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Janice Takata

There Were Sparrows in the Rose Beds
And, overhead,
there were nothing but blue skies
And I, betwixt roses & celestial dome,
took rose-beds for my home, while my
Sparrow-heart, with love's light wings,
Did sail o'er undiscovered continents,
Never imagining the elements
would fail,
Never knowing that venal blood
would pale.
Gryphon-heart & sparrow-heart,
O'er what rosey climes we once did sail.
Oh, what beds of roses you held out to me!
Oh, what beds of roses you held out to me.
Oh what beds
of roses you
held out
to me.
Yet beds of roses can impale.
Did I mention that there were
nothing but blue skies ?


Dave Ruslander

Ama

In a fishing village
named Fukuda
south of Shiwaku
on the edge of

white sand and green pines,
sits a tiny crooked house
at the end of a dusty lane
eroding under sultry sun.

Mr. Hiromito and two daughters
live there. May-May
serves green tea,
father broods. Ama Free Divers
Japanese Stamp
A weather beaten fisherman
sits on tatami mats mending nets.
Eldest daughter Lee-Lily, an Ama
for Shinto's Oyster Company

stands on the pier
wrapped in white gauze.
Dives into Dragon Palace
a ghost floating down

like her mother before.
Gold spears of light dangle
in grey-green water.
Wooden baskets bob in the strait

mouths waiting for Ama's catch.
Knife in hand, Lee-Lily
cuts loose the Buddha crystal ball
rises to the surface, feeds the basket.

Father's sadness lifts
as he gazes at the ball
and sees his wife guarding
a palace deep under the sea.

Wash Day

The frayed clothesline
still holds my wash.
Most colors have faded,
no longer present tense.

In the window my refection
is a puzzle of deep lines,
a myriad of fleshy folds.
In the background I see
the cemetery. A dark man
gently embraces stone and
rests it in fresh turned ground.

Families picnic in the city of memories.
Children run among headstones,
play hide and seek. Their laughter
wanders into my back yard
and I remember, but I am fifty,
time to buy a dark suit.

Removed clothespins
drop into a basket.
I fold my shirts.


Flower Seller

He sits in a little shanty on the boulevard,
shelves hold buckets of marigolds, hyacinths,
hydrangeas, and red or white roses.

Rumor has it he lost his leg in the war.
The city looks the other way when smoke
belches from his potbelly stove on chilly mornings.

A toothless smile has greeted me for twenty years.
"Mornin suh fine day this lovely mornin."
"Yes it is Mr. Jim, how are you feeling today?"

"Oh, you know, same old aches and pains but
glad the good Lord sees fit to keep me here another day."
"Yes me too; some fine flowers you have."

"They smell wonderful.
I'd like a nice selection for my table,
You select them for me Mr. Jim, you always do a fine job."

"Thank you suh, I'll make it real pretty; that'll be seven dollars."
"Thanks Mr. Jim, here's a ten keep the change.
I'll see you soon."

Times Dispatch headline Monday morning:
A Richmond Landmark Gone.
The flower-man known affectionately as Mr. Jim, is dead.
Contributions for his funeral are being accepted.
He had no known relatives but many admirers


Jana Taggett

My Little Sister


Yes, I kissed my little sister
Cause while at school I really missed her
Even when the clay was out
It was her I thought about
And while I read A through Z
I got all messed up-golly gee
The teacher asked me what would follow
I didn't know, my heart felt hollow
For she'd been with me every day
No mention of work-only play
Mansions and sand castles in the sun
Seemed to me a lot more fun
But, mom said I'd have to go
The seed to manhood there I'd sow
And when I left the 8th grade
My little sister had lost her braid
Instead she wore makeup and curls
This the trend of growing girls
Lots of friends she now had
Sharing her made me a little sad
Things we used to do together
Will stay in my heart forever and ever


Mickey Gray

Venice

An assertion of the mundane
Keeps me in this drab world
But leaving me morose
Lamenting the world

On this cold winter's eve
If I were to feel alive
I would bother to find love
But the cold and bitterness of the ice and snow
Leave me numb

It's these bitter times
That search for a sanctum from
In my own internal eternal anguish
And my flower will not wilt and wither
And it will keep me sane
In the cold night in Venice





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