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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 25 — Michael Larrain, Melissa A. Tuckey

Michael Larrain

Deep Courtesy

(for Wilder Kathleen)

Here is your second first day of spring

but now you know the names of things

Whatever's round and might be edible's called apple

Tramping over a rumpled field's called hi!

Now every grass blade is reading you aloud

and there's just enough water lying close at hand

to reflect the deep courtesy connecting us to the sky

Here are hours so sweetly serious

it's as though the last prayer in a dying language

had solemnized the air in passing

Stand perfectly still

and a white pony will walk right up to you

like the first time anyone ever saw the sea

Copyright 2009 by Michael Larrain. Deep Courtesy first appeared in the Fall, 2008 issue of WestWard Quarterly.

Fifty-Fifty Chance

(for Wilder Kathleen, at twenty-one months, dancing in Tomales, California)

Going from room to room

you're the girl who never stops stealing home

Please don't ever lose your wild tomboy's heart

your headlong scrambling grace

Happiness can seem

like a trick of the light

Your love life might hook foul at the last instant

A friend may perish

in the time it takes to turn your head

But if you keep on rockin' that full-tilt boogie

in the face of misadventure and busted luck

even your smash-ups your break-ups and your dust-ups

will hand you a laugh

Your father has never owned a new car

written a check

or learned how to tie a necktie

In the world's eyes

this guy's about to hop his last freight

So where would he get off telling you how to live your life?

This may be his only piece of sound advice

Accelerate through the curves

of your romances your travels and your work

and you'll feel a dark wriggle passing through you

like a shadow upon a river shivering with delight

Oh, yeah,

One more thing

Never set your drink down on the floor

There's a fifty-fifty chance it'll get knocked over

Copyright 2009 by Michael Larrain.

Turning Two

(for Wilder Kathleen)

How I used to love the drives

I took with you and your mother

through the tiny island towns

in the countryside of Hawaii

We'd dawdle past little houses

and even smaller stores

imagining the people inside

their lives opening wide with surprise

when love made a sign on their eyelids

Every time

in every town

I'd think the same thing

We could live here

The surf would be good

and the prettiest little school's just up the road

I'd buy a beat-up woody

and somehow keep it running

so we could take our meals at drive-ins

You and your mama would often have

an orchid behind one ear

At night

the stars would come down to skinny-dip in the waves

and, in secret,

I'd build you a tree-house

with my own two hands

despite my inability to find

the business end of a hammer

Once we parked in the shade

at the foot of a mountain

and walked to the top of a trail

to show you a waterfall

There you found your first mangoes on the ground

They had fallen in slow motion

through a thousand of your mother's kisses

and all our dances over the years

We peeled and ate them right there

with the waterfall reflected in your eyes

and the flesh of the mangoes

making you for a moment into a local girl

It all happened a week ago

a month before our own small town

will find you turning two

Copyright 2009 by Michael Larrain. Turning Two first appeared in a Canadian magazine, inscribed: a Magazine for Writers.


Michael Larrain is the author of three collections of poems: The Promises Kept In Sleep, Just One Drink for the Diamond Cutter and For One Moment There Was No Queen. Rainy Day Women Press of Willits, California, has recently released a CD of his reading of selected love poems called Lipstick: a Catalogue for Continuous Undressing. His novels are South of the North Star, Movies on the Sails and As the Case May Be. He lives in Sonoma County (California) with his wife and two year old daughter, Wilder Kathleen the Rage of Paris Larrain and has long been a senior partner in the Way Up, Firm and High Tail It Bright Out of Town Detective Agency, a loosely aligned confederacy of shady characters devoted to the complete discrediting of reality in our time.

Melissa A. Tuckey

The Empty House

Because it became increasingly difficult

to separate our lives from the trash

Because the weight of grandmother’s death

Three tables inherited from various Aunts

Because twelve deer grazing in a winter field

Clothing worn once then tossed

Because shelter because sleep

Child on the floor with a bowl of plums

We loved the lack of closets

The way paint on the walls could fill a room

The structural necessity of silence

Copyright 2009 by Melissa A. Tuckey. The Empty House originally was published in Phoebe.


I still don’t know the difference

between love and apparition

A horned owl staring from the tree

as if the tree had eyes

Come morning

I’ll watch your long hair brush the floor

as you tie your shoes

I fill a thermos and pack

a lunch I stay

in bed and watch sunlight

fill an empty house

How lightly it touches the chair

where you tied your shoes

Copyright 2009 by Melissa A. Tuckey. Aubade originally was published in Poet Lore.

Oh Piano

(after John Cage)

I’ve lassoed the enormous

weight of you

shipped you across

the continent

carried you up three flights of stairs

but still I do not know

what you eat

Copyright 2009 by Melissa A. Tuckey. Oh Piano originally was published in Terrain: a Journal of Built and Natural Environments.


A cricket in the closet is the closest

I’ve come to home I leave

the windows open nothing comes inside

Late night birds carry the weight

of war I wake with alarm

instead of love

I tell you now I admit it I’m jealous

horses die and you bury them

You know their names

Here on my street people disappear

without ceremony

Copyright 2009 by Melissa A. Tuckey. Refrain originally was published in Hayden’s Ferry Review.


Melissa Tuckey, assistant festival director of Split This Rock, is a graduate of George Mason University's MFA program. Her chapbook Rope as Witness was published by Pudding House Press. She's recipient of Artist Fellowship Awards from the Ohio Arts Council and DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Her poems have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly, Southeast Review, Verse Daily, and others. Essays and interviews have been published in Foreign Policy Review and Ace Magazine. Tuckey has a background in nonprofit fundraising and development. She is Events Coordinator for DC Poets Against the War and she teaches in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Maryland.

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