Monday, August 3, 2020

Grandpa Mack’s Grocery Store by Sharon Waller Knutson

sits smack dab
in the middle
of spud fields
on a highway,
a mile from town,
with a creek out back.

His wife runs off
with the freezer
salesman, his kids
grow up and leave,
and he marries
my grandmother.

Still sunrise to sunset,
snow or sunshine,
he sells bread
and baloney
to locals, sodas
and fudgsicles

to traveling tourists
and barters
with farmers
for fresh produce
and eggs. He still
refuses to close

after the freeway
bypasses the store
and chemo weakens him.
When he is gone,
my grandmother
sells the building,

which becomes a bar
where locals swig beer
from a tap and now a barn
housing horses that drink water
from the creek out back.

Sharon Waller Knutson, a retired journalist, writes poetry from her Arizona desert home. Her work has appeared in The Orange Room Review, Literary Mama, Verse-Virtual, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Your Daily Poem. She is the author of five chapbooks: Dancing with a Scorpion, My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields, Desert Directions, They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur and I Did It Anyway.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Consistent with Lewy Body by Vera Kewes Salter

Abnormal deposits of alpha synuclein in the brain

He sits with his hands in his lap
          unsure where he put them
watches two women, one tall one short
          walk through the closet door

Swollen feet shuffle soggy paper towels
          to clean droplets from
the speckled tile floor -- he showers
          I mop -- then towel water from his back

At breakfast he asks:
          Why am I in Lewy's body?
we hang our answers
          on a clothesline

read the paper and pray
          for a free and fair election
together go into the garden
          turn on the sprinkler

admire the round red hibiscus
          he planted last year
watch a tiger swallowtail
          drink nectar from a tiger lily

At night he inspects the house
          turns on the porch lights
locks the terrace door
          that I left open.

Vera Kewes Salter is recently published in Right Hand Pointing, The Writers Circle 2, Red Eft Review and Writing in a Woman's Voice. Born into a refugee family in the United Kingdom she raised a family in the US and is a retired health care administrator and advocate.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Free by Holly Day

We put the small wire cage in the car next to my daughter’s car seat
where she can talk to the little purple-headed finch huddled at the bottom
while we drive it back out to the field where we first found it
lying in the snow, unable to move, almost dead.
We tried denying the little foundling a name, since we knew
we were just going to set it free once it was well enough,
but our daughter named it “Happy”
because, she said, he was going to be so happy we found him
he was going to be so happy living with us.

We get to the park and pull into the lot
and my daughter says something about Happy wanting to stay with us
and I have to tell her that birds want to live with birds,
especially wild birds, this is his home
and his friends are expecting him.
She wants to carry the cage
so we let her, it looks so big in her tiny hands
she has to use two hands to carry the small cage across the lot.

All the while, the little bird in the cage has been quiet,
hopping back and forth on the newspapered bottom to maintain balance
with the bouncing steps of the little girl
but I can tell he’s looking out through the bars of the cage
at a world he thought he would never see again
I can tell he’s wondering why we’re here.

My daughter sets the cage down on the grass and claws at the cage door
she wants to be the one to open it. I remind her that Happy
is too small for her to try to hold, like I’ve been saying all winter
that all she can do is open the cage door
and wait for the bird to come out on his own. Surprisingly, though,
it only takes a couple of seconds for the bird
to hop on the thin wire of the cage’s doorframe
as though he’s been listening to us
as though he knows exactly what’s expected of him.
“He wants to stay with us!”
says my daughter suddenly, slamming the little door shut
but it’s too late, Happy is already gone
a flutter of wings into the trees overhead.

Holly Day has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).