“Mostly Not” Sonnet • Maurice Oliver

A “For Sale” sign on the lawn.
The morning paper. The front
stoop. Ritz crackers and golden
cheddar cheese on a white plate.
Cauliflower in the garden. Kids
chasing an ice cream truck. Your
painted handprint on art paper.
A fresh pair of pajamas on the
bed. Whiskey breath. Contact lens.
A motorcycle but no helmet. One
false I.D. Two telephone poles.
The emergency room of a hospital.
A jailhouse directly across from
the school. Puppies willing to
lick your hand. A soft pack of
cigarettes. A jet plane heading
west. High hedges that divide
the property line. A row of rusty
garbage cans. The hum of an attic
fan. Fingers drumming a table.
Moonlight moving over the carpet.
Dreams on a tiny scrap of paper.

Highway 63 • Annie England

I ate french fries at a truckstop
On Valentine’s Day at 11:30 p.m.
I had been trying to figure you out
Since five squirts of ketchup,
Stuck to the cracked, vinyl
Even though I wore a coat.
We were all trying so hard
To keep our eyes open and be funny
For one another. Even though we
All wished to be somewhere else,
If only at a different table.

Portrait of My Mother as a House II • CL Bledsoe

Eaves leaning down like limbs straining under heavy snow;
I climbed on your shoulders, careful not to knock any shingles

In the arms of the wind, I could see your heart bellow thumping
in time with the revolutions of the world.

I do not know you. You stand on top of the hill
up which I push my boulder. Littering the hillside

with pebbles. I’ll name them, as you did me.
What more could I hope to do.

Home Stretch • Caitlyn C. Bergeron

Night-driving, slipping past gas stations
and guard-rails gone static with speed,
you unwind and recover, erratically tense,
chain-smoking through the corners
of mouth and window.

I can tell when we’re getting close
not only by the sign advertising
CORNING 13 mi.,
but in the way you slide back, relax,
ease up on the gas pedal,
even though it’s 2 a.m.

and we’re tired. Suddenly you’re no longer
in a hurry. Your voice loses its impatient crackle,
becomes all at once softer in that home stretch.

Learning Stars • John ‘Chet’ Hicks

For Angela Ball
Silver gutters,
grids of lawn, two silver
towers’ signals seeking

the lake’s dark tablet.
Broadcasts submerged
in the light of train whistles
and intoxicated houses,

dioramas. I have this eye
that does crazy things, divorced,
depressed. Names are glorious lies,
say the stars.

Too Much Like Birds • Jude Roy

Birdlike, the three blond haired, blue-eyed children
Cast sharp glances at the tomato plants
Looking for the green and white-striped hornworms.
They pry the fat treasures from the leaves
And squish their tomato-green guts into the dark soil
With bare brown feet.

Their reward for finding a hornworm is
One fat red tomato straight from
The refrigerator. They bite into the fruit
And tomato guts dribble
From their chins like blood.

Slow Season • Ann White

The power of the evergreen lies
in its long wait, surviving by will.

While the azalea grips itself,
strangling life out of leaf to remain.

The once robust star of the bush
flutters limp and churns to loam.

Modes of life, never dying weeds,
thankless roots which persevere till Spring.

Like reptiles asleep under a dull sun,
turning by instinct, tunneling under.

We dig, huddled below ground.
We wait, light-headed in the lull.

Our turn in the slow season
lukewarm, without appetite, blind.

We hold still in hiatus, the pause
of rebirth. Patience becomes us.

Infinity • Mariel Boyarsky

There is something
unbalanced in this.

He is not of two minds.

The weight of numbers
(square root of pi
limit as x approaches
tangent graphs)
these are his world.

They are hefty things, I know.
But is there not
a different heart to this:

the color of water
so gray
to be a different
heartier gray
than that of its cold morning;

a landscape

the heavy wheel of it:
its endless path --


Sky of a Different Blue • Jason Kelly Richards

Quit the K-Mart she’d worked at since high school
Stopped on the way home
To break up
With the only boy
She’d ever kissed

Pulled a suitcase
From the top shelf
Of the hall closet
Where it’d sat since the field trip
To Savannah in the seventh grade

Stuffed blue jeans
And tee shirts and tennis shoes
A few photographs
And the dress she’d worn On New Years Eve
Into the trunk of her 89 Toyota

Rushed onto the interstate
Ripped off the rear-view mirror
Determined to make
The state line
Before sun-up.

Bravery • Sid Miller

The shopping cart overturned
in the ditch once held everything.
Soon rust will consume it -- morning
glories entwine the handle bar.
I walk by it each morning,
but am not yet brave enough
to say; sometimes accidents
and weeds are the most beautiful things.

Hosts • Amy Pence

Savannah: night’s steam just
beginning. In our talk, stories of ex-
lovers like the ghostly hover
of bread. Rising above us,
they body forth old raptures:

your French sculptress opening
minute doors and cantilevers
into being. To free her, you merely slept --
mouth prone -- beside her.
I cried at your goodbye
to the Finnish one: an offhand
wave as the classroom door shut.

Then me: having to dream a resolution --
the old lover shows me a photo
of all his exes; like a family reunion
we name our mean aunts, the cruel
duplication of icy fathers,
our insufficiencies, a progeny
we call loss.

Hungry or not, we savor
the ghosts. Watch as they eat
the air between us.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Reflection • Arlene Ang

Third grade, pink Mickey Mouse
lunch (my mother’s bad taste).
He: tousled hair not unlike
James Dean or Mickey Rourke --
I couldn’t decide;
wanting to taste my four-layered
sandwich, sip some grape juice.
It was nearly summer and I
didn’t want his soggy bread or
the egg in between.
We took turns biting under
the oak tree and soft spring sun,
called the leaves beneath
our feet Isidore. The air
pregnant with sounds:
seesaw squeaks, backyard
shouts, the school bell ringing.

Don’t Look Down • Alex Stolis

Juanita’s getting tired of the late days
and short nights. She knows better
than to trust the sky to tell her the way
to the bottom of the sea -- understands

an angel needs cold wings in order to fly.
I like wide open spaces, she says, enough
room to make the really big mistakes.
Her braid falls over one eye, she’s a punk

rock Veronica Lake pulling me across
the room with a promise -- she whispers
two small lies and I thank gravity
for dragging me down from the mountain.

I Told You I Still Loved You • Joel Van Noord

To trust the vestigial stages
that reappear
every now and then

As a bridge
leading back
to the thing
that pumps the heart.

That’s the trick.

To trust the middle
saying it’s an end,
then parading like the beginning.

Shelter • Dan Schillinger

“Thunderstorm,” she said.
“Where I am…”
I said, “I’m seeing the same thing.”
“Good,” she said, and hung up.

The bulbs browned.
The computer howled,
was unplugged.
In the bedroom I

Unmade the bed, myself
(blinds raised). Outside,
drains choked and stopped.
Inside, the walls hummed.

How To Impale A Watermelon With A Playing Card • Martin Willits

smell the pack of cards to make sure they are fresh,
remove the jokers because they are uneasy

they know what will happen next,
hypnotize a watermelon

this is remarkably easier than it appears,
you will know when it is asleep when it snores

toss a card overhand between the green and white stripes,
toss with the justified anger of a jilted lover

sometimes it will glance off the surface like skipping stones
sometimes a King will kiss the pregnant belly

I toss cards like tomahawks at unsuspecting objects,
they spend all day dodging meteors

a watermelon is a half moon grin,
the playing deck has toy sailboats mooring

I am arrested for having fifty-two weapons,
I escape digging a tunnel with the Ace of spades

a giant watermelon thumps Tokyo houses
as planes glance harmlessly off its thick chest

it spits toxic seeds as playing cards
while American tourists with cameras plan a picnic

Light • Barry Ballard

Light never centers itself in the marrow,
or the hinged diagram of swinging doors
that make up your life. It never stores
itself like embers, burning through each narrow
extremity until it exits your singed
fingertips. Instead it leans you away from the noted expectancies
of “Every Man’s Road”, to where the dead are buried,
where the battered live on the fringe

of existence, where suffering is louder
than rain. It’s there that it meets you face
to face, refracting itself in the warm
colors of enchantment (and the clouded
hue of melancholy), leaving you to retrace
the sacred out of another’s - torrid storm.

Falling • Cindy Childress

You threw the kite each time
the wind blew leaves
on top tree branches,
and our black diamond
fell from sky
every time I ran, handles in hand
tangled left over right
over gravity over matter
over some velocity equation
gone awry,

but the point was never flight.
You and I on the baseball diamond
separated by the length of kite string,
a distance we accomplished
after a couple hours by the duck pond
discussing our worst sides --
anger and moods not yet displayed;
they didn’t sound bad, just unreal

and far removed
like the handles from the kite
past from the future
connected by what we might be
when the wind rolls our skies
and the kite flies.

Kaleidoscope • Barbara Archer

I was searching for a mystery
newly in paperback
but found instead
a fancy-boxed flashback
lying irresistible amid
the holiday greetings
no one chose to send,
the games no one wants to play.
I took it up and held it to my
eye, to the light,
knowing what I’d see,
not expecting to find
the click and slide of
bright glass bits
enchanting as childhood Christmas.
If only the world would serve up
a new perspective with
just the turn of a wrist
or, if we so chose,
would stand still for us
as long as our hand held steady.

Mass Pike in Boston • Raymond Cavanaugh

there’s something Dante-esque
about descending into the bowels
of the city
careening through the hellish tunnels
rubber scorching asphalt
asphalt peeling rubber
during the dash
from work
from home
from countless other prisons
and all for what?
maybe it’s just the convict’s thrill of escape
and what a thrill it must be
to engage
and chase each other down
like an overwhelming reality