By Robin Behn
babies have the shocked look of wet birds from a smashed-open
egg; through papery skin their inner workings shine. The fathers
stand like dazed, draped mannequins, there being nothing, no one,
they’re allowed to hold. The newly delivered mothers raise their
upper torsos for a fleeting look.
SHRIEK THEY KNEW SO WELL
Father drove circles around the lake—windows rolled
down in ninety degree heat—calling the bird’s name in a thick, coconutty
Indian accent while Mother paced the sidewalks carrying Chico’s
three-story white iron cage hoisted high above her head.
RECEIVING NOTICE OF MY STEP-DAUGHTER'S PREGNANCY
By Mary Akers
want you to hear the voice of an angry stepmother as you read this,
so go ahead and settle into it. You know the voice I mean: that
extra-tall mocha raspberry voice, with the hint of an edge.
By Anne Panning
stood there in your cheerleading uniform: twiggy legs, curling iron
bangs, eyes squinting through smoke. You were on the edge of everything.
You would succeed and supercede, or come down like the rest.
RENTAL WORKERS, HOUSTON
By Sandi L. Wisenberg
was black, yes, and a manual worker, yes, and he was older, but
mostly he was an obnoxious insistent stranger.
By Grace Talusan
his mother will remove the crates and watch him suffocate; allow
his siblings to play tetherball with his body; or keep him tied
there, hanging from the kitchen.
By Joy Beshears Hagy
Emphysema is drowning him, but he’s not sure if
it came from smoking or because he is allergic to pine trees. “It’s
from smoking” I tell him. He coughs and I gag.
OF AGE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, PENNSYLVANIA
By Leslie Stainton
Kiss Grandma goodnight. Kiss your Aunt
Betty. Kiss Dr. Bunny. I pad from one to the next, trying not to
recoil at the bright lips, leaking smoke, that plant themselves
on my skin and leave cherry bruises.
By Patricia O'Hara
compensate for bad spelling with bad penmanship. When in doubt,
I carefully malform my letters so they appear to be written in haste
by a woman with way more interesting things to do than carefully
form her letters.
STAND IN THE CLOSING COUNTRY
will all end soon. These parts will finally fall and these people
with them, paved under one of a million concrete slabs connecting
New York and Philly and Baltimore, too.