Splash of the Month Collection -- 1998

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December of the Month

A Boy Named Delbert Taught Me Chess

By: Lucille Younger

When I think of how naive we were back then,
I cringe.  A boy named Delbert taught me chess
and Sunday's in the parlor of my living room,
I'd watch as he removed--quite gingerly--the
cardboard box that he had packaged neatly in
a plastic bag and took each piece out, one by one,
explaining what they did and why, with whom
they would eventually spar and how in battle
men would fall to save their queen 
protect their king.

But, little did we know that we were sitting on
the precipice of  change.  Consumed by challenges
unfolded on the board,  we played as all around us
values toppled,  cities burned   a conflagration of
the great divide.  America The Beautiful had gone
and shown its ugly side and cut itself in half,
languishing in separateness,  unequal and unworking
parts, doomed to be divided further into fourths 
continuing the carving into eighths. The spirit of 
the country had become as checkered as the landscape
of our Sunday afternoons.  

We took no notice, incubating in a bond that grew with
every passing game. Each fallen pawn and vanquished
king meant more to us than did a world outside beyond
our grasp. To us, the board that we controlled was then the
thing and not emerging dramas that left little yellow men
decayed in distant forests green, slain by  bigger men,
our countrymen--white, black and brown--who did not seek
to know their names and had no use for childish games
like chess. 

We played in warmth as young minds fell like virgin pines
on snow and children, torn apart while searching for a thing
called "truth,"  sought comfort in the disconnected logic
of a marijuana stick and in the mindless, vacant acts of
groping flesh in open fields while pleading with the wind
to "kill the pigs!"

Delbert's field, a sculptured battleground of stone, 
was strewn with wooden dead, non-descript and blunt  
soldiers bland and featureless as he.  Deep thought had 
not begun to shape his brow.  At 14 he, and I a precious
year behind, explored the caverns of our minds to grabble
tasks that loomed before us: Retreat the rook. Advance
the pawn. One cleverly positioned knight to us was worth a 
thousand lives and as we schemed and giggled "castle,"
thinking we had won, great men died.  With every
"check!" we bellowed, reason disappeared outside.
Each "mate!" was marked with thuds as lesser men
were slaughtered and their weary women cried.

Sorrow could not penetrate the cast iron linings of our
youthful souls.  We weren't obliged to venture thought
beyond the insulation of our sturdy neighborhood. 
Uneven times were righted as we played with blinders
evenly applied. Yes, the knowledge of our game increased,
but knowing of ourselves and life lagged far behind.

As we pursued the mysteries of  wooden kings, their rigid
queens but not ourselves, we failed to see the glow receding 
from our cheeks, did not detect the sparks that sputtered in our eyes
or note the jolt of 1963 felt round the world: America's demise.
It lost its innocence while I naively clung to mine
and to a boy name Delbert and his board, now ghosts of time.

Copyright 1998 Lucille Younger

Comments to author: lwy@aol.com

November of the Month

Ballad of The Liberated Woman

By: Diane Engle

Deep in the gloom of the cavepeople's hall
(In prehistory times that were no fun at all
Except for the caveman who lorded it there
And dragged his cavemate about by the hair)
The female cooked dinosaur over hot fires
And scrubbed down the rocks with her angry tears
And she growled at her caveman, but she drudged away
While he strutted and flexed, and hunted prey.
Til she to her man cried, "No more! No more!"
Then joined a committee and showed him the door.

Now back in the days of the chastity belt
Under threat of barbarian Mongol and Celt
The wife was a chattel, she'd better not doubt it:
Her lord was of no mind to function without it.
Things had got better, that is for sure,
But this was a damned odd way to stay pure.
She still scrubbed and cleaned, her work never done,
While sundown to sunup didn't show her much fun.
There was much to complain of most bitterly
But the thing most rankled was that lock and key.
So she to her man cried, "No more!  No more!"
Then joined a committee and showed him the door.

Unnoticed, she moves on through history--
Yes, that's the demure little wife you see
Still scrubbing and cleaning, but with nary a care
And plenty of time to frizzle her hair.
She primps and she preens and she rearranges
In the wake of humanitarian changes
While he takes care of affairs of state
And comes home to grouse if his dinner's late.
Til she to her man cries "No more! No more!"
Then joins a committee and shows him the door.

Leaving history behind she now carries her weight
In every decision affecting her fate.
She doctors and lawyers and sits in the senate
And smugly smiles at the soreheads aginit.
Then when her horrendous day is done
She comes home and scrubs her own house down
and tends to the children and feeds her man
And puzzles the glitch in this long-term plan
That worked so well by crying, "No more!"
And joining committees and slamming the door.

Copyright 1998 Diane Engle

Comments to author: 76557.3463@CompuServe.com

October of the Month


By: Joy Reid

I don't have a cleavage.

If I stuff my boobs
in a push-up bra
all I achieve
is a rising dough effect.

My breasts have veined with time.

Shy tendrils have
eased across my flesh
and gravity has created
a bean bag consequence.

I remember reading
of a young girl's breasts,
the writer (a male)
likened them to lemons,
the kind (I guess)
with teated ends.

No doubt he saw them
thrusting, impatient
with poking nipples permanently erect.

All I saw was thick rinded yellow
while my wry mouth filled
with a bitter after taste.

Copyright 1998 Joy Reid

Comments to author: jreid@staggs.schnet.edu.au

September of the Month

Between Two Poets

By: Claire A. Amundsen Schaeffer

I stand.

 a little LSD and coffee
 electronic crackling on   Kerouac
 hip and drunk in his
 own irreverence

And the K-Mart Victorian:
 solid temperance unit of every reading 
 feather-duster of Poetry's pedestal
 in long black swoops of polyester
 and a molded cameo...
 Dickinson in mourning,
 never writing poetry to her asshole.

I stand.

 Two hands and a flashlight
 searching for my voice.

I stand.

Copyright 1996 Claire A. Amundsen Schaeffer

Comments to author: jivvy@wockyjivvy.com


August of the Month

Your Love

By: Bjorn Thomson

Your love
Is a rock under my tongue.
A grindstone
Powdering the dumb organ
Above it. 
A sandstone -
The tongue blind, curious,
Carves a mermaid from it.

Your love
Is a fruit fly,
Tiny, delicate, short-lived.

Your love
Like our ancient radiator
Obeys rhythms
Unknown to me.

Copyright 1998 Bjorn Thomson

Comments to author: bthomson@direct.ca

July of the Month


By: Diana Bispo

violet petals
push through ice
melting sharp and
course on patches of
new green, the sun
squeezes and bruises,
seeping purple and
blue tinged yellow
into a retreating sky,
a cloak of stars trailing.
And I lay under soft
coverlet and wonder if
I, too, will turn a shade
or two of purple blue
and blackened rose from
pushing out this life I
carry. The fists you clench
and draw beneath a chin
held tight and chiseled
signal fear, impending
moods of wandering blue,
shaking loose the string
that holds up   us. Remain,
you must, another hour,
see what all this bearing down
may offer. Read patience
etched across this beloved face.
 I can wait out the day for
perfection, a cresting crown
bloodied by the womb,
the page I write on each day
now lavender in dusk.

Copyright 1998 Diana Bispo

Comments to the author: bispo@us.ibm.com

June of the Month


By: Scott D. Weingart

he was a golem, molded by her hands
of iron and unspoken birthday wishes
She was a tree, termite ridden and hollow
Fill me with ancient secrets
and solstice dreams,
she begged her creation
But the creature was a tomb
grave robbers long since gone
With features a scribbled mask
of crayola smiles and coal eyes
His heart a clock whose key she had lost
When she professed her love
the response, an Echo
So she lashed out with rocks and staves
And pulled off my mask
and in the inky void thus revealed
was only her reflection

Copyright 1998 Scott D. Weingart

Comments to author: gatsby@i-2000.com

May of the Month


By: Carl Jackson

Let the running water be,
grow its wings,
as it breaks the silver,
as it sings.

The phantom inside
on wavering air,
unfold break free,
metallic-bright soars up there.

Near death fatality
the proud wings fold,
compelled to return now -
contorted face, still bold.

Absorbed in self-pity,
congealed by own deceit.
Include me within your earth,
water, the cold retreat.

Wintery eyes beckon,
ice-burnt fingers call,
plucking us from innocence
mere slaves after all.

Copyright 1998 Carl Jackson

Comments to the author: naafty@hotmail.com

Personal Poetry Page Link: Carl's Page of Prose

April of the Month

The Backsberg Cellars...

By: Neil Gillespie

A cool dark place
bathed in peace
amongst aged oak barrels
from another time

the hallowed atmosphere
melted tense knots
and stress leaked out
of my urban mind.

Copyright 1997 Neil Gillespie

Contact the Author: neil@elvey.co.za

March of the Month


By: Vincent E. Baca

I wait patiently at the register
Watch the geometric curls bounce
As she seems to glide from the auto 
   to the inside
Full of vibrance, vague vibrance

teeth gleam-cynical smile
      sarcastic eyes
tiny promises-grand truths

She leaves
This time not the curls
But her ass with each proud step

Wipe dried mustard from shabby counter
Wait. Next visit.

Copyright 1997 Vincent E. Baca

Comments to the author: vbaca43@cybertrails.com

February of the Month

Oxygen Tent

By: Diane Engle

The last 
time I see you
I am five and you are
thirty-seven, intent on flight.
It is

the first
time I face death;
that hardly matters.  It's
you under the artificial

of air
your smile not real
the words you mouth across
the sterile deathroom silent as

crossbones, but I
hear them.  I know.  I know
wherever you are going I

hold my hand, take
one last look at father
It is I, not you who will say
years hence
why the tent's breath
swallowed Armageddon
powerless to keep that god-hurt heart

Copyright 1995 Diane Engle
Originally appeared in Envoi

Comments to the author: 76557.3463@CompuServe.COM

January of the Month

The Day Reality Asked Dreams For a Dance

By: J. Kevin Wolfe

On the day Reality asked Dreams for a dance.  
But Dreams declined.  "You are often 
crude and would step on my hopeful feet."  

Reality straightened his tie with the fate prints.  "You never 
take a chance.  This 
joyous dancefloor awaits us.  
Would you let a few 
sore toes get in the way 
of becoming yourself?" 

Dreams folded her arms.  "Today yes.  
Tomorrow maybe"  

Reality snickered "You always talk 
of tomorrow like he'll walk in the door, 
kiss your hand, and 
spin you endlessly."  

Dreams turned her eyes.  "He will.  For I 
am a passionate kiss.  And you Reality, 
you are but a cold fish handshake."  

Reality stretched 
his neck in the stiff ivory collar.  "Then I 
shall dance with Yesterday."  

Dreams looked Reality straight in the eye "Yesterday 
knows only one dance."  

Reality tugged his cufflinks "But 
she knows it well.  And once again 
you'll just sit here and watch.  
Guzzling up 
all the punch of Life."  

"Sipping,"  murmured Dreams,
casually looking away, "slowly sipping".

Copyright 1997 J. Kevin Wolfe

Comments to author: wolfe@psionworld.net