Time A cardinal calls, desperate lust masquerading as bravado, counter- point to the beep of some heavy machine in reverse. The coffee goes cold. The dog lies across the screen porch doorway oblivious to the robin hopping two feet from her nose. The day is waiting. The boats are turned belly up. Tomatoes green on the vine. Tomorrow’s not worth discussion. You, with your book in your hand, it is time for your la-la-la’s your mi-mi-mi’s. A flash of red followed by a darker, similar shape makes its way into the greening trees.
Thrall I like to walk the river far from the bridge into the sound of no traffic hearing a kingfisher dive or water snake slide in S’s on the surface I like to see no colorful kayaks, or canoes, pass me wading crotch-deep into holes where carp hold their fins feathering the current knowing no one anywhere walks like I do subject of all I survey.
The World and Oysters He brought rakia and she brought flowers. The food was good. They left with colds. He brought flowers. The rakia was good. He left without eating, walking home in the cold. The food was cold. There were flowers. She was cold. There was rakia. He brought food for her cold. They drank rakia. Bees moved in the flowers. He drank warm rakia with honey for his cold, called her flower when she brought food. He went without food to buy her rakia. She was a frozen flower with bee-stung lips.
Three Rivers I. Night Noise Smoke rises in horns on a herons’ wind. All night the mud groans as the river sweats. We hear the moon scratching its cradle. Stepping from our tent onto this pelt of sand, all is still except the slight panting of smoke. II. Commonplaces at a Wake The rain’s mourning holds the river enthralled: the drizzle’s starched talk with the soughing mud: “Tomorrow… A better day… “No, no… A long way from happiness, but… The sun will rise… Some compassionate gesture...” The river who barely knew the departed watches the mud, knows that surface acceptance of solid advice belies the cold scream that is building. III. Coldwater West of our town, the bones of the river lie whitening. Nights we hear mud weep regretting a lover’s leaving, perhaps even the loving, as the distracted moon hums above. We know the river’s secrets, are ours. We smile through soiled lips, our streets coils of skin, the bones of our hearts cradling thorns awaiting evening’s exhaust and desire. Singing down the sun, we make our sad ways to that trickle of solace knowing what we have done we will again.
William Sheldon is the author of three books of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley, 2002), Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth, 2011), Deadman (Spartan, 2021), as well as a chapbook, Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill, 2009). He plays bass for the band The Excuses.
Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review. Harbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor. She expects her next collection, The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark) to be out in a few months.