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bread :: helena minton


The dough rises in the sun,
history of the human rice inside it:
orgies, famines, Christanity,
eras when a man could have his arm
chopped off for stealing half a loaf.
I punch it down, knead the dark
flour into the light, let it bake,
then set it on the table beside the knife,
learning the power
cooks have over others, the pleasure
of saying eat.

offering :: jacques j. rancourt

That night the shore kept our shoes
and we left our boxers hanging from branches,
hid ourselves in the river. It was a test of manhood,
to see how naked we’d become
and not care. Tony, the most beautiful,
was laughing. Through the water
I saw a pale blur and knew what it stood for,
my heart paddling. We slapped each others’ backs,
tossed a football, the moon showing on the river
in fragments. When the girls came
with their breasts and their reluctance
to leave their panties in the tree shrine,
the energy shifted — the water shook.
We brushed against each other, sent beer cans
crumpled downriver. From somewhere
in the crowd, a scream, then bodies fled,
clamoring over the bank. The cause — a deer
who had come to test the shore with its mouth
and was frozen, as I was frozen, to the edge
until it bolted away and I bolted away too.
Into the field I ran with the pack of men
and in the moonlight I saw Tony, all of Tony,
and in his hand the hand of a girl, his mouth
coming down to her neck as they ran. Off they went,
back from where they came, but I had left
my reflection at the shore, the reflection
of the deer there too, my other’s arm
outstretched to the deer and offering it water.

watching the moon :: izumi shikibu


Watching the moon
at dawn
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely,
no part left out.

believe this :: richard levine


All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
work of turning a yard from the wild
to a gardener’s will, I heard a bird singing
from a hidden, though not distant, perch;
a song of swift, syncopated syllables sounding
like, Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
Can you believe this, believe this, believe?

And all morning, I did believe. All morning,
between break-even bouts with the unwanted,
I wanted to see that bird, and looked up so
I might later recognize it in a guide, and know
and call its name, but even more, I wanted
to join its church. For all morning, and many
a time in my life, I have wondered who, beyond
this plot I work, has called the order of being,
that givers of food are deemed lesser
than are the receivers. All morning,
muscling my will against that of the wild,
to claim a place in the bounty of earth,
seed, root, sun and rain, I offered my labor
as a kind of grace, and gave thanks even
for the aching in my body, which reached
beyond this work and this gift of struggle.

accompaniment :: w. s. merwin


Day alone first of December with rain
falling lightly again in the garden
and the dogs sleeping on the dark floorboards
day between journeys unpacking from one

then packing for another and reading
poems as I go words from a time past
light migrants coming from so long ago
through the sound of this quiet rain falling

untitled :: j. david liss


a MAVEN contest winner

Mars, copper penny
Dropped in the dark bank of night
Saved for Earth’s future

the new trees :: rosalia moffett


            Cell towers can be hidden inside an. artificial tree.

The new trees rise up and up, fingering out, one cell
in a cellular network. They do everything
the old trees did: listen, collect our discarded breath,

transmit it new into air. We need them. We take them
ugly and make them hidden: crown of fronds, green
more ever than evergreen. And then we talk to them

the way we used to talk to dolls. They weren’t quite right—
too light, never blinked—but they were ours
and knew our language the way babies never did.