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Abstract:
Nine poems by six authors, published in various volumes of Dialogue.
Notes:
The following poems are combined here in one posting, for ease of filing. See also a poem by Sheila Banani.

See also list of dialogue articles or image scans.


Poetry from dialogue magazine

by Gretchen Sousa, L. B. Chase, Ahmad Shamlu, and Susan Pershing

published in dialogue
1986-1988
(Untitled)
By Sheyda
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 9

Tragedy is not when the sky falls
      when the day is done
      and there is no love
      when the sun won’t set

I look at children
      and I weep
They are just children
and there is too much in this universe
not to weep

My tears are flames
I am going, I am going
I am in the cathedral
I am at dusk
I am spilling at dawn
I am burnt now
and beauty comes
And it is molten
and it is soft
and it is His

The universe is intimate
beyond truth
THESE INDO-EUROPEANS
By Sheyda
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 15

(for Vahid)

These Indo-European people, all together, weaving myths.
In the Caucuses on a plain, east of the Caspian on the shore,
moving back and forth, forth and back
to the drum of the seasons,
to cowbells and the bleating of sheep.
Who are these people talking to each other,
making their sounds only together,
who?

One day in their cities, huge cities with so many swirling figures,
with axles, electrons. One day as you look are they gone?
The Indo-Europeans.
The cities rise in collective conquest, pointing might at the sky,
and everything is silent but the wind and all those buildings and the rain.
A hubcap singly clabbers like a dying top.
You look up from a window.
You look up, you see me, but you can not. I vanish.
I am gone like the others, or am present with them (We are together, I mean).
You are afraid.
All these people who don’t know one another, appearing and disappearing together.
We have broken our sounds in splinters.

You look up. It is raining.
You look up, it is not.
The buildings look up, they never disappear,
pointing their massive fingers to the sun.

I look up. A womb is opening with the day.
I look up. Blue dirt is filling up the last crack of yellow in our grave.
The blue dirt makes the tiny thuds of twilight, the plinks of history,
the dark blue sounds of the soul,
the tinkling of anklebells on cowherds.
A people conceived in a lump of blueness.

And there are peoples on the edge of darkness,
other people, other sounds.
Everywhere there are peoples and we are disappearing, all of us, together,
and I am you are afraid.
Flotsam, meaning, petals, slivers, sand,
sounds, in a turbid rapids rushing toward the mouth:

We have but words to bargain for our bones.
TRAINS
By L.B. Chase
Dialogue 1986, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 27

I get my shoe shined
in a train station,
watch the sets of lights
pass through each other:
helmeted fluorescence
slanting sunrays
rocketing tobacco lights
and the sound
not to mention voices
but the sound of many shoes’
fabrics, steps more unique
than sifting snowflakes,
if I close my eyes it could be
the ticking of ten-thousand watches;

I listen to feet sweeping around the faces
grouping and parting with genetic efficiency
and my niece’s questions about older people:
being alone together, when they kiss,
she asks: when their eyes close
what are they thinking about?
why do they close their eyes?

The newspaper leaves its greatest trace on my fingers,
the printer’s ink must be very cheap, she says.

In the train station
I give an occasional nod
a look, indicate this or that
to my other relations.
I feel like a polishing cloth,
though given a choice
I would rather be a train,
but there is no difference: I pick up the questions
I drop off the answers;
my brother’s daughter is listening
for steps that will come for her
from that forest of cranking legs,
“given a change of scene,” she says:
“I would rather be a constellation,
watch the starships passing through.”
TRYST
By Aḥmad Shamlu
Translated by Naim Nabili and Frank Lewis
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 1, No 4, p. 42

Beyond the borders of your body, I love you.

Give me the mirrors and the yearning moths,
      the light and the wine.
Give me the tall sky and the hanging bow of the bridge,
      the birds and the rainbow.
            Play that last melody
                  in the same mode
                  once again.

***

Beyond the borders of my body
            I love you.

In that far-off distance
            where the ability of
            limbs comes to an end
      and the flame and the fervor of heartbeats and desires
      completely subsides
      and all meaning abandons the shell of words
      just as a soul does the body
            at the end of a journey
      leaving it to the onslaught of the vultures of end.

***

Beyond the limits of love
      I love you
Beyond veils and color

Beyond the limits
            of our bodies
      promise to meet me.
A SLIPPERY EVENING
By Susan Pershing
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 1, No 4, p. 43

I suddenly tear myself away from
the horde of Christmas shoppers
and bolt into the street
like some angry, hassled mare
and I can hear your footsteps
coming after me
and I feel frightened, terrified
that you'll catch me
and equally terrified that you won't.

You begin to yell, “Hey, what's the
matter with you?!”
And I keep lunging forward,
a chameleon of emotion.

I want to stop in front of the dancing animals,
all prances and smiles,
and begin my harangue on how
you never take me seriously
but my feet thrust onward as if
they had a mind of their own.

What matters are my long, striding legs
and the cool, refreshing snow upon my face.
MY FATHER IS DYING
By Gretchen Sousa
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 35

Thin as a distant kite
in a gathering sky,
my father is dying
though his heart beats on
as if it had all day, as if
no one had mentioned the fact.

His eyes are wide with the knowledge
because already he has lost
his moorings
which dangle and trail about him
like fragile arms and hands
that have no body
to caress.

His eyes drown
in the unfamiliar landscape
of the present,
unable to decipher
what has gone before
or what will come,
as isolated in the present moment
as a fish on the end of a spear.

Having loosed
all we use to bind us
to the earth:
the ears, the eyes,
the grasping hands,
he cracks his jokes
like gleeful knuckles
forgetting to complain.

My father tiptoes now
as if he had no right
to put his foot down.
When we go through the hall at night
I take his arm, a sparrow’s
folded wing;
he walks solemnly
as down an aisle
for giving me away.

It’s you I must give away, Dad,
whose hold, so tenuous—
a silken thread that, with a small tug
snaps and you, with outstretched arms
soar out of sight.
THE SICKNESS
By Gretchen Sousa
Dialogue 1987, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 35

Some say the sickness is in things,
progeny of machines: cars,
television sets, computer games;
the botany of ersatz lives
that die and never relax into dust.
Or the poisonous excrement of concrete plants
backed up in ocean and earth
that seeps into graves, bones and blood.
The lost sanctity of winding roads,
straightened and paved.
The sybaritic age, salt sowing,
glissading from change to change.
Januarys have never been so fragile.

Some mornings I awaken with dread,
the thud of tires in my stomach
as if I had driven too fast in my dream
and run over a child.
Those irreparable things we do in the day
that deepen our nights.
One day I understand why some people
cup their lives in their hands
and blow them out,
unable to bear the shadows
cast on the stairs they climb.
FIRST RAINS
By Bruce Wells
Dialogue 1988, Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3, p. 33

Will every artist see!
For to every eye revealed
Is perfect artistry
In a thousand silver slivers
Piercing a mountain canvas
At evening sunburst.
A fashioner! Forgiver!
Deliverer! — of rain
That touches children’s tongues,
You soothe dry eyes
And sting uplifted palms.
Praise! The maze will thrive
And joy will tumble down
The steep inclines
And roar across the valleys.
And the mountain gold
Will yield to tender green again.
O DESCARTES! PINEAPPLE
By Sheyda
Dialogue 1988, Vol. 2, Nos. 2 & 3, p. 41

O Descartes! Pineapple
      equals God
            with its palm tree crown
      and spiny diamond robe.
      Split open,
            little beadlets arc out
            sparkling
      and juice drenches your hands.
      It glistens there on the cutting board
            like wet fire on the ocean
                  just before
                  sunset.

You are Zeus:
      swallow the pale nectar.
      The little strands untie
            like honeysuckle
            on your tongue.

Pomegranates with their corpuscle lodes
      pouring rubies from their vines,
Papaya and its sexual seeds
      its seductive orange and red
      as you open it,
Jackfruit like mango pumpkins
      dripping from your chin
      on the porch of a hut
      just as water will
      when the monsoons come,
Cherries heavy
      with scarlet intoxication
      in a skyblue bowl
      on the wheat sands
      slowly warming to the dawn
      on the Baie des Anges.

O Descartes!
      your math has no proofs
            like this
      for God.

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