chagall’s village


In Chagall’s Village
Rose Ausländer

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Im Chagall-Dorf

Schiefe Giebel
hängen am

Der Brunnen schlummert
beleuchtet von

Die Bäuerin
melkt die Ziege
im Traumstall.

der Kirschbaum am Dach
wo der bärtige Greis

Die Braut
schaut ins Blumenaug
schwebt auf dem Schleier
über der Nachtsteppe.

Im Chagall-Dorf
weidet die Kuh
auf der Mondwiese
goldne Wölfe
beschützen die Lämmer.

soft targets


Soft Targets
Deborah Landau
It was good getting drunk in the undulant city.
Whiskey lopping off the day’s fear.

Dawn came with an element of Xanax.
Dusk came and I dumbed myself down.

Where there were brides, grooms–
bored boysoldiers with iphones and guns.

I’m a soft target, you’re a soft target,
and the city has a hundred hundred thousand softs.

The pervious skin, the softness of the face,
the wrist inners, the hips, the lips, the tongue,

the global body,
its infinite permute softnesses.

Soft targets, soft readers, drinkers,
pedestrians in rain–

In the failing light we walked out
and now we share a room with it

(would you like to read to me in the soft,
would you like to enter me in the soft,

would you like a lunch of me in the soft,
in its long delirium?)

The good news is we have each other.
The bad news is: Kalashnikov assault rifles,

a submachine gun, pistols, ammunition,
and four boxes packed with thousands of small steel balls.

O you who want to slaughter us, we’ll be dead soon
enough what’s the rush.

And this our only world.
As you can see it has a problem.

As you can see the citizens are hanging heavy.
The citizens’ minds are out.

Eros, eros, in Paris we stayed all night
in a seraphic cocktail haze

despite the blacked out theater,
the shuttered panes.

Tonight we’re the most tender of soft targets,
reclining by the river pulpy with alcohol and all a-sloth.

Monsieur can we get a few more?
There are unmistakable signs of trouble,

but we have days and days still.
Let’s be giddy, maybe. Time lights a little fire.

We are animal hungry down to our delicate bones.
O beautiful habits of living, let me dwell on you awhile.

Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

checking a trap


Mysterious Neighbors
Connie Wanek

Country people rise early
as their distant lights testify.
They don’t hold water in common. Each house
has a personal source, like a bank account,
a stone vault. Some share eggs,
some share expertise,
and some won’t even wave.
A walk for the mail elevates the heart rate.
Last November I saw a woman down the road
walk out to her mailbox dressed in blaze orange
cap to boot, a cautious soul.
Bullets can’t read her No Trespassing sign.
Strange to think they’re in the air
like lead bees with a fatal sting.
Our neighbor across the road sits in his kitchen
with his rifle handy and the window open.
You never know when. Once
he shot a trophy with his barrel resting on the sill.
He’s in his seventies, born here, joined the Navy,
came back. Hard work never hurt a man
until suddenly he was another broken tool.
His silhouette against the dawn
droops as though drought-stricken, each step
deliberate, down the driveway to his black mailbox,
prying it open. Checking a trap.


husband dying


Not knowing…

The Woman Whose Husband Was Dying
Ted Kooser

She turned her eyes from mine, for within mine
she knew there wasn’t room for all her sorrow.
She needed a plain that she could flood with grief,
and as she stood there by the door I saw the distance
before her slowly filling, as if from hidden springs,
and she stepped outside, and placed one foot
and then the other on the future, and it held her up.

eastern standard time


Eastern Standard Time
Billy Collins

Poetry speaks to all people, it is said,
but here I would like to address
only those in my own time zone,
this proper slice of longitude
that runs from pole to snowy pole
down the globe through Montreal to Bogota.

Oh, fellow inhabitants of this singular band,
sitting up in your many beds this morning—
the sun falling through the windows
and casting a shadow on the sundial—
consider those in other zones who cannot hear these words.

They are not slipping into a bathrobe as we are,
or following the smell of coffee in a timely fashion.

Rather, they are at work already,
leaning on copy machines,
hammering nails into a house-frame.

They are not swallowing a vitamin like us;
rather they are smoking a cigarette under a half moon,
even jumping around on a dance floor,
or just now sliding under the covers,
pulling down the little chains on their bed lamps.

But we are not like these others,
for at this very moment on the face of the earth,
we are standing under a hot shower,

or we are eating our breakfast,
considered by people of all zones
to be the most important meal of the day.

Later, when the time is right,
we might sit down with the boss,
wash the car, or linger at a candle-lit table,
but now is the hour for pouring the juice
and flipping the eggs with one eye on the toaster.

So let us slice a banana and uncap the jam,
lift our brimming spoons of milk,
and leave it to the others to lower a flag
or spin absurdly in a barber’s chair—
those antipodal oddballs, always early or late.

Let us praise Sir Stanford Fleming
the Canadian genius who first scored
with these lines the length of the spinning earth.

Let us move together through the rest of this day
passing in unison from light to shadow,
coasting over the crest of noon
into the valley of the evening
and then, holding hands, slip into the deeper valley of night.


unearthly love


Christ Loved Being Housed
Linda Gregg
The time of passion is younger than us.
It does not live in memories
or metaphors, but in living things:
quail, bay trees, the sun leaving
and returning. Going and being there.
Dark, rain and colors spreading
through the late sky afterward.
So much like the Apache and Tarahumara
who live differently now, as I do.
But I want to ask you about the nature
of love. Do you think it is unearthly?
I want to tell you it is, and more.
Christ did not want to leave the body.
Love resides entirely in the part of us
that is the least defended or safe.
The part that has no alternative
to loss, defeat and dying.
All else is tested by its flint
in what it strikes upon in the darkness.

exiled tongue


Hilde Domin

The mouth dying,
The mouth twisted
The mouth trying
to say the word right
in a strange language.



Der sterbende Mund
müht sich
um das richtig gesprochene
einer fremden

lost fragment


For a Lost Fragment
Carol Moldaw

for C.H.

It’s a definite lack, being landlocked, bay-and-ocean-less:
I envy you the lapping ferry, especially on your way home,
as you face the receding city to catch the sunset’s neon sprawl.

Life itself can feel like a sprawl these days, but I’m grateful
emotions no longer roil needlessly inside me, unchecked
as the flash flood that yesterday surged through the Pojoaque,

lifting it beyond its sand-grit bed and churning up a swill
of watered-down mud. When we were young, on the coast
of Spain, it was all I could do to keep my agitations down.

Who knew how to admit to the furious flurry caged inside?
At the overpass, a long line of cars—it looked like a pileup—
had emptied out to spectate the tumult moiling below.

To see the swollen river up close, once home I put on
waders and crossed our field, flooded only in pockets
until near the back V-gate, where suddenly the water rose

knee-high with a pushing force and a continuous roar
like a full-on stampede—the escaped river trampling its bed,
flattening cottonwood, salt cedar, Russian olive, in its wake.

Submerged like a floodplain, the past’s reshaped by brush
and bracken being swept downstream, by the water that,
subsided, reveals corrective contours, blank spaces, scraps

missing, regretted, newly understood. I wish I still had
that unfinished love poem I scrawled in a long-lost ledger.
As if it could ferry us back, redirect one moment’s course.