M. STONE – THE ODDBALL REVEALS HERSELF EARLY ON

The Oddball Reveals Herself Early On

I was the only kid in junior high
who kept a trial-size bottle of liquid soap
in her bag. My classroom had a sink,
and during morning break, I washed my hands
until the teacher took note of my raw skin
and said, “Honey, please stop.”

Along with the lyrics of every eighties pop song,
I could recall all the symptoms of lockjaw
and botulism, rabies and plague, parasitic infections.
Like my grandmother, I inspected packaged food
for evidence of tampering.

I was terrified my clothes would grow too tight
as I sat at my desk. In school/prison, who would help
if snug panty elastic began digging into the crease
where thigh meets groin, cutting off the blood flow
and rendering my legs numb, gangrenous
by the time someone believed me?

The solution: garments that swallowed—
baggy underwear, my father’s flannel shirts,
sagging thrift shop jeans, and my aunt’s cast-off shoes:
size eight, when a size seven was plenty big.

While running the mile, one of those ill-fitting
sneakers flew off my foot and plopped on the asphalt
several yards before me. The other students didn’t pause,
not even to point and laugh. By then, they were used
to all the ways I showed the world I was never
going to be quite right.

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EMILY RIVERA – TRASH

TRASH

Trash.
I like that word.
Trash.
What is it?

Is it that blonde girl behind Denny’s?
Maybe your uncle who slept with them all?
Maybe the actual trash can in your room?
The one overflowing with paper?

Maybe it’s that one plate of nachos no one finished
Or it could obviously be that one pan of food,
The one with all that… dull green mold
Disgusting.

Trash.
Why the hell is there a lot of trash?
Why do people call it hideous?
Why is it called trash? Trash.

Is your life trash?
I hope not, that’ll just be sad.
Is your friend’s life trash?
It better be compared to yours.

Well, I think trash is beautiful.
Trash is filled with a wonder of color.
Don’t you see that weird mystery liquid?
Amazing.

The thin pieces of hair draping over the sides.
The red spots from the ketchup.
The orange peels from, well, oranges.
The yellow peels from bananas.

The green everything- mold, lettuce and whatnot.
The multiple wrappers from various brands.
That one bare steak t-bone.

Wait, now that I think about
Trash is disgusting.

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GALE ACUFF – RESCUE

Rescue

We don’t know just what to do with the dead
dog in the middle of the road so my
sister and I carefully look both ways
to make sure the car that killed him doesn’t
kill us, too, and him twice over. We pick
him up and put him in a shoebox, then
carry him to the barn and put him on
a shelf in an empty stall and forget
him until, a few days later, Father
calls us to the barn and, waving the flies
away with his hands (but he never scares
them away for good), asks us how that thing got there.

You were 7 and I was 5. What could
we say that made sense? What else could we have
done? He was just a little dead dog in
the middle of the road, you tell him, and
so we rescued him. I back you up by
nodding vigorously. I remember
that my hands were clasped behind my back. I
stand behind you because you were taller
and I was afraid. Rescued him from what,
asked Father. Look at all the flies in here!
We looked. Sure are a lot of flies, I said,
about a million-jillion. Son, go fetch
the shovel, Father orders. The shubble,
I say. Yes, the shubble–I mean shovel,
he says. Go, boy, go. It’s in the next room.
I get it and bring it back and find you
crying. I got that shubble, I say. Well,
give it here, he says, and I’ll go bury
him. He lifts the box and puts his left hand
underneath it. It looks wet like the garbage
bag under the sink when it’s full of grease
and peels and shells. Here, I can’t carry both,
Father says. Follow me with the shovel.
I’ll carry it, I say. I’ll carry it,
you say. You do. I let it go. Your face
is shiny-wet, like blacktop in the sun.

We follow Father behind the garden.
There’s a dead rabbit in a hole somewhere
out here. He’s asleep for keeps, you whisper.
He’ll never wake up here, but in Heaven.
Oh, I say. I don’t know what Heaven is.
Father puts the dog on the ground and digs.
When he’s done he wipes his face on his shirt.
His belly button is bigger than mine
–I’ll bet I could stick my nose in it. It’s
hairy, too. Then he puts the dog in, box
and all, and fills the hole back in but there’s
some dirt left over. How did that get there,
I ask. Stupid, you say, it can’t go back
’cause the dog is taking up its room. Oh,
I say. I see. But I don’t. Alright, then,
Father says, run along now and play. We

give him a name, I say. Who, he says. Our
dog, I say. Oh, Father says. Well, I’ll bite.
Bite what, I say. I mean, he says, what did
you name him? I turn back around to you.
Lucky, you say. Lucky’s his name. Lucky.

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SETH JANI – REFLECTIONS

Reflections

Between omens, between trees,
A sparse body of light and foliage
Floats down.
It lands in the water
Where reflections are born.
Where the double world
Acts out its identical pageantry
In reverse.
In that pool the leaf
Is coming to the surface
Of a glass sky.
This is where the worlds touch.
When I bend over to scoop it up
A single electron passes from my fingers.
Across the border, my heart
Doesn’t beat. Life there is measured
Only in pauses. An incredible stillness.
When someone in the mirror dies
Cardiologists suddenly hear
The sound of distant rainstorms
Vibrato in their bones.

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