August 17-29, 1998: Erica Erdman, Jon Williams and Brook Noel

Week of August 17, 1998-August 29, 1998

Erica ErdmanJon Williams and Brook Noel

Jon Williams


Jon Williams is a founder, SLAMmer, and sometime host of the Raleigh Poetry Slam ( Jon is the author of Back Talk, a collection of poetry guaranteed to be tax deductible in 1999 (He is currently seeking a sugar daddy/momma to help fund future additions to his poetry resume )

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



Are our own worst habit
keep trying to kick ourselves,
keep finding ourselves
marooned with moronic questions,
asked to plan the
circumstances surrounding
a stranded-on-a-desert-island-bring-one-whatever-with-you
daydream Deserve better than this we keep saying,
our name on a marquee in medium type,
someone to stir our martinis,
give our pinkies a little credit for knowing where the tab key is We haven’t forgotten how to reciprocate We might be castaways,
but we got our morals in zeroed-in,
we know just what we’d do if we could
hone our cross-hairs on Hitler Just give us a chance instead of
the party-favor chatter A hair-trigger query into our preference of
inconvenient handicaps We got 20/20 pessimism
and contacts,
a stylish drug problem and health food,
jock itch and the nasty attitude to prove it We got passionless scorn balancing
doggie-treat on the tip
of our academic noses,
our pretense pulled tight
our eyes wide and
our zippers
loose but, this is not the death we choose If you really must inquire,
we divide our disdain evenly between
‘in my sleep’ and the guys who want to die
by orgasm-heart-attack “Why such mediocre dreams,” we scream “Have ye no vision?!”

We want to die by
lightning bolt!
We want death to race
down a
bright-yellow cartoon staircase We’re gonna fry We want to die extra-crispy We want to show our bones
in filament afterglow to hear our own viscera sizzle
to smell the cremation of every memory exploding at once The watches we keep in
proof of time well spent
living with weirdos and their odd socks Our alliances based on similar selection
of independent
bumper stickers We’re ready for every twitchable, switchable, signal-sendable cell
from our toes to tongue to tits & testicles to
flex as it has never flexed before An orgasm-heart-attack stronger than
any man or woman could dream to deliver Sure,
there’s dirt in our other pair of jeans
we don’t talk about,
sometimes intense cookie crumbs in the pockets We don’t have time for
this season’s fashionless fashion:
Guys in big black shoes,
girls in small black underwear
We’re gonna be frayed and snagged,
feel the surge run up our backs,
have our souls snatched away so fast
our bodies sonic-boom as they slam back together a fate untouchable
by murder or suicide We’ll stand taller than anything for miles The trees will thank the heavens for the lightning-rod
of our sacrifice We will call down fire and watch the sky obey and one day
the prophets will say that their gods could not suffer us to live
for even another


Brook Noel


Brook Noel began writing poetry as a young girl Feeling her poetry was private,it wasn’t until early adolescence that she first read her poems to others Friends and family related to her magical use of language and encouraged her to pursue her work At sixteen, Brook sought publication for her poetry Her pieces have been published throughout the United States, Canada and Europe Brook is the author of two chapbooks of poetry: Inside My Attic and After Midnight Shadows of a Vagabond is her first full length collection

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

I Gave It Away

I take these words you gave me
bulging with hidden meaning and
too many vowels
and syllable by syllable
I give them to this man lying next to me He asked for them, and you weren’t here I needed no other reason to lead him
head to toe, through your language

Words like summer’s breath, violets,
or comets, leaving a trail on my flesh It was the only way to betray you
and it felt like heaven And I’m still not sorry for it

I thought of you though,
staring at the phone,
encased in some black night You could have been here You chose not And I made my own choice, finally

But I have never been a good liar This man next to me, his hands drifting,
I, feeling like a Chinese finger trap,
and I sigh, pretending I like it,
because I want to

Shortly, he will turn to me
and say it was the best ever And I will nod, noncommittally He will sigh, the pant of a husky dog
that has run too far for his master

And I know it’s quite past two
but that’s okay Tonight, I gave the words away Tomorrow, will never come.

Cartwheels On The Moon

I look up
to see you dancing
cartwheels on the moon

eyes howling

and this is not how I thought it would be

as the sun rises and sets
god manipulating puppet strings
up and down
down and up

you do cartwheels on the moon

unsure of gravity or law
or the past that says
we are not who we claim to be

but I join you anyway
doing cartwheels on the moon


for my brother, Caleb
July 29, 1970 to October 4, 1997

I stand within this room
blanked and stripped of your essence, 
wishing you might turn around
call my name
say it’s a joke
praying for something
to take it all back
to rewind to yesterday
when you were still here
You walked on water,
we dreamt inside stars
trading childhood dreams
and day into night”
you held my hand
and now I hold yours Searching for a way
to erase what I witness
to erase what I see
And inside October’s fall light
you let go
while all of us
try so desperately
to hang on
Brushing your pictures with
hands that once held yours Rock-paper-scissors –
learning to snap
those days we were too young
to realize how we had so little
while having it all

There are no words
to frame your soul
to capture this gold
as we helplessly watch
these days slip away
searching for your face, a sign
a world still with you
I want to revisit the past Take you back, take me back,
replay the scene a bit differently
We look for reasons in forests
where none exist
We look for answers
while eagles drift by
Only questions rest on wings
And though I can’t understand
what has happened here”
I tuck our pictures
between your palms
You have always held me
and I want you to still my brother, my father, my friend
I know you will

I know you will.

Erica Erdman


Edrman is a Los Angeles native who has published poems in Dance of the Iguana, Starquest Magazine, Blue Satellite, Sabado Gigante, SIC: Vice and Verse, 51%, Chiron Review, FTS, On Target Newsletter, and Saturday Afternoon She has been featured in 27 venues from Los Angeles to San Francisco She is also a graphic artist who designed the Sacred Beverage Press logo, illustrations for Ellyn Maybe’s Coloring Book, the logo and design for Nightgaunt Press, graphics for California Artists Radio Theater, graphics for Smoking Horse Productions, Inc , and numerous poetry books for area poets.

Erdman’s personal odyssey has led her through various careers, from actress and musician, to government intelligence work, to medical administrative work, to advertising research at the giant Foote Cone & Belding agency, and, today, to aerospace work, in the air operations division at Federal Express at LAX “There’s a dark glamour to aerospace,” Erdman said, “it kind of straddles the scientific and the military It constitutes its own world I like walking to work in the morning under the bellies of DC-10s and MD-11s and A-300s “

“Dark glamour” also describes Erdman’s poetry In his essay introducing the 1985 anthology of Los Angeles poets, Poetry Loves Poetry, editor Bill Mohr wrote: “If I had to describe the poetics of a large number of poets in Los Angeles in two words, I would use ‘Existential Romanticism ‘” Erdman’s powerful work carries on in the best of this tradition.

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


You come, wearing history
in lines and corrugations,
a face I want to readæ
oh, the elegance
with which you wear your skin!

But it is mute;
and you are the outspoken stone
that bruises my mouth
(that old wound)
though I feel nothing
I think myself fortunate,
until you stand before me,
remind me what hunger is
and what I will become

I turn to find you, become invisible,
a bubble in the glass, a word,
gasped in water and swallowedæ
a transmutation:

Membrane, rendered vapor

This I am accustomed to I know well the side effects
of discourse with the dead.

for Allen Jay Freedman

Catfish knows
all the good stories;
no gentleman,
he got the goods He got a line on a story
not two hours old,
now rotting
twenty yards downstream
Catfish knows He reads ambient levels in his whiskers,
keeps his nose to the bottom,
scours the scene He is hip to silt and sentiment,
he is at ease with skeletal ambition
Catfish digs
the zen of the one hand
and the voiceless oh,
disposes with colloquial grace,
doesn’t give a fuck about tissue integrity
or the tensile strength of faith,
doesn’t distress himself with
wherewithal and hereafter,
keeps his circumstances circumstantial Catfish holds the truth in his teeth,
strains his saliva
for trace elements and adrenaline
he’s got everything he needs
Catfish goes down,
goes hot-diggity-down
to root and rind
and the bottom line
He is the preacherman;
he observes first principles
and last rites,
keeps his observances
to himself Catfish tells his story
in first person singular,
delivers his point
without a word spoken He tells me happy endings
are for the weak of heart

and he should know.

The Hit

A cortege of black-winged birds,
inspectors of cruelty,
bob and sway on powerlines
that overlook the seaward road
by LAX, their voices harsh
It’s six o’clock
In the ditch some small thing
lies, empty-socketed
A pair of black Nikes,
flung tongue-tied and eyeless
on the wires,
twitch and shudder
He who owns them,
miles away,
as yet oblivious
No one will hear the shot
The wind will stop,
the shoes hang still,

the crows spill off into the dark,
leaving the sky vacant
as a dead man’s stare,
as absent, and as chill.

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