Speechless

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.

 

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Coming Autumn 2004

Objects of Our Great Anticipation

-Orchidelirium by Deborah Landau
-The Scar Saloon by Sholeh Wolpé

"Orchidelirium" cover

Photo: Deborah LandauOrchidelirium
by Deborah Landau

Winner of the 2003 Anhinga Prize for Poetry
from Anhinga Press

Delicious….Evocative….Sexy…Rich…Honest….Compelling.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye

 

 

DUSK ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE

Each year I grow smaller,
shed selves like those Russian dolls
hardening into the singular
glazed mannequin
wife.

Dusk on Mulholland Drive,
fire roads spike into the burntbrown hills
and I'm winding home along the spine of the city
as the thousand thousand lights click on
Ventura Boulevard strung out below like a fractured bone—

this city is fat with gas stations and tract homes,
where someone's shaking a tablecloth, scraping dishes,
clipping a child's moony fingernails—
where a radio's on so the dog won't be lonely
where couples sleep, wrapped in the marriage bed,
that thick gauze bandage.

Once evening was a clear glass bowl
empty of everything.

Once I was sixteen girls
in sixteen cities,
all of them possible.

 

AIR TRAVEL (Part 3 of 3)

The plane does not exist.
The plane is a metaphor.
The plane is a bird winging south
in a straight straight line
glimpsed by a nervous girl
lying on the school gymnasium floor.
It communicates with sophisticated clicks.
It says, soon you will arrive in Cleveland.
The plane is a dream of bees, a disc of moon,
the first new being of an alien race.
The plane is a tired bird now, looking for a sleeping space.
The gymnast tugs her shoe, flexes her foot over her head into the air.
She considers her attachment to the ground,
her solitary body fastened beneath the transparent blue
where all borders give way to emptiness.
She leans back and plucks the plane out of the sky.
She punts it into the rafters. She makes it disappear.
Then silence. No more booms or twittering.
The end, for the moment, of the jitters.
The night janitor comes on to mop up.


Deborah Landau was born in Colorado and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was educated at Stanford, Columbia, and Brown, where she was a Javits Fellow and earned a Ph.D. in English and American Literature. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Grand Street, Crab Orchard Review, The Antioch Review, Prairie Schooner, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Gulf Coast, and she has published critical articles on contemporary American poetry. She was a two-time winner of The Arroyo Arts Collective’s Poetry in the Windows Contest in Los Angeles. and a National Poetry Series finalist. “Air Travel” is forthcoming in Gulf Coast. "Dusk on Mulholland Drive" was published in Columbia


ALSO COMING SEPTEMBER 2004

The Scar Saloon
by Sholeh Wolpé

from Red Hen Press

 

 

 

IN A CHURCH ON A GREEK ISLE

The incense has been lit.
An old woman dressed in black
kneels at the altar muttering.

Such ardent longing!

She rises, crosses herself
then, one hand pressing on her bent back,
inches toward the grand arched doors.

She has lit the candle, said what needed to be said.
Now, she must go home and knead the dough she has put aside.

 

BUTCHER SHOP

Aisha was gunned down
in her father's butcher shop.
She was twenty-four, a virgin,
had a cat named Hanna.

The boys in black bandanas
the ones with large dark eyes
that devour light
wanted her brother.

And what better place for blood
than a butcher shop
where it already covers
the counters, stains the white aprons,
is sold in long red sausages.

 

ONE MORNING, IN THE L.A. TIMES

It's a picture of the universe
ripped in the middle
through which a child's head and shoulders lean.
His gaze
past sheaths of yellow stars
and wheels of pinhole lights
arrests your eyes.

For a moment you are confused.
Who is this celestial child
with round black eyes
and lips parted
as if speaking to you
in your kitchen chair
with the taste of coffee on your tongue?

You bend
look closer
read the caption.

This is not a picture of the universe
not a dark starry night
ripped by an impish god.

It is of a large black gate
riddled with bullet holes.


Sholeh Wolpé was born in Persia. After spending most of her teen years in the Caribbean and Europe, she moved to the U.S. Her poems and translations have been published in many literary journals and anthologies in the U.S., Canada and Europe, including Spillway, So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Words Without Borders. Her website is at www.sholehwolpe.com.

Credits: “In A Church on a Greek Isle” appeared in The Los Angeles Review, 2004. “Butcher Shop” was first published in So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets, 2003. “One Morning in the L.A. Times” appeared in JAMA (2003) and is forthcoming in Anthology of Contemporary East Asian, South East Asian and Middle Eastern Poets (2004).