PoetryIssue 03 | February 2009


by Gary Jackson

Every year, my mother reminds me
to place flowers on my sister’s grave.

    On a Thursday, I buy red
    and yellow carnations
    and baby’s breath.  I drive alone.
    The oak that grows nearby
    has branches low enough to bear
    the graves’ shadows.

    I do this
for all of us. My sister buried in Topeka.
My mother who left for Dallas. The boy
I used to be who still clings     to the years between.

I swore long ago I would never come back.
My mother does not swear,
but bears the same memories that lie beneath

Kansan green, waiting to break open
like rain on concrete.  So I become
her emissary. I shoulder her burden.

I drudge down familiar streets, careful
to avoid high school crushes,
teachers, bullies, cousins who never made it out
of the state they were born in.

    By the time I’ve pulled onto 21st,
    the black iron gates behind,
    I think of how there is no real distance

    between anything, how Kansas
is always a breath
away. It’s not the grave,
but the memory that pulls.

About the author

Gary Jackson was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, smack in the middle of the Midwest. He currently teaches and lives in Albuquerque, NM.  His work has appeared in Inscape, Magma and local chapbooks.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok