by Emma Ramey
So philosophical it all is,
the endless loop, the ending of things.
Even when the infant shouts, I have a migraine!
in Babel, in the background of a snapshot,
don’t you see me sleeping? Let me sleep.
Through sleet, joy, early evening.
These tears are real and the whole world is a farce,
the baby mutters, the all-out production.
And where else am I but head down
in between dreams, a deal with the nameless.
God is the silent type and I am deaf,
says the baby, cooing, snoring, turning the other cheek.
by Marie Gauthier
Grace falls, a sibilance of snow, curls
in tufts among the violets
you walk on.
Grace ferns threaded leaves along your cheekbones,
pools in the pillowed hollows
of your young son’s neck.
Grace in the fretted sting of a mosquito you swat,
the smell of wood smoke and charred fish.
Summer’s green skies.
The furred scat of coyotes, and the small bones
poking through its crust.
Grace, the sharp thrust of air you pass through
on your way to somewhere else.
by Jessy Randall
No smoking. No horseplay. There will be
no stealing of your best friend’s boyfriend.
No nose-picking. Say please. In sexual matters,
be generous, but do not think of it that way.
No watch-wearing. No digital clocks. No
t-shirts with sayings on them. Spell ketchup
with a k. Do not drink to excess. If you must
read a book in the bathtub, be careful. Turn off
cell phones unless you enjoy subtle disdain.
No float-toys, no running, no communicable diseases.
People wearing cut-offs will be asked to leave.
No high-pitched squealing from those over two
years of age. Obey fire codes. If you can’t sleep, turn off
the air-conditioner, it might help. Cut sandwiches
into rectangles or triangles, either one. Shower first.
by Chris Haven
Debby Boone’s mouth was big
Debby Boone’s mouth wouldn’t go away
Debby Boone’s mouth kept singing the same song
Debby Boone’s mouth was the number one mouth in America
Debby Boone’s mouth kept a lot of good songs down
Debby Boone’s mouth emoted
Debby Boone’s mouth tormented continents
Debby Boone’s mouth for ten straight weeks
Samson could’ve done some real damage with Debby Boone’s mouth
Debby Boone’s mouth was the white version of Carly Simon’s mouth
Debby Boone’s mouth was so white Andy Gibb tried to snort it
Debby Boone’s mouth ate Pac-Man
Wokka Wokka Wokka
Sometimes it’s hard for Debby Boone’s mouth to remember how to spell Debby
Debby Boone’s mouth can sing all the books of the Bible with a Bible in it
Debby Boone’s mouth killed some kids
What has no bottom but is still filled with crap?
Debby Boone’s mouth made us all fear Casey Kasem
Debby Boone’s mouth had long distance dedication
Television cameras spun around the gravitation of Debby Boone’s mouth
Debby Boone’s mouth clogged up the airwaves
Debby Boone’s mouth won the Olympics of please stop
Then Debby Boone’s mouth went away
Then Debby Boone’s mouth invented computers
Debby Boone’s mouth carries on
Debby Boone’s mouth is full of hope
Debby Boone’s mouth can’t be wrong
Debby Boone’s mouth feels so right
Debby Boone’s mouth will convince you
Say the same thing enough times and we’ll all believe it’s Debby Boone’s mouth
by Les Kay
The leading indicators
have taken to following
the precipitous collapse
of projected graphs printed
with raspberry, cherry,
pomegranate hues; here—
if you’ll remember that ochre
afternoon—is where everything
we’d wrested, chipped, minted,
torn from our ten-hour days was
multiplied in others’ coffers,
became the cream corridors
where we stub toes, the scented
mangle of spiderwort and sweet
pea where chipmunks cavort,
the constructed figure of—
What we believe no longer
matters. The projections
project, the indicators
indicate, the colors color—
And the poor? The poor, poor
are numbers, the numbers, poor.
by Teresa Cader
I’ve lit an electric candle in the window for her.
She is young and healthy and far from home.
It will burn until she returns, but maybe beyond.
I have lit a candle for her, and not for myself.
You are right if you say this candle is also for me.
I was young, far from home, and might have died.
There’s no point in being melodramatic.
No one in my family came.
Melodrama is useless as protection.
When I walk the dog late at night,
I see the candle in the third story window.
I write in that room. I waste time there, too.
I used to believe gifts come only from light.
I don’t actually think that’s true.
There was no candle lit for my return from the hospital.
It did not make me mute or cruel.
The dog does not look up; his vision is based in his nose.
He can tell if he’s left his mark on the forsythia.
It belongs to him because he has given himself to it.
He tugs at the leash when I try to rush past.
I am staring at the candle.
He is nosing around the forsythia saying, This is mine.
by Todd Robinson
The palamino has opened up morning
in the tall grass west of the house,
among antiques and clutter.
Elizabeth takes her clothes off for the moon,
hoping to soak 1,000 miles behind the wheel out of my hips.
The buzzards circled and the sky was grey.
O lotus, daughter of the Sun,
I can’t remember all the sins I should.
I’m never in my right mind for long, my wife says of me.
In the end
like shades ascending, this morning’s fog—
small flakes still fell lightly
and yet we know the heart.
Why live here instead of there? Does it matter?
You with the gold tooth:
sounds in season decorate the starlit night.
Every summer I lived with my grandparents—
after a rain I yanked weeds in the flowerbed, crabgrass and foxtail.
Is it pathetic to see the insides outside?
All that summer they could hear the wolves,
guests in their best store-bought.
If only we could touch like flowers bloom color.
What we assumed all summer
you must understand.
Here’s hard country to travel: even the willows
praise a day to do nothing.
We are in the Niobrara stretched out:
there are materials in this world that draw the body
into the blooming essence of April.
The sky unrolls from the earth.
Late in the year a three-quarters moon.
I place flowers next to cold marble.
It is more comfortable than any seat.
Each morning, with the parting of the curtains, the world.
*The Midwest Quarterly, Summer, 2011.