Nebraska 43: ‘when butchers shoot pool’ by Stacey Waite

sometimes one of them goes overboard
sometimes one of them gets drunk
sometimes one of them starts a fight
with a woman who looks like Tony Danza
sometimes one of them sinks the cue ball
sometimes one of them gives the other the last cigarette
sometimes one of them becomes the other’s father
sometimes one of them holds the pool stick like a rifle
sometimes one of them makes fun of the other’s side spin
sometimes one of them hits a three-cushion bank shot
exhales quietly and grins like a pool shark
sometimes one of them has the blue of the chalk on their fingertips
or the blue of the blue chalk in their blue eyes
sometimes one of them calls the other a sissy boy
sometimes one of them plays a sexist song
on the juke box and calls their partner “the wife”
sometimes one of them slaps the quarters down on the table
like it’s the very last pulsing left in their beating hearts
sometimes one of them imagines their rage contained by the triangle
watches it crack open in the other’s clean break
sometimes one them calls the shot by nodding their head
in the direction of the intended pocket
sometimes one of them is wearing the same cologne
they wore in high school
but when the night is over
when they’ve left the bar without yelling or fighting
when they’ve left the last bills for the bartender
when they’ve both spit on the city sidewalk
when they’ve reached the fast food parking lot down by the river
one of them would hold the other if they cried
not that they cry
just
if they did

© Stacey Waite

Nebraska 42: ‘Final Shirt’ by Marjorie Saiser

After my father died, my mother
and my sisters picked the shirt, the tie;
he had just the one suit.
I left them to it, I didn’t
want to choose, I loved him
all those years. They took a shirt
from the closet, I don’t remember
which one, I’m sure he had worn it
to church and hung it up again.
They held a tie against the cloth
of the shirt. They decided, finally.
It’s like that. Things come down
to the pale blue or the white,
or some other. Someone buttoned it
over him, those buttons he had unbuttoned.

Poem copyright ©2016 by Marjorie Saiser, “Final Shirt,” from RATTLE, (Vol. 54, Winter, 2016).

Where We Stand

We are standing where
Kubla Khan begins,

Coleridge’s paradise poem
in granite stones along the

Land of Canaan footpath
with its walking promise,

putting our world to rights
as the election is coming –

rueing how a disenfranchised
will still vote for the privileged

who are liars: this incongruent
opium of imagining and hope –

and the dog bin next to us
reeks each time good

citizens open to deposit their
black bags of ad nauseam.

Nebraska 41: ‘Discovered’ by Shirley Buettner

While clearing the west
quarter for more cropland,
the Cat quarried
a porcelain doorknob

oystered in earth,
grained and crazed
like an historic egg,
with a screwless stem of

rusted and pitted iron.
I turn its cold white roundness
with my palm and
open the oak door

fitted with oval glass,
fretted with wood ivy,
and call my frontier neighbor.
Her voice comes distant but

clear, scolding children
in overalls
and highbutton shoes.
A bucket of fresh eggs and

a clutch of rhubarb rest
on her daisied oil-cloth.
She knew I would knock someday,
wanting in.

From Walking Out the Dark (Juniper Press, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Shirley Buettner

‘One-Sided Conversations’ by Rupert Loydell – Facqueuesol Books

one-sided

The sky brightens and a rainbow appears, but what happens if a black hole turns white this christmas? This question from ACROSS THE COSMIC COMPUTER/WEIRD FALLOUT, one of the prose poems in this collection, is seasonal if unanswerable, not that asking is looking for a response. These prose poems deal with thinking about / looking for / rejecting anything and everything that comes with being adrift, doing so in the floating poetics of thoughtfulness – personal and universal – candour and honest introspection typical of Rupert Loydell’s writing.

You can read it all here.

Nebraska 40: ‘Mornings’ by Susan Aizenberg

Before the train screamed him through tunnels
to his windowless office, the idiots
he had to “sir,” my father needed a space
without us, so in a crack of light from the bathroom,
he dressed, held his shoes by two fingers,
and left us sleeping. That walk

to the diner, the last stars fading out,
the sky lightening from black to blue to white,
was his time. He walked in all weather,
let each season touch him all over,
lifted his face to rain and sun. He liked
to watch the old houses stir awake
and nod to the woman in her slippers on 27th,
smoking as she strolled her little mutt.
To step back, smooth as Fred Astaire,
from the paperboy’s wild toss.

Milk bottles sweated on doorsteps,
sweet cream on top, and once, he lifted a quart
from its wire basket, drank it down
beneath our neighbor’s winking porch light,
and left the empty on the stoop.

Poem copyright ©2015 by Susan Aizenberg, “Mornings,” from Quiet City, (BkMk Press, 2015).

Nebraska 39: ‘Waking Up My Daughter’ by Greg Kosmicki

I am sitting in sunlight reading
when Debbie calls to talk from some store
to ask me what size coat she should buy me.
We decide I don’t need a new coat.

It is mid-morning on a Saturday.
I go upstairs to wake my daughter
who is twenty-one years old
and who has a psychology test to study for.

I lean down to kiss her and it is then
I see for the first time in her life
how much she looks like my mother
when she was this age, the rest of life

as they say, ahead of her.

“Waking up My Daughter” by Greg Kosmicki from Some Hero of the Past. © Word Poetry Books, 2006.