Follow the crows who’ve finished
the day shift, roughly north-west
The crows follow women in severe suits,
their chorus of stilletos  In the trees

the chirping of smaller birds
sounds exactly like adding machines
The women follow repentant gunmen,
who, taking parables very literally,

amputate their trigger fingers Follow the itch in their phantom digits

until you come to the bodhisattva
with his back to you, by a tree
Approach slowly and press your question
against him, until your dark question

has turned white as an insistent thumb,
jammed against the doorbell of heaven.

Abductee Gothic
(for Victor Infante)

Ever since Miss Hepplewhite
was hoisted aboard the mothership
to be probed by cold, six-fingered scientists
using hideous instruments,
she refuses to tend her geraniums
of a summer’s afternoon Her garden’s gone to seed
Ever since that hatch cracked open
and the blue light of the tractor beam
over-rode the sun’s glow, she avoids
the out-of-doors altogether
The support group doesn’t begrudge
coming to her house Each one understands Each one bears identical scars
Have you ever been raped, burgled, or psychically buggered
by some thing masquerading as a human being?  
Then you too understand why Hepplewhite’s heart
has all the air-tight integrity
of a ransacked castle
Lately, she reads subtexts everywhere;
stares at the loops and whorls
of the wood
of her tables and doors;
at the day-glo paisley phosphenes
dancing on the insides of her eyelids;
at the spaces between the letters
of the daily news   

Lately, she’s afraid they might return,
afraid to live her life  She watches
and waits, always  
keeping one eye cocked
toward the now suspicious skies.

What Language Is This?

In my sister’s dreams redemption comes
in the form of a pickup truck In mine, my father, dead 12 years,

drives a yellow bus to the shore
where bilingual fish explain
all secret knowledge
(In mother’s dream Christ appears to her
after the pattern of Yahweh disclosing
his backside to Moses,

but it doesn’t involve vehicles;
just a tree, a red flannel shirt
and dungarees )  Cars are omens

in my wife’s dreams, their portent
depending on make, mileage,
Kelly Blue Book value, but above all —

who is driving the late model
augury?  Who drives my sister’s pickup,
while she pulls the walking wounded

over the tailgate into safety?
And who could possibly imagine
my surprise when the folding door

hissed open in my dream and the driver
was my Dad, finally come to take me
to the place where the real answers were.

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