San Xavier del Bac to Summerhaven

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Contributor: James Robert Rudolph

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Still as yellow as ever but
the sun swoons in January and the cold
blushes cactus plum, chilly bruises.

To summer then to green palo verde trees
bark the color of frog skin they sift
the night with bitty leaves the gauzy drape
of a modern dancer.

Spiky-headed date palms, punks
lithe or gangly carry their fruit on sticks
like hobo satchels cacao colored achy sweet
on the tooth a brown sugar chew.

Longhorn cattle dull in dry pastures of
dirty blond grass edging grapes that
suffer for the wine prayer beads of grapes
calcified by fallen bones purified in
the eye of a scourging sun.

Mt. Lemmon saguaros on its foothills arms up
a field army of surrendering Gumbies
on top a winged aerie over brown canyon
shadowed canyon to ringing mountains
erupted and holed with outlaw hideouts through
high passes hard by palisades to
a great south desert of burr and dust
with white plaster missions roseate
with martyrs’ blood, frescoes of martyrs
where old sins cauterize in the fires
of expiation and this blue burning sky.

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James Robert Rudolph is a retired psychologist and teacher having returned to old haunts in northern New Mexico after a busy career in Minneapolis. He believes in old-style magical realism, that inspired by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the high desert, and the deep, broad sky of the American mountain west. Recent poems have appeared in The Artistic Muse, Mad Swirl, Black Heart Magazine, and Poetry Super Highway, among others.

Lazy Wakening

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Contributor: E.S. Wynn

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Few feelings
are so sweet
as waking softly
to your scent
to the touch, the warmth
of you, all tangled
in sheets, in me
and smiling
while subtle sunlight
slips across and dapples
sun-honeyed skin
and stirs us
to start our day
to start slowly
savoring the silence
the succulent stillness
of a world yet to wake.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over sixty books in print and is the chief editor of Thunderune Publishing. This poem is one of many featured in the book titled "What Will Be"

Monsanto Man, Retired

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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You think it's easy,
embalming bodies
in these nightmares
I have every night,

bodies a vulture
wouldn't touch,
bodies rotting
decades later

in the afterglow
of Agent Orange,
bodies found in
villages and fields

in Vietnam where
I have never been
except in nightmares.
I'm Monsanto Man,

chemist nonpareil,
retired now,
but working hard
embalming bodies

for eternity
in nightmares
I know now
will never end.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Moving Out

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Contributor: Liam Strong

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for the culled heart. for the inheritance bequeathed
your patient hand. for the clumped patches of grass we fall to,

sandy loam laced into jean and flannel. for the night
we watched amber snow dwindle from downtown radiation.

let’s move back in to where we got kicked out.
your last night there was mine as well, that house

eviscerated of belonging, where we’ve been replaced,
and new furniture with a new family has been transplanted.

i grew up with you in a basement, covering our favorite
pop-punk songs on miniscule bass amp and riveted cymbals.

she was there, and every she that came after. this is for
everyone that opened the always unlocked door.

this is for you and how we could have returned life
to your home. for your empty wallet and churning stomach.

for your forgotten drum set, the burned posters,
the unwatched dvds, the sold video games.

for the scrounging of lifeblood from shag carpet,
icy cement, and the searching after placing home

into the backseat of your new one.

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Liam Strong is a poet from Traverse City, Michigan. You can find his work in the NMC Magazine, Dunes Review, and Poets' Night Out.


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Contributor: Michael H. Brownstein

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Morning, dishes in the sink,
crud on the stove, garbage
needs to be taken out,
my wife who went to bed late
still asleep, my daughter
who went to bed early snoring
soft air pockets of breath,
my son gathering his work
for another day in the lab.
The dogs need to be walked
and the paper trained puppies
have done what they are to do.
The air is breathable, sky blue,
crisp and cool, a slight
curve of breeze, almost
noticeable. My mother in a comma
five hundred miles away, the MRI
not studied yet, her hands
able to squeeze my sister's finger
reflexively, my mother breathing
on her own, the stroke to her
right side overpowering. Listen
to the chatter of the house wrens
entering their home through
breaks in the old siding.
In the distance, a barn owl.
Outside the dog owners begin
congregating in the parking lot
behind our old house, their dogs
silent as if they too know
the condition of my mother.
I plan to catch the next available
train and I'll try to get there
soon, the sun growing in color,
not a cloud in sight, the mulberry
tree allowing the squirrels, possums,
and robins a place to eat.
No one is talking. The dogs
do not bark. I can see the design
of vine rising over the neighbor's
fence, the hole beneath it
his dogs dug to escape, the break
where the children opened the wood
to retrieve overthrown balls.
My mother breathes in and out
as is our habit, her chest rising
and falling, her eyes closed,
she has nothing to say. My sisters
who live within driving distance
are with her, talking over her bed,
their cell phones in their hands.
When I finally take the dogs out,
I find other dogs blocking my usual
way, and I turn--one of my dogs
a fighter--and find another path.
They pull me this way and that
as is their habit and in a place
of weeds, linger over something.
I go to see what they are busy
studying. A dead something--too long
dead to be recognized, I tug at them
gently as is my habit, speak to them,
and begin my walk uphill back home.

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Michael H. Brownstein is the author of Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside And Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013) among others. He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011) and head administrator of Project Agent Orange (

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