Bar Notes · Nancy Kay Peterson

Food being served
every day in Pub,
2nd door to the left.
Steakhouse next door to the left.
Steakhouse 2nd door on the right.
Wel-come on in.

Men's room not in service after
restaurant is closed.
It is our desire to keep
this (women's room) as clean
and sanitary as possible.
If it is not, please
notify one of our employees.

Domestic beer will be $2.00
when DJ or band start.
(Red dot) $2.75.
(Blue dot) $3.00.
(Green dot) $3.25.
All labels are $2.50.
This person (xeroxed picture)
is not 21 years of age.
Do not sell alcohol to him.
No credit cards.
Checks taken for food only.

No change returned.
*Notice* If you start a fight,
you will be barred permanently.
BARRED list as revised 5/28/97.

Thank you for your patronage.

After Spray-Painting My Husband With Cafe-Au-Lait · Arlene Ang

I apologized between coughs
and sudden postnasal drip.
Then stopped myself from
dabbing his face with
a not-quite-clean table napkin.
Just hold a sec, I pleaded
before running for my digital.

In less than a minute, I had him
framed not-quite-happily
drinking coffee, his eyes
voodoo-prickng me
behind a raised cup.
It's for a magazine, I offered.

Looking at the snapshot
then at him, I paused.
With a critic's finger
I touched the sticky tan
on his chin and admitted
he was right all along.

Memoirs of a Fleeting Summer · Suzanne Rindell

You say you’re back in America
Writing poetry under neon signs and sleeping
In waffle-house parking lots.

Funny that only now I should remember
that brief English summer –
Its short silk spun days I have not been able to recall but now
I remember. I remember our song of lament:
Together, trapped under a ceiling of gray,
And worse, grey, spelt with an e.
That summer I trudged the steaming streets
(The Irish would call this weather close, you said)
To a job on the tourists’ side of town,
Selling shoes and scarves to ladies
who rode the bus from Godstow,
Kiddlington, or any of those places
where they referred to Oxford as The City.
We sat nearly nude on the too-green back lawn
of your dormitory
Drinking cheap French and watching the floating heads
Of tourists riding down the Cherwell on meandering punts,
Their passing absurdly rhythmic, like a log ride at Disneyland
(It’s a small world after all, you laughed).
It was that summer that the albino deer got loose from Magdalen Deer Park
And I wondered if she had left feeling bad because she knew
She was different (– not aloud, of course,
for you would consider it vanity).
The Old Firehouse was putting on Six Degrees
so we went to a matinee
(How mercilessly we laughed at the
Brits’ version of New Yorkese!).
What a neat idea though – that we are all
six simple steps apart,
A Kandinsky symphony of chaos -- six failing,
faltering, stumbling steps

When the show was over, we emerged
from the dark to find the sky
Split open like a ripe pomegranate,
the spell broken; the cage bars lifted. Suddenly

People filled the streets in shorts and summer dresses
and I, for one
Interminable terrifying second, paused to consider
that it was not the summer
Fleeting before me; it was you, free and unfettered.

The clouds closed again like thick velvet curtains and I
Took your arm as we walked wobbly-ankled over cobblestones --
All the while winding back home.

High Maintenance · Amy Pence

I warned you about
me: touching
my wings, you did not
at first
find me difficult.
I was soft
timbre in your
bones: I was breath
and broke open
pleasantly in your mouth

That’s what spirit
does Then, eventually
my fear: the kidskin
feel my wings
ribbed, abrupt unfurling
a Harley Davidson jacket

errant and rubbing wounded, edges
rubbed It always goes
deeper the best things
anyway Like

prayer: so lovely, so rapacious so asking so
desperate so sated so netted so intricate so
tiring so immediate so lasting so ponderous so
lit like winged gold silvered and rubbed between
your palms.

I Don't Forget · Rita Chapman

the heavy scent
of impending rain
steaming above
the pavement
wet dust
store perfume of a shifted
lover moving towards me
across a crowded room
it snakes up my nose
dry, viscid, nesting
coiling into a roll that
fits neatly into the retreat
it builds in
my northwest
one whiff
lingering by
the taste
of onion dip

the better memories
interlace of her scent and
leg stubble scratching
me under the green
flannel sheets
lips like saltwater taffy

the sheer ugliness of human
relations caught in the centrifugal
force of uninvited need

For Laura Hanlon, Somewhere in Ohio · Perri Gaittens

I found your Ohio Auto Club card
on a sidewalk in Portland, Oregon,
one afternoon in September, not far
from a rose garden where I shared
coffee with the man I loved before
saying good-bye. Even the swollen
white roses could tell there was no
point, no purpose. I don’t know
why I picked up your card, except

I was taking little with me at the time.
The weekend seemed to be expanding.
I thought that Monday morning,
I would phone the auto club,
tell them your card had been found.
Instead, I carried it in my purse
for two years, perhaps as proof
that someone else traveled
the same road, and kept moving.

Train Wreck · Thomas Kellar

Morning cloud cover shredded.
Long hours of naked,
Sun-raked sky.
Cosmos acetylene torch
welds the seam between earth and air.
Blue waves of Mojave August
rolling down.

After hell-hot night of meth-twitch,
hallucinogenic insomnia,
Freddy is still restless.
Spends most the day
leaving boot prints
In sponge-like asphalt,
bridge across sand, rock and cactus.
36 hours without sleep,
concocting deluded ideas
about last minute reconciliation
but Tina's bus is in L.A. by now...

Back at the pay-by-the-week,
the mirror above the bed
documents her disappearance.
An ashtray filled with half smoked
lipstick stained cigarettes,
empty bottles of rot-gut red,
abandoned detective novels,
(too many for a suitcase)
a broken-necked Spanish guitar.
Objects reflecting 50watt soft white,
distortions in beveled glass.

Late afternoon,
Pentecostal preacher in a red Taurus
leaves the highway
pulls up next to Freddy.
"Need a ride?"
Head down,
eyes locked on his own shadow,
Freddy continues walking/no answer.
"Heat like this can kill a man"
the preacher says.
Freddy grins like a rabid dog,
"you really think so?"

Sleepwalking · Mercedes Lawry

We forget the rim of sleep,
move into the shiver
of longing. We carry
our souls, our bent despair,
the blocks of childhood,
love's sobs. The journey
is less true, hovering
like a spirit, over our bones,
our soft mouths.
The map of our bodies
tells how years are folded
and put away. As if
the bells had been stilled,
all sound sucked out
and disappeared.
Nothing has a name.
Only a half sensation,
the seam of purpose and dream
as the sky empties
of stars and rain, we walk
as if we knew what death was like,
as if that loneliness
had become our blood,
the blind pulse of the sleepwalker,
a figure eluding time
and innocence, trailing
syllables of smoke.

Bunch of Junk About Chrome · Matt Morris

Remember when the world sparkled. How
the gods shone with polish in bygone days,
their glistening munificence shellacking
their golden, self-damned heavens, layers

of enamel glossing over the nimbus
haloing you. How light afoot you gamboled
through the iridescent drifts
of that kaleidoscopic fall. How brilliantly

you played the glockenspiel & winked
at the scherzando & phooey! How
would you ever take a shine to me?
The me reflected everywhere,

from the Studebaker’s buff chrome bumpers
to the once popular stovepipe hats,
back then fashioned from silver & tin.
Against the glint of history, you stand apart,

your face inside the coin jar ever
beaming, ever radiant to this day,
untarnished by the change waxing over you
in a glimmering, shimmering heap.

Sunflower · Joseph Hutchison

"Bring me the sunflower crazed with light."


Weaving out under a sky of prickly stars,
he digs for his keys ‹ clutches the metal
roots tangled in his pocket. Overhead
the buzzing BUD sign flinches. Talking
in its sleep, he thinks. Bet it's saying,
"Let me bloom." But all around him
drunken shadows hiss, "Night¹s already
a kind of blossom." He pauses ‹ sways,
staring and listening . . . wondering
where he should turn. Something even
a god-damned sunflower knows by heart.

The Sleep Tight · Thomas Keller

A thin film of eucalyptus leaves
and drowning mosquitoes
covers the dull translucent surface
of a circa 1950s chlorine deprived
kidney-shaped swimming pool.
The cement and water bulls-eye
for a three story, pay-by- the-week motel
called the Sleep Tight Motor Inn.
A sun warped sign on a chain link fence
warns, "No lifeguard on duty."
The lifeguard is NEVER on duty.
Skateboarding twin brothers
stand at the pool's locked gate
and complain...
"This is messed up," one says
"they should like drain the fucker."

The motel's stucco walls
are ashen/heat cracked.
Dark brown boards
frame bent window screens
and soap streaked panes of glass.
(some shrouded in aluminum foil)
Outside room 19
the doorknob wears a cardboard collar
that reads, "Do not disturb."
This amuses the motel's Peruvian janitor.
The two men renting 19
have not been seen in weeks
causing the leaf-blowing handyman
to develop a few theories.

Floor three
a middle-aged woman's
small, soft white hands
adjust the angle of a telescope.
Positioning the barrel
through a tiny gap between curtains,
she swivels it downwards
focusing on the Rite-Aid parking lot
across the street.
Last night she studied the Seven Sisters
This afternoon
as the telescopic eye in the sky,
the digitized voice of an angry prophet,
she fixes her lens on earth.
Picking up a cell phone
her right index finger taps redial.
Instantly, next to the newspaper racks,
the drugstore pay phone starts to ring.
Hidden, she watches and waits.
Someone will answer-someone always does.

Dead Ends · William Borden

I’ve been taking back roads. Some say “Dead End.”
I follow them anyway. Some go for quite a way,
past drying soy beans, corn fields, and pasture,
dwindling finally into a farmer’s back yard,
or a grassy riverbank overhung by low trees
where ducks fly off, scattering water.

Then I think,
every road’s a dead end,
every highway ends somewhere—
U.S. 1 at Key West, I-35 at Laredo
or at Duluth, depending on
where you start. I-5 ends
at Tiajuana or Bellingham, I-90
at the Atlantic Ocean or Puget Sound.

Every highway should have a sign
every few miles and at each end, so you’re
not lulled into a cockamamie optimism.

Dead end.
It’s where we’re going, every damn one of us,
wind combing our hair, radio wailing,
tires humming, bugs splattering,
no matter how many rest stops
we stretch our legs at to prolong the trip,
no matter if the journey lasts days or years,

we turn up finally
where the sign says,

Here you are at last,
old fellow, where the gravel peters out,
the open space begins,
and night falls fast.

Summer Echo · Andrew Shelly

Musty, dense summer
visits my flat in a pall of dust.
The day shines through the blinds,
muted, neuter. Time here is layered with other lives,
other of its tenants. A hair
trapped behind the old wallpaper. I pour the tea
in the early evening . I watch the night fall,
sipping. It's light, quick, sweet. The radio
simmers happily in and out of the silence.
The washed jeans cool on the rail. Friends come over
to see films flash across a screen and
the colours pass across our faces as we drink whisky,
pour frothing beer into china beakers. In the cupboard,
sunlight slowly fades a pile of old clothes
waiting to be laundered.
Light glows briefly around the edges of the blinds; a sifting
of dead insects gathers on the sill, a summer's sweeping.
Then in the fallen empire of the afternoon
someone phones from the other side of the world.
I rise in the early evening
to make the dark, tangy Indian tea.
The grass grows dusty, then it rains.
Sometimes I want to lay my head on the lush, wet green,
let that be my mark. I smile. A life
could be just waiting for the golden eras of the day
to gather into a glass you drink at twilight
and time a fat black cat asleep on the sill.
I smile sometimes

I realize now how everything I write
is a letter to you, you who once were here,
now are gone. I leave this for you, should you ever
come again, the absent one. The birds cry

and sometimes I think I can hear what they are saying

Strawberries · Amy Pence

halved—my heart, so easy
the image arising full
in my mouth
as I bite back,

biting—sweet juice
running, gazing as I do
into the green monsoon: trees
moving in sudden rain.

Look how red
the fruit is—parsed among
green leaves, just near
blooms, throaty bells—the foxtail’s
mouths opened wide.

What cries, so dramatic—
our red ripe angers. How sweet
even they must seem
after death.

Pick them:
your duplicity, this poem—
a brilliant red door
behind it, you become
shadow again, lovely...
ghost I met
restored to ghost.
Close the door—

I eat strawberries
swallow each red
beauty. Your pulp
still in my teeth.

No One Told Me Barbie Could Wear Ken Clothes · Deanna D. Horton

Dad’s coming to visit.

I calculate the perfect time for a haircut.
When it’s not too cold out—
But my hair isn’t too long to behave.
I can control my hair.

K-mart had pudding, patty-melts,
Icees, and Ken clothes

Church was my family’s living room.
I learned about birth in the closet with my cat.

Ken fucked all the Barbies
Between outfits.

Where is my husband?
My Ken doll?
The preacher who fondled the nursery-school teacher?

Barbie was naked.

My cat went crazy

Untitled · Kelly Dukes

Baby we need to smile
Waste time on good drifting
Unfold our bodies
November Sunday mornings
While it rains cold
Underneath the serenity
Of a comforter.
Shield ourselves
from the importance of late afternoons
Dream of garden-fresh nights;
Sketched out collaged memories
By Capilano river delta
making love among the pines
with fairies observing bug eyed
and transform into a B flat

Grocer in Holbrook · Shawnte Orion

Her father chased a western dream
running out of gasoline, on his way
to California, twenty-eight years ago

stopping only
for cigarettes and soda,
she resents
the way we blow through town

refusing my suggestion
she carefully counts back
the exact change

Sisters · Shana Ritter

I have two daughters.

One has eyes dark
as a cave's pool,
rich as chocolate cake.
The other's are flecked
with auburn gold
the way a rock slicked
with rain looks in the sun.
There are forests within them,
walnut and redwood.

This morning they asked
for fancy music and danced
on the smoke grey carpet
They danced in and out
of each others' steps
over and under spinning arms
their small strong bodies twirling,
fingertips brushing together.

Together they could twist their arms
into vines weaving a chair strong
enough to hold anyone they choose.
They would rock them, back and forth,
while one laughs with the arc of the swing,
and the other measures movement in the air.

Nebraska · Mike O'Reilly

black cows
lie in Winter
of circle-
or whatever
else they
feed cows
to feed us.
Their symmetry
is blackness—
four legs in
straight rows,
dry yellow
stalks rattle
in wind:
The feed
lot is stamped
to black

The feed
lot’s existence
is toxic.
Light is
absorbed in
the black
cow on
the hill.
The cow is
a copy.
It’s blackness
is the foreground
of a Winter
wheat photo.
A square frame of
black velvet
an Elvis

J · Chaya Grossberg

-- "the common cold has no cure. it is the cure."

J said, "There's a halo,
I'm all about halos."

"You're all about halos."

Nothing I say in this state counts.
Kind of wasting time
which was what I thought I was doing, sitting in J's
living room,
looking at the thin green leaves of a plant,
the flowers on the table
a tower made of clothes pins

my leg up towards J,
so I put it down
crossed my legs the other way,

J said he couldn't breathe,
I told him to eat jalapeno peppers.
He said he did but it will just come back.

I was headed up a road in the wrong direction.
People told me, That's toward the mountain.
This path down
will lead to the office,
the center,
the beginning

I woke up
with the image of shaking J,
my hands on his shoulders,
You need to go home
or hopefully something will happen to force you to.

The Library · Amanda Auchter

Nested between rows
of videotape and magazines,
is a gray couch that still sits,

sunning itself in front of a glass
wall as librarians drift past,
quiet angels moving stacks

of dust from cushions,
from desks,
to shelves.

I would pretend to study,
an open backpack
to one side,

a notebook on my left,
flipping pages of Hemingway,
Camus, The Inferno

while the trees shook outside,
splintering slips of sunlight
and tossing

broken pecan shells
across the rusted hood
of a blue Chevrolet.

It Was Dancing · Tatiana Dolgushina

Wal Mart at $7.48 each
I danced on the beach
You were so beautiful tonight
At 10:09 p.m.
The sky was cold
I offered it my scarf
The sky was cold, didn’t you know?
I left you for someone else
And ran and ran and ran

Independence Day · Chaya Grossberg

I. Before I Saw Fireworks
It's the sort of night where anything is
possible, or would be possible if someone
I loved were here, if
I still loved her.

Cars sound
good, Italian opera
music from upstairs, dishes

Legs in white
leggings walk by,
equal to trees.

The sort of night to be together
a few silent words.

The fireworks hadn't
started yet
and we were walking.

Now I hear
their crashes but
don't see them. I
imagine they are
blue, pink.

An independent
day for me.

The shadow of something
looks as big as
a bat.
A moth.
The porch light
goes off .
Tomorrow I'll say,
"I wrote poetry
on my porch
all night."
(got up every five
minutes to turn the porch light back on with
my movement).

It isn't a night of prayers,
or prayers being answered subtly,
with glimmer!
And it's silent.

Mosquitoes bite through my jeans,
skin and right pinky knuckle.

II. On Grass
I saw some firework
I'm showing these
mosquitoes who's boss by
letting them bite me through my

I stood
seeing red, green
the moon, the neighbor,
humble and proud at once,
knows it is more beautiful than the whole production
I want to cry.
I even try to,
but my mouth is dry and nothing comes out,
though it sits silently in me,
like the moon,
patient through explosions.
Not knowing how to react to
artificial light.

The moon is
real light.
No starburst colors, no flavors,
no preservatives.

So I will give up on today
the moon shining evenly,
making it safe for those who sleep.

Advice on Taking a Leak Alongside the Highway in Western South Dakota · William Quist

In the great plain distance between
small town cafe and gas station,
beer can between your legs long
empty and no relief in sight,
you might find yourself standing
on the shoulder of a lonely road,
your only friend in your hand,
in which case
it will be a good idea
to stand with your back to
that unending prairie wind, unless
of course you hear the sound of
the rare oncoming car. Then
you may be forced to
choose between the wind and the
windows. Your decision will,
as always, depend on your
courage and the strength of the wind.

"Each boat lowing..." · Simon Perchik

Each boat lowing, the waves
graze darker, darker
as if my canvas shoes were used to bells
to this dock eating its damp rot
its arms and legs

--you would toss your hair
push away from your eyes
their green between each wave.
Is it three hours or three days?

You never wrote and someone I should know
is opening a letter, come by sea
by tears whose bottom sand
is covered with storms and under my heart
a birdcall becomes in time a stone
a shepherd's hush held to my lips

--I am wading into these breakers
for the darkness that seals
as a tree still licking its bark
opened by mistake --I am slowly

into your eyes, each step
a still warm leaf sent off
opening into skies
into foothills and your eyes.

Why I Shy Away from Friendships and Art and Don’t Mind Drinking Alone · J.J. Goss

I bought moleskine notebooks
and we drank like hemingway she told me
she tried drinking alone once
bought a chocolate martini
and made excuses to the bartender
drinking alone doesn’t count at the mall
I told her and other things
like eating carrots gives you night vision warned her
not to sit directly on bleachers in December I lied to her
because the questions came too soon it’s safer
to leave the store bought voice on the
answering machine no one is available
and I’m sorry at no extra charge

don’t know how to swim but I packed my suit
I’m not afraid of the water only the stories
there’s a snapping turtle somewhere deep
but I’ll take my chances won’t hear your warnings
underwater and I’ll just wait for you
to show up with the life

preserver and the white bathing suit with miss america
printed across the chest see-through when wet
your last sleepover people had such small whispers
told me my hair was good but my ears were dirty
we dress like witches send the tent girls running to the kitchen
they’re waiting for me to fall asleep before
they’ll execute their plans

a clipboard carried up the brown grassy hill
they’re standing in formation I’m hoping
to melt their defenses it’s true what they say
my pictures all have red haired girls in them
they’re always smiling but there’s
blondes and brunettes in there too I’m sure of it
frowning figures and straight lined mouths of those
with no emotions
your last supper people had big feet
and you won the award I’m looking at my shoes
we’re leaving soon I overheard the conversation
and I’ll miss you just because I love the missing
hi lilly, hi lilly, hi lo

Poetic Field Research · Cindy Childress

For years, I wrote about a boy,
who didn't realize that his girlfriend
existed apart from himself.
I did not know, either.
As I cried over the way my meaning changed
in the revision she suggested,
my creative writing instructor said:
You may never find a man who will treat you
the way you want, and you must carry on anyway.
So, I set out as if I was not setting out,
but rather drifting like a boat with no sail
just to see what might be born from chaos.
Indifferent hearts connecting and disconnecting
as if The Wasteland were stage directions,
rather than a diagnosis of mute hearts

until you. You, who licked salt water from my eyelids
in the ocean, who danced with me on Central Avenue
as a bellhop sang us a show tune,
who brought yellow roses
and looked at my paintings, who built a Castle of Us,
in which we’d live--New York, Atlanta, London,
anywhere together. You. You, a hungry artist
I could never feed, who ran from spirits
I can’t see, who created little in our seven months
of pulling one another in opposite directions--
two bitter pills swallowing one another’s chalk
figures on cave walls depicting dreams
of a future we never spoke of
until silence blurred them
into images in poems that need editing,
though I now write about a girl
who knows her boyfriend exists
apart from herself,
and she is a compass
navigating a sea of possibility.

Cover Letter · Robert K. Giesen

I was born in 1963.
I don't remember the Kennedy assasination,
but there's always the possibility
that I was on the grassy knoll.

Later, I grew up in the mountains of Virginia.
My grandfather, who had huge hands,
had a still,
and once shot a government agent
in the butt
with a shotgun full of rocksalt.

My wife and I have two small children
who often act drunk
and control us in subtle, unconscious ways.
Sometimes we throw each other on the couch,
bounce off and do it againi. Motion is constant.
We all love the smell of burnt toast.

Sometimes I do what I'm supposed to do.
I have a job, sometimes.
My grandmother,
who lived in Connecticut,
knew P.T. Barnum.
I also like watching fish.

Looking · Summer Lopez

we took walks
in moonlight
in another time

he and I
we wished on stars
that had long ago died

we never spoke of the past

we put it in a dusty room
hid it under sheets
and blocked the door

but there it is
like a mud brick
baked under the sun

now we cannot look away
we look at it
and at each other

and we can find nothing to say.

Two poems · Frances Hargrave


His wife’s question discomfits him
Because he doesn’t want to show
Himself to the girl as he is to her:
Icons do not partake of the mundane.

Her question, in the silence, comes to seem
Petty and housebound; so the girl sees.
And none of them will know — they never can —
What was already, then, and what began.


When the warmed afternoon
Parts at the time we used to meet
Your perfume comes from me.
All the quicker through the room I go,
Tensed, but they know
From my pores atomizing,
From the insuperable languor of every traitorous word,
And the fed breath, and eyes’ penumbra’d luminosity,
Move that dissolves to move, my suffused skin’s bloom,
Your expression.

Wanderlust · Perri Gaittens

That deep talking stage, late night wine
in fine restaurants: you say
your fantasies include elevators,
candlelight, a trail of my clothing
from the kitchen sink to the bathtub.
How do I tell you my fantasies are

Pueblo, Colorado, just after sunrise, or
late night driving through California
singing to Hank Williams’ tunes
on the AM radio? We might go to Reno;
we might go to Shreveport.
We might. We could.
Your silver thermos between my knees,
powdered donuts, and all the stories

you ever knew clear across Montana.
Bed and breakfast in Provo, Utah;
gas from Mom and Pop
who’ve been married 50 years,
who say we remind them of their youth,
and here’s an extra package of butterhorns,
you kids drive careful.

My hand in your lap where
sometimes the fabric is loose, sometimes
not -- oh I’d love you
even in Rupert, Idaho, under the neon
“EAT” sign, in the middle of the night,
when they’ve just sold the last
chicken fried steak.

Somewhere in Iowa · Carol Borzyskowski

We drive unmarked back roads
illuminated by stars and a full moon.
Behind us a small town high school
gymnasium, a wedding reception open
to the whole town, and the remains
of a meal catered by Colonel Sanders.
My sister Nite thinks I’m lost.

I wait for illumination on this observation.
Directions to the DeLite Motel off
County Road 22 would be concrete
information, why Friday night can shift
to Sunday morning without hesitation,
the mute testimony of empty wine bottles
staggering to the trash, helpful.

Lost in the not too much at once
moon illuminated road offering second
chances. Side roads beckon from shadows
presenting opportunities to orientate myself
here, and on paths that lead to territories
of faith unexplored but pinned to my sky
like Luna over my left shoulder.

Lost in the night with Nite and the moon
panic flares red behind my eyes like a super nova
exploding my thoughts which vacillate sharp/crazy
and dull/normal. Sharp make the moon sing and hurt
my eyes, crazy makes me breath deep and smell the stars
normal dances with Aunt Marly at the reception
dull makes me reach for global positioning system.

So Nite, if lost, I am not alone. And the facts are
I am driving, and we have both had several cups of warm
beer and need to pee. I could continue to explore my place
in the universe with drunken logic, racing the moon
or fine-tune my six position seat with lumbar support,
adjust rearview & side view mirrors, breathe deeply
then check the GPS for our exact location.

Upon corresponding with my ex-boyfriend while he is abroad · Cindy Childress

I like you better across the Pacific Ocean
sealing yourself into letters and e-mail attachments.
I can return your love with paper and postage.
Bruises in my mind grow fainter,
and words fade
to memories
of words.
My dream is to wake this morning
and get up on the side of reality
I make while asleep.
We would be constructed
from a selection of sugar-coated memories
rearranged at will.
Two slender silk roses
unfading like lovers
embracing at the end of a movie.
I miss the you of our good times,
though my fiction writing hands
cannot traverse time to rewrite our lines
in the chapters already completed,
which claim and reclaim
dark stains on our past
arranging themselves
like a proof table;
the result of our chemistry experiment
will scald
no matter how many times
we measure ourselves and try to fit
into the same relationship;
d i s t a n c e
must be maintained.