Our Wild Life
Our existence lately has been pretty tame,
not much excitement to be found.
Sometimes we see a rabbit on our lawn
munching grass, what we call “having a nosh.”
This gladdens us in our gentle quietude
and we declare it to be a “bunniful” day.
Every bunny needs some bunny,
we like to say.
On other days, a fox
cuts through the back yard on its way
to a gap in the neighbor’s fence
and then on to the next street over.
We name it Mr. Fox, or alternatively,
we announce the Vixen is about,
hunting for prey—like our rabbit,
or the many chipmunks that abound
in our neighborhood. They all seem to
hunker down in their dens when the fox
My wife, a Shakespeare lover,
names each chipmunk Puck. “Here, Puck,”
she calls, when tossing nuts out the door.
We envision vast quantities of cashews
and Brazil nuts under our lawn, the various
Pucks hoarding them, counting them, and
sleeping on them through the winter.
We set up a bird feeder outside the back
window, complete with baffler to defeat
the squirrels, who still managed to find
enough spillage to keep them happy.
Then one morning we noticed a fierce
hawk perched on the top of the feeder,
looking right at us. Later, we discovered
a clump of feathers on the ground below,
and realized we had lured one birdie
to its death. So we gave up putting out
any more seed. Of course, the neighbors
all around us had their feeders too,
so it really made no difference,
but we still didn’t want to be complicit.
John S. Eustis is a retired librarian living in Virginia with his wife, after a long, quiet federal career. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Pirene’s Fountain, Slipstream, Tar River Poetry, and other places.
The Stuff of Dreams
If my mother thought having a Barbie
would warp my view of womanhood,
she didn’t let on. Instead she griped
about how much they cost. Forget about
the shiny outfits, the high heeled shoes!
I got the cheap Barbie, the one with hard plastic
arms and legs, no bending whatsoever.
Torpedo boobs, perpetually pointy feet,
bright blonde hair pulled in a ponytail.
My friend down the street had a Ken.
Better yet, she stole her brother’s GI Joes.
GI Joes were so much better
equipped. And so many versions!
Back then, there was only one Ken,
and let’s face it, he was a total snooze.
My Barbie could only scissor sex,
a whirligig of splayed legs.
The friend moved away.
I cut Barbie’s hair, exposing the back
of her balding head. I filched
one of my dad’s white cotton handkerchiefs
from the ironing basket, strung it
with dental floss, tied it to Barbie’s
fraying pink dress, and tossed her out
my second story bedroom window.
She wasn’t very good at it, so she stayed
in the grass where she landed
until my father mowed the side yard.
That was that, the end of Barbie.
Did Barbie alter my view of the feminine?
Ten years later, when I was nineteen,
my chute green as a lawn
against a cobalt blue sky.
Ann Farley, poet and caregiver, is happiest outdoors, preferably at the beach. Her poems have appeared in Timberline Review, Third Wednesday, Willawaw Journal, Verseweavers, KOSMOS, and others. Her first chapbook, Tell Her Yes, was published by The Poetry Box in April, 2022. She lives in Beaverton, OR. Visit her website here.
What I have is a map of yellow, blue and red squares
on streets named Lafayette, Rivard, Hastings.
What I know is that my father’s grandmother lived here,
not far from the Eastern Market, not far from her cousins.
If you missed the vendor’s cart, you could walk from west
to east for your cabbage. Her house, her father’s house,
her sister’s house, her cousin’s house—these houses
are a map now. A square of red or yellow or blue.
Her home is a freeway now, my father’s grandmother’s
house. Her sister’s house, her cousin’s house—
all freeway now too.
Black Bottom it’s called, this neighborhood of rich
marsh soil buried under pavement and freeway.
My father’s grandmother made and sold hats
in the front parlor of the house that is now a freeway,
but it’s her father’s name in the business directory.
The Detroit River bed holds old wooden ships, cars,
firearms. Hattie’s feathered hats with velvet trim
are down there, too, fossilized in the murky clay.
Suzy Harris was born and raised in Indiana and has lived her adult life in Portland, Oregon. This year she published a chapbook called Listening in the Dark (The Poetry Box) about her journey through hearing loss and learning to hear again with cochlear implants.
Osage oranges fall thump in bright green circles
deer at dusk will come to forage.
Beside the house, a barrage of walnut husks
onto the gravel: ping ping ping.
Jeanette said she quickly learned rat-tat
rebel guns from eh-eh government ones.
Holed up in her home, huddled against
her bedroom wall, she knew which side
shot into the air, signaling.
up-country near the final rebel checkpoint
rat-tat there meant someone taken
into the rubber trees and killed.
During her year of Red Cross rice,
groveling for G-2 passes,
her pallet on the hut’s dirt floor,
she said the rat-tat she never got used to.
Nor could she eat the little river fish,
no matter how delicious, for the thought
of the bodies they themselves had eaten.
ping thump thump.
Wendell Hawken (she/her), a Washington DC native, earned her MFA in Poetry at the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers. Publications include three chapbooks and five full collections: The Luck of Being (2008), White Bird (2017) a sequence about her husband’s battle with cancer, Stride for Stride: A Country Life (2020), After Ward (2022), and All About (January 2023). Hawken lives on a grass farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley where the first meaning of AI is Artificial Insemination. Two dogs keep her company. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Millwood, VA, a quirky unincorporated village in Clarke County.
Grandma was a gruff old bird.
When she went to a schoolboard meeting,
which wasn’t often, they’d be eating crow
and say it tasted like chicken.
Us kids would hang around
when there was nothing to do
just to see if there would be fireworks.
When Cramer’s cows broke into her garden
he was fixing that fence before sunset.
Her reputation pushed before her like a wave.
But I’ll tell you something else:
during the Depression there was a mark
on her gate and hobos would knock
on Grandma’s back door,
she would hand out a sandwich
to the ragged soul standing there.
I don’t think many people know that.
Gary Lark’s most recent collections are Easter Creek, Main Street Rag, Daybreak on the Water, Flowstone Press and Ordinary Gravity, Airlie Press . His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Catamaran, Rattle, Sky Island and others. For more information, you may go to his website.