Excerpts from Volume Eight, 2020
from Lisa Halpern's Flying Through Blue
FRIEND FOR HIRE.
FIONA sits across from MARITA her therapist, dressed in a kimono, holding a teapot.
Sure. Thanks Marita.
Anyway, I think his movies are always really smart and funny.
Serious, but with a heart, you know?
Totally. Um, I need to--
Did you see the one he did a while back?
You know. The one I was talking about last time.
The one with what’s-his-name as the villain.
Oh. Yeah. Listen, I--
So what did you think?
Eh. But he sure was cute. So, I want to--
Did you see the one where he saves the world by creating a new antivirus--
Oh, I loved that one.
A soft Zen gong sounds.
Well, time’s up.
But, I . . . I mean . . . I need to talk to you--
Shall we schedule another session for next week?
from Laura Ruby's Our Last Kiss
Maybe it started with an octopus named
Amelia, who chucked rocks and bad shrimp
out of her tank, clocking her handlers one by
one, then vanished through a drain the size
of a dime.
Or maybe it was the squirrels, little
hangnails, chattering a litany of
losses—nuts, kits, trees. The dolphins
in no mood for tricks. The deer arranged
on the frosted lawn like the angriest Christmas
pageant after eating the poison set out
to keep them from the holly.
from Joanna Gordon's Storm Songs
Ku ʻia ka malama ʻeʻelekoa
Weathered the storms of the stormy month
"Endured with courage the
discomforts and privations of
war.” (Pukui 201)
To me, Koko Head Crater looks like the bust of a woman in profile. If I cock my head, the peak of her nose meets the end of the trail. There’s a small divot where the trail drops off, creating two thorny nostrils. I imagine her leaning against the mountain—a small graffiti-covered bunker the center of her eye, eroded fissures and grooves in the earth sending her hair streaming towards the ocean.
All along Koko Head’s profile rotted and rusted railroad ties compose the trail into small stitches, leading tall and lean to her nose. It hosts thousands of tiny feet trampling and tripping over railroad ties. All struggling to reach the top, just to catch a glimpse of the blue-leather ocean stretching for miles and miles.
A small hollow bridge makes her mouth. Wind whistles through her teeth.
from Monet Lessner's Midnight in the Garden
I remember a night from my childhood with such unnatural precision that I can recall the number of scuffs along the floorboard I saw when I woke. There were three. Dark smudges at different heights. Two to the left of the door and one to the right. I can’t remember the name of the rabbit I owned briefly that year, or the face of my third grade teacher, or why my mom threw away all my candy the day after Halloween, but I know that my window curtains didn’t meet completely in the center; just enough moonlight entered to give everything a worrisome glow. Sometimes when I walk into my daughter’s room at night, the string lights cast shadows around her bed, and an overwhelming melancholy fills me. Old visions rise up, and I have to push them away, kiss her sleeping forehead, pray that her youthful musings will always be sweeter than mine.
There was a little table beside my bed with an ivory lamp. The shade was worn pink, probably something passed down to me from cousins. I can hear the click as I turned it on in semi-darkness, a distinct sound in the paranormal silence. It was winter; my sheets were cold, but I felt a sickening heat, starting in my stomach and coming out like dew along my body. And I remember the dream.
From Tonya McKenna Trabant's Sea Glass Beach
Peeling stray hairs out of our mouths
we are leaning heads together when sea glass
blinks at our feet from black sand
then squints westward to rocky mottle offshore
I do not worry about the Earth
declared the geologist
as we leap over pools at low tide, both hands
wave words wild with trying
to discern origin of concealed piece
fishing float? message in a bottle?
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