November 9-15, 1998: Julia Stein and Gregory Hischak

Week of November 9, 1998-November 15, 1998

Julia Stein and Gregory Hischak

Julia Stein

Bio(auto) Color

Julia Stein has published two books of poetry: Under the Ladder to Heaven and Desert Soldiers She has written a series of poems about Biblican women Her work is published in the anthologies Beyond Larment: World Poets Repsond to the Holocuast (Northwestern Press) and Which Lilith? Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman (Jason Aronson: New Jersey and London).She has written a novel The Magic Circle about the 1960s, and an excerpt was published in the Flashback issue of the magazine Saturday Afternoon Phillip Levine has said about her poetry that it’s hard to get this much passion and rage in poetry She is a founder of the Los Angeles local/National Writers Union.

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

Bath she-ba

On all my sad nights I lay crying
over my life–how I was a girl sold away
in marriage to an ugly old man I hated and
how I wanted to kill myself when
your harp music drifted from the palace;
I let the notes flow over my body,
dam my tears Now I heard your harp again
as my hands tested the bath water
My hand made slow waves with the water I stood up, your music rose with me,
my back to the window, I could have
turned, closed the curtain, instead
I let the music lift up my arms,
unhooking my robe I felt the notes
caress my neck, heard your harp stop
for a second when I dropped my robe,

stood naked, when I stepped into
the bath, sank into the soft water
your music splashed, spiraled swiftly
down my breasts, then slid softly
over my belly, the notes danced up
my thighs; when I stepped out of the bath
to reach for the towel, your music poured
over me in a fountain of joy.

Evil Queen Vashti of Persia

Adults warned us against imitating Queen Vashti She refused to appear naked before her drunken king husband and
all his drunken guests at the banquet Her husband had her killed See what happened to Vashti for her disobedience!
It could happen to any girl
They told us to imitate Esther
who won the beauty contest for all the Persian virgins
to be crowned the new queen She only disobeyed her husband once–
when he was ready to kill all the Jewish people Her husband never let Esther write She was a mute queen Now Vashti had the courage to be a writer Only she wound up dead A great future was ahead of me
They got the story wrong Vashti escaped from jail, caught a caravan out of Persia,
sneaked across the border into Palestine When she heard about Esther’s bravery she wrote
The Book of Esther in admiration Her name got written out of history Again It’s an old story.

Gregory Hischak


Gregory Hischak is a writer in Seattle and publisher of Farm Pulp Magazine ($3.00 from PO Box 2151 Seattle, WA 98111-2151 ) He spends a lot of time around staplers.

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

Save me as Text

Save me as text That box of snapshots thrown out
when the closet grows too full When your life becomes cluttered
grows too heavy with pictures
then save me as text
Throw out those Block Island polaroids
forget the scent of bodies contained
in an overpriced Motel 6
filling the biege room
like an orange striped of its peel
Forget me as Clark
Straddling the Idaho divide
pissing into the Gulf of Mexico
and the Pacific
to make his Sacajawea laugh
But save me as text Insert me as 12 point type
wherever you like
and when it is convenient Italicize me with eyebrows
parenthesize me a half nod of unmet eyes
Inject me anecdotally
an interesting footnote
background information
into some new conversation
spilled over bread and oil in some
new favorite restaurant
But remember that you saw Clark
Straddling the divide with his fly open
and break off into remembered laughter
ignoring the quizzical look from blank new scrapbook
across from you
letting it go with a shrug of shoulder defined by candle Save me as text.

1″ = 1″

In this map, 1″ = 1 ” Pulled from glove compartment and unfolded across the warm hood of a reliable car Panels spreading across shoulder, field and valley Unfolding westerly, the pale blue of continental shelf revealing the new green Piedmont, the emerald green Appalachian watershed, beige plains, ocher and mahogany play of basin and range until the last panel reveals itself; falling off into the warm slope of cerulean Pacific water From the darkening brine of sheet’s edge I look up when I hear my name
1″ = 1″

I watch you crossing the street toward me Such beautiful, complicated machinery in motion Stepping off a curb and traversing twenty feet of perilous asphalt Twenty feet equaling twenty feet, crossing in a controlled fall forward­full of grace and poise­you come to rest, nose to nose against me and we inquire as to each other’s day
Together having driven, walked, crawled on fours, conjectured,  sweated, cursed, counted and negotiated these distances; discovering the crash of surf indistinguishable from the roar of interstate; the roar of interstates indistinguishable from the rustle of autumn treetops traversed like squirrels; traveling from the Atlantic to the Mississippi­never touching ground, never waving back Crossing these folds and frayed creases; mandalas of county grid and secondary road, climbing ridge over pass on the crest and trough shadow of powerlines following buffalo trails following rivers following the shifting course of restless terrain and there at curb’s edge,  nose to nose, we can inquire as to each other’s day

It is here, I say, pointing down 1″ = 1 ” Together we look down at our feet, our heads colliding with a knock indistinguishable from the slamming of a car door Finding the revolution of earth indistinguishable from the revelation of heart Until these folds rise and set us rolling again, we are at rest Where we are, at this moment, you and I, let us call this place home
We have this map beneath us, and it’s scale is 1″ to 1″ so as the joy of its unfolding may equal the joy of its discovery.

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