sermon

but lord, he was crying on the street corner,
drowning his own sermon in saltwater
and rain. the georgia clay turns up pastors


fast as good sweet onions, crops in winter
when nothing else will grow. vigil stood
in pews of wadded wrappers, waving his cap


at trucks caught by the light. round red sobs
full of angels and gravity. i will tell you, lord,
that the root of fear is love, tremulous


and close-caught, dollar bills held out between
forefinger and thumb, but yet again the root
of love is fear. full circle, flipped coin, quarters


dropped into palm cracked with dirt and ice,
wet with two kinds of sorrow. crepe myrtles
hunched on the median, hacked to nubs


for the cold, each brown limb a knotted fist.
streetlights shivered to green, and the world
turned to engines and tires kicking up spray.

Dragonfly - Rachel Misenar

end times


 

at the end of the world they're going to ask 

me what i did. i'm sure that's what happens, 

 

lined up in the blowing dust, full of cancers 

and beams of light, pinned to the cratered 

 

earth by the weight of our histories. all my life 

i've worked to be good, good instead of great, 

 

good instead of happy. safe instead of happy, 

kind instead of happy. i think happiness 

 

must be an ugly thing, villain in the mirror, 

mold-fur and vinegar. i've seen those old 

 

medieval tapestries, revelation trumpets 

and fanged mouth gulping down the joyfully 

 

doomed. a wide and lonely field, voices 

from the sky: what did you do? i'm sure of it. 

 

i'm counting on it. i've lined up my answers 

beforetimes. that day i saw myself on the cloth, 

 

saw my hands and my own bowed head, tiny 

stitches and shining thread. they sewed me 

 

middle of the line, hunched shoulders, one foot 

already braced on the golden ladder. needlework 

 

is a succession of choices, small actions 

held fast by an anchoring knot, but i swear
 

i saw my neck bend, there in the wind 

and singing, swear i saw my eyes cut back. 

 

the gallery was dark and the guards were closing 

down, but i know i saw the churning throng below 

 

smile at me, hold out their hands from the heat 

of the fire and tell me it's never too late to repent. 

Maria Zoccola is a Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has degrees from Emory University and Falmouth University, and her work has recently appeared in Gris-Gris, Lunch Ticket, Exposition Review, and other places. 

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