Al Ortolani, “Shopping for Fruit”

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Shopping for Fruit

What is melancholia? I ask
the class of 17-year-olds. One boy
just outside the T-zone answers,
A fruit. And I had to laugh.
Yes, probably in the produce section
at HyVee, you’ve got the honeydew,
the cantaloupe, the melancholia,
most likely priced higher than
the watermelon, so germane to
family picnics, ice cream socials,
class reunions. The melancholia
ripens slowly on vines of discontent.
It is only purchased by the disillusioned
when the fruit bin has been emptied
of choices. But I keep this cherry
to myself. These boys haven’t
done much produce shopping.
They still find bananas amusing.


Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, has just been released from New York Quarterly Books. Ortolani is the manuscript editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas, and directs a memoir writing project for Vietnam veterans across Kansas in association with the Library of Congress and Humanities Kansas. He currently lives in the Kansas City area.



Jared Carter, “Westerly”

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Ask me no more. For no one knows
       what happened then,
That door is closed to us. Who goes
       that way again

Must take the simple path, outside
       into the dark,
Into the evening’s calm, to bide
       the time, and mark

The way the wind moves through the trees –
       the slow sifting,
The stirring there among the leaves,
       the leaves drifting.


Jared Carter’s Darkened Rooms of Summer was the first book selected for the Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series and was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. Carter lives in Indiana.


Don Brandis, “The Mirror of the Late War”

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The Mirror of the Late War

We were so, so, so . . .
ordinary, our every enterprise
would soon miscarry
not that failure was intended
but our intent was only clear
when it was flagrantly upended,
even to us. No, especially
we’d sort the wreckage
and believe it necessary.
When the moon was full
the fields were silver with its sheen
as if they were not ground but sea
inhabited by churning shoals of fish
drawn out like moths in moon-madness
mocking us for sane and sober sloths
who were by seeming accident both.


Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living a happily married hermit’s life in a small town not far enough from Seattle, reading and writing poems, tending fruit trees, and meditating. He writes because good poems are invitations to engage intrinsic values in a culture that only values tools. He has published some poems with Melancholy Hyperbole, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Hamilton Stone Review, and elsewhere.