BY IRENE SIMON SIPOS
Every year we imagine ourselves trudging across burning
sand, anticipating the next insurmountable task
we will be forced to do. How thirsty we are, how hungry,
how weary. This year, beautiful pink hydrangeas
grace the Passover table. Deep pink table cloths and napkins
make us feel we could be at a. sweet sixteen,
or on an Audrey Hepburn movie set.
If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?
If we are not for others, who will we be for?
These are the central questions as we labor
under relentless sun, as we submit to the cruel
commands of a fierce despot who doesn't care
how young we are, or how old, or how weak,
or how sick. These are the central questions
as we bow our heads against cold spring sleet,
struggling to acknowledge that we do not save
ourselves because of corrosive fear and we do not
stand for others because of willful ignorance.
Let the crocuses bloom, and the daffodils
unfold, and the rain fall, let the moon rise
in the blazing desert, let us lay under
the covering of the cool cotton tent,
let us recognize around this table that
we are now in the desert 2000 years ago, that
in the desert we were in a northern city in
a house with pink tablecloths and pink napkins
and dear friends. The questions circle us now
as then, exodus everlasting.
Irene Simon Sipos is academic coordinator of Student Support Services and teaches part time at Buffalo State College.
BY JASON IRWIN
They were among the first settlers here,
long before the colonies declared
independence, my fathers people:
square jawed, Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock,
fishermen, farmers and factory workers, all.
Pale as salt and stem as the God
that sent down fire
on Sodom and Gomorrah.
These are the people I never knew,
but know through photos, yellowed
by so many seasons, my grandmother left
when God, in His mercy, blessed her
one October day with a stroke
and she was free of widowhood,
colon cancer and cataracts.
It was here, in Barcelona, New York,
on the southern shores of Lake Erie,
where the first gas powered light house
was built in 1849, that my father was born.
Here, where Dr. Thomas Branwell Welch
invented a way to preserve unfermented grapes,
where Grace Bedell: age eleven,
suggested to Abe Lincoln
that he would look a lot better if he grew
whiskers, here where the winters last
until mid summer, and here, where my life
will surely end, just as it began: a speck of dust,
lost in a universe that rarely acknowledges
the dreams of an ordinary man.
Jason Irwin is a native of Dunkirk who now lives in Queens.
BY PETER JOHNSON
It's not easy to love oneself. I know. Just yesterday, no
one would speak to me at the open house. So many
parents. I wanted to write them letters, or share my
pineapple squares. But they were camped out by the
salad bar, so far away it was like a dream, except for
the heartburn. Even the hot dogs looked sad, tugged
this way and that between two stainless steel rollers.
I ate one. My son had pizza. Then I sat in his class-
room, scanning a history book, hoping a different
time period might present itself. I raised my hand to
pee, but the teacher punished me with dirty looks. "I
was president of the fourth grade," I protested, "cho-
sen to crown the Virgin on May Day." The children
scowled, threatened me with their No. 2 pencils.
Even the portrait of Cortez seemed angry as I traced
his bloody march across Mexico.
Post-Mortem Jacket Cover
BY PETER JOHNSON
At his funeral, as he hovers above the congregation,
above disgruntled poets, above ex-girlfriends meeting
each other for the first time and consoling his mother
who they always liked better than him, he wants
some brave soul to stand up and say, "No one else
lived as deeply as this man, or sang as terrifying a
song. No one was as tender and achingly sensual at
the same time. No one was a greater poet or friend of
But more likely, there will be an embarrassing silence,
as when someone passes wind in a movie theater and
no one accepts responsibility. But he can live with a
moment like that, appreciate its indecisiveness and
self-loathing. Traits they say he championed when
alive and barely kicking.
Buffalo native and University at Buffalo graduate Peter Johnson, author of three collections of poems and a book of short stories, returns to Buffalo May 9 to 13 for a World of Voices community residency, sponsored by White Pine Press and Just Buffalo Literary Center.
BY SALLY FIEDLER
They come in all sizes, of course,
and are necessary, bless their hearts.
It's a shame, the drain from the brain
that goes into growing the curly
chest hairs and the slightly
denser muscle mass.
And the wasted years spent
establishing the obvious fact that
they wear the pants in the family.
And the challenging prance
they produce when another
appears on the horizon.
And yet, when they clump
together of a Sunday afternoon,
they do make a joyful noise.
Sally A. Fiedler lives in Buffalo.
BY SCOTT PATTERSON
We want what we want.
Desire makes no apology
for what comes after.
The steady drone of traffic
sounds like yesterday and tomorrow,
full of people leaving home
They'll sleep for maybe an hour
and wake up to strangers,
dressing in a roaring silence
eyes darting here and there,
this is the last time
until the next time
a breeze blows over the embers.
Scott Patterson lives in North Tonawanda.