harvest :: michael shewmaker

Ruth speaks in old age

To watch him in the fields,
his tempered violence
against the grain, the long
silent sweep of the scythe,
the gathering of sheaves,
recalls a happiness
brief as kindled chaff.

Beneath the tilting sun,
the same strict sun of childhood,
bound by the rhythm of
his labor, he ignores
the frailness of his body,
the failing light, his shadow
rising slowly to meet him.

How long will the moon stall
over the edge of the fields?
The day-moon, a lone ghost
above the grain? The stalks
stir in a subtle wind
that starts along the length
of the descending blade—

and as the barley yields
to the wide arc of his
endeavoring, it whispers
in another tongue,
and of another time,
when, like the grain, he laid
me on the threshing floor.

looking out the window poem :: denis johnson

The sounds of traffic
die over the back lawn
to occur again in the low

The voices, risen, of
the neighborhood cannot
maintain that pitch
and fail briefly, start
up again.

Similarly my breathing rises
and falls while I look out
the window of apartment
number three in this slum,
hoping for rage, or sorrow.

They don’t come to me
anymore. How can I lament
anything? It is all
so proper, so much
as it should be, now

the nearing cumulus
clouds, ominous,
shift, they are like the
curtains, billowy,
veering at the apex
of their intrusion on the room.
If I am alive now,
it is only

to be in all this
making all possible.
I am glad to be
finally a part
of such machinery. I was
after all not so fond
of living, and there comes
into me, when I see
how little I liked
being a man, a great joy.

Look out our astounding
clear windows before evening.
It is almost as if
the world were blue
with some lubricant,
it shines so.

time to be the fine line of light :: carrie fountain

between the blind and the sill, nothing
really. There are so many things

that destroy. To think solely of them
is as foolish and expedient as not

thinking of them at all. All I want
is to be the river though I return

again and again to the clouds.
All I want is to stop beginning sentences

with All I want. No—no really all
I want is this morning: my daughter

and my son saying “Da!” back and forth
over breakfast, cracking each other up

while eating peanut butter toast
and raspberries, making a place for

the two of them I will, eventually,
no longer be allowed to enter. Time to be

the fine line. Time to practice being
the line. And then maybe the darkness.