dragonfly :: patricia traxler

He hovers just above the glittering
current, iridescent green in morning
sun. How does he manage to stay there
at the peripheries of his own desire,
keeping that exquisite distance till
he’s certain he can have what he
needs and he takes it then with flashing
tongue (your tongue’s wet flicker
and prod, how you knew to hold back
till the pleasure was a pain I’d die for
and the taking a perfect kill) the dragonfly
stays poised at the edge to have his fill
and his eyes never close, hour after hour
he hovers at the edge until the light goes.

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the enkindled spring :: d. h. lawrence

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.

your worship :: val vinokur

I am your pilgrim, who wanders
to stay home; your monk,
who keeps silent when you demand
confessions and theology.

You are too difficult to love
directly; you have no roof
or floor, and I am too pious
for your rain and mud.

So I keep your shrine, the best of you,
the clean, the smiling rest of you.

I am a stubborn priest, who knows
himself
only in the dwindling oil of you,
the weeping and rebellious flame
about to die.

this practice :: ada limón

They say the first thing that goes
is the short-term memory. You forget
your keys, you forget your address,
you forget the name of the president.
I like to think it’s just a matter of practice—
we’ve had more time to practice the memory
of our favorite light, our brother’s face, the
creek that runs down the center of our town.
I want to practice. Like the Russian soldier
who had to make up a word to say how
hard he would fight, said he would fight
“fiercefully,” that’s how I will remember you,
that’s how I will practice—“fiercefully.”

dust :: susan aizenberg

When she woke in the morning, the only clean part of her pillow was the outline of her head.
                                —Timothy Egan

I think it must have come to seem to them biblical,
    those seasons of drouth, the earth itself a glistering
anvil beneath bleached and empty skies, the sun’s light,
    sharp as a blade, piercing the dried and naked stands

of honey locusts their men had set as windbreaks,
    withering their roses and pansies and the neat kitchen
gardens, bordered by mulberry hedges, they’d tended.
    No living green anywhere for the eye to rest,

they wrote their families back East, nothing thrives
    but thistle and insects, the damned rabbits.
For miles
around them, nothing but abandoned farms,
    no crops to anchor the fields, and when blow season

came, the big rollers and black dusters bearing
    their rough freight of blown topsoil to blind
the cattle and scrape the paint off the barns, the air
    so charged with static a kiss or a handshake

knocked you flat, it must have seemed a plague.
    Sky black as the inside of a dog, the men said.
Blow your nose, your hand comes away black-snotted.
    Father Coughlin on the radio blamed the Jews

and bankers, but it must have felt like God himself
    was furious, and who could fathom God? Imagine
how they had to wake to it, morning after morning,
    a meal of dust sifting through the ceiling,

coating the turned-over pots and soaking through
    the wet towels veiling every surface. How it snaked
past the door jams and window frames they’d sealed
    with newspapers and gummed tape, rags soaked

in kerosene. Imagine the blackened sheets
    and the gritty oil that filmed the water they drew
to wash them in, the layers of dust that rippled across
    their scrubbed floors, deep enough for dunes

they had to wake the eldest boy or girl each morning
    to shovel out, their mouths and noses masked
like small Jesse Jameses. And when the cattle began to die,
    and then the children, the frail sacs of their lungs

shredded and their stomachs swollen with dirt,
    some of them went sorrowing, dust mad,
through the vacant streets, but mostly, they endured.
    It’s them I think of now, the ones who endured,

how they must have rested, so briefly,
    in the evenings, writing their letters home before prayer
and bed by the dim light of oil lamps, how they
    must have stared at the unstoppable dust rising

again in the darkening air, the way they
    must have breathed it in slowly, slowly out.

mud season :: tess taylor

We unstave the winter’s tangle.
Sad tomatoes, sullen sky.

We unplay the summer’s blight.
Rotted on the vine, black fruit

swings free of strings that bound it.
In the compost, ghost melon; in the fields

grotesque extruded peppers.
We prod half-thawed mucky things.

In the sky, starlings eddying.
Tomorrow, snow again, old silence.

Today, the creaking icy puller.
Last night I woke

to wild unfrozen prattle.
Rain on the roof—a foreign liquid tongue.

for a girl i know about to be a woman :: miller williams

Because you’ll find how hard it can be
to tell which part of your body sings,
you never should dally with any young man
who does any one of the following things:

tries to beat all the yellow lights;
says, “Big deal!” or “So what?”
more than seven times a day;
ignores yellow lines in a parking lot;

carries a radar detector;
asks what you did with another date;
has more than seven bumper stickers;
drinks beer early and whiskey late;

talks on a cellular phone at lunch;
tunes to radio talk shows;
doesn’t fasten his seat belt;
knows more than God knows;

wants you to change how you do your hair;
spits in a polystyrene cup;
doesn’t use his turn signal;
wants you to change your makeup;

calls your parents their given names;
doesn’t know why you don’t smoke;
has dirt under his fingernails;
makes a threat and calls it a joke;

pushes to get you to have one more;
seems to have trouble staying awake;
says “dago” and “wop” and words like that;
swerves a car to hit a snake;
sits at a table wearing a hat;
has a boneless handshake.

You’re going to know soon enough
the ones who fail this little test.
Mark them off your list at once
and be very careful of all the rest.