Saturday, September 7, 2013


by Miranda Stone

Strip mining scars
the bare skin of the mountains.
Ridges of stone and wood
rise against the sky, blotting out
early afternoon sunlight.

Niches carved in slate
house the copper moonshine stills. In barns,
in shacks men stir sugar and corn
to produce liquid clear and pure
as the strychnine the holy rollers drink
in plank churches on Sundays.
Some survive the serpent’s bite.
Those who succumb lack faith in the god
speaking in tongues to the congregation.

Even in the mountain mist of dawn
when the bobcats slink through the woods,
a single searchlight washes over stone.
A train piled high with powdered coal
snakes its way past clapboard houses.
High above on the mountainside,
rickety shafts sleep, shut up in darkness.

Next Day Trips

by Perry L. Powell

It's a meat hook. It's a bat.
From out of the bright orange field emerges a parrot
looking over his shoulder.
Check Google for home runs.
What do you know: gold from quicksilver.
The philosopher's stone in a Japanese University.
Martin Luther at the front door with an iPhone.
Life left in the backroom where the boys play.

Like a charm bracelet—
one anecdote after another
walks the runway.
Here is a late lesson we reject:
gather your tote bag;
Bethlehem waits for its master.

The Lovers Observe the Moon Under Arrest

by Robert Gross

Talk about the moon as a mushroom:
a fleshy obscenity sprung up
under cover of darkness

meant to be arrested at midnight
without memory or remorse
thirty-seven degrees from the horizon

booked in the nodding night court
mindless before high priests
who do not grasp its transit

cannot finger the musty
deliquescence of summer into fall,
the funky quick decay of thought

into sensations, the prison break
of a convicted self into a felony
of infinite quick fragments.

The authorities dare not interrogate
the moon in terms of silence.
They sentence it to death.

The Sassafras Tree

by Pamela Hill

“Angel isn’t really dead, you know.”

I sit on the couch glaring at my sister, Gabriela.        

“It’s true,” she says. “He’s alive.  He must be a spy.”

I leap from the couch and snatch his photograph from the mantelpiece. “You know Angel died.” 

His eyes, full of life, stare at me from the photograph as I trace the image of his face with my fingertip. 

Gabriela rarely listens and rambles on. “You were married to a spy, Ana Maria.”  She points at the urn on the mantelpiece.  “No proof Angel’s in that urn.” 

My blood pressure escalates, voice rises. “Just go home.” 

She moves toward the front door then turns toward me. “I saw him at the church café.”

I return Angel’s photograph to the mantelpiece. “You must have seen someone who resembles him. I see his features in the faces of strangers.”

She leaves, and I snuggle under my quilt wondering if Gabriela needs more therapy to calm her overactive imagination, a term our parents alluded to years ago when referring to her illogical thoughts.  Gabriela has told absurd stories for as long as I can remember.  Still, I sit wrapped in a quilt all day thinking about Angel and wondering if he can possibly be a spy. He left for work one day and never returned.  The police said he died in a head-on collision.  I never saw Angel again, only the urn.

During dinner, I see his image at the table. I can’t eat nor drink as the lemon in my tea is too bitter. Washing dishes, soap bubbles become arctic ice floes running over the edge of the sink, and I shiver in the silent, frigid kitchen.

Night comes.  I lie disconcert in my room listening to the monotonous ticking clock, and the chiming, and now the ticking again.  I fall asleep but wake startled in the middle of the night.  What is that knocking?   I run to the door and fling it open where I am met by a crescent moon as a cool breeze ripples through my nightgown. 

I wander out on the deck and feel the breeze caress me.  Signs of a storm are gathering, and clouds begin to mist. I watch a cluster of sassafras trees sway on a hill just beyond the deck. I think about rain and how the grey-black clouds comfort me, somehow stabilize me, as a lightning flash reveals Angel’s face at the dark end of the deck. In the glance of my eye, I think I see him and run to that side of the deck and call out to him, “Angel.”  He doesn’t answer.  I imagine a deception in my sense of sight.  I wish to climb the hill and wrap my arms around the trunk of a sassafras tree and sleep within a cradle of aroma.     

Morning comes.  I’m about to leave for the church café and Gabriela shows up. “It could have been him at the café yesterday,” she says.

“Please stop talking about Angel.”  I wrap a pink mascada around my neck and leave Gabriela standing on the porch.  At the church café, I sit in a corner at a table watching and attempting to sip coffee, but my hands are shaking.  I want to believe Gabriela and linger.  I want her story to be true, just once.

Angel doesn’t appear, not even an apparition.  I contemplate Einstein’s consolation…a distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Is death an illusion? Is flesh nothing more than a prison?

I go home and kiss the urn, remnants of bones that are my past and my present - but not my future.  I’ll find a distinction in a returned kiss someday, a kiss, and arms that wrap around me as the blossoms wrap around me from the sassafras tree. 

Einstein also said… I never think of the future, it comes soon enough. I’ll go with that.