By Brian Dean Powers
My cactus (which is older than I am)
blooms (most years) late in December,
around the Winter solstice.
Yet this is the first week of Spring,
and the plant is still budding and blossoming.
I’d like to read meaning into the extraordinary.
I’d like to find in it a sign of better times.
—I know, Nature doesn’t work that way.
Omens are only in the eye of the beholder.
Plants live in a world of weather and water, sun and soil.
They have nothing to say about health, or romance, or democracy.
Satiny pink and red flowers:
complex, pendulous, unexpected.
By Paul Thompson
Our new home. Every evening the same routine – switching off the downstairs lights in sequence, pausing at the last.
Waiting in the dark is the ghostly child, the cliché, the best my imagination can muster.
When I run upstairs it is two steps at a time, our bedroom illuminated and safe.
One evening I share this with my wife, my laughable childhood fear of the dark still chasing me up the stairs
“You can see her also?” she responds, putting down her book.
We agree to leave the lights on, and resolve to find a new home in the morning.
By Rachel Doherty
Again, I’m left waiting. It’s the third time someone forgot to pick me up at school this month. Mom will blame Dad and Dad will blame Mom. I blame them both. Living half my life with one and half with another. In other words, all of my life without someone.
They say it will get better. They say they just have to work out a better schedule. Ever since the separation I am told just give it time and the kinks will get worked out. I know better. This is the new norm. I’m done waiting. I’ll just walk home.
By Scarlett Sauvage
The patterns on her skin disturb him. They might be scars. They might be moles. But he thinks he sees numbers. Sixes. Three of them.
She knows he sees them. She wants him to see them. She wants to plant a seed in his mind. Just the smallest suggestion.
She doesn’t want to scare him. Not yet. It’s too soon. He’s not ready. She’ll reveal herself slowly; shed her skin, one layer at a time.
By Alanna Pass
from my pencil
anchor me to this earth
like a kite on a string.
form words on these pages
giving shape to my thoughts
running wild in my head.
These lines that form words
are lassoed into sentences, then paragraphs
a calm order brought from the spiraling chaos.
My soul is tamed
At least for a while
From the simple act of writing.
As I wash my hands –
Watch soap slip silently;
The thrill of cold water
Numbing to nothing –
I can see a spare sock
Stuck under the doorframe
Just a little bit;
The rest too thick to fit.
And our child, standing,
Staring at that sock;
Pondering his next move.
Flexing a narrow finger.
The weight of your absence
Is ubiquitous here;
A fierce silence, rent
By pointless everyday.
And I dry my hands
On a soggy towel,
Suddenly knowing that
I’m finished with typical.
By Susanne Swanson
“Do you know how many times you’ve said ‘okay’ in the last minute?” she blurted out.
(Twenty times by my reckoning. She was not the only one counting.) He stopped. Public speaking was not his forte, though economics may have been.
“Twenty-three times!” she announced.
“Sorry,’ he said. “Didn’t know I was doing it.”
The rest of us knew and thanked her. We were on edge waiting for the ‘okay’ and winced when it came. No sentence was immune.
“I’ll work on it, okay?” he promised. “But when it’s quiet you’ll know what I’m thinking, okay?”
Okaaaay! we shouted.