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Two Poems
by Wendy Sumner Winter

Honor Thy Mother

Honor thy father
Honor thy mother
That your days may be long    long    long

    I am born.     I am not a boy.
    She wants a boy    has no name for a girl.
    Look at her eyes.  He says.

We'll call her Wendy.

Her gun black hair glints in the sunlight
    drips onto our front lawn where she washes it
              (too long for the shower inside).
    Soapsuds sparkle then burst on blades of grass,
    I touch the little curls on the ends
    wrap them around my fingers
    and trace the wetness onto my forearm,
onto my lips.
    She sends me inside to my nanny
    who bites my toes as she lays me to my nap.

I am afraid.

    Jesus loves me this I know
    Our voices marry as we drive down the highway.
    I trace hearts in the window fogged by my breath
    look at her long fingers
white knuckles gripping the green wheel.
    I feel her inside me    hear the sameness of our voices
and say so.

No  she says  not really.

My bathwater turns tepid    then cold
    as I wait for her to return.
    Be right back  don't start without me.
    A neighbor calls or the roast begins to burn
    or something.
    Alone, I study the small protrusions on my chest,
worry over the tiny hairs appearing between my legs.
    The razor glides over my shins, my calves,
    then hangs on the knob of my ankle.

So I wait in the red water.
    She never comes.

    My nose bleeds longer than I would have thought
and the metallic flavor is not so bad.
I lick it off of my lips, swallowing it like an offering.
The crisp white man-shirt I have tied around my waist
turns brickbrown around the collar.
She calls me a baby.
I just laugh.

You meet with others for absolution - coffee and cigarettes
Step three I think it is.
    We're cool aren't we you declare.
    Not a question.

My orphaned heart no longer longs
    but I will honor you with this:

I'm still here and I am not yours.

Baby Birds

Tumbling in through the back door
in short pants and Elmo shirts,
perfumed in sunshine, green grass,
and fresh death -
they heave their news onto my kitchen floor.
    A baby bird!
    A baby bird!
    He's fallen from his nest.
    Can we pick him up?
    Can we bring him in?

    No.  We don't do that.
    We can't leave our smell
    on an abandoned bird.
    His mommy will reject him
if we do.

I turn back to my dishwashing,
and supper on the stove.
They to their play.

Later, around the table we hold hands,
bow our heads,
beg grace for the baby bird,
for his mommy.  And for theirs.

They raise long noodles above their open mouths
slurping the wriggling ends,
and begging for more.

After baths,
which have replaced their childsmell with mine,
I pull the blankets up to their noses.
Kiss their foreheads, sing them a song.
Closing the door, I pretend not to hear them ask
for their mommy.

About the author:
After years of being a chef, bartender, restaurant owner, convention services manager, cooking teacher, fundraiser, and other things that I've blocked out, I returned to school to pursue an MFA in creative writing. I am in my final year in the program at The University of Memphis, where my work has earned me the Concentration Award in Creative Nonfiction. I have also served as an editor in various capacities, including managing editor, of The University's literary journal, The Pinch, and am currently serving as a contributing editor. I have been published in The Commerical Appeal, Castings, The Loquemur and several local newspapers.

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Midnight Picnic
a novel by
Nick Antosca


The Suburban Swindle

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