"Fallen" by Linda Bigness; https://www.studio245.net/
About this image: "Take a journey through nature and explore luminous paintings that employ beeswax, pigments, and metal leaf in process-laden artworks. The work reflects our fragile natural surroundings and the process of using heated wax simulates the effect that temperature change has had upon our environment." —from Linda Bigness: Spring Thaw exhibition at Vandervort Gallery
With gratitude, we dedicate this page to 2018 WPWT Arts Patron, Ginger Peters. Ginger is a poet and non-fiction writer living in Santa Fe, NM with work published in various magazines over the past twenty-five years.
by Yuan Changming
Perching long in each human heart Is a white crow that no one has Ever seen, but everyone longs To be
Always ready To fly out, hoping to bring back A glistening seed or a colorful feather As if determined to festoon its nest
Bio: Yuan Changming currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart and three Best of the Net nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline.com, Threepenny Review and 1,399 others across 41 countries.
It Would Be Better
by Jonathan Douglas Dowdle
It would be better, if I did not know That you are only stumbling over The same passages, like words The tongue hasn’t quite mastered, but this seems to be So much, too much, of what builds our bones From the broken places. I’ve given away my language To the static it has already become, The white noise prayers of late night television That repeat like a wounded phrase, Something said so often It has been bled dry of the meaning.
It would be better if I still believed You were capable of being someone more, To dig your hands into the roots of your heart And pluck the weeds from the garden; But we press ourselves against the wounds of memory, And dance cheek to cheek with our corpses, As though the passage granted us eternity, Rather than robbing us of all life.
I no longer have the language necessary To walk these avenues, beneath The boardwalk of the bones, of the graveyards, Of the ashes we paint Our faces with, and I no longer Want the language of Condemning, and forgetting, While we crucify our futures In the names of fallen idols, And where memory serves only as Our most secret Gods.
So when you paint your heart in snow, now, I merely accept you are winter, And no longer try to rise like a sun To beat and bark against All the things you would keep frozen Within you. But as tired as I am, in that deep, cold lethargy Of all the things we leave to die, and all The sparks of possibility within us Left, in a glance, to burn out, Perhaps, I too, am weary as winter, And this has become my way Of falling as snow.
In the Tributaries of Her Heart
by Jonathan Douglas Dowdle
Love was only ever a mythology, a deep, practiced religion That she could kneel before To drink from the fount of the world’s passion, Because it is easier to be the lover, than the loved, Because the lover conquers, But does not need to surrender.
We learn this way, so easily, because this is The easiest way to teach the world, The words that build the spine, the heart, the mind, The soul. We learn to be the loved Is only to be taken into another’s brokenness, To fill up All their empty spaces.
The lover has the easiest story, breaking A thousand verses Against their own brokenness, and changing From face to face, from touch to touch, Like town to town, or dream to dream, Only and ever to remain the same
I read the tributaries of her heart, this way, Knowing she was caught in the seeking, And fearful of being sought, and so knew Our love could only exist As a softer mythology, a dream where the heart Never needed to deepen itself Into its own expansion, nor embrace All its own brokenness, for all I would say or give Had no place To be received, and the pale romance, The tragedy of the knowing Would be written out as the heart’s great tragedy Over which people knelt, and wept, Joining in the grand mythology That spoke as though it spoke love, But spoke only Love’s absence.
Bio: Jonathan Douglas Dowdle was born in Nashua, NH and has traveled throughout the US. He currently resides in South Carolina. Previous works have appeared in 322 Review, and Hobo Camp Review, with upcoming works slated to appear in After the Pause.
by Tim Gavin
“You know what you left; you don’t know what you’ll find.” —Haitian Proverb
If I would’ve known it was going to be like this, I would’ve never returned to the poop deck With the olive leaf in my beak; I would Have kept flying using that branch As a perch for the future, landing from Time to time just to have a centering point From where my freedom found its form.
I look now from this dead tree by the brown River and can’t find bread on any of these Mountains that rise high into the sky Only to realize they don’t reach anything— Not even the height of their own destiny. I now fly from one stagnant puddle to another Ignorant of tomorrow’s promise.
Sonnet of Indifference
by Tim Gavin
The valley is indifferent to the mountain And the mountain is indifferent to the river And the moon to the stars and sun And death to birth. Thirst to hunger.
The young girl, pregnant, donned A wedding gown, going to a feast For her, but she, too, is indifferent To her finance who’s playing dominos
In his father’s tux who’s indifferent To the invocation and prayers and vows. Forced union is indifferent till death Does its part and where poverty
Perjures opulence. Sickness health. The girl Sits atop the mountain while the wilderness gathers hope and grace while her heart’s Inclined toward indifference.
Bio: Tim Gavin is an Episcopal priest, serving as the head chaplain at The Episcopal Academy, located in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. He oversees the school’s volunteer service cooperative and its partnership program with St. Marc’s School in the Central Plateau of Haiti, which he visits three to four times a year. His poems have appeared in many journals and most recently in The Anglican Theological Review, About Place Journal, Chiron Review, Digital Papercut, Evening Street Review, Screech Owl Review, HEArt On-Line Journal, The Lake, Poetry Quarterly, decomP magazinE and Blue Heron Review. He lives with his wife and sons in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
by Anne Whitehouse
A silvery light takes over the day, a visible gloom thought by the ancients to presage disaster: the forces of darkness gathering.
I would not stare into the sun even blotted out lest it blind me like the face of God. But all around me are His works. Let us cease our petty striving, and rest for a while in this fold of time to give due reverence.
Bio: Anne Whitehouse was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from Harvard College and Columbia University. She is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (2016) from Dos Madres Press. Her novel, Fall Love, has just been published in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes (Compton Press). Her poetry, short stories, feature articles, and reviews have appeared in major newspapers, literary magazines, and other publications throughout the English-speaking world.
Recent honors include 2016 Songs of Eretz poetry prize; 2016 winner of the Common Good Books’ poems of gratitude contest; 2016 RhymeOn! poetry award (first prize); F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum poetry award (second prize), and 2015 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize. Last July Garrison Keillor read her poem, “One Summer Day on the Number One Train,” on The Writer’s Almanac. “One Summer Day on the Number One Train” was recently selected for an ELA diagnostic test to be administered to 300,000 high school students in the state of Louisiana over the next five years.
by Simon Perchik
Katherine is reading this and in the slow rain between each word she hears her lips closing in
the way a love note is folded kept for years alone in a drawer half wood, half as if its darkness
is after something else on the page she can’t remember touching before vaguely, if someone older says so
though a star can be born and die before its light reaches her eyes holding on to these dim shapes
that have no sound yet—it’s too soon —she will forget how far and you, what she hears at every chance.
by Simon Perchik
Though it’s familiar this flower doesn’t recognize the breeze wriggling out the ground
as that distance without any footsteps —its petals have no memory left no scent that can expand into mist
prowling for more darkness the way moonlight tries to remember once passing through the Earth
on all fours, sniffing for stones hidden from where your fingers will clasp each other sideways
and the dirt still close by —will smother all that happened has no past, means nothing now.
by Simon Perchik
And you still stutter though between her lips it’s always night
or years from now —the stars not yet alongside have no seasons
brought this far in the same darkness not even she can remember wearing
as if it could fold back by itself as mornings and waiting —after all, how much more
can this dirt breathe in before someone stops by who’s lost, has forgotten why
only now it’s winter that has something to do with coming back and her arms.
Bio: Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems published by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books, and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,” please visit his website.
Looking for it. Knowing it was there somewhere in the old trunk. My prom dress—the one I wore the night I walked into my future. I didn’t step in. I rustled confidently in nylon organdy over full, crisp, scratchy tulle. I floated on the dance floor in his arms.
A magical night with underlying innocence captured in a black and white portrait of us, caught in a flashbulb glare. We would never be how we looked then, again. Our college years, Vietnam once, and twice, and all that came after. Our relationship unfinished, for always.
I save my dress and our photo packing them away again, folding the billowing long dress with my memories, wrapping them up in organdy trimmed in fading, wrinkled, French blue velvet ribbons, old and soon falling apart like me. I wonder where his memories are now?
What is in a Hollow Core Door
by Ivis Westheimer
Once, I thought equality was about making money. With my own income, power automatically would come with it.
In the habit of avoiding conflict unless totally confronted or jammed in a corner, my anger dwelled well-dampened within.
Finally, I made enough money, shared a home with a man, and felt equal in my well built shell. Content, I thought.
One evening during an argument, he shoved me out of our bedroom, locked the door, in a home where I paid half the household expenses.
In response, I picked up a heavy dining room chair and smashed it against the door, meaning to make a statement. An action not thought out at all.
The chair went right through the hollow core door. We were both surprised. Shocked might better describe the feeling.
Smoldering had burst into flame. I stood my ground, a new position for me. Both of us jolted into a new place, so unfamiliar we were visitors there.
Anger evaporated with the splintered door, as our fears disappeared with it. Only a temporary crack in time, but a beginning.
Me without power began to understand how much I had all the time.
Bio: Ivis Westheimer lives in Houston, Texas where she explores visual observations through text and photography, sometimes using them together. As a museum docent finding words to invite a person’s imagination into a work of art provides inspiration. Her degrees in English Literature and Art History also contribute to her written images.
by Susan P. Blevins
Returning home with the slanting rays of the sinking sun, the empty house reflected my own empty heart. Loneliness crept over me, and the melancholy evening wrapped itself around me, not in a kindly way, more like molten lava, killing everything in its path, suffocating me, snuffing me out like the stub of an old candle.
Later, draped in heavy darkness, I sat outside on the veranda in the tired moonlight and listened to the sad and distant strains of a solo violin mingling with the song of nocturnal insects, trying to lift my spirits. Erik Satie must have been mourning when he wrote his haunting, doleful music. Was his heart broken too, I wonder? Will tomorrow bring me light and hope? Resurrection?
With the eye of my soul, I perceived dark shadows cast by cobwebs that were not there, a capillary network holding me prisoner of my grief, bound and paralyzed, cast ashore on a dark continent where I had never traveled before.
by Susan P. Blevins
The quartet I heard today played out the music in my heart and soul They played upon my own heartstrings and gave voice to music unexpressed inchoate alphabet soup of unformed music They built a lofty cathedral of soaring harmonies
Mighty chords the pillars Beethoven the master architect Musical ornaments the rich carving here Mozart and Vivaldi excel
Major keys the sunlight streaming in to lift the spirit as through the rose window of Chartres Cathedral visited many years ago transcendental memory vivid still today feelings of awe and reverence remembered
Minor chords the altar upon which we willingly sacrifice our egos and material desires to face at last our own deep sadness finally accepting that without plunging to the depths we cannot rise to heights of ineffable ecstasy
The mortar, love, for only love can hold it all together, unrequited, celestial, yearning for divine love all-encompassing, unconditional love love in all its manifestations Love
Soaring strings lift me ever higher into the heavenly realms of perfect music where Santa Cecilia makes harmonies which eclipse our earth-bound tones
Sic itur ad astra On wings of song
by Susan P. Blevins
Sometimes I lie in bed and try on other lives for size. Last night I tried on yours but it wasn’t a good fit, because when I sank into your life I knew I did not want to be you, even though you are strong and healthy.
I must keep trying them on, like old clothes in my closet that may or may not fit me now, some too tight and restraining like a business suit, some too big and loose, paired with shoes I can never fill. The outfits of my insecurity.
Tonight I’ll go back to my default life that I once lived long ago, in the fragrant wooded hills outside Rome, as a Benedictine monk, in the monastery at Subiaco, the simple life of ora et labora, Balm of Gilead to my anxious soul.
It feels like I have always yearned to be a holy bridge, a bringer of peace, a healer of body and spirit. Peace in the Middle East, why not? Reconcile my parents’ brokenness since my accident? It’s all I think about in my waking hours.
The cold stone floor before the altar seeps again into my body, and I lie there, arms outstretched as on a cross, listening to the monks chanting as I am initiated into their holy order, saying goodbye with firm conviction to the world of noise and confusion, and pain.
Gently I drift off to sleep, listening with the ear of my soul to those soothing sounds, heart rate slowing, head growing heavy, ready to return the next morning to the loneliness of life as a quadriplegic, truly alive only in my mind and in my aching memory of when I was whole.
Bio: Susan P. Blevins, an ex-pat Brit, lived in Italy for twenty-six years, traveled the world extensively, and has now settled in Houston, Texas, where she is enjoying writing stories based on her travels and adventures. She had a weekly column on food in a European newspaper while living in Rome, and published various articles on gardens and gardening when she lived in northern New Mexico, before moving to Houston. Her passions are classical music, gardening, nature, animals (cats in particular), reading and of course, writing. She has written a journal since she was about nine.
Jealous over art, that's you
by DS Maolalai
god laughs and the moon is huge tonight, a big copper coin that could pay for the world or at least the part you walk on— your girlfriend who agreed to come over is busy with her play instead and that's ok— she is doing more for more people there than sleeping with you would accomplish. you are proud of her even as the moon stretches light over lonely tree branches and the fog gets in the way of cars.
After a long walk in winter without gloves to buy wine
by DS Maolalai
ah heat and scald and hot water pouring over my fingers massaging your dull life into torrid flame, making ready, after a long walk through fields of thick snow to sit down warm by the radiator, pour a glass of winter's red wind see it spill and curl on the tip, ready to type something.
New buildings of Vauxhall
by DS Maolalai
Fighting a hangover in the two o' clock sun and walking by the river having come out of the Tate to stare across the river at the new buildings of Vauxhall like something gray and rotten that has risen or been pulled up from the sea.
There is a sick thing in the movement of clouds on all that layered glass and deep gray that someone imagined would seem white like a tooth rotting in a rotten mouth.
Can't you see how we are all being torn apart and nothing is allowed to become beautiful?
by DS Maolalai
no music plays— no radio or record player or even the dull sound of headphone speakers. birds all sleep tonight, heads breathing under their wings and the cats stay silent behind bins, their tails unfluffed and curling. and I feel my arm curl behind you, listening to the hum of drunken snores. kiss you once quietly behind the ear and go to sleep.
Bio: DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working for a medical supply company and his nights drinking wine. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
You say it’s your birthday
by Sean Lause
My birthday candles burn down like a puny, miniature Rome. The Old Man is eating my cake again, all of it, icing to crumb.
He lacks grace, like a giraffe eating popcorn. Slice after slice disappears in maw. He is all eternal hunger.
At last there remains only my lone first name. Will he? Jesus! There I go too, down the bottomless pit.
Does he know what he just did? Has he read The Interpretation of Dreams? No. He’s just a big dumb bear. He’s like nature, bursting with beasts.
So go ahead, world, swallow me whole, like the Peterwolf’s duck, tied to time’s tree, and endless need. Go ahead. Eat me up.
My magic newlywed neighbors
by Sean Lause
I still have not spoken to them. I try, but they’re gone before my wave. A magician’s act of flowers and mirrors.
The wife appears outside my upstairs window, laughing, disappears, an invisible bird singing, then flows out another, dreaming her hair down.
One day, a pink pillow case flaps its lewd humorous tongue at me, and at night strange notes leap from the chimney to the moon.
In the morning, the husband exits in a rush, one shoe half off, then returns, bags overflowing with wine bottles and celery.
I keep waiting for him to race out a trap door, his wife levitating over his head like a balloon, the dark skies lush with fish and loaves of wonder.
Now and then, dancing, laughing footsteps ghost up and down the stairs and suddenly my heart flutters into a dove.
I decide the best applause is silence when one evening she appears, blue nightgown, picks up a sliver of bottle with two deft toes, and spotting me, makes a gentle bow.
Bio: Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, The Alaska Quarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Pedestal, Atlanta Review, Illuminations and Poetry International. He has published two books of poetry, Bestiary of Souls (FutureCycle Press, 2013) and the upcoming Wakeful Fathers and Dreaming Sons (Orchard Street Press).
by Mary K. O'Melveny
Drifting down leaves are usually first to send messages of change. One or two lying lazily about, still green slashed with a bright stripe of gold-red. Then more arrive, leaving the green behind, wrinkling quickly in the early chill air.
Cardinals wait in bronzed bushes. They have bid fond adieus to comrades more eager for long flights southward. Some afternoons, awaiting their moment at the feeders, they could be debutantes in the wings, hungry for brief spotlights.
Rain has been descending steadily. Now, as it soaks the culvert, the creek has risen to a more adult, river-like stature. The Black-eyed Susans have been tossing off their yellow namesake petals, black cones bobbing lonely in the wetness.
Blood Moon arrived and took its leave. Whitetail rut has begun. We have armored our tender trees against the passions of racked bucks. Wispy shadows of suicidal deer ring twilight roadsides where they mimic whispered, wraithlike glows of spider’s webs.
Humble acorns begin their temptations of squirrels who sense stark shifts in shapes of daylight. Simple shelter beckons. No more brazen darting about as if tree limbs were playground jungle gyms. Now they are playthings for coyotes and hawks.
The truest tales of transitions are told by my stately Great Blue Heron. Each day, she stands serene
at the edges of the old reservoir. Then, a sudden dunk in rippled water and she soars high, glides above the creek.
Beak to feet, she curves like a graceful letter S—a feathery yoga pose— a glissade amidst marshy waters, fish and frogs her wary audience. Ducks alight and depart like stagehands. But when she exits, winter holds the stage.
by Mary K. O'Melveny
Juncos and chickadees in the lilac bush sit as quietly as holiday ornaments. I peer in closely. Suddenly, they are everywhere, flitting and fluttering as they wait their turn at the feeders on the deck below.
Shape-shifting snow decorates us. The stopbreath cold air could crush a heart in an instant. I pour out more birdseed. My aching hands feel as if my gloves had been dipped in ice blocks.
Random footprints rest lightly on the meadow, a wintry puzzle with no point of exit or entry. They hint at survival stories we may have overlooked. Or, ghosts of springtime lost.
We take a short walk, bundled up like precious goods so we won’t break apart if we fall into snowbanks or slide on shadowed patches of ice. Even a walk up the driveway exhausts, as if we had arrived at base camp Everest.
We find our sturdy mailboxes sheared and scattered sideways, as though lumberjacks blazed a first trail down our county road. These days, it seems like everyone wields a sharp blade, our junk mail just one among many hapless targets.
At woods’ edge, trees list and lean, suspended in place like frozen matchsticks. Only the firewood’s bright blue tarp distinguishes it from mounds of mulch or frost-glazed piles of glacial rock. Even the deer have gone into hiding.
At the creek, ducks swim lazily, floating past blocks of white as if they were reflected clouds on some lovely summer day. Optimism beckons. Imagining warmth there, we throw off mittens, vests and woolen hats. Heat arrives in a smoldering kiss.
The Reincarnation of Flight
In Loving Memory
by Mary K. O'Melveny
There is an afterlife to each of our losses that often lies in wait, catching us up, off our game, tears mostly dried, though they can rise up anytime, it seems. Soar past. Fly low.
Today, when I looked out my window, she was there. Wings spread, feathered claws, golden eyes open, whiter than the snowy yard, bits of brown and black thrown in like modest afterthoughts.
I knew her right away. She sat calmly on the ground, blinking as she searched for signs of life beneath frozen layered grasses and February winds. Arctic summers may have been on her mind.
She watched me gather up my thoughts, waited for the sound of her name to leave my surprised mouth. Too soon, she rose high over the meadow. I watched her ascend, in all of her new glory.
I was not eager to wave her on but I knew her nomadic ways. She was never good as a captive audience. This new flight path was filled with grace. Not like her last, dark leap away from the gray subway platform.
As Winter Comes
by Mary K. O'Melveny
As winter comes, everything looks tired out. Orchards lean over from the weight of apples long picked. A patch of peeling paint curls up under the eaves. Rust climbs like unruly ivy toward darkened door handles of an old truck. Mud splattered rubber tires thin down in piles near the barn door as if waiting for a ride that never arrives.
As winter comes, grey blue skies shiver while leaves fling themselves to ground. Even the sun becomes ancient icon, its sheen dimmed back, its light speckled and opaque. A slight hint of coppery red threads the tree line as though a reminder of lost youth will cheer us as we brace ourselves for primordial days ahead.
This is the time of year I want to be a wolf. My silvery fur caressing wind as I roam Yellowstone’s snowy ravines, magpies and ravens following my snowy footprints. They will dance in air, then land like dominoes on frosted ground to watch and wait for me as I traverse through chilled early light. Like me, they will hope, as winter comes, that deaths ahead will not be our own.
To Be Blessed
by Mary K. O'Melveny
To be blessed, I always thought, was like being able to walk on water. A miracle of positive thinking.
Safe while everyone around you sinks or falters, arms and legs thrashing like cymbals, while you still hear the sun’s bright orchestral chords.
To be blessed, on the other hand, was what the sales clerk said about the day she urged you to have after she wrapped your holiday gifts and tied their bows.
To be blessed was to have your best friend of 45 years remember your name again as you walk with her through once lovingly planted lush gardens.
I can still see her lavender and lupine, laurel and lobelia. I shade my eyes against the shine of orange coi darting past lotus blossoms.
To be blessed is to see two eagles nesting in a treetop as I drive home from running dull errands, listening to radio chatter about terrifying times to come.
To be blessed is to listen to Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain offer reveries of calm and cool.
To be blessed is knowing that even the fierce rage that fills my body like fluid fire climbing up wooden walls might be tamped down if I took a walk in my woods
past our stream and its little waterfall. As my boots kick leaves away, I head for the pond where I will think about walking on water.
Bio: Mary K. O'Melveny is a retired labor rights lawyer and "emerging" poet. Mary lives in Washington, DC and Woodstock, NY. Her work has been published in various online and print journals including The Write Place at the Write Time, GFT Press, Into the Void and The Offbeat as well as blog sites such as Writing in a Woman's Voice and Women at Woodstock. Mary's poem, "Cease Fire," won First Prize in the 2017 Raynes Poetry Competition sponsored by Jewish Currents Magazine and appears in the anthology, Borders and Boundaries published by Blue Threads Press. Her poetry chapbook, A Woman of a Certain Age will be published in September 2018 by Finishing Line Press.
by Cheryl Sommese
They appeared impatiently uplifted In their First Communion attire, adults leading the way while diminutive feet awkwardly trailed like goslings eagerly anticipating their first life-sustaining meal.
A 7-year-old silhouette in a white chiffon dress and delicate veil surfaced— Straight legs peeking below the lacy apparel, unaware her bony ribs would come to part three years later like Moses dividing the Red Sea. A repaired heart hole inadvertently instigating an increasingly twisted spine so that straight legs would come to bow and some of the parted ribs removed 25 years after that.
Missteps occurred in that fleeting period, pathways flooded as youth passed with no possibility of return.
The priest called out, “Cheryl,” and a dark-haired girl arose.
Immediately shaken, wondering if an alternate universe really did allow redo’s, the patched heart began pounding.
But Cheryl returned to her seat, her adult silhouette, and her grownup body. Glancing beyond centuries of institutional missteps far graver than her own, she crossed over enslaving personal thoughts to reach the life-sustaining meal: one that always nourished her, at least until the next time.
Bio: Cheryl is a creative writer and freelance ghost writer. Several of her short stories and poems have been featured in various print and online publications. Animals hold an especially favored place in her heart, and she greatly misses her beloved dog, Rosie, who passed away two years ago. She considers an evening glass of Chianti or Cotes du Rhone wine one of life's indelible pleasures and resides with her husband, Don, and dog, Bella, in New Hampshire.
Swimming Hole on the Russian River
by Laura Hampton
Bare feet up stony dirt Scrabble over boulders Summit the cliff I take a breath, then Reckless, eyes shut Falling, flying Shoot deep down through clear cold water Toes touch silty bottom.
Again, I climb, Knowing how my stomach will lurch But jumping anyway. A moment of panicked rapture: Freefall, Then dropping like an anchor into A liquid cushion. Swimming up against mica flecked walls Sun shafted river water.
The older boys, who are Working up the courage Hoot as I surface. Hats off to me. “You’ve got guts for a little girl.”
I look at their bare shoulders Wet hair, muscled arms See admiration in their eyes. And I grin shy.
I didn’t know: I had guts. I didn’t know I could get those kinds of looks. A deep pool below Just a kid, jumping off a cliff. Just a girl, plunging off a precipice.
Family Reunion (note that line length is slightly altered due to spacing restrictions)
by Laura Hampton
It starts like most family reunions, especially here in the South: Potato Salad, sheet cake, teenagers pilfering beers. Exclamations, “You’ve got the Orr nose,” or “You’ve got Aunt Ginny’s eyes.” We spend the day sun-screened, bobbing in the lake, Teasing out genealogy, swapping out stories.
Come sunset, we build a campfire, Roast marshmallows, eat s’mores, fingers sticky and tongues burnt. Then the bluegrass relatives pull out their instruments. The stars come out as they play. The youngest children begin to dance.
Little bodies whirling, stamping in the dirt. Before long, adults stand, clapping out the beat. Hips begin to sway, feet step side to side, heads nod. The night deepens, another log on the fire. Two sisters take hands and spin, laughing, just in the shadows.
Soon anyone who can stand is on their feet, and moving. We even swirl Uncle Jiff’s wheelchair in circles. A primeval urge of beat and firelight takes us all up. Our clan, these familiar noses and eyes reflecting the flickering embers. Coalesce with the larger tribe, who for eons, dances by the fire.
Bio: Laura Hampton lives in Houston, Texas. She has had numerous poems, short fiction and nonfiction pieces published in both print and digital publications. In addition to writing, she is a Master Instructor of Pilates.