Every Spring the ground bleeds through
the cold, paper world, and we find them,
the boys who couldn't make it home.
They lose themselves in flurries, fall through
thin ice or dig to the frozen end of the earth,
maybe wondering: where did it go --
the red clay, burning leaves, and asphalt sea?
This year will be the same. From my window
I watch them climb the hills plowed
in parking lots. They slide beneath
the slush or simply walk until they slip
into the envelope of ice. They'll come home
when sunlight shovels them out
and shows us what winter leaves behind.
You can't blame them for wandering off.
Winter         just        keeps        happening,
and we are aimless under starless nights.
Claustrophobic and snowblind, I could
slit my wrist for a drop of color. Look.
Beneath my skin there must be more than bones.
But what about the neighbor boy lost last winter?
How his parents urged at every door,
trudged the street, shouldered shrugs and sighs?
Didn't we want them to give up
so we could take our tea in silence?
Our winter snowed them in their house,
while boys still sledded the lot, and I planted
words I hoped would sprout in Spring.
Days piled up in their yard. Newspapers
fell on their porch like footsteps, their only friend
stopping by to talk about current events, politics,
the weather:        cold enough for ya?
I wanted more than frostbite, though I never
stopped to share their grief. I wrote his story
and mailed it out until I thought I had killed him
myself. It kept returning to me like pale, blue boys
who come to light, inch-by-inch beneath the ice.
But pretend it's Spring beginning, the start of a soul --
fingers, face, a body distinguished from the slush.
This page, I will fill up, send out; hope for my blood
to surface, for some stranger to stagger home; hope
to find more than silence, snow, empty mailbox.
Todd Heldt
black eyed girls can't die

she had black eyes, bound up tight like bright dark curls
made it way too easy for him to decide
how could he not love a black eyed girl

she told soft lies, bound up right like bright clear pearls
made it way too easy for him to comply
how could he not love a black eyed girl

little beats and hums of her, head moved slow following her skirt,
little nighttime shaped blur, so alive it hurt

bad sleep bruises shine under his eyes in whirls
he loves the sing song ring of her excuses
how could he not love a black eyed girl

she left him once, on a bench down by the lake
little dark boys playing in a great big bunch
waited for her as the sun baked, legs and arms beginning to shake

never joined the boys' game, stayed where he'd been told to remain
spell of her charm leaving him disarmed for hours and hours more
he could barely remember what they'd come there for

she showed up with a great big grin, excuses in a bunch, eyes a sunday punch
singing like she'd made the day just for him

she was so pretty when she drew him to her
he didn't cry, lied, pretended he didn't need to forgive her
smelled her scent in great big gulps and surrendered

he'll wait for her forever, his lifelong endeavor
how could he not love his black eyed girl
her shiny pearls, happy excuses, sweet soft lies,
pale like tears that dried thick from a thousand misuses

he looks for her in every room, in the frames of girls in too much perfume

his mother's clinging to the deep insides of an unknown cleft
heavy and stinking, dark and perfect, mixing with his blood in a dry flood,
until all that's left is a black eyed empty desert,
lashes dark and fluttering in the dirt, so alive it hurts
Kate LaDew