Un pájaro puso a su dueño en una jaula. “Nuestros papeles se han invertido”, dijo el pájaro. “¡Quiero que cantes!” El dueño se quejó: “Pero yo no sé cantar”. “No importa”, gritó el pájaro. El dueño silbó pero claramente no tenía ningún ritmo. “Prefiero que bailes ante mí”. El dueño bailó sin ninguna gracia. El pájaro se sintió desilusionado. “De cualquier manera te mantendré en la jaula”. Sin embargo, una hora más tarde el pájaro estaba del todo aburrido. “No me había dado cuenta que tener una mascota es como estar en la cárcel. En la medida que controlamos a los demás ellos también nos controlan a nosotros”.
By STEPHEN HAVEN
Each evening my half-coon hound dog buries her snout
In her foul dish then comes up singing, moans, complains
About her condition, until I hook her up, let her shit
And piss among the graves—who’s watching, anyway?—
The groundskeepers all home by then, their evening shows
Just flickering, the trees along the forested edge
Leaning as always toward distant centuries.
By DANIEL TOBIN
It could be on a card, tucked away somewhere buried
In a drawer under tools, the keys to doors
Left long behind, folded like a phone number
Into the black book of forgotten friends—the name
By ELIZABETH HAZEN
Mountains rise beyond the Laundromat
like ochre waves about to crash; our father,
armed with tools and pack, tracks the rocks
without a map. Here, the Laundromat is all
in a strip of vacancies; for miles, nothing
but dirt, dust, outcrop, sky. Our mother gives
By SUSAN STINSON
Elisha Hawley turned nine years old six weeks after his father had laid violent hands on himself and cut his own throat. Rebekah, Elisha’s mother, made apple flummey seasoned with cinnamon and ginger for breakfast and let him have the last of the bacon with pea soup for supper. She made doughnuts, despite the heat, and let him lead the evening prayer, even though his older brother Joseph mouthed a silent gobble gobble gobble as Elisha stammered over the verse. Life was rising as loss burrowed in. Elisha wanted to snicker at Joseph, or weep with relief that his brother was trying to be funny, but he swallowed all that and sounded out the scripture more loudly, evenabomination, which he didn’t know how to say. Rebekah fixed her eyes on Joseph as Elisha mangled the vowels, then gave them each half a doughnut and a sip of cider before bed.
By TOM SLEIGH
1. Many desires, many secrets—that’s what the book said.
And it brought me to attention, watching the interior
branches of the pine trees swaying in a paranoid
whisper that reminded me of you standing over
me, your hand in my hand, your mind
not right but your whispering rebelling against
that hissing shhhh of what I couldn’t understand—
An urban garden-party in spring, at dusk. The light waning, the air mild, the walled garden compact but lush.
A cat slinks along one flower-bed’s edge. Guests arrive singly and in couples; they pass through the brownstone’s ground floor to the patio at the back, exchanging handshakes and cheek-kisses as they meet. Their voices generate a steady babble.