Summer 2004


Summer 2004

Lauri Ramey

Like the breath you left someplace. Cage a sound now. Statement
of your boy's bones, an interesting wrist cliche. Fourteen bars
by sea, or twenty-four waves of sleep. The air seeps out from me.
Instrumental progress makes bodies march. This imaginary rose curls as it opens.

my varied composers, my mass sonorities, my line which erases

Evenings rinse the chimneys. The operations involved for things. Bricks and
skins, inert activity, we do need to put. Without the body we rest, and the hair
scrapped in piles. We are proud of this mortar ambivalence, this tight
long discard we've outgrown. Groom that rectangular self out of proportion.

the tools of the body's loaves, the earth's tools we return to use

Subparagraph the tapping. Take another tack. Can priests
prepare our stomachs any longer? This is not our history, like the builder
or the barber. The 'getting later of everything.' Ping-pong or post-coitus.
Past Orbital Relief Road, the breeze twists its fingers.

pause voice pause

Imagine the plantation, the R in relief. He holds a graffitied sweatshirt
in his hand. After weeks, she is all worked up. Protect this old food.
It was never any good. Spaces are built by rhythmic lungs. This box
you could curl in for sleep. Bend in the window for a real good hush.

semantic snares of the cyclic, map of pitch-time events

The horizon bleaches at its spine. The hay beneath him. So she runs to the
illumination. Anchored by its gears. I must decipher my curving skull's order.
Corners revolve away. Each word the empty space that encases it.
If you keep up that rhythm. Bucket her tiny influence. The silence that ensues.

These sounds have been recorded and unfold, unfold, unfold.


Lauri Ramey's poetry has appeared previously in Poetrybay (Spring 2001), and other magazines including NYCBigCityLit, nthposition, Portland Review, BlackWater Review, Kansas Quarterly and the anthology Eureka! She is the editor of Every Goodbye Ain't Gone (with Aldon Lynn Nielsen) and Black British Writing (with Victoria Arana). She teaches at California State University, Los Angeles.


Leah Caracappa

Living your life based on the philosophy always keep your glass empty and your ashtray full is bound to help any author create poetry with a rebellious tone and original style. Author Robert Plath uses simple language to describe this basic approach to life and art in his debut poetry book Ashtrays and Bulls. Awarded First Prize Winner of the 2003 Nerve Cowboy Chapbook Contest, Ashtrays and Bulls is definitely a book to be applauded.

Throughout his poetry, Plath’s negative attitude towards conformity is consistent. He makes repeated reference to alcohol, cigars and death, amply illustrating his decision to brush off conventionally appropriate behavior and lean more towards deviant behavior. He speaks from experience, making his poems real and easy to relate to.

Perhaps most intriguing is Plath’s ability, in these poems, to find beauty in something that is not deemed glamorous by conventional society. In Brown Flowers & Diamonds Plath uses a clever metaphor: "I crush my cigar stub out/ with my thumb & forefinger/ & it cracks open into a/ beautiful brown flower/ on the bottom of the ashtray/ among the ashes/ I smash my beer bottle/ against the wall/ & it shatters into a hundred/ beautiful brown diamonds/ shining on the ripped/ burned blue carpet." In the poem, his reuse of the words beautiful and brown emphasize what he feels most passionately about. Ultimately Plath uses force on the reader to pound home his affections: "these are the flowers & gems/ of the night/ of the world/ & don’t you forget it,/ motherfucker."

Plath does an exceptional job declaring his independence from societallly approved perspectives: "He felt like he was going/ insane, so he decided to nail/ wool blankets over his windows/ to make it seem like night all/ the time in his little apartment." Quick, craftily stated alternatives to a traditional lifestyle like these establish his rebellious nature.

Throughout Ashtrays and Bulls, Plath carefully establishes a relationship between himself and his readers. If there is a conventionally 'moral' lesson here, it is his positivist assertion that we are all individuals and should by no means merely conform to what is expected of us. At times Plath preaches his beliefs - but he also allows for the reader to step into his mind, giving us a glimpse of what a true non-conformist believes.

In the end Plath combines his flair for the vivid with his contempt for the traditions of society to make a kind of poetry that flourishes beyond that of normal standards.




Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at

send comments to

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to