Summer 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 2


Poetry    Translations    Non-Fiction    Fiction    Essays   

Deborah Vatcher


Light and Dark

when darkness finally fell the night
of 4th of July
we were ready to blast
the parking lot with light
outside the kitchen door
of our apartment
waving sparklers pinwheeling in our hands
bright as moonshine on our faces while dad ignited
machine gun firecrackers
the black snakes twisting like dog poops
flaming from the pavement
and we stood slack-jawed at the comet trails
of roman candles streaking high
before the big bang and dazzle
until all was burned down and cool
and greedy for more flash and display
there beyond the cars
glimmering in the bushes were
constellations of fireflies
pulsing with summer heat
and with a hammer and nail we
tapped breath holes through lids of
empty baby food jars
strained peas and peaches
and caught the bugs in our traps
where they burned bright when we shook them
our living star lights
and when dawn finally fell the next morning
and we rattled the jars to ignite the galaxy glow
there were only dark bodies in the black hole
we’d torn through the night


The Diagnosis

he comes strange to the house
with his smells
not like dad’s clean aftershave
something different
with gray whiskers
it’s very sketchy
he smokes a pack
and then mom smokes
grandpa’s staying in the
front bedroom
his suitcase spilled open on the floor
showing white underwear folded
and there’s an army of pills
in labeled green bottles
standing watch on the bureau
doubled ranks in the mirror
with a crusty bottle
of Philips milk of magnesia
and some aspirin
I suppose it’s for the heartache
they talk about


Coloring America

it’s almost impossible to stay between the black lines
in the little purple and red coloring books
with no blank sheets of paper
with stories of lively dogs in their fine
houses with trees rolling hills sun and flowers
while bouncing in the back of the blue Dodge station wagon
marking miles across the thumping heat gaps in the highway
past brown wheat fields stomach growling from one Howard
Johnson’s Motor Lodge to the next with the big
orange roof serving green peas and meatloaf and
if you clean your plate apple pie a la mode
but don’t eat too much late at night
or you’ll feel sick in the morning over a plate of
scrambled eggs and canned orange juice before the car gets rolling
to face another day sprawled on the blanket
with Crayola Crayons regular set of eight
only black, blue, brown, green, orange, red, yellow and violet
road crayons
bought whenever we move
across America and back again
at home we left 64 in the box from the Christmas before
with a built in sharpener
depending on the mood and weather
the sun might shine burnt orange one day
and goldenrod another
but on the road
it was simply white or yellow



at recess we scratch the ring
in the dirt and set up the marbles
our treasure
the frosted glass
swirls and oxbloods, sparklers,
peewees, and black-eyed peas
snakes and corkscrews in transparent
glass sunbursts and sparklers the moonies
and we knuckle down with our shooters
this game is for keeps today taking careful
aim to knock the targets from the ring
across the dust and while striking his
favorite marble I tell my opponent
that my dad won the war
and he says no it was his dad
and we pick up the argument later
walking home from school
with arm pinching and shoving
and I say knowing every bit of it was
that not only did my dad win
but he was shot too
when he was in the hospital
nearly dead with pneumonia from
fighting so hard
they shot him every day
he told me himself
with penicillin


© Deborah Vatcher



Poetry    Translations    Non-Fiction    Fiction    Essays   

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