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distance :: peter everwine

by

The light pulling away from trees,
the trees speaking in shadows
to whatever listens…

Something as common as water
turns away from our faces
and leaves.

The stars rise out of the hills
—old kings and animals
marching in their thin tunnels of light.

Once more I find myself
standing on a dark pier, holding
an enormous rope of silence.

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sightseers :: leslie monsour

by

A string of pelicans in gliding file
Traversed the setting sun. We watched awhile
Before the captain shared an observation:
“The pelicans die early, from starvation.
They waste ashore, unable to take flight;
They haven’t lost their wings, they’ve lost their sight.
The reason they go blind is said to be
The force with which they plunge into the sea
To nab their catch; it massacres their eyes.”

Hard nature made them rash instead of wise.
They threaded to a point. We kept our eyes on
Their drift, above the gaudy-hued horizon,
Where sun’s last glimmer sipped the darkening side,
And night awaited, opulently eyed.

branch library :: edward hirsch

by

I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy
who perched in the branches of the old branch library.

He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks
and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,

pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching
notes under his own corner patch of sky.

I’d give anything to find that birdy boy again
bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon

with his satchel of sccrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.

greek statue :: wislawa szymborska

by

translated from the polish by clare cavanagh and stanisław barańczak

With the help of people and the other elements,
time hasn’t done a bad job on it.
It first removed the nose, then the genitalia,
next, one by one, the toes and fingers,
over the years the arms, one after the other,
the left thigh, the right,
the shoulders, hips, head, and buttocks,
and whatever dropped off has since fallen to pieces,
to rubble, to gravel, to sand.

When someone living dies that way
blood flows at every blow.

But marble statues die white
and not always completely.

From the one under discussion only the torso lingers
and it’s like a breath held with great effort,
since now it must
draw
to itself
all the grace and gravity
of what was lost.

And it does,
for now it does,
it does and it dazzles,
it dazzles and endures—

Time likewise merits some applause here,
since it stopped work early,
and left some for later.

cleaning a fish :: dave smith

by

In her hand the knife, brisk, brilliant as moon-claw,
shaves the flesh. It grazes the white
belly just over the heart.
Underneath, the coiled fingers
are cradling a soft flesh
as if it were the jowls of the aged

man propped for a while on the bench in the park.
The head is not severed, the eyes not out.
Blue, they appear to flash odd ways
where a tree makes a live shadow.
Mostly the eyes are dead.
Nothing is in them

except the intense blue of sky the tree allows.
There is no conspiring of nerves,
no least event recalled
by a limb’s high arching,
or even a girl’s ascension
from a forgotten distance of water.

But there is something as she lifts the meat.
It is enough to draw down her gaze.
Now her arm rises against
yellow hair fallen
white in a childish face.
She is still as a leaf barely clinging.

I come to her like a cat in the stunned grass
and touch her to see the startled,
upthrusted gleam of her face.
At brow and each cheek
like gathered beads of mist
scales leap with the sun, and are dead.

No word passes between us, but something electric
as a flash of steel makes her
cry out just once. Squatting
at the yard’s edge, she
sings beyond any thought.
Her knife flies as lethal as love
and cuts quickly in like a hurried kiss.

swimming ool :: kenn nesbitt

by

Swimming in the swimming pool
is where I like to “B,”
wearing underwater goggles
so that I can “C.”
Yesterday, before I swam,
I drank a cup of “T.”
Now the pool’s a “swimming ool”
because I took a “P.”

winter splinters :: lucia cherciu

by

She went to confession,
asked the priest for atonement,
and he said, “I saw you
waiting for the bus in that frost yesterday—
boulders were cracking with cold—
and one hour later when I returned
you were still there:
that’s penance enough.”

That night she dreamed
of walking to the margin of town
looking for a tree to cut down.
In her sleep, someone was splitting wood
in front of her window. She could hear
his breath as he heaved the ax,
the bolt as he hit
right in the middle.
He mumbled something under his breath.
The words themselves she couldn’t decipher;
just woke up and found a stash of wood
next to her door
stacked like a sculpture.
Ice splintered into the walls
just enough not to crack the pipes.