Friday, August 28, 2009

"Not Swans" - Susan Ludvigson

I drive toward distant clouds and my mother's dying.
The quickened sky is mercury, it slithers
across the horizon. Against that liquid silence,
a V of birds crosses-sudden and silver.

They tilt, becoming white light as they turn, glitter
like shooting stars arcing slow motion out of the abyss,
not falling.
Now they look like chips of flint,
the arrow broken.
I think, This isn't myth-

they are not signs, not souls.

Reaching blue
again, they're ordinary ducks or maybe
Canada geese. Veering away they shoot
into the west, too far for my eyes, aching

as they do.

Never mind what I said
before. Those birds took my breath. I knew what it meant.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"The Bible Belt" - David Shumate

It's a vast and fertile land. Soybeans and corn grow in this soil.
Wheat and tobacco. A little sorghum. It's not dramatic terrain
with ocean waves crashing against the cliffs. It's mostly gently
rolling plains. Long stretches of prairie. You know you've entered
it when the signs along the highway begin telling you what God
wants you to do. Those who live here regard it as their duty to
make these things known. Otherwise the rest of the country
would be left in the dark. The bibles in this region are larger than
elsewhere. Most weigh over a hundred pounds. It takes two strong
men to lift them into a pickup truck to haul off to church. All the
women dress up on Sundays. And all the white men shake hands.

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Not To Trouble You" - Leonard Nathan

Not to trouble you with love, I mean
those adolescent dreams of great, of greater,
or of greatest loving, let alone
the crumbly personal kind—compared with, say,
the public good or harder thoughts of death
obliterating thoughts of love, or after-
thoughts of love outgrown or love undone;
and not to be ironic either, not
to forget we come into the world alone
and leave it so; and not to be claiming more
than you can give, uncertain as I am
what I require: something like love, I guess,
whatever it is we've done without so long,
so faithfully and with such tenderness.