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Danusha Laméris

It lands on the white page
right under the glare of my flashlight
and I’m startled, not by the idea of a fly
soiling the last section of Jack Gilbert’s poem,
it’s furred legs obscuring the lines about the ancient
Sumerian tablets not being inventory, but poems or psalms.
It’s the beauty that surprises me, a kind of iridescence
I’d imagine reserved for Cleopatra’s jewels.
Though what gem glitters so? In the alphabet
of veridity I can name, emerald, malachite
serpentine, jade. But this is green fused with gold
the way Thai silk glimmers two different shades,
depending on how you hold it to the light,
or the dipped-in-liquid color
painted inside an abalone shell.
Peacocks know this hue, luminosity reflected
off their satin tail feathers.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall, we say.
I have swatted flies, shooed them out the window,
brushed them from my arms in the heat of summer.
But this one rustles its filigreed wings, shifts its body,
now covering the words, “ingots,” and “copper”
and for a moment I see it— held aloft
by the bezel of language—looking back at me
though its big, glossy black eye.


This morning I looked out the window
and saw the small, translucent pelts
hanging from the boughs. For months, the birds
have been feasting: Flickers, finches, jays.
And now, the fruit finally cleaned of itself, laid bare,
light shining through the last scraps. Like the heart
after the gods have had their fill, what’s left
after our banquet of loss.


I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer,
the baby will come in spring, insha’Allah
insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.

So many plans I’ve laid have unraveled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.

Every language must have a word for this. A word
our grandmothers uttered under their breath
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon,
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes,
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.

Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah
the rice will be enough to last through winter.

How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next.

Danusha Laméris’s work has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, The Sun and Crab Orchard Review as well as in a variety of other journals. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, and Intimate Kisses. She was a finalist for the 2010 and 2012 New Letters Prize in poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first book, The Moons of August, was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize, and is set for release in early 2014. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches an ongoing poetry workshop."

John Chandler

John Moir

Barbara Bloom
Anna Citrino
Danusha Laméris
Dan Phillips
Alyssa Young

Plays & Monologues
Wilma Marcus Chandler

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