ISSUE SEVEN: May Sell Tyres | next poem →

Dear John (Cage)

Diane Gage

Set three timers to ding at three separate hours. When each hour sounds, poke your head through a cloud (Blakean, if you can manage it) and give us a word from the other side. OK? John? Are you there? My friend Karen (known in wine circles as the fruit slut) wants to know whether mice can grow up to be rats. From where I sit, on a peeling balcony under a feather-cloud sky in wine country USA on a hot July afternoon, the answer is no. But what are the possibilities from your perspective? Might they? Sorry to be so interrogatory. Not being a fictionist, film-maker, politician or Southerner, I like a little to and fro, some you and me, a volley. We've lost the knack of letters here, instant messaging being more the thing now. When my son was in the hospital for a week, his friends didn't know because they left messages on his cell phone and when he didn't answer, they gave up. Later they came over in three loud shiny sports cars, one red one blue one black and slouched around the driveway in sunglasses with their hands in their back pockets, making whatever passes among them for amends with my skinny pale ghost of a grown child. No IM, no contact. That's how it is now. I question these connections.

As we segue into complete cybercality I have every expectation of finding your serious daft instructions in my email inbox, or flashing as a website banner, or dominating the subject line of the non-porn spam. If you could trace web trails before we called them that, why mightn't it all work in reverse through cyber-time, bouncing back the marbles you tossed into the maze? Don't think of these as questions. Think of them as South American assertions, travesias across the infinite underside of what you knew all along was a Mobius strip. I have to declare, however, corrections. Observe Jackson MacLow shaking his tape recorder 25 years ago in annoyance at the extra hum that found its way into his solo performance, insisting he was the master of the random and we, his audience, mere observers, despite Heisenberg and the tape. Tell me, John, was it despite you, too? Which side are you on: shade or fog? Here's a thought: open a fortune cookie and spend X number of days living its message as your core belief about life. I myself dress according to which astrological sign the moon is in, most days, according to a guide I found in the newspaper, written by Starr Gazer. My friend Karen says I'm a metaphysical surrealist - or was it a surreal metaphysician? -- which perhaps puts me near your camp. If you are the rat of such things, I suppose we're the mice coming after, maybe aspiring to swell to your stature, maybe hoping for a fairy godmother to turn us into someone who moves some good old plot along. Or maybe we're just wanting to wrap our arms around the blood-warm bodies of the ones we love and hold on. I'm speaking in the mouse-in-the-pocket we here, not the editorial or the royal.

Meanwhile, this consideration: I tend to bait my hook with live yearning and cast it into the lake of memory. Don't look at me with that glassy eye—it's a choice too, as is my insistence that the creature I pull up is meaningful and mine, dear John. In your retrospective honor, once I held five minutes of silence in front of a crowd during my turn at the mike. You didn't enter the rationalization list until later, if later is a concept that will serve, which it probably won't where you and I are concerned. I'd like to hot glue you to the Merzbau homage to Kurt Schwitters accumulating on the public artist website I've joined, but I probably won't get a round tuit. Hello goodbye, dear John, dear John, semblable, frere, etranger. I squeak in your general direction and await the echoing eek eek eeks somewhere in this glowing Buckyball of time and space we're calling, for lack of a better word, home.


Diane (Gage)

Many of SoCal/Baja metroplex poet/artist Diane Gage's projects combine poetry with visual art, sometimes including collaboration, interaction and performance. Published in numerous journals, some of her poems are archived online at, Featured artist at

ISSUE SEVEN: May Sell Tyres | next poem →

ISSUE SEVEN: May Sell Tyres

Jill Khoury
   [posterior vitreous detachment]

Sonya Vatomsky
   Mouth-Off (III)
   The Serbo-Croatian language
      uses the same word, čičak,
      for burdock and Velcro

Kamden Hilliard
   no baby but the poem is about you

Jessica Schouela
   The Funeral

Chris Campanioni
   Working Models

Sarah Ann Winn
   Suburban Thaw
   Rolling Acres Mall, Abandoned

Cynthia Conte
   Number three star: Fast years

Diane Gage
   Dear John (Cage)

John Lowther
   a sonnet from 555

Rebecca Yates
   What is "Emoji"?

Glen Armstrong

Marta Ferguson
   The Nether as Pizza Parlor

September Hinkle
   Surviving Charlie