Missing You · Dave Malone

If a southern wind comes up,
And Iowa fares hotter,
If a southern bird,
A long blue heron floats
Heavy in the sky,
If a thunderstorm piles in
From the Southwest,
Know that these are not omens
Of doom or ill weather.
Know that rain comes
When it is needed.

Dear Orville and Wilbur: Please Advise · Lucille Gang Shulklapper

Flying from L.A., into fog shrouding
clogged freeways, drivers numbed sitting,
I tilt my nose in the air,
climb over San Gabriel's mountains, longing
to veer toward Italy, an American in love
with an Italian hulk. He transports me, throttles
my engines, fuels my belly, woos me with vino
and Bel Paese.

I'm out of control, going this way and that,
pitching, and rolling the r in amore,
winging it through cerulean
strokes, slipping, sliding,
wanting to roll, tumble,
stay aloft, the yaw wider
still wider, toward global
warming ozone holes.

I'm landing on the Mojave, that
blazing strip of sand,
desert shells agape
in terminal stages of love.

Attitude. That's what I tell
myself. Remember the control tower.
Mayday. Mayday. Rudder broken,
tail spinning, please advise, over,
over, do you read?

Miracle in Clearwater · Linda High

There’s a miracle in Clearwater:
Ugly Duckling Car Sales,
where wonder never fails.
Between Pelican Car Wash
and the Amoco gas station,
Ugly Duckling is the best place
in the entire Florida state
to go for Christmas vacation.

At Ugly Duckling,
the Mother of Jesus
gets her own parking lot,
with slick white benches
and smooth-hewned pews.

Out-of-towners bow down,
adoring amidst whiffs
of spic and span sedans,
hot-waxed hatchbacks,
and Amoco gas.

They burn candles,
praising beneath purple and yellow
and blue and green
rainbow shades on cloudy panes
of Ugly Duckling glass,

making the shape
of a perfect Virgin

Two poems · Joy Hewitt Mann


We honeymooned in Washington, D.C. and I
stayed in a small hotel room, reading,
squinting in the poor light, sure
I looked Asian to the black maid that cleaned
the room around me. You
did monuments and government buildings,
in love with the system
of free enterprise
as you were.

At night -- no hips, no shaking -- I
thought of Bali
and how lovely it must have been
that time of year.

You can forget . . .

as you listen in your dingy room
imagining light patterning Paris leaves
on the curtained window
covering the tractor's hiss and snort
sitting on the floor, back and head resting
against the peeling wall
eyes half-closed
wishing you were brave enough for cigarettes
as the cheap phonograph beside you sings
over a needle tick . . . love and passion . . .
and passion . . . and passion . . .
until you turn the handle once again.

Memories From My 14th Year · Sherry Ross

for Linda

Saturday mornings,
lean and hungry
without breakfast
we met and
traveled by foot,
both of us in boots
with scarves hung
around our necks like
temple prayer shawls.
Weary by noon
we gave in to
eat hamburgers at
Homemade’s Luncheonette,
ashamed at our
I ordered my first
cup of coffee with
you and felt power
in saying, “A hamburger and
a cup of coffee, please.”
We knew cemeteries and
sometimes sat on
park swings to
rest our feet,
laughing uncontrollably
to overwhelm
what we felt
even when it
We walked and walked,
fanatics on a pilgrimage
looking for a shrine,
any shrine,
to satisfy our restless

Two poems · Kirby Wright

The Woman in the Black One Piece

She crosses legs on the lounge chair,
rests the book on her belly.
She smoothes lotion
over arms and shoulders.
Funny how skin learns
pink instead of copper.
Men sleep in Speedos
on the other side of the pool.
She knows she's invisible
even to the man wheeling
a canvas cart, filling it with towels.
She contemplates the pool—
her pain goes deeper
than twelve feet under the board.
Axes have swung at her soul.

No Lifeguard on Duty,
Swim at Your Own Risk.

She treats the wounds
with fantasy and chocolate.
She hears newlyweds
giggling inside the Jacuzzi
and recalls the aftermath
of a bedspread
beside the picnic river.
The morning of stained glass promises
she believed, she really believed.
She slips on her glasses
and arrives at a Tuscan villa.
An Italian with a mustache
parachutes into the heroine's life.
She studies a sky too blue,
too deep to be real.

Insomnia Birthday

Insomnia means being alone, exiting your bed
Incognito before your lover wakes up.
You can't force the Sandman to deliver, it's
Not like pizza. Insomnia is the place
Where things keep on working in darkness.
Streetlights complement moon, planets, stars,
Lighting sidewalk where nobody walks.
Why not last one home on block turn the lights off?
Natural and artificial combine to highlight
Wet streets, trees, even veins in my leaves.
Under moon, dog rolls over in doghouse,
Moans in his dream. Refrigerator starts purring
When its thermostatic brain says keep the
Cake cool. Is newspapergirl rubberbanding
My morning news? VCR blinks the seconds blue,
Same pace as my heart. On Entertainment
Center, birthday cards review my years in
Recycled paper. Books flex titles on mantle.
Candles on diningroom table are at the ends of
Their wicks. Train from San Jose whistles, picks
Passengers in the donut twilight. Candy canes
Stand in the basket where the houseplant died.
I never get sleepy until that first bird chirps,
When the violet light challenges streetlamps.
Tires make revolutions in drizzling streets.
Will newspapergirl remember the weather,
Wrap my news in plastic? Even when the paper
Gets wet, I never complain. Have you seen 4 a.m.
After a big rain? That's the best time to catch
Your neighborhood ghosts walking the blacktop.
You'll see them congregate under the streetlights,
Execute their march, then stop to reflect in the water.

Two poems · Corinne Greiner


A mathematician suggests the moon be exploded,
its mountains, dry seas, and craters crumbled

into a universe suddenly without menstruation,
croissant, moonbow, and hunting goddess wild

with breasts. He calculates Earth will teeter,
dimming inconvenient tides and slaying

seasons, the result summer eternal and glories
of wheat, cosmos redesigned for deathless

productivity. Afterward, without respite
from sparkling sun and blithe birds, no one ignites

bonfires or sings, because black oblivion
and hush are no longer the pith of everything,

and even the mathematician wearies
of lips grimacing with happiness, stained

by berries, each mouth a clown’s pert
smear of pretense and lifeless, dried crimson.

The Shallowness of the Visible

There is more life below ground than above,
so perhaps we are
on the wrong side of the world
and should be star-nosed moles,
wiggling the celestial
because it is part of us
and of the darkness;
our firmament, instead, is distant:
exotic specks and swirls
seen only when night masks
the glare without mercy
on our upright, fragile,
and unadorned heads.

Two poems · Suzanne Rindell

Etymology of a Lie

Your words spread out from you
In perfect concentric circles like
Pond ripples running in rings, moving away
From the lie dropped in the center.

I watch them widen and radiate
Worried about the light they’ll cast
Upon this perfect concentric love.

Concentric: having a center in common.

To love is to absorb, digest, engross.
I chew on your lie like a piece of bubblegum;
Something to spit out once it’s lost its flavor.

I’ll unfold your lie, dig at the roots.
Abomasum: the fourth digesting chamber of the cow’s stomach.
When will we learn? We never save the best for last.
We need better tools for such rude anatomies.

Concavoconcave: hollow on both sides.
I am empty. I tell myself
This is my last chance for an epiphany.

Repulsion: two magnets flipped on the wrong sides.
Attraction: one must face away.

Concealment: a place or means of hiding, the space
Between the hollows, the strongbox in which
To preserve love.

Doll Parts

The young woman parts
Her slick plastic lips
And shouts quivering war whoops over the hum
Of the Sunday book-browsers milling about the

In these times
We make our own words:
Superchainstore, postmoderntimes, neofeminist.
But these are not new words;
They are old parts.

She says tearing holes in
The fabric of society will set us free.
I picture little armies of high-heeled women wriggling
Through tiny moth holes
In my mother’s kitchen cardigan
They spill onto the butcher block – free at last!

Nobody makes love to the establishment.
I walked by Winter Garden Theater every day that autumn,
Glad to see Cats finally banished
Until I realized nothing was there
But a deserted theater, an empty façade.
Next week an old ally cat
Will dance next to the anointed Lion King.

In this void I worry nothing grows.
We’ve cut off our penises
In spite of our husbands
Clipped Ally McBeal’s emaciated figure
Out of Cosmo magazine for refrigerator magnet publication
We’ve let fat bald men marry off “femi” to “nazi”
During an unsuspecting rush hour
And Barbie dolls still gyrate their
Motorized hips
In little hot pink boxes, windows the shapes of hearts.

Oh, those mechanical parts
Her plastic lips move like wings beating in the wind
Floating over me like a hot air balloon,
Rearranging words, calling in the demolition crew
Spreading her insecurity wide, then tight, then wide.

I listen and pucker eighty-year-old lips into a purse of silence.
These are all doll parts, my dear;
Assemble with care.

Two poems · Robert Bohm

Hotel La Caravelle, Martinique

A terrace outside the room. Weeds
grow through cracked concrete, a bottle
of warm beer stands on the broken table.
To the side, the orchid darkens as the sun
splashes down in flames, steam rising
from the heads of boiled fish, cockeyed
in the pot we all live in.
One knapsack and a few books
I never wrote, this is what I own.
A few hours ago, Miguel, the clerk, accepting
my gold chain and earring, said
“Tomorrow morning at seven. Out.”

In the monkey’s shadow where the gecko
scoots between two stones then disappears
only to reappear two minutes later
crawling upside down on the bathroom ceiling,
that’s when I first notice it, how
I can’t keep up with what’s going on,
the monkey gone before I know it and then, later
when I glance at the bathroom ceiling, the gecko
isn’t there either and neither anywhere
in these rooms are you, legs spread someplace else
as always, fucking another man
in Puerto Rico, or this time is it Arizona?


The mind made up of other minds, all of them
humming near the fragrances they want

My body is the sunlight beating little wings
above the nude you’s every inch

Look at them over there, the bees
swarming the coneflowers

On the ground, fecund with sweat
in my arms, you are the hot grass opening up
into the bright darkness of openings still unknown

Much later you smell of the rosewood soap
I wash you with, although

in an affair like this
we never can get clean, unless,

in spite of everything,
we do

Broken Trophy · Richard Fein

Grandpa won it for boxing,
when Irish, Italian, and Jewish palookas would swagger to the ring
and climb the ropes hoping to rise above the ghetto.
That gold pocket watch was a brilliant accessory for a high-class suit,
but grandpa never could afford to wear one.

I was seven when he called me over and said he would bequeath it to me.
He was always so proud of his fancy words.
He smiled, patted my head and said,
"When the great referee counts ten, when the bell clangs ending the last round."
Soon after ten was counted with no loud bells to mark the finish.
But he was buried in an upscale suit.

It's been decades. The watch spills out of the shoebox.
The minute hand sways loosely then falls off the center pin,
and the hour hand quickly follows.
The hands rattle around the circle of time.
The broken trophy is still worth its ounces in gold.
But the price of those ounces varies hourly,
and I have no way to track the hours now, even if I wanted to.

I imagine grandpa's smile in the blank watch face.
I see my reflection in the crystal cover of the timeless timepiece,
and for a second I'm heedless
of the relentless march of minutes and hours,
even if no hand points the way.

The Whispering Fridge · Janet Buck

Mother was the practical voice
among the ruins.
"She's been dead a week.
We have to clean out the fridge.
Bring rubber gloves ...
God knows what we'll find."
I wasn't amused. But I went,
as if could guard your memory
from trite complaints
that surface to release such grief.
One foot in the present mess;
the other in a relished past.

The milk was sour.
On cardboard spouts,
a touch of Revlon's Devil Red
that said your lips
refused to bother with a glass.
Cheesecake turned a swampish green.
Potatoes had multiple eyes.
While mine lived blind
to your colorful flaws.
Six apples left I hadn't peeled.
A jar of jam a decade old --
under its lid a gray mold scar
of suffering on top of seeds.
White tuna for your Persian cat.
The can had whiskers in its bowl.

All our midnight meetings there
came back to me -- a rush
of pennies falling from a latch-less purse
turned upside-down in effigy.
The day we licked pink frosting
off your birthday cake,
lunged at the sugar and cream,
left shiny forks inside the drawer.
I wasn't prepared for blizzard chills
so stinging and so permanent
they tore the month of August out
from pages of the calendar.

Change Will Be More Than a Passing · Ace Boggess

Horoscope (Libra: January 8, 2000)

I recognize your imprint on the sheets.
Somehow it almost captures eyes as though
the weight of your stare could bring form

to color— the green of peace; numbed,
ambivalent gray. You’ve cut your hair again,
lines trailing off to left & right. Sleep sings

your praises, damns & comforts you
where this day’s hours grew too heavy,
were misspent. So, unsure of yourself,

you move from one state to the next:
Chuang Tzu & butterfly, affective robin &
mime detached from a world that shuns

silence. Your outline in the darkness
holds impermanence like whispers after
a loving kiss. If you could accept such

promises, make brandy from moonbeams,
form a dream more real than your life
before sleep. . . Instead, you struggle,

stir, breathe deeply past your trembling lips,
find no peace in even a moment’s rest.
Change will be more than a passing—

awaken into loving hope, as if your heart
has filled itself with orchids. Without,
see: you are a window at first light.

Two poems · Lori Kean

On The Edge Of Childhood

It was the 70's.
Americans were still dying in Vietnam
when my brother and I stood in tandem
on the outer edge of childhood.
Crazy TV Lenny was giving away bikes
with purchases from his semi-famous
football field sized television and appliance store.
A huge and curious success was Lenny in the 70's -
everyone I knew had a bike from his place.
Mine was Baby Blue.
On Saturday nights in summer
at precisely midnight on the late night horror show
he hollered out his low-low deals
from a fuzzy 19 inch set
while gamma men stalked the perimeters of our porch
and the mummy slumped in wait behind a door
that never latched quite right.
We hunched beneath our blanket, my brother and me,
vulnerable and frightened and riveted,
mechanically feeding our mouths popcorn
with fingers that dripped innocence.
Several years after Lenny’s late night horror stint
Lenny's wife divorced him.
She demanded a bike in the settlement.
My brother and I had ridden off by then,
our child selves left behind on the porch
staring out the window at figures
getting smaller and blacker in the shadows -
one headed in this direction, the other in that,
still vulnerable and frightened and riveted.

Country Boy Meets City Girl

She was completely uptown cosmopolitan.
He wasn’t even G, let alone Q.
He let his introvert sleep one morning
while she did a curvaceous finger walk
along the spine of his conscience with
the soft touch of her x- chromosomes
massaging his dinosaur shyness to ruins.

And she looked good in his flannel shirt.

The Night is an Abacus · Ian Christopher Hooper

I would love to write a play, something historical.
With Henry Miller as my main character.
It could be good, really good —
but then again he’s already written his own story,
so I’d have to keep it short.

“I am Henry Miller, I lived and wrote and screwed and screwed and I am dust,
dust and vapor, I am dust.”

Then enters the mathematics of night, the great adding machine,
burrowing into my script,
and I wonder just whose stage directions I’m following, anyway?
Why I haven’t built that desk, written that play, learned Chinese, measured the length and breadth of these rooms. Why I just haven’t gotten more done?

Memories I see when I look sideways:
how I remember going with this girl to her father’s warehouse, after hours.
The old man owned a printing company, mid-sized, and his daughter
gave me the grand tour, turned off the lights, pressed herself up against me.
But I haven’t seen her now in something like fifteen years.
And so this is what fifteen years feels like.
Because I never thought I’d be able to look back on anything and say it had
been fifteen years.

Now I wear wool, felt, leather, the job I hold down.
I am spinning words from red clay, the same
as everyone else, starting all the way back with oracle bones,
the feelings glimpsed only at the fringes, out of the corner of the eye,
the plans sandcastled by restlessness.
The night is an abacus; the stars shuffle back and forth.

For the first time
I am counting off the days left to me.

Grosse Point Autumn · Alex Stolis

Grosse Point Autumn
She collects my words, wraps
them in onion paper, trims the edges
with the small light of her face.
Dust from her eyes covers my lips,
her breasts curve like petals of sun,
a music box on the sill plays Bach, folds
soft notes in the nest of my sandpaper arms.
I imagine empty harbors
asleep under the waterfall of her hair,
draw circles on the wall with my finger.

Boy Cousins · Nichole Potts

I am eight
watching my cousins
run off & leave me
for the store
or swimming pool
or basketball court
or something better to do
I am eight
stuck in the backyard
because my cousins
can't be trusted
It's good to be boy
They don't sweep, dust, or mop,
They don't even have to bleach
white ankle socks on Saturday
to get into church on Sunday
I am eight
You can't tell me
it ain't good to be boy
They leave when they want
& even when they do wrong
it's not all their fault
They can stand in doorways
with fists on hips
& say I'm hungry
& something gets done about it
Boys don't have to hear talks about men
& down there
How you can never, ever let them touch
down there,
not with their finger
not with the tip of nothing else neither
They can't even look
down there
not for a silver dollar,
not for money that folds
not even if they promise
to take you to the store
or swimming pool
or basketball court.
It's dirty business
down there
I know
I am eight.

Three poems · John Repp

Better Watch It or I’ll Lay One on Your Head

The boy had one laid one
on his head. The wind lifted
his hair and laid it
down again. He brushed an ant
from his toe and watched it run.

A friend said What can you say
about mortality? after I’d grieved
and stopped, grieved, stopped.

I should be grateful
because you would be,
though you are no you.

Last night I forgot
all but hot applesauce
spooned from the crock,

then heard sleet tick
on the windows. I hate
it here. You are ash.


for PT and CH

No hope.
No ghost gaunt amid feasting.
No fear, though each breath bring it.

Wind ripples the pond.
Clover, cornflowers, sumac in high sun.
Eat the meal

spread between you-
bread, peaches, wine,
mortal kiss.

Forgetting · Lisette Alonso

The storm brings the smell of cigarettes
out of your coat, which I’m wearing

with the collar pulled up against
the side slanting rain, I can smell

you on those nights we drank pitchers
and tapped the cue ball into the corner

pockets just because we could change
the rules of the game and laugh at

the men in flannel shirts holding
their sticks tight in calloused palms

as they eyed us from head to black boots
while we sipped our beer and circled

each other knowing we would end up
tangled in the back seat of your Buick,

the smell of tobacco painted on our scalps
as our fingers, accustomed to the curve

of the frosted mug’s handle, learned again
the landscape of our cool sleek thighs.

Two poems · Michael Ladanyi

Bruised Rooms

Outside in the long yard, dry grass waved
as gray-brown wheat awaiting the harvest
blade, slightly bent against warm, early
August cupping winds, beneath the

copper, late afternoon sun. I peered
through a front window. The old
house stood quiet with abandoned
spider-web loneliness, only its worn,

wooden floors, creaking to thin, lethargic
memories squatting in lost shadows,
were audible among dust dunes piled
in plain corners below a rough raftered

sky. Pale yellow slivers of intruding
light, pushed their splintered
fingers through chalky panes to
slowly climb peeling walls. I turned

the doors knob, all the while feeling
as if I were doing something wrong,
opening a world that had existed
years trying to adjust to itself,

cope with stagnant pieces of wounded
lives left behind in its empty and
bruised rooms. I walked through the
house to what had once been a

friends room and stood in its door-less
entrance, sharp aromas of everything
I had forced down long ago, passed
through me like cheated ghosts.

My breath came naked as tilled earth.
After a few moments, I
realized I could never repair the
childhood that had been unwillingly

surrendered there. That became enough.

Breath As Hands

The sky is stained with imperfections of
a million perfect colors, lemon-mauve,
blue-sienna, creating a speaking
water-color that could never be placed

on canvas, bound by sad parameters
of what we consider beauty. The
green-sequined water watches with
slack concern, not attempting to

understand us, our false abdications
based on gnawing greed; while folded
ghosts watch from the squinting
corners of our one-directional eyes.

The trudging sand, dreaming of becoming
three dimensional crystal, something
to be admired, clinked during celebrations,
is warm beneath our feet. The thin,

orange-peel, tittering sun, resembles an
undercooked egg who's yoke has
moved away in search of a less serious
mate, one who possesses breath as

hands, love for clumsy words, a bohemian
heart capable of bleeding tears. We sigh
without breath, attempting to render our
betraying emotions still, not accepting

the simple lessons surrounding us

The Zone of Loneliness · Jessy Randall

He was surrounded by a zone of loneliness.
Carson McCullers

This is a palpable lack
one I can feel with my tongue
the emptiness of my mouth, the bed
of my mouth, the recurring metaphors
flying over New York City
The act of missing you has become love
the way a bathing suit on a hook becomes dry.

In the novel Einstein's Dreams there is a town
where no one has a memory and so each night
you have sex for the first time with the man
you met one second ago.

I love you like shaking orange juice:
do it longer than I have to
because it feels so good.

In my dream, all the men I've ever known
move to my town and see me accidentally
at the grocery store. I look so cool
they wish I was still writing poems for them,
bad poems, love poems, poems that they
fold up and put somewhere, and eventually
throw away, do they throw them away?

You are like chocolate milk for ten cents on Fridays --
predictable, delicious, I drink you with a straw!
You are something to look forward to
all week long drinking only water.

There were five in the bed and the little one said
"I'm crowded..."

I am writing about you under a fake name.
You are the last extra blanket
in my cold, cold life.

I am seaweed in the ocean and all your friends
are picking me off their bodies, not wanting me
to touch them, but you are just
floating there, letting me wrap around you.

Tales of the apocalypse are nothing compared
to the disaster that is us together.

Supposedly we went to Europe, but that is
not to be talked about. Now when I call you in Prague
my own voice echoes back over the phone.

With this one it was fruit sodas at Algiers.
With that one it was Marx Brothers films.
What do I think I will lose if I lose you?

I try to empty the contents of my soul into yours
but you are as insubstantial as a kitchen colander.

In Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla was
the first woman who could take all
of Jondalar into her. She was like
a yeasty crescent roll around him! He was so happy
he let her think she invented everything!

All my valentines are little clouds
that float away in tiny envelopes.
In New York the valentines are snowing down,
but here, in the South, nothing freezes.

Trying not to fall in love
is like trying to be quiet because
the sign says "Warning: Avalanches."
So I tiptoe quietly on the ice and
try not to sneeze. But guess what?
Avalanches can start for no reason.

In my dream we took the wrong elevator;
the petals stayed closed.
He had only to touch me to bring me to my knees.
But I could not find my keys.

When I'm with you I shoplift orgasms
and place them in your hands.
You lick them up, taste me, you are me,
you are the first man with no holes
for my soul to seep out of,
and now I am in the zone of loneliness.

I Tell You, At Dusk · Philip Vassallo

Only over the surface
of things your gaze
follows shadows
in their passage
by the silence
pressing down
on them
the shadows—
the forms our bodies make—
are clearer than
the bodies
from which they project.
Your gaze
connects the shadows.
With your gaze
our bodies
their passage
into light.

Two poems · Ariana-Sophia M. Kartsonis

Thin Skin Shimmy

A signature dance
for The Belly Girls.
Three sisters lined up
in a mirror and slapped
at rounded tummies,
punched at saddlebags,
swore at the hips
so clearly unapologetic as if
they had a right
to their sweet belled curves.

For a Man Overheard Once Mentioning Fondness for the Word Darling

My Darling, the wind falls in like stones
Anne Sexton

The words fall in like daggers or dares or my darling
Falling in like rain or paper fish in rain or the words
Written on the backs of paper fish in magic marker
in rain running rivers of blackness darker
than shade at midnight in strange enchanted woods the sword
of moonlight stabs the air to where we found the black cat darling

miracle on velvet paws and made a home for it
and sewed a you and me into the swoon
that woos and soon wounds us all, Darling.

To be where you are, Darling, for a shiny penny
an old medicine bottle dug from a hillside
a scrap of broken pottery to mosaic a menu

for the dishiest night ever, the daziest night.
Let’s swing from the moon, touch a bathwater sky
with pointed toes and this one destination: Darling.

And this wish, to be where you are
for the duration, Darling
To be nowhere else for the world, Darling.

Route 66 In The Rain · m otis aavenue

Over a no parking sign
painted yellow on black tar
a calico cat with mange
limps through a puddle -- pregnant --
but rain pours down anyway.
Smells of burnt leaves and auto
tires hang, incense smoke in air.
Flagstaff is a motel town
with discount food chains, pay phones
and RV parks crippled drunks
return to, spilling coffee
from both fists after stealing
cups at Days Inn blocks ago.
Vacant lots swallowed in weeds
like old cemeteries sick
with neglect stop at sidewalk's
edge shopping carts, cups and cans
flow along the square cement
into a flooded ravine.
"Flagstaff" scribbled on cardboard
a hitchhiker's sign. Across
the street at Safeway Grocery,
college girls call like turkeys
under a dripping awning.
Their arms swing like pendulums
with the weight of tomatoed
soups in stretching plastic bags.
Gun play echoes down alley
and the bank clock a half block
away displays one minute
before three thirty AM.
I walk home past the burnt couch
on a warehouse dock behind
trailer chimneys that puff wood
smoke humble as corncob pipes.
From the shadows a father
shoulders his son who giggles
when they bump down the gutter
on a squeaking mountain bike.

Two poems · Joan Schadt


the waves were so cold
that hit my body,

came crashing onto me all
at once, overruling a resolution to lower

part (tiny holes in the blanket)

by (kissing you as for air)

part (spots of light scattered across our faces)

into the salty water.
it was you, carrying me tightly over

the ocean-sand threshold,
who made me a mermaid bride.

in my pink bikini, I
was human, but when

you kissed me
between sheets of icegreen water,

I grew fins and gills,
wildfanned tail, wavylight hair,

splashed under the blanket of clear sea,
the cool shock of being born.

M. LaRoche

“From my office,” M. LaRoche said,
“One can see le Tour Eiffel.”
I always wanted to ask him--
What I never asked him was--
What was weird between us was--
Vous avez toujours voulu faire ça?
Have you always wanted to do that?
Have you always wanted to be un photographe?

When I had girls over,
He became official,
Took the lint and letters
Out of Mlle. LaRoche’s top drawer,
Spread them out on the salon
Rug, and arranged them in little piles
For little French reasons.

I asked him:
-Is it okay if we watch a movie?
-Vous avez déjà demandé à Mademoiselle…?
-No, I forgot. Is it okay?
-Normalement, on demande à la propriétaire…
-I know, but I forgot. Is it okay?
-Normalement, on demande…

“While I am out of the country,”
Explained Mlle. LaRoche,
“My brother will stay
With you.” My mother said
It wouldn’t do. Fifty-year-old men
Do not watch over young girls
In drafty apartments unless they are
Nabokov or Balthus.

A bourgeois event photographer
In too-tight pants and glasses,
Always turning on Ave Daumesnil
At the moment I was kissing
Someone goodbye or smoking
A cigarette. Meticulously
Slicing tomatoes in the kitchen
When I skirted by, wanting to eat
But it wasn’t my turn, so I found
Satisfaction elsewhere.

One night I came home soaked
In red wine, and sat next to him.
I’d staged a perfect Humbert
Opéra. My door was always half-
Open, but he kept his eyes fixed
On his sister, and God.

He looked down
With important purpose
Each time I scurried from the bathroom,
Leaving soap prints
Across the creaky floor,
To my forbidden room.