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Dying in Florida


there is the sun

and nowhere to hide from it

and sand everywhere

and a couple retired from the Air Force

married fifty-nine years

she needs everything


he needs help getting

up and down

she still sits on his lap sometimes

-- is now -- is now --

the contact standing in for memory

soon they will be gone

even from this new place

of assisted living

and their children will be gone

and their granddaughter

and their dog


and maybe the sun the sand too

some day


their daughter watches from the unlocked door of unit 201

out of touch -- flailing a little

as if falling

useless really except for packing and unpacking the things

they've already forgotten

she's falling through the ectoplasm

of their disappearing

Let be be

that line she learned in high school let be be

the finale

and the Air Force version? that advice

to those who play at falling?

straighten up and fly right

out of seem into the wild blue be

SHERRY ROBBINS was named Teaching Artist of the Year in New York State in 2005


This Poem Leaves No Wet Marks


I want an island where it never rains.

What about a hurricane?

A hurricane would do

if a hurricane does do

what a hurricane does and

doesn't get wet.

Wouldn't that crinkle the dirt and cut it up?

Je cherche une ile ou il ne pleuve jamais

You said that in English

nine lines back

A subjunctive however archaic

trumps conditionals

I see.

You see but do you hear?

Performance poem is over

Please wake up

BILL SYLVESTER is professor emeritus of English at the University at Buffalo and the author of more than a dozen collections of poems, most recently "War & Lechery" (1995).


Of the Moment


I live in the moment

because I have no choice

yesterday I lifted its wings and soared away

there are days when even its dust

is lost to me.

Tomorrow to my knowledge

has never once arrived.

I've sought it day by day

but only the beckoning finger

calls me forward.

For by noon today

morning is past and

evening is not yet a memory

this pen and paper is my life

because it stills the moment.

I live for that.

CATHERINE B. MIKLITSCH lives in Lewiston


Syncopated Life


In the depths of a bluesy dream,

a green flame arises,

tapered, shimmering.

From its base,

it spreads up into a broad hemlock

towering over the crest

of an unnamed, distant hill.

Wind sliced by a million needles,
sap drawn to remote branches,
earth and rock smashed aside by roots
flow into the softest sound of life,
rhythmic, reverberating.
In the light of April's full moon,
the hemlock's shadow
races down the hillside,
its black, lacy crown ending
where a spring bursts from bare rock.
The fast, white spray
arcs down into a mossy pool
before spilling over to create
a clear, shallow stream.
The water runs over its stony bed,
widening, narrowing, faster, slower,
but always with the same sharps and flats.
Above its low, muddy banks,
trilliums lunar white
poke up through leaf litter,
seemingly silent.
The beat of the flower
is slyly masked:
three white notes
atop a whorl of three green.
The tune of life is everywhere.

J.W. Rich lives in Kane, Pa.

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