by Evelyn Mattern

Balancing    backpacks    coffee    cokes
we take over the fluorescent plastic room
set up camps at its far points
work our way through the reader

Thoreau on Monday morning
Head bent with hair for a veil
hell bent she writes only of her father
script so lilliputian I had to buy glasses
Time the turbulent stream she fishes in
       flinging lines for the runway catch of her childhood

Wednesday getting out of Plato's cave
        Can we?
The high school student taking this college class
        through brightness
        and rumors of breakdown
wants burial in the cave
Fledgling with downy hair
        holding his nose ring to the air
        sniffing out chaos
what he has already seen at the door
what he is turning turning for

On Friday excerpts from The Invisible Man
plunge us underground
The dark one with earplugs to his Walkman
        has been there
        is there
He dares us to look at him
For once he has pushed back the hood
        shroud of his parabolic skull and sunken eyes

Standing before these children of plenty
standing before these empty children
every day having to breach the fortifications
I wonder at my own disguise

by Jay Liveson

The scene's the same,
The performers
and audience change.
The rabbi at the grave's edge,
the silent mourners
along the sides --
oblivious to lashing winds.
The sharp smell of
a mound of fresh, turned soil
umber, red
skew pierced by shovels.
The trimmed rectangle
with its hungry shade.
And on its lip
the mahogany crate
that (they claim) represents
your friend
her husband, their father.
Your hand still electric
dark suit tinged
with perfumes and threads
pressed against you
chest clutching chest
as if you could choke it out
without words
"I know, I know."
And all the while
the guilt-stained relief
"Thank God it's not me."

by Lou Masson

Below, Bruna bakes bread.
Unbidden the smell of crust
warm out of the oven
climbs the stairs
to my rented rooms.
I taste the home I left.
When the loaves cool,
she will slice one for Victor
who will praise her baking
in Italian sweeter than butter.
If I am lucky, they will hear
their lodger pacing overhead,
and Bruna will call me down
from my loneliness
to offer manna
and Victor's homemade wine.

Jay Liveson, a neurologist in clinical practice in New York City, has been a visiting associate professor at Tel Aviv University since the Gulf War. His work has appeared in numerous journals.

Lou Masson, professor in the English department at the University of Portland, Oregon, practices what he teaches as contributing editor for Portland and through work accepted by America, Left Bank, and The Critic.

Evelyn Mattern is a contemplative activist who lives in the woods in North Carolina.

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