The tree we’d been climbing
all summer has begun to shed
its leaves. I would lounge in the fork,
while you weaved up through the crown
to spy sailboats jouncing on the lake.
Only the thin vine of English Ivy,
today a tongue of righteous flame
licking at the low-hanging clouds,
could outclimb you. Further along
those languid limbs stretched out just
above the ground where we would
genuflect beneath the braided boughs,
green umbrage had concealed a small,
gray bomb of papier-mâché spun from
spit and mashed wood pulp. I tripped
it with an accidental kick and
it exploded against the hard dirt floor
Hornets burst forth like shrapnel.
Matthew Schultz teaches Irish Studies and Creative Writing at Vassar College where he also directs the Writing Center. He is the author of two novels: On Coventry (2015) and We, The Wanted (2021). His recent poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Thrush, and The Under Review.
After a Period of Heavy Rains and Thaw
They all knew of him at least, but none would say they knew him.
Coming to the funeral the night after was expected, even if you only ever saw him driving early in the morning, driving too fast and too loose. It was so obvious he was driving too fast and too loose. That fork of the river was a brown, powerful gush.
There were twenty-seven funerals in all. The driver and the children. And one for all of them at the high school.
For several days leading up to the morning when the bus hit a tow truck and slid down the embankment, heavy rains and a fast thawing of snow developed flood-stage waters.
A young man with the radio station stood for hours on the bank of the river. Later he bought the station and became CEO of a hospital. He will talk about the bus accident a lot, mention how he was there on the bank radioing details live to broadcast.
The tow truck driver didn’t attend any of the funerals. He talked about the bus accident a lot, saying sorry so sorry to anybody who would listen. He gave Howard Tillman his tow truck and then jumped off the Weston Bridge.
For several days leading up to his suicide, the families barely tried to keep from saying it should be you. They came at him overflowing from sediment to high water mark.
Sheldon Lee Compton is a writer from Kentucky and the author of eight books of fiction and poetry. His first nonfiction book, The Orchard Is Full of Sound, about his connection with author Breece D’J Pancake, will be published by West Virginia University Press in 2022.
if the sky won’t have me
the rain makes a river of the road
rushing rivulets, eddies all aswirl
it goes where gravity takes it &
gathers in a low point, getting deeper
& wider as the storm fails
i step into the river, reluctantly at first
then gladly, for i’m ready now to
be borne away
how easy to drift downstream,
seeing the familiar yield to the new
the water makes ounces out of pounds
even hollows bones & maybe i’ll lift off soon
if the sky won’t have me, the riverbank will
or the shore, even the ocean depths
it doesn’t matter where i come to rest—
i’ll stay just until clouds gather,
rain falls again & i release myself once more
Award-winning writer Anne Leigh Parrish has two new titles coming from Unsolicited Press: the moon won’t be dared, a poetry collection, October 2021; and an open door, a novel, October 2022. Her latest novel, a winter night, released in March 2021 from Unsolicited Press, is the most recent installment in her popular Dugan Family story. She is the author of seven other books and lives in the South Sound Region of Washington State. Find her online at her website, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.