bird taking flight off a rooftop

José A. Alcantara

He has flown headfirst against the glass
and now lies stunned on the stone patio,
nothing moving but his quick beating heart.
So you go to him, pick up his delicate
body and hold him in the cupped palms
of your hands. You have always known
he was beautiful, but it’s only now, in his stillness,
in his vulnerability, that you see the miracle
of his being, how so much life fits in so small
a space. And so you wait, keeping him warm
against the unseasonable cold, trusting that
when the time is right, when he has recovered
both his strength and his sense of up and down,
he will gather himself, flutter once or twice,
and then rise, a streak of dazzling
color against a slowly lifting sky.

you can only embarrass yourself


Embarrassment is a weirdly useless response. I frequently felt it as a child, when shy, awkward and completely uncomfortable with any kind of attention. Eventually it became something I never considered – one can only be embarrassed if one allows herself. And it’s been a long time since I allowed myself to feel it.

Suddenly, though, in the face of not being able to live up to my own standards, burning out and disappointing others, I am crippled by a strange embarrassment that renders me incapable of knowing that to do next.

I was cautioned, “You can’t live another person’s life for them. You can help, but they have made their choices.” I should have listened rather than getting dragged in. Nothing I have done has amounted to anything, and while I trudge on through my daily life and its trials, I find myself feeling embarrassed for having taken the path I did, for not satisfying my own needs, for not heeding the words of caution I received. Now I feel hamstrung and crippled by my own silence.

our home’s slow demolition by vine


Dan Rosenberg

I shove through bush and bed,
stumping along our house. Somewhere
I learned not to let the plants grow
too close, something about air flow, rot,

our home’s slow demolition by vine.
I wrap my hand around a dandelion,
pull into the tension, breathless
for the slight snap of roots, then harder,

until the earth releases it, or it gives up
its hold on the ground. I sunder
something deep, throw the plant
with its knot of dirt

to the driveway. The foliage
extends. A branch slaps back,
leaves an archipelago of blood
along my calf. Another, another,

I don’t know their names, just
pull with faith in the prior owner,
in her fertile excess that even my blunders
won’t undo. One white twig

feels hollow, comes loose in my hand,
but what of it was underground is red
as a crime, bent and beckoning.
The spring’s first accidental sweat

catches in the corners of my squint.
When I stand upright, survey
my labor, nothing looks better.

Photo by Viridi Green on Unsplash

i wish i prayed

hands in prayer

Work Song
Dawn Lundy Martin

She said, I wish I prayed, I would pray for you. And,

we all wanted a shape of prayer in our brains, taking over

instead of it chomping on itself. Stupid little elf. God has

never come to me. We surrender in the teeming utterance

of materials soaked with sentences already made in air

and by machines. The country says Freedom, crushed under

its own dream weight. I did not make up this song. Design

Within Reach is having a “Work from home sale.” The coming

apart, the giant laceration across the sky, we all feel it. Look

at the fire, look at it, like all the rage of all the smallest beings.

Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash

who are you fooling?

unmade bed in a dark room

Don’t Think
Elisa Gabbert

One way to fall asleep is paradoxical intention: trying not to fall asleep.

So the thinking goes, this reduces your performance anxiety.

The question is, who are you fooling, if you really want to fall asleep?

As if sleep were a performance for God.

The instructions on a sleep mask say, you still need to close your eyes.

I wish the pink light of sunrise lasted longer, the warm pink of in-between.

One way to fall asleep is to say Don’t think over and over to yourself.

The instructions say, try to practice it mindlessly.

In sleep, sleep becomes an everlasting interlude, an eternal in-between.

I read that staring into space “can help”—but can’t remember what it helps with,
thinking or not thinking.

Not thinking is the closest we can get to stopping time.

All I know of time is in my mind; my mind is all I know.

Only fifteen minutes ago, I had no idea it was going to snow.

And yesterday, and yesterday, what did we believe?

It’s so easy to forget, as if it were a dream.

The future wasn’t obvious.

And the old snow on the mountains that never would melt—it didn’t look real.

Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash