April 17-23, 2000: John Sokol and Alan DeNiro

week of April 17-23, 2000

John Sokol and Alan DeNiro

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John Sokol

Bio (auto)

John Sokol is a writer and painter living in Akron, Ohio His poems have appeared in America, Antigonish Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Georgetown Review, New Millennium Writings, The New York Quarterly, and Quarterly West, among others His short stories have Appeared in Akros, Descant, Mindscapes, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Redbook, and other journals One of his stories has been translated into Danish, and, another, into Russian His drawings and paintings have been reproduced on more that thirty-five book covers His latest book, Kissing The Bees, is available through Amazon.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by John Sokol and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

— Problems with alcohol
.run in the family; it’s in the genes
When you were very young
and heard people say that,
you had visions of your father’s
scotch and bourbon, his
vodka and wine, his gin
flowing down from the attic
where he drank,
glup-glupping out of
overturned bottles,
down the steps
and across the floors,
pouring through the ceilings,
pooling in spots
over the kitchen linoleum
where the tributaries gathered
and gained momentum,
then roared and splashed
in slow-motion technicolor,
down the basement steps and
into your panelled bedroom
where you watched helplessly — bailing
buckets in hand — as the flood filled
your jeans, engulfed you and carried you
away in the torrent
until, finally, you shook your head
and pulled yourself out of it,
just like you do now
when you try to sober up
originally appeared in The Wisonsin Review, Vol 28, # 3, 1994 Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Airboating in the Everglades

In a soap dish with a fan, we skim over black water,
through narrow lanes of sea grass, where great herons
and spoonbills, egrets and ibis, thrash up out of thickets

and mangroves at the last possible moment, like
widowers who won’t sell out their homes to the state’s
new highway Black buzzards and turkey vultures

hover suspiciously, circle, then float a pose for the click
and whir of my brother’s zoom lens A dozen
alligators, as still as prehistoric stones,

dry their backs in the red mangrove dusk Further on,
seven wild hogs greet us from their black mud home
and beg the guide for the corn cobs they know he hoards

in the motorbox The sow-enormous and proud –
watches her skinny black daughters and her squealing
spotted sons Her intense dark eyes pierce the

metal of our corn-cob ruse Somehow she seems
like the mute voice of the glades, the pig Buddha
whose stare says: we don’t cut through your yards,

we don’t run through your houses while you’re eating
dinner We don’t gawk and blink false eyes at you
while you sleep
Originally appeared in ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum, Summer, 1995, Tonawanda, NY

Stoned in the Woods

What’s that swaying in the sumac;
that humming in the sassafras?
Are those chickadees, twittering
in the thicket, or are these trees
just glad to see us?
Look at all those bees — too stoned to sting,
too bombed to buzz — distilling pollen
from those milkweed blossoms,
faster than Elizabeth Taylor
Listen! We can sniff bluebottles, too When those dragonflies near the pond
are comatose, we’ll use cattail reeds
as straws, and snort nectar from hyacinths
like hopped-up hummingbirds At dusk, we’ll sober up with the bees
over by the vetch and the sneezeweed Afterwards, we’ll be so hungry, we’ll want
to eat trees; so remember those blackberries
near the carved-up beech, the blueberries
in the meadow
And don’t worry!
When twilight gets the blues and Luna glows
like a silver sun, we’ll sell that moonshine
and put all our honey in memory banks
so we’ll have something to live on
after this day and these sweet dreams
and this paradise have all gone to pot
Originally appeared in The Ledge, #20, Winter, 1996

The Weightroom

Stand there against the wall, if you want,
or sit over there by the lat machine
and watch increments of weight
build up on the bar at the bench: 155, 185, 205
Listen to the deep bell tones
and the muffled clangs of four 45s
hand-snuggled and snuffed to the cuffs of 225 Watch as two-and-a-quarter climbs to 315,
when three iron plates — like giant,
chocolate mints — are piled
next to one another on each end
of a now slightly bending bar
You’ll wonder how inanimate weights,
just hovering there in dumb quietude,
can take on characteristics of self-assurance,
honor and dignity Well, wonder all
you want but don’t touch that bar,
because here comes Jerome and Dante
and Buddy, and they’re going to float
that weight off their chests, for 6 reps each
So, pay attention
Watch how they steal some whiplash
from the weight’s momentum; how
they slipstream through that tiny,
fleeting moment of inertia
when they bounce the bar off their sternums;
notice how they push the weight up
through a seemingly gravity-free groove And then: think Think just how heavy 315 really is
You’ve listened to jokes about guys who lift
like this, but now you seem willing to admit
that there are all forms of intelligence; that,
here, there is knowing and wisdom in
fiber and sinew, memory and acumen
in muscle and ligament
But don’t burn too much gray muscle
admiring these guys, or, for that matter,
dwelling on that number, 315,
because Jerome and Dante just added
another mint to each end of the bar,
and that makes it 405
And now, Buddy’s going to give you a lesson
in humility, that you might always remember
the dignity of weight
and the mind in the matter that moves it
Originally appeared in SLANT, Vol X, 1996

Alan DeNiro

Bio (auto)

Alan DeNiro lives in St Paul, Minnesota His poems have appeared in Willow Springs, Cimarron Review, Rattle, Artful Dodge, and elsewhere, and his fiction has appeared in Fence He’s the editor of Taverner’s Koans, an online poetry journal and poet’s resource, and has taught writing at the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond
The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Alan DeNiro and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Da Vinci Dreams of the Ornithopter

The wings were gold and iron-tipped,
webbed with damask, so tight
you could bounce an emerald off the skin
The pedals, like the billows of a rough forge A hot coal whitened above me,
or was it the sun? On the moor,

summer, bird skeleton, yes I strapped my bones to its bones,
pushed both thighs down and whirled
No, shuddered up The wings groaned
but worked, a careen and dip past firs Above them, I was hawk,

my eyes were talons and caught everything,
green bright veins (creeks), dim motes
(a thrush of stags) arcing as I

arced The wind shook my breath out,
then clouds, thin sphere–flap faster!
faster! Cold tug darkening,

space and ice and
still up, my thighs hard
cords about to snap, I

noticed I was out of the earth entire The tunnel of air I had to follow, the sun
didn’t burn Which was strange
Flail, flail, into the bee balm, the astra
Appeared previously in Cimarron Review

Iowa, 1993 A tarp of corn, a night truck of parcels
wandering for a home It’s the Inter-
state, and everywhere some roads jam Others open into blanks: fields kiltered,
ditch music, no bisons except for fossils It’s a big country Cram the bones in Cram
headlights into a sky, when light crops
into sound, receding, gone Cows look up They look down Fences .how do you figure
they work? Broken splints, a calm strain, limits
of tails, atoms splitting heat from manure–
cowbells, now Shackle dawn under dawn This,
this is the life–rushed, intimate and trumped The flattest plain is cool delirium.

Emily Dickinson Dancing

She dances like a bomb
when no one is looking, bedroom

curtain drawn she
dances like a bomb with thin

flappy corsets and maverick hems and
when the door

is closed she dances
like a bomb: glycerine, skinny

tonic, legs salvoing bare
wall kicking out, and the gardener

doesn’t dance like a bomb
and the mother doesn’t

dance like a bomb, jigging the
bones, hair

plaited back, refrained
with ribbon, she is twenty,

she is fifty, she is still dancing
like no one would expect in the town,

she hums her hymn, the door
is closed

back, just the surprised
tabby witnessing

her dancing like a
bomb and her bare feet shake


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