Susan H. Case is a college professor
York City. Recent work can be found in or is forthcoming in: Eclipse, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, Floating Holiday, Freshwater, Georgetown Review, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Mad Poets Review, Slant, Tar Wolf Review and The GW Review, among others, including the anthologies Yowl
and Poems for the Mountains. She is the author of The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press, 2002), which is currently being translated into Ukrainian and selections
from which have been translated into Polish.
He was a teacher
who was really an actor. She painted dishware, really a dreamer. They met at the flat track. Zippy Chippy,
odds were five to two. Northampton hadn’t banned him, though a sorry racer. They bet, held hands, watched
the Zipster surprise everyone—he left the starting gate. For some, a day for long odds. Not for the gelding,
second by a neck to a sixty-five year old jockey. An eighty-seventh consecutive loss. By the time the horse beat
a baseball player, in a fifty-yard match, the pair had run away together. Found a town clerk down in Natchez. They kissed as results were announced. Noticed the zest of one another’s
Insected summers, winters ripping cold, in the North Country, keep most of the flatlanders away,
John used to laugh. That was before outsiders arrived, when he killed his wife’s sister, as we all tried to get through
the season without cracking, waiting for the plow, our draft-racked slab houses, deep in chill, growing small. The folks
from the city buy the book, peek at pages of the investigation, drive by the scene in slush-slapped cars – abuse, poverty, incest, drinking. Tavern talk, picked up first by the reporter
from out of town. Then, came the true crime writer, who wrote the book that brought more tourists in new clothes, who
finally, thank heaven, leave a little money here.
John, still using his hunting rifle, denying the rumors, taking the free lawyer when charged.
No moral lapses his lawyer said, mistook
her for a deer, simple as that. Not even his friends believed it, thinking, another
February snowstorm, another quarrel. We could close our eyes and see her run outside, in her flannel nightgown,
the pink one, from Penney’s, embroidered pansies at her neck. The first shot, fired in the yard. It’s
in the book – did it really happen that way? - how John ran her to the woods. Sobbing, stumbling, she fell out
of her slippers, to bare feet, left to bleed out, like hunted prey. Froze to death
first though, the coroner said. John’s wife shook her head, worn down by loss, insisted nothing was
amiss, but the death scene, messed by hungry animals.
The lawyers worked it out - they always do. First degree manslaughter, a gift. We watched as
John stood up in court, admitted guilt, an argument, he said. Drinking,
tempers frayed, a rifle there and loaded, just happened. He couldn’t
even remember. Sorry, he started to cry, so sorry. He had loved her too much to let her go in any other way. In the warmer weather,
just the day trippers. They look at our town, fact-hungry, take away photos, bug spray, tee shirts, postcards.
Their appetites keep us going, home cooking at our only restaurant a destination (trout’s popular), then, sated, without
another thought of us, they drive on out.
Kenneth Pobo has had work appears in FORPOETRY.COM, Three Candles,
Plum Ruby Review, and elsewhere. His book Introductions came out from Pearl's Book'Em Press in 2003.
Laundry hung her up on spring days. Happy,
she flapped in thin cotton dresses, no hose, no shoes. Grimacing but trying to
grin, my mother, who kept cabinets neat as Marines keep foot lockers at inspection, called Mrs. M a free spirit.
We kids learned our
cages were built to last. We entered them, afraid to cause trouble. Not Mrs. M. Or so it seemed.
She had no Mr. M., no kids, but she invited us over, give us news of planets.
Intimately acquainted with them, she needed no telescope or astronomy text. I
visited each on a magic carpet of her stories.
After high school I left home for college. On the phone my mother said that Mrs. M had gotten married. I said I was glad. I wasn’t. I wanted her to stay the same as I had known her.
In my cage. Where she would tell stories and kick the sky open so I could
hobo around clouds. She picked the lock, picked everyone’s lock, moved
Kate McKenzie was born and resides in Wellington, New Zealand. A former software
engineer, she is now pursuing a career in psychology. She is currently writing her first novel.
Three untitled poems
the see through light lies
newly washed on the pavement
of wide skies
the window flung wide
frost tracing the path taken
by the long flown dove
these withered leaves are treasured
trash in my garden