Since 1996 Volume XXI


Al Rocheleau



Al Rocheleau’s work has appeared in more than fifty publications in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Austria, and Poland. Journals include Confrontation, Van Gogh’s Ear, PoetryMagazine, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Pennsylvania English, Illuminations, Nedge (with Edwin Honig), CHB Anthology # 3 (with Peter Meinke),Slant, Ship of Fools, Pig Iron, Outerbridge, Iodine Poetry Journal, Nebo, Sahara, Revelry, and Poetry Salzburg Review (with Virgil Suarez). In 2004, he received the Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Prize, offered by the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers’ Association. A manual, On Writing Poetry: For Poets Made as Well as Born, was published by Shantih Press in 2010. In 2012, he founded and still directs the Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Seminars, a 180-hour, 30-seminar program available to private students of all ages. The program offers full scholarships to high school students, and it is accredited by the Florida State Poets Association. A Massachusetts native, Al has lived for more than thirty years in Orlando, Florida with his wife and family.


After the tears
the impostor, now gone for hours
and reliable as a bad suitor,
has no claim here.

I am the sun.
And I am striking
for a new dignity. 
I beat the signals out
electric in long waves, a lasso
of worlds.

The song banks off Martian moons,
sets them to billiards.
If there are accountants there,
they weigh the profit and loss.

Thick men of Jupiter
roll in their beds. Hot ones
of Mercury bounce their wives
like basketballs,
bang their heads.

The Uranians walk
in a fog to castanets
and shakers, 
hum a kind of soca.

Saturn senses it is not the time
to be just beautiful;
Neptune abstains, of course.
So to hell with Neptune. 

Venus, aligned with my attitude
in the night sky under
canopy and screen
winks its understanding.

Copernicus was right.
I am right.
We agree to disagree,
that cliché of bygones sailing
in the ether, 
unreflecting in our trance,
satellites of radiance 



I would like to think
a world could be devised
that would undo
the doing that hurts and defiles.

Measured by a calculus of second chances,
a life where reversal balances 
the forward frenzy,
the dash
to a pool of no water.

Take this whiskey
and this glass.

Having fumbled it
to the fanfare of gravity,
and just beyond the pity of my clamber
it shatters on the floor.

I am left undrunk, unnumb.
It too.
All we were counting on 
seeping into a floorboard,
cutting the bare heel
of next September.

A world, rather, that could
expunge regret and sadness,
that was not always devolving
into chaos and the misfortune of an audience,
shards that recrystallized as a talisman,
drink that shimmers brownly golden
of reverie, a mouth to return it to,
bottle to re-cork,
a letter to evaporate hints of rain,
a chance to understand, to remind,
to revel, to float in the interminable
sea of warm content, to define
love with gesture and confidence,
to anticipate, to hope,
to breathe and know that one is breathing
in the sextant of eyes,
to tell time “stay awhile,” or at least,
for God’s sake, countenance


“People like me ought to be burned at the stake.”
— P.G.

He had an obsession
with blue eyes,
ate only rice, tinned peaches
and stale bread,
hated Jews, blacks, Latins
anything not of Nordic, pale flesh;
had violent childhood relations
with his mother
(she whipped him regularly)
so he grew to be a sadist
and a masochist
whose greatest pleasure lay
in giving and receiving
intense pain. 
He wanted to have children
(had none, fortunately)
so that he could beat them.

And yet

he wrote hundreds 
of the dreamiest transcriptions of the masters—
Bach, Debussy, plainsong and chorales,
the handbook of English centuries,
its landings airy,
languid, sentimental 
as a thrush on sweet-pea; his “Danny Boy” alone
provoked weeping from
usurers, the deft piano
evoking crestfalls
of Irish rainbows, Scotch heather,
the breakers 
of the Northern reef.

So how can it be
that cornflowers
and chrysanthemums grow
from the shit of humanity,
the smell of sweet hope
shined and rinsed
on pointed staves of 
a saned and manicured

Play on. Aaaaah.
Worry of it all tomorrow
in the parlors, playrooms,
conceptions of
our vanity.


I believe the desolate angels wait
at edge of our calamity, poised, preening
to wax their wing upon our waning light
and soar at last, to the last of everything.

Old guardians, kicked beyond this scene
draw lots for the next few unencumbered souls
that fill the offspring newly sprung from water
to a warm pink vase, with a card of offering.

Gabriel, horned and Azrael, his broken lute
a-strumming form the yanyin of embrace,
the death of life and lost in life’s place
another living name, a new forgiving.


Persephone hugs her Hades’ neck at tea 
secure in dank Rubbermaid surroundings, her coming-
out notice and school plays trunked and mortified,
curling at the edges, the persistent hyacinth weeds

clipped from stoop and step to the ramp of the Lethe,
wellworn hands that dig with a suicide dagger,
with point lost (or clearly forgotten) just to keep
these walks of Forever very, very clean—

it’s better to pocket sorrow, settle, agree—
query the widows who stumble on stubble-filled streets 
out of Ilium, or she, half-mortal mother of a dead 
bastard son, who’ll say “This was my Achilles— ask me.


Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan