George Moore, Doug Martin, FJ Bergmann

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George Moore teaches literature and writing with the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he received his Ph.D. in English. He has published poems with The Atlantic, Poetry, North American Review, Orion, Colorado Review, Nimrod, Meridian, Chelsea, Southern Poetry Review, Southwest Review, Chariton Review and other journals. His third printed collection is Headhunting (Edwin Mellen, 2002). 

Between Christmas and New Years
In the field, the fallen.
But it is not a field any longer but sand in waves
and the five dead are celebrating Christmas
with Christ, with the darkness, who
can be sure?  Each grain of sand like an element
of the universe, formed out of that great desire,
the Big Bang, recalls Father Arnall’s sermon
and Joyce’s metaphors for Hell, for time,
a way of speaking, two things
unrelated, two things that have one purpose
beyond meaning.  A bird carries away a grain of sand
each million years, one grain off a mountain
a million miles high.  Eternity.  One life
at a time, one year at Christmas and the time made
to forget, when days once shortened by the sun increase,
pœna damni, the pain of loss, finds its measure.  IEDs
are revelatory, enemies invisible brethren, whatever
we believe, belief itself becomes a doubtful silence,
the unnatural thing, celebration confused, as when
Claudius claims a mirth in funeral… a defeated joy. 
The aleatory season, a love that cannot save a feeling
that death eradicates, does not make up
for sacrifice, as old words might only feign their greetings.
There are men dead and are we the cause, or is it
the cause that kills them?  Between forgetting
and New Year, lives are spent, passages resumed,
an army of desires confused into light, and we amend
the numbers by the division of our prayers,
for they are the particles of sand the bird carries
across the desert we must call home.

Back before the neon city, when streets
were still dirt and the occasional car blew
past you into the dust, when the trees
were thin as pencil lead, but there were
still trees, and the boards of the stupas
warped to curve outward around square
hand-forged nails, there was a hostel
filled with people moving through in various
states of meditation, transmigration, bubbles
of consciousness, around the winter solstice
and Christmas that year.  At the U.S. Embassy
they served scotch to the transient world
trippers, gathered us together like children
at the poor man’s knees, and made like
this was an American thing to do, to bless
those who the rest of the year were left
forgotten in infected Indian prisons, or
trapped at borders whenever the war with
Pakistan renewed.  Seasonal greetings.
But it was something anyway, more than
the cold room where I washed my hair
from an icy tap, and curled tight in my
thin bag to sleep out December’s early
failing light. The scotch was warm, silk
soaked in the smoke of a wood fire, a scarf
around my inner core.  The sleeper woke,
the season was somehow revealed, all
with the smile from a Buddhist hearing
an Embassy staff joke.  That was the first
Christmas away.  Now every one not home
returns me to the East, to the cold that was
somehow a cure for the inward isolation.
And the contact with others, as clear as
that single candle heating that hostel room.

Doug Martin work has appeared in Double Room, elimae, Nimrod, Third Coast, the New York Quarterly, and other publications. A former Theodore Morrison Scholar at the Breadloaf Writers Conference, and a past poetry editor of the Mid-American Review, Martin's books include A Survey of Walt Whitman's Mimetic Prosody (Edwin Mellen, 2004) and Online Writing: The Best of the First Ten Years (editor), which is forthcoming in 2008.



(for Valerie, Sarah, and Nokose)




     Listening to me trying to read the only rhyming poem in Old English tonight in the fireplace’s glow, my daughter just looks at me relapsing with open mouth, my head tilted south, toward sleep, the Anglo-Saxon book sliding down my chest.




     Her belly is imbued with deer meat, my arm slopped with midnight dishwater.




     Earlier, she led the Christmas prayer at the table, in the busy, kitchen light of kerosene, stopping, hesitant, because we had visitors. With her right hand, she places a toy purple lizard dotted with pink named Zuzu to her chin and asks—

     Daddy, what is the summer?

     It’s something that doesn’t come here, I say.




     Out the window, a blue plastic bag turned white is blowing past the house and its doe-flashing Christmas lights. In the yard, snowflakes are coming down like cottonswabs we keep safe in our cupboard all winter.




    Full of bourbon, I think of how yesterday afternoon, while listening to some lady in Chicago on Art Bell’s radio show claim seven alligators had proposed to her, my wife was sewing a farm landscape being attacked by Martians onto a black shirt.  There were two doves, also, in the fabric, flying over Lake Michigan and hearing the waves break on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. My wife said the birds were messengers of the snow-silence that covers everything, and that the birds on our bedroom sheets held a message—a little boy will be born to us in August.




     I put the book down, carry my daughter to bed. I tuck her into a sleep fit only for angels.

     When we get back to the other States, I tell her, we will find summer, and take pictures.

     Don’t we need permission, she asks?

     No, I say.




     I find my wife snoring, hogging the bed. Dreaming of the backwards mating rituals of snakes in the compact blue comfort of a distant Christmas, she moves over. When I climb in and settle, her green-socked toes press up against my warm leg. Arthritisless, I can feel, before it comes, the freezing rain in the trees. 








    You were seated in that same old diner with the woman with snow in her hair.  Sixty-seven years old the day before, she was breaking your heart once again over mushrooms and asking, "Please, can you pass the cheese?" The occupants were keeping a low profile while stuck in their lettuce, for darkness with snow was lecturing the region, and it was really too early to know if the stray-dog had its reasons, but from outside the window it was growling in at you in your chair.  You felt clumsy with your big fork. You felt asleep. 

     "You almost killed me in that wreck in the snow," the woman with snow in her hair said.  “I was only 19.  How, in God’s earth, could I love you now?”

     "I’m sorry," you agreed.  “It was all Chrysler’s fault.”

     On your walk home, the dog was elsewhere, but Christmas music in your head kept calling you "hillbilly."

     The idea of a sleepover with snow was ridiculous.

     The past kept eating your wool sweater.








F.J. Bergmann is the Science Fiction Poetry Association Rhysling Award for the Short Poem winner for 2008. She writes poetry, science fiction, and science-fiction poetry, and is also the shadowy entity behind and Her favorite authors all write speculative fiction.




Dead of Winter


The brilliant crimson flash

of a non-migratory bird

is cheerful as swerving out of an icy skid and avoiding a crash

while flipping somebody the bird.


Against the diamond frost

that ruby color glows

like a roadside flare (it’s unreal how the cost 

of insurance goes up if you drink and doze


off behind the wheel),

like the siren glare of ambulances and police cars.

You get that same color effect with a .22 and a good eye. It’s no big deal:

bloody feathers on the snow. Let’s hit the bars.





By the time I come back from the rest room, it has begun to snow, lightly. Small flakes descend out of a black sky, lit by an unseen moon or the fluorescent tubes behind me. All I can see is night and snow. I must be lying on my back because the snowflakes are falling directly into my field of vision, straight down all around me, not a breath of wind. I can't quite catch them on my tongue. It has been snowing for a while now and there should be quite an accumulation. I start to make an angel in the drifts beneath the monitor.