the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Anne Elezabeth Pluto

Of the Tsars' Race

Let's start a race
of kings — long ago
and far away
in the thrice tenth lands
beyond the thrice nine kingdoms
you must have been
with a name like
that — marry the mountains
to the river ride the heavenly
horses and bring
the moon to rise
over the cross
pull back the crescent bow
and depart the goddess' city
a conqueror — a patriot
ruined let's start a race
that will not end
where the finish
line ignites and
nails rain like hail
from cooking pots under
pressure litter
the laurel wreaths, let's
start a race of kings
while your body lay
unclaimed, no mosque
to say the prayers
no parents to return
no wife to dress in black
and white — no resurrection
of the dead — the living
take the fall, transferred
now from hospital; to prison —
a blurb on the tv screen bottom
while the maimed don't
care to know how
to pronounce your name
they leave hospitals lost
limbs — promising
again to dance, to run, the dead
are buried with charity
and thousands come
in respect and remembrance.
In the dark — the cold
slab of mercy and compassion
God must love you
when this city turns
totally away.


Mother Tender

Rain brings you back
June and blooming
darkness looming behind
summer ahead sticky green
and hot air
in nostrils you pick me up
each last day of school humidity hanging
after the June shower, polka dotted
umbrella, I let go of once
to see it fly like Mary Poppins
landing on a lawn nearby
Woolworths for notions and summer
books shiny covers for Louisa Mae
the pages unfold like dust, long lost
in faithful timing, notice the rhyming,
the hiding mother tender, stumbling over
reaching, retching, taking cover
me to discover the past like flowers dying
I am alone and simply crying.



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