Lesley Yalen: Goodnight Again, The Air
Force Plans for Peace
, The Problem of
, & What Do You Mean, Exactly?

Goodnight Again

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Tonight you fell asleep
before the funniest part
my nose a hair from
yours your eyelashes
keeping track, the laugh-
track persisting without
listeners. I stuck my hands
between your knees.
I put my warm long coat
over my shorts and swung
on the swing across the street.
In my head, I wrote a short
story about the only youth
not wasted on a youth. He
had whatever kids have that
makes them believe in monsters
and whatever adults have that
allows them to carry on and
even rejoice. The swing
set was empty and the other
swings were eerily twisting,
so I walked on the quiet side-
walks away from our home
and then back toward it excited
to find out what had happened
with you. What I will report if
you’re semi-awake when I see
you: no violence in town tonight.

The Air Force
Plans for Peace

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Tonight I walked into town and through a pitiful
wood and out onto the highway where no one
was. I walked an exit to a silent stretch. Wasn’t
five miles out, but felt far and floating. I thought
I caught a buzz off the cell phone towers. I
thought about the Christian billboard and
whether it applied to me. My family was still
asleep when I returned and the apartment
quivered like a feather on a grave. I thought,
They could be dead and I ran away again. Got
further this time. I saw a semi rumbling toward
Boston, ferrying lumber through the dawn.
There was a military plane inexplicably
hovering over me and I hid from it, shivering,
in the last phone booth ever.

The Problem of People

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Tonight the rainfall exceeded my expectations
on the slick dark road with possible deer.

Baby so quiet one might think I was myself
again. Deer in the shoulder might spring

but I wasn’t, they didn’t.
I was driving in that direction but not there.

No setting of defogger disturbed the
amazing breath. Conditions

unsafe, eyes like lasers on the lane,
my thinking was all clear
and straight, and I saw the problem of

people as if through an x-ray machine, and
I examined it with a cold, medical eye.

It looked abstract and beautiful and shattered
and this visualization didn’t distract me, but

rather honed my reflexes so almost bionic
I could hear the taillights ahead of me working and

smell the tree sap several months away. Yeah, I
was a wolf making time.

What Do You
Mean, Exactly?

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Tonight I stormed the Normandy I know
Edged off the bed toward the beach
Couldn’t find some sandals, so wore shoe
Shoes and because there was no sea I
Found the stream. It was behind the house
Around ankle-deep. I couldn’t find
My glasses but that was cool, we were back
In better vision. A moon rose below my knee.
Where there was once a forest there no longer
Was, but I was once small, so maybe these five trees
Were it. Tonight it’s like nothing that
Really happened happened, like somewhere between
My earphones and my ears the songs
Scuttled away. I did find
An arrowhead in my hand, a piece of shrapnel
From the before before before war, and I took
It upstairs with me and I put it in your back.


ART: Paul Ferragut, Leo Katunaric, Stefanie Schneider

FICTION: Bridget Apfeld, Jennifer A. Howard, Laura Schadler

NONFICTION: Joy Katz, Shena McAuliffe, Kate Partridge, Rob Schlegel

POETRY: Dan Beachy-Quick, Carrie Fountain, Jules Gibbs, Alen Hamza, H. L. Hix, Anna Maria Hong, Krzysztof Jaworski, Thomas Kane, Eric Kocher, Jennifer MacKenzie, Andrew Nance, Paul Otremba, Kate Partridge, Beth Woodcome Platow, Catie Rosemurgy, Claire Sylvester Smith, Lesley Yalen

ET CETERA: Glenn Shaheen’s
“POET The Game”

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