June 19-25, 2000: Caron Andregg, Janet Bernichon and Lyn Lifshin


 

week of June 19-25, 2000

Caron Andregg, Janet Bernichon and Lyn Lifshin

the judges of the 2000 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest 

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Caron Andregg
caron@poetrycalendar.com

Bio (auto)

Caron Andregg lives and writes in Vista, California, north of San Diego She teaches composition and literature at San Diego State University She also publishes and co-edits the poetry journal Cider Press Review (www.Poetrycalendar.com) Her poems have appeared in Spillway, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Chiron Review, Poetry International , Talus and Scree, and elsewhere, and on the web in Gravity, Poetry Café, Octavo and PoetrySuperHighway Caron took first and second place in the 1999 and 1998 Poetry Super Highway Contests respectively Homepage: www.poetrycalendar.com/Caron_Andregg/

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

The Thursday Night Trap Club

We’re skeet shooting
the potter’s seconds The catapult slings
warped plates, cracked
vases in erratic arcs
across the dry creek canyon
Each Thursday evening
we obliterate
the week’s mistakes When the pellet-spread connects,
explodes a shrapnel star
it’s an absolution
Lucinda’s been casting
reproductions of Egyptian
bowls with tiny feet One seems near perfect;
but when I set it
on the trap-box edge
it lists, daylight gleaming
beneath the toes of one foot
When wet and forming
it must have rested
on a warp, something
not quite level in the firing
It seems somehow unfair
this small, lame thing
wound up in the slag-box
destined for buckshot
just because it totters
And it strikes me
how much easier it is
to love a flawed object —
the supplicant’s posture
like a pair of cupped hands;
the sloped bowl tilted in offering;
it’s little feet of clay.


A Postcard from Palmer, East of Anchorage

My mother stands in a cabbage head-high,
white-veined leaves big as elephant’s ears
furled at the edges like lips pursed for the sucking kiss
It’s eat-or-be-eaten up here and even the plants play Carnivorous orchids open their pursed labella
daring mayflies to drink Converginerved leaves
of skunkweed spiral up from the swamps
their sulphurous yellow trumpets tracking the sun And there is water, water, water
welling up under foot, soaked tundra squelching
inches above a desert of ice
The body’s lust for warm touch is nothing
to this hunger that leaps from the earth, gorges,
grows gigantic in the long days of summer;
feasts and seeds, then retreats to its roots before
the unendurable whiteness of winter.


We Lie Down beneath Stars that Never Set

If indeed we make a beast
with two backs, then let it be
a juncture of bears — denned so long

alone, splendidly famished; joining fiercely,
teeth to lip, tongue to salt-lick skin,
our furred parts streaming
When we resume these solitary lives
huddled in our caves of bone
pearls of our absent sweat

will reach across the sky as stars–
shapes that pour themselves,
one into the other–

assume the shapes of strung bows
the arc of shoulders, back and thighs,
the long legs trailing.


Janet Bernichon
akajanetb@aol.com

Bio (auto)

In addition to being a writer and an artist, I am a breast cancer survivor from Long Island I took off last year from writing (didn’t have a minute to spare) to start a business so I could semi retire from my as a nurse and write I was able to achieve this goal last April
My poems are woman themes I didn’t plan it that way, they have evolved to this after my cancer diagnosis My website is solely about the experience of life threatening illness
I publish both in print and on the web, prefer the web as it reaches more people I still like to have a book in my hand, tho’ I coedit Earth Sucks with Michael McNeilley, satirical alien related nonsense which I neglected last year I have written 6 chapbooks, done a few web broadcasts for the Poetry Cafe, a real nice group project for Perihelion (thanks, Jen), and have had poems appear in nursing textbooks
For all my friends who haven’t heard from me in a while and were afraid to ask I am alive and well homepage: http://gate.cruzio.com/~zerocity/janetb/

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


Acappella

a brown aureole the same
shape and size as a baby’s
mouth over

pebbles of fat
ducts and lobules
like rubber

connective tissue stretched
with the weight of milky
memories

of lovers suckling
firm flesh
a pliant pair

now solitary
a cyclop’s eye
that sees

an uncertain future
I walked through malevolent
weather

to a bed of scalpels
and woke to a song
sung acappella


She

looks up at me
over the three
year old magazine
travel and leisure
uncomfortable
on the hard plastic
chair once again
in the radiologist’s
waiting room

we talk compare
notes she: 2 kids
6 nodes baby hair
under her wig she lifts
to show me chemo
radiation chemo again
healing masses green tea
tumor markers rising

my turn: modesty excised
with my left breast, chemo
reconstruction and more
reconstruction nipple
from labial skin
I open my blouse

see we are bound
by chance fate bad
luck maybe nothing
else in common but
the claw of the crab
but bound
just the same

the door to nuclear
medicine opens
round 2

she lifts the weight
we call survival
from the tacky decor
and walks to Stage IV

Me:
Its not my turn
yet


Thanks For The Mammaries

That lingerie catalog
was delivered with the mail
and me and my cousin Elsa
being over fifty and victims
of gravity called the toll-
free number and orderd
a satin and lace uplift
underwire wonder
guarenteed to bring back
the bounce of youth
by pushing our stretched
and sagging skyward Yeah, sure If you buy that super skinny
waifs have cleavage
you could fall into
never to be found again,
you’ll buy anything.


Tits

I was ten when Marilyn
died Me and my cousin Elsa
were close then, spent hours
cutting pictures from Photoplay
and Modern Screen Surely
we would replace her
or so we thought as we practiced
open-mouthed smiles, silver
braces glinting in the bath-
room mirror, wishing
not for her teeth
or platinum personality
but those tits Tits that swelled
over Tony Curtis
in Some Like It Hot Tits
that held up her size 14 fucia dress
in Niagara Big bouncy
breasts, we wanted them
on our anemic chests
and Elsa being 12 and almost
past puberty lent me
a brassiere and told
me to stuff it with
balled up cotton socks
so I could fill out my
movie star fantasy
and strut into my sixth
grade class like some junior miss
femme fatale that developed
tits overnight
from the force of
my wishful thinking.


Paradigm

I saw you with the blond again,
writing, “I love you” in longhand
and for an instant I tippled
my aged red anger,
plotting your footprints
from here to hell as I watched

you form a new shape, smooth
intersecting lines perfectly proportioned,
an aureole of gold Your moment captured in amber
hangs heavily in my words
I retreat into the background
of poorly spliced memories:
the shape of your face
traced over mine,
our kiss, an icy shock of scotch,
burned when swallowed,
the house you loved me in
before I became the walls
She eclipses
the dim light of our marriage
and your words,
.I don’t love you anymore,
wrap around my neck like a noose.


The whore’s soft belly

exposed
she lifts her blouse
to bare her bedsprings
from doorways, a belly
fattened with apathy,
kneaded by lust
into a pillow for men
whose mean urge
scores
the need that surges

in hiding places
up the nose
between toes
to Momma’s embrace
suffusing warmth
$100, 10 bags, 1 bundle
brings it home
and she can sleep

gravid with exhaustion
indifferent to men
sinking into her bowels
into staggering emptiness
sick inside
this soft globe
of flesh and fat
sick for years, nothing

in the pit but the shit
she’s swallowed
put your money down
she will lie on it
close her eyes
and die
victimless crimes
they all get what they want


Die– Alone

We are drowning
in our acts of mercy
busy day, heavy influx
of wits ends No place else to go
she turns to us
for comfort in the bed we provide,
but she needs much more
than our vernacular
of good intentions
Nexus to life,
the round arc of her belly
and slope of taut striated skin
reminds us of the loop of infinity The purple vulva blossoms You can live forever
and still die alone
in a bed of compassion
or on a mattress
in some upstairs, abandoned
womb, faint light
from a bare bulb, seeking
a prayer, walls covered
with black crepe Hands
feel for a way out
We are powerless As she traces her reasons
in the lust for life, we grow distant,
close our eyes as we count
the regularity tapping out tomorrow We can’t understand
her joy as we let her listen,
or why she wants to listen at all
She is reduced to childsize-
clavicles, skull and crossbones
stretched with incipient life,
an afterthought
in a secession of scraped and flushed
and foster care Was it 5 or 6?
She doesn’t remember Her reproductive organs
are the only things that function perfectly
as nature intended
We watch it trace a path,
a life line from within,
under her skin It will warm her
long after her blood congeals in pools,
long after her eyes are closed,
cradled between her hipbones
nestled in a grave She will not die alone.


Fading Away

Shrunken within a salmon colored sweater,
57 pounds with shoes on, the nurse saying,
you look unwell,
Mae’s arms choreaform gesture as she explains
she just doesn’t feel like eating anymore,
maybe she has pneumonia from smoking too much
but her heart is good, the hospital told her so
two years ago, they did tests
Perched on the edge of a stretcher, legs crossed,
feet swinging like doors with busted hinges,
busy doors at that, Mae tells her sob story,
the details beaten dumb by apathy and you know
there’s just not much left of her
to live anymore.


1-900-MIR-ACLE

210 pounds pared
down to 145, steamfitter
in a former life buried
beneath white sheets
and legalities
the modern medical miracle
survivor of a cardiac arrest
was found too late
or too soon
and resuscitated

Calendar days are crossed
off- 4 days 2 weeks 7 months
in the land of the living dead
carried by the brute force
of merciful angels who trudge
nowhere with their ward
a voiceless, breathless
prisoner of scholarship
turned and positioned
every 2 hours
tubes neatly arranged
and mourned by no one
except his wife
and her prayer hotline
“where there’s life there’s hope”
she whispers to him
every Tuesday and Thursday
between 1:00 and 2:30

She places snapdragons at his bedside
next to the statue of Mary
a still life
a grave


Yoli

arms folded
under her breasts
stood next to the stretcher
where her daughter
the v.o.v sat in the ER
this Sunday morning
35 years
older looking
multiple contusions
broken nose
a strung out husband
in a bad way
but Yoli says
he didn’t mean it
to happen
it just did
her daughter should know
enough to stay
out of his way
he was hurting real bad
and besides
there’s no way
out, he’d find her
he always does
the way
the old man used
to find Yoli
and wait for hours
always someplace
close and visible
couldn’t even run out
to the store
for milk
or cigarettes
didn’t have a nice place
either, like her daughter
has


Lyn Lifshin
Onyxvelvet@aol.com

Bio (auto)

Lyn Lifshin’s poetry appears in almost every literary and poetry magazine, from American Scholar, Christian Science Monitor and Yankee to Ms , Rolling Stone and Ploughshares She has edited 4 anthologies of women’s writing including TANGLED VINES (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) now in its second enlarged edition and chosen by Ms , magazine as one of the 60 best books of the year Other anthologies she edited include ARIADNE’S THREAD and LIPS UNSEALED “The No More Apologizing, The No More Little Laughing Blues,” included in her new book, BEFORE IT’S LIGHT, from Black Sparrow Press, has been called “among the most impressive documents the women’s poetry movement has produced,” by Alicia Ostriker “Writing Mint Leaves at Yaddo,” a prose piece was selected as one of the best pieces of writing about writing by Writer’s Digest and Story Magazine
BEFORE IT’S LIGHT, published winter 1999-2000, her brand new book, just won a Paterson Poetry Prize Award “A whole other brilliant Lifshin moving from the intensely personal .to the historical ” (Small Press Review June 2000)

The award-winning documentary film, “Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass,” was called “an extraordinary profile of a unique feminist,” by Booklist and Mary McCarthy declared, “for it’s passionate defense of poetry and the written word .should be required viewing in every school in America ” Her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women including, recently, DICK FOR A DAY, UNSETTLING AMERICA, LEGACIES, MOTHER SONGS, HER FACE IN THE MIRROR, POETS AT WORK, NEW TO NORTH AMERICA, THE HOLOCAUST, IDENTITY LESSONS

COLD COMFORT, Lifshin’s recent work from Black Sparrow, has been called “a wonderful work .you can not escape the emotion that falls from these poems” by (Articulate Contemporary Art Review ) “The most published poet in the world today, Lifshin shows here (in COLD COMFORT) what many literary magazine editors have known for decades: she’s a poet of substance, range and invention ” (Small Press Review) Other recent books by Lifshin include BLUE TATTOO, MARILYN MONROE, and NOT MADE OF GLASS Writers as diverse as Robert Frost, Ken Kesey, Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders have praised her work
Her intense poems reflect a range of emotions and subjects and touch readers because they suddenly realize that feelings they previously thought to be theirs alone are shared Winner of many awards including a Bread Loaf Fellowship, The Jack Kerouac Award and New York State Caps Grant, she gives readings, talks and workshops, often based on the books she has edited or exhibits in museums, around the country and has been poet in residence at many colleges, libraries and centers
Her web site, http://www.lynlifshin.com/ has many interviews, (including one with The Washington Post) selections of poems, photographs, and reading schedules

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


Moving By Touch

that afternoon an
unreal amber
light 4 o’clock the
quietness of
oil February blue
bowls full of
oranges we were
spreading honey, butter
on new bread our
skin nearly touching
Even the dark wood glowed


But Instead Has Gone Underground

A woman goes into the subway,
and for what reason
disappears behind rails
and is never heard from again We don’t understand this She could have gone to the museum,
had cappuccino with a lover But instead has gone down the
escalator, without i.d , or
even a ticket and not
for clothes or flowers It was
a grey humid day,
very much like today It was today Now you might
imagine I’m that woman, it
seems there are reasons But listen, I don’t live
anywhere near that metro stop
and who I am is already
camouflaged behind
velvet and leather


Getting My Mother Ice

Nothing lasts long
in this heat
except the dark
of waiting At
2 am or 3 or
4 I lead her
like a child
with a night
mare to the
bathroom across
the hall If I
don’t get the
wash cloth
right, not too
wet, or hot
or soapy, she
will refuse
demerol, lie
moaning, “I
can’t ” It
seems those
words are
my words


Barbie Watches TV Alone, Naked

She’s got her
bride clothes
on the floor, her
cancan skirt,
pale ruffly fish
net tights and a
cameo choker
tossed around the
bed like a moat Now she’s got
the remote control
clicker and can
switch and change,
not be at someone
else’s whim, her
body twisted,
dressed and un-
dressed, a slave
to another’s
fingers as if her
ankles were bound
in leather, chained,
legs spread apart Travel Around the
World with Barbie
stamped on her fore-
head in catalogues
from Sears She is
sick of having
a rod jammed up in
side her, of being
boxed in with a
hair brush that
usually goes where
it shouldn’t She
wants to lie in
tv light, not have
to hide what she is
missing: a belly
button, skin that
smells like skin,
doesn’t want to
have to keep smiling
as any stranger who
buys her twists her
arm out of its socket
or throws her out


Marilyn Poses on Red Satin

1
never supposes
when she could
have been past
60 someone will
pay more than
she’s ever earned
for the pout of
her lips, the
way blood color
reflects on to
her nipples She’s cold and
wishes there was
a different way
to make a buck,
but at least it
is acting, pre-
tending, spread
eagle, a bore,
no, a nightmare The satin feels
like the inside
of a mouth She
could be a sliver
of melon sliding
thru, knowing
there is only
one way she
will get out

2
she’s heard it
will make her
tits more red,
leans back
tries to imagine
this, isn’t
happy, like some-
one under someone
they’d never choose
who is pumping
away She hears
a train whistle,
quietly hums a
few leaving blues,
has to pee but
doesn’t The
slick cloth is
cold as a strange
tongue wedged
deep inside her Blue would have
been more her,
but “red,” the
photographer
whistled, “would
touch men’s
blood, make them
want to charge “


For Me The Holocaust Started in ’33 In a Small Village

I was in a class
and the teacher said
I hear we have
a Jew pig in this class I shook He said
I’m going to show
this Jew pig
how much pain
a Jew can survive He took a stick
out of the desk
and hit and hit I don’t remember the pain,
but only the kids
who’d once been my friends
laughing and laughing.