Goat Milk and Love by Clay Robeson

Photo Credit: Jeanne Park

As a teen growing up in rural California, I couldn’t wait to get out of the country, away from the farm, and off to The Big City. Too much quiet, not enough hustle. Too much peace, not enough bustle. How on Earth could I get my groove back, if there was no beat to groove to?

As an adult, after seven years in Metro Boston and having just hit the 14-year mark in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have a groove and a beat. They’re kind of relentless, and if I don’t pay proper attention, the record starts to skip and I find myself taking involuntary time-outs to recover.  It’s the moments of calm and peace that were once so reviled that help me recharge so I can keep on dancing to the incessant rhythm of the Big City.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

City Grazing, San Francisco


Thankfully, I found an oasis of calm and peace a mere 5-minute drive/10-minute bike ride/20-minute walk from my house, within the city limits.  And much to my chagrin, it somewhat resembles the farm.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

The view of San Francisco from my back porch,
with City Grazing visible in the foreground
(the white rounded structure to the lower right)

Tucked in the Southeast corner of San Francisco, just north of Candlestick Point is a small, active railyard within which hides a shipping-container-cum-hay-barn attached to a paddock that is home to about 80 goats.  They aren’t pets.  They are working goats. They are employed by City Grazing a (soon to be) non-profit landscaping company.

Photo Credit: Jeanne Park

My first visit to City Grazing in 2015, hanging out with Spock.
(Photo credit: Jeanne Park)

Every Saturday morning, sometime between 7:30 and 9:00, I make my way to the paddock. The goats recognize the sound of an incoming car, which is why I try to ride or walk there when the weather is nice, so I can spy on them lazing in the morning sun for a few moments.  Eventually though, one of them spies me and all hell bleats loose.  Relatively speaking, of course.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Tipsy, basking in post-brunch bliss.

The mayhem of the goat yard is nothing compared to the mayhem of day-to-day life. I give hay and water to the goats, feed the yard cats, and throw feed to the chickens, isolated from the city that exists within shouting distance of where I stand. The rhythm, for a moment, silenced. The groove slowed in a peaceful, quiet manner.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Udo, ever stoic.

The goats all have names, and while I don’t know them all, for the most part they all know and recognize me.  This affords me the opportunity to slip into the paddock and scratch some noggins and ears without causing a stampede. Usually.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Mothers Fulla and Freya with babies Brinkman, Daniella and Queenie.

The hour or two I spend there is generally one of the best parts of my weekend.  Especially this time of year, when there are baby goats to be found.  This season, there are about a dozen newborns ranging in age from a month and a half or so, to two weeks old.  I found the youngest two, Carol and Tim, one morning rather unexpectedly a few weeks ago.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Space Cowboy and Milkman at the Udder Bucket.

Their mother, Frigga, is a newcomer to the yard — a failed dairy goat if memory serves. We were aware she was pregnant, but we didn’t know just HOW pregnant.  And so, at 7:30 one bright Saturday morning in July, as I was preparing the Udder Bucket for the orphans who were still nursing, I heard a bleat that was far too high pitched.  Peeking into the paddock, I saw Tim standing all alone in the middle of the yard looking rather confused.  I pulled him and his sister into the nursery section of the hay container and rounded up their mother.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Carol and Tim’s first meal.

I spent much longer at the yard than I planned to that morning, helping Carol and Tim with their first meal. Somehow, I also managed to be holding both when they decided to have their first pee.  But despite that, I found myself unable to put down these two little creatures who smell strongly of Goat Milk and Love.

Photo Credit: Clay Robeson

Carol and Tim, standing strong.

About the author: Clay Robeson

Clay RobesonClay is an improvisor, photographer, puppeteer and part-time goat herd living in San Francisco. He likes to make things.

To learn more about Clay, or find his social media links, go here: https://about.me/ClayR.

You can also visit the City Grazing website.


Dear Beloved Self by Kayce Hughlett

“I don’t precisely know what you need to do to take care of yourself. But I know you can figure it out.”
–Melody Beattie

Dear Beloved Self ~

Have I told you lately how much I value and support the mission of self-care in the world? Or that I continue to believe with all my heart that living life to the fullest is perhaps the one true purpose we have in life? How refreshment and restoration are essential ingredients to getting things done and stepping into our power in the world?

I know I forget sometimes, especially when the obligations of life press in and exhaustion feels like a permanent state, but if you can begin to value and accept the premises of refreshment and restoration as being one with open-heart living, then I promise your life will continue to transform in ways you haven’t even considered.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “10 Lessons Learned (& Affirmed).” I re-read it today when I was pondering about sharing refreshment and restoration with you, my Beloved Self. There it was, our two passions—self-care and living life fully—merged together to create a manifesto for daily living. I’m so sorry that I sometimes forget these essential reminders and cause you to forget them along with me.

But here they are, glorious reminders to brighten any day.

  1. Follow your heart.
  2. Be open to whatever shows up.
  3. Put on your sassy and Play, Play, Play!
  4. Make essential space for connecting with friends and loved ones – the rest will follow.
  5. We are all teachers and there are lessons to be learned in everything. Pay attention.
  6. Self-care is the best way to restore, rejuvenate, and prepare to offer our gifts (and love) back out to the world.
  7. Re-entry (each day or after time away) can be challenging.
  8. “What’s next?” takes us out of the present moment and launches us into the future. All we have is now.
  9. Have an assembled toolbox of nourishing notions nearby at all times and use it! (I imagine mine is like Mary Poppins carpetbag, filled with magical delights and the perfect thing manifesting at exactly the right moment.)
  10. Sometimes it takes a full arsenal (or the whole bag) to feel relief, but with time relief will come.

I know, Beloved Self, that you sometimes are afraid your work won’t get done if you stop to refresh and restore. Trust me, the work that needs to be done will get done; it will be done better than work that emerges from tiredness of soul and spirit. Refreshed and nourished people who love and care for themselves are soul-full people.

How wonderful to know that soul-filling can begin with a simple step of showing up and following our own heart! Remember, Beloved Self, you’ve got this. Refreshment and restoration are within your reach. They’re as close as a sip or water or breath of fresh air. Stop. Pause. Indulge. Refresh. Restore. Remember.


About the Author: Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Kayce Stevens Hughlett, MA, LMHC –  author, life muse, ponderer extraordinaire, speaker, joy monger, artist of being alive. 

Kayce’s 2012 book, As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life, is a lyrical and lucid treasure that invites readers to new awakenings throughout the year. Blue: a novel was released in September, 2014 to rave reviews. She is currently working on her third book, a travel memoir that follows her journey of good girl turned risk taker, fear-filled woman gone warrior, and sleepwalking accountant transformed into wide-awake SoulStroller.

Dance by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Dance? Too many images
flash before my eyes
to capture just one in any detail.
Bent over backwards in a promenade
at a Boy Scout-Girl Scout square dance.
Poodle skirts on New Year’s Eve
as our saddle shoes jitterbugged.
High school prom in tulle and corsage
with the brother of the boy I’d just necked with.
Watching the short boy’s eyes track the ascent
as I rose to my almost six feet tall.
Stepping out of a failed crinoline
at the medical school’s Winter Formal.
After a full shift at the hospital
tangoing all night with my Peruvian.
Dripping sweat and fake diamonds on silk
at a friend’s wedding-dance reception.
After surgery learning to line dance
in an effort to regain balance.
So many years, so many dances.
Why, even last week I shimmied and shook
to the music wrapping up a senior exercise class.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Instrumental: Put Down the Cards by Melissa Cynova

I’ve been reading tarot cards since I was 14, but a few years ago, I fell out of love with it. I would book a reading, and start dreading it. I would still give the reading to my client, but I felt like I was being annoyed by the intrusion into my time. To give you an idea of how weird this was for me, I LOVE doing readings.

It’s my favorite thing. I have, in the past, read for 6-8 hours without a break and the time just flew by.

Right then, though. I was done. It didn’t make me light up anymore, and what’s more? I didn’t care.

In my personal life, I’d just gone through a pretty rough divorce and was adjusting to shared custody for the first time after having been a stay at home mom for seven years straight. I was lonely for the first time in a long time. I had large swaths of time that used to be filled with kiddos. You’d think, right, that I’d be anxious to fill the time with my favorite thing.

The problem was that my soul was bruised. It’s hard to dive into someone else’s psyche (or even your own) when you’re sad.

So, for the first time in twenty something years, I put my cards down. I told my clients I was taking the summer off, and I walked away from them.

I have to tell you, I didn’t miss them at all. I slept a lot. I cleaned my house and spent time with my friends. When I had my kids, I was wholly invested in them. I didn’t miss my cards.

Until I did.

It only took about three weeks for me to miss it, but I’d set a date and by god, I was going to stick to it. When I finally did come back to readings, I was in LOVE again. Whatever it was that went away was back, and I felt like myself again. I was looking forward to readings and to playing with my cards again, and I felt refreshed.

Even the thing you love the best can become a burden if you’re not feeling your best. Even that thing that drives you can drive you crazy. If that happens, walk away. For a few minutes, for a day, for a week. Even for a summer.

For everything, there is a season, after all.

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa Cynova is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. Her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, was recently published by Llewellyn Publishing. Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her husband, Joe, two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

You can reach Melissa at lis@littlefoxtarot.com. She is on Twitter and Instagram under Little Fox Tarot. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

Typical Tuesday with Erica Goss

My day starts at 2:00 a.m., when I wake up from my first four hours of sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll go back to sleep until 5:30 a.m. If not, I might drift in and out of what I call “snapshots” – snippets of sleep characterized by strong, visual dreams.

At 5:30, the radio turns on. I hear National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” faintly through my earplugs. After a half hour, my husband gets out of bed, where Rosie, our extremely spoiled Lancashire Heeler, greets him. A few minutes later, Rosie and our 17-year-old cat JJ are fed, and my husband starts the coffee.

I remove my earplugs, visit the bathroom, and pull on yesterday’s outfit, which I left on the floor beside the bed last night. This morning, I’m happy to re-wear my favorite corduroys and red cotton T-shirt. I greet my husband and prepare my breakfast: one soft-boiled egg and a slice of sourdough bread with butter and Marion berry jam. We sit down to read the New York Times, and interrupt each other by reading parts of the stories out loud. My husband gets the front page, while I scan the arts section and then start the crossword puzzle. My brain wakes up as I ponder clues; hmm, fifteen across: “Ancient land in Asia Minor” and eleven down: “Ljubljana resident.” My husband finishes his muesli with bananas and blueberries, kisses me goodbye, and drives to his office.

My goal is to be at the computer by 8:30. I’m a morning person, and I need to catch my ideas early. I’ll check my journal, where I jot down things as they occur to me.

These could be fragments of conversation, dreams, random thoughts, or a few sentences. Quite often, something I read in the newspaper will trigger some writing. Then I attempt to craft these bits into something cohesive, a poem or an essay or an article.

I’ve been writing short personal essays about subjects that range from grief to gardening. Recently I wrote an article for a pet magazine about color vision in dogs, and three poems about rooms. I don’t stick to a word count (i.e., 1000 words a day) but I do try to make significant progress on my writing every day.

My energy starts to flag around noon, so I shut down the computer and eat lunch. If there are no leftovers from last night’s dinner, I’ll eat my standard lunch: Tillamook cheddar melted on rice cakes. I also read the front page of the newspaper, scan social media, and check my email.

My two grown sons live at home, so they might be in the room while I’m eating lunch. The dog barks to be let in or out, depending on which side of the door she’s on. If it’s a good day, I’ll be back at my computer by 12:30. This is when I look at yesterday’s work. I’ve found that, at least for me, it’s a bad idea to start editing a draft too soon. Often my work looks weird or even alien to me right after I write the first draft. I need a day’s distance so I don’t inadvertently spoil a poem or an essay with too much editing. I always keep the first draft in a Word file or handwritten, so I can trace back to my original thoughts.

In the afternoon, I often struggle mightily against the urge to nap. I get drowsy after lunch, and it takes all of my strength to stay off of the couch. Sometimes I give in, but naps don’t often refresh me – I usually feel weird for the rest of the day after a nap. For me, sleep is never easy.

I switch from writing to video editing or to creating curricula for classes I teach. I’m developing a new class called “Five-Minute Memoirs,” where students will create short videos based on an important event in their lives. I also teach on-line poetry classes, which include phone support with my students, and I’m always looking for new writing prompts.

In between writing and thinking, I’ll stop and read from a book of poems I have at my desk. Right now I’m reading a collection of World War I Austrian poet Georg Trakl’s poems, which have exquisite and enigmatic titles: “In the Red Foliage Filled With Guitars” and “Three Glimpses Into an Opal” are tiny poems as well as titles.

I also use the afternoons to work on marketing. This is when I research places to submit my work. My poetry collection, Night Court, just came out, so I look for venues to read, write blog posts, and communicate with reviewers about the book. I’ve also created two videos from the book.

By 4:00 p.m. I’m usually done. If I don’t quit by 4:00 or 5:00, I might get a second wind and then stay up all night, which would not be a good thing. I need time to relax, read, and socialize with my family. My husband comes home from his office by 5:30 or 6:00 and makes dinner. We have a glass of wine and tell each other what happened that day. After dinner, my sons and I clean up while my husband plays the guitar or does some additional work.

I usually read until the news comes on at 9:00 p.m. I’m reading Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan Quartet novels. Reading helps quiet my mind, letting me transition to the restful place I need. I have trained my brain to understand that reading several chapters of high quality fiction is part of the ritual. I have my journal nearby to jot down any thoughts that occur to me as I read.

By 10:00 p.m., I’m usually curled up on my 100% organic cotton mattress, where I sink into my first phase of sleep. See you at 2:00 a.m.

About the Author: Erica Goss

Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com and connect with her on Facebook, Linked In, and Vimeo.

High Heels by Selena Taylor

Shoes in Shop Window by Connel Design via 123RF.com

Shoes in Shop Window by Connel Design via 123RF.com

For a few years I had been keeping an eye out for a new pair of shoes. High heels, in fact.

I told my soon-to-be husband that I was on an endless hunt for the perfect pair: the color that would look best against my skin, the heel that was neither too high nor too low, the toe that was either open enough to give the precise amount of ‘toe cleavage,’ or closed, but not too round or too pointy.

He asked, “How will you know?”

It was a fair question.

It was early afternoon, but I paused and looked toward a sunset only I could see, searching for an answer that would make sense. Finally, sighing, I said, “I will just know.”

He followed my gaze. “What are you doing?” he asked, confused. (It did look like I was staring at nothing.)

“Giving a dramatic answer, accompanied by the view of a fake sunset,  with a fake  slight breeze to move a couple strands of hair.”

He was skeptical, mouthing, Okay. But then he smiled at me and pointed out, “The sunset, um, fake sunset, would be behind you. A soft chuckle escaped his throat.

I moved to the correct position. “Thank you.”

It went on like that for a couple years. Every shopping trip would find me staring into shoe-store windows, and touring the shoe sections in each department store.

Then, one day at the mall, something caught my eye: a shimmer – no, a sparkle.

I shifted my gaze to look directly at that heaven-sent sparkle. Above it, there’s a beautiful gold and black animal print – perfect. The heel was skinny, but not pencil-thin.

I could not hear anything, and my vision had become impaired – blurry. Could these be my shoes?

I moved closer to the shoe display, and stood right in front of that pair of heels, gasping for air.  to the heels. I stood before them gasping for air. My hands shook with anticipation. My left pointer finger gently, no – teasingly –  stroked the satin fabric. Ohhhh! My vision became even more blurry. I felt wetness on my cheeks, and, reaching up, I realized I was crying.

As if at a distance, I heard my fiancé ask the store clerk if the shoes were available in my size. I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but the clerk disappeared, and I was left with the agony of waiting for his return.

Finally, he was standing in front of me, and offering a box.

I was guided to a chair. Seated, I slipped my foot out of the shoe I was already wearing, and removed my sock, replacing it with a clean stocking. I feel dazzled. I want these shoes!

The clerk knelt before me with one high-heeled shoe in his hand. Gently, he placed it on my foot, and I pressed down, adjusting until it was firmly in place. We repeat the process with the other shoe, my other foot.  Oh, the thrill and ecstasy!

I stand and then I take the first steps, trying them on, trying them out. Glancing to my side I walk with new-found confidence to the mirror. I wiped my tears away, and saw myself in all my high-heeled glory.

Oh! Was that my butt? Is it just a bit more perky? Why, yes, it is! And oh! Look at my calves. It was as if those shoes were magic. (I tell you, I just about died.)

I don’t know how long I stared in the mirror, but eventually my fiancé reminded me that we had to leave, that the shoes had to go back in the box. A tearful goodbye started to happen; I wanted to wear them forever.

With a small groan, I sat back down and took them off, closing them into the darkness of the box.

I expect the clerk to reclaim them, but instead, my fiancé said we were taking them. He bought them for me, and presented me with the bag, looking at me expectantly.

I crushed the bag to my chest, holding those shoes to my heart. “I told you I would know.”

That was seven years ago. My then-fiancé  is my now-husband.

And the shoes? They’re still the greatest pair of high heels ever. I haven’t replaced them. I couldn’t if I tried.

About the author, Selena Taylor

Selena TaylorSelena Taylor is a wife, a mother, and a woman who strives to tell the many stories that occupy her mind. She is active in the Rhett & Link fandom and appreciates dark humor.  She and her family live in Illinois, where she takes every opportunity to lose herself under the stars and let her imagination run wild. For more from Selena, check her out on Facebook.

Dear Heart by Æverett

Photo Credit: Gaelle Marcel via Unsplash

Dear Heart,

I’ve come to the conclusion that you’ll never forget. Well, forget isn’t the right word, but this feeling you have for him… her… will never Photo Credit: Gaelle Marcel via Unsplashchange.

It will never​ be easier.

It will never feel okay to talk to her… him… again. Not like it was.

Because you will always remember those happy moments that made it so right.

Heart, you love him… her… It’s as simple as that. You always will. It’ll never change.

It means continuing to be friends isn’t easy. Maybe it’s not even really feasible…

You want those moments back, even though things ended for all the right reasons.

You’re jealous, that’s okay, even though the reason you let her… him… go was so he… she… could be happy with someone else.

“Love them enough to let them go.”

And you do.

It’s okay.

She… he… will keep popping into your dreams when you least expect it. It’ll keep being a quiet comfort.

You’ll keep thinking of him… her… when you’re​ trying on someone new.

She’ll… he’ll… hang on as long as you keep beating, as long as we keep breathing. He’ll… she’ll… be there at the back of your mind, lingering, with all those memories.

Because love stays with you.

You never forget.

It never fades.

And it’s going to drive you crazy.

Just keep hanging in there and take each memory in stride. Each day it gets easier. Each day it doesn’t feel easier.

Your devoted confidant,


About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

A Small Matter Gone Swimming by John Grey

I tried to drown my anger in the Pacific Ocean,
in the shadow of my favorite sweeping dunes.
I figured that, waist deep in water, my irritation would feel misplaced.
Or replaced. Like my footprints, now foaming white.

My anger was knocked down by waves.
Its nose flooded with salt.
A jellyfish, proponent of that most alien of stings.
stole its virulent thunder.

Digging in sand, I startled a tiny crab.
Fuming as I was, I didn’t crush it.
It zigzagged away from me and anger doesn’t do that.
Rage is so linear. It spreads wider but it doesn’t turn corners.

Finally, the sun took aim and blow-torched whatever remained.
At dusk, I strolled the beach, a movement anathema to anger.
Ocean and horizon, long shoreline, pale sky:
It’s the job of abundance to make a man’s fury small.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Restoring Myself with Self-Portraiture by Julie M. Terrill

Self-portraiture has proven to be a useful tool in my growth, not only as a photographer, but in my personal life as well. I am not talking about selfies, though I do have some selfies that I love. These images are portraits using my DSLR, a tripod, a remote shutter release, light meter and purposeful composition. I conceptualize a shot, set it up, run into the frame and using the remote shutter release, give myself the same directives I would give to other subjects. After several shots I go back to the camera to see what needs to change technically and aesthetically and repeat the process. As a result I learned how to better communicate my directives to my subjects by becoming more specific and more easily understood.

My first experience with this process was in workshop on self-portraiture by Kate Inglis. I signed up as a way to gain a greater understanding of the people I photograph. Our assignment was to capture ourselves where we are in this moment our personal journey. Where was I? Newly widowed, grief stricken, lost… The image I had conceptualized was the stripping away – the stripping of my walls, of grief, of fake strength and finally surrendering to tears.

At first it was uncomfortable and awkward. I did not enjoy the process. Sadly, I hated my images and didn’t want to share them with the other participants. I was so critical of my body that I couldn’t see the artistic beauty of the shot. The self-deprecating internal dialogue spewed forth. My perception of my body quickly expanded while my confidence withered until it occurred to me that I would never view that same image of another woman and compare her to the Michelin Man or the Staypuft Marshmallow Man. For the first time I afforded myself the same gentleness and grace that I gave others. I chose an image that I could see as beautiful and I decided to share it at the end of the workshop.

Using monthly self-portraits I documented my emotions, thoughts, feelings and growth. These images reflect periods of grief, depression, anger, acceptance and strength. While I still take self-portraits, the changes are now more subtle. I didn’t think I wanted to document this process but am glad that I did.

The images are powerful reminders of the restoration process of becoming ME again. Though I was initially resistant, the process was everything I didn’t know I needed. I am eager to see what insight future sessions will hold.

About the Author: Julie Terrill


Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

I Play Hooky from Work on Wednesday and Take a Road Trip by Pat West

Sixty-five miles west of Chicago,
I turn south on Route 23.
Here the landscape’s
dotted with white two-story farmhouses,
red barns, and gravel roads that crisscross.
Rows and rows of corn whispering
all the way to Iowa.

So this is rural Illinois on an August
afternoon. Hollyhocks hunch over
from the weight of purple and bright pink
blossoms, wide front porches with swings
and rocking chairs welcome farm folk
after chores.

Out here it’s all so flat,
as if the summer sky’s come down
and pressed this land level with the horizon.
Riding alone, I take in the mix
of freshly turned soil, pollen-thick air
and the long upward-winding curve
of a train whistle.

A lanky man walks down the driveway
to check the mailbox,
all the time keeping an eye on the road,
like he’s watching for someone to wave to.

I feel like stopping the car
right in the middle of the road.
Instead, I raise my hand palm up
and leave it out
gliding over rooftops and fields.

About the Author: Pat West


Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.