by R. Nikolas Macioci   NIGHT HYMNA prostitute saunters back and forth
under a streetlight, takes permission
from the night to be there.  She poses,
walks a few steps, poses again.  She
is a beginner, barely able to smooth
out her movements. A car pulls to a stop.  She bends to its
window.  She makes a nothing-doing
head motion, and the car drives away.Watching the street as if she were at
the seashore looking for shells, she
seems nervous as the devil in church,
draws back against a brick building.
She seems calmer when she steps
from shadow, trimmed in a slant of light.Another car waves her over.  She
crosses to it, hears his words, and opens
the door. He has black eyebrows that hood his eyes,
a longish face, a blurred jawline that
prevents him from being completely
handsome. They drive to the reservoir and park.
She’s not scared until his hand smothers
her mouth.  Her eyes freeze.  He drags her
into a stand of trees.  The boning knife
slices into her body like a bird through
moonlight.  For a long time, her ribcage
bleeds the same song.  He is a messenger
delivering his package to the  night.Pulling away from the parking lot,
he heads back to the city, thinking
of the future and of the day someone
will die.
  THE LAWS OF EXCLUSIONI was reared on isolation, a child
slender and dreaming of protection.
I gave life to plastic soldiers and
circus performers on the ledge of
the Philco console radio.  Even then
I knew I couldn’t make it through
days without imagination, so while
listening to The Lone Ranger I changed
the whereabouts of the figures to a
circle of sun on a flowered carpet.Then one pre-teen Sunday afternoon
when I thought I’d rot away from boredom
following a mashed potato-roast beef-parents
bickering routine, I left the house and
walked a dozen blocks to the Russell theater,
dropped myself into a seat, watched
lights dim on the beginning of escape.Film clicked through the projector and
made a world where a poet was born,
a world where I slowly drifted away
from a dysfunctional family and let
words off the screen become my
dialogue with make-believe and loneliness.
                                                                                                                    BAD POEMSWhen I crumple a poem,, I crush moon, rain,
the clock on my desk all of which have been
dominant images at some point.  I am only
ridding myself of inept work.  Some say,
with an intake of breath, that I should never
throw a poem away, but the bad ones mount
up more than I can count on both hands.  Rarely
do I glow with a good one, and I gag from
unskillful consonance, disassociate myself from
amateur assonance.  I don’t think it’s a joke
to join a jousting group of poets.  It might
make my iambic jabber into something
worthwhile.  I’ve withered into writing about
lonely women and worn-out relationships. 
When I wad up a poem, I widen my horizons
for something new, but the challenge is how
to write something new out of old words. 
I’m much more successful fashioning paper
airplanes from a legal pad than I am at
penning a poem.  I’m wedged between a rock
and a haiku, and for rhyme’s sake, don’t know
what to do.  Give me another beer, and
I promise to preserve the damnest doggerel
you ever deemed possible.
  THE DISCOURSE OF SEDUCTIONWhat touches you erotically is words.
You need language bursting with innuendo,
images that demonstrate desire, so take
my words, and I’ll lead you into sexual
completeness.  I will change from clothes
into verbal nakedness, make a poem
in which we are locked in the same skin,
every failure forgotten.  I will shed
misgivings and begin endless warmth with
written syllables.  My meanings will massage
your meltdown, moisten the mystery between
us.  Sentences will satisfy, phrases flow
into you like molten feathers.  My words
will guarantee you grab air with handsful
of feeling and weep for wanting more
utterances.  We will dwell in a language
limbo, lie together and listen to sounds
that limn images lovers live.  I will write
and release you into repetitious rhythms
you will remember in the politics of your body.
                                                                                                                   LIGHTHOUSE AT MARBLEHEAD PENINSULA The white pyramidal, cone-shaped tower
rises fifty feet above rocky shore. 
Sheets of sun glare off its limestone, lightning. 
Bright.  Perspective, aims my camera
upward.  Light dazzles my eyes, washes out
the viewfinder, but I shoot the picture anyway
without seeing the red catwalk and roof.
Stepping into shade, I note that I’ve
snapped the picture I wanted. Visitors mill the picnic area
near the lake, climb fifty feet to the parapet,
and look down on me.  I’m told by the man
selling three-dollar tickets that at night
the fresnel lens still flashes green every
six seconds.  He says the lighthouse has
guided sailors away from shores since
1822, yet there are those who sank
to their deaths, lungs bursting for oxygen.I walk a few yards to the lake, listen
to water splash against rocks, and think
about bones tucked into the deep, about
young and old robbed of their lighthouse
warning when waves wrapped foamy tips
around the bow, collapsed masthead, and
swallowed the hull.  For them, the lighthouse
winked its intermittent green light too late.   About the Author:R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University, and for thirty years taught for the Columbus City Schools.  In addition to English, he taught Drama and developed a Writers Seminar for select students.  OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks: Cafes of Childhood and Greatest Hits, as well as four books: Why Dance, Necessary Windows, Cafes of Childhood (the original chatbook with additional poems), and Mother Goosed.  Critics and judges called Cafes of Childhood a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,”  and “a single unified whole.”  Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In addition, more than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including The SOCIETY OF CLASSICAL POETS Journal, Chiron, Clark Street Review, and Blue Unicorn.