Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 Anthology Reading (the shy ones)

Maria Arana

The Worst Day

Starting a new life
In a new world
Away from green mangoes
You never find here

The worst day of my existence:
The first day of school;
The new kid
During the middle of the year

I stood out like an elephant in the room
With polka dot shorts

The worst teacher spoke
And I couldn’t listen.

I met the children of ogres
They call me names
I’d rather not mention

The day was a kaleidoscope of wishless hopes
That ended with a chair
Wet from my own liquid
The stink was hard to remove
For years
I cursed

Thank God there was no facebook
Or my worst day
Would have been
The end of me

Karine Armen

Do Objects Die?

I still use
the things I bought
many years ago
the scissors
music tapes
shirts and dresses
My towel

how many times
they’ve been washed
gone through
the cycle
still functional

but wait
how about
so many are

I wish
he was
My towel

Mina Kirby


Amid cacophonous noises of war
someone’s child lies dead
by the side of the road

We listen to Mozart
and are having roast chicken
for dinner

Karen Klingman

A Short Stay

pampas grass splays up along the coastline
like fireworks on New Years Eve
the surf in mid October reaches out with delicate frothy fingers
tracing lasting images in my mind

one reaching Big Sur I camp between five redwoods
walk along a river stream where a small girl with apricot hair
still dressed in pajamas plays hopscotch
on humpback rocks with a Saint Bernard

further along a group of young men in boots and warm flannel
drink beer and walk on flat rubber wires between the redwoods
almost back at the cabin mist becomes rain
funky folk music comes from a makeshift tent

the band motions me in
soon eight to ten of us
huddle, sing, sway and relive a time
we thought we could make a change

Thelma Reyna


I don’t recall when we first spoke. But I remember how his tall frame ambled by my table that first time, and he stalled beside my chair, not knowing I could see his reflection in the glass across the room, and he looked down on my head and seemed to pause as I looked straight ahead and didn’t move. I could hardly breathe. His reflection was so gorgeous, as he was, for I’d had a good look at him, and the book he carried snagged my heart: Reading Lolita in Tehran, clash of cultures, one group loving the other from afar, from the shadows, loving the forbidden, fearing disaster and braving the chance of everything falling apart.

He didn’t speak to me then, no, not then, but after, much after, though I don’t know when. After days of pretending not to see me, and I feigning not to care. There, just feet away, always sitting near the window, where he could watch my face no matter where I sat in that cafe. And I saw the thick black coffee he preferred, the heavy pastries he held lightly in fingers slender and slow, watched him licking icing from scones, frowning in his coffee cup, as if deciphering how he could hear my breath, miles away.

Our fingers brushed together when we reached for napkins at the counter’s end. Reading Lolita, bent and dogeared, lay on the table by my hand. He blushed. My blood rushed and pulsated in my head when he spoke and broke the barricade we’d had. His heavy accent, bumbling words, deep red face and mutters—my stutters matched his lack of grace, but his face spoke the words that tripped his tongue. Love at first sight, love from out the shadows, through days of averted gaze, weeks of pretending we didn’t inhabit the same room. Love hidden in long silence, but, as it turned out, love so wrong.

He was alien, undocumented, illegal, criminal, a trespasser taking advantage of our nation’s largesse—or so they said. But how could those silken hands commit a crime? How could his liquid eyes instill fear and rage, the poems he said to me in darkness as we lay in shadowed rooms speaking simply of love, and forgiveness, and the beauties of sun and sky, and children’s breath, and the loneliness of death.

Love without papers can be hard.

Erika Wilk

nymphs in dark pools

beckon me
lianas ensnare me
sea urchin needles
nuzzle my neck
pay no attention

I am alone
a single tomato plant
rooted but flowering
tries to free herself
a wave of fresh air washes me
off the canvas
colors drip

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