Annie

by Lance Larsen

He drove a battered Desoto
and apologized for nothing.
He was married, no children,
though his wife was hopeful.                                                                                                     She had a lived-in look-
clean and comfortable, nothing frumpy.
On breaks when the boys and I talked
of the perfect woman,
a Helen smelling of saffron,
we were really thinking of Annie .
She didn’t have a Gucci smile
or French cut ears,
and her hair was much too quiet.
But her eyes-exuding passion
so wholesome we were embarrassed
to talk about it.
I yearned for someone like her
to tap my shoulder
and climb into my life.

When her husband died
we calculated how long we should wait,
took bets on who would get to her first.
Then she disappeared.                                                                                                                She came back married-
some Phil from Tucson                                                                                                         whom she met playing Bingo
at an Elks convention,
three kids in four years,
a job at the quarry for Phil,
their oldest son already looking like Adonis.
And though we are sure
she has stretch marks and scars
that crisscross her like rivers,
we still go home at night
and kneel on cold sheets, praying
for a miracle: a loose stone
to fall on Phil’s head.

Upon Seeing the Mona Lisa

by Sally Taylor

Steaming crowds kept us from her famous smile-
And glass barriers, and uniformed guards who stood                                                      Bored, yet cautious. But we saw her lidded eyes
Softly following us wherever we moved.

The people shuffled, milled, and clustered. We tried
To edge closer to see her madonna mood
In ancient paint, tried to see the fine
Strokes, the lost satisfaction of a love.

A flight down , burly tourists blocked the stairs.
A thick-necked teenage son yelled at the closed
Restroom door for his mother to “hurry up!”

We slipped past, excusing ourselves. They stared
And snarled. Down the hall, Winged Victory rose
With dirt-blackened feet vulgar hands had touched.

Sally Taylor is Coordinator of Composition at BYU. She has published her poetry in the Cumberland Review, in the DeKalab Literary Arts Journal, and in other literary journals. She has also published a book of poetry, A Little Light at the Edge of Day.

Copper Basin

by Jim Papworth

The Muldoon Creek Road bounces us
across its knuckles
as we intrude;
it wants to jar our memories.

Clouds like dingy sheep
drizzle their holdings
into August,
spraying the land with contempt.

A herd of mosquitoes chokes the air,
ricochets its whine
off quaking asp,
searches the poke of skin.

The copper mine on Whitney Butte
closed-ochre tailings
rattle the hills
with whisperings of clutched ore .

Sage coughs its musk into summer
and stains the basin gray;
roots crawl below,
hoarding the valley’s meagerness.

Like a hungry cat in winter
the land clamps dead calves                                                                                                          in stingy jaws-
next year’s teeth , bones, and bits of fur.

Willowwalls guard native brookies,
whose variegated bodies
feed streams
with translucent fear in shadows.

Washed and Flushed

by David Veloz

Sour but generous, our father drank water
like wine, sipping, sniffing, and swallowing
what seemed barely enough to wet the pipes;
but at night he'd splash our turned-up faces,
smiling pink from playing into the dusk,
until there was water on our collars and on the floor.
I had no idea that water could cure
a man or be the difference
between who stood tall and swollen and who sneered
with contempt when forced to swim.
I only knew that he was slow, unlaughing,
that he hated ice cubes in his soup, that I was fat
and slippery, always wet at the mouth, my palms
cool and sticky after square dancing, and that rain
never lasted long enough for me
but brought sharp curses from his mouth.
The only way I saw our difference
was the water.

 

John Bastien-Lepage: The Potato Gatherers

by David Veloz

The horizon is women: potatoes like stones
surround their fourskirts, folded as though they're shrouds
and pillared about their legs-a canvas bone
to gather on . Root rocks fill their bags the way clouds

fill the horizon, clouds they claw for and pick
like daisies in an Easter time . The earth
is mud , the sky is women, and here they wish
with their mouths for clouds to kiss from the dirt

as they kiss up potatoes. Bending like women should bend
in a garden, in love, with cherries and tulips and wine,
they rain and gather clouds. Pouring to lend
the idea they are gathering, gathering time

to kiss and bun their hair, and then planting
to pick, to kiss to show they're not wanting .

 

Howard

by John Davies

In town a long sad face shunting a rumble
turned into Howard Williams from Philadelphia
tracking his roots. I owe America:
tour buses roared sawing Wales in half
as we talked and later I showed him our pet castle.
Ghost yawns closing one eye then his other
suggested that belonging might prove costly.

West in thrashed acres where he found
most valleys are depressions between faults,
farms and quarries mourned by sheds
proved rain’s not always kind to withered roots.

The bar foamed . Stan at the Cross Foxes,
home of the brave, folded in laughter, an ancient                                                               head juggling false teeth. He was a punch and judy show-
Howard wasn’t unimpressed but shunned groups of more                                                than one. Was it eyes sad about their wicked weight
of brow turned down his mouth, the grin a wince?
His voice trailing off in search of an entrance
or exit said it wasn’t a past he needed.

He stayed long enough anyway to lose his tan,
sing with the choir once and leave antique shops
looted . Whole bunches of choice bric
and brae were bedded lovingly for transplant
so though Howard found not a single root
quite a lot of the old country went with him, you bet.

John Davies lives in Prestatyn, Wales, and has been a visiting professor teaching creative writing this year. His next book, Flight Patterns, to be published in the spring of 1988, will include poems evoking his Utah experience.

Black Bean Stew

by David Veloz

     Razorback Sam died in his suspenders,
in the kitchen , over a pot of black bean stew.
His daughters came in from the rain
and played hearts by the radio,
and when they got hungry, they found him in the stew.
     Two coronets and a tuba played
at the funeral, and Sam's poker club
danced in the hall . They schemed
how to find his war bonds
and wondered if the crystal clown with the yellow balloons
was worth anything at all.
     Mary Lee Davis stood by the coffin and drank
margueritas and Spanish gin . She put fresh lipstick on
and waited for the tears, and when no one was looking,
she dropped Sam's bowling ball in.
     They drove him down to Austin in the back
of a truck and buried him by the side of the road .
That night his daughters found his will behind
the mayonnaise in the fridge, and they read it
while their steaks got cold.
     It said he left his revolver to the dog, his money
to the girls, and everything else
to God knows who, and please don't let him die
without some brass rag music
and a pot of black bean stew.

Making Fruit Salad

by Lance Larsen

Start with the rawest of fruits:                                                                                              dumpy pears, oranges with twisted navels,
squarish grapes from too much bundling,
a melon with soft spots in its character.
Think of yourself as a priest exorcising imperfection,
your hands feeling the foibles of generations.
Trim and cut and quarter, laying husk and seed
in a battered tin to be dealt with later.
Leave only the vitals. Wash and anoint them.
Now take your grandmother’s best cut-glass,
spread the fruit in careful layers
like the precipitates of an Edenic storm,
balancing grapes against berries,
orange wedges against melon balls,
and finish with bananas sliced thin
and pomegranate seeds leaking the finest juice.
Next comes the cream, a single peak,
then a sprig of mint found by the boy next door
while looking for the white wings of a dove.

 

Birds

by Lance Larsen

Sometimes it happens this way.
You get a call, or the weather turns,
and suddenly you’ re left feeling
the edges of an afternoon .
You wonder what you believe .
A man passes your window, a woman ,
but they’ re like ghosts, . . negatives movmg across cement.
The light spins a hole above your eye.                                                                                  Later you pick up what’s handy-
a catalog of the finely dressed.                                                                                                    On page thirty-seven you see her,
a girl bundled in Icelandic wool
who reminds you of Dee Dee Meline
from junior high . You study
the rocks and the ocean spray
behind her, then ask if the sea birds
winging over the sand are real .
Do they dip like the black gulls in your head,
their wings folding and scraping?
Suddenly you want to touch her,
this girl with feathered bangs,
touch her to prove that your life is worth risk,
that things are easy, that you can,
by concentrating your breath just right,
crumple the black wings into ashes, dust.

On the Road

by David Veloz

I drive my car to you. I drive
my car until the tires get soft
and my ears get sick of the radio.                                                                                                   I drive under a caramel sky without stars.

This caramel sky looks like the sky
above a power plant or a big city.
But this road has no power. This road
is soft and quiet and feels like skin.

The dress I bought you is unwrapped
and on the seat beside me . I drape
it on my legs and play it through my hands.
The heater blows your dress against my arms.

With the window down I smell cattle
and hear the screams of slaughtered pigs.
The caramel night mixes sounds and mixes
up my heart. I hope you hear my honk.