Laryssa Wirstiuk – My Last Memory of Snow

My Last Memory of Snow

I hesitated entering the bodega. The cashier had seen me cry before:
I’m sure of it. Would he remember me at the table with my twenty-four
ounce can of Yuengling? After that embarrassment I should’ve left you
in my car. The menu was sandwiches: hummus and vegetables on rye.
Sour Patch Kids. Steamed soy milk in coffee. I’m intentionally bleeping
out the important detail: three feet of snow on Third Street in Old City.
Normally I would have been defeated by the heavy white powder,
but we were procuring carbs, caffeine. At the AirBNB was a tub for two.
What’s more, I knew we’d be Pioneers! O Pioneers! in just a few months.
Extra pickles and hot sauce, please. My eye contact hungered for chips.
And, sir, is it possible I’m making a mistake? We plowed through drifts
with heavy boots and paper sacks. Voices bounced off new acoustics.
Few were out; locals were scraping cars a step ahead of the next squall.
I longed for less complicated circumstances: not so much of the always
life or death. Next winter a close friend would text me the following:
Your commitment crushed my hopes. I didn’t get it. You had plowed
the trail where there wasn’t any snow. He would send me postcards
with full color (some white, some grey) landscapes covered with more
than I’d endured. Despite who you are, I’ve landed. I can’t revoke a storm.

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Barbara Ann Meier – 3:11 AM


3:11 AM

It starts with a contraction,
a shudder, turns to a roll,
tightening to knots…
the earth twitches and shakes off its top layer.
Just as the cramp grips the calf.
I wait.
Watch the pictures rattle…Anticipate the next twitch.
Why do I bother to wish for sleep?
It won’t come. The cramp won’t stop.

The pain that starts mid-calf,
travels to the arch of the foot,
Reminiscent of a forward fold
and downward facing dog.
Just as the ache from head to child
planks my adult. Board- like stiff.

To tighten the muscle,
requires the stretch to rebound
and snap with tectonic plates.
For the next spasm of muscle.
I grasp tight, but leaks in cracks,
break loose.

I roll to floor,
hobble to gulp magnesium.
Turn up the heat, lay the leg flat,
and think of past actions.

I’d text you sorry but what good would that do?

Warrior 1 shifts to Warrior 2.
The end result is a stretch and a cramp
at 3:11 AM.

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The woman stands still
in her living room for
a long while without anyone

noticing. Something chimes
far away and another hour

passes. She’s not alone
but it feels that way

because no one has taken
an honest look at her
all day. She feels a sad,

desperate thing inside
and she wants to kill it.

Tears could come anytime
and she hates herself for that.
Every light in the house

is on and they’re shining
on the worst parts of her.




– 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.


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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