Back to Issue Twenty-Eight.

Pastoral Madrigal


New Jersey, 1970

In retrospect was it heaven,
pink gasses sundowning over Rt. 287?

Even a stricken state can be true spouse
to one thing: not the old homestead outhouses,

later stoked with bags of pesticides,
but the splintered hole, where, days, midnights,

an equalizing flux & metabolis
of seated humans emptied body to abyss.

What is nature now? Too old to know,
too young to say. In drawers, vitrines, lie stones

unearthed—arrowhead, grinding—by plow-blades
foot-driven by people moved to save

a history not theirs to share. Road kill
this morning, red as pox. As evening’s spill.



Heath Madrigal


Brontë Parsonage

It calls to me, right out of girldom—
no rights, part fiction—

though once, adult, with bread husk
& styrofoam cup of tea, I trespassed

in unrequite through stone ways,
heather blacker than the gorse, salt hay,

took refuge from wind’s heart-toss
in a divot, tawny loam, green mosses,

hares slipping silent in & out of wells,
thinking: this is how they survived, quelling

the house, hour-shackle, self’s capsize
in repast of linnets, curlew, sky’s

cutlery: stream & beck filleting underfoot,
its silver mouth-sought, untitled, you.

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author and editor of over ten books of poetry and criticism, most recently Orexia (2017) and the forthcoming More Truly and More Strange: 100 Contemporary American Self-Portrait Poems (2020). Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award. She is Director and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.


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