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POEMS

Visiting the Town Too Tough to Die

(Tombstone, Arizona)

By Martha Deed

Ladies of a certain age wear cowboy hats

their men belly up to the hostess' desk

with a swagger left over from 35-cent

Westerns at the Broadway Skouras

Theatre as if still rolling from the motion of

their trusty steeds beneath them

not the silver Lexus they parked at the lip

of the reconstructed wooden sidewalk

down the dirt-blown street next to

Big Nose Kate's Saloon -- their fingers

strangers to a rope or saddle wrapped

around martinis while the rest of us drink

ale, and most of us at the Longhorn Restaurant

in Tombstone, Arizona, older than the oldest

citizens lying outside of town at Boot Hill

under piles of polished stones

the soil too thin for digging

MARTHA DEED lives in North Tonawanda. She will be one of the "Five Women" reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Just Buffalo Literary Cafe at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

***

Unexpected Gifts

By Jane Sadowsky

You know that one gift you didn't get in childhood,

that Red Ryder BB gun?

This isn't about that.

It's not about boxes, bows or gift wrap,

balloon Santas, fit for the Macy's parade,

tethered to your front lawn.

This isn't just for one season.

Still, it's the hush of an early morning snowfall,

trees limned in white,

and the only tracks, shallow and pointed,

lacing your lawn like a doily

between the bush and the bird feeder.

It's the neighbor who invites you to the Christmas play

at the rehab, while her tethered cat winds round your legs,

sniffs your fingers for cream cheese.

It's the man with the happy-eared dog, stopping to talk about Orioles,

the ones that sing and fly, not the ones who bat and pitch,

as you pick out their nests against the sky.

It's the sun, golden on the icicles, giving them grandeur in their final hours,

even as it melts their hearts.

Weeping their love, they fall away.

JANE SADKOWSKY lives in North Tonawanda. She will be one of the "Five Women" reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Just Buffalo Literary Cafe at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

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