winter 2015

John Grey

Sunlight on linoleum.
Empty kitchen chair.
Coffee cup stacked
on other coffee cups.
Each another word
for absence. 

Blender, microwave,
can opener…
of all this room’s appliances.
I am the most useless.
When you’re not cooking,
my hunger can’t be bothered. 

I figured the bedroom
would be the scene
of dam-burst eyes,
no sheets, no blankets,
mattress indentations
reverting to the mean. 

But no,
first sight of cupboard,
first brush with sink,
my sorrow’s done enough
for today. 

Many years ago, I asked the question:
does the refrigerator light
really go out when you close the door?
I believe you’ve answered it.

John Grey

Your father was lost in the woods.
He tumbled off a cliff into a deep crevasse.
He was eaten by a bear.
He was kidnapped by moon-men. 

No backwoodsman, no mountain climber,
no adventurer, no rocket scientist like him
would simply pack some shirts
and trousers in a suitcase,
kiss a child on the cheek,
drive off in the lesser of the two family cars,
and never be seen again. 

But the woods were a marriage.
The cliffs were boredom.
The bear was Michelle
who tended bar at the pool hall.
And the moon’s what you stare at,
the man most of all.

Gonzalinho da Costa

The words of a rainy day
Drift incessantly, sighing.
Clouds wander about, homeless.
Soughing water vanishes.

The earth melts, insensate.
Shiny rocks rise in assembly.
Silence bends a strong arm.
Belief sits, quiet as bread.

– Gonzalinho da Costa

Fraying at the brim,
A hat with holes
Darkens his face,
Folded and lined.
Beneath long sleeves,
Torn and shabby,
A dirty cotton layer
Shields his arms,
Dusky branches, wizened.
Swinging a pickaxe,
He hacks the ground,
Digging out dirt and rocks
To pay the debts
Of an elephant,
Animal he resembles
As it clambers out of water,
Dripping, shiny, wrinkled.
Filmy, perspiring,
Resting on the long handle
End of his standing tool,
He is almost motionless,
Inert gob of smoldering
Lava in deep time,
Blackened, steaming.
He sighs, heaving for
Ages and ages to come.
Untying his kerchief,
He mops his brow,
Tilts his head upward,
Blinks, fluttering eyelids,
Tremulous insects…
Sees nothing
But the sun.

Joseph Buehler

We could hopscotch
into the brazen wilderness,
heads thrust dangerously forward.

You may find a valuable lesson
from this experience: soft, though,
as a mother’s slow and gentle smile.

(Who’s for Rutherford one more time?)

Jacob, we’ll be sure to use your
surprising paradigm shift (sea change,
if you insist) in our next production,
but a Greek turn is not particularly
appropriate in this part of the far northwest.

(Snow seems to be accumulating gradually
in those far off fields.)

Did you happen to notice that Minnesota is
turning a very light tan again this spring?

The black bears over there, about forty yards
from here, are simply of our own imagining.