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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012


Steven Carter
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

Night Thoughts



From the surface of Pluto (God help the astronaut who gets that assignment) the sun is a grain of gold dust in a vein of stars—our stars, suburbs of the Milky Way galaxy.

Poor Pluto—demoted to sub-planet status by armchair astronomers with nothing better to do. But today, an overcast Friday, on my merry way to the bar I have a plan. I’ll take up a collection for Pluto: money to pay for a full-page ad in the New York Times, imploring astronomers to reconsider their decision to kick Pluto downstairs and return it to planetary status.

Fellow patrons, of course—including the grizzled dude I never talk to—will stare at me while I, comfortable in a wizard’s cloak adorned with stars and crescent moons, pass the hat.

. . . .Now, in the heart of the heart of Montana’s huckleberry country, I think of Thoreau. From his essay, “Huckleberries”:

Be blown on by all the winds. Open your pores and breathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams and oceans, her stars and planets, at all seasons. . . .

Big Whimper
Well here we are


Dusting of snow

Ulysses S. Grant referred to himself as a verb. Well, here I am, content for the moment to be a noun—no, a pronoun—checking out the lake wrinkling in the wind like a victim of premature aging disease.

A dark gold security light across the lake gazes at my own security light—lovers separated by the Capulets and Montagues of mossy shores: plague-free houses of green pebbles, larches, pines, and birches.

My thoughts turn inward, never a good idea. The morning I found my father’s body, 60 years ago, Swan Lake must’ve looked pretty much like this—minus the patchwork of clear-cuts on the Mission Mountain foothills.

Thinking for the zillionth time of my father’s death at 38, an uninspired yet cheerful notion: Yes, yes, you can’t step twice in the same river; you can’t drown twice in it either.

in my glass of merlot
drunken day moon



What is it in me blotting out every memory of my mother’s funeral—except the horror of being comforted?

My poetry—useless as Ariadne’s thread out of that labyrinth—into it, that’s another thing. (By the way, don’t let anyone tell you that writing exorcises the demons. Bullshit. The demons stay right where they are: they just get written about.) Someone wrote, “I don’t want to know my soul and I don’t want to renounce it.” Problem: for me, “soul” is such a big word, woefully out of vogue in this benighted age, that I always find it embarrassing—even though I shamelessly employ it when the spirit—another suspect word!—moves me.

. . . .And now—go figure—compared to the subterranean truths of my mother’s funeral and the feelings which still trouble me, today’s fake laughs at the bar seem comfortably authentic.

P.S. 3:14 a.m.: I sit up in bed, my right hand stilled by sleep, with a thought—persistent, like a mosquito’s tiny violin:

You can’t want what you want.

Just ahead of me—
The need to touch
a pretty stranger’s shoulder



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