Sunday, July 31, 2011
By April Lindner
The burnt church up the street yawns to the sky,
its empty windows edged in soot, its portals
boarded up and slathered with graffiti,
oily layers, urgent but illegible.
All that can be plundered has been, all
but the carapace—the hollow bell tower,
the fieldstone box that once served as a nave.
The tidy row of homes that line this block
have tended lawns and scalloped bathtub shrines.
Each front porch holds a chair where no one sits.
Those who live here triple lock their doors
day and night. Some mornings they step out
to find a smoking car stripped to its skeleton
abandoned at the curb. Most afternoons
the street is still but for a mourning dove
and gangs of pigeons picking through the grass.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is gray,
a dead incisor in a wary smile.
A crevice in her wall allows a glimpse
into the chancel, where a sodden mattress
and dirty blanket indicate that someone
finds this place a sanctuary still,
takes his rest here, held and held apart
from passers by, their cruelties and their kindnesses,
watched over by the night’s blind congregation,
by the blank eyes of a concrete saint.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Doing Laundry on Sunday
By Brigit Pegeen Kelly
So this is the Sabbath, the stillness
in the garden, magnolia
bells drying damp petticoats
over the porch rail, while bicycle
wheels thrum and the full-breasted tulips
open their pink blouses
for the hands that pressed them first
as bulbs into the earth.
Bread, too, cools on the sill,
and finches scatter bees
by the Shell Station where a boy
in blue denim watches oil
spread in phosphorescent scarves
over the cement. He dips
his brush into a bucket and begins
to scrub, making slow circles
and stopping to splash water on the children
who, hours before it opens,
juggle bean bags outside Gantsy’s
Ice Cream Parlor,
while they wait for color to drench their tongues,
as I wait for water to bloom
behind me—white foam, as of magnolias,
as of green and yellow
birds bathing in leaves—wait,
as always, for the day, like bread, to rise
and, with movement
imperceptible, accomplish everything.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
By Joshua Weiner
What makes for a happier life, Josh, comes to this:
Gifts freely given, that you never earned;
Open affection with your wife and kids;
Clear pipes in winter, in summer screens that fit;
Few days in court, with little consequence;
A quiet mind, a strong body, short hours
In the office; close friends who speak the truth;
Good food, cooked simply; a memory that’s rich
Enough to build the future with; a bed
In which to love, read, dream, and re-imagine love;
A warm, dry field for laying down in sleep,
And sleep to trim the long night coming;
Knowledge of who you are, the wish to be
None other; freedom to forget the time;
To know the soul exceeds where it’s confined
Yet does not seek the terms of its release,
Like a child’s kite catching at the wind
That flies because the hand holds tight the line.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
By Marilyn Kallet
In the dry summer field at nightfall,
fireflies rise like sparks.
Imagine the presence of ghosts
flickering, the ghosts of young friends,
your father nearest in the distance.
This time they carry no sorrow,
no remorse, their presence is so light.
Childhood comes to you,
memories of your street in lamplight,
holding those last moments before bed,
with a blossom of the hand
letting them go. Lightness returns,
an airy motion over the ground
you remember from Ring Around the Rosie.
If you stay, the fireflies become fireflies
again, not part of your stories,
as unaware of you as sleep, being
beautiful and quiet all around you.
Monday, July 4, 2011
By Marc Jampole
And the three-year-old at the picnic
said she wanted to play the violin
and I said, just like Joe Venuti
and she said, you’re a Joe Venuti
and I said, you’re a Joe Venuti
and she pulled a tuft of grass and said,
here's some Joe Venuti
and she pointed to a sparrow scratching in the dust
and said, there’s a Joe Venuti
and from a plastic bag she dumped
a bunch of Joe Venutis
and barbecue flames caressed the grilling Joe Venutis
and men threw the Joe Venuti, popping their gloves,
while women slurped the Joe Venuti and spit the seeds
and the sun played hide and seek in dissipating Joe Venutis
and through poplar branches Joe Venuti shadows danced
across the baby’s sleeping smile.
Later, like Marcus Aurelius
observing models of human behavior,
we watched the ducks glide away
after the bread was gone.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
A Different God for City Girls
By Susan Elbe
When my friend said she had seen God’s face,
I wondered if it was an old man’s,
backlit by a playground’s night-game lights,
wondered if it was a woman’s,
fan of silver pins glittering between her lips
as she knelt on cold linoleum
turning up dress hems for money.
My friend said you can only see God’s face askance.
She said it terrified her
like the sleek and planet-eyed sea lion
whose yawn reveals a cavern of sharp teeth.
I prayed for a glimpse, but only saw
what God wanted me to see, a scarped skyline,
hard angles spangled with small panes of light.