PoetryIssue 07 | November 2009

My Friends, the Bees

by Wally Swist

for John Maziarz

The winter night you helped me
untie the mattress from the top of the car,

and we carried it upstairs, all you said was:
We will find a river.  With that I was alerted

to the currents that flowed inside you.
Then into spring and through fall, you held

ladders, while I painted tall Victorian peaks
and gripped the shutters you handed to me;

more than just the stickiness of paint between us.
You began stories with Well, yass,

and I followed you coon hunting over expanses
of swamp abundant with pussy willow.

You would punch the time clock the next morning
at the factory, spent, but full of the river

you had found. That next spring at dusk,
when the smell of damp earth rises, you led me

to the abandoned servants’ quarters, only days
before a doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, and there,

where a broken water pipe made a right angle
over the blossoming hawthorne, came the dripping

from the hive, that first covered your index finger,
then flowed over your entire hand with a buzzing

that matched the quiver in your voice,
when you declared, My friends, the bees.

About the author

Wally Swist’s recent poems appear in From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright (Lost Hills Books, 2007), and Puckerbrush Review, among others. A recipient of poetry fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Wally Swist has recently published Mount Toby Poems (Timberline Press, 2009).

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok