James Davis May

Basil

To get him out of the house so she and her husband
can have a few minutes of real arguing, the woman
sends their child out into the garden at night
to pick basil leaves for the tomato sauce she’s making.
The boy forgets his flashlight, but knows enough
not to go back inside, plus the moon is bright and full,
filling up the open sky above the yard, like a face
peering over a cradle. The moon, the smell of basil,
how peaceful the house looks when he isn’t in it.

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Molly Bashaw

Every Time I Have Never Been Here Before

Dark beans
string their velvet tongues.
A horse eye blinks

through a curtain of mane,
purple the shake of black, black
the shade of sound. Nights

the nightshades undress and sing,
mares whip the air cantering.
The field reveals another node.

 

 

 

Thomas Zimmerman

Zimmerman and Poetry

He googles Zimmerman and poetry
when he feels low. The point? A poet is
a junkyard dog; the published poem, a bone.

Most readers give you twenty seconds. Then
you’d better give them something back, or else
you’ll end up teaching, never to atone.

He drinks an ale called Anger. Two-thirds gone.
What’s next? That cheap Shiraz that vibrates by
the stereo? He’ll workshop now. Alone.

Next time you want to die, remember just
how good you feel right now. This jagged verse
has snagged a drifting petal, scratched a stone.

So what’s a poem? A rhythm, and a tone.
So what’s this flesh we lug around? A loan.

 

 

Timothy Donnelly

MALAMUTE

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
and to the crest of my ability for never was I a snob about it
moreover never lazy, day into night through the cold
pine forest we were bred to and for which I came to feel
love as fast as others as a blur that slowed around us
at our suppers, then watched us twitch in our heavy sleep.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
mile on mile convincingly, my tongue construed the forest
no condition not to drape in, identical its pinkness
from my open mouth as theirs, the nylon tapes between us
reinforcing sentiment, a kind relief through constant
focus but from what I failed to grasp, as did our language.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
who didn’t know I didn’t know, but that was what we were
meant to be there for to begin with, yet I could follow
them who followed anyone behind us through the forest
where what seemed to know but was a shape without
sufficient contour hovered, and it proved some trouble to me.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
concealing my disquiet like a shoulder bone the forebears
said to hurry up now bury, but everywhere the dirt
rebuffed my larger purpose, a fortitude from all the earth
had frozen up against me, the paws of whom had brought me
nowhere but to shame to let it drop for another mouth.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
the way a roof collapses, inevitably, and even as the wind
must always push or it isn’t wind, it’s air, and I was air
that had come to think of it, in some trouble to me the others
felt no twitch of, or if they did, our language failed what
must have been its purpose, or I won’t soon be a dog again.

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

Horses Explain Things to Me

 

Today is a crash course on moving gently.

How to take a gift from someone so gingerly

they believe they still have it. If you move

soft enough through the wind or woods,

they say the sun will make a space for you.

Some of your regrets might soften. I move

terribly. I crush twigs and spiders but the horses

say nothing of it; they let me pet their long manes.

I hop on and we walk out to the end of wanting.

What is God? I ask them. They tell me, Yes.

 

 

 

Ron Koetge

Signs & Miracles

“If You exist,” I said, “send me
a pony.”

Immediately Jesus appeared
in my bedroom.

I got off my knees. “You heard
my prayer!”

He quoted Himself: “Except ye
see signs and miracles, you will
not believe.”

“Be reasonable, Jesus. It’s hard
to just take Your word for it.”

“But I’m here. In your bedroom.
Isn’t that enough?”

“So is the pony outside?”