Nikki Giovanni – My First Memory (Of Librarians)

Nikki Giovanni (June 07, 1943 -) This is my first memory:A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky       wood floorA line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the centerHeavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply       too short              For me to sit in and readSo my first book was always big In …

Oliver de la Paz – In Defense of Small Towns

Oliver de la Paz When I look at it, it’s simple, really. I hated life there. September,once filled with animal deaths and toughened hay. And the smellsof fall were boiled-down beets and potatoesor the farmhands’ breeches smeared with oil and dieselas they rode into town, dusty and pissed. The radio stationsplit time between metal and …

Lisel Mueller – Immortality

Lisel Mueller (February 8, 1924–February 21, 2020) In Sleeping Beauty’s castlethe clock strikes one hundred yearsand the girl in the tower returns to the world.So do the servants in the kitchen,who don’t even rub their eyes.The cook’s right hand, liftedan exact century ago,completes its downward arcto the kitchen boy’s left ear;the boy’s tensed vocal cordsfinally …

William Carlos Williams — The Widow’s Lament in Springtime

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) Sorrow is my own yardwhere the new grassflames as it has flamedoften before but notwith the cold firethat closes round me this year.Thirty-five yearsI lived with my husband.The plum tree is white todaywith masses of flowers.Masses of flowersload the cherry branchesand color some bushesyellow and …

Naomi Shihab Nye – World Of The Future, We Thirsted

Naomi Shihab Nye (March 12, 1952 -) Stripped of a sense of well-being,we downed our water from small disposable bottles.Casting the plastic to streetside,we poured high-potency energy tonics or Cokedown our throats, because this time in historyhad sapped us so thoroughly andwe were desperate.Straws, plastic caps, crushed cans,in a three-block walk you could fill a …

Clint Margrave – When Death Travels

Clint Margrave No one makes himtake his shoes off at securityor asks to see his boarding pass.There are no bags to checkbecause baggage is strictly for the living.No windows on the planebecause there’s nothing to see.No seatbelts becausethere’s nothing to impact.The flight attendantsattend to nothing.And though there are delays,there are never any cancellations.No one greets …

David St. John – Without Mercy, The Rains Continued

David St. John (July 24, 1949 -) There had beenA microphone hiddenBeneath the bedOf course I didn’t realize itAt the time & in factDidn’t know for yearsUntil one day a standardKhaki book mailerArrived & within itAn oldStained cassette tapeSimply labelled in black marker“Him / Me / September, 1975”& as I listened I knew somethingHad been …

William Virgil Davis – The Family

after the painting by Egon Schiele William Virgil Davis Only the child,between his mother’s massive legs,is clothed.They both look offto the rightat something out of sight.The father, aboveand behind, his huge limbsframing them,stares—wide-eyedand proud—directlyat you. Nothing in the background matters. "The Family (Self Portrait)" (1918) by Egon Schiele is shown in this handout photo taken …

Patricia Carroll Mathes – Another Lovely Day

Patricia Carroll Mathes (January 20, 1943 -) Thank you for another lovely day,”you said, as we drove to yet anothertemporary lodging.These days are hard,but you make them easier.The smoke that permeates our clothes,the darkened rooms smelling of disaster.The charred remains of two livesloving books, music, and art.Two sisters, the sweet and the serious,resident ladies of …