Jennifer Rollings, “Status Report”

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Status Report

Your garden has not died, though it has grown wild, the ivy overtaking the trills, conquering the rooftop. Yet we have kept the front lawn tame, the bushes in check. The money plants begin, right on schedule, their indigo expanse unfolding as if on cue in some exotic ballet. They will thin into the expected silver discs in time. What you planted will not forget you, as nothing made can turn from its creator. Even in darkness, the leaves will soldier on.

 


Jennifer Rollings is a writer living and working in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry has appeared in Every Writers Resource, WordWrights!, and the journal Ardentia.


 

Julie L. Moore, “Cooper’s Hawks, Santa Fe National Forest”

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Cooper’s Hawks

Santa Fe National Forest

Where Atalaya Trail meets tiny tributaries
formed by El Niño’s leaky faucets,

two black pines rise, stirring
with Cooper’s Hawks, one in each tree,

their barrel-breasts heaving
as they fan their blue-gray wings

and shake their black-banded tail feathers,
acting like self-important sentinels on a break,

jabbering about the chance of rain
or the next meal they aim to hunt, soaring

above the sagebrush as they do,
searching for birds to snatch and squeeze to death.

They seem to think God put them here,
long ago, after mountain and desert,

before man and woman, while ants populated
their intricate colonies, a wonder

these birds have never noticed,
sky swimmers and leaf loungers that they are,

the soil to them a mystery
as deep as a moonless night,

the very thing they never mention.

 


Julie L. Moore is the author of Particular Scandals, by Cascade Books. Her other books include Slipping Out of Bloom and Election Day. A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Moore has had her poetry published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, Nimrod, Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. Her work also has appeared in several anthologies, including Becoming: What Makes a Woman, published by University of Nebraska Gender Programs, and Every River On Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio, published by Ohio University Press. You can learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.


 

Sarah Hulyk Maxwell, “Blessing Received”

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Blessing Received

A splinter slips from the sun—a gift—

diving, pointed end first, into our backyard.

I tell everyone the sun’s own heart sent it to us,

a bright sinew, pulsing and beating in the blue grass.

We watch. We clap. We coo. We panic

when the ground around the thin strand boils.

My sister grabs the garden hose to quell the heat.

 


Sarah Hulyk Maxwell lives in Pittsburgh and works at a downtown law firm. She has two cats, a husband, and an MFA from Louisiana State University. Her most recent work can be found in Bluestem Magazine and NANO Fiction, and at Petite Hound Press.


 

Terry Lucas, “Psalm ’66”

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Psalm ’66

O, ’66 Plymouth Valiant! In you will I put my trust.
Your chromed, Barracuda hood ornament leads me.

Your tuck ’n roll bucket seats comfort me.
Your 400-horsepower Hemi engine will save me

from being shamed by a Biscayne dragging Main Street.
Though I double-clutch down Red Mountain, I will not fear,

for your disc brakes and your Hurst shifter are with me.
Your tubular suspension protects me. Your roll bar

watches over me—a halo of chrome-moly black steel.
Your aluminum wheels and positraction rear end

will carry me from the Midwest to New Mexico.
Even though I cross-country to San Francisco,

I have no need for a motor hotel. In truck stop
parking lots, your double bass exhaust is hushed,

while a waitress prepares a table before me of pork chops,
buttered toast, hash browns, and fried eggs sunny-side up.

You anoint my hands with grease. The sweet smell
of gasoline will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the pleasures of your back seat forever.

 


Terry Lucas is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Altar Call (one of four prize-winning chapbooks anthologized in Diesel, 2013), and If They Have Ears to Hear (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2013). His two full-length poetry collections are In This Room (CW Books, 2016), and Dharma Rain, forthcoming from Saint Julian Press. He was the winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in poetry. Terry is the co-executive editor of Trio House Press and a freelance poetry consultant at http://www.terrylucas.com.


 

Eliot Wilson, “Pastoral”

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Pastoral

Eleven head, the neighbor’s cows,
pushed through my storm-damaged fence
to graze out the fall kitchen garden.

I woke to find them couched
about the yard like Roman generals
at a Lucullan feast.

They are chewing my tender hopes
for late kale.

Feeder cows, these,
jigsaw-bodied,
a week from the lots of Greeley
and oblivion.

Here and there a heifer
carving a pumpkin with delicate gluttony
or standing over my harvest,
dumbly intent on the rest
of cilantro and mint.

The new tongues of spinach
clipped.
The last sprigs
of sweet dill wave
from their mouths then vanish,

each tidy row mowed
to the ground and below
the ground
until the frost-broken vase
of late summer is empty.

From the window of my rented kitchen,
I speak to them softly,
praise them, innocent criminals,
in my own captive way.

Afterward,
their hoof prints fill with rain
and sparrows drink.

 


Eliot Wilson has published two books of poems and won two NEA Fellowships, and he has two chickens—Opal and Iris. He lives in Golden, Colorado.


 

Jen Rouse, “Abandon”

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Abandon

She is losing
a slipper—
moon blue in the
icy night. How it holds
still to the curve
of her heel,
how it won’t
quite let go.

This space
of not having lost
but of losing.

It is like a constant
catch in your throat,
like being cocooned
alive, so many millions
of silken threads
tightening slowly and
only a slight hole for air.

To breathe just shallowly enough.

And she is flying
into the trees
breathless,
bareback on a unicorn,
some kind of abandon.
She wears a green
dress with daisies
in this
halo of
madness.
Wouldn’t you?
Wear your green dress?
Close your mouth
before
all the slippers fell out?
If you knew
what was coming next?

 

 


Jen Rouse works as a consulting librarian at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA. Her poems have appeared in Hot Tin Roof, Poetry, Poet Lore, MadHatLit, and elsewhere. Her play, For the Care and Control of the Insane, was performed in the Underground New Play Festival at Theatre Cedar Rapids this past winter. She was recently named a finalist in the Split Lip Livershot Memoir Contest.