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5.2
Joel Long
Listen to the reading:           

   
Be Careful and Watch

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them— Deuteronomy 4:9 The body is a grave, you said, but a grave for light, I knew then—light becomes the flesh, slips beneath the skin. The scene by the sprinkler box with valves, mushrooms beneath the broken lid, comes to me. I touch the webs, turn water on, touch heads of mushrooms, plush moss in dark. I go inside to peonies, pillows of scent and petals, clouds on stems, their buds, sticky spheres, peeling, sap the ants love, hardened fruit. They hoped their way in brilliance like those billowed around them. It is a grave the body remembers. The light is alive, and time opens the screen above the peonies, grandmother alive in the kitchen, dimmed, no lights on, too hot for light. Mary there as I look for centipedes in the sprinkler box, pill bugs, spiders, there, when I touch the peony that gives shivers back and scent on skin. What will I say to the child who looks at light? What can I teach? Bury it deep in your cells, I’ll say. Bury the light. Mark it well and safe. Unravel it like a bud, chant it to the new light, tell the light what it has been and where it is going.

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5.2
Fly in my Dream

I’ll feed the fly that came out of my dream. Find the apricot I cut three days ago, and let the fly linger over the drooping half, the juices absorbed or departed. I will let it grow to the size of the smaller dog no bigger, just big enough to carry away the melon slice, the tuna lid with its sharp edge. I will tell it what I remember, the backyard where the cat died, the ice cream maker, the girl with the braid like a fishing lure. I was big as a toy soldier the boy hid in his pocket and took to school, which he would take out at spare moments when the teacher was taking apple slices from a paper bag. I would tell him, I don’t remember when I was that small, I don’t remember when the world got smaller around me, when a fly of certain size could carry the world that was mine with its feet and the sun with all its heat and the day with the willow bowing with bees and the weight of the blue sky that could not contain so much wind.

Joel Long’s book Lessons in Disappearance is forthcoming this November. Knowing Time by Light was published by Blaine Creek Press in 2010. His book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and was published in 1999. His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published from Elik Press. His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Bellingham Review, Sou'wester, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Poems and Plays, and Seattle Review and anthologized in American Poetry: the Next Generation, Essential Love, Fresh Water, and I Go to the Ruined Place. He received the Mayor’s Artist Award for Literary Arts at the Utah Arts Festival and the Writers Advocate Award from Writers at Work. Favorite sweets: pumpkin custard profiteroles with maple caramel sauce that my wife makes and, of course, eating them with my wife.