An hour before sunrise,
before the sky lifts its soft
black wing, a gray fox slips
beneath the protective hem
of the forest to scuffle with
a cat in the marigolds. Their
screams frazzle the oleander,
and both scatter in opposite
directions: the cat racing
to the safety of a parked
car, and the fox dashing 
back across the yard, his
plush tail a glorious silver
plume fanning the grass.

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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers



Third week of August,
nd the sun sets in the
midlands of South Carolina
to the roar of crows, rolling
its bright bone into the
lavender arms of twilight,
while palmettos, pines, and
magnolias sigh, shaking
the night with their tropical
tambourines. Once, twice,
three times my oldest cat
sneezes, caught in the grip
of an allergy to dog fennel,
which grows ferocious in
the pinewoods, thriving
on balmy nights and heavy
rain, its tiny pollen pods
twirling across the porch,
slipping beneath the lip
of the front door. Again
the churning landscape
begins to roar, the heat of
late summer swirling its
steamy coat around us all,
while crickets and tree frogs
shriek from the pines, their
cry a rough rattle flowing
from day to night, like waves
on a dark beach or wind
riffles swimming a wheat
field, back and forth, sound
and silence, the winged
litany of the Deep South.


First week of October, and
a cricket hides in the garden
beneath the window, grinding
its solitary whistle, pulling
the raspberry petals of sunrise
closer and closer. Soon the
sky will awaken to the sound
of meadowlarks, sparrows,
and crows, as the night folds
its ebony sheet and rolls over.
On the second floor porch,
a spider builds an ambitious
web, dangling above my head,
a dark star punctuating the sky.
Below, gerbera daisies lift teal
and tangerine faces, rejoicing
in the cool hum of autumn.


The last Monday in September,
the sky cornflower blue, and my
youngest cat leaps from the chair
to the window, ducking behind
the mini-blinds to spy on a dove
pecking at a patch of red clover
in the garden, while six crows
trudge through the neighbor’s
yard, clucking at one another.
September whirls as the month
for hurricanes. The season titters
to life in May and burbles through
the summer, dwindling by late
November. But September trembles
as the peak month, a time when
angry lows swollen with moisture
hurl themselves off the African
coast, swirling across the Atlantic
with a frantic eye for the warm
waters of the Gulf or the South-
east’s tepid shores. This is also
the season when the garden
releases a final sigh and bows
its frilly head. In the Deep South,
September tap-dances as a month
of contrast: the atmosphere churns
fiercely, while impatiens, lilies, and
zinnias quiet their riotous colors.

Laura Stamps is an award-winning poet and novelist. Over six hundred of her poems, short stories, and poetry book reviews have appeared in literary journals, magazines, anthologies, and broadsides, including the Louisiana Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Rose & Thorn, Big City Lit, Poesy Magazine, American Writing, and the Chiron Review. She is the author of more than twenty-five books and chapbooks, including Cat Daze (Kittyfeather Press, 2004) and In the Garden (The Moon Publishing, 2004). Her latest collection of poetry, The Year of the Cat (Artemesia Publishing, 2005), has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Several of her poems are included in the celebrity anthology Open My Eyes, Open My Soul (McGraw-Hill Books, 2003) and Women of the Web Anthology of Poems (Little Poems Press, 2005). More information about books by Laura Stamps can be found at www.kittyfeatherpress.blogspot.com.

Copyright 2005, Laura Stamps. 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.