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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 2, June 2017
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Bill Gottlieb
Cobb, California, USA


A Tricky Treatment

That sweet little species of beetle—the kind Denise, my dead wife, liked, liked its slow, unknowing, improbable stroll up and down a wall, its patient wandering in a strange world—clings to the inside of a screen door spattered with flame retardant. I could kill it—I’ve been known to bump a bug off in a decadent second—but don’t. Warning or wooing, a raven caws. In the valley a chipper disposes of chopped-down trees seared to a stop by the Valley Fire, which roared through the neighborhood nestled below me, razed dozens of houses invisible in dense pine. (An anonymous neighbor played taps every day around dusk, conjuring the done; he’s played his last at that vanishment.) Monstering down the homey mountains, the maelstrom ghosted more forest, more communities: a chimney remains; the char of a car; a spacious off-white patio of ash. On my back deck a chesty finch flashes around the feeder, eats in quick dips, light and determined as flame. Skeletons are in the stores, a lazing bonanza of bones. After the devouring I can still smile, I find. I can hand candy out, sweeten hidden rivulets of blood, greet the innocent evilly outside my door, baleful, begging, bag a big mouth.

after wildfire, charred branches …
that nurse not finding, not finding
your vein

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