pine :: chase twichell

The first night at the monastery,
a moth lit on my sleeve by firelight,
long after the first frost.

A short stick of incense burns
thirty minutes, fresh thread of pine
rising through the old pine of the hours.

Summer is trapped under the thin
glass on the brook, making
the sound of an emptying bottle.

Before the long silence,
the monks make a long soft rustling,
adjusting their robes.

The deer are safe now. Their tracks
are made of snow. The wind has dragged
its branches over their history.

early sunday morning :: edward hirsch

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.

colophon :: dean young

More than the beetles turned russet,
sunset, dragging their shield, more than
the crickets who think it’s evening all afternoon,
it’s the bees I love this time of year.

Sated, maybe drunk, who’ve lapped at the hips
of too many flowers for one summer but
still must go on hunting, one secret
closing, another ensuing, picking

lock after lock, rapping the glass,
getting stuck in a puddle of dish soap,
almost winter, almost dark, reading far past
the last paragraph into the back blank page,

acknowledgments, and history of type.
I think when my head finally cracks
out will come one of those ravening scouts
autumnal with hunger beyond any sipping,

swallowing, beyond the hive’s teeming
factory’s needs. I think maybe then,
when I’m dying like a bug in a puddle
of dish soap, I’ll be relieved,

my wings wet capes and not working,
antennae slicked back and not working,
eye that sees the ruby above going out,
eye that sees the ruby within getting brighter

as I drag myself to a tomato ripening
on the window sill, reddest, softest
island of my last planet, last aureola,
stinger waving and useless. I’ll wait then,

while air from the north rushes gulf air,
a tree indicating wildly, each leaf woke
in orange outcry. It won’t be suffering,
exactly. Rain coming, then gone, a chill

that means all my barbarous kind are alone
and perishing, our unrecognizable young
buried and waiting, bodies of fire becoming
bodies of air. I don’t think there’s any way

to prepare.

working at wal-mart :: brandon kreitler

The checkout girls don’t give it up so easy anymore
and seem to be growing in their sense that this place,
despite its efforts, is not sequestered and free of consequence.
I stand only to lose from such revelations,

but going to the indoor McDonald’s still counts
as going somewhere else and I get the sense that Ginny,
the greeter, thinks I’m one of her dozen grandchildren.
I wouldn’t tell her otherwise.

I’ve tried every delight offered and have boxes to show for it.
My floating walks have become aimless. Yesterday I saw a man
lying prostrate in Electronics before a bank of TV screens
on which the populace yearns to be singers.

In these moments it’s hard not to feel good about what we offer people,
an unbroken chain of indistinguishable days and nights.
An unassuming totalness of things. The easing of the sense that out there
America means having your heart broken by your heart…

Someone has gotten control of the loudspeaker and it squeals.
The thin filament of music is gone.
A baby left for a moment in the center aisle
cries like small animal alone in the pale floodlight.

In the pall of that hunger forbidden language
I feel again the soft husk of my body.
And everyone is kind of looking around,
half surprised by shadow.

the type :: sarah kay

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. – Richard Siken

If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you. But do not mistake eyes for hands.

Or windows.
Or mirrors.

Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.

Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman.

But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian.
Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack.

You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.

All day they practice keeping their bodies upright—
even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still strains the muscles,

holds firm the arms and spine. Only some men will want to learn
what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,

admit they do not have the answers
they thought they would have by now;

some men will want to hold you like The Answer.
You are not The Answer.

You are not the problem. You are not the poem
or the punchline or the riddle or the joke.

Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love,
You can let them love you.

Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean

after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.

Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman
men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along.

It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.
Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call

mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.

Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.

near mt. lassen :: keith ekiss

October snow last night against the peaks,
—here only rain on the waterproof tent.
I heard the detailed complaint of thunder,
how it argued with itself, restless, relentless,
but it was lightning that had me plotting
last will and testament in the sleeping bag,
that epileptic flash, a blast that seemed
to well up inside the fearful part of me.

Today, everything that’s living looks
almost dead. The sight was terribly grand,
a witness wrote of the last eruption.
Roots work the ash, pygmied pines
drop stunted cones, less than a finger length.
The smallest one held in my pocket for you.

mille-fleur :: j. p. grasser

The whole house smelled of lavender
from your soap and body oils,
and if my synesthesia were more refined,
I’d have seen the scent spread its taproot
from beneath the shower door
and blossom into a cloud of lilac
against the kitchen backsplash,
purple the record player puttering in the corner
where we’d forgotten it in our haste.
As you lathered your hair
with shampoo, overpriced—gardenia
and grapefruit—I watched Antiques Road Show.
What disappointment that woman found
surrounded by beauty, the lowball appraisal
of her 18th century mille-fleur china,
all 51 pieces intact. So began my accounting,
as I lay beneath our floral duvet—
fuchsia hyacinths with lime stalks and vines
and sepals which do not seem to belong
to a hyacinth at all—I began counting
the thousand flowers in my life. By then
you’d joined me, and your heart bloomed
and withered and bloomed below my ear.
A figure, I thought, for the movement
of seasons. A figure I might’ve forgotten,
if not for this morning, when, rising early,
I saw your cheeks, rosy with warmth,
and a tuft of your hair, sprouting
from the hyacinths like wild onions
in April and frosted with sleep,
and I remembered wild onions flowering
in the heartland, millions of wild onions,
their blooms each discrete tesserae
in the greater lavender mosaic,
which is whole and is beautiful,
and I sensed it then, on the edge
of sleep myself, there is nothing
in this world which disappoints.