Thursday, July 23, 2020

This World

By George Stevenson

Masked, I walk South from my sanctuary,
steps on leaden cement, gray mantle overhead
quieting my spirit, one foot in front of the other.
I veer right onto asphalt, then a gravel path

into Perkins Woods, refuge of oak, elm and ash,
never cut, on land the way it always was, swampy,
obsidian water, tree stumps, an occasional Mallard.
Bird calls frequent in quiet, unmoving air.

Two miles East, a hospital, inaudible to me,
where too few fight for too many, tired orderlies,
nurses, doctors, their fatigue mixed with fear,
actors who know their roles in the play of their lives.

In these silent woods, spatter of rain, a distant siren
bridges the gap to inhale and exhale of ventilators,
bleep of monitors, soft steps of shoe covers, their mantra
just to keep going, one foot in front of the other.

George Stevenson is a retired businessman who has been writing poetry part-time for 20 years.  He was born in oil country in Oklahoma, raised in farm country in Missouri, and studied in Iowa and at Harvard.  He has taken poetry workshops led by a number of excellent poets and has been published in periodicals such as Rhino, Willow Review, 100 Words and Third Wednesday.  He tries to write accessible poems based on small events, usually in the Midwest, and hopes broader themes will emerge for readers. He lives with his wife in Evanston, Illinois,

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

To the Woman Who Said She Could Hear My Accent

By Sara Borjas 

We were walking down 1st St—a street I’ve only been down twice
this being the second time I’ve felt seen by a woman I wanted to be
seen by. You said you could hear my accent and it was the first time
I believed anyone when they said that. You heard my voice and heard
my father’s truck tires spinning through the neighborhood and not
the one he had, the one he dreams of having before he dies. And not
the father I complained about but the father I told you I wished
he could be, the one that listened. You heard my mother trying
to please everyone and keep her name at the same time
in the way I push down the syllables when they come to you,
how I keep them in their place so they don’t forget where
they come from. You heard the accent in me and called it chola
and I said, nah, it’s Fresno. You heard the Fresno in me
and my poor posture checked itself straightened up
like a Steinbeck novel in a brown girl’s hands: rare & familiar.
I said something about gold loop earrings, but what I meant
was thank you for not judging me for this. I didn’t tell you this.
I wish I would have mentioned how I heard your halfness,
which is a fullness, your all-in all-out mega Boricua,
your immaculate jump shot capability to name things by what
they are not, how your father makes it into every description
you give me of yourself: white, unequal, do you think you’re special?
You said, you’ve never come into a relationship as friends first
.I said, I’ve only loved people who are my friends. Dear woman
who said you heard my accent even with all these Los Angeles
cars stumbling by even with all the disclaimers we have both
made you have listened to my body with your body and I
have never been so true. Friends hear what you need
from yourself when you talk. I hear longing from every
direction with you. A woman said she heard my accent
but I think she meant I hear you talking to remind
yourself who you are and she listened and she said ok.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

On First Knowing You’re a Teacher

By Peter Kahn
Robert’s not coming in, my boss tells me.
I’m sitting sweating in a windowless office,
a stack of résumés eye-balling me, stinking
up the desk – I’m first screener and sleepy
in this stuffy box. Would you be able to lead
a workshop on résumé writing?
 I’m 22
and my own résumé got me the most boring
gig at Jobs for Youth-Chicago. Some of the “youth”
I’d be teaching are nearly my age, but there are
windows, and people, in that classroom
so I nearly yell, yes! 30 students look at me
and 45 minutes later look to me and I’m hooked.
And I’m floating and anchored at the same time.
For the first time. And I’m whole and broken
open. And I’m spinning and stunned still.