Poetry: “War Games” by Rob Schultz

My brother was the cowboy,
I the Indian. Stumping his
Stick horse in crazy zigzags

He dug up dirt. Once I stabbed
The ground with my knife.
Nicked his ear.

He grew industrious, mowed the lawn
In neat squares, uprooted weeds–wild-
Flowers–built a plywood fort

Under a weathered oak whose branches
I climbed to watch, silent, dead-still.
Papa smiled and patted his burr cut

And called him a diligent boy.
I drew a circle around myself,
Let hair grow down my neck,

And worshiped round wet stones.
Navigating woods by smell of fog,
Watching street lights on the river,

Testing my breath on walks that winter,
I was sure the dead would return.
Shadow that ran across our lawn

And lost itself in the sunset:
I knew it was my mother.
“Just the light,” said my brother.

Drawing his cap gun, he aimed
Straight for the heart.
Mother Earth.

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Fiction: “When We Are Gone the Light Is Alone” by Michael McCanne

The women departing slip of their chemises of light

All of a single sudden not a soul remains

When we are gone the light is alone

                Paul Eluard

Predawn.

In the city, a factory burned.

Luisa paused, her brush frozen in the air, touching her lashes.

The transportation workers are out on strike; the freeways blockaded.

The capital will be cut off.

From up high, the city was unnaturally still.

She continued applying make up, noticing, perhaps for the second or third time, that the circle of lights around the mirror made tiny rings in her pupils.

Drinking coffee on the balcony, she watched the smoke rise in the distance against the ashen sky. She loved being in the apartment early in the morning when her husband was gone. It gave her sense of calm and readiness for the day. In their room, the bed was already made and her suit lay across the sheets.

Her husband had withdrawn a bundle of dollars, in case the peso devalued, and had put them in the freezer, inside a plastic bag. They never kept much money around the house and since he had left, three days prior, she found herself, again and again, in front of the open freezer, looking at those frozen bills.

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