issue 6 · winter 2018
Parenthetical · C. C. Russell
Which of our stories
we have held
(or been held
A Note to Benger, Way Out in Kansas · Scott Silsbe
And it is quite a ways. I know — I’ve done
the drive. Well, to Kansas City at least.
Never been to Lenexa. How is Lenexa?
Benger, I am here with your chapbook
next to me and I have just read one called
“A Crack in Her Teacup.” I’ve finished
my lunch, on break from work. This is
a lunch poem, I guess. I decided to have
me a beer with my lunch. Because I can,
because it’s almost Independence Day,
because I’m feeling kind of free, I guess.
Benger, the beer tastes good, but I have
to go back to work very soon, I’m afraid.
Benger, I hope you’ll keep pounding that
page and I will keep at it too. This isn’t
much of one, but you’ll have that — there
will be some duds. Add it to the Mount.
Tried out one this morning that I called
“Writer’s Block Does Not Exist.” Not
sure it is a very good poem, but, well,
I dug the title and message. Sometimes
you’ve gotta write yourself a bad poem
with a good title. All else be damned.
Traveling East to West In West Virginia Takes Some Doing · Carl Nelson
it wasn’t that easy to get here.
For the greater part, we wandered south
and have been doing so ever since,
travelling down the Great Appalachian Escarpment
and splaying out into Georgia, while,
in some parts, chasing the Indians before us.
The ridges run north to south,
and the rivers south to north,
and moving west to east
doesn’t go any faster either.
Since it’s so hard to get around,
maybe they shouldn’t;
a lot of the natives just figured
God wanted them here.
The forested shale hillsides sprinkled in dead leaves
are slippery as hell,
and pretty much the whole state is mountains.
Now if you flattened the place out, as they say,
you’d have something.
Somewhere people could earn a good living
and stay or leave, as they saw fit.
But that place isn’t here,
where we’re just a spine
along an old dinosaur’s backbone,
whose feet are fossilized in oil shale.
We go back millions of years
to when leather wings beat the air,
and about the last time creatures
could easily get
Jukin’ · Carl Nelson
“You know what jukin’ is, don’t you? You drink a little, then you drive a little, then you stop and dance for a while at a juke joint. Then you drink a little more and drive a little more, then stop at another juke joint. Then you just drink and drive.” from “Orpheus Descending” by Tennessee Williams
Humid warm fragrance of honeysuckle
rushes through the side window
towards the road house hopping,
where breasts jiggle,
uglies bump, jamming horns squeal,
slack guitars slide,
and the jukebox jostles in the key of
bayou gators and Louisiana slumming,
hootch and running board conversation,
car trunk business and tire iron combat.
Evenings and even longer nights call
like nightingales from love’s black velvet box.
Where bald tires slung gravel across parking lot pull-outs,
they’d push in a quarter and the song would play,
“Maybeline,” who couldn’t be true.
“Caught her at the top of the hill
flying fast in a Coupe de Ville,”
some slick with her behind the wheel.
That woman was exquisite yearning.
Ice Cream Truck · Spencer Smith
the driver has chosen “Oh Susanna”
though I doubt he has ever been to Alabama
or had a banjo on his knee.
As he steps out to confront
the bee swarm of children
with no protection other than
the uniform of an exterminator
I would guess he is from Sonora or Chihuahua.
This looks much more fun
than delivering the mail
which appears to have been the vehicle’s former life
before it was dolled up with paint
and crowned with megaphone ears
and surgically transplanted
with organs of refrigeration.
I can finally back out of my driveway now
ten minutes late for work
and for the rest of the oven-baked day
my mind pleads continuously with an unknown woman
not to cry for me.
#MeToo · Mari Deweese
and If You Were Drinking,
You Go to Juvie For It
I walked into my house
(was it really my house?) and saw
my uncle and aunt waiting, smiling,
from the terror and panic
of the last two days, both glancing
at my father following in behind me,
and I said, I think
I’d like to take
a long shower. And they all nodded
and let me pass, a ghost walking
fingers reaching out
to touch walls as if they weren’t
really there (but they seemed solid
enough?) and into
the bathroom I went, alien,
and ran the hot water, touching
my arms and legs and face, pulling
bits of leaves out
of my tangled hair,
scrubbing at some foul unknown
odors soaked into my skin (how
did I end up
smelling like this?) and after
it was over, I thought that it was over,
but that was half my life ago and I
that I never have been able to wash
My fate was now decided · Margarita Serafimova
I was losing you.
Mountain trees by my side seemed to be floating.
Night was about to have her way for the time being.
Lost at Sea · Susan Mann Dolce
not even your ghost · Linda Crate
came to splinter
all my dreams
which give me wings
so i dropped your bones
in the river
letting them wash away
memories of old and new
when it came to me and you
i don’t have any need
for winter whose chill surrenders
my bones to some sort of
that leaves me longing for spring,
and i am done being the candle
that lights you way
because i am a star that shines brighter
than the stars
won’t be reduced to your gilded cage;
your pedestal can’t hold me
and your tongue will never tame
for i am the wilds:
deep, intense, passionate, mad
i am a savage garden that will rip apart
anyone who wanders into my forest
because i am ready to be more than
simply flowers to those who are unkind to me
i will shove my thorns through their eyes
they will begin to see my revenge
is my success
because i won’t be held back by anyone
nothing will tether me to the past not even
The Ghost-Me · Corey Mesler
while I was out buying groceries.
By the time I got back he had taken
my place in the living room.
Now, most nights, we play backgammon
or one of the ancient games.
The ghost-me takes his time with every
move. It is his studied silence
that unnerves me most. His silence,
his ingenuity, his book-smarts.
Yesterday he asked me to move out. I
have nowhere to go. I have no one to
take me in. The ghost-me doesn’t
listen to such negativity. He says I
am only as good as I pretend to be.
I hate his homilies, too. The ghost-me has
replaced me now from tip to toe.
He asked me to write this to you, my wife.
I used to be a king · Corey Mesler
and my kingdom
was a circle
and my queen was the
key, the only way out.
The Graveyard of the Beach Chairs · Alan Catlin
the dead beach chairs:
all the collapsed seats,
frayed ends wavering in off-shore breezes,
bent aluminum support poles,
a kind of in-progress kinetic art form.
And their companions,
dozens of them,
relics of some massive party gone horribly wrong.
All the terry towels,
volley ball nets,
empty beer cans,
and wine coolers,
recycling with the tides.
Just the recliners now.
The empty lifeguard stands overturned.
All of them partially buried in sand
as far as the eye can see.
The Sea Watchers · Mark DeCarteret
and tidal grasses plugged into place
we’ll opt for spaces unmated to gesture.
No, we haven’t been us, never mind, you or me,
this, the kind of light, rid of weekend frivolity,
fired up from that original ring in this direst grip,
the kind of light even Hopper wouldn’t pose us.
Something worms up out tomorrow to hand-signal us.
Is it those words I lack breath for or haven’t once risked
or the eulogized blue of a Provincetown sky?
A bittern tries to blend in with what’s left of dusk,
forgoing, just this once, its diet of retro-browns, rust.
I try to capture its beak with a stiffened wrist
and with that failing lift the first one I see on the internet.
Another mansion stammers out towards the bluff
as if it can see in its own picture windows
the same masterworks, ego, as Nature.
What in God’s name ever drew us here?
How this backdrop can’t be bothered to preen, go in
for re-fittings, instead always, training on silences, fasting?
A kingfisher is shivering on the edge of a shed,
so in-time it looks rigged-up, attuned to our desires.
You ask if in this vastness some permanence might be
starved out. Never, I say. As if I knew
the first thing about preservation.
Warning · Pris Campbell
We have to leave Maine soon for our long sail back to Boston, past the off-shore Isle of Shoals, fishing boats racing out at sunrise from Gloucester Bay, gleaming hulls at the rich boaters’ haven in Marblehead. Home to our quiet Hull mooring.
Today, late, we cook lobster bought from a lobsterman hastening under a bridge too low for us for better sanctuary. Tall pines and oaks block much of the harbor from the sea but the jetty and land around it are wide open to rising wind. The clouds begin to streak red at sunset. Still novices, we’re too stubborn to row to the marina onshore, too naive to worry.
three anchors set –
we ride a hurricane’s edge
with the hidden birds
Why I Live in Adamant · Janet Pocoroba
I moved to Adamant, a Vermont “micro-village” eight miles north of the state capitol of Montpelier, not because I am a foodie or want to make artisanal cheeses. I’m not looking for schools because I have no kids. I’m not a hippie or back-to-the lander. I have no idea how to start a garden and often kill houseplants through sheer neglect. I don’t ski or hunt. I have no desire to be without electricity or to raise sheep. Trees, well, they don’t all look the same but I’m hard pressed to name one. Before moving to Adamant, I’d never lit a fire and was afraid of the dark.
Soon after moving there, I exclaimed to everyone in town that there was a moose track behind my apartment. A cracked window showed that surely the beast was trying to break in. My landlord came to look when he got word. “An ermine, maybe.” (I had to look it up; it’s basically a white weasel.)
I have since learned that the tree in front of the co-op is a Norwegian maple. That the yellow flower that blooms along the road in spring is coltsfoot, not a dandelion. And I can now light a fire in the wood stove that has a pretty good chance of staying lit.
I learned all these things from standing around not doing anything.
Stand around in the Adamant Cooperative Store long enough and you’ll get the weather forecast, a pickle recipe, gardening tips, news of a sick neighbor, or a taste of some Santa Lucia buns (who knew?) dropped off by a neighbor down the road. The co-op is where I have discussed money, men, invited people to tea. I found a writing group there, played Scrabble by the fire, and learned fiscal responsibility. When I first came to town, I loved watching the locals say to the cashier, “Put it on my account,” and a black Dickensian binder was brought up from under the counter. “Let’s see, Kehne, initial here please…” I wanted so badly to say that, that when I finally moved there, I would say it so often that Regina, the tall bushy-haired Austrian manager of the co-op, would benevolently chide me, “Can you pay something on your account today?”
What I wanted was not the monetary credit, though when times were hard it was a great relief to get a can of soup or milk. I wanted something else that was part of the transaction. An update on the customer’s daughter’s school play, news of road conditions up the hill, whether the heat was back on in the community center. Conversations that digressed to a coffee by the wood stove, the slow opening of mail. No one was rushing to get out of there, though they had their yogurt and grass-fed beef on the counter to be rung up. Everyone seemed right where they wanted to be.
The Adamant co-op sits at a four-way dirt crossroads in a town that technically doesn’t exist.
“Adamant is a state of mind,” said the woman on the phone whose basement I was hoping to rent in spring 2012. I’d found her ad on Air BnB.
“Is it a village?” I asked.
“It’s an unincorporated community,” she said.
“What do you mean? It’s a real place, right?” Was she a hippie? I wondered.
Adamant may be on maps but has no true borders to define it. No legal, commercial or governmental status. Its co-op is an out-of-the-way general store and post office that you’ll find down a slope by a meadow and waterfall, as if dropped down from a tornado, like Auntie Em’s house in The Wizard of Oz.
The co-op started in the 1930’s when eleven families pooled their money ($5 each) to get food and goods delivered out in the sticks, and it still operates the same way. It now has 121 members and is mostly run by volunteers. “The white elephant,” one told me, “is that it’s all women.” There are men, too, in Adamant, and they do many of the “agentic” things, like fix fuses or rotate the outhouse.
The coop is creaky and dusty, with crooked shelves and a door that squeaks. There are papier-mâché cats all over the place, pig piñatas, bins of penny candy (OK, Swedish fish are five cents). An art corner hawks ceramics, beaded jewelry, and hand-made cards, some of it okay, some of it inspired.
Janet MacLeod is largely responsible for the aesthetic of the co-op, which, in addition to the outhouse includes wireless and a Keurig. She makes the papier-mâché cats and groundhogs, and one Christmas, a crèche with bears in berets and a flying heron and owls. She fashions the zoology of Adamant from things she finds in the barn out back or at home. Janet is informal, with carpenter’s hands, rosy cheeks, and a radiant smile. I was shocked to learn her age: nearly 70, not old for Adamant, as it turned out.
My decision to move to Adamant was not rational. I mean, how would I meet a man? What would I do for work? And so on. I didn’t reason anything out. Instead, I was hit by a series of epiphanies. This is the only way I can say it, though it sounds kind of dumb. Reason was strangely absent.
There had been a lot leading up it, granted. This, I believe, is the way epiphanies work. They seem like a gift but they’re really just the result of a lot of struggle and the beginning of more. So it’s a mixed bag.
I arrived in July 2012 on a six-month sabbatical from my job. I was 44 and single after the break-up of a twelve-year relationship. Being a woman of a certain age and alone, I was beginning to face the fact that home might not be the white picket fence.
“Settle down,” my mother said for years. I moved around a lot, house-sitting and moving in with people who already had stuff, like big faded sofas with tattered arms and sunken cushions and family photos on the wall. Taking a fancy wine glass out of someone else’s cupboard I would think: Wedding gift? Ancestral cup? There was a mystery to it. Possibility.
When I visited home, I was envious of the small town gossip of my aunt and cousins, the talk of the little things of daily life, during which I felt the weight of career and ambition slough off me. In the city, I was an avid swing dancer, a devotee of a local monastery. I made the rounds with friends for coffee, dinners, Sunday brunch. These were all fine occasions but then I would go home and be alone, not sure how all these people fit together.
As I prepared to leave for Vermont, I fretted. No one had heard of Adamant.
“Adamant? What’s that?”
They thought I was saying Adam Ant.
Its population was mysterious. Wikipedia said 65. There was a music school in the town that had concerts. Just a mile down the road, the hippie said, I could walk.
I looked up their website. Uncommon nourishment for the soul, it said, and contained lots of paintings by Janet MacLeod, who had her studio above the store. The artwork was soft and colorful, and documentary in subject matter. The pictures were of people in the town, friends and neighbors, presumably. This was interesting but also kind of off-putting. The word co-op, to be honest, gave me pause. I was not into organic foods, and was really not that into sharing. The website showed a porch where people gathered to use the wireless. There were Friday night cookouts in summer, a Black Fly Festival in spring, and an annual “floating potluck.”
“How do you eat while paddling?” I asked my analyst. “Isn’t that kind of strange?”
“Bring bags of potato chips,” he said. “You can lob them into peoples’ boats.”
The hippie had included in her directions a warning: My driveway is not for the faint of heart. She wasn’t joking. At the bottom of the gravel switchback I gunned my Hyundai and held on tight until I arrived at the top in an overgrown yard with a modern three-story house and deck, on which an older woman, braless in a sundress, appeared as I pulled in behind her Impreza. She was a lawyer and conflict negotiator, she had said on the phone. From her car roof sprouted a plastic sunflower, on the bumper a sticker that read, “Say NO to negativity.”
“Hey,” she said, coming down and introducing herself. “You just missed some deer out here. I see a bear once in a while, fox, too. One had her kits right by the road. For weeks, you had to stop the car until she finished nursing.”
She led me into the house and through a set of French doors into a walk-out basement. Two fat cats appeared, one meowing like a creaky door in need of oil. “Strays,” she said. “But they’re good for the mice.” The main room had two sets of tables and chairs, off which were two bedrooms. “I didn’t know which room you’d want, so I’ll let you make up the bed,” she said, and pointed to a tangle of sheets in a laundry basket.
After showing me how to turn on the gas and start the shower, she went back upstairs and I assessed the situation. The apartment didn’t quite look like it did in the pictures online. It was damp. The concrete floor was painted brown. Spiders had claimed every corner. It felt like a basement.
I dragged a table into one of the bedrooms to work at, and transferred its colorful cloth to the table in the “kitchen.” The other bedroom had twin beds under two small windows. I threw the tangle of sheets onto one of the beds, and out tumbled a dead mouse, its eyes closed tight as if having a bad dream.
My first meal at the co-op was an empanada, hot and oozing under tin foil on the co-op counter. I bought one and went out onto the porch and did what would become a running theme in my sabbatical: I rhapsodized about it in a poem, “Let Adamant Feed You.” The next day on that counter was peach pie. Then scones. Some fairy dropped them off, clearly, and they were there just for me.
The hippie was oddly intrusive–did I need a lawn chair to sit out in the weeds? a gift certificate to a local restaurant? a kettle bell to secure the lockless French doors to prevent the croaky cats I was allergic to from getting in? I escaped on long walks to the co-op. A mile down, a mile back. In between I sat on the porch and ate scones, listening to the waterfall or watching turtles sun themselves. People came and went, saying hello and waving.
That first day at the co-op, I did something that was so counter-intuitive, so unlike me, that I can only say it seemed like divine intervention. I asked if I could help. It was volunteer-run after all, and taking on a role would be a safe way to meet people. The friendly blonde woman at the counter eagerly showed me to the sign-up sheet on the ice cream cooler. Set-Up, Clean-up, Server, Grill, Cashier. I put my name in a different slot for all eight cookouts and went home.
I had an epiphany in the hippie’s basement early in my sabbatical. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first few days. Time moves differently on a sabbatical. I would spend an hour eating a maple creemee. I cried once on the library lawn, realizing I could read my book all the way to the end and not have to stop.
That morning, I was at the kitchen table, staring out at the frogs in the overgrown grass, eating a breakfast of raspberries and cheese, and the thought came to mind: This is the only life you have. You might as well live it.
Thoughts like this are alarming. You’ve either been reading too much Mary Oliver or hanging out with, well, hippies. It sounds mystical, but there were a lot of unusual things happening to me now that I had time to do nothing. I sat in the middle of a dirt road listening to bumblebees. I watched the clouds for hours. One day, I mistook a fly’s eye on goose dung for a hummingbird. It was like living inside a James Wright poem, whose cow patties “blazing like golden stones” I’d never quite bought.
Moments stayed with me and seemed to last forever. Reading in a chair in the library, swimming with a girl in the lake.
“Sounds like childhood,” my analyst said when I called him from a wedge of road near Sodom Pond, the only place I could find cell reception.
I wrote more poems. I let my hair grow. I couldn’t remember the last time I showered, and didn’t care.
The sweet air, the silence, the minutes ticking by.
At my first cookout, I was assigned to serve salads. “Be careful not to give out too much,” said the pretty blonde lady, handing me a one-cup measure and plastic gloves. I fussed with the gloves, feeling shy. The women of the coop were there, the Madame Defarges, or “The Witches of Eastwick,” as one called them, running the show, except for the grill, which was run by men.
Janet MacLeod the artist from upstairs was there. She’d just returned from Scotland and had sketches and watercolors on display in the store.
“Another Janet!” she said to me and smiled. “There are, let’s see, five of us now. People can come into the coop and say Janet and someone will answer.”
We laughed and I started to relax. The back of the coop was festooned with twinkly lights and café tables with bud vases of wildflowers, a sort of poor man’s Paris. Someone had painted an Adamant board game on one of the tables. Around 5:30 people started driving up in Subarus with kids and dogs. I was told sometimes the governor showed up, or a prize-winning novelist or nuclear scientist. Everybody was in jeans and informal.
I sized up my one-cup ladle, trying to level it off perfectly with each scoop. Surely they’d be watching to see if they wanted me back next week. I smiled at the guests, most of whom were interested in getting to the desserts. “Ooh, is that Donna’s carrot cake?”
Someone ran past, “MacLeod’s made pickles!” and descended on the condiments table.
I was officious and probably scowling. I expected people to want to know my resume. Where are you from? What do you do? But no one that night asked me what I did. Clearly, I was scooping salads. All people said was, “Wasn’t that a good peach cobbler?” and “Isn’t it a beautiful night?”
A man from the grill came down and started talking about rowing on the pond across the street. “The sunsets there are spectacular. The walk around the pond is great at night. Up at Sibley farm you can see so many stars, it’s like standing in the Milky Way.”
This was when I realized there was a third unusual thing going on here, beyond the co-op and the people: nature. Even a ratty old farmer, or a grizzly man with a bush hog on his tractor appreciated the moonlight on a country road in winter, the spring peepers humming like sleigh bells in early spring, the sight of a bobcat. They checked the weather, watching for when to plant seeds or shelter the tomatoes. It’s like that quote of Kurt Vonnegut’s, praising the pre-cable television days before on-demand viewing, when you could call your neighbor and say, “Turn on channel 5, there’s this cool documentary about Hoover!” In Adamant, it felt like we were all watching the same channel—nature—and that felt grounded and connected in a way the city never did, with its fevering movement of cars and people, lives crossing in and out but with no cord to cinch it all together.
I kept going back to the co-op, drawn to its creaky floors, to its assortment of soups and spices, fresh eggs and yogurt. I worked the grill, joshing with the guys in my apron, running salmon burgers and chicken sausage to the servers. I read on the co-op porch in the afternoons, or napped on one of its benches. One day I watched a thunderstorm roll in, crashing rain on the roof and turning the roads to mud.
While I read and dozed on the porch, I heard the workers inside, talking or putting out the trash. The front door opened and closed with neighbors coming in for mail and groceries. I could say hello to people or not. I could be as involved as I wanted to be. I didn’t have to do or be anything to become a fixture, which I slowly was.
“What is it about this place?” I asked the ladies inside, only half-joking.
“It’s something in the water,” they said.
Whatever it was that drew us to the co-op, it was shared. This was important.
Every night at the hippie’s, I went through the same routine: I lay in bed reading until I heard the inevitable “noise outside the window”, at which point I turned out the light, and sat up in bed, heart pounding. Every night, the same questions. What was out there? Could it see me? What would I do if it got in? (Questions that curiously echoed my existential state of affairs.)
What was out there was wild. Owls soaring over the hood of my car late at night. Coyotes trotting along the side of a road. A family of moose crossing the road in eerie silhouette. Mysteries in my headlights, portals to other worlds.
On Friday, I drove to the co-op for the cookout. I edged onto the shoulder of the road behind a long lines of cars. As I did, my right front tire dropped firmly off the road into a ditch. My reaction to this was to laugh. Not a cynical chuckle or groan, but a giddy laugh from deep inside, like a balloon untying in my gut and all the air pushing out.
A woman heading into the cookout with her kids looked over and she started laughing, too. We locked eyes and howled. Her kids jumped up and down, pointing. “Rick Barstow will get you out!” she shouted. “They’ve got his number inside.”
That’s when I knew this was a place where I would be okay, no matter what.
I took my time eating that night. I went up for extra dessert. I talked to people. On the porch I saw a man I’d met at a cookout the week before named Justin. He was nearly bald with a little red fringe of a beard. He was eating with his teenaged son when I asked if he could help. He excused himself, tossed on an Irish tweed cap and followed me out to my car.
He peered into the ditch and nodded. “I’ve got a winch in my pick-up. I can get you out.”
I put the car in reverse, tapped the gas lightly and soon felt my back wheels level out on the road. I thanked him. “No problem,” he said, coiling the rope. Then he asked me out.
out into the darkness · ryki zuckerman
12.9 billion miles
beyond the count of skipping rope,
a golden record
of the sounds and sights
of the planet earth
we are so fond of
gold, a thing that never rusts,
holding the beats of a human heart
the lilt of a child’s laughter,
a whale song of the fog,
the whisper of the wind on the flutes of a nomadic tribe,
the roar of saturn V lifting off,
a navajo night chant, a mother and child, the alima song
by mbuti of the ituri rain forest —
all, that you might hear us.
voyager has taken it all
to interstellar space,
the dark end of the universe,
we have never seen
(except in our imagination),
where we hope
some other intelligence
will access our old 70s technology
and have some way to hear and see
what we want them to know of us
and our distant locus.
we hope they are a gentle species
and do not use the information
we have sent them
to come and wreak havoc
in our corner of the galaxy.
after all, we have been doing
such a good job of that ourselves.
Robert Frost in Russia · Tim Kahl
could bring two nations to peace,
a discussion over chess moves in the park,
why the bishop must stand its ground,
how the faithful pawns, released from
their sweet fields, must still imagine their work.
That is why the old poet, bedridden,
father of a suicide, submits himself
to Kruschev’s weight. A pawn marches
across the battle to experience
a persistent ideal turned into threatening form.
What faith in the art of conversation
that it might displace what the press has wrought,
what the men with interests have riled,
and the next year the missile crisis,
the old poet ends his famous lover’s quarrel
with the world. He cut off its rebuttal,
because the world understands talk less.
It reacts to an itch like a dog
that bites its back — constructive
antagonism, the old poet might have said.
The old curmudgeon berates Kruschev
for the Berlin Wall’s insult. Two farm boys
should have talked about the best soil and
weather for growing apples instead,
but the old poet in the face of power
could not resist his queen to queen’s
bishop six. Check. Nothing doing.
The king does not fall over. Nothing
is gained, nothing lost. No energy exchange.
Nothing dies with dignity as much as
the straight talk between two old men.
Final Deploynent · G. F. Boyer
(My father: 1926-2013)
We’re not going to unbury him, are we?
Because we didn’t find the WWII uniform
until after the funeral (box labeled DVDs,
laundry room shelf), why question
at this late hour our choice of “Dad”
T-shirt and his favorite flannel?
Are we ordering him to the front, mach schnell?
Are we disturbing his sleep to murmur,
like some Berliner fräulein,
Was willst du haben into his peaceable ear?
A Short History IV · G. F. Boyer
Monumental, scalded, scaled,
not the least bit cracked. But
we watched, mesmerized, as it broke in half,
our hearts hollow, frozen, tidy —
shot through with ribbons of blood.
And nothing remained
that a modest breeze couldn’t collapse.
The Luxury of Having · Tim Kahl
toilet paper. I remark we could use
a dark sock from the laundry,
then return it to the pile.
My son wants to use a wool one,
but I intercept and suggest synthetic.
“Think of the poor sheep and how it
would feel if it knew.” But he wants
the angora, the fine merino, then
the cashmere. “Outrageous,” I say,
“an insult to every petting zoo you’ve
ever been to.” But he cares little in
this case for my righteous indignation.
He wants the best and only the best,
like everyone else,
to keep the stink off of him.
No Baby · Scott Silasbe
“You’re gonna wake the baby” — even when we all
knew there wasn’t a baby in the house. I was young
and even though he was my grandfather, I couldn’t
get a good read on him — I didn’t know whether or
not he knew that there wasn’t a baby in the house.
the ghost orchid · ryki zuckerman
as me, but they need
green leaves to draw down
i drink from fog
and hide in shade,
increasing my beauty
by peeking out from behind
a spanish moss fan.
when they come to look for me,
i hope they are kind.
when they rip me
from my home,
i will wish i had something
to give them in return —
a scream, a slap,
a dose of poison.
A Translation of Static in the Darkness · C. C. Russell
for the night,
when all of the little words pass.
When the bus is no longer running,
when there is nothing at all safe
in the darkness.
When I am gone,
I will still be here.
I will be the hot breath
across your face.