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Author: Cady Favazzo

At Fifty

My mother died at fifty of

a beautiful word, leukemia.

Nine years earlier

in autumn, she gave birth to me

when the maples in the park

began to turn as they do now.

I don’t know how to walk here,

in the shifting space no meanings fill.

I have now outlived her.

I enter this foreshortened field,

wildly unmothered still.

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Crimson

When they found his body today,

all forty-seven of his years drowned

in a pool he paid for with blood, I thought

of my brother. He has life. The police cracked

Rodney King’s head open before a live

audience. This is 1991 & the Bad Boys

from Detroit were in the Finals again, or will be

when June comes around & all around me shatters.

They say King had 59 fractures, bones brittle

brittle after that night when he became

why every young dude I knew shouted “Fuck

the Police.” We only cursed what could kill us:

the day blood washed over the freshest pair of Timbs

on a Richmond street, those batons slam dancing

on King’s head, my father’s weary eyes, &

the money, all those thousands we spent trying

to resurrect a dead man with an appeal,

the millions spent making King rise again.

His name, my brother’s, is Juvenile, or Juvie—but

no longer Christopher. This is what he tells me

the men he breaks bread with call him. Or called

him, a dozen years ago, before he, too, became

an old head, veteran of count time & shakedowns.

It’s how they christen niggas who own their first

cell by sixteen—& because King took that ass

whupping four days before cuffs clanked around

Christopher’s wrist that first time, back when he

was what they call on the run, when the news

came on, & we caught it halfway through, just

listening as we sweated the phone for news,

we saw King, & thought him Chris, my brother,

slumped under batons & boots, under the cops’ blows.

from Bastards of the Regan EraFind more by Reginald Dwayne Betts at the library

Copyright © 2015 Reginald Dwayne Betts
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

The Visit

You should get out of here, my friend said, so we drove north

out of Arizona, and coming up through California the shape we saw by the road

was not a person, the green we saw not the green

of the Border Patrol’s dogcatcher trucks, that’s what they call them,

cage in the back so from the back you can see

the desert running north as they drive south, Red-tailed Hawks

taking off in the heat, the heat like another person—this green

was the green of fields north of Los Angeles, Pacific green

opening to our left as we drove, green eyes

of my friend’s oldest sister, who showed us the way

into the forests of Santa Cruz, where men from Portugal used to cut

Redwood trees to burn, and built kilns from stones they broke with other stones,

and dropped the limestone from the hills into the kilns, and kept it there,

and stayed by it, and added wood all night to it, so in the kilns

it became another thing, the men coming back to town,

two days off after two weeks in the forest,

moths around the lamps, trains calling out in the night,

dragging the stone north. It’s heavy,

that stone. But they carried it. And men built San Francisco out of it,

and they didn’t complain, I think, as my friend didn’t complain or swear like I did

when the two of us carried the body, Elias—

and the stone didn’t burn when San Francisco burned in 1906,

my friend’s oldest sister tells me this in her family’s house in Santa Cruz,

she’s sitting at the piano to play us sonatas,

she’s making us coffee, she’s making us bread, she’s cutting pieces of apples

into our hands, as though she didn’t know where our hands had been.

from RestFind more by Margaree Little at the library

Copyright © 2018 Margaree Little
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

An Apple Waiting to Be Carved

In 1892 a man awoke wishing his name meant

detour on the way to pleasure because the angel

wings he sprouted in the night, though useless,

came with the most arduous requirements

for care. His neck grew long and exhausted

always having to reach his face around to peck

away the chiggers and the grit. He went through

the streets wrapped in so many gray scarves

people mistook him for a cloud. Though he was

more than just a font of gloom. He translated

Medea and The Bacchae into French. The scripts,

while obviously the work of an amateur,

were warmly received. Other things happened,

possibly the most important being that when he died

his bones came to rest upon an English heath.

Henry Moore, age eleven, walking lost in one brown

chill of spring, already convinced he would

never adequately render a single human face,

found the bones, mistaking them for the dead

branches of a tree that had tried in its sprouting

to turn human. It was like watching fire,

Henry in his later years said of this moment.

It was like watching fire, then becoming fire.

Suddenly you could make everything as you do burn.

from The Newest Employee of the Museum of RuinFind more by Charlie Clark at the library

Copyright © 2020 Charlie Clark
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Staten Island Ferry Ride

Boarding the boats, we risk

Middle Passage riptides

still rolling in,

badged sharks

in blue.

Today we board to march

for Eric Garner.

Hooked by hysterical

arms, he thrashed

like a caught thing

on the sidewalk.

We roil past Lady Liberty.

Draped in a dingy gown,

her smudged face

stares back.

Weeds grasp

her hem.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Blueberry

She wanted to play with the blue parakeet,

so she cupped it in her hands, then let it perch

on her index finger

until her father said the bird was tired,

dear, it gets tired, it’s just a little thing,

so she made it rest an hour

then took it out again,

letting it balance on her shoulder. Sometimes

it tried to fly,

but its wings had been clipped

so it fluttered to the floor and hid under the table

until she lifted it again, stroking its head,

while her father said,

it’s late now, the bird needs to sleep

and so do you.

The bird would survive a week.

+

It is wonderful to be in love,

said the drone to its target,

but the target

was talking to his daughter.

In love, in love, in love,

said the drone fluttering at the target’s window.

It had a hot engine, a propeller’s low pulse.

It took twenty pictures

which it sent wirelessly

to the Central Office,

pictures of a man in a well-lit dining room,

his black-haired daughter,

and her blue parakeet.

+

He was, the investigators believed, a very bad man,

so they observed him

with the attention of a lover.

Everything he said, their drone recorded, compressed,

and sent on to the Bureau

where such information

was processed

for the prosecution.

+

Before she returned it to the cage,

she let the bird peck at a pile of seed

she held in her palm.

The bird

ate just a little. Blueberry, blueberry,

she said, stroking its feathers,

while her father

spoke tersely on the phone,

then studied the map

he’d spread on the table,

a map the little drone

tried to photograph through the window.

+

In her bedroom,

the cage was an empty head.

But when she opened the door

and the parakeet hopped inside,

the cage was alive with thought.

And when she covered it for the night,

the feverish cage

imagined first the apartment

and its tempting windows,

then the sky beyond them,

the pulse of heat on sun-dappled wings,

the vast

and heavenward distances.

+

Darling, her father said at her bedroom door,

I’ve got to go out for a bit. But I’ll be back very soon.

So the girl fetched the parakeet

and turned on the TV

while the drone

followed her father down the street, hovering above his car

as he merged onto the highway—

+

The blue parakeet balanced

on the girl’s finger, looking toward the black windows.

Then it hopped onto her shoulder,

its quick little heart

flickering in its chest. Blueberry, blueberry,

she said, posing it on the chair’s back, the mantel, the book shelf,

until the bird fluttered to the floor again

and hid among the newspapers—

+

Don’t forget I love you,

the drone said as the bullet found its victim

and her father slipped the gun back into his pocket,

walking calmly down the dead man’s driveway.

I love you,

as he pulled into the street, I love you

as he turned left onto the highway ramp toward home,

the little drone

right behind him.

Click, click, click,

said the part of its brain that takes pictures

and sends them on to the young men

at the Central Office—

+

When he got home,

he found his daughter asleep on the sofa,

all the lights on, the blue parakeet

catching its breath

on the curtain rod.

She’s so light, he thought,

carrying her to bed, light as a thought.

He loved her too much.

+

And the young men at the Central Office

put away the lovesick drone.

And her father put on his pajamas

and turned out the lights.

In the middle of the night,

the parakeet returned to its cage

where it knew it would be safe.

from The Art of FictionFind more by Kevin Prufer at the library

Copyright © 2021 Kevin Prufer
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Confessions of a Transplant

My first year living in America

the scent of frying garlic

sent me weeping. My eyes

swept the somber avenues,

starving for color. I devoured

the aquamarine of broken glass,

a wire festooned with yellow shoes,

the shower of plum blossoms

on a sidewalk. The memory

of sour mangoes made rivers

in my mouth. At the market, I picked

the greenest nectarines, dredged them

in salt that stung my chapped lips.

Words I hoarded like rock

candy, melted on my tongue

like my too-hard r’s. Range Rover, red

robin, river rock. I practiced

into the ear of an empty flagon,

reciting litanies to the saint

of lost things. The walls

echoed with whispers.

Lying lily-still in the goblet

of night, I drank the croons

of nameless birds.

from What Happens is NeitherFind more by Angela Narciso Torres at the library

Copyright © 2021 Angela Narciso Torres
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Dear All

You whose memory comes to me winter afternoons as the soon gone sun

falls low and thin

You whom I knew long and well

You I knew but slightly, knew not well but cared to,

had there been place enough and time

You who have come to hate me now

You who are the trees out the window to me, the shallow-rooted I have

always loved

I greet you in my unsent letters, in both my random and my steady thoughts

You whom I failed to thank and you I failed to turn to

You I have tried and tried to speak with and have not been able to cross

those seas

You I fought with in the snow in unsatisfactory shoes, marching up and down,

shouting at each other, so hot we were, so cold, the drifts deepening

You I let down and you I picked up by the highway

You who have made a name for yourself

You who were called away and never came back,

you who would not leave

You I worked with as we had never worked before, side by side

in the studio with five windows glazed by yellow light

You I no longer know but fear dead—

drugs, car wrecks, the several wars,

the usual deaths of my generation—

And you who have gone the distance, beyond your disappointments,

your cancers and their dire cures, my friends

I send you this letter, from the landscape of our years together

You must not wonder if I think of you still—

I have remained steadfast here

I have remembered you wholly into this day

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Guidebooks for the Dead

Drink tap water only in large cities.

Drink boiled water and thinned tea.

It is not advisable

Except in hotels.

Take tablets of Resochin Bayer.

Then let it sit

For ten minutes

In potassium permanganate.

Change sweat-soaked underwear.

Wash once a day with soap.

Don’t shower more than three times a day

Using one-part mercuric chloride per thousand.

When possible, peel fresh fruit.

When not, wash with soap.

from Guidebooks for the DeadFind more by Cynthia Cruz at the library

Copyright © 2020 Cynthia Cruz
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.