John Muro: Adrift

Twilight’s turning out the daytime sky as if
it was a pilot light, blue flame fluttering into
vapor, leaving the edges of heaven fringed
in rippled scatter. Shadows lengthening as
the last play of light is pulled down to water.
Overhead, the hushed, dust-soft sweep of bats,
the slow, easy lilt of wind dawdling in languor,
and star’s sinking between clouds in bright idleness.
Leaf-burdened branches catch and then release a cold,
celibate moon into apertures of orange-yellow light.
And I see how this may well be the way life abandons 
us at some near-distant, mystical hour. Luminous
in parting, it, too, becomes a thing unburdened and,    
set adrift, brightly burns as it spins away from us.

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John Muro: Andantino

                 - After Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor: Third Movement
 
Calls to mind the disquieting
Lull and puddled velvet that
comes just after receding tides
unravel into an ampersand of
foam and fall back to water,
thickset in calm, aglint without
motion, revealing where grief
gathers as surf recoils or that
hushed, holy space between
breaths, with air held in a kind
of peaceful penitence, neither
moving in nor out, soft as wide,
immaculate lawns at twilight
or the momentary stoppage of
the heart that comes on just as
hope departs, leaving an undulant
wake and fractures of light
blossoming in abundance and
the sound of idle water rising
and what amounts to a life near-
drowning taken back to shore

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John Muro: To My Grandchildren

Gathering up this aging heart
that’s loosened and fallen again,
unable to rise, leaving a space
inside me while watching you
sleep, hurtling aimlessly into
dream, after a day seaside
collecting shells and snails,
housing them in bright buckets
and counting each one like
wishes carried upon incoming
tides crusted with light and
then taking in, by firelight,
the day as it undresses and
puts on a night-time sky,
with story upon story told
or to be continued like your
blissful lives that I pray are
no less full and never-ending
convinced that this earth may
well be our only heaven and
the best we can do is to try
and hold such days close for
safekeeping and keep loss at
bay, and so what I’m now
asking is to forgive those
of us who, deep in life’s
winter, watch over you and
once again dream of being
young while hoping we’ve
bequeathed something of
worth you might hold onto
and never outgrow.

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Monty Jones: Contemporaries

The ordinary thought
is that our contemporaries
are now alive during our own lives.
But look at this stone axe,
or trace your fingers
across the red paint on this rock
where a deer can still be seen.
 
Or read the Odyssey, Book XXIII,
where Penelope realizes
that Odysseus has come home.
Or witness Lear, mad in the storm,
or listen to Maria Yudina playing
Mozart, say the Fantasia, K. 475.
 
Who will not find these lives 
overlapping with our own, 
their time our present moment?
Who will fail to recognize 
the hands and the eyes
that shaped these creations?
 
The same as in the far future
when something, or its robot,
even from a distant world,
sifts the jumbled remains
of an archaic streambed
or at the mouth of a glacier
and finds what it believes
to be some trace of the human,
 
something from our own time,
from this city before it burned,
something we could not take
on the long road to the north,
our only hope then that someone
would come to value it
as we did in our day,
let us say a square of bronze
stamped with five words
from the Book of Ephesians:
“Be kind to one another.” 

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Kelly Ann Ellis: Owen County

They drank nectar
from honeysuckle and clover
August days when nothing
happened ever.

A nip and a suck
was what it took
to taste the moment
sudden sweet.

It made her livid
their mother. She’d holler,
You kids get outa them weeds
before I skin you alive.

You wanna drop dead?
They mighta been sprayed 
with poison. Go on.
Just get.

She pealed potatoes
with a butcher knife
wiped it on her dress
blinked back sweat.

They weighed the odds,
ate one last flower
made sure she saw,

then scattered—

like so much
dandelion fluff—
into the buzzing afternoon

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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, 
magazines, 
grocery sacks of old games: 
monopoly, 
chess, 
clue, 
and on the bottom,
an old picture album 
of known and unknown faces… 
unfinished: 
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, 
laughed 
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.

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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.