EMILY STRAUSS – A GRAIN OF DUST LIKE A PROMISE

– a grain of dust like a promise

outside the barred windows
high up on the walls
light and life reigned
a dust mote blew free
in the sunshine
that couldn’t penetrate
the smoky interior

the cattle cars were cold
but somehow acceptable
at least they could smell
the abandoned stations
they passed always at night
in an unknown land

the train rattled on
doors kept locked
guards banging outside
a distant gunshot woke
the babies, whimpering

grains of dust from the straw
floated above them,
promises grew fainter
as the train pressed on
dust mixed with dry skin,
cotton threads, hair

there were no promises
as they arrived at the gates
the dust released when the guards
slid open the cattle chutes,
the families stumbled out
captives of the soot.

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Marianne Szlyk – In Winter Time

In Winter Time
After a photograph by Juan Tituana

All afternoon looks like dusk.
Weak, white sun blinks through
gauzy clouds and bare branches.
Branches twist, trying to grasp
the sun’s last light. Lamps
offer theirs far too soon.
Coming from overheated rooms,
the last pedestrians bundle up
and imagine themselves further north
where sunset begins in the morning.
They long for arctic cities
where darkness lasts all day.
They ignore uptown’s crowded streets
hung with green and silver tinsel
that dances in the wind,
shivering, knowing that Christmas is
over already.

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STEPHEN MEAD – CORNERS

Corners

I like to imagine not having them,
maybe finding myself in the country,
a ranch hand’s kid who really believes.
I saw it all once on film:
up at dawn tossing hay, carrying pails,
riding flats toward hills wide as far
can exist without sirens,
those usual howling squares.

Yea, that’s the picture I used to hold
while under some strange man, waiting out
the performance in a farm large as Coney
before the hurting would begin & I learned
to coat it, changing my face
to a new line:
“Hey, got the time Mister?”

Sooner than forever it was all over.
I kept eyes on the bed stand’s lamp
& bolted another drink, chinks
of what was happening only a numbing
kind of rush
no match for the stallion-carousel
bright & far away…

Then it turned into a turnpike,
this corner, that,
picking up streams of green paper, cash, fast hands,
ragged breath & more & more concrete.
Now I make sure to only do it in the dark,
keeping my gaze off headlights, off neon,
& I’m afraid to have dreams,
for what if the stables are just a different district
with the stalls all ready &, even there,

this will still be my life?

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