PACAC Quarto Spring 2004


A Verse Anthology

Spring Term 2004


The poetry printed in this first edition of the PACAC Quarto was submitted to the PACAC Poetry Writing Contest in the Spring Term 2004.  The PACAC Editorial Board selected these 8 poems as the Coe students’ top submissions; “i need cockaroaches” by Joe Mills won first place in the PACAC competition.


The following are links to the winning poems which are below:

i need cockaroaches by Joe Mills

The chalk so loose in her hand by Eugenides Oroszvary

Fan mail by Aliza Fones

Remembering HEL-1, a Sestina by Debbie Heckert

This Isn't a Digression by Allison Carr

Out of Sight Reflections on Marvin Cone's "The Road to Waubeek" by Betsy Friedrich

Body Temple by Rachel Gearhart

13 Days in a Rice Chest by Nathan Nass



i need cockaroaches

                by Joe Mills


if you think about it

the continental divide is total bullshit

it's an imaginary line machine

just like the protist the little green machine that couldn't

and the emperor penguin (laughs)

mountains just sit in their assigned seats

and never ask questions

they like to be tickled by tiny elks and bears

and flourishing with woodcocks and other funny birds

tiny automatonomous gels aren't real either

whoever heard of a euglena anyway

but they do have flagella and an oral groove

and baby you know if they were real they'd be orally groovin nonstop

as for penguins they have no hierarchical governmental monarchical constructions

all they do is quack and fly around in circles

release their streams of consciousness in golden arcs spelling one giant swear at the moon across the antarctic ice sheet

so far they've only got F U

but they're very organized

blame darwin and those damn lewises and clarkses

the discoverers namers and profiteers

frankly i've had enough

the only thing that's real is the fizzy tingling of a cool soft drink

and we can't really say anything bad about chairs either

or the compass


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The chalk so loose in her hand

                by Eugenides Oroszvary


The chalk so loose in her hand,

She doesn't even look at it.

"This is what they thought an atom looked like,

This is how Virginia Woolf wrote,

Weaving in and out and always coming back to the center."

I am in awe.

How can I make an asterisk out of language?

What can I write my words into?

How can I pretend to understand the depth of these authors?

James Joyce looks at me through a dirty, stained-glass window,

Virginia Woolf offers me a recently-purchased pencil,

Jozef Konrad wipes the salt-water from my cheeks.

We converse through my reading, not my words.


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Fan mail

            by Aliza Fones


Dear Mr. Teller,

I saw your picture in Life Magazine's "100 Great Images"

your noble profile offset from

the Great Image, your creation:


You improved on unimaginable cruelty,

created helium from hydrogen,

scorching heat from cold science,

quantized death from the particles of life.

No longer concerned with critical mass,

bombs away.


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 Remembering HEL-1, a Sestina

                by Debbie Heckert


 Waiting in the windowed room that first day of class,

 located on the second story

 of Hickok - Drexler didn't show. I forget

 why.  A woman entered - that I remember –

 Wrote on the board the poem to read

 for homework. Five minutes. Then class was over.


 I glanced over

 the other students. The class

 was small, just ten in all. We had much to read –

 a poem, a play, a story

 and dates to learn; so much to remember

 I was afraid I would forget.


 The dates I did not forget,

 studying them over and over

 for the mid-term. I thought I would remember

 the points made in class

 about how to date a story,

 or poem, or play which we had never read.


 Dr. Faustus and Volpone were two plays we read,

 sometimes taking parts. Did the others ever forget

 to turn in their poetry responses, or get behind reading a story?

 On a cold, windy afternoon, I walked over

 to Stewart to research Fanny Burney for a class

 presentation.  It went fairly well, as I remember.


 Gulliver's Travels I remember

 had a political theme, and we read

 Chaucer with his colorful descriptions of class.

 I doubt I will ever forget

 certain expressions we read over,

 allusions to sex in many a story.


 Occasionally in HEL-1, Dr. Drexler told a story -

 something he would remember -

 a bit of humor, or trivia, or of his travels. Over

 the semester, his embellishment of poems and stories we read

 gave us reason not to forget

 what we learned in his class.


 The dates I may forget, now that HEL-1 is over.

 But I know I will remember the students and the humor,

                as well as the things I've read,

 in that windowed room in Hickok, my class on the second story.


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 This Isn't a Digression

                by Allison Carr


 That time when I learned the ellipsis had to be

 smack dab jam packed right up against love. 

 And the time when the sounds seemed to take a

 life of their own and we could say fuck without

 wincing or getting that cold sweat dizzy thing

 because language is good and it is our

 vehicle; it is what we're good at. It explodes

 in our faces and it is our god. At least that's

 what he told us. I think... I can't remember

 anymore the things I have created, the words

 I have used and the things I have read. They

 seem more real than it makes sense to

 be so I have to wonder then about

 holograms and brain cells being killed by

 my need to be spinning late at night in

 front of my keyboard with a glass of

 amber at my side and I have to ask, does it just lead

 to a digression and an extended discussion of the kitchen

 sink or Tristam Shandy or page 500 and will it ever get anywhere?

 And why do I even care because do I? No and yes

 and no again and again I start wandering and

 boom, I'm off like lightning wearing sneakers

 and I forget about the finer things and focus

 on the things that matter which are the things

 that never happened but things we created to

 make our lives more interesting. Except they

 did happen because I felt them and knew them

 and learned from them and they exist because I

say they do. They happened. They happened. They

had to have happened. Otherwise what else is

there if these things we create aren't real

or concrete or solid or something I can hold onto?

What can I hold onto? What? Then I had to

think about who came before me to see where

they were and where we're coming from. I had

to think about it precisely because there was too

much that I thought I might weep so I had to

stick with the basics like Hemingway's tendency

to stare at the light-bulb and swig his whiskey

and think about the war and then I had to think

about Willa's Czech friends who just wanted to be

wholesome but bored me to death on the plains of

Nebraska but I tried so hard to learn from her

and when I got tired I had to try Faulkner to learn

from his grammar and his use of italics and think

about what I would think about as I lay dying so

then I was warm and dizzy from the drinking

and the talking to myself in the shower and writing

when I should be paying attention to Gen's story but

instead I think about music and I want a crescendo

and there's Virginia going crazy and drowning

and Clarissa (there she was) and Lily's painting

which was shit but she had her vision. And

I came to the war, the first one, when so many

women were left widowed and feminism happened

but Virginia didn't want it to happen like that so she

leapt 50 years ahead of her time and turned

it on its head but nobody understood or appreciated it because

when the Fascists came and all that shit went down

with Japan invading Shanghai, modernism died.

If I'd been there I would have held her hand

but I'd have to let her go, would have helped her

find the rock and watched her walk into that stream

in her trench coat with the madness and I wouldn't have

cried because what good is that? It was ok and I

wanted it to happen and I wanted to learn from them

and write like them and read that book

and find my voice and finally I would light a fire

to say goodbye to all that stuff because ashes are better

when you see them happen and that's just the way it would

go, if it happened the way I wanted


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Out of Sight

Reflections on Marvin Cone's "The Road to Waubeek"

            by Betsy Friedrich


A cloud looms over the land,

Out of sight, but creates new vision with each viewing.

I remember my Aunt Kathy's farm

And her big mean horses, in that exact same barn

On those exact same hills.


Water runs down the folded fields,

Cracks in the land show its path.

A stream, out of sight, has shaped everything you see.


A road leads to what must be a small town.

I want to be there,

Right on the curve, in the middle of the blue clear night

Where no one can see you coming.


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Body Temple

                by Rachel Gearhart


My body is my temple

yet the "god" to whom

I present it, is all the world


I must clean, shine, wax

reduce and decorate

this place


Because my temple

is on display. Here,

“god" is worshiped”


But worshiping society breeds

power, and charges my temple

as lacking


Temples are corporeal, but

my body uses a soul

that extends past my flesh

From now on

I will

call my body my “god


And then


My “god.”


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13 Days in a Rice Chest

                by Nathan Nass


Rice Chest, Palace Lawn, Picnics

Do this for honor

"Kill yourself. Kill yourself fast."


Heads of eunuchs for the princess.

Wooden weapons for the naked boy

Who did not become the man that...


He became two

He became his fear of clothing

And his coffin

Or the hole in the ground

Where he also slept.


So you had no choice

But to seal him in the rice chest.


He was unable to do it himself.

Besides, what would Confucius do if

A boy forsook him for madness?


He's wrestling with his clothes again.

The sweltering days

It's July already, isn't it.


What will you tell him

The next time he's lying before you,

And his tears soak your robe?


"Kill yourself. Kill yourself fast."                      


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