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Sapo Dorado—A Recent Extinction
by Maria Melendez

One thousand day-glo toads appeared in a handful of muddy seeps
that spring, los machos stretching their tiny orange suits
in a clamber to get at las hembras, who lay like glistening yellow
buddhas of the mud. No one knew the toad count from all
the Monteverde mountain-puddles together, but you just missed them.
A few years back, a couple cloud-forest kilometers higher,
you almost could’ve touched them. They were just here.

Back through a little drizzle and fizz of time, you’ll find a writhing
“toad ball,” ten males throwing their two-inch selves all over
a female’s softball-sized back, slapping and shoving each other,
wanting to live, as much as they want the next guy
to get nailed by a bird. Don’t be fooled by the females’
sanguine refusal to rouse themselves, their sedentary meditation
amidst the frenzy. They want to live, too. They spool this want

through their perfect insides, globe it to tan and black pearls,
sphere it out to the fates. They’ve made enough spawn,
so their natural histories say, for each clutch to withstand
depredation and still live on. Squirt-and-go parenting’s
no less urgent than what passes, in our case, for nurture, mind you—
if the Maker had ordained teacher conferencing and soccer game
snack rotations for Bufo species, they’d carefully mark

calendars, insist their little ones practice goal-kicks,
and they’d read aloud twenty minutes each night to support
the tadpoles’ fluency. But such is not their strategy.
After a blazing crossfire of the sexes, the golden toads
plowed back into mud. The next green season eleven
came out, the year after, only one. Stretch your fingers into
the drifting mist and you’ll almost touch him, the last
sapo dorado, spotted a little ways higher, a year or two back.


Wayne Bridge Road
by Jan Minich

The moment you lost control of the jeep
I must have been thinking what our
mother’s loss must have meant for you.
You said you had been watching her
that morning before you left for town,
on her hands and knees
in the flower garden, how her dying
was as easy as her pulling off the road
because she’d dropped her cigarette again.
I think of you sitting there after her last breath,
listening to the woods she never passed
without saying how much she loved them.
After a few quiet moments, you opened
the passenger door and walked to town,
to the diner for breakfast.
“I didn’t know what else to do,”
you said. “It’s where we were going.”


The Arctic Tern
by William Neumire

Fact: The tern sees more daylight than any creature on earth
as it turns at each pole before the end of each summer.
At both white ends of the world there is a warmest moment,
a courtship hour where the right dance
can catch the right eye. In therapy this flight
is called avoidance. In archetype this is called the quest.
In science, migration. In a song
this is the refrain.

Once, overwhelmed by a patch of strawberries,
I spent the whole day running
from the biggest berry to the next biggest, stuffing
them in my red-stained mouth with my red-stained hands
not for fear of their vanishing but for the taste
that was everywhere in me.


Flash Mob Teen Violence
by Emmay Ramey

The teens are assembling. They climb through windows while families sit down to
eat. Help themselves to potatoes, then throw plates. They spear forks through
walls and swing on chandeliers. They grab wine after polite request, then let it pour
on white carpets. And laugh. This is a blood stain one screams. This is Jesus says
another. This is your future. So many teens in one room, they are like rabbits,
gnawing on their own feet. They move from dining room to living room, fine china
on heads, until plates become discs sent through television screens. Some grab
lamps others cushions, on the way to the store. Come one come all! Lamps
through windows, cushions as shields. Take hangers! Take carts! Take chocolate
bars, take index cards! Take take take!
And they multiply. In the jungle in the
field, they have cuts they have bombs. They have fists they have babies. They
have the numbers.


The Plot of a Western
by Nick Ripatrazone

Character A, grease-bearded, pivots,
shot focused on crotch, then spits
in direction of Character B, one boot
on wooden porch, other on sand, green
vest buttoned halfway. Character C
rides Horse A from horizon. Cue
Morricone rip-off, cue background whips.
Character A looks at Character B.
Character B looks at Character C.
Character C is too far to tell, but we
assume he’s here to beat the shit
out of somebody.


The Tangle
by Jonathan Scott

He has a picture of her in a book
           He cannot find; but it’s a book
About birds—how they were fish
           Until one day, after many of not flying,
                      They flew.

In the picture her hair is braided
           Poorly plaited with wiry strands
Spraying out—the work of his own hands,
           The tangle, the painful tugs, the welled-
                      Up tears.

He ransacks the shelves in search
           Of the book about birds—how
Some of them, for never knowing better
           Or needing more, sport useless
                      Little wings.

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