December 29, 1997-January 4, 1998: Robert Wynne, Elise Nolan, and Sheila Barrera

week of December 29, 1997-January 4, 1998

Robert Wynne, Elise Nolan, and Sheila Barrera

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Robert Wynne


Robert Wynne was born in Seattle and grew up on a farm in northwest Oregon He now lives in the Los Angeles area, where he is a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets He won the 1997 Masters Poetry Prize, and is a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Award He is the author of two chapbooks: “Driving” (1997, the Inevitable Press) and “Patterns of Breathing” (1997, Mille Grazie Press) Both books are available from him His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in numerous magazines, including: Solo, Maryland Poetry Review, Trestle Creek Review, The Maverick Press, Blue Satellite and 51% He is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Antioch University.

The following work is Copyright © 1997, and © 1998, and owned by Robert Wynne and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Time I Turned Down a Part In Castle Blackula
— An Apology —
(originally appeared in Faxploitation magazine)

I’m sorry Sorry I can’t fly Sorry
I didn’t want to play the mailman
whose last sight is his blood on
Publisher’s Clearinghouse letterhead Sorry my neck is intact Sorry in fact
that the film never got made `cause
I was the only one who could bleed
just the way they needed I’m sorry
that Pam Grier’s career took
a vacation, that Jim Brown collects
crayons with his name on them, that
even Isaac Hayes has a greatest hits now-
all single versions Sorry that
Castle Blackula is nothing more
than a fantasy only Mr T and his
resume still believe in I’m sorry Mr T
has a resume Sorry that none of us
will ever see the scene in which
Gabe Kaplan kills a legion of black ninja
warriors with shiriken made of matzoh;
with planned ad copy: “He can kill a man
from 30 feet away and still keep kosher ”
Sorry David Carradine is probably still
walking the earth I’m sorry that
“karate” means “empty hand,”
and not “hand full of cash ” Sorry I saw
Beat Street Sorry some people think
Superfly TNT was a Ted Turner production
Sorry the Master of the Flying Guillotine
could not be here today Sorry about
the name, Shaft I’m sorry there weren’t more
black vampires Sorry the 70’s are over
Sorry that these days no one wears collars
so wide they cover shoulders like wings
in reverse I’m sorry I turned the part down
Sorry people forget bats are black Sorry
I saw “Icarus” tagged on an overpass I’m sorry we don’t all have wings

(originally appeared in the chapbook “Driving”)

Fields surround the 5 Freeway, straight
for miles, flat enough to cut through
tenebrous rock The sun is halfway

to the horizon This is how I make sense
of the asphalt strip: look up Next rest area
57 miles Green rows furrowed with low

vegetation roll by and a tumbleweed bounces
across the road To the left, the ground is
charred, lifelines on the earth’s palm

seared away It’s hot enough to believe
in spontaneous combustion, but I know
better Fingerprints sink into the quiet ash

All I hear is wind buffeting my car
toward the shoulder Tiny black twisters swirl
and on the right each tenuous stalk

tightens, pulls against the sharp wood guying
it to the land Another tumbleweed leaps into the air
from the median, hurling itself toward gullies, 

crossing the borders imposed
by the machinery of seeds and hands I’m keeping my car between

the white lines, not knowing the distance
to the truck on my right, only that it’s
not in my lane And the fields wash into

an emerald sea until the earth gives itself up
at the ends of the rows, soil hidden
in the space between green parallels I drive

past the point of this vision and still
the American tumbleweed, Amaranthus albus, rides
a cushion of air and bound plants east, away

from the stratified slab carrying me north, away
from the scorched soil, from fields of cows so hot
they’re being watered like tomatoes, steam rising

from their hides, away from arrays of empty crates
lined up for harvest, or traps for the plants
that got away I’ve drifted into the right lane, run

onto the grooves cut into the shoulder, the ones
that jar us when we slip away I guide the car
back between the lines; and as I look right again, 

the amaranth is gone, disappeared over the edge
of the flat earth: escaped.

for Michelle
(originally appeared in chapbook “Driving”)

” .love is how we keep from passing through each other “
-Robert Arroyo, jr
Shoes are too important
to be taken for granted I learned
this from you And tonight
when I saw you
I was wearing my best ones
because I know I won’t see you
again for three days As I sit
staring out on the airport
I smoke, drop stars
that burn out only
when they touch the earth
and think about how easy it is
to say “I love you,” how long
I wanted to say it before I did,
how you said it first
like permission for my lips
to mirror the shape of yours We pull at each other’s mouths
when we are together We kiss
until the only space between us
is shared breath We press
as hard as we can against
the snooze bar glowing green
beside your bed, mine,
as if we could stop time We’ve come
close I rub bare heels
on the stucco wall that holds me
on this hill above the runways
and I wonder at the power
of these three words What keeps us from bottling
that smoke the tires of landing planes
give off? How do your eyes
change colors? How do we allow
love? You are in me
like a cat’s dream scratching
the screen door over and over
every night You are the reason
I hide my feet from the world –
they’re yours And I will allow
anything to keep from passing
through you like memory, like
photographs: flat and glossy
and as unchanging as the eye
that caught them, frozen in time.

Elegy For Forgetting
(originally appeared in Parting Gifts magazine -reprinted in chapbook “Patterns of Breathing”)

I’m in my Oldsmobile, armor,
driving with one window
down so I have someplace
to send my breath And
I’m not thinking of you I’m not
thinking of your lips
pushing against my neck like tulip
petals, your hands so simple
in the small of my back Not
thinking it takes more to hold myself
away from you than deny space
with your body, mine You’re not
mine I can’t listen as you fight
for breath in sleep I can’t give
you air from my body So I won’t
remember the look in your eyes
as you got into your car Won’t remember you
take the same freeways to him
that you could to me I won’t
remember how you said
this is a battle
because I don’t want to become
a soldier, witness
to so much death and unable
to stop the memory except by smearing
it with blood I will
forget your hair, your head
nestled against my collarbone, the ease
with which your voice drops itself
against the timpani
of my ears I will forget
that this drumming is a call
to war, forget that the music
I hear is only the radio
and not your words like arrows
singing toward this space
through which my left arm plays
with the wind I will forget
how your eyes have
their own gravity, how thin
flesh is.

Waiting Room
(originally appeared in Solo magazine-reprinted in chapbook “Patterns of Breathing”)

I never floss,
so my hands must pick through magazines, 
my eyes recognize the pursed
lips and she-loves-me-not single-petal
face wilting next to me No wonder

I can’t hold my fingers still Perfect people don’t have cavities They don’t wait in silence
and fear They pose for paintings,
hang where they can get a good look

at the rest of us
tucking our shirts in, digging
deep in our pockets for something
we’ve never had The world

looks different from
the ground I used to stare
up at the night sky, stare up at
my brother standing above me,
yelling about how he loved
me, fists clenched The grass was cold on the back of my neck
My brother’s shoulders, wide and slumping
already at age 10 I was held by
the plea of his voice, caught
in the shape of
his shadow, dizzy with fear I would long for a glimpse of the moon,
Orion, anything to take me
away from that moment The world looks different

when you’re at it’s mercy No one looks at the walls I toss the magazine
back onto the table The eyes stare down, portraits
and patients, all eyes
save mine, searching the chairs
for a glimmer of recognition: nothing Heads lowered, jaws aching,
each lost in our own field of stars.

Elise Nolan


My name is Elise Nolan I’m a poetically-inclined, starving college student who thought this might just be worth a try

The following work is Copyright © 1997, and © 1998, and owned by Elise Nolan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

the jungle

brave-hearted lioness –
i sit alone
beneath the trees,
grass trembles
at my mighty roar i’m feared ’cause i’m
so wonderful,
adored ’cause i’m
so feared they say i’ve got it all together,
but what is “it”?
to them it’s power
and they don’t understand
just why i’m so
power-less they’re scared and awed,
i’m brave and mighty,
and just plain
lonely lioness.

Sheila Barrera


Sheila was born in Schenectady New York in 1954, she now lives in Rahway, New Jersey with her husband, dog and parrot She wrote her first poem, which has been published several times, in 1971 at age 14 or so She has been writing poetry more or less on a daily basis since then, with a few years off here or there for good measure.

The following work is Copyright © 1997, and © 1998, and owned by Sheila Barrera and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Half Dozen Roses

So soft, almost silken
red for the holidays
green leaves, green sleeves
then like old fashioned
lace collars, baby’s breath
touching gently each
rosey red snow chilled face
There is a freshness
to the holiday air
as the late afternoon sun
brightens the vase through
the window to an almost
shiny peachy rich pink
matching the sunset outside
reflecting in the snow
Next to the flickering candle
like the star up in the sky
six red roses for the holidays
as if to be the three wise men,
the mother, the father
and then the precious son;
the baby’s breath sure makes
a great manger too.

My Pine Tree

I used to hide
In my pine tree
I could feel safe and big
Sitting in my monkey fort
Now I can’t
They say I’m too old
Instead I sit in the cafeteria
Eating my bananas.

Without Matter

Was there ever a time
when there were no words to rhyme
and another’s ideas could be here
without the aid of an ear?

Was there ever a place
where one needed no face
to know another
as you know your mother?

Was there ever a way to do nothing but play with color and light and everything bright?

Some, would say, “This be madder than the mad hatter!” I could argue, consequences were without matter
Others would complain, “There’d have been nothing to do!” At least, my friend, you would always have been you

Rock Hard

Sands give
water moves one
the freshness
of morning
air, cleanses
but the rock
bleeds no more Life grows
light glows.

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