ROBIN WYATT DUNN – UNTITLED

Now all that we have seen can wait.
I’m a slow fire, burning out:
watching you.

You were always so careful.
What did you have to be so careful for?

What grace of the body
tired and waiting for the silver tongue
to sweep him awake
should rough you into waking

to hold my hand
curse the gods
hit the road
armed or unarmed
in song?

What grip is it
in your balls
to know the weapons I’ve kept
under your porch
under your tongue
and eyeballs

singing?

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ANDREW HUBBARD – THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

The House on the Hill

It was modest yet distinguished

Gleaming white clapboards three stories high,

Green shutters and a turn-off driveway

To the huge garage that you knew

Without being told used to be

A real carriage house.


They were regular people

Mowed their own lawn

Didn’t send their daughter away to school.

She went to the town school

With us regular guys, and if

Her clothes were a little better

It was so subtle even the girls

Couldn’t find a way to be put off.


What she saw in me I can’t imagine

But I had her first, in the back

Of her Dad’s station wagon

A dozen times,

Another dozen times.


And then she went with Preston

Told him she was a virgin.


We giggled together over that.


She was pregnant by one of us

I was sure at the time.


Now I’m a little less sure

But whatever, he did the right thing

And married her, white dress and all.

They settled down,

I went away,

And it was twenty years

Before I saw her again.


She had lost three babies in a row

And her pretty body

Was sixty pounds heavier.

Preston was out of work.


I didn’t know what to say.


This is life I guess

In a small town, probably

It’s life anywhere.

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SCOTT LAUDATI – THE SANTA FE TRAIL

the santa fe trail

you can read maps by starlight

in places i’ve been

and you sleep like shit

off the mexican beer

and wake up covered in bites

in hotels where

life is impossible

and everything still alive

wants blood.

did you know what you wanted

at the taco truck in dale hart?

do you know that there’s a

whole country out there

that doesn’t care about new york?

i do now.

i might know everything now.

i’ve drank from the shallow creeks.

i’ve chewed the tacos rellenos with

fire still in the seeds.

i looked up for god and every grackle

in the tree followed my gaze.

next time i’ll follow the trails in the sand

and the small streams will lead me to the window rock.

or maybe the other way –

to lay down in a graveyard

where desert rats use cow skulls as ashtrays.

and if the rains ever come again

maybe white petals

will bud up from my bones

and a lost rabbit can

spend a day

sleeping under my shade.

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TERRY HERTZLER – NAPALM

NAPALM

The boy wears only a pale green shirt,
no pants or shorts or shoes–a six-year-old,
fat stick in hand, squatting in the dirt.

He glances up as our convoy passes,
eyes dark and blank, and shifts his weight
to favor his left leg, ridges of scar
from ankle to hip twisted and shiny as plastic.

Yellow dust, kicked up by our truck
hangs in the air, thick and choking.
But the boy, face calm as a cat, just stares,
only his eyelids moving, up and down
up and down. Finally, he looks away and
raising his club, resumes his task,
pounding ants.

~

This poem was originally published in Second Skin by Terry Hertzler (Caernarvon Press, 2003)

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