Amy Lerman, “The Dental Office”

Amy Lerman is a residential faculty member in the English department at Mesa Community College, and when she is not teaching (or writing or submitting), she enjoys running, traveling, and hanging with her husband, cats, and family. Her poems have appeared and/or are forthcoming in Slippery Elm, Ember Chasm, Rattle, and Smartish Pace, among other publications.

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The Dental Office

Today’s feature in The Stafford Courier is about the culvert
repair on Highway 281, just outside of Seward. I know this

because the two men in the waiting room, one wearing a seed
hat and overalls, the other in a western shirt and jeans, read

sections aloud. Every so often I smile over at them. We are
sharing this time together, after all, and I imagine their lives,

routines, thinking they might enjoy being indoors this June
Wednesday instead of out in the field. I want to comment

on today’s wind or ask if they had much rain with last night’s
storm—this is Kansas, where weather promises constant

conversation—yet I hesitate, presume that this, despite
the backgrounding Christian rock and muffled drill noises

from the back, might be the quiet and calm of their day, no hot
wind whipping the shelterbelt junipers, no alfalfa baler yawps,

no voices yelling about irrigation levels across the shaggy hay
rows. Even when the tornado sirens sound at noon, no one

speaks or moves, this being the first of the month at noon
and test day, so I return to my novel, listen for when their friend

thanks the assistant for her fresh toothbrush and mini paste, only
too pleased when, on their way out, the overalled man, taps

my left shoulder, says, “It’s all up to you now,” and we laugh, my eyes
following through the office window, as they exit in haloed sunlight.





Lynne Thompson, “Blood on the Wall”

Lynne Thompson is the author of Start With a Small Guitar and Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. Jane Hirshfield selected her manuscript Fretwork for the 2018 Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Pleiades, American Poetry Journal, and 2020’s Best American Poetry.

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Blood on the Wall

You’re always walking to school, Ruby Bridges,
wearing a dress and short socks so white
agains the black blackness of your face and legs,
against the cardinality of the blood on the wall,

and on that wall, you see the scrawl, Ruby Bridges,
of that word—nigger—and doesn’t 21st century
America see a wall painted with scars just as ugly,
see a wall some faux leader has promised to build?

Where do you walk now, decades on, Ruby Bridges,
when thousands of lives have been lost—to what?
Is that your pitch-dark beauty walking toward us
or are you the old woman, resigned, walking away?


This poem was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s painting, The Problem We All Live With.




Lester Petillo, “Eight”

Lester Petillo is a poet living in New York City.

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a twin in a town of dumpster
sculptures. i walked feverishly toward
him and made acquaintance. he was deeply
restless like trees in the night wind.
we rode the subway and related our troubles.

is this redundant? he asked in his home, slapping
the flat of the kitchen knife on his thigh.
no, i told him. and right then we felt it:
what we’d been meaning for, been wanting,
the need to get out, to go, for having
dazed away so many days through fear
and waiting.

and we did go, walking and around, outside.
left the knife, but we shoulda
brought it he chided a few times;
all the real people we found in the streets
got us scared and sorry and
wrestled us out of it.

brought ourselves back to the house,
took that knife in both our palms
and cut up all his ma’s walls. the paper,
rolled and hanging down, went colorless.
when his ma got home her face lost color too.
all i could see was him and me and we
made it seem, to her, that we ran
off, away. but didn’t and spent a night in
his attic, talking restless over great fears of
missing our own reasoning for doing such things.

soon, i began to feel the dream of it:
the shifting time and his shifting faces.
in life, i have no friends like this.





Anannya Uberoi is a full-time software engineer and part-time tea connoisseur based in Madrid. A travel junkie, she has extensively toured the Himalayas of Northern India, Bhutan and Nepal, and continues to log her experiences from unconventional journeys on paper. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Deep Wild Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal, Marías at Sampaguitas, and LandLocked. Her blog on Medium explores philosophical undertones to everyday thinking.

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my beautiful

my mouth runs like a mulberry tree against a
derelict window, vowel-keen, swanning,
hushing into a low branch by the brindled
ledge. I shed my greased hair in canals of
salt chuck and landfills of boomburbs;
count my eyelashes in flower-lined
baskets and pedal them bare-faced
around town. my eyes are slits of cedar
waxwings that flutter and snigger at
slapstick humor. my beautiful
coughs up bushels of junk by purple-tide,
coral feet uncurl from their soft-swiveling
pinwheels by the moon. I scuffle violet-keys
under the locks of my hair, my curves like
hums on rolling tongues, my sugar, like
waterways upon a spawning rock,
my beautiful, windswept and wrecked.