PoetryIssue 16 | October 2012


by Mary Beth O’Connor

The foreigners were so blunt, so completely unembarrassed about their offspring, even though you had to get them outside first thing, clean up their messes, etc.

And these children were somewhat dangerous with their claws and large bodies—except for the girl, Carol, who stood upright and looked submissive.

Day after day climbing trails through steep gullies after them and having to wade through their shit which was like rice and beans and was, I knew, quite organic, but—

One morning I went up to my room and saw my door flung open, my clothes strewn around, the bed covers rumpled…

As I pulled up the blankets I sensed one of them stirring—it had crept into my sheets! I crawled away.

I had come here to learn the language. I was paying these people $360 a day! I saw the invoice lying on the counter.

Downstairs, the mother made a place for me at the table and asked: Did I like Leonardo?

When he came running up I was pleased, but my fright caused me to raise the amulet. Leo, shamed, loped off.

Months later there was a huge feast. Both families were there for the wedding. At the laden table, Carol said that kissing me was not satisfying.

It was a moment of intense realization. I said, Well, you know why, don’t you? Everyone hushed. Uh, uh, I said. I will only say it to her.

We went to another room where more of her brutish relatives were lounging about, playing games and scratching themselves.

They shuffled out gracelessly when we waved them the go sign. It’s because I’m not in love with you, I said, which felt so ungrateful after all the expensive feasting and presents.

It was Leonardo whom I desired.

Leo, Leo, Leo, I sing to myself, remembering his large teeth, his heavy brow—from a distance.

About the author

Mary Beth has recently taken some road trips around New England and walking tours in Scotland and England. She visited Crete about eight years ago and discovered a whole new dimension of the color blue that she still can’t adequately describe. She hopes to spend time in Alaska next summer, but equally appreciates imaginary journeys. You can find her work in Asinine Poetry, Mad Hatter’s Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prick of the Spindle, and other literary magazines.

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