by Heather Cousins
We start out in t-shirts
with the windows cracked; the air
smells like wet pastures and wild onions.
The dogs poke their wet noses out,
strain the different pollens
from the air. Hours later,
in Tennessee, I reach for a sweatshirt.
“Nashville,” my husband says.
We pass a grass green exit sign.
The dogs, who have been sleeping,
each in its own space,
rouse themselves to look outside
for guitars. The sun is a gold chord
in a box of blue sky. The silver road
passes. By dusk, we’re bouncing and roaring
through the backyards of Indiana,
long rectangles of brassy light
cast from the windows of farmhouses.
The land is flat and vast.
“It’s like a giant cemetery,”
my husband says, nods to a tall white
silo. Michigan, we’re coming.
The dogs move in on each other
for warmth. Under a cold moon,
we see our first snow, fields dusted
in a white film. The breath of a horse
hangs in the air like lace. The land
turns to skeletons: jawbone stumps
and femur trees. I pull my wool coat
from the backseat, put it on backwards.
Michigan—I’m almost home.
© 2010 Heather Cousins
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Close Shave in Idaho
by Phil Gruis
Transported by his passion for Vikings,
Rex whacks the air with his scissors
as if lopping off a head with a broadsword.
I just want a quick trim, I say.
If this wasn’t the only barbershop in town
I’d have been warned away
by the Confederate flag, tit calendar,
Clinton hate posters and three storm troopers
with hair so short they’d make a drill sergeant
look like Rapunzel.
But in I walk—with my longish hair,
Mexico t-shirt, pen clipped to the neckhole,
no real swagger, not pissed at anyone,
not even packing.
Red-haired, camo-shirted Rex snips and chops
as he out-rants a radio talk show nut
who’s spouting the same sorry shit about lefties,
anti-gun anti-war faggots, welfare, whatever.
Fearing for my tongue, I say nothing.
He buzzes my head, dangerously riled up,
fantasizing about a pilgrimage to Denmark
to worship the ground once trod by Viking
those prototype Aryans who he’s sure
took no shit from Moors or mud people...
speaking of which: he’d go to New Zealand,
he says, but the Maori women are way ugly.
But he reckons they’re all the same inside, ha ha.
The trooper in the next chair barks too. Ha ha.
For this I pay $10 (no tip) and scoot, relieved
all those sharp objects and I’m not bleeding.
Safe in my truck, I see in the mirror,
for the first time, my naked temples. Pulsing.
© 2010 Phil Gruis
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The Luckiest Man in the World
by Larry Crist
It was some kind of corporate fin de sičcle salute to sports
sponsored by ESPN in a mall where I was earning 15 bucks an hour
to stand around and wear a sporty ESPN shirt
talk sports and baby-sit the exhibit
which consisted of plaques and pennants and trivia
and a life-sized moving talking statue of Lou Gehrig
doing his “Luckiest man alive” speech
which he performed in 1939 at Yankee Stadium
while dying of his own disease
Would he be known for his 1934 triple crown?
or his consecutive games played
since eclipsed by Cal Ripken?
No, Lou Gerhig is known for Lou Gehrig’s disease
and this was that sad-assed speech where he began
to undermine his legend
I bought a yo-yo which is a more active way of doing nothing
A yo-yo is like doing nothing with an exclamation point attached
Kids lurked everywhere, ready to steal Lou’s cap
drop his pants
humiliate the luckiest man on earth
anyway they could
I walk the dog
zip ’round the world
become semi-proficient with my blue yo-yo
listen as Lou says the words over and over
Today, today, I consider myself, myself, the luckiest man, man, alive, alive...
I think about how much luckier Babe Ruth was
he chased pussy instead of being one
7 decades later, Lou is still a big corporate sponsored pussy
I have five years on him already
with no idea what to do with my life
playing with a blue yo-yo in a brightly lit mall
and no disease to call my own
© 2010 Larry Crist
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by Jenna Rindo
is that time just
unzipping lengths of
lined metal teeth
hidden in back seams
of vintage sun dresses
or favorite blue jean
crotches. Faded red
barn doors wait for us,
open at the elbow turns of
But now is the time
weeks after all
those Milky Way
midnight groping sessions spent
trying to prove the big bang,
string theory, even relativity.
Her mornings, nights, and afternoons
find her clutching the white
Hard water stains, in colors of rust
and old blood leave a code
waiting to be broken.
© 2010 Jenna Rindo
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