Jennifer L. Freed – Crossing Boundaries

Jennifer L. Freed
Crossing Boundaries

The woods beyond the old stone walls
lot-by-lot scraped flat
for curving streets and backyard pools.

We see more of fox, deer, bear.

Today, a band of wild turkeys
strolls across a landscaped lawn
as though at a garden party.

A morning walker kneels,
whispers calmness to his yellow lab,
who barks, strains at his leash.

The turkeys do not falter.
They strut closer,
toward sidewalk, man, dog,

and when the man moves
to take a photo, they flare
and still press forward,
all black and copper fret and glare.

Dark pinion feathers scrape fresh pavement.
They make a fricative hiss
as they approach.

Amanda Moore – Beachcombing

Amanda Moore

If it comes back, I’m done
with clean living, done with greens
and positive thinking. No more
hats, no more sunscreen, nix
the meditation app. Once the wonderings
and what-ifs are settled, I’ll eat a steak
from any old cow, wash it down
with a milkshake. I’ll refuse
vitamins, rethink my early bedtime,
eschew herbs, sub whiskey
for green tea.

If it takes my horizons,
I’ll take back my hope.

But I’ll keep today:
his even pace and the energy
of our daughter beside us
as we walk along the ocean:
its endless churn
the treasures overturned
at the lip of tide, this place
where we and the sand
are the same infinite and small.

Jerl Surratt – A Face in Flower

Jerl Surratt
A Face in Flower

No further away from you than one remove,
my having just leaned in close as a creature could
without landing in your neighborhood, the power
of my vision multiplied by nearly ten thanks to
this magnifying lens, a microscope of sorts
I’ve commandeered to see if I could figure out
what makes your velvet petaled surface glow.

My hand shakes just a little bit. Now from beneath
the rim of my transparent looking glass I purse
my lips, breathe out, and see you shy away as though
I’d tried to kiss a cheek too suddenly on our first date.
Then you look back at me with all the rods of which
your single eye’s composed and leave me blushing
to have dared to try transcending our divide.

One must at times risk doing what one’s not supposed
to do despite the risk—to take into a metaphoric bed
a distant other, with coitus there as punishment,
as Kafka said, for the happiness of being together.
Speaking as your admirer, I’m the one who fed you
sunlight in a tended garden bed to have you live
with me awhile indoors in lamplight, just like this,

so you’d stand in for another’s velvet cheek I’d once
made blush whenever leaning in to ask my kiss be met
halfway. Too late to change the fate of my attraction
to that other face in flower, to have the kiss I’d tried for
time and again, always too soon. But the risk itself
will always bear repeating, for love’s not fully felt
until returned. A lesson, thanks to you, I’ve now relearned.

Jerl Surratt – Speaking As a Child

Jerl Surratt
Speaking As a Child

Being that this thing I am
is in some part the very dust
of a bright star that I’ve been taught
to single out and call Arcturus,
I wonder on this summer night
what’s happening with the star
I’m fondest of, imagining
of all the stars you are the one
that I am most made of?

Are you as yet still bright as when
the bodies you were captured in
were born at the same time as me
in all Time’s zones around the world,

Or dimmed a little bit by now,
the now we never see from here,
your energy so radiant
another star eons ago
grew envious while drifting by
just close enough to siphon off
some of your outmost rays,

Or are you brighter still,
if imperceptibly as yet to us,
for having faintly flared because
within your heart, your core,
the heat your life depends upon
has almost reached the point at which
it cannot be contained and you’ve
begun to die, as all stars must?

Here on my back on a quilt
on the grass, an old quilt
mother’s let me have,
I’m asking childish questions
while I can. More fun to ask
sometimes and not to know
what is in store for you
while I’m still young and still
aglow for being unaware

of all that is in store for me,
while I daydream by night
and stare into the meadows
of the Bear, the Northern Crown
nearby and feel your energy
alive in me, your heat, your dust
my guiding light, Arcturus.

Scott T. Starbuck – Dream of New/Old Country

Scott T. Starbuck
Dream of New/Old Country

Bury your art
on a mountain,

sell house, truck,
and possessions.

Donate books
to libraries.

Give guns, rods,
reels to best friend.

Sail across ocean
dreaming of fire,

ashes, spring flowers,
a faraway place

in the south Pacific
where ancestor

sailors speak to you.

Scott T. Starbuck – I Refused to ‘Duck and Cover’

Scott T. Starbuck
I Refused to ‘Duck and Cover’

in 1969, as a first-grader
at Our Lady of Guadalupe School
in Hermosa Beach, CA,

because I knew there was no way
an antique wooden desk
would protect me from a nuclear bomb.

Now, 53 years later, I refuse to believe
anyone is going to stop mass death
from a melting Arctic and Antarctic.

Stephen Anderson – Bloom

Stephen Anderson

An older woman walks her dog
down a bombed-out street in
Kharkiv. It’s spring and she side-steps
cratered sidewalks with emerging purple
crocuses that magically seem to smile
their brightness. She stops, gathers her
breath, and listens to their quiet hallelujah
song, and bends to touch them as they
sing to her of hope and a smattering
of beauty—despite it all.

David Romanda – Haunted

David Romanda

We decided to break up, and were trying to sell
the apartment quickly. We wanted a quick and easy
break, and we wanted it as amiable as possible.
But quick. We were basically giving the apartment
away. It was in good shape, in a good part of town.
This couple, a little younger than us, views the apartment
with their realtor. They ooh and aah over this and that.
They appreciate the view of trees. And then, before
leaving, they ask us this: ‘Is the apartment haunted?’
My wife and I, we’re still married, look at each other
and just crack up. We’re laughing hard—we can’t stop—
and it’s creeping out the couple and their realtor.
As you can guess, they didn’t buy the place.

Simon Alderwick – departure

Simon Alderwick

a man & a woman
drinking coffee.

sitting close together
as if sharing a secret.

next to him, an oversized suitcase
with a haphazard handle and four wonky wheels

whereas she has only
a daybag.

his is a face exhausted of options.
hers is the face you dream & wake up to.

they drink slowly
as if they could stop time by savouring flavour,

talk in short, sudden bursts
then settle into silence.

they have so much to say
& so much they can’t.

he wants to promise—she hushes
his lips with her index finger.

their time is up.
they stand together.

he clutches her like something he can’t quit,
her head on his chest.

he inhales deeply.
she smells of home.

Simon Alderwick – jeepney

Simon Alderwick

Crossing the McArthur Highway. 7 o’clock Tuesday morning.
Oversized red cube of a Sogo hotel on one side, long haired man
wearing a chequered shirt & ripped jeans on the other. ‘Hey Joe!’
he greets me, ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Downtown,’ I answer.

He points me inside with his lips. There’s no room, I protest
but his lips move a fraction & I see a space open up deep down
on the left-hand side. I contort myself inside that steel shell
held together by welding & the Catholic faith, squeeze my butt

between a college kid & a BPO worker. Coins pass back
& forwards, the driver never short changed, never forgets.
I crane my neck trying to look out of glassless windows.
The Jeepney passes Jollibees, 7-11s, churches, schools, SM malls.

I sense my stop before I see it, tap a coin against the roof. It clangs
its message to the driver who slamswerves his jeepney sidewards.
I escape into the blinding dust of day, sticky of shirt & sore of neck.
A tricycle driver accosts me, says: ‘Hey Joe! Where to, my friend?’