January 5-11, 1998: Frank Poole and Steve Fine

Week of October 25-31, 1998

Frank Poole and Steve Fine

Frank Pool


Frank Pool has published poetry in Borderlands:Texas Poetry Review, The Maverick Press, Sulphur River, Cicada, Di*Verse*City, Illya’s Honey, The Austin Chronicle, The Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, Visions, Austin Younger Poets Award Anthology, and other publications He is the author of two chapbooks, “Philoctetes and Other Poems” and “Sangre de Cristos” from Still Pool Publishing He is the chairman of the 1998 Austin International Poetry Festival.

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Frank Pool and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

Grant Behind Vicksburg
(Originally published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review)

I heard the story over and over again in my childhood,
About how I had been tongue-tied, late to speak,
Grandson of deaf-mutes, and when the time came
I found one word, employing it promiscuously,
“Dog ” I said it for everything, my mother told
Me those years later, on hot summer days when all

Her children would gather under the oscillating fan’s
Refuge, in her large bed, lying and talking together,
And she said the stories of our forgotten pasts And one day, the story went, I looked up in surprise
And said, quite clearly, “That’s a bridge!” It was at
Vicksburg, crossing the Father of Waters, I spoke

Vicksburg was the knot High on bluffs commanding
The Mississippi, it restricted that river from full use
By the United States Navy, from occupied New Orleans
All the way north, a water sword to slice off Texas
And Arkansas and Louisiana from the Confederacy Grant tried for months to get behind Vicksburg
Breaking levees and digging canals, moving ironclads
Into tortuous tree-shrouded creeks, pushing and searching
For a way behind, the blue men labored, and sometimes
Died I will lay siege, too, when I get there, cutting
Tangled lingual thickets, until free-flowing
Language bursts all the seams of rebellion
And Grant turned east, after running the batteries,
Enemies entrenched on the great river both north
And south, living off the land, moving purposefully
To get behind Vicksburg I am ready at last
For marching, living off the language of my youth,
Resolute to seize some tongue that’s a bridge.

(Originally appeared in the chapbook Sangre de Cristos)

The chalice lies inert, inverted in the garden,
empty, forgotten for the day and evening’s
social courses Oh, what Paul must have thought
building a bonfire in Idaho, burning a novel, or
what Paul must have thought, blinded by the road

that tugged him like a corpuscle in some vast
mystic Emperor’s body All of them empty,
degraded, making of the vacancies the only
words or commentaries for the day of any
kind of liquid, fiery, or mortal judgments at all
So go the pourings, outward or inward,
until all is empty, until identity is undefined, 
until singularity; monoverse means all
the void, all the imagination imploded, all
gushing from is to am to no to at all
There must be a swerving among the atoms,
if there is a plentitude of the possible, all
things possible if the emptiness moves massive
emotions, passions of the constellated spheres
and spirits of our time or any times at all
In static pose the cup remains; the soul
shrinks only to admit again; the moon rises
on still pools and silky Sao Paulo sopranos Why is my love so hard to give?
How be all so empty and yet live?

Western Kentucky
(Originally appeared in the chapbook Sangre de Cristos)

cool summer night
running alone
in the moonlight
past farmhouses
up and down
winding roads
far from town
where lights
shine supper’s
familiar greeting
running alone
miles accreting
like silt after
a long spring rain
out past buildings
tobacco, hay and grain
hearing a rumble
deep and stunning
and looking over
at cattle running
keeping pace
on their side
of the fence
between us
running in
the moonlit

The Critic
for a certain person
(Originally appeared in the chapbook
Sangre de Cristos)

I scramble around the western mountains and take
Nietzsche’s advice, philosophizing with a hammer,
Breaking geodes loose from flaccid sedimentation,
Pouring acid on adamant metamorphic density,
Shale, and shit like that, in the talus slopes of poetry
In my republic all the Jews like doo-wop,
And the Siberian girls phone for instruction
On finding Dante on the Internet; the black
Boy goes to see the judge, and the judge is
His father, running for statewide office
In my village all apostrophes are wanted,
And I cringe at the compression of a rhyme,
And all the idiots think that their thinking so
Makes it so, that I’m just making this up, that
Their flaccid extrusions smell like ‘roses!’

I scramble so high I’m above the timberline frontier
Of writing I swing Thor’s mallet testing Hector’s armor,
And when I encounter something hard, when every blow
Strikes and bounces, I target tone and voice–the man–
To pound into offense on my Hephaestos forge
In my criticism is the giving of spleen
To its appointed function; I hoard and glean
Soft strokes as would a miser on a bench
At the fringes of the law I am mean
In my bad faith and my bilious stench;
My bad digestion makes my prose demean.

Death and the Princess

The banner, the flag, the tale, the myth,
The story told in bed, and to the world
Gone topsy-turvy; the legend arrives
Without escort into the halls of end-time You fear losing your great house
Yet you strew bright moments of
Infinitesimal smiles, mimesis no less
Real than tears on a late summer morn We know the plot’s unravelling knot
From the earliest days, until climax The unshrouded truth breaks apart
With momentum the physics of your soul You are profligate with kindnesses,
Blue eyes to fix and spread the specimens,
Wanton butterflies, of men’s souls, you
Find yourself in a jar, a glassy palace
Where the Prince furnishes little, and paupers
Bestow their classless love I would give,
After all the stories, the fabulous plot, the
Scoop and plunging indecorous pursuit
To the subterranean end, I would give you
Words and silences, freedom and embraces,
Poems and the parables of my largesse,
Could they only fill the well of gravity
In your dim, sad house You are not here.

Steve Fine


I am an English teacher in the San Jose Unified School District new to the poetry world I believe poetry is truth and these are my truths Currently my poems appear on appear on a number of websites, including “Live Poets Society, Amrita, and Brooklyn Poet”

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Steve Fine and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

Poem of Love

Hidden in the night Quiet and peaceful We met under terms
From an agreement
We had reached many
Years ago.

I, for one was
Surprised–No shocked
Might be a better word for
This quiet interlude
That amounted to
A magnificent resurgence
In my hope and spirit
A renewal of faith, hope, aspiration
Respiration, inspiration, joy, love
All of the above,
Things I had never lost Faith in pieces of our soul
Interlocking again The decision was based on
Circumstances beyond our control
This is a poem of love
Tied to an emotion
That can go unmeasured
To be exclusively enjoyed
My hope for that moment
Is not temporary or elusive I want it to be permanent fixture
In the filament of my life.

A League of My Own

An obstacle course
Was constructed for me
Without my knowledge
But that I was still
Obligated to complete
I tackled that course
Without thought of
Completion, but rather
I approached it as a
Vast mind game
I had a compulsion
Not only to beat
This configuration
But lay it to waste
As only a memory of
Physical and mental exertion
Under the guise of
Stretching my capabilities
I competed against
No one–only my
Self respect and
Desire to outsmart and
Outfool the principals involved
To my surprise
I ran the course
Beyond the expectations
And predictions of
Even the most talented
Experts in the field
I had won a victory
With no victors
Only the self-fulfillment
That I had beat
The odds.

Monopoly on Feelings

Poetry 101 instructors
Enlist students
To write about what you know The glass is half full
For me because
I am definitely more
Fascinated by what I don’t know
Than what is common
Knowledge to me and others
I am going to concentrate
On confiscation of knowledge
That people may take
For granted, but
Actually takes a lot of time
When you’re really cultivating information
I hear a cacophony of noises
Still humming in my ears
About non-performance issues
Whether they be in
The form of emotional affect
Starting off with other
Issues like dormant sex life
Which translates into a pantomime of the spirit
Your love evaporated faster
Than the digestion of a bad
Glass of warm beer
Oozing slowly and painfully
From my bladder
Like granular gallstones
Through my excretory system
When people ask
How this happened,
I answer by saying
That looking at the evidence
Alone can’t tell
The story of our
Most private moments
Together that need
To be explained and exhumed
From the encryption
Encoded by the synapse of our memory
For the sake of some feel good therapy
I’m not looking to
Rhyme iambic pentameter couplets All I want is a fair hearing
On what’s going to
Boil down to a judgement call of whether
I can walk away from his long affair
With more than freedom I am looking for a sense of dignity Regardless, I intend to get it.

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