Six foot explosion of slender leaves
from a forest island of fleshy
prods thick air with lascivious intent
here where Gulf Coast vegetation
grows profligate, an obscene flourish
that devours domestic walls
and subdivided perimeters
beneath heady sun and heavy heat.
Dense green sphere draws in,
absorbs air, oxygen, our frivolous
obsession with presence, leaves
a lenticular procession of transparencies
layering vertically until
waxy green smell fills the nose
from 40, then 60, then 80
years ago –
my grand-uncle Allen
in Puerto Rico leaves the sugar
company office, brushes by the slow
eager bushes framing the entrance.
Flame-orange origami slices
the accumulation of humid
hours, sharpens evening
to a razor red bleed –
I touch the unfolded petals
and feel the cut purse
of mercantile profits
spill through hazy years
when the career bachelor
assuaged worry with balanced figures,
stock prices, careful retirement,
the fleeting seagulls
basking in exorbitant rays
that expire beyond
each day’s seashore.
Kate Greenaway’s compendium
lists lilies for humility, innocence,
majesty, and falsehood;
the red rose for bashful shame –
familiar in my own garden
and past –
but nothing on the bird
of paradise, which I can
as calculating sensuality
that offers colonial memory
in the place
where guilt-free presence
spreads its lush fingers
For more on Joshua Bridgwater Hamilton, please see our Authors page.
Under a sky so blue it stops the heart,
low clouds as clean as kids ready for church,
they were haying in the narrow meadow
that stretched along the road that led to town.
In shade beside the road a pickup parked,
and an old man surveyed the scene.
A tall tractor pulled a bulky baler
that spat round bales, plastic wrapped, impervious
to rain; a man could make the crop alone.
In the rearview mirror that is memory
arose another meadow, another summer
An old tractor, older baling machine
chugging, tanned young men to hoist
the hay on the flatbed trailer
and stack it precariously high.
At the barn they packed the hay
into the loft up to the rafters,
and when the last load was done
they sat under the pin oak tree,
sweat painted tracks on dusty skin,
passing a gourd to dip into the keg,
feeling like they had won something,
and knowing how good tired felt.
The old man took a last look and pulled
onto the blacktop wondering whether
the driver cocooned in the tractor’s cab
would remember this as a perfect day.
For more on William Blake Brown, please see our Authors page.
He calls, and they wheel her to the window.
Drawn deep inside herself she sits, gazing
into a land only she can visit,
until he taps the glass to call her back.
The smile that charms him still lights up her face
and she returns to the present moment.
His nose almost touching the glass, he speaks
above the din of the busy highway.
It is his news report about the kids,
grandkids, and friends. Sometimes her face goes blank
and he sees someone eludes her memory.
It is not important; they let it pass.
Often, they lapse into a long silence
taking comfort in the other’s presence.
When she begins to drift away again,
he does not try to pull her back; instead
he blows a kiss and waves goodbye.
Only after he has turned away
does he allow the tears to streak his face.
For more on William Blake Brown, please see our Authors page.
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.
“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.
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.
Eyes of deer in the dark
where they have come out
on the moonlit pasture,
venturing out just a little farther
than they and I are used to. Continue reading “Ulf Kirchdorfer: Naturerama”
She sits in her front porch rocker watching
the shadows deepen and the street lamps
flicker on one by one. It is mid-April,
but the breeze caressing the wind chimes
carries a reminder of March, and she fetches
her worn denim jacket from inside. She drops
a chamomile tea bag into a cup and presses
the lever on the electric kettle. In evening
the porch is a sanctuary where her memories
glow as brightly as the street lamps.
“We had some good times, didn’t we?” she says
to the empty rocking chair beside her. At last
the darkness is complete, and she goes in
to find that the kettle has snapped off,
and the water in it is cold. Continue reading “William Blake Brown: Porch Rocker”
You darken each slice as if it is the flour
that has forgotten where in the oven
you learned to first go mad, alone
the way each moon before breaking open
lets you have one last look
mixed with smoke to make amber
Continue reading “Simon Perchik: *”
The bakery is closing
on the day my daughter’s marriage swirls
down the drain like the last crumbs
of wedding cake. Sixteen years ago
we sat, she and I, on a patio in the sun
on College avenue in Oakland, sampling
bite-sized squares of wedding cakes:
Continue reading “Judy Clarence: The Closing of Katrina Rozelle’s”
through the golden morning
while the heat hangs above
sun brightens bushes
festooned in flame and gold
though it’s only August
Continue reading “Yash Seyedbagheri: September”