June 21-June 27, 1999: Robert Wynne, Janet Buck and David Hunter Sutherland

Week of June 21-June 27, 1999

Robert WynneJanet Buckand David Hunter Sutherland

This week we’re featuring the three Judges of the 1999 PSH Poetry Contest.

Robert Wynne


Robert Wynne was raised on a farm in Northwest Oregon He’s been living in Southern California since 1982 Since 1996, he has been a Co-Director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a non-profit organization which supports poetry in the San Fernando Valley He won the Academy of American Poets Award at Cal State Northridge in 1991 and 1994,  received the 1997 Masters Poetry Prize and won the 1998 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest In addition to serving as one of 2 judges for the 1998 Academy of American Poets Award at CSUN,  he judged the 1998 Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize He has edited,  or co-edited, and published 5 anthologies of poetry He is the author of 2 chapbooks: “Driving” (1997, The Inevitable Press) and “Patterns of Breathing” (1997, Mille Grazie Press) His work has appeared in magazines throughout the United States, including Solo, Poetry International, Two Rivers Review, Trestle Creek Review,  Spillway, Rattle, Fox Cry, Paper Radio, Blue Satellite, 51% and Zambomba He has read his poetry at The Austin International Poetry Festival, The San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival, The Ojai Arts Festival,  The Arcade Poetry Series, Chapman College, Mt St Mary’s College and many other Southern California venues He holds a B.A and an M.A in Creative Writing from Cal State Northridge, and he will complete his M.F.A in Creative Writing at Antioch University in June of 1999.

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

In The Square

It’s corn they’re after, pigeons enshrouding
my friend Genaro in a grey cloud, claws
pulling at his sleeves, blur of wings brushing
the length of his body Yellow stones raw
in his upturned palms, birds swarming and he
gives them life, casts them off so they can find
another here who’s spent a dollar fifty
to become a god Manna is cheap, the kind
they hock in Venice But these birds don’t mind They never look at the architecture,
the sky; they never look above the hands
that tender the next moment, so sure
the grey sea will buoy them, their beaks will catch
the offering Genaro stands, arms outstretched.

Still Life With Skyscrapers

The high rises rainbow
in the midday glare I’m downtown spending
another hour alone
in a crowd of people
searching for food My nails dig semicircles

inside balled fists I stare at these towers
framing each other
like apples and cheese
in a 17th century painting It’s lunch hour Everyone’s moving but me
I’m thinking about the way
sorrow orders my world,
how the Arco building
is a hunk of smoked gouda First Interstate a stalk of celery
waiting for a bloody Mary I have never loved anyone

who could soothe this ache
in my neck I look up anyway
like I could reorganize these buildings
into a meal, something big enough
to satisfy me, something
I could reach out and snatch
from the sky.

(state your name) in america

this office is a 30-story smoked glass
aquarium filled with ink
papers float across each desk
toward 5 o’clock
thick waves roll over
the sleeping creatures
that live here
in 8-hour increments
and when the day’s work is shredded
when the tanks on our backs
are almost empty
we decompress in the breakroom
drink coffee and swim home

at night
i dream of colors
painting my eyes
brown i am the soil
purple i am an orchid
green i am a redwood
grey i am a tornado
yellow i am icarus
orange i am a number-two pencil
white another day

at the bus stop yesterday
a guy came up and asked me
for a quarter
i asked him
what he wanted it for
he said he was going
to spin it on the sidewalk
then stand by and see
how long it took
for someone to pick it up
he said the last one
stayed there for about
fifteen minutes

(originally appeared in The Northridge Review-Spring 1992)

Sweet Renaissance

Red m&m’s fall naked from the sky into my
Upside down umbrella, fat peanut
Butter filled candies
Things have been weird lately, cows
Hatching eggs, entire cultures
Incinerating spontaneously,
Stained sheets of

Paper coming clean despite
Oscillations of lust by lawyers
Emerging from harvard and the
Mcminnville institute of theology
Ornithology is a dying field Nothing can fly in this emulsified air
Young politicians in training are
Only able to think simply: cover
Up your vulnerable areas,
Repress your desires,

Green treats hail down,
Enshrouding all in a confectionery cloud No one goes to work,
Instead they stay home, rediscover
Their lost sensuality, themselves A sexual renaissance spreads,
Leaving the politicians alone, finally proven useless Someone laughs as I refill my umbrella
(originally appeared in The Northridge Review-Fall 1991)

Blind Spot

One a.m alone in bed and I’m done
with another day, done with
the quiet pry of God’s hands
working my flesh over and over
with gravity I am sagging into sleep
I’m done with beauty
auctioning every mirror God and I are going to have to live
with this body He gave me
I comb my hair He blows it into my eyes I slip into a silk shirt He soaks me to the skin Wind and rain are the lips of this world,

and every day I cock my head
sideways, turn an ear up
and listen like an expectant lover Tell me what I want I want God

to give my reflection back I want to recognize myself,
want beauty’s blind spot
to be just big enough for everyone I want to look over my shoulder
and see the woman I love

laughing at how silly we’ve been Want to sink so far into the covers
all I see is her next to me,
lids closed over eyes
rushing back and forth
between worlds.

Pantoum For Brenda

Our bed is a tongue made of fire
The object is never to sleep
Our clock speaks of time like a liar
What fits in our fingers we keep

The object is never to sleep
We tear feather pillows and scream
What fits in our fingers we keep
We fly awake into a dream

We tear feather pillows and scream
From inside the lungs of a bird
We fly awake into a dream
If only our cries could be heard

From inside the lungs of a bird
We sing of the flight that we crave
If only our cries could be heard
We’d still never want to be saved

We sing of the flight that we crave
Our bed is a short-sheeted cloud
We’d still never want to be saved
We’re over the heads of the crowd

Our bed is a short-sheeted cloud
We’ve cornered the market on high
We’re over the heads of the crowd
We even look down on the sky

We’ve cornered the market on high
The sun is so close it’s inside us
We even look down on the sky
Day and night lie down beside us

The sun is so close it’s inside us
Our clock speaks of time like a liar
Day and night lie down beside us
Our bed is a tongue made of fire

Janet I Buck


Janet Buck teaches writing and literature at the college level Her poetry, humor, and essays have appeared in The Pittsburgh Quarterly, The Melic Review, Sapphire Magazine, The Recursive Angel, Southern Ocean Review, Lynx: Poetry from Bath, Apples & Oranges, Oranges & Apples, The Rose & Thorn, San Francisco Salvo,  Poetry Super Highway, Poetik License, Mind Fire, Astrophysicist?s Tango Partner Speaks, Perihelion, Oracle, Poetry Motel, Feminista!,  Calliope, The Beaded Strand, New Thought Journal, Medicinal Purposes,  2River View, Kimera, Free Cuisinart, In Motion, Athens City Times,  Conspire, Idling, remark, BeeHive, Gravity, AfterNoon, A Writer’s Choice, Niederngasse, Shades of December, Maelstrom, The Oracular Tree, Red Booth Review, Poetry Heaven, Tintern Abbey, Arkham,  hoursbecomedays, The Artful Mind, Oatmeal & Poetry, Black Rose Blooming, Apollo Online, Masquerade, Pigs ‘n Poets, Savoy, The Poet’s Edge, Allegory, GreenCross, Online Writer, Poetry Cafe,  Oblique, Locust Magazine, The Poetry Kit, Pyrowords, Vortex, Ceteris Paribus, The Suisun Valley Review, Illya’s Honey, Fires of Autumn,  Orbital Revolution, A Little Poetry, Dead Letters, King Log, Peshekee Review, The Green Tricycle, Pogonip, Chimeric, Poetry Repair Shop,  3:00 AM Magazine, Wired Art from Wired Hearts, and hundreds of journals world-wide.

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by
Janet I Buck and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

In Search of Grace

The movie* played liked battered tapes;
I was filling in its wings Starring rugged Robert Redford,
pieces of a little girl Her name was “Grace” (ironically)
in search of all her grace removed The horse (called Pilgrim)
once a stallion fixed for hope Camera jolts from hooves to feet–
the nervous twitch of realize
cutting through a Hallmark card

Post-accident in waiting rooms:
emotion, stretching trampolines
on bongo drums without a score Post-amputation’s horror flick
in solopsistic monologues I saw my own life screaming there:
wondered how my parents coped
with walls like wax on balance beams I watched her touch her brace with eyes–
practice climbing normal stairs
Lament epiphanies of shame
that halter motion’s syllables
Panting breaths of confidence
work their way through
softened scars, but never
do explain their points–
arrows on a weather vane
with targets of imbedded skies Ipso facto accident that almost
put a horse to sleep
Together in a stinking stable
scratching suffer’s fingernails
against the promise of the light
*The Horse Whisperer, starring Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas, 1998.

Emmanuel with an Edge

How do you tell a six-year-old girl
she is about to lose a leg?
Without ungluing staid repose
near tigers snatching motion’s child You don’t You didn’t Razor rape too deep to share I remember the ethered rag–
nauseated rage in place
of summer’s blushing lemonade Flesh beneath a body cast
to quell the fire of wanton youth Rigor mortis isn’t Latin;
no, it’s simply platitudes Strung like lights on Christmas trees One goes pop–the others simply follow suit
A hospital named “Emmanuel”
with hollow halls in brittle white
smelled of clear ammonia ice Well, Christmas carols left a hole;
prayer did not alter loss Like feeding Milk Duds to a dog,
fate’s caramel was melted down;
no one brushed honesty’s clamoring teeth Shriners brought in big balloons,
teddy bears to decorate sheer oven angst
I wanted kites of legs instead
and no one could accommodate
The atrophy of bleeding souls
would someday turn to fountain pens It’s little wonder why I sing
with vocal chords that gasp for air
as if the tune is near collapse Off-key odd (just born that way
does and doesn’t lighten loads) I remember silence most of all
Its presence was a satin Satan
ironed like a pillow case.

Popped Umbrellas

Since my first marriage
had the flavor of old bubble gum Since my second was musical
chairs of a prison camp
The only treeline being that
of need and deep sea dire
depressing tides where smiles
broke rules and were not tolerated,
where temples of tempers
stole cushions from hearts
and sex went solo, sadly enough
I had a number of serious
sentence fragments
when it came to willing Of course, when love drifts by,
you jump on without much choice,
like a moving sidewalk
that jets toward joy
you just can?t stop Dread’s designated driver
gets drunk and you don?t mind much Old brown boxes of sour fairy tales
are overdue library books
in the back seat of an old sedan,
so you return them shyly
and proceed as hummingbirds
that respect the flutter
of passion’s heated wings
Love?s hieroglyphics
are kin to honeydew:
you just sense when
the season is right and slit it
when the moment strikes And we did Touchdowns came so naturally Umbrellas popping to meet clean rain.

A Klee in Coal

***Everything vanishes around me, and works are born as if out of the void
graphic fruits fall off My hand has become the obedient instrument of a
remote will ***

.Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Art is a protest rally dressed up right
in stanzas of silk negligees Emotion’s fleas resist the lift Serrated razors on the edge
like rust in silencers of guns My absent leg, a broken crayon
under feet of pick-up trucks Disabled’s coal–my private Klee:
sand between my missing toes
and Stonehenge scabs of surgery I have no palettes of color,
no genius but blood–
well-earned–still blood,
no better, no worse than runs
through veins of wounded deer I crave, at times, Fushia artsy
in corners of a coffeehouse
or roses with their perfect stems
in fridges of a flower shop
No Flaubert, No Oscar Wilde,
my Ravens have no regal grace Faith and candor work together–
slaughter meat of luckless fate
and package it for grocery stores I cannot write in bright Picassos
nor pretend my bitter pen is
bon vivants that pick sweet petals
from harmonies of motion?s waltz Jolly Green Giants of giggling beans
remain in cans of cupboards shut Humor has an acid edge–
pivots me away from dark:
a fleeting rainbow centered in a hail storm,
I pencil gray the salty sweat
and stretch bequeathed by difference fire.

Insurance Cards

At 80+ their charts
were filled
with big black bats
and suffer’s dust A stopping traffic
kind of scene where
waiting rooms
were factories
with bright red lights
announcing mortal’s
train was close His right arm
was aching
for its missing bones;
her left was gone;
they were joined
like two thin wings
of monarchs on
Theirs–a secret, 
vivid light–all but
blinded poverty, left
thick lessons in our palms Puzzle pieces of a loss
became sweet fruit
for cherish pie Holding hands
with half an arm–
exploring threads
of passion’s quilt with
very unexpected squares Rubbing stumps
like kindling for
compassion’s fire–
two twins attached
by tragedy with
nothing more than
twinkling eyes for updates
on insurance cards.

David Hunter Sutherland


David Sutherland received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University His books of poetry include full-length collections “Between Absolutes”, and “Steel Umbrellas”-scheduled to be released this summer by Archer Books/Cadmus Editions and several chapbooks His poems have appeared in The Reader (Oxford University Press),  The American Literary Review, The Hollins Critic, The Midwest Quarterly, The Northern Micihgan Journal, and other journals,  he has received The Rhysling Award, The Small Press Writer’s Award,  The Hudson Valley Poetry Award and several Pushcart Nominations in Poetry Presently he is Managing Editor for the Internet based publication “Recursive Angel”.

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by
David Hunter Sutherland and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Tierce la Umbra

(For Aries)

Mother Nature is up from the crotch
Vengeful, even toothed, drip drip drip And the vernal has furnished a season
With elm and redwood and spruce But you are content among thorns,
Weeds in your tool-belt, bramble for hair Enough winter, soften your bark
Let the backwash of salts from pavement
Turn sand to soil, soil to earth Move, trust mistakes
A handful of twigs, an outcrop of stubble,
A weed or stump of desire
Are a season’s debris Now spring clouds
Burst their canopy of waters
Into this tableland of dreams, dreams
That portend the power of gods or demons For in a field at dusk the chirp of a thousand
Leapers in a phase entanglement
Kneel to pray-talk-pray, their percussion
A river’s metronome times tide and wave
As minnows dance in shallow pools, 
And bees hum in a algorithm whose mesh
On mesh takes orbit and leaves
In a penultimate coda set free
So should you wake at some distant point
All probabilities spent to a wisp of life Blow past this garden where a child
Bawls for its mother, fancy that.

Gate of Heavenly Peace

Zedong declares a republic; red guards,
riots, protests of a motif
ordered in crayon and bloodied soil
And bodies are falling everywhere,
Tiang, closest to Liu, like a Daedalus
flies across a stretch of wall, 

others like the over-extended leaves
of the Red Spider tree, fold
in this early spring
In Xi’an as in Beijing ghosts take sides;
the premier, arrogant, haunting, grim,
the other, the official version

Tonight the body count begins:
Qiao Shi, Hu Yung, Deng Mao
children of a blaze burn like

echoes of the Nazi Reichstag “We are leaving the dead behind, 
the pitiless, the damned, the forgotten ”

But somehow you will always be with me Somewhere where the extent of casualties
newsreels into empty space,

where our bed of rice still steams
and our land of seasons change
and this cup of jasmine simmers.

Attilas of 7th Avenue

Poverty and youth as fodder for the masses
Is a mouth of missing teeth, its seems destitute

To gum what stands little chance of being swallowed
Frail at birth the runt as vestigial is cast

Out of brood, out of pocket, as if survival was a spring
Song released from a winter’s frozen trance and born

To stagger out into its sunlight then melt (Life makes haste, love lays waste)

One can decide against all limits
Transcend belief, judgement or morale, but must swear

With certainty that it was us or them I have always felt it a choice, always known the better

Part of valor concedes to reason As did the ancient
Tibetans ravaged by neighbor countries, watch its kingdom
.fall From Nepal a heart-shaped head, strewn beads and bitter spices
.Now similarly these youth
.before me, 
.a pack of 7th Avenue vandals, could so quickly
.one to forget a peace that
.brushes past like a breeze, then degenerates into a
.subway’s squeal
.of brake and rattle
One surrenders in thinking, 
Becomes khan to an infanta whose hopes grow
on pavement, 
Lips on rail, 
Remains sullied at a turnstile’s lopping refrain,
“Hark the herald angels sing “


The touch stone
of our hunger:
clenched teeth, lips,
rhythm of senses

and its taste, salty
roe-like from the curing —
a battle field or butcher’s block
as livid as the rib’s

elan vital or nape’s
passion crust Put it away, put it away —
and we devour it

the shin, the flank, 
the cut boiled from center
sizzling on steel
On a bone china plate
the grist of its hardened core,
hands over its fire

eyes over its soul
a smattering of ash
along the stomach’s pit
In the rarer moments,
reflection, empathy’s
raison d’etre, o madness
leave the bone

of youth for incision
pare your muscle grain
from tallow thick mumblings,
hard and fast

down the throat, consume
each fold in mana,
(full on the lips)
live as promiscuous

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