Barbara Daniels: Venus Rising

for Sandy Parker

A tree by the roadside suddenly
dropped every leaf, shock
of orange twisting, settling.

It was a blessing, Sandy says.
Her radiation starts tomorrow
now that her breast has almost

healed. I slow my walk,
touch wet trees, check
their terminal buds. They rest

now, waiting for spring.
Last night I read that some buds
are naked, some protected

by stiff little scales. A pair
of scales looks like a miniature
hot dog bun or (some people

think) praying hands. I’ve never
noticed their hopeful compactness.
The sun glows through fog

and suddenly brightens—too
dazzling to see. Venus will rise
to the left of the moon tonight.

Clouds will hide it. But it will rise,
a planet like a squashed beach ball
rotating backwards but catching the light.


For more on Barbara Daniels, please see our Authors page.

Chuck Taylor: Group Hug

“Loving nothing on this earth.”

I am trying to bring to mind
all the things I did not love —
parties with loud smoke
and heavy drinking in the humid
crush of rooms, football games
full of raging shouts cheering
gladiators as in the Roman Coliseum,
shooting clay pigeons out of a
grey Chicago sky, soot speckled
snow piles on a corner blocking
parked cars wishing to join
the morning commute, freeway
traffic on central expressway
heading to do the numbers up
in an Dallas accounting office

yet newness could always lift
the heart learning a new trade. I have
also in mind how alcohol and drugs
were medicines to carry one
through what one did not love,
or to change perceptions
and somehow make the thing
unloved loveable, or at least
numbed pain and made one forget.
Many that I loved were addicts
in a world they could not love
and I will admit I am with them
in understanding if not in practice,

but then I turn and admire
the careful stitching of my winter
gloves in the curve between
the fingers, something that no
machine can do. I walk across
a rusted steel railroad trestle
crossing the Brazos River built
in 1919 and am in I wonder how
it supports the heavy engines
of all these long amazing years.
Last night a frog looked me
in the eye as I got out of my
car, before she darted under
our porch into the deep darkness,
and you, you came as you always do
to the door holding our puppy Coco
and we clutched in a tight group hug.

For more on Chuck Taylor, please see our Authors page.

James Croal Jackson: Dust

a hole is a hole. until a breeze
carries sand back the way I
can barely see, or at all. and there. just
out in the water. a phantom
in my mind, bobbing with the
beat of the wind that blows out into the
aquatic landscape– a
horseboat in the night. the moon is in the
moonlight reflecting the waves,
shimmering in the brown
sky. it has been days, and all
the sea lilies of the waves with their green
trees are floating by me.


For more on James Croal Jackson, please see our Authors page.