Three Sunflowers by Derek Pollard

     Tonight, I am again the writer

Not writing

     Janvier

     Fevrier

     There is the candle lit

And burning, there are

The three sunflowers sagging

Against the earthenware cup


     Where have we come

To where arrived

     At night and in the afternoon

The wind pushes insistently against

The windows of this small apartment

In which I have never loved you

With the violence of one thing

Longing to be another


     It is the sound of a vinyl casing

Just before it is forced apart

The glass thudding in the padded

Frame so sudden that I can only

Startle to meet its unexpected

Shudder

     There is the candle stand found

Discarded in a drawer in that other

Apartment we once shared

The blue ceramic vase left me

By my lover whose name you have

So often spoken without knowing

     And now she and I hold one

Another as if we had been cast out

From our families and must live

In that wilderness everyone has

Forsaken in their rush to proclaim

A new Jerusalem

            That burnished place that once

Held such vast promise and is now

Our home, despite our longing

For otherness in all things and in

Ourselves always

A Letter to Paris by Katy Newman

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                                                       1.

       The summer we turned twenty-two, you and I would go to Europe, but at separate times.  I would go with my conservative Christian parents and rebellious, aloof sister on a short vacation, and you were to go as an au pair in August, to leave everyone behind: your mother and angry stepfather, your boyfriend Deon, your dog, me. Ten months teaching English to two children six miles outside of Paris, selling your furniture, streamlining your wardrobe—remember you read a blog on how to cut it down to twelve outfits?—learning French. If that doesn’t fix a person, doesn’t force them to find out who they want to be, what can? I went out of the country.  Couldn’t find myself within a thousand mile radius. When I know how much of you is here, how many leftovers from high school, from four years of college. I’m here, and I’m part of you.

       Of course, this isn’t a letter of anger about your leaving; it’s a letter of change. Our generation is getting married too soon, and we know better. We change better than everyone else. We’ll find ourselves better.  As though at the beginning of time God had sorted us into baskets, those with ambition, who have interests like yoga, or photography, or scrapbooking, with the will to order, and those who are careless, who settle for community college, who don’t put away dishes or clean out their inboxes. In one basket, those girls who don’t get married before twenty-two. In the other, those who never leave our hometown. Those who do.

 

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Cora by Louis Bourgeois

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When she left, there was only a white cup on the sink and a battered cobalt blue St. James Bible on the wobbly three legged kitchen table and an even more abused dog-eared paperback of Louis L’Amour’s Mustang Man.

The house had no electricity for three days, exactly the number of days it had been since the dog had been fed and since all twenty of the fish died in the algae covered ten gallon aquarium. 

I felt large and nameless. I had no friends and no money, yet, I felt strangely comfortable, as if nothing worse could happen to me.

If this is life, I thought, then this life is sacred and must be clung to at all costs. Life must be sacred if it is possible to feel this way.

I was not educated in those days, but I knew enough to know that one should lose himself in the darkest of places, that no one should attach himself to images and that inactivity is the highest expression of love.

Yet, I confess, that’s when the pen began moving across the page, when the poems began, and life began to take form….

1990

Isn’t That Nice? by Jan Jalenak

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            He knew who he was. He knew what he wanted. He knew he could have what he wanted. He loved life.

            His sister was confused. She knew what she wanted and thought that maybe someday she’d have it but someday what she wanted kept changing, because she kept changing. As she went through her life, she grew to accept so many other things, because they were tangible and transient, temporary, even though down deep they weren’t what she really wanted.  She grew to appreciate the world as it entered her existence. She loved life.

            He was given a football. He was taught to throw the football and given encouragement for his ability. He was told he was special.

            She learned to throw the football. They told her she was cute because she knew how to throw a football. She thanked them and giggled because they seemed to like it when she giggled.

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Stay Good by Emelie Fritzell

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            Stefan didn’t think it would make any difference, seeing his mother dead. She had been ill for almost a whole year and everyone knew this day would come. But suddenly, everything had been switched off to mute inside his head. It was a deafening silence. The kind of silence people always find terrifying; it happens when the aircraft takes off or descends from the sky to land; we blow the pressure out to get rid of this temporary discomfort and be able to hear again. 

            It is rather simple. We all know.

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Snowfall by David Hollingsworth

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            One strange day in my youth, on a Monday, the headmaster, Mr. Werman, interrupted my English class and Mr. Plimpton’s lecture on the Romantics, Wordsworth in particular. 

            We were supposed to have read “Lines” the night before.  I wasn’t paying much attention and was instead doodling lazy daydreams in my mind.  Mr. Plimpton, when he recited lines of the poem, had a sleepy, deep, and sonorous voice. 

            Since I wasn’t paying attention, Mr. Plimpton called on me and asked, “How would you describe the force that Wordsworth believes connects us all to nature and to each other, Mr. Rowland?”

            Before I could answer him, and long before the chilling fear of an audience could sink in, Mr. Werman entered, shuffled across the room, and whispered into the long raisiny ear of Mr. Plimpton.  After a moment of listening, Mr. Plimpton said, “Edward, Mr. Werman would like to have a word with you.”

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Graffiti Birds by Chris Castle

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            Bobby walked out of the house and down the road. Some of the birds were singing and some were not. He wondered why they didn’t sing, the starlings, the blackbirds and thought they might be unhappy. The idea of sad birds almost clouded his eyes but after ma, he had made a Bobby-promise not to make any more tears pop out of his eyes. They were cruel, hateful things, smudging everything, making buildings look like butter and the flowers like ruined photographs. No, no more tears for Bobby, even if his heart trembled and shook like the tracks when a train approached. Ma had always told him to stand behind the yellow lines when they’d gone on a trip and he’d always listened. Would he ever go on another trip now, without ma? He shook his head no, but in his heart, in that secret place where he made his dreams and sometimes fell in love with the pretty girl from the local shop that sold his pop, he wondered.

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The Swarm by Jessie Szalay

            When I was seven I went to sleepaway camp, where I fell and got eight stitches in my knee, never knew with whom to sit in the dining hall, and drew a spectacular picture of a ladybug. The wings were smooth red with seven spots; the pronotum was black with white markings, deceptively eye-like, like an orca whale; and the head was small with friendly eyes and antennae. I drew it on the last day of camp with a sticky bandage on my leg while the other, braver children climbed the old California oak. All week long I had sat under inspirational posters in the dining hall: ladders of success with rungs labeled, “I won’t,” “I can,” “I did.” Finally, I thought, as I looked at my gorgeous ladybug, I had really done something at camp.

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The Woman in the Rose Colored Dress by Kaj Anderson-Bauer

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            It started with a real woman in a real rose-colored dress. Roland saw her while we at the china buffet. All the while, as we’re eating, Roland is giving me this weird look. As we walk out, Roland whispers in my ear, “that woman in the rose-colored dress was staring at you the whole time.” I had no idea what he was talking about so I said, “oh yeah, the woman in the rose-colored dress, she’s been on my trail for years—she’s like a state of mind for me now.” That was sort of how the joke began.

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