broom :: connie wanek

A blossom on its long stem
the broom is a hag of a tulip.
It is a woman who ties back
her hair with wire,
who wears burlap,
who eats clay.

For its fidelity
the broom has been granted
the ability to carry the witch
to the clouds. Who was the first
to slip it between her legs
and vanish?

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friends of his youth :: stephen dobyns

Friends of his youth, friends of his prime: they had been the audience for the stories of his ambition. But as he grew older his listeners became fewer and his triumphs never materialized. Then, when he spoke with the more fortunate, it was to describe what had stood in his path, why he had never joined them—he had put his family first, he had offended certain critics. Without these obstacles, surely, there would have been no limit to his success. But even these listeners fell away; a new generation was hurrying down a road not his own, and behind that still another was preparing itself and no one knew or had any interest in his gifts. Soon he realized that he was receding into his own shadow. Indeed, in his final isolation the many versions of his story composed his tombstone: not one of marble but of living vapor, which his death—his ultimate listener—would, with a sympathetic whistle, casually disperse.

the wind sleepers :: h. d.

Whiter
than the crust
left by the tide,
we are stung by the hurled sand
and the broken shells.

We no longer sleep
in the wind—
we awoke and fled
through the city gate.

Tear—
tear us an altar,
tug at the cliff-boulders,
pile them with the rough stones—
we no longer
sleep in the wind,
propitiate us.

Chant in a wail
that never halts,
pace a circle and pay tribute
with a song.

When the roar of a dropped wave
breaks into it,
pour meted words
of sea-hawks and gull
sand sea-birds that cry
discords.

friend :: frannie lindsay

An old blonde dog takes care of me.
I found him starving in the snow.

His face is scarred, his hips protrude.
His joints are stiff. Doddering along,

he lists a bit, and more and more
he is incontinent.

Yet when I’m most alone, he brings me
his old polar bear, the sock

he likes to chew. His white chin fits
my darkest aches, and settles there.

cuffs :: jonathan greene

Off to the city, hitchhikers
secreted in folded denim:
grass seed, sawdust, gravel,
duff, country living’s cache,
hidden chaff.

Kicking up my heels, falling down
drunk, a small dump truck from home
spreads its load on the coddled
carpet of clean uptight
apartment living.

this island :: andrew waterman

At peace, limbs interlaced, we lie and drowse.
On, as it seems, this island we’ve discovered.
Distantly lapping now all adverse seas
of circumstance. Warmed by your loving vows,
our fluent thrills of sexual embrace,
I pull the quilt so you are covered,
hoping that lulled here in our proper place
we’ll sleep, to wake together and at ease.

You think, and stir, slip from the bed, and dress,
bound back to husband, children. ‘Yes, the time
will come,’ you tell me. When we are downstairs
deliciously your lips browse my nakedness.
A last flash of your face in night. Content,
I hear your car start. Once more I’m
pillowed on your departed body’s scent
and impress, where my tongue finds long blonde hairs.

disarmed :: wendy videlock

I should be diligent and firm,
I know I should, and frowning, too;
again you’ve failed to clean your room.
Not only that, the evidence
of midnight theft is in your bed—
cracked peanut shells and m&m’s
are crumbled where you rest your head,
and just above, the windowsill
is crowded with a green giraffe
(who’s peering through your telescope),
some dominoes, and half a glass
of orange juice. You hungry child,

how could I be uncharmed by this,
your secret world, your happy mess?