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Excerpt:Â A big cardboard box outside the school office holds the soft heap of sweaters and coats, gathered from ball yard and bathroom, from under a hallway bench. Things once needed now discarded…
Excerpt:Â Use the firescape, Z-stepping down the brick outer wall, essential as a skeleton, a clean way to leave via window to window. And with landings for moments to gulp air, recalibrate grips. Reconsider…
Excerpt:Â . . . have something to teach with seasonal arrowed certainty how freely they abandon earth lifting in a focused clatter soar through orange & purple sky accept first the call of need…
Excerpt:Â We eat from each other’s plates the tines of our forks clang in the passing of morsels. My spoon enters your mouth your salt spills across my napkin bad luck creeps over us both…
Excerpt:Â Where is that time for sitting in the movies? God, we loved the movies. Sunday drives: seeing goats, windmills. Recall time to refinish furniture, spade a new garden, play cards after dinner?…
Excerpt:Â Blessed are the calendar keepers, for they shall measure our days in rectangular allotments, And our plans and accomplishments will be recorded in evidence of our worthiness…
Excerpt:Â So sure that I know this place. it is where I belong. Yet, no. Today, blinds drawn. The door refuses my key. Of course it comes to everyone, this day. The unvoiced expectations reverberate. The wish made, the pebble never landing…
One of my visits to the prison this past year was a mixed bag.Â There were powerful moments and a few well-crafted texts.Â There was also a heavy energy in all three classrooms.Â I felt like I was moving in slow motion.Â I could see that those who were showing up, pens in hand, where sharing their muses with distant problems and conversations to which I was not privy.Â And then there was the business of a miscommunication I did not know I had had…
Last time I was teaching at the prison, the writer I was working with showed me a meticulous list of the 98 poems he had written.Â “All my poems are dark,” he said.Â He read me three of the ones he had gotten published; they traced the scars on his body and mind through an absent, addicted mother and her abusive surrogate: foster care.Â They described the mental illness that works against a brilliant, eager mind and the numb no man’s land of psychotropic intervention that brings some silence if not relief.
Since it was a one-on-one meeting, I asked the writer what he wanted to do…
WHAT THE TIDE BRINGS IN
The tide comes in like my white bearded ancestors. Waves strike me down, hissing salt water, and I hear my dead grandmother calling. The muscle of tide holds me, then drags me to shore over rocks and shells. I lie here, bruised from the struggles in my life, and years away from my grandmother’s tender reach. Myself freed, lifted whole from the sea, washed up to lie on rocks, to watch the turning back of tides and their return.
I rise to see a creature tangled in fish net, flippers, fin-thin, flailing, dragging on the beach toward me. I turn the creature on its back, its yellow-green underbelly wet and soft, its flippers drooping over the edge of its shell. It lies still as I untangle it. Once freed from the netting, I flip it back over. Right side up again the reptile stares at me with its prehistoric eyes. Revived, it makes a dash toward the sea where it evolved from egg to lizard. Hard shell afloat it skims the surface beaked head darting, its torso rocking against the rhythm of the current. The brine sloshes against rocks as the creature turns, dives, presses its body farther into the sea, hauled by the tides, to come into, out of, and finally under.
BONE HUNTING IN THE SIERRA
High on an open ridge,
I look out over mountains and valleys,
hunger for the history of the deep underground,
the marrow of what came before.
The rage of a mountain wind,
and a moment of unearthliness,
yet I am earth filled,
as I search for bones and fossils.
Shadows shift, and a Great Gray–
floats without moving a wing,
perches on my spine.
I trace tracks in sandstone
with my fingertips,
find missing vertebrae and skull,
feel kinship with a broken pelvis.
Rocks unfold themselves into arms and legs.
I try to push the root-limbs
back inside the hard mountain
toward the deepness, the origin of all things.
Scream of hawk above,
I hear the slow grind of bedrock,
feel a deep down ache,
as pieces of myself fall away.
( Gabe Becker is the guitarist on the right)
Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts
Ashley Morgan, John Flanagan, Todd McCool
Richard “Dobbs” Hartshorne