POETRY: Jason Bertucci – A Farewell to Becky

A Farewell to Becky

a country girl reclines on her back porch

the twinkle of moonshine in her eye

born and raised in her small town

she sits on the precipice of change

one last party at her little house

a bittersweet haze in the air

old memories packed in boxes

familiar scents drifting away

the young girl tired of gossip

and the same old people she knows

she’s moving on to New York City

a big grey bird flies to her new home

there’s a job waiting on the 9th floor

and a new, faster way of life

trading barns, horses and wheat fields

for hope, glass, concrete and stone

she’ll find subways and taxis

instead of old pickups and dirt roads

from one world to a melting pot

only takes one dream to rule them all

maybe she’ll get lost in the shadows

or wind up on the cover of a magazine

she has only a few contacts

but she’ll make plenty more

one last look back over her shoulder

as she winds up for that giant leap

and opens a brand new door



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POETRY: Jessica Wiseman Lawrence – Birds




Water breaks for Terns and Petrels

diving to an unknown thing,

then up from water into air –

with no clumsy shaking or annoyance –

for them this is life and as easy as the atmosphere.


I saw a little grey sparrow land on a fence

when I arrived at a place I promised I’d be.

My car hummed,

and everything was humming,

and everything was noise.

We are just noise to everything.


Ahead, two crows pecked at grass, at seemingly nothing,

and feasted on worms and fleas

ignored. We toss simple things

away, we’ve thrown up


our hands to more food than could feed

countries full of children.

There is no flight enough to make us

comfortable with the animals we are.

There is nothing enough to make us the birds

we could be.


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In 1969 four-hundred students at Harvard University seize buildings as part of a campus-wide strike.

I enjoy long flights while looking out the window at rivers and empty ball parks. When the clouds blocked the view at 30,000 feet I read “Uncle Tom’s Children” by Richard Wright. It is right to say he left a rich mark on literature. He introduced a new element into American fiction. He created a tension from the possibility of random violence. H.L. Mencken taught him how to use words as weapons.

In the story “Big Boy Leaves Home” three Negro men go skinny dipping in a lake. There are no signs of trouble until a white man appears with a rifle. He kills two of the men but Big Boy manages to kill the white man. Later, while trying to secure a hiding place, he beats a snake to death with a stick. From a hide-out he watches a friend get burned with hot tar and gas. He strangles a barking dog that sniffs him out and threatens to dis-close his presence. Big Boy is pursued by the vigilante commit-tee but he escapes to the north.

Richard Wright escaped to Paris in 1946. In 1953 with the publication of his novel “The Outsider”, he culminated the work of the Harlem Renaissance and joined forces with French existentialism. Wright died in Paris in 1960 and his ashes are interred at Père Lachaise. He shares the cemetery with other exiles such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.

The stewardess asked if I wanted a drink. Her skin was the color of a cooked pinto bean so I assumed she was a Latina. I replied in Spanish that I wanted a beer. She popped the cap on a Corona and we bantered back and forth in Spanish. She complimented me on my accent and asked where I learned to speak Español. I explained that I read Antonio Machado. My father served in Spain during their civil war. He accompanied Machado into southern France and was at his bedside when the poet died in exile in 1939.

She asked if I was familiar with Federico García Lorca. I told her my mother was a student at Columbia University in 1929. My mom provided the lonely poet with a conversation partner. He gave her a hand-written poem called “La Aurora” which he signed “Federico.” She kept it until 1936 when she showed it to a neighbor who inadvertently spilled a blotch of ketchup on it. Lorca’s name was smeared blood red.

We landed and like Dean Moriarity, I crossed the street into Mexico “on soft feet.”


This story originally appeared in Backpack Trekker: A 60’s Flashback (Beatlick Press, 2011).

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POETRY: Bonnie Wehle – O’Hare, Gate C22

O’Hare, Gate C22

He was sobbing,

swarthy, unshaven,
and wore a fringed scarf loosely wrapped
around his neck.
Perhaps he was leaving home, a loved one,
traveling to a parent’s funeral.

Swarthy, unshaven, fringed scarf around his neck.

He paused opposite me, set down a duffle bag,
rummaged in it, removed an object
covered in brown paper. I immediately thought of a bomb.
Next he took out a prayer rug, unrolled it,
knelt down, touched his head to the rug and prayed.

A fringed scarf around his neck.

Was he asking Allah for courage? Was he
on my flight? Should I
alert security? I was not the only worrier: the woman
next to me had begun to fidget.

Swarthy, unshaven

Still crying audibly, he packed up the object and his rug
headed down the concourse, away from my gate.
No planes were blown up that day and none
were turned back because of a sobbing,
man who wore a scarf around his neck.


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