September 27-October 3, 1999: Barbara Bales and Kay Day


week of September 27-October 3, 1999

Barbara Bales and Kay Day


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Barbara Bales


I live in Hawthorne, California 44 years old, mother of 4, grandmother of 2, divorced and just emerging from a few extraordinary years of poverty and hardship .but I am emerging I have been writing poems for thirty years and have pursued publication with some success in the past few years mostly online.

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

Listen to What the Whore Says

Listen to what the whore says:
“I am the ancient barfly,
“Playing pool with corpses,
“Here’s a dead man in your eye “

Frank and Marie, 60’s

a peek into the rumpus room:
the martini shaker
stuck to the table
meant it was a fine old night

if daddy wasn’t home,
the fight did not end his ship had hit the harbor
when those boots

pounded the porch,
when that bear
of a man burst
through the door
a welcome storm

in a drought
with cash & kisses
& sighs
that dropped on us kids,

til we thought
of manna,

Innocently, of course,
never having been
to church
or synagogue

or shrine
but that shrine
of Sunday
mornings after Martini nights

when we got
to fetch cup on cup
of black coffee
and cigarettes

from the drawer
(right of the kitchen sink)
& were allowed
to be part

of the cacophony
of ashes, spent love,
the Sunday paper
on the bed.

The Tears Were a Relief

The tears were a relief
A strong breath of air
That came in gasping,
Ran out a scream,
And burst wide open, 
Wet and salty
On the cheeks
Of Alive.

The Exhausted Triangle

After he left I dreamt him
Passing out his business cards
Brazenly in a bar: Speed for Sale
His virtue impounded in dreams
Disguised disgust, my avenue
running bloody rivers
through gutters where lifetimes
were spent
getting exhausted
At the mouth of it an ocean
of wonder remained –
He hated to get his toes wet
Those crinkly toes Fast enough that in retrospect you feel like one gone man,
You stepped up and volunteered
To lighten my nightmare
I awoke to behold your eyes, “honestly”
tired of the lying
You smiled best in sleep
Smiled where the dimples glowed
Smiled like you were alive
Apparently appreciative, even
Grateful perhaps open to
the ocean

Though soaked red by your life
In dreams you believed
in transcendence I swear it
In dreams we could once own the world

Still tired as you were
So devoted to your devices
You perceive survival to be
More vital than life You illustrate an allegory
I grappled with in school,
And crouch and pounce and remain though ever moving
Somewhere that is nowhere
Which is more esteemed than anywhere
If you can make nobody who matters
Believe it is your choice

Picked an old card out of the drawer yesterday
Still spun by my solitude
Lies to go Speed for sale
If I happen to be in Jail,
Call this number instead to find you

I have exhausted both of you
Did my best, my very best My ocean of wonder was a wading pool
To eyes that did not believe what they professed
In lies that were never confessed, not even when pressed,
And geometries that defy and belie
All the goodness we could muster
If we even lived our dreams
Or slept off the rest of our lives.

Product of Conception

.If a woman wants to be a writer,
.she should not write odes to her abortions
.Erica Jong

Not someone who had blue eyes;
Someone who might have This dull green, of walls and gowns,
Is antithesis
Of verdant Not someone you loved, who died;
Someone you made, denied
Blood comes later-a period,
Not someone Not green, not pale, not
Heaving in recovery
Not aching like it tore its own way through
Not, essentially, you;
Essentially a product, a smear –
A smudge on a slide
Don’t pretend to miss it, miss it Don’t let the doctor miss it!
Dismiss it It’s an it that was
And never will be.


Despair is a bleak thing,
an ogre whose address is absence.

Kay Day


A freelance writer in Columbia, South Carolina for about seventeen years, Kay Day often tells audiences, “I have done the impossible I have made a living as a writer in the state of South Carolina ” Why and how? “Because the south loves nothing more than a writer,  and the country loves nothing more than a southern writer “

Day attended the University of South Carolina and majored in English After college, she joined the staff of South Carolina Wildlife Magazine where she worked in promotions and also contributed articles She then joined the South Carolina Forestry Association as Communications Director, a post she left to become a freelance writer
For eleven years, Day edited the state pharmacy journal as well as a criminal justice newsletter She served as special publications writer for the endangered species section at the state’s Department of Natural Resources So that her mother could see her name in print in a publication her mother could appreciate, Day freelanced for Columbia’s largest major daily newspaper for about twelve years
Day has published poetry in national magazines such as: “Lollipops” and “Purpose,” and in regional publications such as “Pegasus ” Some nationals that have published Day’s articles include: “NABA Review, On Campus, Forest Farmer, Southern Lumberman and Byline ” The state of Ohio uses Day’s poetry in its test preparation curriculum for high school students Day has been widely published in a variety of state and regional journals and newspapers
Day has won awards for poetry (state and national levels), medical journalism (national level) and natural history writing (state level, on behalf of the Peregrine Falcon protection program )Her poem, “Top Story,” was selected as a finalist in the 1999 Porter Fleming competition She is the recipient of the 1998 Carrie Allen McCray Literary Award for Poetry Her poem, “The Gift,” won the 1998 Byline National Literary Award for poetry Her web site,  Wordbeat, offers articles on a variety of subjects and writing advice
The poetry anthology, Links, published by PoetWorks Press, features a selection of Day’s poems In February, the literary zine, Perihelion,  part of the Webdelsol literary ring, included three of Day’s poems in a special issue devoted to women writers The March issue of Pif featured Day’s poem, “Point of Reference,” a work about her hometown in Newberry, South Carolina Women and Creativity Editor( Anne Johnson, featured Day’s poem, “Dear Mother-in-Law,” on her popular site, Day has also published in the literary publication, Conspire The magazine, The Writer, recently featured an excerpt from a response to a column in a prior issue of The Writer about the negative impact of computers on writing (imagine!) Her poetry is forthcoming in the literary zine The New Cuisenart and her poem, “Rehab,” is included in the state of Ohio’s 12th Grade language arts program
In addition to writing, Day supplements her unpredictable income by addressing trade groups on the subjects of writing and marketing Day serves as state representative/South Carolina for the national writers’ magazine, Byline Day is a member of the SC Writers Workshop She is a member of the online poetry group, Athens Avenue
Writing has been a passion since Day published her first essay at the age of six She got to read it for a local radio station and enjoyed the aftermath of pre-pubescent celebrity During her years at the University of South Carolina, Day spearheaded a campaign to save the literary magazine from budget cuts Kay Day has never been anything but a writer At the moment, she is investigating MFA programs in hopes of entering one this coming year

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

Top Story

Two helicopters pause low above the river Tree branches flap in artificial wind
Light crawls the surface, men and dogs
scour rocks and shallows
Pinned to the horizon a woman shades her eyes,
clutches a baseball cap Floral print billows
Natural– a young boy’s decision to swim
in mid-July, the wet leap, kick of limbs

as arms part the water rolling over and under
in mockery of heat
Unfathomable, that water turns on play,
churns twigs and silt, dismisses air

and the river enters this boy, then surges
through the woman in a great gush

so that she barely breathes Her lips form questions

that will return every day
like meddlesome kin.

Rounding Grendel

Grendel inspired fear, but his own slaughter
spawned immortality and the wrath of his mother
who stormed from the lair,
her gut bloated with a fine Dane
Revenge flattened, 
this death comforted, no loss
in a long line renewing since Cain One always makes another of its kind

as she must have, spreading her epic
pheromones, retracting claws,
spewing fumes through a ruined wood,
then a colossal slam

of bodies to make an oval
within the water hag in a hole
disturbing the lake bottom
The newborn pierces the water

enters the sludge to brood,
to listen with skin.

Natural History

The key to saving wood ducks
besides women giving up hat feathers
depends on keeping snakes from nests A snake can belly up a pole,
sneak inside the box,
render manmade habitat impotent
Once a biologist pulled out a .38,
hit a snake dead on Baby ducks intact,
I requested the corpse of the moccasin He was a perfect specimen
for hands-on science with the kids For forty miles, all six feet of him rested
in a burlap bag next to my feet
In the yard by the zinnias and petunias,
the bag turned upside down,
the cotton mouth plopped to the ground,
then quite naturally slithered away
With superiority found only in places
where briars and ticks latch onto your legs,
his white mouth would have grinned
if it could, full of mettle.

Elementary Logic

With a wall of calla lilies for cover, I crouch
on forbidden ground Their door is always open Skinny as a stick man grabs her, 
fills her head with knuckles and words
The whole street knows he stays at Red’s Highway 12
bar just long enough to spike his temper She’s his match, though, a slight blond shrieker
who calls her man every dirty word in the book

while the neighbor women roll biscuits
and cook string beans to soft dark and sweet
just before the whistle blows down at the shirt plant I stay in their yard, know exactly how long

before Mama sticks her head out our back door to summon
me I’ll watch until both of them start to cry
whetting the long slow burn of my curiosity,
then the careful slide backwards

I want my supper and home where fists
might beat a wall or two and anguish
can fill the night like random tracers
while I finger the fine close stitches
on the quilt Grandmother made for my bed.

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