Short story from Lance Manion

risking the scraped knee


I must have looked like a crazy person.

The way our eyes met, and then, instead of quickly finding something- anything- to look at to ease the discomfort of unexpected human interaction, my eyes froze. They darted down a bit to the nose and then a quick swing around the eyebrows but they never left her face.

They dipped down to the lips.

And what lips.

A sudden rush of memories that had nothing to do with these particular lips came nevertheless. I wonder how much of those memories played across my crazy-person face as I fought to look away.

She looked like someone I once knew but there was no way to explain that to her without risking a good macing. I was already firmly in weirdo territory, no reason to push my luck.

I walked to a nearby bench and plopped down to collect myself. I could feel her eyes on me.

She was there with a child that I could only assume was hers based on her body language.

She was younger than the person she would look to be like today. She looked like she did when she was the person I was remembering. She she she. Obviously this wasn’t just any she.

You always think about riding past the old house to see how things look all these years later but the truth is that the little tree out front is now a big tree, and its roots have grown up under the sidewalk and pushed it all out of shape and made it uneven. And even a simple ride past now is treacherous.

You understand?

So when I sat on the bench I tried not to look at her but, as treacherous as it might have been, I wanted a quick look.

It might have been her, if time had frozen. It was uncanny. I didn’t think people could look so much alike. How she did her hair. How she moved. The jeans she wore. The shoes.

She even doted on her son like I’d always imagined she would have.

Some quick look, right?

Ok, it was a long look and for some reason I got the impression that while she was aware that I was watching her while trying not to look like I was watching her, she was alright with it. I would have looked just the same but it was nice of her not to run screaming.

Eventually you loaded up her son into the minivan and left and that was the same minivan I saw pull up the next day at the same time.

I was now circling the house on my metaphorical bike complete with the nostalgic baseball cards in the tires and the emoting banana seat.

It wasn’t until the third day that I walked up to explain myself … as best I could. While I worried I might come off a bit creepy, she said it explained a lot.

She said she liked it. She liked finding out what little stories are going on in other people’s heads.

We met every day after that for a week.

Her husband traveled internationally and was gone much more than he was at home. Even when he was home. The tree out front was growing but he wasn’t paying much attention to the sidewalk.

She had started her own business and it seemed to be flourishing. It took me three days to find out exactly what it was. She didn’t want to tell me because she was afraid I would laugh. I told her I wouldn’t.

She explained that after that video of a squirrel waterskiing went viral, everyone who owned a squirrel wanted to have it learn to water ski. She had a big pool out back anyway so … she was a water skiing instructor for squirrels and other small mammals.

I laughed.

I laughed because that was something that could have helped me to picture the girl she originally reminded me of. The last I heard, she was a fencing instructor for disabled and mentally handicapped children. That was a long time ago.

The tree out front had no doubt grown plenty since then.

So now I knew one more little story in one more pretty head, but even as I talked to my new acquaintance, I knew I was only there because of who she looked like.

I could have her become her. Or vice versa.

Or I could continue down the street and leave the house behind once and for all.

Sinking back into the banana seat and feeling the wind in my hair, I peddled as fast as I could and never looked back.

Looking back on it now, she probably thought it was because she was a water skiing instructor for squirrels.


Lance Manion is the author of four humorous short story collections; Merciful Flush, Results May Vary, The Ball Washer and his latest, Homo sayswhaticus. He blogs daily on his website and frequently contributes to many online fiction sites.

Bruce Roberts on Opera San Jose’s production of Verdi’s opera Falstaff

Falstaff Fantastic

I’ve always been ambivalent towards opera. On one hand, I love the voices-those powerful theater-filling instruments that make one ashamed to even try singing in the shower. Their power and majesty are thrilling, inspiring, and humbling—all at the same time.

On the other hand, they tell stories-with characters, and with dialogue. That dialogue–and the accompanying events–often do not achieve the same level of awe-inspiring performance as the singing. A singer might swell his voice to reach the stars–while asking for a sandwich.

I thought of this recently as I sat in San Jose’s beautiful California Theater and watched the opening night performance of Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff. Readers who know Shakespeare at all, know Falstaff as an overweight, loud-mouthed drunkard in Henry IV, a would-be seducer of women, and a bad influence on young Prince Hal, trying to keep him drinking and partying until Hal rises above, rejecting Falstaff to become the heroic Henry V.

The prince does not appear in Verdi’s version—which is based more on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor— but Falstaff is there, with all of his bad habits intact—as befitting a comedy. He drinks, he brags, he welshes on his bar tab, he plots to seduce women, he berates his workers, but most of all—as played by Scott Bearden—he sings, with a thundering, powerful voice, the equal of anyone else on stage. Would that his comedic acting equaled his voice.

The true comediennes in this performance were the ladies. More capable of injecting feeling into their wonderful voices, and supporting it with animated faces, Jennifer Forni as Alice Ford, Lisa Chavez as Meg Page, and Nicole Birkland as Dame Quickly establish immediately that Falstaff is no match for them. Their indignation at Falstaff’s plan to seduce them, their glee as they plot their revenge, and their total joy as the revenge comes to pass, are all portrayed with liveliness of voice and face and gesture that keeps the audience in rapt attention. Of course their words and actions do not measure up to their awe-inspiring voices—but that’s opera.

The symbiotic relationship between voice and action and meaning, however, does shine through with the young lovers in the play. Nannetta Ford, played by Cecilia Violetta Lopez, and Fenton, played by James Callon, have the passionate language of romance to match their euphoric, elegant voices, and the results are amazing. Love sizzles in the beauty of their singing, the animation of their faces. And in Ms. Lopez’s larger role, as the Fairy Witch who dominates the final torture of Falstaff, she is the epitome of lively charm.

All in all, attending opening night of Falstaff at the San Jose Opera was a wonderful experience. Tuxedos and elegant gowns everywhere, a glamorous 1927 old-style theater—glittering from a recent 80 million dollar restoration, and a cast with voices magnificent made for an unforgettable evening.

Bruce Roberts is a writer and retired junior high teacher from Hayward, California. He may be reached at

Poetry from eLPy

Every Forest 
By eLPy, please support the site!

I have learned something
Inside myself
About the world around me.
Everything IS special
And has its time and place.
Every forest is alive
And full of unimaginable things.
Every forest is exotic
To the next travelling stranger.
Every forest is the best example
Of a community working together
Efficiently and carefully
Using its resources.
No one forest is better than the next.
It’s all in our perspectives.
Yes, the Amazon is a jungle
Filled with more wondrous things than most
More exotic than most
More extravagant and mind-numbing
But it is still
Only one of many along a spectrum
To really love the Amazon
You must know how to appreciate them all
Its fascination too will die out
Amongst repetitive stimulations
By visitations
The key to conservation is integration
Bringing it all together
We don’t conserve things
Because we don’t value them
For what they are
We preserve them
Because we value what they are
To us
We don’t save the rainforests
Because we don’t appreciate
Our own.
We’re always searching
Searching for something better
Than what’s in front of us
What if we integrated
mass amalgamated
All those strangely appealing,
exotic because unknown to us
Thoughts, images, dreams, and ideals
Into what already exists?
What if we conserved things
We loved them
Not just because they’re disappearing?
Like Winter Strong
By eLPy
Sharp like spices,
Ice slices
down and under
into you
Winter weather cold,
and brutal too,
Feel it, brave it, true, bold
the landscape revealing
only raw materials, and then concealing
Your fears and weaknesses, perhaps
your happiness inside warm hats
contained in flake-shaped crystals
falling to mesmerize
against the hustle
Against white, color is strong
existence in the Evergreen
all year long
appearance not apparent
until you see it last the current
Nature need not expect
forced upon suspecting
all who live a life
whether accepting or requesting
Soon, it will pass
fade into life
until there is the last
heart frozen under despair
the weather clears to be fair
And what was raw
seemingly barren
summons like the crow’s caw
what’s been there all along
No less than Winter Strong
By eLPy
I was pushed to the edge by my friend
The banality incessant
Finally, the scales tipped and I fell off
The noisy backdrop always so comforting
Like being alone in a crowded room
You don’t want to be a part of the crowd
but you need the crowd to be a part of you
This was at my fingertips
With a mere and simple push
This button, that button, on and off
Then it pushed me back
There was nothing there this night
Relief was evanescent
Exhibiting my choleric attitude
As I couldn’t find what I searched for
The clutter and the chatter
Became a discursive banter
That I could no longer handle
If just for the noise I would keep my friend
All night
But this time the noise reached my threshold
I could not hold on
And off
Goes my friend
Now the screen is dark
And the room is quiet
Lacking in certitude about how now
The night will play out
It’s all up to me, what’s inside
The noise is harnessed in that rectangle
No longer free to bombard me
I’m left with the responsibility
Just me and my creativity
To make the room come back to life
All alone, I have to make it okay to be
All Alone.
By eLPy
We push death
To benefit some agendas
We cry culture
To right atrocities
We preach wrongs
To right our egos.
Who are we?
We are everywhere.
Let me take life
So that I may live mine
As I please.
I will do
What I punish you for
Because it benefits me.
I will punish you
For trying to live
As you see fit
For then,
There will be room for me
To live as I see fit!
Who is this “I”?
This “I” is everywhere,
In almost everyone.
Mass animal slaughter
Today, it’s dolphins in Japan.
Justice followed Genocide
When we deemed it worthy
But let go as long as possible
When we didn’t
Celebrated celebrities
Praised as false idol Gods
Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian
Diminished & demoted
Kept distant & reflected on remotely
MLK, Ghandi, Jesus
Haughty criminals disguised as leaders
Kept close, they remain in power
George W. Bush, countless corporate & political figures
Millions spent on marketing
Minorities spent on pain
All in the name of “our” gain
People defending their worth
As people
The “Jena 6”
Against people lying to
Remain high & mighty
White people, especially the wealthy
Or any one people/culture
Forcing themselves
Above another
We’ll hold the bait
For anyone/anything to race
Then ride their coattails
And in the end
Take their place
We kill our earth
And all her creatures
Just so we can exploit
Her features
The oceans, rainforests, all ecosystems
We take lives
From their homes
Exotic pet trade
Just to flaunt them
In our own & then neglect them
When we’re done
The pet trade
We tell others how to live
But that chance
We do not give
Developing nations, well really
Everyone different from ourselves
Billions spent on entertainment
Reality shows, award shows, political shows
Of deception, monetary affection and the infection
Of the need for power & control
While cents are spent on common sense
Global malaria prevention
Necessary, life-saving childhood vaccinations
Improved & proper sanitation
A consideration of the book of revelations
These are just a few of the things
We could do on our vacations
So imagine
All the progress we should make
Within our occupations
We don’t have to look far
Or even try hard
To find solutions
Cause they’re not in some
Upper/middle class
Economical revolution
They are found,
Global salvation is found
In the abolishment
Of mankind’s
Thunderous Nights Within
By eLPy
The room spins
And the thunderous fear
Crashes in to you.
Oh shit,
This is real.
You can feel it all around
Until you’re claustrophobic.
Just when you thought
You could breathe
And the sun will come again
Your darkness nailed all
Your doors
You could feel each nail
As it crucified your existence
Screaming out the windows
But no one near
Can hear your frequency.
Your decibels are off this scale
And on to the next.
Where they can hear you
It is the rest that forget you
Because you exist
In these moments
Beyond comprehension,
Like northern lights
And natural phenomena
There are few who even want
To know
What to do.
Let alone take on this
Trial of error
That is sometimes
And so much
The thunder follows lightning
Because it is only in seconds
You can see anything right now.
But oh how you wish lightning followed thunder first
Like fearless follows fear,
You need the sun
To follow nightmares
Right as you wake
To remember them
As it is then
You doubt you’ll escape.
It’s a natural disaster
Inside of you,
The winds won’t die
The rains won’t stop
And the thunder only gets louder.
The floods rise
The winds spin
And the sky darkens
Taking with it your hope
Of a rainbow
And its pot of gold.
To ask for help
Becomes a danger
To the others,
But you fear
You will not brave
You cannot swim
And the light is too far
Like driving to catch morning
Before you even see it
On the horizon.
You are not safe
Where you live,
As it is in this place
That you are conspiring
Against yourself.
But it is not you
And you can’t explain who
Until all the doors
And windows
All the safe exits
On the first floor
Are blocked with barricades
Of thoughts
That spiral in and down.
Run to the second
And then
Only can you jump,
No parachute
No glider
Not even an umbrella.
Then there is
And your second story
Becomes a second chance…
Yet…you still have to wonder
Is there
Still out there
Who can, will
Or even wants
To embrace this catastrophic place?
Or have all
The residents
Moved on, moved out
And forgotten?
With all this rubble
This work to be done
Comes fear like disease.
Panic rivals health
Peace of mind
Becomes so scarce
It’s wealth
And you are
But a poor gravesite
Where you are found
To be lost
As you see
That they’re blind.
There’s no one here
With directions
To the mountain near the sun
And its safety,
The rainbow and its pot of gold.
No, I don’t believe
The leprechaun exists!
But I can show you
Where there is paralyzing fear
That is real
And magic places made up
To pose enough
Like happy meals.
Where there is enough sadness
To make the sky blue
Leaving you
Up there
Lost in space
Where time is spent
And reality is wasted
Until it is forgotten
And something else
Replaces it.
Stuck in a house
With no roof
And no basement,
The thunder always
Rocks you,
The lightning always
Shocks you,
And tornados always
Catch you
With no safe place
To take cover.
So you sit
In this darkness
And maybe you wait till dawn,
Or maybe you dive into the shadows,
But you’re always wondering,
Until you can’t,
Where are the survivors?
Did they make it through?
Can they reach back with key in hand
To locked doors and unceasing storms?
Where are the saviors
To rescue us
From these behaviors?
          Grant us the heart
          And the eyes of an owl
          So we may see still                                   Through the dark
          And capture the light
          When it is scarce
          to guide us
                      through these pitch black, thunderous nights
                                         that live within us.

Poetry from Irving Greenfield


by Irving A Greenfield


The music touched me,

and I touched the music.

A theme, played by the violist,

dug out of the notes with strings and a bow,

thrown to the moment and caught something

something I did not want to remember.

The cantorial chant of the High Holy Days,

now a memory realized;

A plea for mercy, even to me, an unbeliever.


The mood hurls him into the past;

he’s a small boy curled up on thread-bare couch,

maybe it was green?

Half awake, half asleep,

Listening to the Saturday afternoon performance of Tristan and Isolde.

As he listens now,

seated on high-back chair next to the window with a harbor view.

He listens and reaches back into the past; the music his arms and hands.

Something magical, beyond his ability to understand how that memory,

that image so long gone came back to occupy a place in his brain,

A place he never knew he had,

especially for that insignificant moment when he was a boy

listening as he listens now to Tristan and Isolde

as eternal sleep claims him.


The reality and the memory

bridged by the music

an outdoor concert on a sweltering summer’s night

with the salt scent of the ocean heavy in the air

a burst of music

The William Tell Overture”

the pounding hoof beats and a ‘high-oh Silver!’”

And a small boy is sprawled out on the floor

in front of the Majestic Radio

his gray-haired father sits close by

pretending not to listen to the daring-do

of the Masked-man and his Indian friend, Tonto

but listening all the same

The memory of it made sweeter by the music,

by the gallop of so many years

Kim Brown on Katherine Scott Nelson’s novella Have You Seen Me

In the worlds of some teenagers, life can be hard.
The challenges that some teenagers have to endure may make it seem impossible to live.
The violence, drug use, and bad behavior tend to be the escape from the harshness of their realities.
The ridicule, constant fighting and disagreements with parents, school mates and other family members who have no clue about the pain that a teenager is going through do not help. Teenage life can be extreme, even for the calmest teenager. Being accepted for who one really is the hope of many teenagers, but is rarely realized.
There will always be the stigmas, the misconceptions, and the expectations of the world and the family for a teenager to try to live up to. But you will find in this book, Have You Seen Me, a novella by Katherine Scott Nelson, two teenagers, both struggling with their own way of life and trying to make life work right for themselves.
This book is a great read for mothers and fathers, and teenagers who are great at just being who they are. As parents we often get so caught up in trying to structure our children’s experiences that we forget that we live in a great huge world that has more of an influence on our children that we do. The longing to belong as a teenager is important, and this is a difficult season of life. Although we want to create a perfect teenager who always stays on the right path, we should just be thankful for our son and daughter’s soul and life.
In this book you will see how teenagers at young ages are exposed to the most detrimental experiences inside and outside of the home. One chooses to escape momentarily, while the other tries, unsuccessfully at first, to disappear forever.
No matter the problems that a teenager is facing, they should know that there will always be resources that will be able to help them. Running away from the challenges of family and home, unless to escape physical or sexual abuse, can end in tragedy.
Thank God for friends. In this book, we see these two friends who face similar challenges in life, one who runs away to New York City, and another who is cautious enough to endure the test of time. He is confused, yet unable to take such drastic steps to relieve his frustration, and anger. He holds on and is able to still grow as a teenager, and also lend a helping hand to his friend in trouble.
Through hardships, adversities, anger, family disagreements, distressing and difficult circumstances, conditions of pain, sickness, or dysfunction, we need our teenagers to hold on and be strong. We need our teenagers, despite all the right or wrong choices they may have made, to seek refuge in a family member or friend. As we see in this book, the teenager who goes astray not only takes their family and friends through pain, but they also ultimately hurt themselves in the short and long term.
Now, some advice to teenagers:
As teenagers we have to understand that we can be empowered by many people. The main thing is to learn to love discipline, and to learn to love the ones who may have a different view than ours. We as teenagers have to learn to love ourselves and take time to learn about the world, people and places that surround us.
Kim Brown welcomes thoughts and feedback, and may be reached at 

Poetry from John Grey




Though I’m a willing audience, he doesn’t give a blow by blow.

His mouth is clenched. The lesson is up to my eyes.

Never seen such hairy hands, such huge knuckles.

The razor shrinks inside his fist, its blade peeking out

like a captured sparrow.

What hope has it against the whiskers on that jutting jaw,

the cheeks that fill the bathroom mirror.

He lathers his face with gobs of bright white foam.

Then, with blade close as a kiss, he scrapes along

that relief map of a face,

his fingers like trackers guiding the razor

over bone, under lip, across the red leather of his cheeks.

Miraculously, he doesn’t cut himself.

I swear that razor wouldn’t dare.

Next step, he slaps his skin into submission

with a hot wet hand towel, braces each subdued pore

with smelly stuff from a tube.

He then takes a step back, admires his morning masterwork.

He pats me on the head and leaves the room without a word.

Shaving begins with fascination and ends with an unerring lesson.

And, in between, years I have to grow, and no one saying much.





Mistakes are made –

I can easily be taken

for my younger brother

but I am not him.

Don’t listen to faint voices

bouncing off the walls

of your conclusions.

First remove the skin.

have me flattened, lifeless,

flesh to flesh, sweat to sweat.

Sometimes identity is exactly that.


But soon it won’t matter.

Other people will have moved into this space.

Misidentification will be replaced

by people who know each other.

Or even emptiness – although

nothing is truly empty- molecules of air

will bump against each other –

bounce this way and that.


Human shape gets some people every time.

Coming together

flutters its visions nonsensically.

What flows sweetly through the head

sounds dumb in the mouth.

Some of my

“No I’m not him” may even remain.


I’m in a new place by then,

not diffidence or solipsism

but because where I’m going

has a future, beyond where my latest step

has taken me.

And there’s my thoughts,

playing to a gallery of one.

Yes, it’s me and not my brother.

Footsteps crackle on all the leafy evidence.





Art class was a failure.

My moon was half the page

and sat on the roof of the house.

The people outside

were small and fleshless.

The moon’s heft almost drove them

off the edge of the page.


I couldn’t draw what the teacher asked.

There was no separation between my head

and what my hand could do.

I knew the moon was a midget in the sky

and people and buildings towered over me.

But facts never did sit well

with my imagination.


The teacher leaned over my shoulder

but made no remark.

But the girl behind me was rated aloud.

“Very good work, Sandra.”


The teacher had never been where I live.

She hadn’t seen it at night

when I was in bed,

eyes wide and staring out the window,

and the moon was crushing me.


Sandra’s old man beat her mother

and she hadn’t witnessed that either.

Teacher was just pleased that Sandra

had everything in proportion.




When pregnant,

she felt heavy,

like a tree trunk

and its spreading roots.


Her upper branches

bore the baby.

It fluttered out there

with the leaves and the lightning

but she couldn’t budge

from her own hard grounding.


Baby blossomed so far away

she could barely see.

It grew into fruit, ripened,

maybe fell,

but more likely was picked.


But what did scarred bark

know of that?

Or thick strands

of tired wood

nuzzling the dirt?


When pregnant,

she joined a forest

of like trees.


Life after that

was either songbirds

or woodpeckers,

seasons or axmen.


And, of course,

the wind,

the redundant shaking.


John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Sanskrit and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze” with work upcoming in Clackamas Literary Review, New Orphic Review and Nerve Cowboy.

Poetry from William Doreski

Running in Place


Running in place on the treadmill

in my basement I note a mouse

creeping up the concrete wall.


Black, short-tailed, thick as my fist,

it clings to the vertical

like a gravestone lichen. I stare


at this mobile punctuation

until I’m running the bases

in a sandlot game. I run so hard


I knock down the first baseman,

second baseman, shortstop, third

baseman and catcher, yet scoop up


the bases themselves and tuck them

in a muscular compact bundle

like a football under my arm.


The mouse applauds with tiny paws

without losing its grip on the wall.

The basement groans and splits open


to admit the sunlight and bathe me

in post-Easter glory. The ballpark

crowd roars and wriggles in its seats.


The treadmill whines as I reach

unnatural speed. Belt and pulleys

strain to accommodate such force.


Metal snaps and I tumble

into the dust between home plate

and first base, and the catcher


tags me out, out, out. Yet still

I’m clutching the bases, including

home plate, so I’ve won anyway,


won without a team to back me.

The mouse has reached the top of the wall.

It disappears into a crevice.


The ballpark crowd has departed

in disappointment, the home team

defeated and the April light


bruised deep blue. I run awhile

longer, but tire so easily

I know all this effort’s in vain.


Drugstore Logic Applied


As I drive in the rainy dark

to the drugstore, the houses

of my neighbors flash as TV

charms them in shifting colors.


Impoverished by fading eyesight,

cooped behind troubled glasses,

I feel rather than see the road

tuck under itself in the thaw.


Snowbanks tall as defensive guards

still flaunt. But they’re knuckling slowly,

crystal by crystal, failing to hold

their form against the keening of rain


and the flop of calendar pages.

I arrive in a huff. The lights

of the chain store fortify products

in which I otherwise have no faith.


As I purchase overpriced drugs

a crowd of pubescents buying

candy and chips hogs the checkout.

Back on the road, lurching through rain,


I wonder if the hidden landforms

survive the torpor of the dark,

or if they fold themselves away

for times when I really need them.




First Outing of a Troubled Year



Eating recycled plastic

at your picnic makes me feel

manlier than the men who munch

organic produce and smile.


The day pouts and blusters.

The lake cringes as the ice cracks

to reveal the first open water

we’ve seen in five months. You pour


wine into my two cupped hands.

I gargle it down and sneer

at men whose dainty fingers,

manicured by smirking experts,


fondle stemware without risk.

Their wine, made from ordinary grapes,

leaves their senses tingling,

while the swill you’ve served inflames


passions that follow the bell curves

of earthquakes. No more, please. The light

in the treetops shivers with fear.

Soon the lake will sprout bass boats


puttering close to shore. Later,

speedboats dragging skiers will comb

the water, scoring fatal wakes.

The cottages will flower. Music


will hush the birdsong, and kids

will taunt each other to drown.

We’ll avoid the lake all summer

and return in the fall when silence


drapes the heaving trees. Your picnic

has saddened me. Maybe it’s the wine,

or maybe chewing the plastic

has loosened all my fillings; [stnza break]



but the passion that could have shaken

the world has faded, leaving a dead

fish stink and crackle of ice

that render me too manly to bear.


Amnesiac Again


Abandoned rather than lost,

memory has abstracted itself

like a pasture buried in snow.


This bedroom with a cairn of clothes

on the floor, an expensive watch

glowering with diamonds and dials


on the nightstand, a woman snoring

in a heap of cats, puzzles me

with its lack of useful clues.


I stuff myself inside the clothes

and creep down a long green hallway

to a stainless steel kitchen


only the rich could afford.

Copper-bottomed pots dangle

as if condemned. A gas range


big enough to roast a hippo

smolders in grim self-confidence.

A woman in uniform asks me


what I want for breakfast. A name,

a place, a green thought to take

outdoors to think in green shade.


The woman breaks eggs in a pan

and sets it hissing on the range.

Something in me broke like those eggs


sometime last night as stars aligned

in obsolete configurations

I’ve never learned to identify.


How clear the boundary between

knowing my name, knowing my place,

and erasure of all but outlines.


I stand in the snowy pasture

and moo and bleat and grumble

while the cook flips the eggs because [stanza break]


she already knows I like them

easy over. This gothic moment

prolongs to enable me


to avoid the reverberation

that would shiver this house to its soul

if I thundered too abruptly.



Canoeing Up the Penobscot


Canoeing up the Penobscot

with a lanky mob of Indians,

I split the current stroke by stroke,

straining every sorry muscle.

The Indians do no better.

Their faces warp as they wrestle


the snowmelt pouring downstream

from the complex of lakes to the north.

I have no money to pay them,

but they feared I’d drown myself

if I ascended the stream alone.

The cloud-casual afternoon hisses


with effort. Spring rain promises,

but withholds until we’re ready

to camp on a cringing stretch of shore.

A highway nearby snores with trucks.

A railroad trills with steel on steel.

Why didn’t I ship my canoe


to the lakes and ride the friction

back to Old Town in studied ease?

The Indians don’t ask. We chatter

and share a dinner of boiling fat.

They like being Indians. I like

being with Indians while the dark


smolders with self-contained rage.

As we lie in our tents the rain

sizzles through the eloquent trees

and defines everything it touches.

At dawn we breakfast on more fat

and mount our canoes. The current


retorts, and midstream I lose myself.

The Indians wave and chuckle

as my canoe reverses and speeds me

downhill with my paddle flailing.

Down, down, past Chester, Lincoln,

Howland, Olamon, Old Town, Bradley, [stanza break]



Orono, Veazie, Bangor,

and then Winterport and Bucksport

and with a heave and sigh into

the bay, Islesboro dead ahead.

I beach my canoe, flop on the sand,

and marvel that I’ve traveled


almost seventy miles this morning.

The Indians must be laughing

as the bay and bare sky are laughing—

the spruce rim of the island

dour as the skirts of ruffed grouse

settling at last on their nests.

Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).