Sunday, October 28, 2012

#56: "Fear of Giants" by Philip Belcher

~This poem was originally published in Shenandoah (2009)

Fear of Giants
After Diane Arbus’s photograph, “A Jewish Giant at Home
with His Parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970”

Rabbi Mueller stopped calling him Samson
when my son at ten looked down on me.
By twelve, he’d torn the tightening collar

of school, and I saw his future frown.
Last week, Bart’s Deli named him worker
of the month.  He stocks the highest shelves.

Now we wait, our evening service, as he steps
in from the job, conquers the door with his cane,
his limp.  My wife’s hands nest on the ledge

of her hips, her mouth’s delighted “o” telling
him, telling me, of her triumph, that this Titan
began in her.  I look straight at his waist,

hands moling my pockets for dark.  Myths
have come and gone since I brushed his hair
while he stood.  Tonight, I sit by his brow,

surveying the baffling terrain of his face,
and muster a waning affection.


Monday, October 22, 2012

#55: "The Nest" by Mark Farrington

~This story previously appeared in Phoebe: The George Mason Review (1987).

Eleanor, weeding the strip of flower garden along the front of the house, almost picked up a snake. From the window Al watched his wife jump to her feet and stumble backwards. She yanked off one of her work gloves and threw it to the ground. He started outside but stopped when he saw her running toward the kitchen door.
She closed the door behind her, pressing her body against it. Her shoulders rose and fell. “Eleanor?” Al said. “What is it? El?”
She eased away, keeping her back to her husband, and peeled off the other work glove and laid it on the counter. Turning, she rubbed her hands up and down her arms, squeezing the fabric of her navy blue windbreaker, and told him. All the while, she fought to recapture her breath.       
“What kind of snake?”
“I don’t know. A snake. It was in the garden. It was--” She shivered. When Al approached her she passed him, so they ended up exchanging places. “I thought it was a stick. I almost picked it up.”
“Is it out there now?”
“It went underneath the steps.”
“The front steps?”

Monday, October 15, 2012

#54: Two Poems by Lisa Hammond

~This poem previously appeared in CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women (2011)

The Goddess Cleans Out Her Purse

Sometimes that bag just got too heavy, full
of papyrus scraps a thousand years old at least,
a dried-out chapstick, stiff old rabbit skin
from before tampons, buried deep just in case.

First she decided to throw out the sun—
she had enough fire to last, handful of stars
dusting the leather bottom dense as sand. 
She never really used the spear and shield.

Her cornucopia spilled fruit constantly,
but she’d need it later, she thought, digging it
out from underneath the moon and her phone.
Though she thought of starting over, emptying
everything, she finally just lightened her load,
ocean still pouring from that small torn seam.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#53: "Nora" by Tamra Wilson

~This piece was previously published  in North Carolina Literary Review (2001)

            When Nora had all she could take of life, she doused her hair in kerosene and ran down the road swaying and hollering like a branded calf before she finally crumpled to meet her Maker face down.
Hal and Billy were there and they couldn’t forget the sight of their big sister turned into a heap of smoked meat, and it bothered them for weeks and months afterward. They’d wake up nights in bawling fits about a booger, and it about drove Mama distracted trying to quieten them down. (Of course, I was only a baby then, so I couldn’t have no such recollection of my own. I’m just relaying what folks said.) Mama thought maybe all this happened according to the Good Lord’s plan being as how Nora had been an odd sock, but it didn’t matter then; Nora was as dead this way as any other.
The first thing they did was cover Nora up. Then they laid her out in a hand-planed casket that was already made up for Grandfather Tompkins. He hadn’t died yet, so she got dibs on his coffin. They said she was awful small for that man-sized box, but she was in it for Eternity whether she fit or not, along with the rest of her kin in the Providence Cemetery.
The folks weren’t about to ship her back to England, though some said they might should. Nora was a married lady at the time and her husband was an Englishman she’d met in the Great War. He’d been shot up in the Somme, and was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get gassed, trench footed or killt by the Germans, but he did get the shell shock. (That’s something that makes a fellow with otherwise good sense shake like a fresh butchered hog.) To actually see Nora’s husband, you’d never know he’d been messed up like that, but folks said he was. And they said it made him swimmy-headed, like when he was out back talking to soldiers and nobody was there.
The truth is, Nora first ran across Mason Thacker talking out of his head in a hospital tent. Being a nurse, she tried to quieten him down as best she could among all that hollering and damp misery. By then she’d seen plenty of men shot up, though I can’t see how any sane person could get used to something as awful as that. Mama said she didn’t know what Nora saw in being there, what when she could have been home in a clean bed and have decent things to think about besides strange men’s messes. Why that alone would be enough to drive anybody distracted!