Ballet over the Border by Donal Mahoney

Every summer they come, a ballet
over the border, without papers,
a mass migration of

ruby-throat hummers,
beautiful birds that devour
millions of flies in North America,

birds we welcome because we love
their beauty and their ballet.
We do everything to help them,

hanging and cleaning feeders of nectar
to plump them up so they can feast
on flies until October when

they have to lead the young
over the border in another ballet
to Mexico or the Caribbean.

All winter we shovel snow
and wait for the hummers to
begin their long flight back

to arrive in time for summer.
They arrive again without papers.
There are no plans to deport them.


To Be Brave by Allison Grayhurst

Round, loose, seven months after the funeral –
shells on the carpet, hands in movement – back and forth.
The zodiac’s thigh has nothing on me. Games played
are games lost to the heap of hell once made.
Robin Hood is at my doorstep, his laid-back courage
is now part of my scheme. Take no enemies. Have no enemies.
The end result is all smiles.
Thank you for telling me. I have to shed this defeat.
I have to pray and pray, and then again
I am so broken, and even that has to be embraced.
Faith is a gift to wear around my neck.
Come to me, be with me,
allow me to unlock the true syllables of
my calling.

The Calling by Ag Synclair

all of this
is a simple
call and response


a nod
to some church
in our deepest south


or, perhaps
to chuck berry
either way, imagine

opening your mouth
and there is no sound
imagine the quiet bones


of snow, scattered
wall to wall in that church

                        wall to wall in that church

our own antiphony
still unfinished

Map Guy by John Grey

The man has nothing but maps in his head.
So much for eyes.
That’s the Soviet Union before the breakup
looking back at you.
It’s a wonder he can dress himself.
Luckily, his shirt reminds him of Asia,
his jeans are South America
but why aren’t the countries marked?
And when his brain spotlights Peru,
he whistles Andes pipe tunes.
When it’s Switzerland, he yodels.

He has a job… well maps must work.
He would have been a cartographer
but what could fingers do
that his head has not already?
Instead, it’s tending bar at Danny’s
and somehow he gets the mixes right.
Much better than countries do at least.
He’s no clichéd sympathizer though.
He tells the harried husband to invade.
The Maginot line is weak.
A hooker on a stool fixes her lipstick.
It’s the British Empire all over again,
plastering the globe in pink.

He was even married once.
Pretty she was like Europe with the countries colored.
And her body was that other kind of map…
relief… with mountains circled, plains marked clearly,
forests green as hands that only know the world in outline.
He made love tentatively, carefully,
like he was making the world safe for geography.


trust by John Sweet

not magic, but something real

something pure,
and i have  been trying to thank you
……………………………………………for it
in these last dying days of October

i have been walking down dead-end streets,
past the ghosts of suicides,
pasts burned-out gas stations,
and i have spent enough of my life being blind
to finally understand the gift of

i have tasted you in the grey light
of silent afternoons

have only wanted more

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