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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Middle-Aged Karaoke

A big woman jumps

out of a booth
deftly, avoiding
tabletop and plastic
vines behind her head.
In the chrome diner
she sways at a microphone
singing "Daydream Believer,"
The Monkees' best song.
She's a slow tsunami,
same as me, though I sway
sitting down, enervated
by many drinks. Her friend
--a girls' night out--
closes the paper umbrella
above the rim of a mug
and waits her turn.
I envy their courage.
It's early evening.
I'm the only one watching.


I can't lift beers--I can't
drink without spilling.
When beer runs out my mouth
down my chin
to soak absorbent cotton
--I know I'm alive.
I do it for freedom, asserting
reaction. Anger too
explains the decisive quality
of such joy. Teeth clenched
and abraded by day
are raised and open at night
beneath the cans.

Such rebellion is small, a fit
for democracy. 

Ode to the Legend Itself
or Jimmy Pichford
The mean guy entered
the sporting goods    with stories around him
like a snarl of Dobermans
leashed to his fists. Black discs
a little bigger than eyes--his sunglasses
distilled menace   against the pale expanse of his face
while I folded shirts
and peeked. Jimmy had the world framed
in those glasses--in sinister, circular
perfection. They seemed to motor him, his bulk
stretching a sweaty undershirt
to the limit, overhanging
dirty white shorts--not as funny
as it should have been.    I forgot to mention
the immensity      
of his emergence from a tiny MG
with top down. He walked with grace
on his way to the door: poise
of the absolute. Above his sandals, summer itself
lay in fear--a shivering glare. 

The Bosses

Those you envy
stare first
at animal heads
mounted above the door
then drop their eyes
on you,
looking for purity. The soft
killer tapping
of their fingertips
on palm computers
spells your name.

Corrupt Administrators

We know you're the polar regions,
hugely expanded 
on a flat map,
             or digital squeal,
             a malfunctioning
answering machine--
                         were you
before? Does the word choice
inhabit your character?
People worry
about their futures
under your shadows. You've hoarded
a lifetime of slights
and harnessed
a subtle intelligence
for potion and power--
we call it spin.
             We buy it or lose,
             and lose by choice.  

Road Cut

exposed by demolition

Dad, here's a design once pounded by winds,
its life taken by minerals --
a fern you'd find in any wet woods, except the skilled
rock that explains it.   
                        Perhaps now    you're located to know
how sky resembled blue-grey shale    
after the asteroid hit Yucatan.
One Sunday he
pretended -- too much hesitance,    too much effort
on display. He knew it was
the last time
before I knew it, the smile on his face
both acted and felt,    the anxiety
a templet --
          the hospital room won't leave my mind
          (window, light, five people,
          the terrible matte texture
          of space itself),                     
a dwelling for many years -- not every day,
just off and on    like long-wave peaks from a resting brain   
hooked to an EEG.
                     I've tried often to put myself in his place,
to understand his trial, his mind
with body stuck on a bed,
                               trying to think
                               beyond the limits
of empathy,    in order to carry him forward.

Copyright 2008, Timothy Houghton. © 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.

Timothy Houghton's latest book of poems is Drop Light (2005, Orchises), and he worked on poems for that book at The MacDowell Colony and Hawthornden Castle International Retreat. Relatively recent reviews of DL appeared in The Literary Review and Chelsea. Poems have recently been published in such magazines as Chelsea and Stand Magazine. He lives in Baltimore where he teaches at Loyola University. He also leads local birding hikes for Audubon.