By James Blevins
“We’re here for only a short while,” Amy said out loud, sketch pad on lap, pencil poised over blank page. “Then it’s back to the spider.”
Her breath, a frosty, cloudy haze, emitted percussively as she spoke. “But as far as I know,” she continued with added emphasis, pencil dancing across her sketch pad, “spiders don’t write poetry.”
When she was finished, she looked down at what she had drawn, then back to its source, satisfied. Above her, the sun was young, far below its apex in the sky.
“Maybe they don’t need words,” she mused. “Not like we do.”
By Bill Diamond
During a fitful night, I woke to Stygian darkness. Checking my phone, there was another late-night voicemail. The grief returned. A headache began. I braced myself with strong coffee.
“I’ve been calling for days,” the familiar voice was desiccated and desperate. “I need your help. Why won’t you answer?”
My eyes welled.
“I feel like I’m dying. Just send me a little money, then I’ll go into treatment. This time will be different. Please!”
My finger trembled, and I almost gave in. I sobbed for my lost daughter, and deleted her message.
Tell me where I’m from.
Explain the culture that made me,
the genes that gave me a kufi instead of shades.
Never been into meadowlarks or glades
yet I appreciate the romantics.
Poets that paved the way.
You see no one is born a slave,
but restricted humanity breeds partiality to your own kind.
Be careful what truths you accept into your mind.
If you let assumptions lead,
you might be disgusted by what you find.
Perhaps it’s semantics,
logical gymnastics that bind,
but if anyone could be summed up in one word it would be Human.
By Rosemary Noble
“At least, I haven’t got dementia.” A smile lightens her clouded eyes. Rarely used hearing aids sit stubbornly by her side.
“When are you going away?” The missing teeth never fail to upset me.
“In two weeks,” I repeat.
“I’ll go and make us a cup of tea.” The visiting hour stretches endlessly ahead. I’m grateful for a diversion.
I watch her drink. Long, tapering fingers clutching the teacup handle. In contrast her unusable, arthritic feet slumber in old lady slippers.
“When are you going away?”
“I’ve no memory these days. At least I haven’t got dementia.”
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 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 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.