Jan Frazier

This is So

This is so I won’t forget you
squatting in tee-shirt and underpants
in the brook that day last August,
lifting cold stones from the muddy bottom
and arranging them to trap a small pool,
a place to bathe your Barbies.
The undammed water ran between
your white legs, the cotton
crotch of your underpants
a pink bridge above the brook.
I sat in the triangle opening to our tent, knees
to my chin, watching the sun
lower itself down the hill, and you
with washcloth and brook water
scrubbing plastic armpits and hard round bottoms,
setting the washed dolls on the cotton shorts
you’d taken off and folded on the sandy shore.

This is so I won’t forget your face,
how, bathing done, you stood,
wiped your hands on your shirt
and crept up to me, your toes gripping
the muddy bank, the sun
finally gone down behind the hill,
the dolls a pink heap in shadow,
your cold hands cupping my jaws,
your lips touching each of my eyelids,
my nose against your damp hair.


Gary Gildner

Around the Corral

“Sharks are very bitey,”
my daughter said,
climbing to the top
rail of our old corral,
“so we don’t want any.”
I stood beside her
leaning on my elbows,
gazing up the mountain
where a deer had been lying
crooked in a mossy thicket
of spindly pine.
What was left of it—
the skull, hooves, a piece
of knuckly spine—
I buried. Somewhere
farther up, I imagined,
a cougar stretched out
full length and yawned.
“What do we want?” I asked
and after a minute she said,
“A real good horse.”
“A real good horse,” I said,
“with a real good name,”
and she said, “Yes.”
I said, “How about Razzle
Dazzle? “How about Mister
Boom Boom? How about a name
that rolls across the land like
—like what?” “Like his
hair!” she said. “Like his
rocking chair!” “Like One
Happy Guy!” I said. “Like
Come On Home! Like Polish Bear!”
“So now we know,” she said,
putting an arm around me.
“So we do,” I said.


Eileen Hennessy

World Series

By then the war had been over for three years, and the men were back home. My best friend, Teresa Rossi, was in bed recovering from the epileptic fit that she had had on the day her parents sent her big sister Camille with her swollen belly to family out of state. My second-best friend, Catherine Mullin, tenth polio case of the year, was in the hospital and lying in an iron lung that pushed her in and pulled her out.

Mrs. Levy, wife of the owner of the radio store on Bedford Avenue, pushed the baby carriage around to the south wall of the store and stood sunning her new baby, a boy with a strange large head and strange small slanty eyes. Mr. Levy set up a television set in the store window. At game time every afternoon, a crowd of men and boys gathered outside on the sidewalk. Women with lumpy net shopping bags crossed to the other side of the street. On my way home from school, I found another store window to look at myself in.

My father took the week off from looking for a job, and sat by the radio listening to every game. The afternoons were hot, so he left the windows open. From the moment I turned the corner into our street, I listened for the voice of the radio announcer. On the last day of the series, I was listening so hard that I nearly stepped on a snake that was shedding its skin on our sidewalk. I stood and watched the snake convulse as it sucked its body in, held like that for a moment, then let go and jerked itself forward. After a few more jerks like this, the snake got free of its skin. Then I heard the fans on the radio roar. I heard the announcer say, “That’s it.”


John Kooistra

An Epic

This morning
I’d like to write
an epic. I admire them
so much.

But though it’s early
it won’t happen.
I’m too happy
right in this room with my coffee,
listening to opera
and birds singing in the rain
outside the open window.

Nose between paws
the dog dozes on her rug.
I look at her
but see nothing epic.
Just contentment
like someone
enjoying warm mittens.

Raindrops smack
maple leaves
not ten feet away.

I see them quiver.

For a few moments
the sun breaks through.
Wet leaves shine.

The music opens
into a great distance.


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