Errata Literary Magazine

Bucks County Writers Workshop

"There ain't no money in poetry -- and that's what sets the poet free."

No. 6

If one of our jobs as poets is to continually contribute to, and provide upkeep for, the house of poetry, then the solitary nature of what we engage in each day can be seen in a whole new light. One of my tasks as curator of this little corner of the estate is to occasionally throw back the heavy window curtains and dust off its possessions so they may be seen again in their original light. In so doing, I am privileged to be able to note the diveristy and complexity, and admire the collective richness, of its offerings. Far from being a dark and forgotten cubby, this little room is full of color and life and objects of enduring value. I invite you in. Sit a while. Pull up that Windsor chair in the corner. Ease yourself down onto its crushed velour cushion. Look around you. What's your pleasure?

Kurt Krumpholz, editor

Throughout history, many noted poets have been political activists. Indeed, history itself has been fertile ground for poetry, at least as much so as the eternal themes of love and death.

Don Swaim

Famous Soviet Poet who bridges East and West
at a party in Chelsea
Wears an over-lapeled suit acquired in the USSR
he claims
or on a Canal Street rack
Silver stripes are luminescent
Stitching ain't so good
as they would say at Barney's
Modesty's not his mission
He pours white wine over the cover of a book
To Christen it as they do on Leninskij Prospekt
maybe, I don't know
I will deliver four couplets
he announces to an indulgent bevy as if it's his party (instead of Ed Abbey's)
And proceeds to do so
a locomotive in a body under the cathedral ceiling
Commanding with his special force
Handsome face
He knows it
Champagne laughter's polite
from those who understand or don't
His accent's overweight
As is his hair
And presence
About to do a one man show
in the Village
You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours
he tells me
Voice of
a Famous Soviet Poet

Here's a poem that proves a humorous epiphany can make a powerful political statement.

Ode to a Home Improvement Superstore (Not)
Jules C. Winistorfer

Oh mighty purveyor of propane grills
and awesome kitchens with trendy frills,
we walk your floors for hours and hours.
In the spring you sell potted flowers.
We love your variety.
Great supplier of so many things
from lowly nails to shower curtain rings,
shiny gadgets smile from the shelf.
A boxed ceiling fan beckons do-it-yourself. You hone our mechanical skills.
Hammers, chainsaws, and mowers galore --
ladders and saw horses, you always stock more.
Board feet of lumber sit in big piles.
Boxes on forklifts choke up the aisles.
Why not arrange stock at night?

Bundles of molding stand straight and tall
'till they're untied, then they're not straight at all.
Stacks of merchandise tickle the ceilings.
Boards warped and twisted give rise to bad feelings.
Your wood quality sucks.
Big ticket items in flyers you tout.
We come to purchase, they're always sold out.
Rolls of wall borders with paste we can buy.
To finish the room you're always one shy.
Don't do this to me.
Your checkout clerks can be quite nice.
They might know my name if I saw one twice.
And the people you have to teach us to paint
and fix up our plumbing, experts they ain't.
Hire some full time people.
Plastic packs swaged 'round with a bead
make us buy more than we actually need.
Drill sizes are few, not like before.
You once had odd sizes but not anymore.
What the hell!

The corner hardware you drove from the earth.
The owner knew my name; I got my moneys worth.
Six screws in a bag you might think is nifty,
but one for six cents beats six for two-fifty.
Nuts to you Pal

This poem invites us to reflect on the hidden gifts of loss. .

Living Will
John Scioli

I fear I may sink into some darkened fold
Of my addled brain and lose you and me,
Wondering who you are,
Hearing a voice calling
Somewhere and not knowing it,
Or feeling your touch, felt before,
And never discerning its name or source.

With the remains the stroke has left
In its halcyon scorched earth advance,
I sing farewell to you who have loved me
Long and hard, my only hope
that this song reaches your heart and soul
Begging forgiveness for all you shall endure:
Loneliness, empty nights, and the bitter cup
Of widowhood, or worse yet, caring for
The living dead.

With all my heart and soul
My skin and hair
My fingers and my bones
With all that is and ever was
With every cell in me
With every word ever spoken,
I love you
I loved you
And I always will
Wherever I am,
I shall know peace
in your love.

I was coming back from a business meeting a few summers ago when I stumbled into this dream.

Kurt Krumpholz

Driving back home across the river
on a narrow road cut like a tunnel
through the canopy of overhanging trees
and underbrush that has eaten chunks
off the edge of the asphalt, I round a bend
and come upon a veil of amber dust
suspended across the road in the blinding white light
of a throat-choking late-August noon.

I skid to a stop as the dirt cloud dissolves
into the landscape the way a fata morgana
of some illusory oasis sinks back into the desert sand
or fireworks wash back into the blackness
once their brief dusting of iridescence
has been broadcast across the slate sky.

There, before me, like a fallen mammoth
lying on its side, is an overturned dump truck;
its payload of loamy brown soil coating the road
in a layer more than two feet thick. I step out
into the wavering heat to stare in disbelief at
the wreckage that yawns before me like a wide river
impossible to cross and see on the other bank
the flickering image of two or three others
who have stumbled upon the scene.

A lowing like a cow being led to slaughter
resounds all around me while I stand frozen,
as if in deference before some shrine, and taste
the metallic tang of fear as two men approach the truck
whose cabin lies hidden in the trees.

Amidst the heat and the buzz saw of cicadas
a feeling of vertigo hangs airborne--an
acrid smell in the stagnant air-- as they drag
the oil- and blood-soaked body
through the weeds and deposit it on the dun earth
beside the capsized truck.

In the road beneath a sky gone silver like crumpled
tin foil glinting under a harsh and naked light,
the skeletal form of a man whose age is difficult to discern
writhes and struggles to stand, then falls, stands up again
and collapses, spitting up the way barroom drunks do
sprawled out on a sawdust floor. A young heavy-set
woman with close-cropped hair approaches and like clearing smoke
away from a smoldering fire waves off the line of traffic
that has backed up behind me in the road.

I get in the car and take a detour back, all the way
turning over and over in my mind the torn pictures
of this afternoon, looking for a way to find a fit,
until three days later I read a brief account in the morning paper
of the victim, my age, pronounced dead on arrival,
and then suddenly see myself again, standing there
on that wavering edge watching as the veil of dust
settles before me.

A poem that reminds us the immutable essence of joy is always right before our eyes.

Pursuit of Happiness
C. Wrzesniewski

The inner struggle to possess
True happiness in life,
Lies deep within our consciousness,
Burdened down by strife.

The search for power, wealth and fame
Are viewed by some as creed,
Believing that their truth of aim
Satisfies a need.

True happiness does not abound
In treasures that we eye,
But quietly it creeps around,
Just to mystify.

It settles in so noiselessly,
That we can barely feel
The transformation totally,
Lost within our zeal.

It happens when we give to those
Who really have a need,
And deepens as the spirit grows,
Casting out our greed.

True happiness will always be
Elusive at its root,
Not lying where it ought to be,
But, in its pursuit.

What is a poem if not the unveiling of reality?

Shaking Loose Constraints (In response to WB Yeats)--
Carolyn Merlini

Shaking loose constraints, self-imposed,
Remake I must myself, unclosed.
Affected and afflicted, by and within the seasons,
Faery voices call, I wade through streams unreasoned,
Whose wellspring bubbles beneath hand-laid floor.
Temptation of all things swells the more:
Would that it could cover me, I wish,
Swallow me, as Jonah by the fish.
Baptized within the glorious drenching, I pray;
A voice inked, unstoppable as the coming day.

"People get ready. There's a train a comin'."

Alan Shils

"How long do we stopover in Chicago?"
"This is an express, ma'am. There are no stops.
"Do I transfer for LA at Salt Lake City?
"No sir. There are no transfers, sir.
"Where is the baggage car? I forgot..."
"Sorry Miss, there is no baggage car.
"Mister... I can't find my mommy."
"That's ok little fella. You won't need her.
"This is the Mid-Night-Express to hell
Deee-parting in woooon minute.

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Bucks County Writers Workshop