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World View

“Every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there –
on a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam.”
– Carl Sagan, “Pale Blue Dot”

Only twenty-four people have seen it
whole, the orbital perspective,
celestial point of view,
our snowglobe island sleeping in liquid ink.
In the photo taken from miles above,
timelapse, 3D, just before solstice,
a machine voyager’s distant viewfinder
telescoped just enough to glimpse
our defined vessel,
stilled in reverent waters.
Once seen, a shift,
glass in a lens.
The image on posters,
book covers, flag of frailty.
Seven-billion member crew,
a litter curled in one small hollow.
On this small stage in a cosmic arena,
we strain, strain for footage,
an anchor’s fluke. Meanwhile,
in Aleppo, one five-year-old boy is pulled from wreckage,
breathing.

Faith Paulsen has worked as a technical, travel, and freelance writer, and in the insurance industry to support her family and her writing habit. Her work has appeared in many venues ranging alphabetically from Apiary to Wild River Review. One poem was nominated for a Pushcart. Her first chapbook is A Color Called Harvest (Finishing Line Press, 2016).

 

Flying Off the Overpass

Dreaming the incline too steep
I slam down hard
on gas, but the car
lets go
and I fall back through black air
forever before waking.

In daylight, that bridge sits
just outside Post, Texas, along
a ninety mile stretch of Highway 84,
halfway
between a place where I am
scholar, writer, called by name,

and home,
hearing “Mom”
always once too often.
I yell at the kids to shut up,
go to sleep (please),
so I can study, then miss them
in a quiet house.

And sitting in class, I worry
the oldest forgot
lunch money, or that
my blue-eyed boy won’t forget
I missed his school play.

Years from now,
when knife-bladed dark dreams
slide under their skulls,
will my children only know
I was always driving away?

And what if, one night,
my wheels touch the bridge
at the exact moment
the moon becomes full
and ripe enough to burst,
and I spin out to meet
dark

with one gleaming fang
and patches of fur
blossoming
down my back,
neither half of me knowing
on which side of the bridge
to fall.

– Janice Northerns, a native Texan, currently lives in Liberal, Kansas, where she teaches English at a community college. Her poems have appeared in Concho River Review, RiverSedge, Southwestern American Literature, The Cape Rock, College English, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Poem, Coal City Review, Sweet Tree Review, and elsewhere.

 

Sometimes

driving down a street you’ve driven
many times, hardly
noticing the brick houses or
shriveling snow, you’ll see
a telephone pole
reflected in a puddle with
a wash of cloud in bright
blue sky, filling
your soul with tranquil joy,
the day a dime,
turning. Or
you might journey
across town to buy
a vacuum cleaner –
because the old one,
the Kenmore Whispertone with
broken wheel was found
by the repairman to have
too many faults – a write-off.
How many faults add up
to a write off … but this isn’t
a good line of thought, you need
to make your way to Vacsmart
on Eglinton, where
Frank will ask about your floors
rugs or carpets and scratch
behind the erect ear of
B.T., his Boston terrier,
in the one sunny
spot by the window, and warn you
not to pay big bucks for a Dyson
because it’s really
a Panasonic motor with expensive
TV ads, and mention that he’s
from Goa, where he was
a pastry chef, but it’s hard
to make a living
selling perishables, so he
sells vacuum cleaners now.
Sometimes we were happy, sometimes
we weren’t. What poem
was that from, a line,
a title –
it would make
an intricate map,
cirrus clouds, shifts
of bright and pale
in a puddle, asterisks
here and there: good dog,
genial man, shimmer
reflected telephone pole

 

Swan Pond

1  oak table

easy
to divvy up

wobbly round oak table
portable TV

how to tease apart

the snowy trail we left
in spring mountains

 

2  basket

girlhood dreams

gathered
happilyeverafter
in one basket

how blithely I asked you to carry it

 

3  Swan Pond

Mine: beeches and hickories
tawny in fall across the water

coonhounds at night bawling
a topography of ridges

morning’s yawping crows
in the wind-swung pines –

I’m claiming Swan Pond
from seasons I folded away,

labeled: Ours.

And the monarchs too – I claim

their sun-flamed orange, black filigree
carpeting that April hour

the warm brick patio,
lobed wings not quite

fluttering,
poised for flight.

– Sue Chenette, a classical pianist as well as a poet, grew up in northern Wisconsin and has made her home in Toronto since 1972. She is an editor for Brick Books and the author of Slender Human Weight (Guernica Editions, 2009) and The Bones of His Being (Guernica Editions, 2012).

 

Small Comforts

It is their names:
Paul, Jacob, Nathan.
Names I chant, stitch
in vivid colors on my heart.

It is the scent of chicken stuffed
with thyme and lemon, roasting
in the oven’s heat, of rich
dark wine and ripe blue cheese,
of pomegranates and popcorn.

It is those prayers with wings;
eagles, hawks, the bright goldfinch,
the shy hummingbird.

It is sunlight as it polishes the day,
starlight that fractures
the night sky, the glow of lamps
brightening winter’s dark.

It is lilacs and peonies, cypress trees
and aspens, strong coffee and flannel
shirts, fuzzy slippers, the quiet of snow.

It is rain-drenched leaves, lakes reflecting
clouds, languid streams and curving rivers,
fierce oceans and leftover puddles.

It is piles of books that slip
and sprawl across my desk,
their mad pages waving, begging
for attention.

It is words drifting to my ear, slipping
from my mouth, forming in my mind.
Words of praise and pain, longing
and grief, beauty and darkness.
Words I seize with the point of my pen,
turbulent, bristling, dangerous
words clashing and swerving, daring
to be heard.

– Valerie Bacharach conducts weekly poetry workshops with the women of Power House, a halfway house for women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Uppagus, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, U. S. 1 Worksheets, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, VerseWrights, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and The Tishman Review.

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