PoetryIssue 16 | October 2012


by Stephen Bunch

to pray or to bury.

Forty thousand acres of forest combust,
but the mind rests on the mallows’ blooms
in the alley off the plaza, mountains
now obscured, smoke filling
the valleys’ bowls.

Los Alamos evacuated, zero percent

Between shops the young walk upright
but hunched, using opposable thumbs
to tap messages into the thickening air.

Neanderthal, weak, tired, waits
to be culled from the clan.

Man-bends-to-Earth: to be consumed
or defeated.

A Pueblo man, survivor of Bataan, 95 years,
coughs on the other side of a thin wall,
his body a thin question mark.

Kokopelli and the Christ are worn out here.
The humpback and the sin bearer
exhausted by commerce.
The flesh wears away
though the bones may endure
for a season or more.

Neanderthals had no inkling of their end
except as individuals buried with shells
and the pollen of hollyhocks.

It took language six centuries for the extinguishing
of fires to become the extinction of species.

Or to draw strength from or become

A monk’s hands twined in the rosary,
old woman’s fingers bent to the buttons
of an even older accordion,
open hands holding a loaf and a fish,
worn hands grinding corn.

In a day the fires spread
to eighty-thousand acres,
three percent containment.

It can mean fealty or the shaded
difference of humility.

The circuitry sparks—sapiens, ludens
flares, blazes, spreads
but finally is dampened and contained.

Mind on the mallows, man bends
to Earth.

About the author

Stephen Bunch lives and writes in Lawrence, Kansas. His poems have appeared recently in Ithaca Lit: Lit with Art, Mudlark, Rootdrinker, Read his chapbook, Preparing to Leave (the title poem of which first appeared in The Literary Bohemian).


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