Poetry: “Banyan Nights” by Lara Dolphin

Burgettstown bred, I sit on steel atop a

Bouganville Ficus close to Bagana near the

Torokina River directing artillery fire by radio.

Nearby flares rain down on Hill 260.

The Southern Cross appears, and the

infantry slips behind concertina wire. Saint

Barbara, bless these powdered eggs and

dehydrated potatoes, guide our ordnance

and steady our field glasses that we may

observe what has to/gets to be.

Poetry: “Six Standing Crows” by Meryl McQueen

Huddled like rabbis in a field

Of dying rye, six standing

Crows scratch a coarse meal

From dust and dirt. No command

Or edict tumbles from flat sky. No

Rain. Skullcaps of slick black

Feathers dip and nod as bow

To cello, the rhythm halfway back

To darkness. The gathered stalks

Are crumpled moths, wan and wasted

By timid clouds that balk

And twist at first blue taste of

Rain. Flow and wet, that covenant

To seep and grow, is crushed to dry

Retreat. The animals’ mute sacrament

Of final feast calls out the sky.

They rock on talons in the ruins, these birds

Like men of duty, men of prayer

Who conjure rivers from dead words

As weak as a promise. Where

Would we be without the harvest

Of grain and glory? The ink-dipped

Corvus flock stopped here to rest

But we are weak and ill-equipped

To save the day.

Poetry: “Rhapsody on Independence Day” by Evan Beaty

The psalmists have all gone underground

with armfuls of tortoiseshell inkwells and yellowed paper

and their bodies and horses’ bodies wrapped in a rind

of sour-tasting fog. All their wives are blonde

but not the type that cries at airports or major

abandonments of the more permanent sort. They are in their

houses making buttermilk biscuits, whistling entire

new American operettas. Their attics rattle. The preacher

at the Methodist picnic is blessing everything, saying God made us just

to love him back. Why was God not sufficient for himself? One must admire

how nobody asks this question. Instead they cut the thick-crusted

pies studded with little flags, then wipe their children’s noses.

Monticello sings with green today, but it’s hard to hear for the speeches,

Sousa, cheering sticky tourists. All those old Free World poses.

The taxmen are coming in through first-floor windows, tickling infants

in their cribs, taking the sugar bowl, the rocking chair, the coal.

There are tiny bubbles in the belly fat of this land. In an instant

it will fall away from the forests and hills to warm the gasping foals

and renew the farmed-out soil. The poor will render it into soap.

Take the underresearched pills. Have a cry. Put corn syrup

in your mouth and car and hair. Have a menthol.

A young woman is sitting on a stile somewhere in New England

and counting everything she sees. No, she is only a large doll.

Counting, counting. Meet me at the stile. Kiss me. Count me.

Poetry: “At Twenty” by Carla Baricz

Pauvre Martory! All those months in Tunisia

drifting on the chipped cusp of nonexistence,

yellow like yesteryear, sweating gunpowder,

choking up on surreal loves and manic

lusts inking the petrified yolk into sky.

Jaundiced and blue, a jazz trombone out of tune

still waiting for life to throb through its paces

according to the season’s barometer –

flakes of fire, furnaces moaning, mosquitoes.

When they lock you up in the wards, don’t let on.