LINDA LUXTON

by Tatum Hogan

 

Working day in and day out,

Tending the garden,

Preparing meals,

Caring for my sick children —

Ernest, Jan, Silas, Virginia —

But never, never letting them see my struggles.

I was all they knew.

As I’m watching them mourn, I wonder.

Who will take care of them?

Maybe they’ll soon have families of their own.

They will struggle;

Good days will outweigh the bad;

They’ll think of me often.

But for once, I have something I’ve never had before:

Rest.

 

CORPORAL DEMPSEY

by James Frazier

 

Heroes are made immortal.

For heroes, they make bronze statues

And put on parades on beautiful Spring days,

When the White Ash and Willow flowers bloom overhead.

All to commemorate the valiant acts

That heroes commit in the name of peace.

Upon my steed I sat, wearing medals I had not earned,

And waving at people who believed

My tall tales of valor that I had borrowed.

Then a garter snake spooked my horse into hysteria.

He bucked and kicked until I fell, striking my head.

Now I lie alone in this foxhole

That I had heard so many stories about —

Ashamed, for my tales did not follow me,

And my purchased heroism was stripped from me.

TROUBLESOME TIMMY

By Amy Prince

 

I, of slender build and dark complexion,

A son, brother, and uncle,

Took for granted what God gave me,

Never taking the time to appreciate the true blessings in life.

I, a once-successful soul full of life and glee,

Have forever lost the dearest love a man could have;

All for the love of a foreign woman.

I had everything I could have ever dreamed:

A family, a house, and little ones to love.

But I threw it away when I met

The foreign woman.

My mind focused only on male-driven desires

And my mouth on hurtful, unthinkable words.

I could not stand the thought of anything

Except the foreign woman.

My hate-filled rumors and words of lies

Spread like a wildfire in a severe drought.

Through the town, more people believed

The untrue stories that I told.

Seemingly, they cared not for the ones truly hurting,

But instead focused on my well-being.

I had placed the wool over everyone’s eyes

Except for the ones who cared the most,

The ones who knew me for who I truly was.

Henceforth, the love of my life –

The one I believed my bride-to-be –

Was using her own scheme

For her own personal desires.

She used me and played me

To become a legal resident.

She left as fast as she arrived

And I found I was chained like a dog to a tree

Until the day of my death.

She, like a snake in the grass, full of evil spirits,

Captured my soul and sold it to the devil.

My soul still alive but my body dust,

I must dwell now in agony and turmoil,

Knowing my decisions focused on devilish desires.

 

 

FRANCO PIRLO

By Sam Muñoz

 

My parents came from Italy to New York when I was just an infant.

I grew up on the lower East Side of Manhattan.

What a beautiful city mine was.

The hustle and bustle never got to me.

My friends would always come by the house: “Come, let’s play ball!”, they would tell me.

I remember the worry-free days when all I did was walk to Canal Street and buy an ice cream cone from Ms. Wong.

The best ice cream in the city, I tell ya.

There in New York everything went well.

My girlfriend, Rosaria, what a beautiful young girl she was.

I had big dreams: marry Rosaria, open up my own auto parts shop, and maybe even move to Detroit; I hear the car scene there is very good.

But then this war came outta nowhere and stopped everything.

I remember the last words I said to Rosaria before I left: “Don’t forget me.”

I was sent off to France and stationed there for two years.

What devastating things I saw.

A buddy of mine and I were stationed there.

We had to keep a lookout on the camp.

Then we notice the bone-thrilling vibration of the German aeroplanes.

“Take Cover!” was the last thing I said before we were barraged by the German bombs.

So many casualties really do leave a man scarred for life.

Bodies lying left and right.

Blood smeared all over my face.

A man running around searching for his arm.

What terrible things I saw.

But then the war was over.

Oh, how happy I was to go back to my homeland.

I could not wait to see the look on Rosaria’s face when I got to see her for the first time in what felt like a lifetime.

I went back to her house, knocked on the door, and was greeted with the most excruciating news ever.

Lost her to the Spanish flu.

I cried like a baby.

After all, what purpose was there to my life now?

I did not know what to do.

I had an aunt who lived in a small town called Spoon River.

She told me I should go live with her, and help her with her business.

Molte belle donne qui,” she would say to me – not knowing that the hole in my heart could never patched.

I would never be able to look at someone else the way I did Rosaria.

I moved in with my aunt, only to die of this godforbidden flu too.

Oh, how I wish I could go buy a cone from Ms. Wong again!

 

GRACE RODRIGUEZ

By Sarah Joyner

 

I didn’t want to be you anymore.

You were scared, petrified, to be alone.

To be alone was worse than death.

You were dependent, not on material things but on emotional things.

You sought approval above all else;

You changed yourself for that approval.

To not be alone,

You changed.

You became a different person.

You became trapped inside that jail you called your brain,

Imprisoned by your own thoughts.

You saw the world passing you by,

But all you could do was watch everyone else live their lives.

You wondered why you couldn’t live yours,

And then you remembered, you were trapped by your thoughts:

They consumed you, lied to you.

They told you that you would never be enough,

They told you that you would never succeed.

They told you that you would never be happy again.

You stopped trying, trying to be happy, trying to succeed.

You accepted your life sentence.

And you went back to watching from a distance,

As everyone lived their “happy” lives.

I didn’t want to be you anymore.

Only in death could I find happiness.

Death was the only escape.

In death I am at peace, you are at peace, we are at peace.