April 9-15, 2001: John Birkbeck and Janet Buck


week of April 9-15, 2001

John Birkbeck and Janet Buck

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John Birkbeck

Bio (auto)

I was a late bloomer, and had not published any poems until I was in my middle forties Since then I’ve had poems published in many small press magazines worldwide, as well as four books of poems I have another book due to be out at the end of March, and the title is, “Homeless At Home

For over thirty years I worked as a scientific illustrator for James Van Allen, the discoverer of the radiation belts that were named for him
I’ve a “Brag Sheet” at http://www.angelfire.com/ia/carmine which has a listing of my publications, and a recent likeness of me
My family legend has it that we’re descended from Lord Byron Other than a coming from a common genetic pool, and writing poems, he and I have very few things in common.

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

Chain Reaction

I had a yen for Rosie
but she had eyes for Jason
and he fancied Pam
while she had the hots for Peter
who wanted to be nude with Trude
and Trude pined for Paul
who had a thing for June
but she, in turn, was hot
to trot for Clem who was
completely unaware of anybody
except Heather– (all nymphed up
for the affections of Jake) and he
was in high rut for the attentions
of Sylvia, irreconsolable
because Jean-Luc had
slipped through her fingers
as he cast his net for Hillary
who was on heat for me;
and I– the pivotal link in
this chain of unrequited lust–
could reverse the flow
with a quick about-face
by setting upon Hillary, thence
each in turn, turns round and about,
thus making half of us happy
and the other half
worse off than before.

A Plentitude of Barbaras

The Barbaras, Januarians all,
were naturally drawn to me,
and since we were narcissistic,
had many things in common;
however, I could marry only one,
to the pissed-offiture of the rest
Our honeymoon bed was,
to say the least, a bit crowded;
hot disagreements ran rife,
as none of us had the same
waking-up times in the morning,
and I, being the only septuagenarian,
had to get up five times to pee
And we all wrote in iambics
in a forced rhyming scheme–
but doing it doggerell-style
soon made it all seem so mundane,
so we began taking up political
positions One of the Barbaras,
a free spirit, unhappily,
was the one who got away.


Sunken smirks and slow dope in
the air, too much time to spare–
macho drag queens, reeking and
hagged out creatures of night;

The new Breed hanging out
on the Ped Mall, drifting in
from interstate shitspots
or Chicago or Laredo or
other points beyond the
transcendental geographies
of No Place–

costumed up as Hell’s Angels
with Nazi tattoos, pierced ears
and noses and belly buttons
pretending to strum air guitars;
girlfriends in black and green
and orange and magenta hair
No melodrama, unselfconscious,
truly lost but okay with it, but
at least with style, with
imagination that even a
death culture’s jock combat forces
cannot quell or even terrify.

Janet Buck

Bio (auto)

Janet Buck’s poetry, poetics, and fiction have appeared in CrossConnect, The Melic Review, Kimera, Thunder Sandwich, Recursive Angel, In Motion, OffCourse, Samsara Quarterly, Big Bridge, The Paumanok Review, and a variety other print and internet publications  She is a two-time Pushcart Nominee, a recent recipient of The H.G Wells Award for Literary Excellence, and one of six winning poets in the Kota Press Anthology Contest   In December 1999, Newton’s Baby Press released her first print collection of poetry entitled Calamity’s Quilt   Three others have followed in its wake:  Reefs We Live, Bookmarks in a Hurricane, and Before the Rose Janet was one of ten U.S poets to be featured at the “One Heart, One World” Exhibit at the United Nations Exhibit Hall in New York City in April, 2000  In the year 2001, Buck’s poetry is scheduled to appear in The Montserrat Review, The Amercian Muse, The Carriage House Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Rockhurst Review, and dozens of journals world-wide
Before the Rose–Art Villa
Hot Links: Janet I Buck
Author’s Den
Active Amp.org–Features Janet I Buck
One World-One Heart Exhibit (click on “On Site Report” and scroll down to the
New York Exhibit; then click on “A message from one of the authors, Ms Janet
Art Villa

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

Behind Death’s Back

She was dying in one room The fan ticked as it turned,
a cuckoo clock that underlines
a moment’s spin Her muscles hanging from
wire hooks like slaughtered beef Grinding her teeth against the night,
pleased to the see her jade plants bloom Sweet corsages pinned to dawn,
aware of closing diaries
He was drinking in another one Keeping moats of distance full
to manage vicious destiny Silence did the talking now Sculling fins in rabid waves
gritty with the sight of blood Blackened seeds of ovaries
could be removed, but knives would
only stretch the pockets of an hour;
they didn’t promise permanence
“Just one jigger for the ride,”
his fingers told the bottle cap Like sharks can’t stop
their swimming rites, he paced
the hallway’s marble tomes  
Its checkered tiles, a chess board
made of red and black Grieving’s turn took too much time
to play its hand, stole what
pawns he owned in strength Loaded was a heavy drape
to draw across a blinding sun.

The Wet Dream

I wander down the dim-lit hall,
running my fingers over heirlooms
of bronze sepia framed in
the cheap glass of time,
its thickness understood but retreating
in its own relentless way Your face seems almost pasted on
above the camel’s hair coat,
waxed pink lips, high heels
to dig up shifting dirt Gray in wisps of baby’s breath
around the fading of the rose A pointed chin aimed upward
at cropped and ivory clouds You look, at first glance,
snooty and poised,
foundation over oatmeal flesh
But now that I am getting old,
I understand you stretched your neck
to the calm the ocean’s wrinkled foam,
a tired, scored black tire flap
to hide from mirrors of these storms Our youth, a wet dream there,
then gone, in quick seizure of blink
or shutter’s click Much the same as fish in lakes
that cast their marble eyes at suns
and disappear into the cold I wonder now if hours had orgasmic rites
worth writing down, living again–
how much our paltry jaded souls
recall the coming of the joy.

Measuring a Rotted Tooth

I watch you watch him
waste all cotton balls of clouds
drowning out the stinging hail
of grief embraced he can’t define Booze is like formaldehyde–
preserving soiled integrity,
pickling the rising sun Divorce’s smell–a failure clue–
blood clots in a pile of flour
our mothers taught us to knead
and serve in even slices of our strength His drunken state, a wallowing
where candor is a bug to squash
crawling up a hapless leg Anger is a grid to walk
and mirrors are a narrow ledge
You start the car;
it lurches in the morning’s famine Bottles roll from under seats They own his heart, his soul, his pulse Loving’s feckless entity
can’t buy it back,
cannot return a broken limb
to standing tree without
some dose of willingness He fumbles down the unlit hall Hands can’t find a simple
light switch on the wall I’ve been inside that submarine
where pounding cold is pressing in,
where migraines fill a coffee cup,
where tongues run fingers over flaws,
measuring a rotted tooth.

Beer Breath

Another day in ravaged
villages of dream This cannibal you cannot see,
but smell like busy hunting dogs “Tomorrow I will quit for sure!”
Just another country song–
your ears have heard its beat before Promise is a rhapsodist
buried in his leaving rites Every hour, you walk the tightrope
of his shakes  Mood swings
are an acrobat without
a tendon in its legs
Night is quite anonymous The bed, a canyon blowing dust Sleep, a traitor to the watch He fumbles for a can to pop
like anchors in a raging sea Giving is a gravy ladle
bending ’til its metal snaps Love has spilled another feather
from its cloth, stained
with semen of a tear A pillow, pickled baby’s breath
you save in case a rose returns.

Wire Feet

A tiny robin sits alone
on the ribs of a winter tree
as if it knows a heart
is packed inside that bark Its powdered wings
have mettle in their tenderness They dust the limbs respectfully,
as if they’re just piano legs
of music stored and waiting there Feet like leather-coated wire
on balance beams of seasons
turning somersaults
It makes a sign I listen to,
fingers rushing over Braille,
where bumps and touch
mean everything Uncanny in symbolic act,
chomping at this bit of spring,
the way I’m rushing sluggish days,
checking off the passing nights
until we meet and I am welcomed
to a mass where love
seems like an answered prayer
and honest art is never sent
to silent doom, dismissal’s room
All this grief seems obsolete My pen, a trill, a hummingbird,
pecking like a pulsing hammer
sizing grains of potent flower I have a set of parents now
who do not lean on crutches
of their 80 proof–
cradles of your shoulder blades
aren’t aiming toward that sacred,
seemly, sandy sense of plastic pearls
in shells that wash upon a beach.

In a Blink

Health and youth–two smug sites
worn like socks and suddenly
there’s all these holes
and grammar is arthritic joints–
their compositions delicate Suns, an orange–
moons, a mushroom
fingers didn’t pick in time–
cuticles are sore and sad
Our partners for the waltz of death,
a walker or a wooden cane The ol’ wet dream:
suddenly the dark is there,
the night so real,
sapphire on a swollen
knuckle clamoring for reckoning Pulse pounds toward
that final clot and
we are just deleted files,
if not for love we litter,
cast, and paint
upon a subway wall
Wind disarms a skeleton Bored birds peck
at the wood of that which was Leaves the aching wondering
if cheeks have gargled
liquid in the pouch of cloud,
if teeth were tuned piano keys If nuts and bolts of matter cliques
were drills beside a deadened nerve.

Pacing Rites

I remember her death from lacy youth,
where blossoms on an apple tree
made sauce and hope and time
was sugar in warm tea Where Cancer’s two stone syllables
always fell on other feet Black tiles on the bathroom floor
spelled elegance, the towels folded envelopes They were her hands like Ivory Soap
you wanted rubbing at your neck You counted on her pointed chin,
her skin of crepes some God
had slipped and shoved straight
in a deep disposal’s nettling grind
Booze made life a vagary and vagabond
that wandered grass without a care Inside the bottle throttled ghosts,
choked them temporarily Its lotion smoothed a swollen knuckle
flinching at a hanging nail Your pacing rites, like sharks
can’t stop their arrowed fins,
aware of brutal avalanche Dibbed in ether of your bourbon
looking for a pretty wig
on hollow baldness rumbling So what if these were borrowed clothes Its cashmere was so comfortable

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