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EDITOR'S CHOICE: cynthia linville's

Traci Gourdine

Red Sky by Allyson Seconds

Red Sky by Allyson Seconds


By Traci Gourdine
July 21, 1996, Sunday, Valencia, CA
Fire in the hills. We watched the night glow with flames
a bright orange rose
between the breasts of hill.

It was beautiful to watch
and I wanted it to last forever. At this safe distance
devastation has a fascinating appeal.

One of us drove by car to the brink
of fire. Valerie was out and tracked
the smoke to its source.
how it all can explode suddenly into embers.
Afterwards, she and a friend found a batting range
and they hit balls, aimed right at the burning belly
of Saturday night.

Artists are often drawn to flame
the feel of sting of heat, the song of rupturing life.

And now this morning
I point out the hills where the fire stormed
The ground looks unsinged from our long distance
It is difficult to pin point where it had been
Water and daylight have erased everything
we look away disinterested.
patch of earth, scalding sky
the air so still.

Heart Hangs On by Allyson Seconds

Heart Hangs On by Allyson Seconds


By Traci Gourdine

We slipped spare pennies
and a few precious dimes
into the thin crack of our elementary school

We imagined a small pile would grow there
and once we were gone
far grown with small children of our own
someone would find those coins
and marvel at their wealth of good luck

Somehow four girls
in lazy socks and unraveling braids
knew the only way
to treasure is through

We never guessed
that all we had known
all that we lived
could be razed and flattened
into six lane highways or shopping malls

The once familiar scent of fallen leaves
wet beneath our rubber boots
the scent of our innocence
cinnamon oranges, bologna and cheese empty lunch boxes
wax of crayons, new shoes with the boy and dog in the heel
would all retreat

As adult I now hear sorrow
in the cries of Canadian geese
lonely dogs answer back
the neighboring yards sing
with fear not warning

Still overhead
the sky shows her belly to us
As day bruises with light
and the glory of falling stars continue
rippling the black
meteors, those dead stones of light
whoop it up, a salute in passing

Watch how the sky rolls
over and shows herself
in a million different ways
Geese fly on as dogs bark
clawing at the fences
erected hard against them
and little girls will continue
to drop their dim
treasures into the dark
crevices of all that we mean
to destroy

Stand Alone by Ann Lamparski

Stand Alone by Ann Lamparski


By Traci Gourdine

birth coming
a readiness stills time
tides of new waters

crimson yet clear
a seizure of oozing

loud cries in harmony
urgent whispers straddle the room
walls bump
floors grind and sweat

from start to finish shadows
drop in reverence
so dear

lay low hard winds
stay sweet old grass

a quaking has come
spinning colors in this arrangement

here returns the new

Traci Gourdine by Jessica Eger

Traci Gourdine
Photograph by Jessica Eger

Traci Gourdine's poetry and stories have been published in numerous literary magazines and several anthologies. She is co-editor of Night is Gone, Day is Still Coming, an anthology of writing by young Native writers, as well as We Beg to Differ, poems by Sacramento poets against the Iraq war. Her poetry collections are Shrugged Burdens, Moving Out of Rhythm, Graceful Exits, Adjacent Planes, and most recently, Ringing in the Wild. For ten years she facilitated writing workshops within several California state prisons in the Arts in Corrections program for the William James Association. She is a professor of English at American River College in Sacramento, California.

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