September 27, 2011


by Weldon Kees

The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.

An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B. with his throat cut,
Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.

I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills
And Doris Kenyon. Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.

September 21, 2011


by James Galvin

The more I see of people, the more I like my dog.
And this would be good country if a man could eat scenery.

The lake’s ice gives light back to the air,
Shadows back to water.

In wet years the land breathes out,
And a crop of limber pines jumps into the open
Like green pioneers.
In dry years
Beetles kill them with roadmaps
Under the skin.

The land breathes in.
The sun goes down,
And the whole sky cracks like rivermud in drought.

A few trees make it each time,
As if some tide carried them out, away from the others.

They say a tree that falls in timber
Goes down in good company:
Snow drifts in and it all goes soft.

They say a ghost is a ghost
That doesn’t know it’s dead yet.

Those limber pines die standing, lightning-struck, wind broke,
And enough good pitch
For a hermit’s winter.

The cabin stood; the man was long dead.
Packrats nested in the firewood,
And a crowd of medicine bottles held forth on the shelf.

When hermits die
They close their eyes. They never hear
The parson sermonize how somewhere
There is hope where no hope was.

A chance to be alone for a chance to be abandoned,
Everything is lost or given.

Hermits never know they’re dead till the roof falls in.

September 03, 2011


by Stephen Dunn

My friend the pessimist thinks I'm optimistic
because I seem to believe in the next good thing.
But I see rueful shadows almost everywhere.
When the sun rises I think of collisions and AK-47s.
It's my mother's fault, who praised and loved me,
sent me into the dreadful world as if
it would tell me a story I'd understand. The fact is
optimism is the enemy of happiness.
I've learned to live for the next good thing
because lifelong friends write good-bye letters,
because regret follows every timidity.
I'm glad I know that all great romances are fleshed
with failure. I'll take a day of bitterness and rain
to placate the gods, to get it over with.
My mother told me I could be a great pianist
because I had long fingers. My fingers are small.
It's my mother's fault, every undeserved sweetness.