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Inner Ocean Fantasy 2011
25” x25"
by John Babcock

Photo by Linda Babcock

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Maggie Paul

Honest Work

            It’s a lengthy motoring, but the work is honest
            and the customers human.

                                                —Thomas Lux

I’ve lost the lines I scribbled
about the braided rows
of artichokes and cabbage that stretch
to the left and right of pot-holed Route 152,
and the bent backs of migrant workers
pulling the greens from their stems
and packing them, one by one, into wooden crates,

though from a distance
the magentas and yellows of their shirts
make a pattern across the ripe fields
where one or two Port-O-Potties stand
like tiny houses, the only shelter
from the California sun.

At 4PM the workers are still picking
when I head home for a glass of lemonade
and a place to raise my tired feet.

It’s hot as the core of Venus out here
even with the car air conditioner cranked,
but these men and women whose children I teach
recite their mantra: I work to send my children to school
so they do not have to work the fields.

In class, my students’ eyes fix on the blackboard.
Subjects and verbs translate to real things:
a pickup truck, a newborn’s crib, a place
for parents to put up their feet.

This Moment

                                “To me, poetry is somebody standing up
                                 and saying, with as little concealment as possible,
                                 what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”
                                                                                                — Galway Kinnell

                       To be on earth at this moment
                       is to step barefoot over slippery stones
                       looking neither up nor down, left nor right
                       but inward as a yogi.

                       To be on earth is to sing
                       in a human voice,
                       one to another
                       lest we forget-
                       amidst the chatter,
                       and staccato of the gun.

                       Sometimes, as in this moment,
                       to be on earth is to ask
                       why, why, why,
                       only to hear the empty bell

Preemptive Elegy
(Should We Move to Mars)

For starters I would miss the notion
that this bouquet called Earth
is home.
October monarchs
summer lupine
the mustard flower
spring forsythia.
I would miss January’s darkness
the way a day is born
every tree
from root to leaf
and the yoga of a lone sun setting.

I might miss the snake
though I fear it, or the lion
though it rules me.
I would miss your hand
on my arm as I am about to go
on a journey, and the space
that gets filled when I return.
All the heavens I would miss - looking up
to them from foot to sky.
And I would miss the word for heaven.
Just calling it that.

Maggie Paul is the author of Borrowed World , a collection of poems published by Hummingbird Press, and the chapbook, Stones from the Basket of Others (Black Dirt Press)..  Her work has appeared in Rattle, Poetry Miscellany, the Drexel University Journal, Porter Gulch Review, and Phren-Z. She earned an MA at Tufts University and her MFA at Vermont College. Currently Maggie teaches writing at Cabrillo College and works as an independent educational consultant for college-bound students. She lives in Santa Cruz.

Julie Minnis
Veronica Zaleha

Charles Atkinson
Farnaz Fatemi
Maggie Paul
Ken Weisner

John Babcock

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