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Editor's Note



Three Poems

By Pete Reilly


He was propped against 
the chain link fence
in the corner of the playground;
wrapped in stained rags, 
his legs splayed 
on the asphalt
before him.

Hey you!”

I stepped closer.
The grey wind blew
a few lost leaves
in wild circles.

I only done it once
when I was a kid;
but you do it once;
you don’t forget.”

A nicotine stained finger
emerged from under 
his blanket 
and pointed at me.

You want to fly,
got to put your arms out
shoulder height, palms down,
and run like Hell.
Run so fast
your eyes water.

Don’t matter if you look silly,
or your friends laugh,
or fall behind;
you got to keep runnin’.
It’s the only way
you’ll ever get off the ground.”

He spoke above the barking dogs,
the sleepy commuter traffic,
the chaotic dance
of the dead leaves;
his voice a sledge.

You ain’t gonna fly to the moon,
orbit the earth or nothin’,
probably get a foot or two 
off the ground
if you’re lucky;
because even if you can’t see it, 
there's a thread tying us down
to this good earth
so we don't up and blow away 
like some lost balloon,
and end up God knows where.

When your feet leave the ground,
keep your eyes up, 
or close ‘em, if you’d like.
It ain’t gonna last long;
so feel it;
remember it.”

He pulled the blanket
close around his neck
and dropped his voice 
to a whisper.

Like I said,
I only done it once,
and it was a long time ago.” 

That night 
a blast of cold air
blew him away,
with the leaves,
the sky,
and the barking dogs.


I lay on the bed, ready.
She stood in the doorway, indifferent.

Neither of our bodies 
were what they once were,
perhaps never were,
having kept mostly to the dark and quiet
for so many years,
our bodies hidden.
There was no other way
with kids sleeping above or below.

I kept an insistent gaze on her,
not willing to be denied,
and she knew 
there would be no way
to put this off,
and began to think of ways 
to get it over with quickly,
without having to fully engage 
her own body;
and if she could keep her clothes on,
that would even be better,
so she could get on to the housework;
and Oprah’s guest was a woman
who had left her abusive husband 
and written a book;
and she was famished
because she had eaten 
only salad and yogurt for lunch;
and wouldn’t it be nice 
if I could take care of this urge myself,
for we both knew 
it had little to do with her.

6:00AM Commute

Maria thought back
to her village
as she sat quietly
on the sleepy 
6:00am bus
from the Bronx
to her job
at the corner diner
in White Plains.

She leaned her head
against the window
and remembered
her mother,
an angel,
and the townswomen;
settled in a silver stream,
the flow of life 
sweeping over them, 
and around them; 
washing away 
the unnecessary,
until what remained 
was solid and clean; 
their rough edges 
worn through the years, 
perfectly sculptured 
to the lives they led 
without complaint. 

As a young girl, 
dressed in rags all week, 
she emerged from her
adobe shack 
on Sunday mornings 
sporting a proud 
and beautiful smile;
wearing a clean, 
colorful dress, 
adorned with bows 
in her freshly brushed hair.

Even the shabbiest of homes, 
was swept dillegently 
each day;
fastidiously cultivated, 
decorated entranceways
and windowsills;
and the women talked 
about their husbands
and children
at the fountain
fetching water
in painted jars
of baked clay.

From day to day, 
year to year, 
and the others
had lived 
this meager existence, 
extracting joy and happiness 
from little things;
and like the cactus, 
they drew life
from the red dust
of the desert
and bloomed.

The bus
lurched to a stop,
the doors
swung open,
the ground was covered
with fresh snow;
nothing grew
in the Bronx.

Pete Reilly spends his days training in Aikido, writing, and cooking dinner for his wife Liz. He’s had poetry published in many literary magazines, has written two novels, and is presently working on a non-fiction work, "Zen and the Art of Teaching”.

Copyright 2013 © Pete Reilly. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.