Before The Move

We are in the floorboards here
I kneel down and lay my hands
On the old barnwood planks
Our first house—big step
Baby steps, first steps, dance steps

The big picture window where
I always beat the sunrise to the sofa
Pink tumbling over a sleeping mountain
A nursing baby at my breast
Another sun another son

We carved our traditions here
The turkeys and the pumpkin pie
The Christmases the Fourths of July
Birthdays, holidays—all holy days
Our rituals rooted in the seasons

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Graduation Day

I remember the day you broke from me
A blue and viscous blood-soaked pearl
And though I’d grown you in myself
An alien from a secret world

The cord was thick and rough and red
A rhubarb stalk tying me to you
You wailed I cried they held you up
My universe bound by one sinew

Your father sawed the surgeon sliced
Surprisingly it didn’t hurt
I felt the pressure of my love
Shift from my belly to my heart

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Garden

The dad plants a garden
in tiny yard in front
of six family
digs up dead rose and forsythia.

In school the kid
gets a box of seeds
to sell for PTA.
The kid don’t know anyone with land
for growing all stuck in apartments.

The dad buys four packs,
marigolds, portulaca,
zinnia, balsam.
The dad finds old bricks
makes a ring in center of garden
to fill with flowers
and all along front border,
tomatoes, cukes, peppers
all fit into little yard.

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Ingredients

They say salt
was once so precious
that soldiers were paid in it—a salary.

A common, bitter thing
I add salt’s tear-tang to the dough
and feel my wrist and bicep work

(the ingredients of my life
are not measurable things
though I feel them pulse just out of sight)

now I see the sight I always see
out the kitchen window
as I knead and knead and knead

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Milkshake

“Another milkshake please.”

The waitress eyes her with disbelief. Catalogues her stained-through hoodie and greasy hair. Not that the waitress has room to judge with her own issues: a slight hunchback and blisters covered by her platform flats that she most certainly did not purchase in the 90’s and definitely do not smell with age.

“Another one, girly? Don’t you want some food?”

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Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off

Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off Checkout behind befuddled womanwho places one can Turkey & Giblets Cat Foodon counter, watches the scan,selects a Price Chopper couponthumbing through a stack in her fist.Cashier shakes her head: “Coupon’s forthe small size, honey, you’ve got the large,”tosses the can in a reject bag white plasticwhile Ms. Befuddle lifts a […]

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Overnight

Overnight Mom’s short-term memory no longer tethers one moment to the next, so I’m at the hospital to stay overnight with her following breast cancer surgery. Though she still has moorings in the distant past, recent events float quickly to a further shore, so my job is to keep retying her to a drifting present. […]

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Panning

Jake Zawlacki currently writes and lives in the California Bay Area. He has been published in The Citron Review, Riggwelter, Eunoia Review, Gravel, Litro and many others. Panning “Godammit.” “What?” “My damn hearing aid fell out.” The two had been panning for gold. Manzanita and red shank covered the shale mountain. The stream struggled through the […]

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