Contents click on blue title to go to
25 Jean Copeland The Very Thought of You
26 Mark Clarq The Wreath at the Bridge at Cornell
27 Sean Thomas Dougherty
29 Thomas Dukes A Horticulturalist’s Guide to
30 Timothy Green Hip
31 John Grey Long Hand of Love
32 Gwen Gunn Swansong
33 Doris Henderson Cookie Cutters
The Very Thought of You
Elvira Abate Franco 1896 – 1978
“Nonny died,” my mother whispered,
replacing the receiver, trying to explain
to an eight year-old her grandmother
wasn’t coming for Sunday dinner
anymore. I knew death. My cat
introduced me to the concept from
the street a year earlier. But I didn’t
know I’d seen the last of Nonny’s
eyes squinting when she laughed,
or would never again hear her say
close the light in broken English
or tell me to put my stockings
back on. I’d laugh and correct her –
“Nonny, they’re socks, not stockings.”
I didn’t know the night we snuggled
in my parents’ bed watching Lawrence
Welk was the last moment alone we’d
share. I didn’t know how I’d miss
soft, old fingers rolling dollar bills
and Hershey Kisses in my small hand –
an index finger over her lips and nose
swore me to secrecy. And I didn’t
know twenty-nine years later I’d write
her a poem and my heart would crash
like an eight year-old just learning
her grandmother wasn’t coming
for Sunday dinner anymore.
Ignored by everyone
Wilting in the cold
Yellow roses brown about the edges.
The students give no pause defined,
No focused, single look.
Just a subtle hesitation, a slight avoidance.
Upon the air no scent of flowers, but distinct
A tinge of fear, a whiff of sadness,
The scent of questions not asked and unanswered.
The air is full of total loss, of nothing left to do.
A thick and heavy emptiness pervades, and we
Push through it, making swirls of silence,
Creating eddies of no answers,
Mixing our questions to hide them all together,
Or at least dilute them with all our other wonderings.
But no. Looking back at the wreath
I see the weighted curtains of despair
Still hang about the railing.
Sean Thomas Dougherty
Smokestack dusk dance, the swing shift from the metallurgy plant smoking on break in the dusk, near the empty laundry mat where I wash the dusk from my clothes, where the Polish women weave the last strands of dusk with their fingers, Fate fettered dusk, through the open doors of MacDougal’s when men drink their dusk on ice, raise em high in blue tinged light. The gloaming the Irish call it, the time between, when the ghost riders grieve the grail, when the open hearted hear the hymns of those hands that held the light and let it spill. My father at night, his glass of dusk, the work day dust in the palm of his hand. Pocket coins to turn out on the bureau before bed. So much sweetness in the dusk of open windows where Ms. Sanchez and her cousin Alma lean over the flower potted ledges, talking gossip. So much of what is sweet is elegy: Children eat the dusk in long tongues of letters scrawled in sidewalk chalk. Cats meow and hiss the dusk, mew the dusk as the lights of windows click on and the fireflies rise through the trees. I fold my clothes as if my hands are praying, praying for those people whom I love whom the dusk has long set on, for those I love whom the dusk is yet to come. In between houses a radio plays, a tender pop song calls out Maria Maria as the dryer spins. Men smoke in the near-dark outside the factory, now turning black blue, like a dusk colored bruise on Marty’s forearm where he dropped a piece of sheet metal. He blows his smoke, the gravity of dusk, at the 7 Eleven entering the Slurpee machine, on the sneakers of Marshall, who sits on the curb, sharpening a knife in the dusk, asking, Is this the last paycheck before my dying? Is this my probation before night?
Echolocation (for George)
Friday night drunk the quiet shimmer,
bus drivers at the bar, not pawn-shopped
or glass partitioned, always singing lament,
some form we have forgotten. Elegiac's tough despair.
Falling into his own face, we watched. A little wind
having touched through the open door.
In high summer when the bartender
wore spangles and a pirate's hat.
It must've been Thursday, two dollar Russian shots.
And then the witnessed kisses: Orchids
on the wallpaper near the bathroom door.
That sadness like shoveling dirt or coal.
An alphabet unfolded, new letters
with each drink. Squinting as loud as I could,
I leaned to hold your grief: Halloed chords,
haunted sentences of her face you held.
Black jacketed ghosts on their final round,
we ignored the bell. The jukebox blowing badness.
Ignored the uselessness of laying down fragments
to reveal the whole. Turned away until too late.
When she appeared as if the eye
had found her voice. Listened to the corners
of her mouth, sucking a lime, she of the black bangs
your face fell towards. 2:30 AM, the saloon
of language served the stumbling counterpoint
of closing time. We stepped into the swaying street
with the same belief
that sends bats tumbling blindly through the beautiful dark.
My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the bed of spices
Song of Solomon 6:2
In the black soil of my everyday complaint,
Rich set three Carolina hydrangeas because
Mama grew them with heads big as planets:
the people who bought her house
chopped up Eden before the bank foreclosed,
and I lost Mama a second time.
Rich planted seven more magnolias
to remind me of the white mercies
Mama’s sisters brought to my many
hospital beds and our kitchen,
where hot coffee and pecan pie
worked miracle healings.
Someone asked Will you two really make it?
I can answer only in holy numbers
hardy to northeast Ohio where our outlaw
marriage grows even in Lent,
one crocus at a time, as we answer
the shepherd’s weathered call.
When given over to the letter on my table,
your presence refutes all shyness, indecision, dishonesty.
The earth turns on its paper products after all.
And a gentle handwriting beats touch any day.
Look at the curl in the capital G.
It's a spiral no eye could ever unbend.
And the S is no snake, not this time.
I can follow its curl as easily as feeling my heartbeat.
And all the lower case letters do what they're supposed to do,
decorate the beauty of their larger brethren
like a floral border to a diary.
I pity the ones who only receive type-written missives.
Or, worse than that, email, the look of the words so generic,
the cat could have typed it.
Not even phone calls can equal this generosity of contact.
No one talks in French script or Gothic.
And the sound barely lingers beyond the final click.
Even face to face meeting now have their detractors inside me.
Yes it's cold, hot, wet, dry.
But conversation tells more than it shows.
So write me more letters please.
I've become something of a handwriting expert.
No need to even read between the lines.
Not when the lines are saying it.
a painting by Bevi Bullwinkel
Something of snow
as it comes and blows
a calligraphic griffin
a dragon in the air
from the winter gray
aggressive like the males
who danced Swan Lake
than in feminine versions
yet also cold and raw
In foreground silhouettes
black curves quickly drawn
a hieroglyphic scholar might see
a bellicose cry
hiss or snort of a swan
or a gliding goodbye
lost in the wind
since Pliny as early
as the first century
studied swans and found
their deaths are silent
Still artists can’t resist
thought of beauty in death
be it in song in words
or wrought in paint:
mythical sound made visible
When I was ten, Mama put me to work
embroidering tiny flower petals
on identical linen towels, weaving stacks
of red and blue potholders, cutting dozens
of pale white identical sugar cookies.
Mrs. Davis didn't bake identical cookies,
never did anything the same way twice.
Her living room was cluttered
with colorful books and magazines,
bunches of flowers picked from the wild
overgrown bushes in her front yard.
Every morning the Davis cows walked slowly
across Route 25. All the traffic stopped.
In the evening they walked back.
This had nothing to do with Mrs. Davis
or the records she played -- of Tosca
losing her beloved, of Violetta dying.
She was the only person in town,
besides the minister, who'd been to college.
Her walls were covered with pictures
of famous authors, historical figures,
prized horses, reproductions of famous paintings.
The other women thought she was "peculiar."
Mrs. Davis would talk for hours about her life
to anyone who'd listen.
Mr. Davis was not a listener.
He didn't talk very much, either.
If I were a cow , said Mrs. Davis,
I might get some attention.
If I were Mrs. Davis, I thought,
I'd sit up all night reading those books,
listening to those records,
and never cut another cookie.