Fellow Travelers

They walk here every afternoon, ageless
in their old Adidas, matching shirts.
He marches out in front, bent at the waist,
as if into a headwind, face a mask.
She trails a step behind (in deference?)
and sneaks a sidelong look from half-closed eyes,
her face turned resolutely toward the ground.
A word between them: Lao? Vietnamese?
My idle script for their scenario:
refugees, their children grown and gone
and too American to kneel before
the ancestors who dwell inside their bones.

Today, alone, his face preoccupied,
he stumbles as we pass. I catch his arm
and hear my voice: your wife, is she all right?
He barks: OK, back soon. He steps away.
But as he turns I see his palm float up
into a shy suggestion of a wave
and feel the spark of a connection made.
On her return, she'll meet my eyes and smile.

by Melanie Houle

Melanie Houle is a physician and former jeweler. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and The Raintown Review's first featured poet . Her poetry also appears in The Lyric, California Quarterly, The Aurorean, Texas Poetry Journal, The Eclectic Muse, Tiger's Eye, Neovictorian/ Cochlea, Mobius, Pearl, The HyperTexts, Journal of the American Medical Association and others.

Crooked Streets

Time's a calendar of tablet sheets
I fill with notes. Today I walked around
a corner and past a rooming house and found
myself completely lost. The crooked streets
divided, forked like Renaissance conceits.
On every street: the rooming house. A sound
like inland gulls or something crying drowned
out the traffic noise, and pale aesthetes,
anemic ghosts or shades, replaced the men
and women on the street. Like a rhyme
I can't forget, it all comes back again:
the jumbled streets, the rooming house, and I'm
a calendar of tablet sheets, and then
a street, a house, a crooked trick of time.

by Carol Frith

Carol Frith, Sacramento, CA, co-editor of Ekphrasis, received a "Special Mention" in the 2003 Pushcart Anthology and has had work in Lyric, The Formalist, Smartish Pace, Seattle Re-view, Quarter After Eight, Lake Effect, Midwest Quarterly, Cutbank, The Macguffin, Pedestal, The Literary Review, Clackamas, etc.. A five-time finalist for the Nemerov sonnet award, her chapbooks are: Moving Like a Blue Flame (Medicinal Purposes, 2001), In and Out of Light (Bacchae Press, 2001) and Never Enough Zeros (Palanquin Press, 2002).

Table Of Contents    Next Poem(s)   Guidelines