Kala Ramesh – India (PJ32)

The Palmist

My father never believed in the godhead, preferring simply to talk to his Lord Muruga, but he had an abiding belief in astrology. He was a doctor and one of his regular patients was Mr. Gurumurti, who knew astrology well. They would talk for hours about how the planets affect us. I often heard these animated conversations and would scoff at the idea that distant planets could even influence my digestion and health!

One day, father came home all excited because the roadside palmist had predicted that our family would soon acquire a piece of land. He whistled raga bilahari jubilantly. A piece of land in Chennai means money!

A week later, we had a visit from our neighbour, a robust man who always gestured grandly with his hands when he spoke. He had learned that the gate of his family’s compound was wrongly cemented; their family astrologer advised them not to shift the gate but to redo the compound wall according to vastu shastra. He said that since we had been their neighbours for more than four generations, a piece of land just over one foot wide was going to be gifted to us. He declared this with the expansive gesture of a king giving away bounties to his people.

This generous decision brought two coconut trees and one-fourth of a mango tree into our compound.

the criss-crossing
of tree branches —
knots in the air

stories in the trickle of an hourglass rain

Keith Polette – USA (PJ32)

going stag . . .
i follow deer tracks
into the forest


old growth . . .
her mother’s voice
under her own


birthday
reaching twenty-one
at blackjack


The River

The clear stream carried the morning sunlight to the bend where it disappeared.  I waded in and cast my line to the shallows of the opposite bank, hoping to hook Walleye or Bass.  After an hour of casting and reeling, catching nothing but time, I was ready to close my tackle box and call it a day, when a dragonfly landed on the tip of my rod.  Perched in a six-legged grip, it was a blue bloom at the end of a long stem.  The wings, glinting in sun, translucent, thin as a whisper, did not move, like a biplane grounded.  Its eyes looked like dark observatories.  Then, as quick as a blue-tipped match stuck to life, the dragonfly lifted, hovered for a moment, then disappeared into light, leaving me standing there, the first catch of the day, shimmering in water.

fishing lure
the flash of her leg
in fine-mesh net

Lew Watts – USA (PJ32)

open grave
my best friend’s mistress
throws the first dirt


lying
about the blood pressure . . .
silk sheets


repossessed . . .
under the peeling paint
a hand-drawn cross


new puppy
at the old pond
sound of water


Dictated But Not Read

Still locked down so trying out this speech recognition stuff stop shit how the hell do you stop can you help me hang on a bit amazing’s just delivered give me a minute just trying to do something pier Riyadh Christ no go back go back daca no bogo no bug girl BU ger stop I mean.  

hands free
unable to stop
coffin sorrel