A silent street lined by blank buildings —
plastic petals painted the sidewalks,
The ocean surrounded us still, before the swallow
of pollution’s vacuum, and I tasted love’s velvet —
salt water in a kiss.
In my dreams I planted an orange orchard.
You and I danced
with falling water.
When the night finally folds
I will place my chair
beside the open window
and sit in the last reflections
of surviving flowers singing —
bright blue songs.
In early fall, the sun starts
sleep sooner and days
are stretched thin. The sky
is an amber lampshade with
a short battery. In the garden,
purple and green desert plants
melt into Venn diagrams. I
look over Mama’s saved
newspapers and I can believe
my memories are clipped
photographs. The leaves of
dying daffodils are waiting
for the moonlight to cure them
as if time were a circle. And I
suddenly I let the geese go
because I no longer have to
hold on to the fear and the joy
of predicting the end because
I am unsure now of the beginning.
Natalie Marino is a writer, mother, and physician. She earned her BA in American Literature from UCLA and her MD from The University of Pittsburgh. She has been published by or has poems forthcoming in Detritus Online, Idle Ink, Indolent Books, Mineral Lit Mag, and Royal Rose Magazine. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California with her husband and two daughters. She can be found at Twitter at @n_marinopoet.
Inhaling Smoking Particulate from Alberta Forest Fires
chasing the sun,
a fevered graze
licking down the land,
into black scars and blisters
while We, the city,
breathe in the remainders of death,
ashes taking root in our chest,
as soot-stained dreams
boil the sky,
capture a bird in hand,
and pluck the feathers
Drinking Tea During an Evening Thunderstorm that Forecasters Forgot to Predict
Not all light falls cracked like this,
sharp, jagged toothed,
and spitting hiss.
Remember umbrella pines,
honeymoon nights sheltered
by roadside shrines.
A hummingbird tosses rain,
flits feathered wings to
Clouds dissolve unheard –
into black and sugar-stirred.
Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst. She resides in the foothills of Alberta, Canada and is currently enjoying clear blue skies and jasmine green tea. Recent publications include Claw & Blossom, Atlas & Alice, Whale Road Review, and Lost Balloon. Follow her on Twitter @jenwithwords.
In Situ, a Farmer Regrets
“Sons, you assume the legacy of eight resistant peoples
on the prairie. Each augments in its time: each devotes
its toil to a patient night; each day inches us to mastery
of flat land light: in situ you claim a descendant’s right.”
“You know wholly our forebears lessons: work for lives,
whether family in the parlor, mice in the dust, the eagle
in the sky; the eels under the falls; that God damned cat
from Rucker’s farm; or barbers in Keokuk. Remember
our debt to Americans we defeated; ready your defense.”
‘Occupy every quarter of this spot; guard the firm circle
that became our center until the body fails, the mind too
needs relief; then give thanks to forces you employ; rest
amid the worth you’ve gained. Above all remember joy.’
“That’s my father’s creed, and his before, and earlier yet.”
Now silently the man confides:
and mine today. But by the morning, no longer obliged, I
am not wise nor certain of my duties. As my bodily war
with bodily peace comes near, forever rebutting buzzes
and beats, sirens within the thicket, screams on a hillock
in far acres, (to cease is so strange) may I drive a truck?
May I thumb my way along local roads? Or spin a trout
on my rod, or see it slip over pebbles to devour my bait?
I’ll lose my way on a common road to pick up your kids?
Will my line unreel? My lure decoy? My reason begone?
If I should lose my grip, will God admit a flaw in plan?
A hot day threatens ice. Both bully the prairie. My breath
exhales to mist my day, so I dance, to re-spark the spirits.
And my sons absorb the warming rhythms of their work.
I can not partake. My light reaches speed, to pass behind
their lives, wordless now, noise chasing behind in waves.
Keith Moul, born in St. Louis, has lived among these voices, owes them fealty because people survive the plains under the most adverse conditions. He has come to appreciate the knack to this bravery, now much later in his life. Find him online at http://poemsphothosmoul.blogspot.com/.
Grandpa Is a Green Chair, Grandma Is the Grass
Their cherry trees die from the top down
every summer, beautiful for a few weeks.
The grass below them grows in the dark—
ripping it out of the ground kept her alive
for a decade after he died opening the blinds
shakily hoping to see them shifting in a breeze.
More than one root gnarls its way out of the earth,
reaching for the white pine well beyond its drip line.
The kitchen separates their deaths.
My brother found her on the carpet: half blue,
ear down like she was tracking game.
I celebrate holidays between their names,
fixing the flowers and wiping my face,
shadows moving, Buffalo grass remembering
the shape of my body.
The Beginning of Feathers
The speckled shells will be ugly
and loud before long: at least
one will fling itself skyward
and die, a pink stain on the ground,
the beginning of feathers
stuck to its wings. The soft sound
of soft bodies breaking
the edge of their hard world only
to find it is cold in the next
echoes not very far at all.
All mouth, these baby birds
regret the warm twist of branches
reminding them to leave is to find
yourself back in a place you just left.
Calvin Olsen’s poetry and translations have most recently appeared in Poet Lore, The National Poetry Review, AGNI, Asymptote, and The Cortland Review, among others. He lives in North Carolina, where he is a doctoral student and the poetry editor for The Carolina Quarterly. More of his work can be found at calvin-olsen.com.