Two Poems • Kristin LaTour

Honky Tonk

Saturday night, when the oven
is off and the cakes are covered,
I chameleon myself:
pull on my worn-out boots
and smear red lipstick
on my lips that will form
the lyrics I know by heart,
bare a little more skin
than my mother suggests,
go to sway in a dark room full
of people I could love.

I can't play like her, can't
sing like her, can't throw
my head back and laugh
at life like her. I tap my toes
and clap the beat, my smile
like a Cheshire cat's.
I give my glance to the boys
who look like they could
love me, or dance to the slow
songs, maybe even have
a Cadillac parked out back.

When I work at the bakery,
in my calico and cotton,
I turn the radio up loud
whenever Mr. Perkins
comes on. The pies get filled
with hip-shaking, the bread rises
in quarter beats, cookies
spread like the buttery voice
of Mr. Cash down my back.
People say I make the sweetest
stuff this side of the Mississippi,
but nothing is sweeter than a boy
who wants to dance to a 3/4 song
a waltzy melody on a hot summer
night, with that red dress touching
my legs, and my cheek next to his.



When we meet after a day away
and our eyes are strained from staring
at white screens, it is as if--

no, not as if, but when
we meet in the kitchen and smile
and reach for each other, I am soaring.

Maybe not soaring, but meeting
with arms wrapped around each other’s waists
and your cheek on my hair, after hours apart.

Was it hours? But at home
when we are tired of all the noise
of the world and want the quiet of our bed.

Not really tired, but our bed
is there again while we went away,
and it’s too early for what we want it to be.

Alright, not too early, but we just want to be
where we can hold each other
and soar for a time, maybe hours.

Lifeguard in Blue • Amy Huffman

Two Poems • Clyde Kessler

My Own Time Warp

I went home before I was born
to hear the old bootleggers run their brew
past my great grandmother, who stared
like an empty cellar’s key or like a splayed lock
with the metal re-welded and hooked for an eye.
They didn’t dare, and I didn’t, even if I became a leaf
that slipped across smoke, a century late, and invisible.

I heard their wagon creaking on a bridge against the sky.
It was a roughed-up road with nobody sober, rolling away.
An owl was whinnying off like a wildcat tethered to a ghost.
Frogs scooped their mating noise from March-melt snow
and moonlight snuck down through the alder leaf-buds.
Everybody was leaning against willows way too stoned
to remember me, since I was a future they hanged clouds on.
And they were just a steep mountain’s pioneer’s grand-babies.
They were folks already aged away with no words.


New Year's Eve At the Shark Bar

We dance at The Shark Bar tonight
where one face melts many old men
who killed a mako, or a hammerhead,
and thus woke our legends into whiskey.

A Korean voice croons with a drum
that we rolled off a bootlegger’s boat
for the New Year. The shark sign fell
into the inlet, but we still sing dark fins
knifing the waves. And somebody might
knife you with our songs, if you’re sober.

And I might follow you to the roof
if you think counting meteors makes a wish
from a fire. I’ll trust a shark tooth necklace,
serrated and sharp with its ancient force.
We dance if you dance. We drink all night.
The sun doesn’t catch another shark’s eyes.

Love is A Heat from Hell Not Meant for the Summer • Forrest Evans

I haven’t seen the sun rise
since I walked away.
Missing you is the closest
thing to the sunshine I miss.
The heart is a lonely hunter
and also a round of steel wool.
My God, no one told me love
is the passionate fire from hell.
She put her love on me
and all the music made sense;
all the Donny Hathaway and
Bill Withers made sense— my God.
Baby, missing you is the closest
I’ve gotten to a full day.
It’s night all damn day long
and the lonely are always out.
I can’t live alone or without a spouse.
The demons won’t leave me
alone and they don’t come from
the past anymore—
Missing you is closest I’ll
get to the warmth of full day,
a sunshine, a sunny day in Savannah,
or Sothern Comfort and sunset with you.
Missing you is the safest way
to be sorry and vulnerable,
comfortable and lonely.
The safest way to survive and love you.

Paradise • Tango Barraza

There is
some small paradise
beneath out drinks
And on top
of our souls
That edge
where they meet
In which everything is beyond wonderful.