c o n v e r g e n c e:
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EDITOR'S CHOICE: lytton bell's

David McAleavey

Photograph by Brenda Yamen
Photograph by Brenda Yamen


By David McAleavey

Behind the abandoned apples an embrace of woods
thinner to the right, due north.
Then a cornfield. Left up to the west crest
field yields again to woods
grown tight around a house given up,

rose reverted wild in front.
No glass, no doors.
Collapsed cellar steps. Walls
puffed, plaster bursting off the laths,
pressed tin ceiling all adroop.

Once I climbed cautious up the stairs
to check: two tight blank rooms
in places open to the snowy sky,
droppings everywhere.
No evidence to use
to build a biography.

The kitchen stove from the 30's
tilting, no longer
either cozy hearth
or focus of hated labor.

The pot placed on its slanted cook-surface
had rusted well in place. Three cloudy jars
scattered on the disintegrating floor.

No wall calendar. A few moldy wads of
what probably once was Life.


By David McAleavey

You climb into the cockpit
step onto the exchange
enter the wedding bed.

You reach around the rock jut
whose other side unseen
you are to scale.

On the divided highway
a car comes across the median
out of control and right at you
so you swerve across where he came from
skidding to safety on the frontage road, lucky, lucky, lucky.

What fortune to be here now.

(Misfortune’s huge engines, idling.)

The cutting sends out
rootlets sufficient to secure
the water it needs.

There may be water.


By David McAleavey

The scales are off exactly a nickel.
That’s why I keep a nickel in the pan.
You used it in your pharmacy,
the family story says. When?

A hundred years ago or more,
Emporia, Kansas. Also I have
your oval photo in an oval frame,
part of my share of Mother’s trove —

the only heir when her parents died,
she left us rooms of stuff like this.
The oval frame’s gold-toned,
hung in a lyre-stand so it swivels.

You’d married Mother’s great-aunt
and died when Mother was seven. She
could well have heard your Britishisms
(hailing from Derby), seen this white tie,

your wingtip collar, three-piece suit,
lapels piped with a bit of gloss.
A rugged moustache, hair imperfectly
parted. Handsome. Right near the eyes

a sepia hint of having things to say
and no one to say them to. No
children in the marriage, is why
we own these red countertop scales (true

to the quarter-ounce up to ten pounds),
the black and carmine oriental rug
still gorgeous, though in places threadbare
from when it was folded up for storage.

We’ve laid it out in Andrew’s old room,
Aunt Mavy’s rug. You (your photograph)
stand on the glass-fronted bookcase
neither stern nor soft nor sad nor stiff.


David McAleavey’s fifth and most recent book is HUGE HAIKU (Chax Press, 2005), and he has had poems in many journals over the years, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and Georgia Review. Recently he’s had poems in several dozen journals, both online and in print, including Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, diode poetry journal, and Epoch, among other places. He teaches literature and creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

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