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Elizabeth Howard, US
 

 

 

 

Tanka

 

great-uncle’s birthday
all his favorites
pot roast with potatoes
devil’s food cake
and auntie’s elderberry wine

 

 

corn shocks in the field
all the fodder
you’ve fed the cows
the fodder of lies
you’ve fed me

 

 

a buzzsaw
running here to there
his zigzag words
ripping people to shreds
his fever unquenchable

 

 

Free Verse

 

Undertow

 

on Mother’s Day
the men go rafting
children running wild
bouquets of guilt
blushing on the tables

wife to wife the calls
plans for a childless
gathering at a seaside spa
come Father’s Day

 

 

Checkmate

 

first-grade teacher
labels him retarded
refers him for evaluation

he almost aces
the picture test
his eyes beaming
an intelligent boy
I declare

she pokes her finger at me
if he cannot read
he’s retarded
exclamation point
period

 

 

A Firm Hand

 

when the father
rises from his chair
red-faced
wife and children cower

when a stranger appears
at the open door
he laughs heartily
just a little fear to keep
them in line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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