Issue 23 | Fall 2019


Headstone vase, crumbling steeple, nave glass. All the humans hidden here under the shale-spun flake of tombstones. Uneaten, perennial. Umber and peat plunged beneath the rust stink of the wet ground. Heavy hitters, one shot then never again, like the mortal attitude of hungered squirrels who rush to food, to love, to the cool of summer nights of that particular Oregon flavor.

Let them nestle among you with their arms crossed in delicate twists. Caw again so I can hear you. Caw again so I know you’re still around. Lone fir and pitch moss; all the water, pooling. Sky-high kick in the mouth. Stone on the ground. Hedge bets before your beautiful future. Demand your time to the sun while you still can. Black-feather shine and heirloom mirror glare. Ask the question; be bold enough to stand the answer. Confirm your vitality with the sharp tip of a Sycamore stick. Feed the next flock. Weave straw into something that resembles your last home, the one dismantled by this new weather of the world. Police all the strangers who enter. Enforce the unwritten rules of the urban forest with the tender click of your caraway and coal-stung tongue.

Filed under: Poetry

Laura Vrcek mostly writes about triumphant family love. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, her home city, and now writes for brands in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her prose poetry and nonfiction essays have appeared in Apple Valley Review, Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, Entropy Magazine, The Red Clay Review, sPARKLE & bLINK, and on Perspectives, a storytelling segment on KQED public radio. With Northern California as her backdrop, the rust belt at her roots, and a surly gang of crows outside her window, she is writing her first book.