Photo above: Emiley Smith — “Earth Greens” (Emiley is a photographer from Franklin Heights High School and this was her entry into our recent “Teen Media Expo”). Awesome shot!

Cloudpainter — Richard Zeier

What Grass? Highlights and ARCHIVES …
Schedule of Exposé Poetry

Xenomorphosis

RAE ANNE HENWOOD

Photo by R.-Tanaka-of-Japan –microscopic-elements-from-the-periodic-table


brave enough to enter then go
away white, drained, and maddened by
this invisible leprosy.

I am too contagious—
tread lightly in my hypocaust,
inviting and fearsome.
You will flee when the sulphur
escapes.

Beware the lash of my scorpion tongue.
Venom sounds from all sides and
I will not be sucked out so easily.

Thigmotaxis expands into obsidian
afterbirth; crystals burst and break until
I am, once more,
impenetrable.
_______________________________________

Rae Anne Henwood is a third-year student at the University of Victoria in the Writing Department with a focus in Poetry.

Us/We

Jamie Pearl

© Jonathan Paulson – “Backpacker”


And it’s shocking
We go in every which direction
We travel alone
We travel together
We are so young
We have so much life to live
We have so much beauty to see
We have so many mistakes to make.
There are so many of us
Each embarking on our own path,
our own struggle,
our own approach to life.
We are so young,
yet we have so much potential,
and luckily that passion, that drive, that eagerness to do good… comes in multitudinous numbers.
_____________________

Jamie Pearl won silver in photography for ZO’s 1st Teen Media Expo and pearl for her photo “Struck” in the Multitudes Expo. She is an 18 year old photographer who enjoys writing from Seattle, WA.

DESOLATE

Tammi Williams

White faces,
Black faces
All in desolate places
Off in the distance
I see each stone unveils a life.
The sowed earth conceals the truth.
The wind blows until it all tumbles down.
The porches are now bare.
Fields have been abandoned;
Churches are silent.
Yet stories still live on.
Souls still crying out
Ashes and tears intermingle;
Residuals of past yesterdays.

________________________
Tammi believes that poetry is power in words. “Poetry is a way of conveying such thoughts without ever saying a word. Words can heal, words can be the answer to life’s questions.”

INTERZONES — Yessica Klein


© Ralf Poppcke – FOTOGRAFIE — “Lichtungen” — Art @ Kaiserhaus/Hildesheim 2015 by Patricia K. Triki

urban wasteland years ago
why cities need breathing spaces

visual backdrop
empty and torn down
empty urban space
…………breathing space
…………living and thinking
…………empty space

the rock’n’roll rebels military gear
the art-school boys paint-splattered clothes
…………absolutely crucial
…………absolutely bedevilled

the last 20 years
impossible spaces to move

…………d..a..y..d..r..e..a..m

these places were blank
…………interzones

______________________________

Yessica Klein is a poet and artist with a MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. Her work has been published in both Portuguese and English, online and in print. ‘Ai De Mim Que Amei Poeta’, her first poetry collection, will come out in Brazil in 2017. Yessica is represented by Carolina Badas Gallery in London.

WAR HERO

GEORGIOS AMPATZIDIS


You have probably seen me in a nightmare that was not yours,
I am a bad moment, an adverse wind,
A cracked tombstone, three loud volley shots,
An unsuccessful erection,
I am all the ones you loved but none of them,
I am all the ones you lost but none of them,
I often meet dead people that look like me,
All dead people look like me,
The ones who still combat,
They also look like me,
Even though they do not know they are already dead,
I smell gunpowder and mustard,
Pieces of flesh and blood drip off me,
Which are not mine,
The taste of mud has stuck on my jaws,
Which have no voice,
They just whistle when wind passes through my skull,
I cannot hear you,
Since your talk ends in “fire at will”,
And I cannot understand how it begins,
I am poems, rhyming verses,
I am songs of a children’s chorus,
I am bad news, a contagious disease,
I am an unreached orgasm.
__________________________________

Dr. Georgios Ampatzidis is a biologist with a PhD in educational sciences — who writes poetry and short prose in Greek and English. He works at the University of Patras library and teaches at the University of Thessaly.

THE JEWEL

CATRIN HOL


the different stages of life’s journey shape our souls into the final gem
the jewel the shining light like the light in a newborn’s eyes
the prize of life beyond all price
and it is quite simply the real us
without the stress the fuss the pressure
the hold your breath and try to pass the test
in jest with your friends while inside you bend and break
and every one of us deep down knows a pain of some description
you don’t know the wounds of the other who stands before you
who are you to judge assess their stress at best you can only guess
if you knew the inner truth the things they’ve faced and faced up to
you might be amazed impressed and feel respect
but actually you don’t know you won’t know the wounds of another
no matter how close a brother or sister
there are some things none of us can express
or choose not to or just feel that nobody cares
or that it’s just not right to bare it all
and so we bear it all in unbearable silence
and I think most of us have been through something like this
and underestimate the rest of us as if they won’t relate to it
but of course we do we’ve been through it too
we are way more alike than different
us humans
we share our humanity
____________________

Catrin Hol is half Dutch, half English, but has made Cork, Ireland, her home. As a musician she has a feeling for the melody and rhythm of words. “The Jewel is about the struggle to understand and forgive each other. The multitudes facing the same challenge.”

UNBOUNDED

ARLEINA LUNDY

© Hakkan Lye

Photo © Hakkan Lye

Their abuse was all I knew of love
Instead of a hug we’d spill some blood
Silent regret swept it under the rug.
Not knowing what they were doing was wrong.
Thinking it was my fault they were falling apart.
Believing this allusion, I’d learned to play the along.

They had told me to point to a map
And try to figure out where they wanted me to go next,
They’d never tell me when I got close,
But never hesitated to say, “You’re wrong.”

With every gesture I could only guess.
My finger pointed but had always missed.
“You’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
Those words echoed in me for so long
I began to wish that instead of having to point
I could choose anywhere and teleport.

“Figure it out on your own.”
But what is it?
How does one know when they’re good enough?
Does a timer go off,
And say “you’re all done, full grown
You did good, and now you’re on your own”?
That timer was slow,
“Enjoy being a child” some would say,
“It sucks to be old.”

But still how I wished it would ring
And I could finally get away.
Run to the places I touched on the map
The ones that were “wrong”
And never look back.

Eventually that day came
My life now my own,
Realizing that love was not meant to be cold.
And that tearing someone down
Is not how it is shown.

I got away
And according to them

I still live in the “wrong” place
Never doing the “right” thing.
But they’re still miserable
While i’m unbounded and free.
Sometimes to learn who you are
You have to believe
you have the strength
To get away
And be who you want be

___________________________

Arleina Lundy is currently a senior in High School. “Writing has always been very important to me . . . writing I believe holds a snapshot of our souls. I have social Anxiety and thus voicing my feelings can be rather difficult at times, and it’s through writing that I feel I can express myself. Writing has gotten me through some of my hardest times, and I really believe it saves lives.” Arleina’s poem was among ZO’s top judges picks for our recent Teen Media Expo.

Child’s Eye

By Andrew Erwin

Watercolor Painting by Erick Carson -- "Evan"

Watercolor Painting by Erick Carson — “Evan”
____________________

When we look into a child’s eye, what do we see?
A beautiful world, which we never thought could be
We grow and learn every single day
We must keep our hearts open, before it begins to decay

It all connects, it all makes sense
But what’s the point of living, if you’re controlled by the one percent
Stay true to who you are, it knows the path
We must focus on the present, cherishing it like it’s our last

Pain will help you grow, failure is a must
How else would the universe gain your trust?
Believe that they are there, always watching
A universal clock, constantly tick, tocking

All you need is faith, don’t worry about the how
Feel good in this moment, all we need is here, right now
Now tell it again, what we see
When you look into a child’s eye, the true unlimited being.

_____________________

Andrew Erwin is 23 years old and specifically writes with the goal to expand the consciousness of others — opening new positive perspectives on all aspects of life.
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Baby Doomers

By Kelsey Elizabeth Robb

gold-and-bloodIt is an odd subtlety,
the value of gold,
such beauty in convergence
with an ugliness of society.
We wrap ourselves in armor,
color of gold and sun and blood;
we tell ourselves we’re worthy
of richness once associated
with God.
We are Gods, we say,
we run the world
in gold and sun and blood;
we flit like little dragonflies,
wing-ends clipped to keep us
here, against the ground,
we might warm ourselves
inside our armor,
bug eyes wide,
full of value and fear.
We are Gods, we say,
we must buy things
as the Gods create,
rings and shoes not subtle
in the glint of a sunlight
tinged in blood.
__________________________

Kelsey Elizabeth Robb is a recent graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She loves poetry and art, and particularly loves writing for specific prompts. She is currently working on gaining a teaching certificate and teaching English in Ecuador.
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Braiding

By Susan Jane Anderson

After the early morning rains,
bruised and swollen skies
concede to a sunlit silence
refurbished with a mixology
of lurid garden colors
and the perfume of friendship and benevolence.

Here the Three Sisters awaken
to the uplifting harmonies of the day
and begin their spiritual reciprocity.

Corn is the firstborn quickly growing
tall and strong with the specific purpose
of providing a strong ladder for
the arching skyward bean plants
spreading a lazy leafy growth close
to the ground patiently awaiting
their slow growing squash sisters
who provide an umbrella of shade
for the bean siblings.

Together the three braid and hold a
convergent covenant of community
celebrating and thanking Mother Earth for her
boundless blessings.

_________________________
Susan Anderson is a retired elementary teacher who
finds her advancing years blooming and flowering with words.

Veggies-s

Your Dying Poetry

(a response to Cody Taylor)
By Kelly Jolene

© Amy-Ackerman -- "Co-creators"

© Amy-Ackerman — “Co-creators”

Your poetry sleeps in the gutter;
there is no bed for its growling.
It wanders around the living room,
looking for crumbs.

Your poetry licks its wounds.
You tell it to stop but
It never listens to you.

You look at your poetry
as if it doesn’t know your name.
It stares back.

When you look into the mirror
when you cut your hair
when you crack and dismantle,

your poetry crawls to your feet.

And my poetry,
it leans against your door.
It knocks softly and slinks away.

I do not know anymore who is who.
I do not know your name.
___________________________________
Kelly Jolene resides in East Tennessee and spends time writing and building things. She studied at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga under Richard Jackson . . . “who is an important influence in my poetry and life” — Kelly
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Love Poem #43: Marionette

By Hannah Dow

Lying this way,
your body seems
a perfect place
to catch a willing
current—one
that folds itself
around your back-
bone, retreats
into one rebellious
pool, makes sound
like a rain stick—
your backbone
as rain stick—
as hollowed cactus
turned upside-down
to sprinkle noise,
make you hobble
in dance.
Moving this way,
you seem tied
to the sky on my
invisible string.

____________________

Hannah Dow is a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Harpur Palate, Soundings East, and Armchair/Shotgun. She also received an honorable mention in the 2015 AWP Intro Journals Project.

Painting: Wanda Choate at Arte Cristina Faleroni

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Down That First River

by Miles Cobbett

Icelandic River Delta -- Earth Zygote

Icelandic River Delta — Earth Zygote


Down that first river I did float,
though not entirely alone in my little boat.
For seven long days and nights I fought the good fight -and earned the right
to tie-up and rest a spell.
This you see was the beginning, middle and end
of my life as Zygote
____________________________

Miles Cobbett left Seattle, Washington on a ship bound for Alaska, in the spring of 1982. He had seven hundred dollars in his pocket, a duffle bag full of rugged work clothes, a portable typewriter-filled with paper, and a supply of steno-note pads and pens. He came looking for story and character ideas and a way of making enough money to keep a roof over his head, and food in his belly. He found plenty of everything. Now twenty-five years later, he is willing to share his stories with anyone who likes to read . . .
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Once I Think I Met a Hero

Levi Judson Harris

Dale Collins | "Over His Shoulder"

Dale Collins | “Over His Shoulder”

Once I think I met a hero
And he was spectacular
The things he did, and said, and thought
Made me come out of something I didn’t know surrounded me
Courage, strength, vulnerability
Stopped being just words
But I started to feel them
Instead of just think them
Life became adventure
Instead of just a journey
And everything I’ve ever known looked different

But then I met that same hero
And he was dark
And he was down
And the golden words I so wanted to hear I knew couldn’t come
Out of a broken mouth
On a broken face
On the broken thing in front of me
And even though he was there
The hero was gone

The third time he was standing
And half a smile was there
Not bursting like before
But sure and solid
There was something in the way he held his shoulders that told me there was something
different
But different can be good
Because after all, can you really get up
If you haven’t fallen down?
Because now
Since it all happened
I know for sure that
Once I met a hero
_________________________

Levi Judson Harris is from southern Colorado, and grew up with eleven siblings on a farm. “Milking cows and thinking were my two main activities. I have been writing since eight . . . I’m much happier when I’m putting words together.” Levi is presently studying English, education, theatre, and film at BYU. “I wrote this poem about the convergence of the under hero with the outer self. True convergence with oneself lies in accepting failures and weaknesses, but also in realizing we are strong enough to rise above them in the end. I have really met this hero many times . . . Enjoy!” — Levi

I Remain

H. Issa

Clouds---2

When I was a kid, I wanted to be the wind.
I thought what was this beautiful being that was so strongly able to be felt, but never seen.
She traveled countries, knew nothing of borders, blockades, visas.
She saw all the wonders of the world, carried smiling faces, cries of newborn babies, joy,
happiness, childish giggles and jokes.
She attended everyone’s weddings and tasted every pie on every counter top.
She delivered the kisses of loved ones and the dreams of all.

But today she mourns- she carries screams of horror.
She yells in my ears and awakens every earthly being dead or alive.
She has called upon the sun to dim her rays and the clouds to join her in mourning.
She beckons the leaves, the grass and every organism in existence to shout and they reply.
The people run inside, shut their windows, they cannot understand why the earth is yelling- why
she is crying.
It is just too loud to handle.
Too real to fathom.

But even inside, the wind pounds on their doors and shatters their windows.
I-am-strong-b
As she continues to voice her fury upon the coma state of the world,
a putrid smell of blood and tears rips through your nasal passages.
While the world paces indoors in fear and confusion,
I join my friend the wind outside, dressed in black and with nothing more than a kaffiya made of
honor and anger to keep me warm.
Despite the ear piercing screams of the earth, I sit and stay,
because today she is the only one who understands.
___________________________________

Hebatullah Issa is a Palestinian-Arab-American-Muslim-Israeli. “My experiences have shaped my identity, however, while working on my Master’s thesis at Dartmouth College, I found that my identity also shaped my experiences. My thesis, Metaphorical Asthma: The Search for Water and Answers in the Holy Land, developed into an ethnographic series of personal essays concerning the different identities and shifting labels imposed on me by others and how these labels shaped my experience trying to research water management issues in the West Bank. This sparked my interest in identity formation amongst Palestinians, particularly the diaspora.

At Dartmouth College, as well as during my second Master’s in Middle East and Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter, I have conducted research in the following topics: heritage making, Israeli historiography, language death, Orientalism, Occidentalism, the Palestinian right of return, ethno–politics, identity formation, Arab-American beauty ideals, Arab-American hip-hop, Palestinian feminist movements, Egyptian nationalism, factors of violent and nonviolent revolutions in the Arab Spring, particularly Egypt and Libya. I have also taken short courses in which I conducted research in the universality of human rights, the labeling of the Arab Spring, honour killings, migration and economy, Zionist media, as well as Arab feminist literature.

I recently produced a 153–page document about Palestinian identity formation amongst the Palestinians living in Israel through the medium of Palestinian hip-hop and what this identity means for Israel if its Arab citizens identify themselves as Palestinians rather than Israelis. I have also written fiction and nonfiction pieces centered on this topic as well.”

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I Know You

By Cynthia Ghazary

Science & Faith "Science & Faith" Photo by HAKKAN LYE © 2008 - 2010

“Science & Faith”
Photo by Hakkan Lye © 2008 – 2010

It’s not true.
The person in those places,
That can’t be you.
Those are fake.
You don’t party,
An honest mistake.

It’s not true.
Self-inflicted,
That can’t be you.
Those must be fake.
Scratched climbing trees,
An honest mistake.

It’s not true.
Sitting on train tracks,
That can’t be you.
Aren’t those fake?
You tripped and fell,
An honest mistake.

It’s not true.
Alcohol and drugs,
Is that really you?
Those can’t be fake.
Not sugar and juice,
You made a mistake.
__________________________

“My childhood was never easy. My father had many psychological issues and never took his medication unless he was chasing pills with whiskey. While he drove my mom and me home in a drunken rage, going 90 on the freeway, I used to distract myself by thinking up stories and rhyming words in my head. It was the one thing that calmed me when I was sure I wouldn’t make it home those nights. It became a habit very quickly and I began to write down my words. I submitted a poem to my school literary magazine as a dare and have been publishing ever since. I have two poems and a play published.” — Cynthia

Artwork above: Teunis Swart

Bobbi S. Rudin is a graduate of the MA program in Mythology and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and is also a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in mindful creative living. Her poetic writings are published in The Muse: An International Journal of Poetry (Vol. 3. Issue 2), Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology of Present Day Best Poems, a chaos of angels, Kali’s Kites Essays from the Mythological Imagination, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly (Issue 65 Winter 2015), and between: Pacifica Graduate Institute Literary Review Journal. Her poetry book Testament: A Poetic Journey Thru the Cycles of Life is available at Amazon.

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Master the Ship

By Denise Martin

Samiamidi - Find Your Way Out

Samiamidi – Find Your Way Out

Gender is just a condition
Transfer, transform, transpose
Change from one entity into another
Evaluate by rejecting conventional standards
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is

Race is transferable
Ancestry, family, lineage is deniable
Genetic code patterns a lie
Belong to any race you choose
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is

Laws are irrelevant
Divine commandments collectively obsolete
Useless, empty, insignificant, worthless
Emotional, overpowering passion rules
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is

Words mean nothing
Keep them, break them, hang on them
Change to whatever you wish them to mean
Interpret to your benefit
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is
_________________________

Denise A. Martin has been published in Parents Magazine and Unity Magazine and has won various awards for her non-fiction essays.

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if we belong

by Mauricio Almonte

if
we belong
to language
as much as . . .
(we think)
language belongs
to us,
you, too,
are here
i imagine;
you think.

____________________

Mauricio Almonte is an MFA student in Creative Writing: Nonfiction. Writer, translator, critic with some publications. He now resides in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

Portrait by: Guillaume Luisetti — “It’s Right Here”

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One Fig Tree | Rachel Miskei

GrassUnkempt grass
supports our weight —
bouncing back after our swollen
feet climb further still for the highest point we can reach.

It prickles, so
our arches covet the swaying grass,
long in the early summer,
browned
by the nibbling of
birds.

My toes
can’t grab hold —
the dirt slipping through gaps,
roots pulling loose from the soiled
unsteady ground.

Your hands,
stronger next to my raw skin —
gashed open patterns
patch my arms with
shadows of the
folds in sheets
wrestling with feet.

We aim for
the shade of a fig tree.

We could be
in the shade of a fig tree.

My shoe
tumbles down the dew
dropped mountain,
hitting
the paint-chipped
fence reverberating
our reminder.
_________________________
Rachel Miskei is a recent college graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing from Loyola Marymount University. “When nature and dreams merge with my writing, I have found my refuge, my calm amidst this chaotic heart.” Rachel —

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Channeled Not Cabled

Art by ZO Featured Artist: John W. Davis IV

Art by ZO Featured Artist: John W. Davis IV

By Kine Fall

Golden sunrise
Gave birth to my ancestors.
And they ask,
“Have you seen the rainbow children?”

Soul group calling
Chords of light!
Veils are thinning,
There is no time.

Planets are aligning to your sol center

And they say,
“Can you hear the poles shifting?”

Disruption;
Convergence.

Corruption;
Soul Emergence.

The alchemist wills gold!

And the Earth shakes,
A God creates.

And so it is.

_________________________

Artist Statement

For Kine Fall, art is all about looking past the mundane into the unseen aspects of life. Her goal is to shed light upon the power we individually hold to create our reality.

“For too long I have allowed my own mind to hold me prisoner. Remaining trapped and discouraged by fear and self-doubt. Looking and finding only the same options over and over again, until I found myself in the trenches of heartache. The courage to let go and step into my divinity was a result of constantly giving myself therapy through writing and the arts. It is my purpose to bring this healing to those around me. To magnetize the feeling of complete oneness and gratitude for all that is through my work and help others transcend the limitations they set for themselves.” — Kine

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lizard

© Lisa Ridings | Fantommst -- "Small Dragon"

© Lisa Ridings | Fantommst — “Small Dragon”


By KD Matheson

Winds abrade, footsteps pulse to
a telluric rattlesnake beat, as i
ascend through sandstone, gypsum,
cactus spines and clay

Parched totems in a waterless sea
i dream of lizards under a tectonic spell,
memories of godless nights, lost beginnings,
coyotes beneath the ichorous gaze of
the moon
_________________
KD Matheson is an artist, painter, sculptor and digital media creator now living in Las Vegas, NV (US).

ink-4

Fault Lines

Rafael S.W
fault-lines-3
fault-linesShe’s scratching her mosquito bites ‘til they bleed, and they’re bleeding.

It’s the dust, she coughs out: it makes me nervous. Jeb understands, he can’t stop

looking out the small sliver of light, using it on his body like when he was a kid

burning ants with magnifying glass. It doesn’t feel warm, it doesn’t feel anything

but the dust swirls in it, small as grit in a contact, sometimes clouding over. Steph, his

boss before the world ended, has finished freshening her macabre nail polish and watches

him becoming an ant. Her brow furrowed in seismic sadness, her mouth the sinkhole.

I just, she says, …want you to know in case we die – ….. stop, he says, if you don’t

say it, you can’t die. ….. . . . I won’t be able to go in peace, she adds but falls silent. Jeb

doesn’t explain his refusal to help her ready herself for death. Doesn’t care

what her secret is, whether she loves or despises or thinks he’s gay. There is

another small tremor like the nation giving its death rattle. They are neither heaven

nor hell, but just as dead. Between that old celestial rock and godly hardplace. Dust falls

from everywhere like poverty snowflakes. Jedidiah stands under the only light

and speaks softly of all the worser ways to die.

________________
Rafael S.W was the winner of ZO’s 2014 Poetry Expo. He is a recent Creative Writing graduate and a founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. Rafael has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Voiceworks, and Award Winning Australian Writing. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games.

Cloud-orb-yx

NOTHINGNESS & the NIGHTSKY

Photo by PIERRE GABLE available at http://pierre-gable.fr/

“Forever Young” photo by PIERRE GABLE available at http://www.pierre-gable.fr/

By: SCOTT NAVICKY

As a small child, I used to mistakenly believe that physical deterioration was the most unpleasant aspect of getting older. Premonitions of an achy lower back, sore knees, arthritis, a hip replacement (or two), glaucoma haunted me nightly. After playing a single season of Midget League Baseball (I wasn’t very good), I became resigned to the fact that I would eventually need Tommy John surgery. While in High School, I remember scrutinizing the chapter on disease in health class like a man ordering sushi from an à la carte menu: two Palinopsia rolls, a piece of Sciatica sashimi, and some Kluver-Bucy Syndrome.

Now that I am an adult, I realize I was wrong: physical deterioration is NOT the most unpleasant aspect of aging. Erectile dysfunction is a foolish toy when compared to the canopy of darkness that continually envelopes adult life. Love, loss, betrayal, bereavement, disillusionment, diminishment: the sky gets darker and darker until all is consumed by the darknothingness of night. And the darkest hour of the blacknight comes with the unavoidable realization that death eventually takes away everything, even the most inconsequential of things. It takes away our books. It takes away the unfinished novels that live only in our dreamconsciousness. It takes away the songs we can’t stop singing. And it takes away our favorite poems.

Now here—
no where:
such a little
fatal pause.

On January 13th (my birthday, no less!) the poet who wrote these lines, Kay Ryan, almost experienced her own “little/fatal pause” when she was struck by a car while riding her bicycle near her home in Fairfax, California. The 68-year-old former poet laureate suffered a host of non-fatal injuries, including a fractured hip socket, broken ribs, a broken clavicle, and a punctured lung.

A punctured lung?

[Grimace]

That phrase never fails to conjure up the scene in Moby Dick where a wounded whale’s heart bursts, causing a stream of blood to erupt from its blowhole.

Live long enough and every whaleheart is assaulted by suffering to its burstingpoint. There ain’t no cure for that. And yet writers enjoy a perverse relationship to suffering: the more profoundly they suffer, the more profoundly they write. A quick glance at my bookshelf supports this theory: Shakespeare (erotomania, or was it genophobia?), Cervantes (penury & loss of a hand), Joyce (penury & exile), Nietzsche (penury & virginity), Dostoevsky (firingsquad fakery), Melville (more penury), Lucretius (possible lovepotion poisoning), Orwell (neckwound), and Beckett (pimpwound).

Of course, nothing lasts forever, not even suffering. There’s a great deal of comfort to be found in De Rerum Natura, especially when the ancient Roman poet consuls:

“Asleep in death; so shall you be for all
that’s left of time, exempt from grief and pain”

The darknothingness of night waits to embrace us all. This explains why the act of writing is so essential; it offers a brief, beautiful burst of illumination against the ever-encroaching all-devouring darkness.

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A CHILD SAID, WHAT IS THE GRASS?

By: WALT WHITMAN

Sława Kładoczna-Gryta Photography

© Sława Kładoczna-Gryta Photography

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . . the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Glowing Circle 2x

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