Friday, June 3, 2011

The Sewer Line Fall

The Sewer Line Fall
Geordie de Boer

        in memory of my grandfather

Melvin judges the fall while I dig
the ditch for the sewer line. A harsh sentence,
twenty yards hard labor. “Dig a bit more
out here,” he says pointing with his shovel
keeping me bent to the task and grunting,
a Semite slave and he, my Egyptian
master warning: “The rod is in my hand,
be not idle.” Under the house we hollow
a bowl below the joint where the sewer pipes
converge before making their exit
to the septic tank. Then, with a pail nailed
to the end of a two-by-four he dips
the tank, (an Old Master’s painting in dark
tones: The Sewage Dipper), pours sewage
into the wheelbarrow, which I push. Each
bump sends sludge sluicing forward in waves
that splash my face when they slap against
the back of the barrow. Thus, am I baptized:
The Wasted Baptismal, another painting
in somber tones. On Melvin’s command
the sewage goes onto Laura’s flower garden.
It scorches the plants and the fabric of
their marriage when she finds out. We
crawl back beneath the house to break the joint.
I sit, another clod on the dirt pile,
as Melvin, like a long-time jailbird, raps
an anemic tune on the pipes till they
give way. Sewage pours out wrenching at his
pant legs dragging him into the hole. (I
imagine him as a mummy wrapped in
a toilet paper shroud.) “We didn’t dip
the tank low enough,” says Melvin. “We could
have killed more flowers,” I say grasping his
arms. Escaping to daylight we watch as
sewage flows the length of the ditch, our toil
gone to waste. “You’ll need to dig that sewage
out of there so we can lay pipe,” Melvin
says. “And be sure to not ruin the fall.”


Geordie de Boer, a rambler and wrangler of rhythm lives in rural Washington. He’s been published most recently by Hobo Camp Review, Hobble Creek Review, the beatnik, Offcourse, and Cirque. Visit him at Cockeyed Fits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Hundred Strokes

One Hundred Strokes
Bill Roberts

Never once did I count aloud
the hundredth stroke,
sound asleep in Grandma's bed
as she brushed my hair with
her silver hairbrush, counting
aloud with me till I tired,
closed my eyes, went off
to a comfortable dreamland.
Awakening next morning,
usually a Saturday, stretching
to get going, we'd dress,
head out the back door,
through her garden full of smells
that intoxicated if you lingered,
but we had a mission - the bakery.
There she purchased Parker House
rolls in a pan, still warm, so
we hurried home, made tea,
stretched out breakfast on her
sunny summer porch until most
of the rolls and orange marmalade
had disappeared into a full tummy.
I had to go back home, reluctantly,
later in the afternoon, taking
a sleep-inducing streetcar ride,
nodding as I counted blips
in the steel tracks, relaxing, yes,
nowhere near as comforting as
Grandma's soothing brush strokes.

"One Hundred Strokes" was previously published in the January 2011 issue of Long Story Short.


Bill Roberts is a retired nuclear scientist and widely published poet; his works having appeared in over 200 online and small-press magazines. His poetry has been nominated both for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Bill gives a seminar on how to write a poem a day in 15 minutes, then prep it for market. He, his wife of 53 years (both her age and years married), plus two totally spoiled dogs live too near the edge of Broomfield, Colorado.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Susan Duncan

I find they’d been neighbors on Fourth Street,
a garden, perhaps only a fence between.
But here
on the microfilm of the 1850 Springfield census,
they’re separated by just two lines:
David Grayston, preacher
Abraham Lincoln, lawyer
Footnote, that’s all, to a pedigree
whose pyramid of neat boxes has room alone
for my family’s birth dates, spouses, gravesites.

No place for the neighbors’.

Just a stair-stepping, very tidy
from father to child.
A careful sidestepping of the disorderly
waged beyond the boxes:
secession, sedition, emancipation,

In my next row down
hometowns and cemeteries shift west
one state.
Joplin’s 1920 census shows
George Grayston, lawyer
lived on Elm Street with
John Baker, preacher
Richard Smith, druggist
Henry Jackson, shopkeeper

Again, I have no boxes for the neighbors.

But they wanted to be nameless
as on that night—
in the interest of the neighborhood—
they pulled on white hoods
and bathed the Grayston porch in torchlight.

Genealogy was previously published in THEMA Literary Journal, Summer 2008.


Susan Duncan has an MBA in arts management from the University of California, Los Angeles. Having made her living in performing arts administration and arts philanthropy for many years, she is presently an independent consultant with a performing and visual arts clientele. She has served as executive director for San Francisco’s long-running musical comedy phenomenon Beach Blanket Babylon, the al fresco California Shakespeare Theater, and the Grammy-winning, all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Compass Rose, the G.W. Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, The MacGuffin, OmniArts, Poem, River Oak Review, THEMA, and The Yalobusha Review.