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Poem: Train Rides

strangers on a train
are better off
than two
who constantly share pillow thoughts
but could only meet
at given stations
on certain dates

the rides
are always brief, frenzied and hurried--
a rush hour commute,
with never enough time
to marinate in the melded flavors
of having arrived
at the same destination

hours after,
another train ride,
a new pair of strangers
are locked in conversation

we too are trapped
inside misted windows,
our turn to count lamp posts
and wonder how many more
stations, platforms and train rides
loom ahead the likes of us
who weren't blessed to be strangers
on our separate ways home.

steph cruz



Poem: The Candle

Anne Stephanie Cruz
Revision 1

my candle burns at both ends
you say,
primed wick licking
cast paraffin,

preventable, yes
but listen:
wax drippings are memories,
not tears--one end passion
the other pain;
a trail of petals shed,
overlapping then melding
into a molten mirror
of itself

it may not last the night,
i know,
its flame is a finger raised to your lips:
hush luv,
candles were made to yield;
its soul is life emptied to create light,
burning bright
before self-extinguishing
at the appointed hour

if, as you tell me,
everything is borrowed time
i should, like the candle,
embrace the inevitable:
yield to that last brush of wind
from your lips,
myself becoming a spent
burnt offering

a candle
unafraid to be consumed
choosing to burn
irreverently for you
than live in a glass case
damp and unlit.




a chorus of toads--
in leather and whip



Monsoon Rains

I used to love the rain. I remember, as a little girl, I would look forward to bathing in torrential showers with my playmates. I played hop and skip in puddles. And even then, I always kept an eye out for lightning. Rain used to be my refuge whenever I felt sad. Cliche' as it may sound, I can vouch that crying in the rain does bring about catharsis--an outpouring then cleansing then renewal.

Those days are long gone, though. In the last few years I have found myself turning dreadfully sad at the onset of the monsoon. Rain now makes me feel like the loneliest person on earth...and I hate it that we have such an extended rainy season. Sometimes i think the rain is trying to swallow me and drag me to the bottom of the lake. And I just lie there open-eyed, taking in everything that goes on in the world, but living perfectly detached from it. No longer a part of the picture, just a stranger looking in from the rain-scratched window.




Poem: Territorial


turned this cub
into a lioness

one whiff
of a fellow feline
in heat
shed eight lives'
past naivete

with the moon
her womb
carried her first-born fury
to term

she fed it claws
and in stealth
the unsuspecting,
but pussy-footing

in the morning...

lioness queen
licks her bloody paws

Steph Cruz, 8.9.06, rev.1



Speaking In Tongues

by Mary Rose O'Reilley

I go to church every Sunday
though I don’t believe a word of it,
because the longing for God
is a prayer said in the bones.

When people call on Jesus
I move to a place in the body
where such words rise,
one of the valleys
where hope pins itself to desire;
we have so much landscape like that
you’d think we were made
to sustain a cry.

When the old men around me
lift their hands
as though someone has cornered them,
giving it all away,
I remember a dock on the estuary,
watching a heron get airborne against the odds.
It’s the transitional moment that baffles me—
how she composes her rickety
grocery cart of a body
to make that flight.

The pine siskin, stalled on a windy coast,
remembers the woods
she will long for when needs arise; so
the boreal forest composes itself in my mind:
first as a rift, absence,
then in a tumble of words
undone from sense, like the stutter
you hear when somebody falls
over the cliff of language. Call it a gift.




wet morning--
trimming hedges
pruned by my lover