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Sunday, June 15, 2014


Forecast       Karin Gottshall

I remember, before the snow started,
thinking I wish it would start. The sky darkened

shadow on shadow. The cats, as usual,
slept through the morning. Then snow so heavy that even

my father, who was a kind of Noah—all resolve and solitude,
cabinetry and salt—couldn't have steadied me. I remember—

and this was back when the sham fortune-teller sat
turning over cards, saying you will be lonely

thinking it could be worse. Thinking loneliness
is nothing more than a cotton slip

and uncombed hair. A path you dig in the snow
once the snow has stopped. Thinking then let it begin

The Cave Painter                  Elizabeth Onusko

Memory is a series of caves
in which perspective invents itself,

learns the language of images,
mixes egg white with hematite,

and presses to a wall
a pigmented finger or piece of lichen

to record what it sees.
Holding a torch, she roams
the network of passages,
trying to find something she recognizes
amidst the thousands of images
drawn haphazardly over each other.

She interprets the juxtaposed layers literally,
takes comfort looking at things

that never happened,
like her five-year-old self holding hands

with her five-year-old father,
because the images seem whole

and therefore reliable.
Sometimes the torch doesn’t last,

and every step brings her further
into a black so complete

it’s no longer color but sound.
Panicked, she sits on the ground,

arms around legs and mumbling.
This is how we find her

when we enter her room,
a white nightgown puddled on linoleum,

and this is why she doesn’t –
know who we are.


The Methodist and his Method   by Chad Sweeney

Underground in the cemetery
my grandfather preaches to the other corpses.
They clap inside their boxes

nicely arranged in Sunday clothes
in long rows like pews.
His words stir hope

that conditions may change.
Each man has been given his row boat,
he says,

to lie back in and watch the sky
braiding and unbraiding its light.
No one is safer than we are. 


Ocean Beach at TwiIight: 14        Dean Rader
Who's to say the stars understand
their heavy labor, or the moon its
grunt work across the hard curve of absence?
Who's to say the gulls taut on their tiny strings
believe the air? Everything seems surprised
by the fat slab of pink strung up against the blue:
the dogs dark in night's water, the fishermen
buoyed to the beach's pillar of stillness.
Even the teenage boy playing in the spoor
of foam and backflow pauses longer
than expected, his father's voice dissolved
in the din-drop of surf and sea hush. Night
is no curtain. When he stares out across
the wave of waves, who's to say he looks inward? 

Shuttlecock                                             Gary L. McDowell       

A poem about my father
will always begin my father.
A poem about my father and I
will always begin when I was young.
My father never told me
I limped a long time
after my bones had knit,
favored one leg more
than the other, egged myself
forward, one knee knotted,
never told me my fists
were too small for fighting,
too small to be blamed
for violence: the grasp and tug
I made at my mother’s hair,
that tug to pull myself closer,
to grasp something other than air.
My father never told me
I was a body, I was a herder,
never told me that when bit
I should swear, swear,
and take showers at all hours
of the night.  My father never
told me that I inherited
his dancing thighs.
A poem about my father,
when I was young, will
always begin in October.
In October, we flew kites
in the frantic rush of winds
that never toppled us.
My hawk never had its feathers,
my father’s eagle never lost
its feathers.  Our birds, so different,
soared and never threaded
our story to another story,
never forgot who we were,
us, me and my father,
when I was young.

I Scandalize Myself                     Iman Mersal
translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa

I must tell my father
that the only man for whom "desire shattered me"
looked exactly like him,
and tell my friends
that I have different pictures of myself,
all true, all me,
that I will distribute among them one at a time.
I must tell my lover,
"Be grateful for my infidelities.
Without them
I wouldn't have waited all this time
to discover the exceptional pause in your laugh."
As for me
I am almost certain
that I scandalize myself
to hide behind it.

Bird Advice                                         Jill Alexander Essenbaum
There you go again, head in hand
and wringing out the vandal curl of your hair,
the only sparrow Jesus has his eye on.
Of course we'll eat your breadcrumbs.

Mostly, you drive too fast. My little heart
beats more quickly than the dawn of a terrible day.
Revise your poems to include more of that.
Long live the lilt of my right wing.

God has numbered every feather.
I sing because once, I thought to do it.
When the wind warbles in strange tones,
the air has found something of itself to regret.

So. You don't believe. Strange species, you,
the North American Doubter, migrating
southward and in volumes like an irruption
of nuthatch. What shall you make of that?

Your cat is quite mean. You must
learn new songs of despair and delight.
Your dead father is an anthem in the skies.
All that you yearn is instinct. 


The Mortgaging of Self Is Done                                    Aimee Sands
And the floors dreaming in wide,
drowned light. The drifting and bobbling,

nodding you off in another direction,
broken sideways, sideways

broken. Farther. Father. And the staff
of good intentions that sprouts leaves,

feathers, the formal calm that surprises,
gauze outflung and laid.

The miner that comes with a light, knees,
questions, gunpowder. The stifling,

the unbinding. Moral, normal, matted,
matched. The pelt of suffering,

hung in its usual place. 

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