What’s wrong, 
handsome small farmer?
Heron stopping, 
pony stopping—


Healthy, educated maiden,
she would serve you a rough half-bushel—
cockle soup, a brew,
the water in which the puddings had been cooked


Remember, pilgrim: not the clothes, the road.

Pass between two hills’ breadth.

Put wind into the wish.


Mischance fall upon them who avoid the conflict:
the fork of their breeches
tied in a bundle


Manage cheerfully, 
two by two: 
cock and gander, 
dove and dragon.


Defied book-knowledge—
Taught the garden—


A compact: 
first, housewifely tasks; then,
much ale.

Copyright © 2019 Anna Lena Phillips Bell. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

Now that I can, I am afraid to become a citizen.
I don’t want to become anything because I’m afraid of being seen. 

I am arriving, and departing, 
and later I will punish myself for looking over 
at the person sitting next to me on the plane, checking their screen 
and reading their email. For now there is no punishment.
Today I have realized everyone is just as boring as me. 
Everyone in TSA had enormous hands. 
I still refuse to travel with my green card.

It is my mother’s birthday and I bought her merchandise from a school 
I didn’t attend but only visited. She, too, understands the value of cultural capital.  

Today I am wounded. I like to say wounded instead of sad. Sadness is reserved
for days when I can actually make money from what I do. 
My mother raised me to make sure nothing I ever did I did for free. 

When I land, Northern California is burning. 
We keep a suitcase near the door just in case.  
A man calls me three different names before giving up
and asks if my son has begun coughing yet.  
Beneath all that ash, no one seems bothered if you cry in public. 

Sitting around a circle of grateful alcoholics, some of whom will leave 
the room towards a clear portrait of their ruin,
which can either mean they will or will never return, 
a man tells me I have been selfish, and I admit I have. 
Sometimes I want every goddamn piece of the pie. 
A woman pulls aside her mask to smoke and says 
she’s going to look up what temperature 
teeth begin to melt, the implication being that if teeth melted, 
they won’t be able to identify her parents who are still missing in Paradise.

When I pray, I don’t know who I am talking to yet.
I take the eucharist in my mouth for the first time 
since changing religions and it is not as holy as I imagined. 

How easy. How effortless. This breath. 
I’m here. I’m here. I’m right here. I want to say.
I wish things were simple, like taking just one drink
and not another, like not burning in a fire, 
like letting things be good without being holy.
I wouldn’t have to pretend to try
to resume the bounty of this blossom.  

Copyright © 2019 Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

You could smell the day’s heat even before the day began. 
Constant trickle, endless green trees flanking the highway: 
summer had come back. Scattered trash 
on the apartment landing. Everyone passed by it. Everyone felt
it belonged to someone else. 

Grey fog, blue sunlight, stones like big footprints
in a wavering line across a lawn.
Everyone was talking about a new song 
in relation to the old: the same volume
but with no feeling. Standing on the porch 
just before the drizzle, 
fiercely missing my sister, how we used to take the bag 
of cut grass from the lawnmower 
and empty it over our bodies like rain.  

Days lost between the clock and my phone: I made coffee,
I brushed the cat, I went to work, I knew the time it took
to go from one room to another 
to collect my ironed shirt. I kept looking back 
to isolate individual moments, asking why
didn’t I give myself more fully to that 
friend, that stranger, that drinking, those
days. I remembered Kira and Chicago, 
leaving our apartment in the middle of the night, so hot even the moon 
looked hurt. I watched a chained dog strain
at every passerby. I thought, it must be hard
to have that much desire. 

Meanwhile, I’d gotten older. I’d grown 
accustomed to my body. 
I could sit with my shirt off
on a hot day and not think about
how my body looked 
or how I felt inside it. 
Cutting my hair the barber said, 
heat rises, that’s a known fact.
I liked her phrasing. I walked forever.
I was trying not to revise history
to make my present life
make sense. Raised voices; faded t-shirts
left in boxes on the street. 
Such strange intimacies. 
The telephones ringing 
in the houses as I passed. 

Copyright © 2019 Grady Chambers. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

junk yard, Goodwill, crushed cans, buy-1-get-1-free, re-runs, dead leaves in the pool, no lifeguard, landlord no English, bounced check, smog check, two—no, need three jobs, back entrance, under the table, no ride after school, loud dogs, mean neighbors, no neighbors, someone died there, FOR RENT sign, up for months, rusted carts, bruised fruit, free bones, just ask, beef tongue, chicken broth, chicken hearts, clouded eye of fish on ice, fry it extra crispy, the house smells like patis and Windex and roses from the rosewater bath to heal the kidney, traffic, church is packed, late for church, not going to church, news of a shooting, news of a robbery, news of the boy raped at prom, pictures of the teens in court, animals!, those crying parents, his crying parents, Rodney King, Reginald Denny, everyone’s yelling on Ricki or Jerry or Maury or Montel and Oprah is on the cover of her own magazine, dentist office, insurance voucher, no social, permanent address, temporary address, magazines with the address torn off, it’s your first time, the handsome dentist says, he touches you and you feel special and rich and white and American and healthy and taken care of, T.C.C.I.C., keep in touch, have a nice summer, we’ll be friendz 4 forever, never change

Copyright © 2019 Jan-Henry Gray. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

like a room with an open window, we
               were haunted:
                                         neither exit nor entrance,
fully: so the ghosts crossed our thresholds:
               they have all gone out, they have all gone in:
the little houses leaning into the field of grass, the water
               tower levitating into the sky, the roadside drill
that digs in the grit:
                                     shock of the human
continuously beating but irregularly: so absence
               fills with expectation, overfills: and the thing is

Copyright © 2019 Gina Franco. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

no telling what lies on the other side:
                                                                     the X and its door:
                the wayfarer arrives at the throne
                                                                             at the end of the world
to find that the throne is a cardboard sign
                                                                             scrawled in black marker:
              (I thirst):
                               no one, nowhere: no “look no further”:
though the boy
                             waves his bottle over his head, walks the highway
                shirtless on the shoulder, the last
                                               of his water beading against clear
empty plastic, and visible
                                               from the car as we drove by. In the worst
                heat of the day.
       	                                    In the desert not far from the border.
So, the X
                   and its exits, the many passages since. So to have gone further
                out of the way—to have not been so sensible—
     	                                                                                            so that the walker,
watched sometimes, secretly, from the givenness, the order,
               of conditions that now still make their
    	                                                                             appearances known
—and utmost—wouldn’t be alone: here is water
                                                        	                     left on the roadside
               with the carrion,
and the cars that cross leftward, inex
 	                                                           -tricable from the broken line:

Copyright © 2019 Gina Franco. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.

During the short sale I moved my desk toward Charlie’s 
so that every day, when we came back from work,

he could say, It’s not even your house, to my face 

when I’d fret, I can’t lose another thing. 

Most of what I owned was slopped in return boxes 
from other states and when I visited home 

I complained about how I ever slept on that twin, 

how my father couldn’t even dust the Venetian blinds 

once in a while. It was the sixth or seventh house 
I’d lived in, and not even one I’d say I grew up in

—I’d say the neighbors maybe found us eccentric 

with the trellis heavied by wind chimes and roots invading 

the porch’s foundation—so he was right 
to put the noise cancelling headphones I gave him 

back on while I agitated the sink. But it was our house 

for a while, the lawn tended, the gnomes in a collection,

and before I used it as storage, I worried in it 
about changing the motion sensors and whether 

the leaky faucet was drowning the persimmon tree 

my late grandmother and late beagle loved. 

Charlie replied always with concern 
about my Googling old addresses again. 

No one hated sentimentality more than I, 

but when I flew back to consolidate my boxes, 

I didn’t know where to start. 
Crayons, a below-zero sleeping bag, so many albums 

of things I couldn’t place. My things and what were 

not my things. I circled trash bags around me 

in the garage and tuned the radio in tears. 
Just like that, it was for weeks. Inspecting frames, 

books, dishes—separating what was not broken from 

what was, dumping when I knew the difference. 

Copyright © 2019 Janine Joseph. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.