A Look At What's To Come...


Robert Gray
Sydney, Australia

Ah yes, I see you noticed.
Your eyes it seems are trapped
by that tiny spot of misplaced dirt,
staining our disinfected purity.
Well that's the place where Christ came to tea,
and forgot to wipe his feet.
I thought I cleaned it all away,
but who can focus on cleaning
when the dancing bears are in town?
Stumbling around their tethers.
Muted claws and filed back teeth,
shining an appreciable ferocity in tightly measured packages...
with their funny hats,
and flushing multihued coats.
Their furious groans and roaring crowds.
Their thick and shaggy hides and their deep and boundless eyes,
black and receding,
empty...but for the tiny speck of...
sorry, my mind wanders easily.
If you just give me a moment,
I'll wipe the dust away for you and the tour can continue.
Let's not hold things up.


There are certain poems that can be described as "stylized." This "stylization" may be a result of explicit features of the subject matter, the mechanics, the vocabulary, the "logic" of the piece, the diction, the word combinations, and who knows what else--- It effects upon the reader a sense of novelty, craftedness, artfulness...and perhaps a sense of the poet's own personality in the piece. Well, suffice it to say, this piece is stylized. Or at least it has some stylized elements. I am thinking in particular of lines such as "Stumbling around their tethers" and "Muted claws..." and "shining an appreciable ferocity in tightly measured packages" and so on. I am sure the image we are supposed to get is one of domesticated bears, watered down to a diminished level of legendary fierceness: bound by tethers, claws removed, teeth filed away, adorned with clown-like hats, dancing, their eyes lifeless. But before I can actually get to that image, I get to the sentences, the lines themselves, that convey the image. Why, for instance, "stumbling around their tethers" rather than stumbling around in their tethers? And shining an appreciable ferocity? What I mean is, why those words in particular? The effect it produces is one that paradoxically feels right and wrong at the same time. The word choice makes you do a double-take...certainly they didn't mean to say that, did they? And yet, there is an undeniable aesthetic effect to it. Of course whether this was intended or not, only the poet knows. Ultimately for me, however, the word choice came to feel more wrong than right. Of course this is merely a matter of taste and not any criticism of the piece as it is quite well crafted, and the word choice did, in fact, produce a very noticeable aesthetic effect. Overall, I liked this poem.

The Bear's Primordial Poetry
Peter Parasol
San Jose, California, USA


What does the winter-bear in its winter-den
dream of, in its simple, ursine vulgate?
In crystallized fossil resin, the bear's
sleeping form, curled and rounded, can be seen
above ground. That is its dream, the amber
petrifaction of a colossus
without a body, roaming dark and starry
across the bristling forests of the night.


Such a waste, someone will say, this floral
hullabaloo, but men covet it for its
acoustic properties. Its felicitous
aural aesthetic: the resonances
that echo upon formless bodies
in the mind of men. So. They will hunt it,
stalking silent, and not know what to hear.
And the ursine amber rings in their ears.


What shame! What decadent waste for fictive things!
The dream of the winter-bear is in its
winter-den, in the fetal curl of amber,
now mere ornament that the men hunt
and their women wear as bawdy jewelry.
They twirl their parasols
in rococo pirouettes, smug in their
muzzy minds and souls,
resisting poetry almost successfully.


The winter-bear shifts uncomfortably
in its blue winter-den, its dream is mere
ornament to an above-ground volplaning
parade of men, returned from the hunt.
Its dreams make the music, the true sounds,
the brass singing
dum-digga digga-dum dahn-da-dah,
ushering in la primavera---
this is the dream of the winter-bear, waking.

Natalie Portman Colorized - #1,2,3
Emmanuelle Umbrella
Key West, Florida, USA

Emily Scali
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Untitle scene
Garosh Galosh
San Jose, CA, USA

(Night. A desert somewhere outside Vegas. The sound of a convertible pulling over, “Backstage Sally” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers playing. A door opens, shuts, followed closely by another. Lights come up on Felix and Juliette.)

(Turned around, urinating.)

You gotta pee too?

(Looks over his shoulder at JULIETTE. She lights a cigarette.)


Naw, I’m just gonna watch you.

(Leans on FELIX, one arm around his waist, chin on his shoulder. Turns her head, exhaling a
long plume of smoke, then returns her gaze to the sky with FELIX. They are silent.)



(Enunciating each word slowly and deliberately.)

The hand of God.

Profound. As always, baby.

(FELIX zips his fly. Leaning forward, JULIETTE drops the cigarette into the puddle of urine. They both watch it slowly extinguish.)

How’d you sleep?

I dreamt.

Yeah. I watched you dream. Almost crashed the car. Your brother would kill me. So tell me ‘bout it.

I’m sitting at a table in a very cozy place. Private booth, live jazz, atmosphere, and all that. And I’m with the love of my life.


Oh, and you were there too.


And we’re havin’ drinks and our lips are touching and our hands and our faces…and our tongues…

(She casts a sidelong glance at him, smiling.)

And I take a delightfully long sip as your hand creeps up my dress. Then---well…hotel room key, do not disturb sign---you know.

Ooh. That establishment---it wouldn’t happen to be in Vegas, would it?

Most likely.

You are one hell of a woman.

I know.

Right there. That right there, is sexy. That’s what makes you so “persuasive,” Jules. Confidence is irresistible.


Any man I want is mine. I’m a raven-haired Marilyn Monroe. I have the world at my finger-tips.

(Looking down at the ground, smiling, sighing.)


(Partially to himself.)

The raven-haired phantom of my dreams.

(Looks up at the sky.)

Isn’t the desert sky great? The sky goes on forever without a single disruption. You ain’t in a hurry to get to Vegas are you?

(Lays down on a flat rock, folding his arms beneath his head.)

Not if you aren‘t, soul mate.

(Smiles down at FELIX before taking a seat beside him.)

Let’s talk. We’ll start with the first star in Ursa Major’s handle. That will be one topic and each star will be a different topic.

(Thinks for a moment.)

I love you.


(Exhales audibly.)

You know…I wanna get my head around you so bad. You’re so--- The way you think, the way you talk, the way you see things. If there is a God, he’s inside your head, Felix.


I like to think that when we kiss, I’m a part of your vision. I can’t explain it worth shit, but---you know…a part of your eyes, your mind. A part of the way you see the world.

(Smiling smugly.)

If you insist.

Okay, next star. Its your turn.


What are we? I mean…we share an apartment, we share out thoughts and secrets, sometimes we even share a toothbrush---


---we have sex, we go out to bars together, we drive each other’s relatives to and from the airport, we point out and ridicule each other’s little defects.

(Juliette looks away.)

Are we lovers? Are we friends with really really good benefits? Are we some kind of anomaly? I’m trying to get my head around that.

(Lays down, puts her head on his stomach, draws herself closer against him, and pulls his arm around her.)

Yeah, well, I may have the world at my finger-tips, but you have it fully in your grasp, you know that?

(Strokes her hair.)

What’re you thinking?

Of…when your parents died and…your eyes were deep with grief, but you smiled at me---and there was nothing in the world that could erase that smile from that moment.

Was that another star, or is it your turn now?

No, baby. That was my answer to your question. Its my turn.

(Traces the sand on the rock with one finger, thinking.)

I brought some flowers to your parents’ graves the other day. I didn’t tell you. I didn’t know what kind of flowers are appropriate for that kinda thing. I brought them calla lilies.

Perfect. Calla lilies are lovely flowers.

I saw the cacti you left them. That’s very cute. You even named them. The small one Asterix, and the big one Obelix.


To keep them company.

Cute. Unique choice of plant. Little blooms were beginning to sprout on them. Bright red.

Oh really? I thought they’d be dead by now. Too much water. It had been pretty rainy lately.

Yeah it started raining. While I was there. But I didn’t want to leave. I just stood there and laughed at Asterix and Obelix, and thought about Stephen and my mother. I got soaked.

Ah I remember. That’s when you came home, drenched…and crying. I got you in the shower and---


---well, I guess we had sex that day huh?


It was great.

You looked so beautiful soaked to the bone like that.


Standing there with your hair plastered against your face. Crying into my shoulder. It was like recovering a lost limb.


You know…sometimes when people lose a limb, they report having the sensation of a “phantom limb” where the lost limb used to be.


You‘re so random.

Yeah. I guess that’s another star. Is it my turn yet?

Nuh-uh, baby. I’m not done. I went to visit my step-father---Stephen---in the hospital. Its so bad. We played chess. I told him it’d be a shame to see him go.


Told him I didn’t mind being called his oldest, or that his perverted friends always checked me out and talked about me behind my back. I didn’t cry. But I didn’t pretend to “hope for the best.”

He‘d made his peace, I think. Not that I have any kinda authority in the matter.

(Rubs her shoulder reassuringly.)

I think you do.


I don‘t know how you can still see me as the strong, confident person you say I am.

Of course you are, Jules. You’re damn sexy. That means you’re confident. Because confidence is sexy. You see how that logic works?

(They laugh.)

I didn‘t even cry at the hospital. With Stephen. But I broke down and cried in front of you that day. I don’t know how you can still see me person you say I am.

Alright well, now its my turn.

(Points at an arbitrary point in the sky.)

The next star: “ditto.”

(Silence. JULIETTE looks up at him questioningly.)



(Smiles contently into the sky.)

Okay, and what exactly does that mean, buddy?

(She jabs him with an index finger.)

I don’t know how you can see me as the whatever it is you see me as.

(They both gaze up at the sky silently.)

I saw you bow your head in solemn reverence…but acceptance…at your parents‘ funeral. And you know what else? When I took a closer look, I could see that you were smiling. Now either you are a heartless son of a bitch, or else you know something I don’t. I don’t know what it is. But I know you aren’t heartless. I’ve been there myself. There. That’s my star. I think we’ve used up the Big Dipper.

No we haven’t. I said Ursa Major, which contains a lot more stars than we’ll probably have topics for. Besides, even the constellation that we recognize as the Big Dipper is itself made up of seven stars. And we’ve only done like, what, five?

Technicalities, baby.


Jules. I love you.

I love you too, Felix.


Tell me about it.

My raven-haired phantom.

(A pause.)

I dream about you, you know?

(Frowning into his shirt.)

I don‘t believe you.

(Brushes her hair out of her face.)

I do.


And its always so cold in the mornings, in bed, alone---waking with the memory of warmth.

We sleep together all the time.

Yeah. But where are you the rest of the time?

(He pulls her hands up above her head, spreading her fingers out, gazing through them at the stars.)

Maybe I just don’t know what we are. You haunt me in my dreams---and when I‘m awake.

(Bends her hand back, kissing her palm as her fingers curl underneath his chin. Then she pulls her arms back.)

(Gets up onto her knees, bracing herself with one hand on his chest, the other interlocked with his. Leans in and kisses him. Hovers over him, silent, searching his face for a response.)

You once said: “life is but a dream.”

(FELIX narrows his eyes questioningly, then looks off into the distance beyond JULIETTE as the recognition of something comes to his face. She straightens up, turns around, takes a few steps, and lights up a cigarette.)

Yes. I did say that.

(Folds his arms back under his head.)

Alright. One star left.

(Perks his head up to see if JULIETTE has anything to say. She exhales a long plume of smoke.)

I’ll finish it, then.

(He becomes silent in thought.)

(Shudders visibly.)

It’s getting cold.

(Turns towards FELIX.)

You’re not cold?

I won’t be if you come back here and lay down with me.

(His gaze remains fixed on the sky. JULIETTE grinds the cigarette into the ground with one foot, holding herself, slightly hunched. She looks towards the car.)

I think we should go soon.

But the desert---the sky---so beautiful.

Its getting cold.

(She sits down, her hip against his side, holding herself, looking towards the car. FELIX wraps an arm around her waist.)

It’s a flower in your hair.


So beautiful. The desert, the desert sky. It complements your eyes, Jules.

(JULIETTE questions him with her eyes, arching an eyebrow in scrutiny.)

It makes me want you so much.

(He kisses her hand, then turns his head away for a moment. Her hand lingers there, trembling slightly.)

Let‘s go, Felix.

(She tugs on his arm, he doesn’t budge.)

Not yet, Jules. We still have one star.

Baby, its cold and I---

(A distraught look comes over her face, she lowers her head onto his chest. They are silent for some time until the sound of her sobbing steadily grows more audible.)

---we didn’t come here to gamble or to have a good time, Felix.

No, no we didn’t.

Stephen’s gone. And we came here to get my mother. Everything’s falling apart.

Everything will be fine, Jules.

You‘re so sweet, Felix. But you don’t have to say that. I’m sorry I dragged you into this.

I don‘t think you understand. I was a necessary part of all of this. I---

(He pauses, his expression serious in contemplation.)

---the desert, the Big Dipper, the stars, the conversation, the doubt, and myself…all a necessary part of it.

(He is now smiling reassuringly as JULIETTE looks up at him.)

Remember that poem by Robert Browning?


“God’s in His heaven--all’s right with the world!”

(After a moment of silence, she inches up, until her face rests on his neck.)

Once, again, you’ve lost me, baby.

This is what I wanted to tell you. The final star.

(He digs around in his pants pocket and produces a napkin, which he hands to JULIETTE to wipe her tears. He kisses her on the forehead and sighs, gazing out into the distance.)

That dream. About you. it’s a recurring type thing, you know. I’m in a room, filled to the beams with moonlight, and I can feel you everywhere. But I can’t touch you or feel your warmth or see you or anything. I just kneel there with a solemn look on my face---because I know that that is the extent to which I can have you. Odd dream huh?

Is that it?

No. Every time I feel like there‘s more and more of a sense of…destiny. And when I wake up, you’re usually not there. Eventually, I realized that the solemn look on my face is actually a look of repose. And when I think about it, I can make out the faint semblance of a smile.

(Looking into his face.)

What kind of a smile?

You tell me.

The kind I saw you with at your parents‘ funeral.

Yeah. That’s the one.

(They are both silent.)

I love you, baby.

(They kiss. Lights dim, sound of car engine starting, car tires driving over a gravelly road.)

End scene.


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