The Poetry of Joseph Cilluffo, Marie Kane, Judy Kronenfeld, Diana Pazicky, and Tree Riesener


by Joseph Cilluffo


I spent the day
in the graveyard,
in the shadow
of your stone.
Or at least
I spent a few hours,
long enough that the shadow
grew long around me.
Or at least
the shadow grew oppressive
with the sound
of you not speaking.
It wasn’t long.
I spent an hour
in the graveyard,
stretched across your stone.
Or perhaps minutes.
A moment.
The sun didn’t move
and you didn’t move,
and there was no sound
but the sound of me leaving,
and of you, already gone.



by Marie Kane

Do not lose sight of distant lights
             on a sea—fragments of spirit—
             rising and falling, cresting
and dropping—they may yet save you.  

Wild sea pulls sand out in storms—
             do not lose the sand within
             that sounds your depth—
it may yet build the unexpected:

Rilke says, all is known to you
             the wildness of the open ocean,
             or the becalmed, polished surface.
Trace those heights, complete
             that journey—create your sand
             castles (soon to be ocean-absorbed),

but first, enclose purple or blue sea glass
             in their walls so that when we
             knock, the door opens—
and we cross the splendid threshold—
             undulating, gills forming, learning
             the roads of the sea.


The Comfort of Design

by Judy Kronenfeld

The great swell stretches wide
its maw in Hokusai’s Under the Wave
off Kanagawa; its finger-like froth
hooks to whelm the boats
that ride in its trough,
and the shallow shells in which the oarsmen
double over themselves echo,
but are dwarfed by the huge roar
of that monstrous concave.

Yet, the palate of the wave is striped
quite evenly in light and navy
blue, and the ragged fluffs of white foam
could be polka-dots
on a bolt of rippling dark-dyed silk,
and the foreground white-caped
surge—that mirrors Mt. Fuji
in the distance—resembles a hill
of vanilla ice cream beginning to melt
in a deep bowl.

Imminent disaster flattens
with stressed edges and uniform
light—the artist’s sign in the upper
left corner part of an almost frozen
scheme. The terror of the monster wave
nearly subsides in the woodcut’s designs,
“between the lines,” as in childhood’s
coloring books and tales—

where the dragon breathes out fire
in tendrils, and the trees and moss swallowing
the sleeper’s castle are green symmetrical
dashes and dots, and the skin of the frog
the princess finds revolting
is as intricately patterned as her gown—

as if the world can tame
terror, death, catastrophe, hate,
and is made mainly for delight:
served up gratis
as a surprise cake, thrillingly
embellished with roses, shells,
stars, waves.



by Diana Pazicky

When I approach, two Oscar fish surge,
fins fanning wildly like sails in the wind.
They stare at me, perhaps hoping I’ll feed them,
perhaps to break up the Sisyphean monotony
of a journey back and forth between glass walls,
tantalizing barricades to vistas they cannot reach.  
Like hamsters spinning on the wheel,
they conjure up the definition of insanity.

“He” (I assume from his large size)
is a blend of lacquered black and brown
streaked with magisterial gold lame.
His bulging eyes are dark except when light
catches them, uses its alchemy to turn them
into golden beams flashing on and off
as he executes slow, graceful pirouettes
propelled by pale gray fins, translucent veils.

“She” is a delicate, miniature version of him,
ebony but decorated with iridescent speckles
of emerald, gold, and turquoise, looking like
a peacock that dove by mistake into the water.  
Lithe and limber, she moves faster than he,
flutters the gossamer filigree of fins and tail
with nervous energy, as she circles the tank
and the lump of fake black driftwood.

I wonder, do they pass by
in oblivion, or do they depend
on each other, at the very least
for the dim solace of presence?
Would one miss the other if it died?
Or is this just another bad marriage
in which lonely couples circle,
swim their separate channels?



by Tree Riesener

--for john donne

they will take it away
the gravely delicate floral linen dress
your child thought suitable
for your grave
after all these years still bright
where they unpicked the stitches
turned back the seam to show its lasting beauty
everything that was given to the quiet grave
will be illuminated on their stage
exposed and naked your pretty ivory bones
that came unstrung
they’ll re-connect with silver wire
and hang up on their gallows
they’ll take away
your only salvaged dignity
the bright bracelet of coral beads
alternating with saved white birth letters
that spell your name
in their glass exhibit case
it will say I was  
a fact they cannot take away