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Spring 2005 Issue

Ending up

careful what you clap for and how you clap do your hands snap
or do you cup them as if drinking water

what is this tickle in my throat what is that birdsong I keep hearing
how did I get off topic when did I...

hard to ignore the clock’s ticking even though it is ignoring you
I like what wants to last like how music makes

a white fort there is a love always surrendering
from war born from the womb of scars the son of distance

when the piano decrescendos most evenings before sleep
I am uneven with the world

a Tibetan woman her whole family gone
is selling rings for three dollars in a small shop on Haight street

I don’t know what this widening space means looking more now
at nouns like that decaying barn this callous on my hand

the sky is not for sale it’s a series of clearances
I need the river to freeze over so a cool breeze can pass over it

forgetfully everything I consider now ends up an explanation
like reading the lines in an open palm it is possible for hours to watch

the way smoke moves

Autumn/Winter 2005 Issue

Summer 2004 Issue

Winter 2004 Issue

Summer 2003 Issue

Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


For you, Mr. Frost

We turned your home into a tourist attraction.
A fire alarm in Elinor’s laundry room.
A coffee maker in your outhouse.
A TV in your barn.
Around the television, nicely arranged photographs
of you, your family, your life–
like a seventh grade science fair project.
I sat down in front of the TV, noticing next to it
a sketch of your crooked face cradled in folded arms,
your voice from the TV speaker concluding
“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Inside, on the barn walls, you would be glad
to see the Robert Frost Youth Program prize poems,
especially Alex’s “There and Back Again”
even if it had no rhyme or rhythm at all.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”
the tiny TV speaker blares.
My eyes shift and stare at Claire. She sits
at the barn’s entrance, charging $2.50
to hear her lecture about how you lived, how
your home was typical. She bragged
of the wooden kitchen floor, painted
blood red the way it used to be.
I meant to ask her why
the whole first floor is that color now.

“That driveway wasn’t there in Frost’s time,”
she comments as she looks out of the kitchen window
where Elinor once admired her vegetable garden.
Now the driveway leads to a parking lot in your backyard.
Claire said poetry was your second business here
and I almost believed her until she called you eccentric
for milking your cows at noon and midnight
so that you could write.
Then she showed us the chair where you first thought
good fences make good neighbors,
probably nodding off from time to time into
just some human sleep.

Eventually, I went upstairs and stood alone over
the thin, faded, pink and white quilt you slept under
and made love to Elinor as best you could.
Did you have something to do with the wallpaper’s refusal
to cling to the bedroom wall, the ceiling’s cracking?..

As Claire wound down the tour, she was running out
of ways to make your home more attractive to tourists.
I sat back down in front of your sketch and smiled politely at her
as she said, “I have another video if you’d like to see that.”

So I left your home, walked down a freshly mowed path
and saw a piece of granite, grasped it firmly from the bottom
and heaved the old stone back into its place, thinking,
I would like to build a house around this place of yours, Mr. Frost,
a wall between us and you to keep between us
as we go driving our cars into your backyard.

Your Parents’ Separating is the Same as Nowhere
Comfort Inn near Paris Island, 2002

Again, you’re stuck in this world. “Take for instance
the moss on trees, hanging like the curtains
in this commercial hotel room…” explains
the careful window in its quiet reticence.
It knows what not to say because of experience.
“Your mother’s loud snoring never complains
about his lack of hearing.” Her sleep sustains
and sadness moves to madness through her conscience.
The sliding stream does not disturb the lowlands.
“Why won’t you love?” you want to say to your father.
You walk above the river holding hands
with no one, save the wind that comes from nowhere.
The otter backstrokes silently through the marshlands
along the road that leads away to somewhere.

Neurotic lament

I say to night send light and it comes. By now
I’ve consumed a decent amount of whiskey.
It has been suggested way too much, in fact.
But this is my whiskey wisdom. Clumsy is
my this, wiz when that one is thy this.
This is my bourbon boredom. Bored is my this,
dumb when that one is my miss. I spin
her spindle. I win a windmill. The kindle,
its desperate flame–it’s all it knows. Along
the river I wander nameless, salute the anonymous,
return to neurosis in an old man’s basement
asleep in its dream of indifference to light
whatever cigarette I have—watching its smoke rise
I realize she’ll always be willing to take the stairs.
Within this light, she’s like a sin. I’ve almost
stopped surrounding myself in dream. Last night
I shed my skin then smiled at my past because
in it I am always alive, expecting less.
One marooned wall please for the lack I’ve seen.
One back porch screen in some dense forest
for the wind to pass through without explanation.
And one red wine glass rim to kiss for this
pair of tired whiskey lips. With the smiling
willow and the weeping daisy, I wish her
less sorrow. I look through a window
at the water that does not look back.
But bye and by and through and thru. I wish
me more. On try four I pick a tree for her
but crows, perched in hundreds, weigh it down,
their flapping predicting darkness, the wine holding
its breath. With her beside me on a rooftop
on Sylvan Street, I am a mill and the wind through it.
I am two empty bourbons on the bar and one
cigarette left to burn. I picture my mother
praying by a window, slow and longingly,
then look to look through a mirror, not at it.
The wind always has good timing, without trying.
Tonight, someone screamed at me from a passing car
to watch out! What for would have been helpful.
What a difference a day does not make.
Now it is anytime again and I want always
to think, perfect timing. I want
to watch the river to learn how to forget.
She wins a spindle. The windmill spins. Her swindle,
its desperation–it’s all it is. I promise,
once I sail away, I’ll be gone for good.
And if I fail today I’ll chop more wood
to toss into a fire, name it burning,
and by and bye, and through and thru. So you
be she and I’ll be me and once we’re two
we’ll make a one. The smoke thickens so you
can see more of the way the air moves.
Sostenuto. You sustain. By now, you are still
reading this and I am walking somewhere
under the rain, grinning and stomping. To give
you something better than I could before—
befire, begrace. Be a yellow and red dance
in the remembrance I make. You make my shoulders
your precipice. I slouch into your care, the kind
that beckons in the light and grows through the hands.
I go to the mountain to pray. I love you the way
the leaves fall into the river, deliberately, bravely.
I know you from everywhere. I want you to only
think of me so far as the limits of your longing.
Based on some things, something’s likely
to happen. It will or it might. I say to light
send some night and it comes.

Ending open

running out into the morning daytime as time keeps walking in
the nooning heretime without hertime is it too late or too early

for a glass of wine my throat’s been dry for a week now and I haven’t been
in a boat in a while to return ashore to a yellow wink from a dandelion

in December hung over so far it’s hung under and I spend my keep
by the overstand and undersit again though I’ve never been less

warmer don’t these wool socks always seem older been so long since I’ve been
capable of assuming my reasoning might matter like how when what

trout might spatter some water-meaning on the rocks parched by sunlight
better call a time in to drink this logic in a snifter rather before I binge on

blue grey eyes her light blue look back from a folded sweater neck
this sipping made sacred because one glance would save me am scared

to watch the ball lift under a stuffed moon my life shuffling into a file
the widows’ sigh come crawling long night long light

to the window trapped in its wind now sliding open

Before receiving my honors BA in English Literature from the University of Michigan, Kevin Stoy studied abroad in Tibet where he ate three hard boiled eggs for breakfast each morning. After returning from work abroad, he bought a one way Greyhound bus ticket (on Sept 7, 2001) bound for New York. He currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where he is studying poetry in the MFA program at George Mason University.

Copyright 2005, Kevin Stoy. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.