Michael Opperman lives and work in Minneapolis. His work has appeared in the Coe Review,
New Hampshire Review, Maverick Magazine, Dislocate, and MARGIE Review. He was a finalist for the Marjorie J. Wilson
Prize for Best Poem Contest and winner of the Academy of America Poets James Wright Prize for Poetry.
December, Sunday, Christmas Lights, Coffee
In the drum pull from sleep,
slip of your body's air from the bed,
my eyes find first the blue blur
of a string of lights that drape the windows.
is tempting the walls, the paper on the front steps.
Your smile is immaculate. And your eyes have
that is startling.
My attention is immature, a halting pushing thing
memorizing the length of your thumbnail.
The way your red hair turns around
on itself in the clip holding
it to your head.
So what gets us here?
The fear of disclosure,
the slow whine of a mind shaken by memory.
Yesterday and a mile ago and a movie I once saw.
of it adds up to a bushel or a foot-pound.
A wooden box of papers, explanations, half-maps
to a dairy farm and a
rusting truck frame. It looks
like no one has lived here for years. And we back
out the driveway, shift into first
and take the hill.
The easiest thing is to forget the listening presence.
To leave this piece or that piece alone,
under the fingers –
never asking what is it
that is moving your eyes?
Night Thinking About A Summer Rain
We know it as an absence. The translucent vacancy
where a sparrow's
wings held the sky
like concrete. The everyday – that second world –
is heavy on our chests, suggesting
might be – but really isn't –
Step out onto the enclosed porch
during a dead-on summer
and you think that you know something
that you will never forget.
sky is the color of birth.
But you forget. With a terrible aggression
like a kind
of tenderness. The ache
icing your ribs is washed away before the afternoon
is no longer afternoon.
was exchanged for a first knowledge is transfigured.
A part of your skull
again. A part of each hand.
of leg and stomach
and spleen and spine. Coded into your arteries as memory.
Remember, you think. Remember.
This is important.
You only retain the words, the map back
but not the town – an elusive hamlet where all
roads do not lead.
No Rome. No great American city killing its poor. No clover-leafed
four lane highway
singing with buzzing rubber. Driving up to a stoplight
defibrillating above an intersection, you remember only the
Not its cause.
Donora Hillard is
the author of Exhibition (Gold Wake Press, 2008), Romance (Maverick Duck Press, 2008), Bone Cages
(BlazeVox [books], 2007), and Parapherna (dancing girl press, 2006). Her fiction, lyric memoir, and poetry
have appeared or are forthcoming in Night Train, Pebble Lake Review, Segue, and many other publications.
She has taught writing at Harrisburg Area Community College, King's College, and Penn State University, and she presently teaches English, journalism, and speech
courses near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She recently completed a poetry collection
entitled Theology of the Body, a feminist
response to the teachings of Pope John Paul II, St. Paul, and other religious figures.
ask, will there be sex in heaven?
~~ Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners
Praise you lest I never rest beside you in your city, seizing
as ice falls against us.
It will leave us cold to the bone, a reminder of our fracture,
and if I can't find words,
know I tried, the event paralyzed, my tears both running and
freezing at the source.
Suzanne Roberts is the author of three poetry collections, Shameless (Cherry
Grove, 2007), Nothing to You (Pecan Grove Press, 2008), and Plotting Temporality (forthcoming from Red Hen).
She was recently named "The Next Great Travel Writer" by National Geographic's Traveler Magazine. She holds a doctorate
in Literature and the Environment from the University of Nevada-Reno and currently teaches English at Lake Tahoe Community
Santa Margarita, California
circle the cold blue sky.
A woman yells
to her son,
instructions. I’m busy,
sits on the
porch with a coffee
cup and cigarette,
We walk by, and I wave
She smiles and calls,
Merry Christmas. Organ music resounds
from the nearby
church. Silent night.
A van is parked
on the dirt drive.
decorate its bumper—
Burger, a metallic American Flag,
a third reads,
You Can’t Be Pro-abortion
and Catholic. A red neon sign reflects
in the tinted
her face through
of a fence.
A man holds a Coors can,
the broken hinge.
A calico crosses
the dead lawn,
wire. Our old dog limps,
pulls at her leash. You
reach for my hand.