Other notable works by Corrine De Winter, Tom Chandler and Amber Decker.
I tried to kill myself by reading
some poetry by John Updike.
I am running from the pain all the time now … you know the one,
that single empty chamber that has no name;
It runs in the dark door in extreme pallor,
a disgust quotient of 10 over 4 in our great American life—
that bomb coming through your doorway courtesy
of the USA;
a person disappearing, delicately diaphanous as they go
into the nothingness forever; shhhh! whispered; a kind of death
that we pretend God doesn’t hear;
that bloody spot on the ground where someone once stood,
a spot where their child will stand twenty years from now,
—the polychrome buildings glimmering in the thin reflection
of God, his personal photog spinning around, over and over,
to get the picture.
No. 5, 1948
We lit the candle right at the center of the cul-de-sac,
recited all the right incantations to make your ghost reappear,
scared like children, we had to ran away out onto the abandoned
running to the edge of the woods like the deer run away,
and at the very top of the hill we saw the two purple sunsets,
and they dripped out of the sky like Jackson Pollock’s
No. 5, 1948,
but the sun had already set that day, and we knew that the
world was dying, and that we were all dying too—that we had
only a few seconds left.
Gun, With Occasional Music
Across the river nobody was dying,
but back here in the red, white, and blue of America
you were all getting shot.
In the stress of our own disregard we began
to say: let’s get rid of all of the guns;
but it’s hard to say this to a man with a gun.
So we all went out to our little Italian restaurants,
and you wore your beautiful silver dress,
and I wore my darkest black shirt;
drinking Mojito cocktails, we listened to the haunting music
playing in WaterPlace Park,
watched them shoot the fireworks on up over Providence—
yellow weeping willow, orange spider web,
all of America dying while these dark jewels were lighting up
the nighttime sky.
The book of Mary
I can’t remember waking up in love with you,
because I don’t remember falling asleep in love with you.
You and I are a million words that don’t exist yet,
startled one hour, starving for each other the next,
both of us underdeveloped in our togetherness,
cutting each other’s wrists in the kitchen sink,
blood the color Henry Miller would write it,
in a moment when we both realize there is no use lingering,
pain like God’s pain, his eyes bulging from the wars,
through the blue room you can feel it in your throat,
you tear your clothes off, hang yourself by your hands with rope,
you are the most secret thing in the world, rain on a dark child’s face,
you break me because you want all of me,
you love me because the pain is that enormous,
this is right now, tonight, yesterday, a million years in the future,
I drive in a yellow cab looking for you everywhere,
“Come,” I hear you saying; “Come,” I hear in darkness;
“People are just things,” you keep signing to me in my hand—
as though we can both just edit a lifetime full of mistakes.
(Originally published by Outsider’s Ink 2004)
Jéanpaul Ferro is a novelist, short fiction author, and poet from Providence, Rhode Island. His work has been featured in Review Americana, Hawaii Review, Portland Monthly, Cortland Review, Pedestal Magazine, Barrelhouse Magazine, and others. His poetry has been featured on WBAR radio in NYC and he is a 4-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Additionally, his book of short fiction, All the Good Promises, was published by Plowman Press in 1994. E-mail at: email@example.com
Corrine De Winter-
I came with the first snow
in the Year of the Dragon.
You wouldn’t have noticed,
just a handful of silver dust
commingled in the frozen white
that fell like an acrobat.
I came silently, without words,
expecting no miracles
But it was love that gave me breath.
This is not the speak easy
Where a man who says he’s dying
Asks for a quarter,
Where Monroes and Harlows flutter by,
Where you imagine you’ll meet
A woman with eyelashes
Who wants to have your child.
This is not the afternoon
Of swallows in the swimming pool.
This is not the super wild rose
Scent of a monarch
Emerging from its cocoon.
This is not the phone ringing
In early morning
To broadcast death.
This is not the year
Remember to remember
You come from the shine
The same way a mockingbird
Cannot mimic with precision.
The same way history
Precedes a beginning.
You come from the sea
Where wisdom is a pearl
And death is shallow water.
Remember the silvery loam
Of the ocean’s shadowy belly
When you slipped from the wide mouth
Into vast salt waters.
Remember your mother pushing you
Toward strange waters
So she would not eat you.
You come from the sky
Double bright with sun
And a crowd of moons
Cradled in stars.
The black folds of space
Where words, numbers, desire
And time mean nothing,
And timing is everything.
You come from a luminous cocoon
Ready to feed,
To shake hands with desire.
From chrysalis glow
To stained glass wings
Vivified orange, yellow and red.
You emerge from a flutter and move West
To steel cities
Ready to welcome you.
You come from smooth symmetry
And snow white artifacts,
Elemental dynamics and obstacles.
Internal music, pulsions.
You come from Faust’s
Bones of the dead,
And Dostoyevski’s multitude
You come from the green past,
The starry future
And the purgatory of now.
You bloom every season,
A diamond mine
Always in progress.
THE HOUSE OF YOUR SLEEP
“I read and was moved by a desire
to offer myself
to the house of your sleep.”
It was natural, the feeling
when I moved through those rooms.
Antiquities, paper weights,
portraits of a murdered President.
The lawns and maple trees sprawling green
outside the window.
How many dead still remained
in those hallways,
ascended those wide stairs
to stop the grandfather clock?
How many spirit fingers hovered
above the piano keys,
which must to them now appear
like the arrogant grin of the living?
These objects bequeathed for a hundred years,
left to enlighten or engulf,
to remind one how our need to possess beauty
is an empty mortal act.
In the bedroom next to yours
I dreamed that the rooms
were drowning in past sorrow.
I dreamed you had opened the door
and touched me awake,
that your confession, your passion, was truth.
The hound outside howled
and we danced to Spanish music in the sitting room.
And all of the dead danced with us
and were glad.
Nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize, Corrine De Winter’s poetry, fiction, essays and interviews have appeared worldwide in publications such as the The New York Quarterly, Imago, Phoebe, Plainsongs, Yankee, Sacred Journey, Interim, The Chrysalis Reader, The Lucid Stone, Fate, Press, Sulphur River Literary Review, Modern Poetry, The Lyric, Atom Mind, The Writer, The Lyric and over 800 other publications. She has been the recipient of awards from Triton College of Arts & Sciences, Writer’s Digest, The Esme Bradberry Award, The Madeline Sadin Award, The Rhysling Award, and has been featured in Poet’s Market 1995-2006. Her work is featured in the much praised collections Bless the Day, Heal Your Soul, Heal the World, Get Well Wishes, Essential Love, The Language of Prayer , Mothers And Daughters, and in Bedside Prayers, now in its 18th printing.
Ms. De Winter is a member of HWA (Horror Writer’s Association) and is a resident of Western Massachusetts.
De Winter is the author of 9 collections of poetry & prose including Like Eve, The Half Moon Hotel, and Touching The Wound, which sold over 3000 copies in its first year, “The Women At The Funeral“, winner of the 2004 Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in poetry, and the latest published by Dark Regions Press “Tango In The 9th Circle.”
Song & Dance Man
Now he’s hunched with the rest
over lunch of nuked soup in this
clattery cafeteria, cheek bones
honed to a whore’s whisper,
the sad map face folded in thirds
and each third saggy as shit but
back when he was hitting on those
summer circuit waitresses he had
real teeth and a tune to polish
every minute of the night so
of course she made him sing it
right at her and yes he made her
howl when he left, all slouchy
cigarette with no paunch then
and plenty punch, brassy jazz
on three martinis when he’d drop
to one knee, spread arms wide enough
to take in everything and all its loser
history and belt one out to make you
see how raggedy and right he loved
his smiley bad self.
Because I need to recall what it felt like
to live through Wednesday, March 9th, 1996,
the way it pressed against my shoulders,
its hours lodged in my shoe like small stones.
Because in some distant toothless future
I will need to know that Friday, May 28th, 1989
was when I had my mouth caressed
by the gentle fingers of a dental assistant
long folded into memory’s shadow of itself.
Because my instructions to the bereaved,
from whom I must eventually be torn like a page,
are to read aloud how I was proud to gather
the harvest of dry cleaning, was the one among
many who drove up smartly for the oil change
on time, made the lunch plans and kept them,
took pains to log in the latitude & longitude
of wherever I thought I was heading.
I think I’d like to die in Rhode Island someday,
wading in the bay in rotten sneakers at slack water,
my basket partly full of clams, my eyes focused
on their little air holes in the sand
on a late afternoon on a late August weekday,
with clouds herding up along the south horizon,
banking off toward Block Island and beyond,
and I will swat at a greenhead buzzing near my neck
and fall into the slant of four o’clock sun beneath
the half-inch ripples of the incoming tide and close out
this story, except for the postscript where I’m later found
by two guys floating by in a rented canoe eating meatball subs
who took the day off to drink some beer on the bay
and never thought they’d read about themselves in the paper
or that night tell their wives about the body they found
face down in the muck and how the police questioned them
about the beer and so this story will pass from mouth
to ear across the towns I lived in, the places where I rode my bike
to the story to buy my mother’s cigarettes and Mike Boyle’s brother
will recall the time I broke into the school that night with Mike
and Sheryl Pannebaker’s father will fold the newspaper in his lap
and think it was a good thing she married a chiropractor and across
the football field near the high school a couple of kids will stop
laughing and look up at the sky for no reason while out on the bay
a sudden piece of wind will blow in from the sea and the spot
near the shore where I felt this story collapse in my chest
will be commemorated by mud and the stink of low tide
and the gray sails of circling gulls.
(Originally published in The Atlanta Review)
Oz only less so,
where scarecrows go to die
in wind hove down from
the mountain’s secret rooms
and the barbed wire walls
of a plaintalk church can break
a man into a sweat at the very idea
of Jesus swirling inside the tornado,
where the sky can squat
and take a dump
directly on your house
and you can only cringe
and pray in a closet
as your town goes flat
in fifteen seconds
with nothing left
but a steeple
and the trimmings
from a four dollar haircut,
where God lingers
over a second cup
in the roofless diner
then climbs back up
the stairs in the air,
stares out across
of wheat, corn,
stirs some clouds,
rubs his perfect chin.
Tom Chandler, poet laureate of Rhode Island emeritus, has been named Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Brown University, and has been a featured poet at the Robert Frost homestead. His work has been read on National Public Radio by Garrison Keillor on several occasions.
I will not suffer a skeletal prison,
turned over in my wooden box crumpled
and slack-jawed, as though amazed at my own death.
My bones will be ground into dust.
I want to be sand.
I will die early and become stars
Skin is ornamental,
can be peeled off layer by layer
like a pretty dress
everyone is curious to know
what lies beneath.
Every life begins the same way,
two bodies clamoring,
all that flesh rising up against hands and mouths
like bread in an oven
rises with the heat.
I want to make love to fire,
to become ash.
I want to fade like trembling deer
disappearing in the dark.
I want to be the girl in a photograph
you will stare at for hours
just to taste the ghost of her name
in your mouth.
was not as big as I’d imagined it.
I used to think of words like cities and angels next to one another
in the same sentences. I used to dream about
Los Angeles a lot, but I’ve never been there.
City people walk as though enveloped in fog,
a long black dreaming coat. Maybe it makes them feel strong,
like their bones are made of metal and they can slip
into any shadow, disappear like smoke.
Getting off the plane was very erotic,
all that strange skin meeting skin in the baggage claim.
We all stepped off that plane together, that shiny silver bird
with wings like an angel.
We all walked through the tunnel into that other world,
into a light flush with new beginnings.
Everyone needs to forget who they are now and then.
If there is a tunnel, there is light on the other side.
There are angels calling you down.
And then there is the city, rising up and made of gold,
an animal that welcomes its fur being stroked
and bites only out of love.
If love is all we have in a lifetime, I’m reaching and
praying I will not dissolve with the rain.
City rain is not holy or clean,
especially not in 100 degree Texas heat.
A city full of love and strangers who walk the streets
with open mouths hoping to catch
the kisses that go astray— and they do, you know—
because every street looks the same.
When night falls, there are only neon stars
lit up like Las Vegas to wish on, but there are real angels everywhere
and little clouds of shimmering light. All that is left to do
is move forward.
ON THE REZ
pounding drum tribal rhythm
he exists wild with dreams
in a slow spin
his kaleidoscope beauty is deafening
under a manufactured dreamtime moon
I am soft wind carrying his nimble feet
a kachina doll he presses close
to his fevered beat
I dance you wild horse
throw you to the stars
gather you like cards
swing me like an eagle’s wing
across this bed of feathers
this symphony of wolf cries
we paint the sky with yellow fire
the trees rain down their leaves on us
in the dusk that settles
like buffalo at the lip of the stream
Born in Maryland in 1982 and raised in West Virginia, Amber Decker is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Sweet Relish (2002), and a chapbook, Lost Girls (2008). She has been a Featured Poet in the online poetry magazine Chantarelle’s Notebook, and her work has been published widely in various periodicals including Arsenic Lobster, Exquisite Corpse, The Orange Room Review, Zygote In My Coffee and others.