Claudia Gary – Key Bridge, Tuesday Morning

Claudia Gary
Key Bridge, Tuesday Morning

I look down at the face of the Potomac
alive with sunlight. Then I bask a moment,
look up at rubber shoes and tires spinning

along the pavement of my span between
Rosslyn and Georgetown—students, workers, tourists
under the bluest sky, breathing fresh air

and feeling free. But here’s a dour face:
yesterday’s debutante, today’s chic matron
jogging across the river, eyes fixed forward,

thoughts inward, worrying about her waistline,
reliving last night’s table conversation,
reviewing her to-do and shopping lists,

planning a party and a hair appointment,
revising next year’s garden, anything
but what’s around. A harried driver looks up

and wishes she were outside glass and metal
like this trim woman in a running suit
who must be having a much better morning.

Claudia Gary – Inner City Headcount

Claudia Gary
Inner City Headcount

A staunch refuser opens up her door
and blinks at me as if she’d never heard
about the Census. Has she been asleep?

Did the TV news, highway signs, alert her
that I’m not FBI, police, or ICE;
not even her cursed landlord’s rent collector?

Whatever brought her out today, she nods,
answers my questions, smiles, wishes me well,
warns me I’d better not stay here past dusk,

then shuts her door. I hold the railing tightly,
ease down uneven steps onto a crumbling
sidewalk. Once more I touch the device screen.

Her family’s names, race, birthdates, slip into
an archive where no one, including me,
can read them now.

Eoin Rogers – The A-Bridge

Eoin Rogers
The A-Bridge

Walk at night and you’ll find it
by ear, the seashell echo
of distant running engines.
It arcs above the motorway,
leads from one dark walkway

to another, is pedestrian,
not designed for major transit
or migration, and yet
is known as lure to suicides,
attracted to its fatal height

and four unceasing lanes
that, excepting violent collisions,
will not stop for anyone.
Passing traffic reverberates
within the preventative metal

frame that forms a hollow tube
around the bridge, a cage of sorts
through which, on clearing nights,
the stars might peep
to match the winking city,

the Doppler rush of a loaded truck
ringing the cabled pylons
to their apex, as if they were attuned
to the frequency of suffering and beauty,
the note of passing things.

Jasper Glen – Saskatchewan

Jasper Glen

Disguised here there is nothing here
But a red barn, and a yellow silo—outcast.
I almost didn’t see it with my own mouth wide.
Saskatchewan has no shadows
Except when summer’s oppressive heat
Invites piratical swarms of horseflies.
Saskatchewan, unfolding still, a wide opened
Book of spells, its yellowed pages.
Field bonded to field, the woven plain.
Mistress of a yellow kilt lain, her first surface pelt.
Her father’s first certificate of sheet barn.
Regulating the range—A particular chemical.
News crop out. Steer farm. The fourth largest
Farm in Saskatchewan, has picture + number
Of acres = medley of yellows and browns.

This province is pressed for space.
We need, believe it or not, real estate wants.
Un-human scale: and the birds’ eye
Virgin drawing, for I am piloting that black bird?
Step back from what the eye can see
Suicidal vehicle, why carbonic
As long as the elements of life
Actual elements of life exist
From the black nonsense of space
Packed chemically in a barrel first
And the world is black.
I bring you an onomatopoeia
From the gunshot.
Province an auditorium
For our skins now as if populous.
It is not a sin in the field killing
A done-for animal.
Saskatchewan as a planet.
Standing pat there, paradoxical.

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee – Individual Dramas

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee
Individual Dramas
               —Athens, Greece

A city of flat rooftops
like stages of the Acropolis,

rooftops from which you could view
the centuries—ages

in the tabernacle of Athena’s burgeoning
olive grove—city of scattered lights,

of our individual dramas. That is what I saw
when I hung the underpants and bras

a Greek woman had found dangling
from the shower rod.

Her unintentional gift: a journey
to the top of the house, a rooftop to the world’s

clean laundry—why, I could rise up
and be anything, anyone, anytime.

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee – On the Farm in Harbourton

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee
On the Farm in Harbourton

Through the midline of the pasture, the stream
plunged, trickle and rush, over stone and rock,
up to thick wads of bank, grasses lying over
their wiry strands, as if waiting for the horses
to bring their muzzles and drink, as if here
were a fountain with its mark on the human
earth we strode over with intent and progress.

In our minds, the stream was going somewhere,
had come from somewhere, was feeding our livestock.
We wanted to put our lips there to feel the water’s caress.
Instead, we cupped our hands, made a container
to drink, removed ourselves, at least in our thought,
from the animals so that we could have dominion,
we could wrap our thoughts in rationalization,
nationalize our landmass, claim our water rights.

While the horses grazed in the upper pasture, pushing
the limits of its borders, we stayed far below, pushing
our lawn mowers, haltering the mares for studs,
coaxing colts to round us on lunge lines,
with our clicks and clucks and darts of words flung
the length of the rope. No wonder the horses bolted
for the top of the pasture when we set them free. No
wonder when we came upon the brook while walking
up to fetch them, we paused at the tap of the water’s
fine lap, its echo eddying into our ear canal, as if blood
could flow like an eternal stream.
                                                               If God could have stopped us,
he would have done it there. He would have had us bathe in the stream,
had it wash us like babes. We would have never known sin,
the way the earth does not know the reason for sin
and how to rectify it. And so it called to me one morning
with bells in a cumulous sky. I heard them swinging
in their drift, could clearly hear the flow over pebble and stone.

Jim Hodge – Moth on a Step

Jim Hodge
Moth on a Step

No idea, whatsoever, why this morning,
          when I stepped outside into vengeful heat,
and dodged a solitary moth on the porch step,
          that I thought of you.

Perhaps it was remembrances of photos you have sent?
     A gray Eastern Wood Peewee on a grey Beech,
     more stone than fibre, standing sentinel.
Clearly a Corinthian, crowned in Sugar Maple,
      and not Acanthus.

Or perhaps it was more a feeling of small feet on layered slate,
     bathed in the headwaters of the Cuyahoga, surrounded in bladder fern,
          cushioned by obliging Helodium.

None-the-less, there I was staring at a grey moth that sought the shade,
    that surely thought, ‘I can do that… I can do cement’, and then she did.

Uchechukwu Onyedikam – Home

Uchechukwu Onyedikam

the cry from that groaning belly
wrinkled with hunger may end,
but the tears collected with
the basket of hope will not be
contained in the faith of that
roofless man open to the
sky of vulnerability.

these men on a political agenda
of restoring ‘home’ unto you
that we spite ourselves for,
still shake hands behind
our eyes—and in our faces—
too lazy to see that home has
been razed by these vain men.

this homelessness may end and
that lone woman engaging in petty
trading, whose bambooed kiosk finds
her at nightfall with her young offspring
making shelter beneath the shadow
of the moonlight.

that grown-looking girl who’s
only 13yo, a run-away Love who
fled her forced marriage in search
of a home in a lie—finding life’s
meaning in the red light district.

this Land is in another man’s hand
abducted by strangers with bombs
and guns. we are all homeless
roaming on desolate Land with
no home to retire to when the
owl hoots, perching on the
crescent moon.

Timothy Liu – Reciprocity

Timothy Liu

The chickens eat the ticks
in our neighbour’s yard.

We eat their eggs,

breasts, thighs, white
or dark meat all batter

fried. The goats eat

the poison ivy spreading
down the path that leads

to the boat ramp beside

a finger lake. We drink
their milk, eat their cheese,

make stew out of tough

meat. Do not call this
fair trade. My cock shrinks

at the thought, choking

on guzzled greenhouse
gasses. It’s 2022. We

have less than ten years

to make this right.
2222 seems impossible

to imagine. I should be

dead by 2052, 2062,
maybe a lot sooner if I

don’t change my ways.

Can somebody help me?
I want to stop eating

chicken, goat, tuna—

the Lebanese pound
trading at 27,000

to the dollar on the black

market—white and blue
collar workers cutting

down its famed cedars

for fuel—forests the size
of the Crusades to be

levelled in just three or

four years. Mommy,
Daddy, does stagflation

count? Birthday party

hats on sale at Walmart
while supply chains last—

gas at an all-time high.

Polly Brown – Laddie

Polly Brown

Laddie had dug a hole under the fence,
so I followed him out. He wanted only
to sniff around, but I figured I’d go

down to see Grammy and the cows.
Folks travelling west, coming back
from Skowhegan Fair, found a small

solid person less than two years old
walking east, and a collie circling,
barking like mad. My parents first

heard our adventure from a stranger
at the door (This your baby?) and now
might be charged with negligence.

But I grew up hearing how far, even
then, I’d take an inspiration—and what
good sense of Laddie, to warn the others.