fall 2010

I work as a secretary at a university, and one of my faculty members came into the office to get his mail. We have the typical office mail slots with each professor’s name on the front in alphabetical order. I explained to him that we were getting new mailboxes. He protested because he is over 6’5” and his mailbox is at the bottom; the slots should not be done alphabetically, but by height.

I pointed out that students and other faculty who stop by do not know how tall each professor is. They should stay the way they are.

He protested again, “I should be on top because I am a man and men should always be on top!”

I told him to consider me his Lilith.

Beth Durkin


Where do I start this time? 
The grass is yellow outside in the dark. 
The rain failed to spread in the wind
As the earth’s skin cracked.

I must mention that boy who lost the California Death Game. 
I saw his beautiful friends crying into their phones.

            “I’ll always remember his smile.”
He flew back in cargo.

            So it goes
this night without guessing.

All time has passed
And I’ve signed my name
            So many times

 Eyes blur

In the rusty leaves of Rhode Island
The ocean softly compromises
 history coughs up a brown reality

The cellos and the cigarettes cry salty tears

I must mention a lady who quivers sleepless in a purple sunrise
She sweeps her efforts in between the fiery cracks
—like bridges.

All the possibiities glisten in the horizon
The dust swarms frantically
A few notes fall from the sky
Just out of reach
And her fingers shake in a tragic application for approval.

I must mention the girl
 who swirls about in her lava mask–
Kicking the attention buttons with her tiny
Half-albino feet.

She shouts out her imperfections—
Drunk and agnostic
I wake up tasting tears
At the last stop.

I must mention the death of dignity
In the late night decay that haunts this spot
With photographic graveyards littered.

Once upon a time, time stood still.

I must mention my dreams—
hopeful and help less

plastered to my drenched skin in a midnight cage.

All sounds monitored.

–WILL Will will

William Toner

What treasure does the King hold close
To dole out daughters like his lands?
By asking which “doth love me most?”
He passes power to their hands.

Cordelia loves but by her bond,
No more or less, and holds her tongue,
For love rejects comparison
And gives and saves, remaining strong.

But he sees power as a means.
If nothing comes of nothing, this
Makes every father’s kiss a sting
Which in his heart plants loneliness.

Not glib, Cordelia speaks so plain
There is no need to speak again,
For though her dowry price declines,
She will not lie to stay with him.

When he cuts out his heart, she goes,
But only if he goes as well.
He must abandon all he knows
To find the truth in which he dwelt. 

And though Cordelia seeks the King,
Against his loss no shield is truth.
For their low-spoken love we weep
To see their one heart break as two.

Jeffrey Boyer

School girls cower under umbrellas—
rainbows streaking down dry, gray streets.
Housewives and salary men scurry into
taxis and department stores, their drivers and
clerks smiling, rubbing hands behind their
eyes.  A drop of rain, a cloud’s lost spear,
sparks down the front of the full bus
groaning over the bridge

towards the river.

Leaves tumble into my hair, under my
bike tires squealing over the pavement
throbbing with roots.  The wind curls
around the trees, around my legs.  They
creak, pulse, pray for five more minutes
of light.  White creeps across roofs, black
oozes along mountains, covering a
shivering sky, inching

towards the river.  

Cloud armies curl past the gaps in sky and
branches. White hands raise lavender swords
against the black jaws of cloud dogs.   The
sakura tree stretches, dropping leaves
into the water.  They float over the moon,
who sits in her patch of sky, giggling,
the last of purple day hiding all but a white
eye.  It sparkles at the marching

towards the river. 

Michelle Danner

I’m boring.  Everything, including inanimate objects, will do whatever is necessary to escape me.

A little history: Miss Wyman, why did you divorce President Reagan?
I divorced him because he was boring.

Remember Jane in Magnificent Obsession?  Blind and definitely not boring. 

I’ve been divorced twenty-three times.

Mostly I’ve married women, but since Massachusetts got gay marriage I’ve married a couple of guys.  Whatever.  Ask any of my husbands or wives and they’ll tell you I divorced him because he was boring.  I’m boring in bed.  Out of bed.  When I wake up in the morning I bore immediately.  By nightfall I’ve made an entire day boring.  Willows really do weep for me.

I wasn’t always boring.  My mother says in the womb I kicked and romped–even when I got pulled into post-womb reality, I was still pretty interesting.

Dad: “He’ll be a quarterback and cure hemorrhoids!”

Mom: “He’ll design cars and build drug stores!”

By the time that I was two they saw that I would be a boring kid.  I ate boring.  I pooped boring.  I slept boring.  I watched boring TV shows.  By the time I got to high school, even the few friends I had in grade school dropped me.

“Jason is just so… well… it’s mean to say it but…”

“He’s fuckin’ boring!”

I overheard.  I felt happy that they didn’t have to pretend anymore.  If Jane Wyman could quit pretending, I guess they could too.  High school was lonely.  College, even worse.  Friends came and left quickly. 

“Jason is so nice, really, but….” 

All of my marriages happened lightning fast.  I excelled at zippy proposals and zippier elopements.  I knew each marriage was on borrowed time even before the I Do’s.   I’ve had the same job for three decades now, but I can’t tell you what I do.  Numbers.  They do stuff.  In nervous files.

At work Pete, another boring guy but with moments of pzazz, says he’s jealous.

“All marriages should end in under six months.  Look at me, with Diane for thirty-one years—man, it is endless, like flat Coke on a warm picnic table.”

When I die, nobody, not even Pete, will attend my funeral.  No minister or priest will say “Brother Jason is now in his heavenly father’s arms.”  They know God finds me as boring as the devil does.  For eternity I’m destined to be nowhere.  It’s okay.  I’ve always been nowhere.  And everywhere.  Wherever in the universe I get stashed, I know stars will back off—even black holes, grabby and hungry, will spit me out and lock down their event horizons.  

Kenneth Pobo

BLACK COFFEE     after a still life painting by Daniel Monda I Bean breaks open.  Thoughts percolate.  Time to assimilate what’s worth keeping; what’s left over is again a bean, though small and often bitter, its sheen reveals its true value.  Drink it black, no cream.    Drink it black. II And what of cream’s absence? …

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Crows chase a fleeing hawk across the sky.
Summer slows, dry leaves dot the lawn.
You said, Hello again.  I chose Good-bye.
A nearby doe has borne two spotted fawns.

Bread rises on the shelf, yeasty loaves.
You dropped me many years, a thrown stone.
You sail across wide seas.  I prefer coves.
You still see an orange dress I never owned.

The lines we used to say I can’t repeat today.
I won’t rewind the film, I’ve seen the show.
Fiddles in my heart begin to play.
It’s new for me, the power to say no.

Margaret Robinson

I’ll bet Petrarch was too smart
to take on a stone-washed autumn
sky.  That exact hue – what a dumb
subject for a poet.  Canvas art’s

the way to jump.  Still my eyes dart
to where the leaves gently tumble
near cerulean.  Even if my words fumble,
I, brushless, still play a part,

murmur flat, matte, aqua, azure
while sun pours color on my face,
a touch lively as a baby’s laugh

at heaven’s radiance.  Pleasure
grows as the warm days race.
Here’s my chance to let blue last.

Margaret Robinson

No sound, not even a drip
from the limp garden hose.
The quiet shadow of my hat
moves closer to my old plastic
chair by the spent marigolds.

The rows of green onion tops
tilt the same noiseless way.
Crickets chirp waits ’til later.
Later still, an owl’s breathy hoot,
the caught rabbit’s shriek.

Soon ice will blow a frozen
breath on my shivering neck,
but not while that oblivious
chickadee, toes grasping a bent
dogwood branch, is still singing.

Margaret Robinson