by Joani Reese
Cast your pearly line into space,
watch it trace circles as it soars
toward the milk-water sky.
You focus, intent on hooking
the seasons that have flown
without notice in these years
of strife. Three shining hooks
dangle, they tangle with fragments
of dream scenes where autumns
and springs leave no trace.
They mingle with months
you have tried to forget,
then brush past those days
that you wish you had kept.
A March floats above you,
then scares and escapes.
A whole year drifts by
in a flutter of rage. The winter
your father succumbed
you were numb, but you reach
out to touch as he drifts on the wind,
a butterfly wing frozen hard
to his gray laden head.
Entangled in April, last June
tries to break from the line
but is snagged by a hook
through its iridized wing.
You reel in frayed pieces of time
then release them to waver and swing
as the filament sings over earth
with a raggedy lay. They tumble
around you and fill the far hills,
some jagged, some small
as those pain damping pills
that you swallow to keep
every sadness at bay.
Some months sidle closer
and brush past your lips,
flayed puzzles your memory
can never repair. The snared
snippets flounder and ground
while still others, disturbed,
sink beyond a horizon of flames.
Serene Aprils twirl over gorse
as it wavers near other days
tossed in the moss cluttered stream.
So pack up your rod, stand,
and shoulder your basket,
its fern fronds lie dampened
but empty of yield. The sun fails
behind you, one path forks
toward memory. You turn
from the past as you tamp down
desire for those years you can never
recoup nor reclaim.
The Thing with Feathers
by Joani Reese
We hope the cat won't eat the bird.
We hope that we might lie in state.
We hope the state won’t cage our sons.
We hope there’s water at the store.
We hope they like us just before
we hope we do not drink
too much and blurt out idiotic truths.
We hope the daffodils won't sink
to jelly in the late spring freeze.
We hope to keep these jobs we hate.
We hope our eyes retain their sight.
We hope we'll catch a breath of wind.
We hope that acrid smell of smoke
is chicken sizzling on a grill. We hope
we locked the pool yard gate, the door,
the windows--hope to reach the dust draped
sill and raise the pane to lilac’d hills.
We hope we won't write stupid things.
We hope the waiter washed his hands
and hope bad luck skitters away.
We hope the bullies do not stop
to circle us and call us names.
We hope the broken clock will tick,
the car won't cost too much to fix
and hope the man who makes repairs
repairs it just the way it was.
We hope the house will clean itself
and hope our books will fill your shelves.
We hope we will not die alone.
(We hope we might not die at all.)
As needles snake beneath our skin,
we hope that pain's not defining.
We hope our children dance in rain.
We hope the gun we bought will shoot
but also hope we can abstain from shooting
at a living thing. We hope the drunk swerves
into brush and doesn't flat line
one of us. We hope our money lasts until
we've paid the final monthly bills.
We hope the journey will be long.
Some days, we hope it will be short.
We hope that we might love someone.
We hope that love won't come undone.
We hope to keep our tongues in check.
We hope to keep our tongue-in-cheek.
We hope there's water in the well.
We hope to make it home to say goodbye.
We hope snarled traffic's why our love's
delayed beyond the ruined bridge.
Some days, we hope he'll learn to laugh.
We hope white winter will not last
that summer's heat will linger in our bones.
And when this endless hope we sport
becomes a final hope, of sorts,
we hope there is an afterlife,
red apples growing from our graves.
We hope when we are wisps of hair,
Our pupils fogged, lined mouths agape,
the line blurred between chest and jaw,
when we're the bird in the cat's maw,
we hope we will be satisfied
we've been provided love enough
so in the end we won’t regret
that we will never wake to hope again.
Joani Reese has poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and writer interviews published or forthcoming in many online and print journals. Reese is Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, www.connotationpress.com and Summer Fiction Editor for Scissors and Spackle, scissorsandspackle.com. Her flash fiction won the Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Reese's second chapbook Dead Letters will be published in 2013 by Cervena Barva Press. Reese's published work can be read at Entropy: A Measure of Uncertainty, jpreesetoo.wordpress.com.