I Remember Saying
Don’t do that.
Don’t walk down the driveway
to your car without looking back.
Better yet, don’t open the front door
before you kiss me and don’t read
the new novel I just brought home
before I do. I hate that—you getting
ahead of me. So don’t
eat the last slice of apple pie
without sharing half, bite by bite, crumbs
in our laps. And please don’t slip into sleep
before I tell you how the bluejays
rocked the birdfeeder back and forth
while I wrote this and don’t let me fall asleep
before I feel the sheets ripple with your quiet laughter.
– Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, The Florida Review, Natural Bridge, Gravel, Cave Wall, and Poet Lore, among other magazines. Her most recent poetry collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything (Anhinga Press) and Snack Size: Poems (Mello Press). She is an associate professor at the University of Northern Colorado.
Mystery upon Mystery
For my sister Gale
But no, it is simple.
You and I stand at the corner of Willow and Morgan,
looking up at a street light’s yellow globe.
Inside it, the flakes falling toward earth look different
than snow falling everywhere else in the neighborhood.
I am eight, you are twelve.
We’ve walked in deepening lavender for blocks and blocks,
trying to decide which house is decorated best for Christmas.
I can’t see your face,
but I think that like me
you are almost perfectly happy.
Your body is now ashes,
yet we are standing on that corner.
Snow settles on your satin-fine hair.
– Francine Marie Tolf has published two poetry collections as well as a memoir and five chapbooks. Her essays and poems have been published widely in journals including Water-Stone, Poetry East, Under the Sun, Christian Century, and Contrary Magazine. Francine lives and works in Minneapolis. Her latest book is a collection of essays, Joliet in My Blood (Port Yonder Press, 2015).
In the Dark
When our grandson stands still,
you could mistake him for a tree.
Still growing at eighteen,
this slender trunked sapling
stands among us like Gulliver.
Once a month, he comes to garden.
I have taught him how to plant a tree:
digging the hole in the shape of a cross for the roots to grow.
He laughs when I marvel at how he swings a mattock,
slicing through the soil as if it was butter.
He was still a baby when you died and we sold the farm.
He has no memories of the place.
I’m not sure if he is the world’s kindest boy but when he visits,
he asks me questions about the land, the river and the trees,
knowing that in my mind, I still live there.
In a day, he has planted, weeded and pruned this city block
and I take the afternoon tea tray up to the house
where, from the picture window, I watch him rake and tidy
for soon his love will arrive.
I make sure they don’t see me; I stand back a little in the shadows of the room
to watch her clamber up his back like a bear cub.
He walks around with her like that, gathering the tools to put away as they talk,
but the time will come when he stops,
sliding her around to the front of his hips, to kiss her.
With her legs still wrapped around his waist, her cheek against his chest, he saunters up the steps.
She drops to the ground outside my door to say their farewells.
When they have gone, I sit in the dark with two whiskies,
although I have to help you with yours.
Some nights I go back to our farm.
I start at the beginning, at the white gate at the top of the road,
gliding down to where the gap in the trees frames the waiting valley, always lucerne green.
I hear the soft hymn of the tree lined river and imagine, low above the water,
the Azure Kingfishers flashing upstream.
I graze over it all, past our sun warmed house on the rise above the river flats,
right to the edge, to where the farm ends and the forest remains.
But every night I go back to you.
Lying beside you,
trailing your contours,
your mouth sweeping mine.
Every night, I go back to feeling the depths and lengths of you.
– S.E. Street’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. She is recipient of The Dymocks Short Story Prize for fiction, the 2014 Hunter Writers Award, and the 2014 SCWC HARP award for poetry.
darling, younger darling with a heart purer than hailstorms, lovelier than the manes of galloping palominos, hindquarters glistening with sweat, eyes bright and eager to get going – we made it. that skirt you wore, the one with silhouettes of fragile birds and brown feathers, you won’t ever forget it, but you do miss it, miss the way it reminded you of grandma, her handmade things and peppermints, how a few of them probably spilled on the pavement that night, how the plastic wrappers only reflected pools of light beneath streetlights, not the pain of your rasping throat or the cool feeling of sweat trickling down your sides like melting icicles. remember that winter only lasts for a season. I wish I could tell you how to listen to the constellations, which were there long before the culture that perpetuated violations of traffic tickets, migration patterns, and bodies.
– Kelsey May’s work has recently appeared in The Maine Review, Mouse Tales Press, and Paste Magazine and is forthcoming in Barking Sycamores and Pine Hills Review. Her work has also received numerous awards including a nomination for a 2016 Pushcart Prize. She loves wearing overalls and ice skating.
You broke a bale and scattered August on
the frozen stable boards. December sagged,
her arching tail switched steadily at dawn.
We waited, talked of heifers, fogged and flagged
the conversation cleverly around
a frigid barn. December didn’t care,
she raised her head, was bearing down,
preoccupied with something in the air.
She pushed until we saw two hoofs appear;
the long gestation ruptured, braved the chill
and steaming, slipped into the atmosphere.
December stood and letting down her milk,
wasted streams of warmth around her feet.
We watched until our silence stretched like hands
through polar fronts and taciturn cool sheets.
The moon fell down, the newborn tried to stand,
but vapor veiled our faces as we laughed
together at December’s wobbly calf.
– Lea Markuson has spent most of her life living and working in remote areas of the Northwestern U.S. She writes formal and free verse poems and is passionate about poetry and nature and how they both reflect our existence.
Listen to the Poem
Nothing changes but the words.
And even the words
after argument –
Rain on the roof
pings into sleet, freezes
We are jolted awake
by the sound of trees
In the morning,
it is as if Midas had wished
for the gift of crystal. Every
detail of the world – leaf,
twig, bit of rusted metal
is encased, inviolate and
glittering, secret and
exposed. Our argument
could be preserved
forever. But somehow – perhaps
the burden becomes too heavy
to bear, perhaps the heart begins
to thaw– somehow,
all the gods of Olympus let
go, and we do not know
or care whether it is a wedding
or a barroom brawl that sends
their wineglasses crashing
with freedom, we walk
through inches of shattered
ice, the forms of our
irrelevant, in this world all
– Winner of the 1977 Radcliffe Poetry Prize, Eve Kodiak (aka Deborah Polikoff) has published poetry in various journals including Madison Review, Radcliffe Quarterly, and Annapurna. A consultant for the A Room of Her Own (AROHO) 2015 Women Writer’s Retreat, she is currently working on a journal of sonnets.