October 8-14, 2001: Jendi Reiter and Bess Kemp

week of October 8-14, 2001

Jendi Reiter
Bess Kemp

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Jendi Reiter

Bio (auto)

I am an editor and ex-lawyer living in NYC with my husband and too many books  My work has appeared in such publications as Poetry, The New Criterion, and Best American Poetry 1990 Check out my website at www.jendireiter.com

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

St Andrew’s Retreat House

wasn’t our invention,
unless in Eden

the chosen apple
changed all
things bestial
Burnished rooster, red
against the grey dead-
wood thicket, crowed

all day alone trumpeting
the same proud crying
ritual of war or mating

while the black hens
tiptoed like nuns
behind the kitchens

where sisters, vowed
to silence, bowed
their heads over stewed

chicken dinner The weathered plaster
holy mother

was chained to a tree
for security
against thieves and gravity
The cock crowed
for the third or twenty-third
time and no one said a word
(published in U.S Catholic)

Chuang Tzu’s Dream

All this morning I dreamed I was awake
and then awoke to find I’d been sleeping,
time and again The world we know
is a butterfly’s dream
yet Nature squanders millions of golden wings
in a single tempest
And in another dark dream,
I was searching for a book of deeds
in an official hall
near demolition — such a place
as taunts me with a familiarity
just beyond reach, like the knowledge
of how to awaken when I know I’m dreaming —
but only moths spiraled upwards
from each cast-off chest I could not read them, and yet I knew
their tissue-paper wings
bore all that could be written
away into the opaque air
Ah, in the vacuum of space
the earth is suspended
like an audience’s disbelief To any eyes out there it might appear
to rest on nothing, to descend from nothing
but a dark infinity
curved like the rare arc of a well-lived life Yet, like an insomniac’s eyes,
this curve cannot stay closed:
the boundaries of space perhaps forever
fly faster and faster apart
from its unknown center A cloud of butterfly planets
flung forth by Nature
into perishing ice, flame or forest We struggle in a dream uncompleted
and wake, we imagine,
only because some greater mind
(at least for now) sustains the world’s illusion
(published in The Saint Ann’s Review)

A Talent for Sadness

Some women would remember the rain
pelting the cobblestones of a French city without consequences,
like the skitter of fingernails across a lover’s back
in the unfamiliar iron bed, the narrow mattress
stripped clear of memory, white as dawn All those times when daring
to do a thing meant more than the very feeling
Others would picture the steam afterwards
rising from shared cups of bitter chocolate,
how it left curls of mist like soft locks of hair
on the windows closed against winter These women would hold themselves, later,
rubbing their arms as if before a fire,
wrapped in the sweet regret of evaporated warmth
And there are others, not to be forgotten,
who already know what they could learn
from the taste and tangle of pure bodies,
the aching places
salt-slippery as Chinese mushrooms,
rubbed skinless like crushed red berries
The roses in the drained bottle are already bowing,
bending, it seems, under a thin shaft of light,
red petals edged with a brown craquelure,
like tendrils of hair, around the folded center
Such last women
travel, or don’t travel Night turns into day, each time There may be
a warm head on the pillow beside them,
on a separate pillow No one can stop them from dying
with their secret: Life’s all about knowing
the kind of loss you have a talent for
(published in Cider Press Review)

Bess Kemp

Bio (auto)

Bess is a California resident and editor of the on-line poetry magazine Some Words Poetry http://www.somewords.winisp.net/ Her poetry has appeared in PSH, Ariga, Medicinal Purposes, (this) Poetry Site, Thunder Sandwich, Disquieting Muses among many others, and is scheduled to next appear in The Poetry Repair Shop and No Alibis

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

The Man at 7-11

the man at 7-11
wears a turban
and speaks
with a very thick accent

.looks down and away
when they buy their

.knows they don’t trust him
and think he is one of THEM

.has lived here for
many years and is
grateful to be in America

.will go home to find
“sand-nigger” spray painted
on his driveway .


the blackened skyline
is weeping ash and rain
for sorrows too numerous
to count
it all begins and ends
in the clouds
too high to see to ground
close enough to the sun
to melt like

but the taste
will never be

She Gets Smaller

he comes in
angry again
her face makes
the perfect
target for release
she is surprised
but not shocked
this is life with its
black eyes
cut lips
broken bones
she has learned
not to cry
he gets angrier
she has learned
not to leave
he will find her
she has learned
to be very afraid
and she better show it
or he will think
she is defiant
she has learned
to live in hell
and not complain
she hasn’t yet learned
how to disappear

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