Gypsy Moths

Katie Kalisz

Happily we practiced our aim with shiny bicycles,

an ambush on the driveway where they caravanned
from one side of the yard to the other, searching
the oak and aspen of our childhood sylvan for a transient home.

We tried to get our tires at a right angle to their lined bodies,
pedaled quickly to make a neat cross
or an addition sign and then, mastering that,

we lined our tires up to roll over their length
like the lowercase “l”s we practiced with our pencils
on the dot-lined penmanship paper during school.

How the green and yellow streaks of their guts trailed out
behind their furry spotted bodies.
Sometimes, they would become circular splats of intestines

that we tried to forget, even though we sped around the circle driveway
to see again the remnants of life,
paintings made with bodies that we couldn’t imagine

once alive. Maybe if they’d been moths earlier.
Caterpillars begot butterflies. Something crawling became
something beautiful that flew. Our childlike version of the resurrection’s

confounding and annual mystery, even then we knew the futility
of staying in one place long enough, a recurring
accumulation of death and flight and infestation

and no difference made.

Quid Est Veritas?

J.B. Toner

But how can I be happy, when I know
   Each hour I add a sin-weight to His load
   As he goes reeling up the Sorrow-Road
To grim Golgotha where the ravens go?
But how can I be sad, when I know well
   He died for us, to bring us lasting joy—
   He bled and suffered, sadness to destroy,
And hush the haunting threnodies of Hell?
Ah, Lord, Thy wisdom brims with mystery,
With beauties that it scalds the eyes to see,
  With healing that can cut us like a knife;
I understand the crowning irony:
That Pilate questioned, "What is truth?" of Thee,
   Who art, Thyself, the Way and Truth and Life!

J.B. Toner is a graduate of the school of hard knocks.

Argument

K.K. Adams

I sit in sullen silence
on the sofa, curled up,
wondering
at every rustle and stir
from the bedroom
if you are coming
to find me,
so like a child
crouching behind a hedge
in a game
of hide and seek. [Read more...]

Moonlit Trance

Beth Gylys

Everything’s in a trance of Moonlight
— Theodore Deppe

The M’s of couples walk the glowing streets,
and in the square, the fountain’s a bouquet
of broken mirrors. I sway slightly, glass pressed
to lips, hearing in my head the tune of a song
whose name I can’t remember. Rustle of wheat
and silk skirt. Shadow of an oak. Faint
stirring of a child in its sleep. I might
begin to float or sing out loud, or my spirit
leave my body and shimmer toward elsewhere. [Read more...]

Paula, sed ferox

Gabriel Olearnik

Your eyes are the heels of horses on stone:
They spark.
Red crescents on your cheeks,
A ploughed place between the brows,
And your face like a storm, dancing.

Gabriel Olearnik studied medieval history at University College London. He is currently an attorney and practices corporate law.

Sampagita

Cristina A. Montes

Delicate blossoms
fallen
dead,
littered
at the foot of the trellis.
Still in full bloom,
fresh,
unwithered.
The weight of raindrops
was too much for them.

A Grief Sublime

Leah Acosta

Fecundity of grief
can sow the arsenic seeds of bitterness
or bear the sweeter fruits of peace, relief—
so civilized a crop from wilderness.
A time to plant, a time to reap, a time
to laugh, a time to weep. A grief sublime.

Lealani Mae (Leah) Acosta is a first-year neurology resident at the University of Virginia Health System.

Villian, elle?

Daniel Gibbons

I am a burning book, a book of flame:
pale letters glow on skin-thin ash
an instant as your hand crumbles cinders, same.

If a book burns in the forest, without reader or name,
Is it no book, a glob of marks?—In its pages stashed:
“I am a burning book, a book of flame!” [Read more...]

Drowning

John Rieping

Blue water spun about as I stared up
as if the foam and sky did duel that day
only to lose when darkness drank their cup
while in my limbs all fight did drift away.
I did not think of death as I sank down
Instead my thoughts took in this splendid doom
—a noisy blue glass swirl bereft of sound
that dimmed too fast, as beauties often do.
A shadow passed before my mind did fade
and I reached out to waken in the light:
My father’s leg had cast a saving shade
and I—though gone—held it with sleeper’s might.
Years pass, and now I drown in fears.
They captivate, but God is no less near.

John Rieping is a 1999 philosophy graduate from Mt. Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, and a journalism alumnus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He currently works as the copy editor of The Madera Tribune daily newspaper in Madera, California.