June 22-28, 1998: Amélie Frank, EA Lynch and Michael McNeilley

Week of June 22, 1998-June 28, 1998

Amélie FrankEA Lynchand Michael McNeilley

This week we’re featuring the three Judges of the 1998 PSH Poetry Contest.

Amélie Frank


Amélie Frank, from Los Angeles, California, is co-editor/publisher (with Matthew Niblock) of the Sacred Beverage Press, which produces the acclaimed literary journal “Blue Satellite” as well individual collections by some of Southern California’s most highly regarded poets (including The Carma Bums, FrancEyE, Ellyn Maybe, Nelson Gary, and Richard Osborn Hood, as well as the successful “Beyond the Valley of the Contemporary Poets” series) A native of Los Angeles, Ms Frank took her B.A in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from U.C Irvine, studying with Charles Wright (this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner) and Robert Peters Emerging from the Iguana Cafe circle of writers and performers, she served as a judge for the MTV Spoken Word Contest in 1994 and has been a featured reader in most of the major (and many of the smaller) venues throughout Southern California Deeply committed to discovering and championing new talent, she currently hosts (with Richard Modiano) the poetry readings on 2nd and 4th Thursdays at the Hot House Cafe She contributes regular freelance reviews to NEXT Magazine Her publication credits include: The Moment, Caffeine, Sabado Gigante, Red Dancefloor Press, Dance of the Iguana, 51%, The New University, and the anthology “Scream When You Burn ” She is the author of three chapbooks: “A Resilient Heart & Other Visceral Comforts,” “Flame and Loss of Breath,” and “Drink Me” (with Matthew Niblock)–all three of which are now sold out Most recently, the Poetry Super Highway showcased Ms Frank as a “Poet of the Week ” By day, she works in the motion picture industry She will be listed in this year’s edition of “Who’s Who of American Women “

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

What The Swan Left Unsung

If I were to say to you at this moment
that this is the last time you will ever see me, 
what would you say?

You could look over a sea of people and say you see me
in the company of dozens who would gladly hug and pet me
if I asked, and I would say that I am a primary number
in this room The number is not two
You might say that you look across a sea of people
who love us both and see a cygnet where I sit,
and I would say I am a cygnet among mallards You would say that a cygnet is the most beautiful creature
of its kind, and I would accede to some inherent
and peculiar grace, but remain still a cygnet among mallards,
and I am lost
For, where I sit, it is always among sevens and fives and threes,
and I watch the emerald-necked ones drape themselves over those smaller
and pinfeathered in brown, and I tumble to the fact that there will be
no more of my kind

You might venture that I had my chances, but the black-beaked changelings
I took for my fellows were priapic gods glamoured with the flocking of my
and the question-marked tilt of my head, but they were nothing of the kind
Had I not outflown, outswum them, after their sport with me, 
they would have coated my tongue with prophecy, branded me senseless
so that none would listen, and taken to the air, splitting the heavens
with their boasts

If I were to say right now, feeling your exotic plumage
tenderly daub my face, that I am as lost as lost can be, 
that I am neither fowl nor fowl, 
would you speak on my behalf?

Would you say: “She spoke the truth of her heart,
that wild, open place Her greatest triumph was to know
she was not a duckling after all, but it mattered very little, 
even in a heart as large as hers, 
because a swan is a swan is a swan, 
and no duck in the world can see her as anything
but a delightful version of something else
Her otherness was imprinted from day one, 
when she was shown an empty mirror
and told it was her mother “
To those who say, “But she couldn’t see how beautiful she was!”
would you truthfully say: “And to what end, 
if it was beauty singular to the point of strangeness?”

If I were to say I am leaving, now that there are
no more summers left, would you hold wordless but true
in your heart that it was a blessing in disguise?
No eggs No goslings No provocative daughters No suspicious twins No fall of Troy, no thousands of men lost to pin on my short, 
imagined happiness No rending of the just, just fabric of culture

And even as you are privately relieved that the world will not end, 
will you miss me? Ever? When you find my corner of the lake
still and unsung, will you miss me ever?

Become More Articulate As I Channel David Helfgott

(for Nelson Gary)

cannot say
cannot say
cannot say
right turn here, no HERE
film made you cry, probably sucks
it’s a puzzle, isn’t it? an enigma?
a big fucking dandelion in my backyard
“know what I don’t get?”
“what? right from left?”
list too long
list too long

please put camera away, brother

hole in head
puns spill out
friend scatter

lime water spilled
more shame than if milk
thought it looked like beer
thought it looked like war

warning: Cassandra says once this music stops, that’s when we’ll know for
that, oh wow, they ARE going to slaughter those virgins

What’s the cue?
cue? the cue?
magpies supposed to give stage
directions/ went on cigarette break
didn’t happen
missed social signal
embarrassed nice, slinky friend
embarrassed self, lots of good grief

want to tell you
don’t want to talk about it

yes: WAS raised by wolves
so fucking what? some have founded Rome!
blunder BUT WITH STYLE!!!!
if my jokes actually become funny

speed bump
ignored attributes jiggle
ck-ck-ck-an’t articulate
not as simple as it sounds

officer is the whole city blocked off?
Japanese food NOW OFF LIMITS!

the deeper into the century I go
more iconographic I get, but only
with you, wonder boy
with you, ancient brother
with rest of you, surprised by my face
my speech balloons empty empty empty
not that simple, not, no
not so think as you dumb I am

last Friday
take the stage
hug concertmaster
hug conductor
hug podium
so many here shuffle feet
tap stands with long bows
am playing this from memory
88 keys, all minor
all intervals are seconds
no gray scales
pardon humming
can’t talk can’t talk can’t talk
better when I listen
pedal/soft pedal/back pedal

you like the poet’s blouse?
it’s all that I will ever have

The Wax Loses Itself: A Platonic Relationship

“All art is useless ” Oscar Wilde

When he makes the mold, he will break me
no ideas but in things, he’ll mutter
oblivious to the love that seeps invisible
from his hands and imbues my contours
with what others will call his genius What they take for pliant beauty
I know is authenticity
and when the bronze is poured
I will lose my true self Perhaps this is sad, but sadder still is this:
what cools around my ghost will be hollow
will only mimic my truth
will have no self to call its own When I evaporate
he might hear my laughter uncurl from the steam:
“No things, only ideas my darling
the table is a copy of the table in your head The statue is a whoredom of the muse
I translated verbatim at your fingertips Indeed, I yield to the overflow
but if it is only beauty that you took for true love
it is but a waste of good wax “

EA Lynch


EA Lynch (from Denver, Colorado) is the poetry and fine art editor for SpokenWar She enjoys imagining that she takes trips to the Amazon to collect wild and exotic plant specimens which are now being synthesized into miracle cures for things like hydroencephalitis She writes fine poetry and as part of the SpokenWar collective she observes their standing tradition of not writing biographies.

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

The Probability of Rust

Once, I put a phone under a microscope, but
couldn’t find the cells Sometimes I walk in the graveyard
and take pictures of angels-they might be real I make carrot juice-drink it I think about the healthfulness of antioxidants
I wonder if my dead grandfather
was ever really alive I remember his portrait, and how his eyes
followed our play Occasionally,
I give his great-grandchildren
oatmeal with raisins They eat it
Sometimes I believe that God is
the adult version of the Easter Bunny
There are times
when the sky is so blue,
I forget to worry about
the probability of rust.

Orphan Music

In the center of the eye &
split seconds fractured,
the door closes shotgun, and
this flushed cheek is
left, orphaned
to the slowness of
two step end
There is an emptiness,
there is an ache,
but no place to say,
“Here “

Don’t beg for riddles when
the answers
the questions –
demented as bare lightbulb hung
from lath and plaster,
pulse racing with no good reason,
each detail lost to the next
In the center of
split seconds fractured,
something falls from the eaves,
I wipe the sweat
from my eyes.


There are poems
which should not be written The wrong person might read
the words, and
no matter how obscure
the metaphor,
they might understand
what the poet
when there is no other
place to confide,
thoughts can be hidden between
odd or even lines, but

sometimes even a poem cannot
keep a confidence.


Something is here –
inside my chest,
a heavy, terminal wheezing –
a psychosomatic reaction
to all the silly things
which lie awake at night,
In the living room,
I look at my hands,
knowing that they are mine,
but wishing they weren’t
Something is here –
low in my guts
where it cannot be driven out;
a funny kind of dread
wondering if you will
disappoint the children
and prove me a liar because
I said

I was sure
you would call.


Leafless, craggy trees on the side of the highway
cling to dirty earth with gnarled fingers
becoming arthritic observers to our speed They are elderly women with dour expression, or
watery-eyed old men left on front porches
to mumble in the sun
They cannot join
our supersonic procession,
this joy ride speed parade
The trees glower
We are too old to be so aggressive
and should know better than to move
faster than the flow Predictable dots of white paint are
the baseline
we cross
and cross again
I call it the suicide ride, this
adrenaline stitch through living metal,
this hopscotch dance between combustion machines We make long, invisible S curves around commuters,
keep time with disapproving high school kids,
and thumb our noses at
granddaddy trees
as we cross
and cross again.

Michael McNeilley


Michael McNeilley (from Aberdeen, Washington)is co-editor of Zero City with JJ Webb; was Founding Director of the National Student News Service; worked as a reporter and correspondent in Washington, DC; and has published hundreds of poems and stories in magazines such as New York Quarterly, New Delta Review, Poet, Chicago Review, Oyster Boy Review, Cross-Connect, Sonoma Mandala, Hyphen, Minotaur, Slipstream, Cafe Review, Pink Cadillac, Chiron Review, Poetry Motel, Plazm, DAM, Lilliput Review, Boulliabaisse, Writers’ Forum, Green Fuse, Rockford Review, Mississippi Review, God’s Bar Unplugged, Impetus, Tight, xib, Penny Dreadful, Exquisite Corpse, Atom Mind and elsewhere, including websites worldwide McNeilley’s recent books include Punch Lines (AAR Press, Seattle, WA, 1998) and Situational Reality (Dream Horse Press, San Jose, CA, 1998).

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

omnia opera domini

bring out the big dogs and bid them eat
bring out the greasy black hearts of rich men

pour out the the coffee, the tea, the milk
bring on the egyptian flight attendants

roll out the barrels of dark cuban rum
laced with the bodies of homebound sailors

bring out the blind that we may watch them stumble
bring out the deaf that we may laugh at their songs

throw out the fat, the thin, the short, the tall
that we may all dress from the same gray closet

hang up long red curtains against the sun
to cheer our depression, to preserve our darkness

tow forth the bright yellow backhoes of hope
that I may exhume my buried love

bring out the sad ones cursed by intelligence
let no bulbs be dimmed by their frozen light

bring out all who demean our expectations
inter them with the father, with the mother of all

give us this day our broken sunrise
give us this night our dreamless sleep

sonata for one string

for her the key has always been
the way she looks except
to me it is the way she looks at
me suddenly and I feel her eyes
the way small plays appear
in the middle of her sentences
and dance on her lips
the way she asks me
the questions I want to answer
and I do and when the words come
without their customary caution
she makes them stay
the way she opens to me
like she has known me all
her life and I am so welcomed
from my longest journey
and there is so much to tell
and I do the way we seem
like conjoined twins who’ve
been split each missing
parts the other has kept for us
but most in that the contact
of eyes is so simple like a mirror
with a better view so that
somehow I can tell if this is
the brief dream it seems
when I wake she will be there
still looking into my eyes from
so near her breath is mine

another way of singing

I have been here only days
the lifespan of the tulips

though absent a hard freeze
their bulbs will bring them
back again next spring

of course we never know
what will intervene

I have sung quietly
in a voice that does not echo
from these soft walls

your orgasms like
peach blossoms falling

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