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By Karlen Chase

She cries jade tears,

a scorned woman

sure and sad

at the bottom of a turquoise sea.

How many years does she lie

in wait on her cushions

of carmine velvet,

within walls of coral,

in Ryugu?

The Palace of the Dragon

is a lonely kingdom ruled by an absent king.

A princess of the deep,

she is driven from her den of silence

by a most common lust.

In her shotai,

a she-serpent,

she glides through blue-green fathoms

and emerges from the surf

in the form of a woman.

Her flesh is deceiving --

scales, now skin --

the glint of the fading sunlight

runs down her body

as the water does.

He casts

from a dock held up

by rotting pilings.

His grip slips,

rope cuts into his arm.

He stands transfixed,

blood and salt mixing,

empty net floating.

His catch

is now gone,

and her gold eyes stare.

The fisherman may be foolish

but not stupid.

Sixteen years he has thrown

his net into the same waters every day.

He knows he is marrying a goddess,

not a woman.

He makes this distinction.

What is it about these shinkontans,

these yellowing tales of divine unions,

that the man so often sabotages

what he is lucky to receive?

The snake-woman

will give him a jeweled box

and ask him not to open it.

But he will open it,

because it is his way

to open things and probe

for answers he doesn't need.

Then she must return to the sea

and her shotai,

slipping down to her king's palace,

where she waits,

cursed with shape-shifting beauty

and impossible standards:

a man

who will honor and obey.

KARLEN CHASE is a graduate student in Library & Information Studies at University at Buffalo. In Japanese shamanism, Shinkontan are "divine marriage tales" that tell of a marriage between a human and a deity.


November Eye

By Ann Goldsmith

Today, sparks glancing off tin roofs,

the odd withered glove aloft,

a festival of crows

in the park for your birthday

and another full moon.

Count the moons. They come now

twice a month, flooding

the long streets, the bay shores.

Are the last tomatoes in?

The linens cleaned and pressed?

A November eye is nourished

by horizons and details.

Come, be honest.

Is your sail mended?

Have you prepared the clearing?

Are you ready for love at last?

December just boarded the bus

with your address in his pocket.

Bring out the ice wine.

Put on your dancing shoes.

ANN GOLDSMITH lives in Buffalo. Her prize-winning collection "No One is the Same Again" was published in 1999 by the Quarterly Review of Literature.


The Problem of Describing Trees

By Robert Hass

The aspen glitters in the wind

And that delights us.

The leaf flutters, turning,

Because that motion in the heat of August

Protects its cells from drying out. Likewise the leaf

Of the cottonwood.

The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem

And the tree danced. No.

The tree capitalized.

No. There are limits to saying,

In language, what the tree did.

It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.

Dance with me, dancer. Oh, I will.

Mountains, sky,

The aspen doing something in the wind.

ROBERT HASS, former U.S. Poet Laureate and onetime UB professor, will deliver this year's Silverman Poetry Reading at 8 p.m. Friday in 250 Baird Hall on UB's North Campus. This poem isfrom his new collection "Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005," which was recently named a finalist for the National Book Award.

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