Cissy Ross (- c) & Barry Spacks (- b)
 
      DISTANCES:
         a Bumper-Car exchange

(The tanka-like "Bumper," invented cyber-form, uses the computer's Word Counter to meet the requirement that each link consist of  84 characters exactly)

                      below the cliff
                              the sea lagged in
                                                  with its distances

                        and I gazed long at this grandeur
                                               of needlessness
                                                  - b

           An obsession
                  attacks the afternoon

           like a headache       carefully borne
                  so its (secrets won't bleed out)
                                                  - c

                        obsession, great beast
                                       we rein it in

                                        to not speed off
                                        the habitable earth

                                        (or let them see
                                                what we ride)
                                                   - b

                           We corner each other
                                      in our eyes,
                                      just for the
                                      instant

                                      it takes to pin a bone
                                      straight
                                                  metal on marrow.
                                                  - c

                                    knowing the risk yet staring
                      (thinking to remember)
                                                        a long moment
                                                into her eyes

                                                              (& never forgetting)
                                                  - b

                In miniature:

                he gazes out of velvet eyelids
                while she,
                love's contortionist,
                             arches
                                  to his embrace
                                                  - c

             such calibrations
                 through days of love
                      as if fine tuning could move the other
                         even an eighth of an inch
                                                 - b

              How to measure waiting:
              not a metronome's golden bar
                 but an airy riff
                  of Persephone's hellish winter
                                                 - c
 
                         but can you paint,
       whispers his mistress
                   without entering me first?

                   and I am blinded
                                by a golden mist.
                                                  - b

        First I drag in
        some reluctant words,
                    then stretch them on a white page.
                                 Voila!
                                             Je suis une odalisque!
                                                 - c
 
              Dignity of the body-double
                             her being reserved
         as she vends
                   particular ownings
                                               skillfully tended.
                                                  - b
 
                               A needle gently sinks
                               into vinyl's skin
                                           oh Billie sing your sorrow
                                            like no tomorrow
                                            like no tomorrow
                                                 - c

          years working on my Lady Day imitation
                but "I'm just foolin' myself"
                                    (one of the 77 woes
                                                  in being male)
                                                  - b

                                              Author's
                                      query: For a book
                                              on female
                                          impersonators
                                                    I'm
                                       seeking those who
                                               vaguely feel
                                         they may be one
                                                 - c

                                            that's me, that's me,
                                       nothing but this beard
                                                                  attitude
                                                      and a hunger never replete
                                            standing in the way!
                                                  - b

                                       To play as gents
                                                    like Virginia & Vita
                                          would suit me dandy
                                                  breathing whiskey through glued whiskers.
                                                 - c

                                                  even mystic Sufis
                                                  sure that All Is One
                                                  grant lovers mystery

                                                  difference-madness
                                                        never to be
                                                             resolved
                                                  - b

                    She knew the face of her beloved
                           like she knew her own
                     a mirror, unreachable, silver under the glass.
                                                 - c

                        under glass: the face
                                 of the Beloved.

                     Break through, bloodied, yes,

                                             but the distance
                                                  turns to water.
                                                  - b
 

Copyright 1999,  Barry Spacks & Cissy Ross
 
Cissy Ross studied literature at Syracuse University and has worked as a journalist for nearly 30 years. She recently opened her poetry books again.

Barry Spacks, shoe size 11B, persistently visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara, is the author of two novels and seven poetry collections.



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