Johanna da Rocha Abreu: Flash Floods

Vonnie eases up on the gas pedal and they coast the last couple of feet to the side of the road. A staccato burst of rain erupts on the body of the car as if it wants to dismantle every bit of glass, metal and rubber. Vonnie can just see them sitting in their seats after the storm, each lock, nut, bolt and gear of the “jalop,” as Paul called it, scattered around them. Worthless pieces not even a magpie would take to its nest.

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Jeanne Althouse: Love Child

She inherited my uncle’s face. She inherited his pale skin, freckled nose, smoky eyes, narrow cheek bones, the way he tilted his head to his left when he spoke. She inherited his love of gab and tendency to lecture. She inherited his profession, his talent at poker, his longing for mountain streams and the habit of a rod and line in his hand. She inherited many things from Uncle Dave, but not his name.
I didn’t believe in religion, in transitions to the other side, in seeing people after death. But the first time I met Renata Taylor that changed.

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Michael Overa: Homegoing

At thirty-three, I have moved home to live with my parents. They have converted the small space above the garage into an apartment. Oddly, instead of negotiating with my soon to be mother-in-law over the food we’ll serve at the Wedding Reception, I am living in a mother-in-law apartment.
The queen bed seems too big. I am not used to sleeping alone. I am not used to going this long without talking to Miriam. We dated for eight years. Eight years and six months, give or take. No. That is wrong. We dated for six years and six months, give or take. We were engaged for two years. But, ultimately, I wonder if there is that much of a difference.

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Holly Day: In Closing

I imagine them finding her on the beach
blond hair spread out on the sand, skin pale and taut
the water pooling in a foamy halo around her head
eyes fixed unblinking on the early morning sun.
I don’t think about the crabs and seagulls
that must have surely found her before the first pair of joggers
stumbled across her in their morning run
and whatever other damage that must have occurred
from being battered about by the waves before being
hurled up on shore. I close my eyes
against the curt voice on the phone
methodically ticking off the contents of her pockets
the jewelry she was still wearing, the description of a tattoo
I never knew about
and instead, think of angels on Christmas trees, tiny wings spread
half-remembered psalms, shattered lectures of Heaven.

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James Piatt: Stored Memories

In an old cardboard box in the attic… 
personal notes sent on cold mornings, 
rusted nails, 
paper clips, 
a gold high school graduation ring, 
pencil stubs, 
a chipped red checker piece, 
but mostly a collection of long-lost memories. 
The dusty box sits beside 
a cracked antique mirror, 
a single bed, 
a dented in trumpet from the 1930s, 
boxes of esoteric books, 
grocery sacks of old games: 
and on the bottom,
an old picture album 
of known and unknown faces… 
The forgotten memories inside, 
covered with countless years. 
The things glistened with newness 
a long time ago 
when those who lived 
in this old house 
still breathed, 
and loved, 
now only an empty silence. 
Life, so brief, so taken for granted. 
Then, in a sudden moment, 
everything faded, 
and what was can only be found 
in old cardboard boxes in attics, 
and far less often, 
in the memories of those few 
who are still alive to remember.

For more on James Piatt, please see our Authors page.

Jim Wilson: New Life Sunrise

This beautiful morning delivers
through swirling pastel cloud wisps
a baby pink and blue sunrise.
The gentle view sets my tone for the day.
No complaining, even in thought—
I will have, exhibit, and enjoy
peace, patience, love and kindness.
I’ll start by not caring if the sunrise
is a boy or a girl.
I can’t decide it, but I can delight in it.
Tomorrow I am sure I will be back
to persistence, effort, and goal setting,
but today I am taking the day off
to play with the baby.

For more on Jim Wilson, please see our Authors page.

Jim Wilson: The Law of Natural Selection

All day at least all afternoon
on the porch outside my office window
a little, fledgling barn swallow sits.
Above in the corner nest, 4 swallow siblings
cram side by side in the one room mud stucco nest
obviously too small for 5 to mature to full flight.
Four sets of yellow lips gape for airborne lunch
Bud below is out of sight out of mind.
Odd man out gapes his yellow lips too.
Food deliveries are rare compared to nestlings’ fare
Groundling tries to fly, but wing and tail feathers unfinished.
Does he need one week, two weeks? How long to lift off?
His best flight 3” high and 18” long.
Wright brothers beginning
Downed Vietnam fighter pilot
Unlucky fledgling barn swallow
Do I catch, box, and bring inside?
Do I try to replace endangering the other four?
All afternoon agony
It’s dark now. He is out of sight under the porch shrubbery.
His siblings and I are secure. The snake, feral cat, or skunk
Could very well happen on a midnight snack.
Such is life or the end of it.
Letting nature take its course is crappy.
No, daylight shines and he is still on the porch.
The saga continues all week.
Day three and single grounded fledgling has a buddy.
Now on Sunday I see only two left in nest.
Then, by golly, two hours later there are 6 adults
flying kamikaze blue angel patterns through the porch.
And there is only one baby still in the nest.
Monday morning empty nest, empty porch
Arial circus thru the porch and around the front yard
Five new birds in the show.
Now I can get rid of that gosh awful ugly mud nest
in the corner of the porch ceiling and clean up
that pile of droppings on the cement below.
They’ll be back next spring for home construction
blessed events, and off to college in July.
I hope the next five are as lucky as these,
but I would like to suggest birth control, bigger nest, or
window curtains to ease my anxiety. 

For more on Jim Wilson, please see our Authors page.

Jim Wilson: Mature Life Magic

A twelve-zinnia bouquet five days cut still stands.
Two stems collapsed; blossoms face down now.
Others still smiling upright but dried, colors faded
frayed and crinkled around the edges.
I see continued dignity, beauty, and function.
The hundred years old sagging prairie barn flaunts
weathered paintless wood shades of decaying gray.
Rusty hinges still swing creaking groaning doors.
Role impaired but stored hay still dry
I see continued dignity, beauty, and function.
My 1970 college friends boldly gathered.
Little contact in 50 years all aging in their places.
After introductions, recognition, and reminiscence
the inner souls of character show polish by time.
I see continued dignity, beauty, and function.

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Laurence Musgrove: Good Medicine

The clutch of fresh tortillas  
You bought at Mata’s Fruit Store 
Just north of the Stanton Street Bridge 
Paired perfectly with your green chile stew. 
Long ago, I stopped with my daughters 
For combo plates and salsa in Las Cruces 
And learned the baptism of hatch pepper 
As it rinsed the dust from my eyes. 
So, when I stood in your small kitchen, 
Cubes of pork and potatoes swimming 
In a deep stained cauldron of verde, 
I knew I was in for another scalding. 
After a spoon or two, my tongue lit up 
And beads of sweat pooled on my scalp. 
Next came tears and laughter, a drippy nose. 
Down my neck and back, ran a rivulet. 
The mistake, of course, is to lick your lips. 
But even that quick blistering subsided 
As I peeled back and folded another tortilla 
To sop up what remained of my remedy. 

For more on Laurence Musgrove, please see our Authors page.