By Judith Cody

Holiday Cityscapes

Ringing of the Salvation Army bells
on the snowy street corner,
hunched as if bent body repels
freezing wind for long hours
at the copper kettle for the poor,
the lonely bell sounds through the crowds
of shoppers anxiously scurrying from door
to door where a bit of warmth seeps
out with the crisp commercial light
onto a grate where a homeless family sleeps.

Displayed on the frozen lawn
a creche,
the life-sized figures kneeling
the brown-bearded father,
eyes aimed toward
the translucent plastic mother
who looks down 
into the straw-lined “crib”
where the tiny, painted infant
has been vandalized.

A tall, alarmingly skinny woman,
dressed in dark designer clothes,
her arms stretched taut with
packages labeled with expensive
brand names, fusses with the 
trunk lid of her red Lexus parked
on the rainy corner of downtown.
She heaves and shoves aside dozens
of resplendent, beribboned gifts trying
hard to get just one more brightly
colored box to fit into the mightily
stuffed trunk of the car that will
soon deliver to the mansions on the hill.

Man Of 99 Years Looks Out The Nursing Home Window

Local newsletter reporter: 
What do you miss most in life?
Mowing my lawn.

Ode To Gills To Mother Mir

O swimmer 
slice through waves,
weightless in thin gravity
space, sea, the same old
dream, without mass, 
yet sharp-dreamed
within the amniotic sack
that is biosphere
spread-pressed on the 
skin of oceans,

All the world’s an ocean,
all the beasts begin as swimmers
since the start of the tick 
of the big bang
so it is said.

Even the space station dies,
plunges into the waiting sea,
no longer floats,
no longer shields 
space kids; 
their space womb 
sinks in shreds,
returns to the 
most distant sea,
South Pacific Place of legends,
a dump for chunks
of metal ingenuity.

Old glorious space place
but a bit left,
a mere thirty or
so tons of dreams sunk.

What does the whale, 
with his massive cerebral sphere,
perceive of this derelict wonder of ours?

Old Men And Toreadors Lost On A Great Highway

Deep gray tones suffused in hair, clothes,
Skin—but his heart pumps scarlet still
This old man curled into his long cedar cane
Swirls it on his wrist like a cape
Muttering prayers or curses
He crosses the great Highway 
On an adventurous, curved diagonal
Never before attempted
Eyes flicker captured sunset
The cane spins faster in high arcs

“Bring on the bulls!” he bellows
Bracing his gut for their piercings. 

“Pamplona? So much prattle about Pamplona, blah blah screw it all—a lifetime past
It’s right here now the bulky creatures race by
I’m in my dream at last it’s here.”

Sea Tales True And Waiting

—The NETs trawl for us.

Combing the waters for the life swimming in dark waves,
thin, transparent walls of NETS strangle and starve
millions of marine birds, mackerel, perch, seal, 
dolphin, carp, grouper, shark, squid, turtle, albatross, 
octopus, jellyfish, then soon all formerly great schools 
succumb out of eyeshot, pinned to their NETS the contorted 
creatures softly convulse in death throes, rictus, bowel 
juices emptied, mouths agape, bulging eyes stare―
on thousands of nights ugly ocean portraits sway 
against forty-mile-long NET frame
many animals glow in their luminous death. 

Years passed and NETS became weightless, 
easy to wrench home to thousands of waiting ships 
fisheries of the world were empty, so NETS 
dragged onto beaches snared swimmers in nylon 
bikinis, struggled with and strangled the tourist 
family barbecuing in the dunes at Half-Moon 
Bay outside San Francisco. Ninety-nine nude sun 
worshipers in the same area were snagged by ankles 
or necks locked in the filaments before it roared 
away to other states sweeping up prime fresh -faced students, sickly alcoholics, preemies, great 
poets, bad guitarists, courageous soldiers sent to 
blast it away, brilliant professors, experts at 
almost everything esoteric requiring an exorbitant 
education, scientists and astronomers of the first 
magnitude, true believers begging God’s forgiveness 
for this irrevocable crime. At last there was no 
discrimination in the world as NETS hung with 
horrible screams of dying drifted through city then 
countryside collecting every human hue, and rich and 
poor were netted together. Some confused souls painted 
their doors with fresh lamb’s blood but it made no 
difference, none at all. Poll takers yet soliciting 
opinions proved wrong, more loving couples than 
ever imagined vowed to die together when their NET 
ripped them in procreation from their hiding places, 
then trawled unharvested areas of human habitation 
on a remaining continent where a few committees
bravely stayed in session planning strategies 
against the NETS that finally came whipping over 
their polished desks set with state-of-the-art 
technology that 

blinked out when yanked from the 
plugs by the NETS along with the planners planning
until they puked kipper snacks. Thousands of 
NETS heavy with rotting cargo dangling, squirming 
to be free. Some, not damaged too much by the 
experience, managed to carry on quite lucid
conversations wherein all manner of hideous 
problems of human suffering found solutions. Though 
in fact, there were no more human problems. Three 
who were the last to starve to death were entangled 
about one mile high in their own drift NET suspended 
over Antarctica where they had been sequestered, 

              first person, “How quickly the land area 
              of the Earth has been sterilized this way compared 
              to the ocean area!”
              second person, “Well you realize, of course, that 
              the, I mean, our planet Earth is seventy-five percent water? 
              It’s really a Blue World … after all … don't you see?”  
              third person, “It looks like the ice sheet is everywhere from here. Yes, 
              it’s a monochrome Ice World!”
              second person, “Temporarily … you see my studies … say …”
              first person, “Not at all, because …”
	      second person, “Polar caps are melting, hmmmm, global warming
	      used to be the problem.”
              third person, “Yes, yes, but why?”
	      second person, “It’s somewhere in my papers … but they’re all gone now, I imagine.”
	      first person, “What is it that truly, truly matters?”
	     third person, “Was there ever enough research on that question?”

Judith Cody’s new poetry chapbook, Garden on an Alien Star System, was
just published by Finishing Line Press. Currently, the Smithsonian
Institute is displaying her poem posters on the official Smithsonian
Institute Website. Her poetry is published in over 200 journals, and has
won many national awards, including second prize in the national
Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition. Centre College’s Norton Center
for the Arts selected her poem from a competitive group from around the
world for exhibition in a featured art gallery installation. Her poetry
chapbook was a finalist in Bright Hills Press’s national competition.
She has won Atlantic Monthly and Amelia awards; her poems were nominated
for Best of the Net, quarterfinalists in the Pablo Neruda Prize in
Poetry and were cited for honorable mentions by the National League of
American Pen Women. She edited the PEN Oakland anthology Fightin’ Words
and wrote the internationally notable biography of composer Vivian Fine:
A Bio-Bibliography and Eight Frames Eight, poems. Her work is seen in
many anthologies and poems appear in journals such as: California
Quarterly, Alexandria Quarterly, Apricity Magazine, Bindweed Magazine,
Brickplight, Brief Wilderness, Carbon Culture Review, Nimrod
International Journal, New York Quarterly, Stand, South Carolina Review,
Texas Review, Euphony Journal, Fugue, Clare, Green Hills Literary
Lantern, DASH Literary Journal, Misfit Magazine, The Montreal Review,
Fox Cry Review, Louisville Review, The Offbeat, Neologism, Madison
Review, Nonconformist Magazine, The Paragon Press, Phoebe, Poetic Sun,
Quiddity, Primavera, Poet Lore, Poem, Xavier Review, Hiram Poetry
Review, The Cape Rock, Citron Review, Ignatian, The Brooklyn Review,
Penmen Review, Splash of Red, Soundings East, A Thin Slice of Anxiety,
Vox Poetica, Westview, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Caduceus, Chaffin Journal,
Arabesques Review, Laurel Review, Androgyne, Chaparral, Forge, Abstract:
Contemporary Expression, Qwerty, Tiger’s Eye Journal, The Tower Journal,
Lyrical Passion Poetry E-zine, Cloudbank, Vending Machine Press, Voices
de la Luna, Willard & Maple, Third Wednesday, The Courtship of Winds,
Nude Bruce Review, Signal Mountain Review,
and others.

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