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Selected Poets
Books/Chapbooks 2

Big Toe Review does not publish books/chapbooks. However if you would like to send me a copy of a book/chapbook that you already have published, I may publish an excerpt along with information on where the book/chapbook can be purchased.
Send books/chapbooks to:  Joshua Michael Stewart
                                                                      181 West Street, APt. D-3 
                                                                      Ware, MA 01082  

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." ---Erasmus

Ladder Music by Ellen Dore Watson
(Alice James Books, 2001)

Buy this book along with other Ellen Dore Watson titles at by clicking the pic

Doubting Instinct
I'm doubting instinct, this bullfrog frozen
silent in blasting heat, big mud lump assuming
the safety of camouflage, danger of me---
a hugeness turned toward its rustle and thud.
Without a rhythmic baseline, my ears tune
to background: distant hammering and high up,
a jet tearing bandages from the bright bed linen
of the sky. From across sun-stunned lawns comes
the noise of children, very plural, a class of them
like bubbles frothing over and around each shiny
other, snuffable and sure as fire leaping, together
a brush fire, one rising call like a single moment's
highest licking flame. Yesterday this elementary
noise would have faded from intrusion to wrap-aound,
present or invisible as pounding surf; today their far
voices don't sound different but mean
different, now we know a thirteen-year-old
can inhabit rage so eloquent, rage so unintelligible
as to kill many and fast and not know why. Why
does this frog refuse to move, seem to want me
to meddle? I wish her away from the bank's pounded
brown, back to familiar muck and song. I watch
the geese skate the pond, playing Simon Says
with five fuzzballs they think they can keep safe.

Ha Ha Tonka: a book of rune
by Ryan G. Van Cleave
(Higganum Hills Books, 2003)

buy this book along with other Ryan G. Van Cleave titles at by clicking the pic

Religion as a Series of Binary Didgits
"To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose." ---Florence Nightingale
Strange men are gathered outside
the Presbyterian church. They look
like mathematicians, eyes divisible by two,
noses slanted in a perfect hypotenuse
of eyebrow and mouth, hair twined
and untwined from irreverent wind gusts,
a story problem of air, man, and patience
like a mouthful of white dwarf stars.
A ring of breasts circling a sputtering camp-
fire, these strange men move geometrically,
mechanically, as if each motion requires
cosine and tangent in conjunction, their bones
clacking in protest of dropped decimals,
misplaced denominators. The strange men
drink deep from the ocean of July night,
their eyes glittering like calculator readouts
as the moon reaches its apex in the sky,
a single white 0 that challenges the minus
sign of their lips. In the right perspectives, zero
minus zero might just equal one.

In the Summer of Cancer
by John Sokol
(Endymion Press, 2002)

buy this book along with other John Sokol titles by clicking the pic

When Charon Sleeps
It's a slow day in Hades
when the boatman sleeps, like now,
as he leans against his push-pole,
stuck in the black mud
in this toll-shore of the Acheron.
Here, that river of woe
laves his feet while
loyal Cerberus sleeps at his side
with three eyes open,
always sniffing the fetid air
for the smell of death and business,
always dreaming of bonus-bones.
The ferrier never sleeps for long,
but for now, he dozes. Meanwhile,
we are dying, So you be Eurydice
and I'll be Orpheus;
when darkness takes you, I'll
bring you back. I'll play
my shibboleth song, bring coins
for Charon, fresh meat for Cerberus.
When we reach this shore again,
we'll drown the boatman,
we'll sink his boat, we'll kill his dog.
We'll never look back.

Ordinary Mysteries
by Joshua Michael Stewart
(White Heron Press, 2004) 

Air Guitar
Out of all my instruments, the most prized,
the one I allow no one to touch.
The color of sunlight and atmosphere,
and when tilted the right way,
as if you were going to play it like a violin,
you'd notice the faint hint of turquoise.
I perform more dexterously with the blinds
drawn and the lights turned off: the electric
lime of the Pioneer Reverberation Stereo
Receiver is enough to keep bare toes
from jabbing into coffee table legs,
knuckles cracking against doorjambs
while windmilling. After work, after I've
uncorked the bottle, the wine granting
my first wish, I slide under the strap
and unravel my fingers on Wes Montgomery
licks. It's well past midnight that I stuccato
through the house, chugging on Hell's Bells
as I rock on my heels, balancing in flame-tips.
And it's long after the bars on Pleasant Street
have closed, the sidewalks overflowing
with feedback and faces bent out of tune
that I play along with the song they're humming,
the one about home, and how it's a quartertone,
somewhere between C and C#,
and how we still manage to find the right key.


To buy this chapbook click the pic