Aaron Counts

Becoming Iron

High above the hustle
of the Brownville Projects,
bullies find Mike’s solace:
a rooftop walk-in filled with
pigeons named for boxing greats.
In his hands, Mike cradles
his prize racer, Mongoose,
cooing as the bird pecks
seed from his lips.

Lemme hold it,
the big guy says, and wrenches
Mongoose from Mike’s chubby
fists. The sidekick chuckles
and the bullies pass the bird back
and forth, take turns pushing
Mike away, laugh as he pleads
with them to thtop it.

Mike almost holds in his squeal
as they pop the head off Mongoose,
twisting its cap as easy
as opening a soda bottle.
The big bully shoves
Mike back in the coop,
then throws the limp bird at his soft
chest and walks away smiling.

When they’re gone, Mike raises
his arms; palms open like he’s addressing
his congregation, and commands
the other birds out of the coop.
Feathers flutter in the air like dirty
snow, and Mike slumps
against the back wall, crying. He wipes
his nose on his sleeve and vows
to take the head off every fool
that tests him.

He’ll start with the tips of their ears.

 

 

Aaron Counts has written and read with professors, prisoners, high school dropouts and national book award winners. He is a teaching artist with Seattle’s Writers-in-the-Schools program, and his non-fiction book, Reclaiming Black Manhood, has been taught in area jails, prisons and juvenile detention facilities. He holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia.

Julene Tripp Weaver

Face to Face with Audre Lorde

 

……..What is it you want? She asks. She
looks at me across her desk, her dark brown eyes
deep set. I st, stam, stamm….mmer and pout—
she, so full of powerful words—what do I want
but a life of meaning and telling.

……..I don’t know, honest my answer. She tells me,
go jogging, do something, anything, to move into yourself.
I know there is no perfect answer, no plan, to make life
come together well. The masters lived, went jogging even,
stumbled poorly city to city, traveled wide breached plains
to get where they’ve been.

……..Audre crosses her desk and hugs me. But,
the best thing she ever did? Throw that poem back at me,
ask, How old are you? Cowering in my chair I stammer,
Thirty-two. In her booming voice she declares,
Thirty-two, you have more experience in life than this—rewrite,
she throws back my measly attempt at a poem. Huh!?
The word inscribed.

……..Cold honest mother love. Her quest—How
does it make you feel? The response she demands
to every poem. My shock to feel! Long history of denial
suppressed grief my main reason to write—move this grief
from the deep down stuck place it hides in an inner
box wrapped, hidden even from myself. Her tough words
push all of us, I will not be here someday, you must learn
to carry on without me.

…………….Thank you for your push. The grains of sand
in my underwear uncomfortable and humbling to shake out
in front of you. All my excellent mistakes. This gratitude
comes deep from the yet closed boxes wanting and afraid.
Sharp-leaved grasses cut, the words said to me by Audre
shearing open the boxes. Her questions echo, strong internal
probes, the way I’ve learned to gauge my life.

 

“Face to Face with Audre Lorde” is reprinted from The Arabesques Review.

 

Julene Tripp Weaver has a private counseling practice in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Her book, No Father Can Save Her was published by Plain View Press. She is widely published in journals, and anthologies, a few include Qarrtsiluni, Drash, Menacing Hedge, Gutter Eloquence, Redheaded Stepchild, and Pilgrimage; her work is included in Garrison Keillor’s collection, Good Poems American Places. Her chapbook, Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues, contains writing from her work through the heart of the AIDS epidemic. She sometimes does wordplay on Twitter @trippweavepoet and has a website: www.julenetrippweaver.com.

 

Jeffrey G. Dodd

And

 

The day my sister’s cancer staked its claim
I learned that Milosz left Harry Potter
on his desk when he died, his letters
from the pope piling up in his mailbox.
And what letters. Two old Poles talking life:
“Ah Czeslaw,” says the pope, “I’m just the grease.
You’ll have to talk to the wheels.” No one knows
the question, but this is a pope I can
get behind. Humble. Humorous. Infallible.
And I think of me and the pope: he’ll let me
call him Karol as he tours me through
the Vatican, and we’ll send papal envoys
for pizza, and on his day off we’ll visit
the Fiat factory in Turin, stick our fingers
in mounds of fresh ground pork at a local
grocery store, and he’ll teach me the Polish
folk tunes sung before the war. And I’ll get
to a Mass or two in Latin or Italian,
and late one night I’ll find decorum
and a minute to ask the question I came
all this way to resolve: the thing about
my sister. And you know the thing he’ll say
about my sister, about the angel on his right
and the grim believability of it all.

 

“And” is reprinted from Santa Clara Review.

 

Rylie Dodd buys cowboy shirts for her husband Jeffrey G. Dodd. The couple lives in Spokane, WA, but he’s from southeast Texas and sometimes needs his homesickness eased. Plus, the little pearlescent snaps are so crisp and tactile. Someday, she thinks, he’ll write a poem about them. The snaps, not the shirts. She’ll be featured prominently. Like his other poems, it may be published in journals such as Ruminate, Rock & Sling, Copper Nickel, and Meridian. She doesn’t tell him this; he doesn’t need the ego boost.