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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Wig Shop Choir

You, for whom the bluebirds of happiness
Dress up as prison guards, turning and

Raising your arms – just now – in triumph,
Grasping a chicken leg gnawed to the bone.

Of the wig shop choir!
I could almost hear it, the last glorious F
Still hovering in the chilly night air

 As I stepped into the crosswalk, 
The mad king applauding

 With his two red hands.


The Shoes of the Old Ones

Their makers vanished,
Along with the horses and clouds
That admired themselves in the cobbler’s window.

The uppers of heavy tooled leather,
Like an old-fashioned valise or portfolio
Into which important papers are slipped,

Bruised with the seal of a bank, or even an empire.
Thick-soled, cut broad across the instep,
Bearing, if somehow held close, the expected scents

Of their human owners: sweetish and fearsome.
I see them lined up beneath the pews at church,
Like sentences in an archaic tongue,

Punctuated by the tips of canes.



To chase the first night jitters I drank apple wine
And stacked my fingers one on the other
Like lobster claws and waved
Them over my head menacingly.
I stomped my feet
And made the rat turds dance.

An icy draft circled the room
Like a terrified bird.
The cupboards were bare, of course,
And so were the walls,
Except for the dime store Jesus
On the Cross somebody gave a hotfoot to.

Long minutes passed.

In a dark windowpane I watched myself
Turning pages struck golden by candlelight.
I could have been the Duc de Barry
Admiring a well-turned field, a forest
Of turrets under an azure sky, 
But I wasn’t. Instead there was a photograph
Of a schoolboy holding a machine gun while
Puffing on a fat cigar,

And later on one of a woman leaning forward
On a three-legged chair
Holding beside her cheek like a puppet
A picture of her long-faced husband,
Their two mouths
Half open to a street filled with burning garbage,
As if they’d both lurched up
Out of the same nightmare.

The Lord Almighty himself
Looking a little nervous too, I noticed,
Peering fretfully over his shoulder
In the wavering light,
This way and then that,
As if missing the company
Of the Good Thief,
And, then, even the Bad.

Copyright 2008, Daniel Lawless. © 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.

Daniel Lawless teaches writing, film, and humanities at St. Petersburg College, in Florida.  In the past, he has taught summers in France and England. He has published recently in The Louisville Review, Iron City Review, White Mule, Les Cahiers du Lez, Poems Niederngasse, and The Adirondack Review.