PHIL HUFFY – EMERITUS

Park View Drive rests at an early hour,

without tell-tale traffic

and before the sun better reveals

more recent influences.

Its stick built homes, in an older style,

date between the great wars

and upon brief observation

offer the appearance of days gone by.

Any original owners have long since departed.

The cedar roofs are also gone,

as are their more modern replacements

and even the replacements of those as well.

Near one end of the avenue

a figure steps from a clapboard colonial

and into the half-lit calm

of an emergent morning.

Though once considered a newcomer,

the Professor, as he is called,

and his equally credentialed  spouse

have been in residence for many years.

In the past it was his practice

to enjoy long, vigorous walks

out through the neighborhood,

up the steep climb to the Reservoir, and around.

These days, he does not get far,

shuffling but a few doors from his own

before slowly coming about

and retracing his tentative steps.

The professor is a genial fellow,

viewed as neighborly and polite,

but in his current condition

he walks early and sometimes unnoticed,

thus avoiding inquiries as to his health

as he ponders his weakened state,

his hapless knees, eroding joints

and feet unwilling to convey their exact location

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ROBERT OKAJI – I DANCED WITH A PLATYPUS TWENTY YEARS BACK

Which is of course a metaphor pointing out

disparities in function and form, and the dangers

inherent in assumption: despite its cute appearance,

the male platypus delivers venom through an ankle

spur on a hind limb; samba with one at your own

peril. My friend wanted to build a catapult, but I

convinced him that trebuchets more efficiently

demolish walls. Instead, he experimented with atlatls,

before reverting to his favorite compound bow. The

fly swatter remains my weapon of choice, followed

closely by steel toe boots. I have yet to meet a scorpion

whose armor could withstand them, but I would never

stomp a platypus without first determining its intentions

and seeking mediation, perhaps through handwritten

correspondence. Pencils owe their origin to the lead

stylus, which eventually morphed into the wood-cased

graphite tool we now use. In his day, Thoreau was better

known for pencil-making than cabin-building. Arthritic

joints prevent me from writing by hand, but I saw lumber

when necessary. According to Ovid, Talos, nephew of

Daedalus, invented the saw, using either a fish jaw or spine

as the model. I look at my food before eating, but the

platypus dives with closed eyes, and locates meals by

detecting electric currents through its bill. In considering

form, I assume function. But we know what that means.

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JARED PEARCE – MY RESPONSE TO WHEN YOU ASKED HOW I SLEPT LAST NIGHT

You rolled and roiled like a deep thing,

a miniature whale or submarine,

a shark with ten thousand teeth,

the lighted jelly, pearl jammed

beneath, and spray and sway, disattached

like kelp wreaths. The tune you leak

swashes across your siren sigh

then grunts like the rock topped seal.

I cast out, but the pole don’t dip

then the oars can’t beat. The bilge

slime shines a blinding beam

so even the gull won’t come to eat.

The dinghy swirls and bangs the alarm

bell, mad to be further lost at sea.

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