March 8-14, 1999: Hope Alvarado and Michael Rothenberg

Week of March 8-March 14, 1999

Hope Alvarado and Michael Rothenberg

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Hope Alvarado


Hope Alvarado lives in Laguna Beach, California Her poetry has appeared in Blue Satellite and Caffeine Magazine.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Hope Alvarado and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

For Haiku

1 Sorry, I didn’t see
you, ’cause I was too busy
looking at the moon
2 Salted dermis-touched
to metal Fingers graze jaw A small flame kindles
3 I hit the ground hard
grieving and falling in love Slivers of the moon
4 All these moths are drawn
to even a waning glow Will you tend the flame?

5 A gravid moon yields–
before sharp, scythed horizon The sky is empy.


I This is how a ferret takes a bird–
It tears a hole in the breast, then it crawls inside and chews,
eats even the bones It doesn’t stop, until the bird is hollow
II Now, there’s a place in my heart for you
III You broke the edges from my tongue My teeth
are in your pocket My lips, have lost all color
I will not ask you again

IV There is a scar here, 
on my belly It is the length of my open palm
But you already know this, 
you have seen me naked
V You have all the power.

Once Poisoned

I read labels, calculate the ratio of fat grams
to calories, check for dents and expiration I shop only
when I can avoid the influence of the moon
Have I eaten this before? And, did it make me sick
or change the color of my eyes? If I put it in my cart,
will it fall out, smash, and roll derry down the aisle?

I go by every row There are too many choices I look, I taste, I throw away Rarely clean my plate Don’t eat
anything blue I have forgotten how to swallow Children
are starving because of me
I lived with a man from Wisconsin He taught me where to
stroke a cow so that it would lick my hand I have eaten tongue

“They make cheese there “, was the first thing I said when we met Cheese is mostly fat The moon, really is made of cheese
I am afraid of the moon
After a big lunch, my sister and I don our red capes, raise our arms and
up the escalator at Macy’s We are on our way to the ladies lounge, 
thankful that we are no longer tethered
We go to the beauty supply, where I get stuff
that keeps my hair from falling out when I don’t eat enough
meat We decide that, “ten thin tin things”, said ten times, is better
“tea tree oil”, for maintaining a flexible jaw
“Ten thin tin things”, said ten times, is better than “tea tree oil”
for maintaining a flexible jaw
My sister is too skinny Her breasts are bigger than mine

I do fifty-two floors on the Stair-master It tells me that I have
one-thousand, two-hundred and fifteen kilowatts, I have burned
three-hundred and eighty-two bridges It counts the stairs I climb, 
for every story A firm butt and an aerobic heart are the only things I
When I leave the market, all I buy are a few pieces of fruit
and some bottled water.

Michael Rothenberg


A resident of Pacifica, CA My poems have appeared in Sycamore Review, Exquisite Corpse, Berkeley Poetry Review, Lungfull!, Mudlark,  Pearl, Pyrowords, Rockhurst Review, Snakeskin, Zuzu’s Petals,  and many other publications I am editor and publisher of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else: I am most recently editor of Overtime, Selected Poems by Philip Whalen due out with Viking Penguin in 1999

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Michael Rothenberg and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


Calls from that world!
Arguments of that world!
Fingers probe the fence
Music heard from a balcony


Dip a bucket in the river
Clear water and mud mix
Tilt the bucket over stones
Pieces of a dream float by
Bark on a river

I hear footsteps
A woman in high heels
Huge nothing
Earth smells


In easy chairs, my analyst and I
He wants to know if I’ll forgive the dead
Will the dead stop dying?
And what about wildflowers?
He asks, you like flowers don’t you?


Earth smells
Huge nothing

No bagels
or sky of dried salami
or pink smoked salmon

Huge nothing


The only way out of the forest is on foot
So quiet in the forest
Earth smells

Isabella dances
clapping the dirt with her sandals
And swooning
I swore as a teenager I’d never swoon

Black high heels

Earth smells
Leaf mulch
Crazy with love of plankton
Rotted wood
Beached sea skeletons
Succulents on bluffs tanned by sea wind


Then I fall as in a real dream
Everything precious
but I can’t hold anything

Calls from that world!
Argument of that world into this!
And the wound between
made of nothing I’m made of
Crossing from that world
wakes me out of this


There’s something clever about falling
something scientific

And why are there seagulls and stars here
boats with full sails, flags and armies?

Why are there children falling without a sound
between trees in the forest
between building in the city
between loving arms?

Dance! Isabella, dance!
The lilies in the fountain are yellow
Pennies glint on blue tiles
under gold bellies of fish

Earth smells


Which way is north?
I could go south

Forest noises don’t bother me
At night the noise especially clear
When I step on a branch it’s like ice cracking
all the way to the edge of moonlight
At night there’s nothing to see
except moonlight and the mountains
the moon makes out of tree tops
I wouldn’t want to see anything else
Except fire, I could watch a fire
Feed it sticks and branches until morning
But night surrounding fire is frightening
I’ll head east By morning find
An eastern city, a telephone
I’ll have breakfast

This world!

You could be in the middle of a forest
minding your own business
and an airplane falls and kills you
You’re hit by radio waves
from six thousand miles in any direction

This world!
A crocodile gnawing
on the tail of a brontosaurus

Pain, you can have it, keep the change
When I was 18, I wanted to save the world
People laughed
I thought, what’s so funny
Why not save the world?

Huge nothing
Me and the bears


Skeletons beaded on a rope
Shark at my doorstep
Sky heavy with piranha


All I wanted to do in life was travel

And what would I have if I had what I wanted?
A map
Seashell necklace
A sailing ship
Encouragement from friends
A post office in every port
But I can’t raise the anchor


Earth smells
Empty bottles and bones
There isn’t cargo the sea can carry forever


And a shallow set of footprints
as I go from this world into that!

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