this moment :: eavan boland

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

maggie and milly and molly and may :: e. e. cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

monarchy :: emily rosko

There was no room for us to have feelings.
Under the Queen, we were foiled, our faces blanked of wonder.
A pitiful ordeal, our cheap toil. We hated her for stealing.

Our crooked backs ached; our knees bled from kneeling,
the whole sum of our treasures given up to fund her.
There was no room for us to have feelings,

so we made our way quietly; we arranged our own dealings,
checked what we clocked. Each swallowed their thunder
and railed within. Nothing left out for stealing.

But pound for pound, we grew skinny, weary, reeling
from the new rules she devised. We had to watch and mind her.
There was no room for us to have feelings.

We were audited, then fined. We abided her schooling.
Then, all music stopped. All solitude filled, we couldn’t ponder
our losses. We tried to forget how much she was stealing.

Our patron saints left us; the stars took to jeering, leering
at our lessened state. We hardened at our blunder.
There was no room to have any feelings.
What of us? Not a pittance. No worth there for stealing.

sixth grade :: jeanie greensfelder

We didn’t like each other,
but Lynn’s mother had died,
and my father had died.

Lynn’s father didn’t know how to talk to her,
my mother didn’t know how to talk to me,
and Lynn and I didn’t know how to talk either.

A secret game drew us close:
we took turns being the prisoner,
who stood, hands held behind her back,

while the captor, using an imaginary bow,
shot arrow after arrow after arrow
into the prisoner’s heart.

come back :: chloë honum

I can’s see all of any horse at once.
They weave through twilight, in and out of sight,
as the sky drains of color, enters dusk.

The barn’s a bloodstain on an ivory dress,
lost in the skirt, a spiraling red kite.
I can’t see all of any horse at once.

Between us there is only field and dust
a fence and a shadow-fence. Beside me lightning
splashes the hillside, loosens it so dusk

can wring each soggy evergreen, unlace
pink threads of berries from the shrubs. I wait.
I can’t see all of any horse at once.

The moon has flown, though in its place a husk
clings to the sky. The horses figure-eight
in single file. Through rain-sown drapes of dusk

I try to count them, climb up on the fence.
Their foreheads shine with pearly stars, ghost-lit.
I can’t see all of any horse at once—
they multiply, and shiver in the dusk.

crossword :: sally bliumis-dunn

The white and black squares
promise order
in the morning mess
of mulling over

the latest political morass,
what’s on sale at Kohl’s,
the book review.

Each letter, shared,
which lifts away
some sheen of loneliness I
can’t quite explain.

This week, “arsenic” and “forsythia”
are joined by their i‘s
like long-estranged cousins.

And when they ask
for the French equivalent of sky,
I’m back on a wooden chair

in Madame Baumlin’s
eighth-grade class, passing
a note to David, having

no idea, as my hand grazes his,
that he will drown sailing
that next summer.

I like doing the crossword
with my husband —
Source of support,
three letters.

I’m the one who guesses it,
glad he doesn’t think
of ” bra” in this way.

The puzzle rests
on the counter all week.

I like coming back,
looking at the same clue
I found insolvable
the day before, my mind

often a mystery to me,
turning corners when I sleep
or am upstairs folding clothes.

They get added to pounds.
Yesterday I thought
it had to do with money or meat;

now I can see the chain-link fence
at the local animal shelter.
Of course. “Strays”

watch her read it

relax :: ellen bass

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat–
the one you never really liked–will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up–drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice–one white, one black–scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.