Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

Category: Poetry

Faces

by a contributor

Jeff Burt

She beats the driftwood against her thigh during a break in the squall, with branches and burls culled from debris and dark conversation of wind, water and wood about her feet.
She shakes out sand and rubs the wood on her jeans to shine up the wet pores looking for a face, and finds it, fumbling with a worn-out burl, her snowy cheeks turned scarlet like twin fires on the beach of the morning.
She has discovered a fable to create for her children.
I look, see nothing, and I shall not forget that when she left me that morning the ducks and gulls and the sea turned from tone and sonority to rattle and racket, the caesura and pause of the sand transformed to an endless taut drum by the pounding of the surf.
I shall not forget how I could taste the cold metal my tongue had become without her melting syllables, how wet and warm from the rain at the river’s mouth I stood shoes hung about my shoulders, impoverished of myth, looking at the torment of the sky, the storm in my mouth gone quiet and dry.


Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has published works in Thrice Fiction, Storm Cellar, Star 82 Review, and soon in The Cortland Review. He won the SuRaa short fiction award in 2011.

See more poetry from Jeff tomorrow.

Tilting

by a contributor

Jeff Burt

He begins plumb, a site sat straight for decades until the clay of his creation shifts, rung out like sponge by drought, cracked like fine china dropped on a hard floor, his edge no longer leveraged against a permanent ground, a Tower of Pisa leaning.
Now the man walks the park who only sees his feet, spinal curvature bending his head forward like an immense fruit too heavy for his shoulders to carry, the world of hummingbirds and fuchsia and cedar waxwings and berries, full moons and blue skies lost to his grounded vision, up ahead a plain of water over the rising road, above it a wealth of clouds drinking, herds of old gods grazing in the pastures of sky.


Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has published works in Thrice Fiction, Storm Cellar, Star 82 Review, and soon in The Cortland Review. He won the SuRaa short fiction award in 2011.

See more poetry from Jeff tomorrow.

Dalliance

by a contributor

Lena Gluck

I might see her,
so I wear big earrings, bright colors.

It doesn’t matter whether she likes them,
only that they give her something to say
or touch.

All morning wet air sweetens the world
on my lips, and by the time I see her
it’s raining.

Just inside the doorway, with her,
I am safe like a tent in the woods.

But she doesn’t notice me;
my coat covers my clothes.

I call, spring buds opening in my throat,
tongue covered in pollen and lily petals.

I wrap my arms around her like a blanket,
and she holds me close like a campfire.
This crowded building is a wide wilderness
that the rest of our lives can’t touch.

She smiles, says,
why did you hug me with that wet coat on?

then walks out into the rain.


Lena Gluck’s writing has appeared in the Great Lake Review. She is an assistant librarian and teaches the Young Authors Academy at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse. Her writing can be found on the blogexperienceswithlanguage.wordpress.com

See Lena’s list of 5 Things tomorrow.

Minimum Wage

by a contributor

Lena Gluck

Finding employment is difficult for Death

because after an entire existence
learning how to deal with dying,
he hears it’s not a valuable skill

in today’s world.

He feels a little unfulfilled,
but things are okay.

In his free time, He’s often alone
in rooms of extinguishing candles,
tending to the smoke.


Lena Gluck’s writing has appeared in the Great Lake Review. She is an assistant librarian and teaches the Young Authors Academy at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse. Her writing can be found on the blogexperienceswithlanguage.wordpress.com

See more poetry from Lena tomorrow.

When Asked Why there was Pain in the World

by a contributor

Lena Gluck

God did not hear the question,
for He knew only sound without pattern,
light without shape, chemicals without consciousness,
without mortality or meaning—

His creations, atoms,
were all doing just fine.


Lena Gluck’s writing has appeared in the Great Lake Review. She is an assistant librarian and teaches the Young Authors Academy at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse. Her writing can be found on the blogexperienceswithlanguage.wordpress.com

See more poetry from Lena tomorrow.

That time I was in Australia and we pretended I was a film producer

by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

I am in Northern Victoria with David making a film about grassroots democracy and gradually slipping into the skin of somebody that looks like me but acts the part better. I wear the idea of myself like a suit, a poor sack, woven from expanses of self-deception. This is the time of year when everyone talks about this time of year. I remember how beautiful I wanted to be and the days I believed it was tangible and the time I thought I’d captured it. Oh how I’d like to burst and be open. The canola fields are endless like an inverted manifestation of my worries. Bright and golden, the little flowers are weighted with surrender. The mornings in the country are tenuous, waiting to be pulled apart. We sleep in a dream house I have no business dreaming in. Two buddhists live here, housed in the monolith of their peacefulness. Their faces are the tattered prayer flags of the afternoon. David and I admit we felt shameful before their mindfulness. Today I read my horoscope, the usually forgotten prophetic hopefuls, fragile insights. Days like these, the days i can’t help but self-narrate with banal reflections such as days like these, i feel vulnerable and whimsy enough to fall victim to such haphazardly drawn premonitory vague daydreams. Somewhere in Wangaratta we stop to shoot overlay: the cows that won’t stop staring. I leave my purse on the car hood for just a moment and an eight-eyed spider has its way with the slopes of black leather, overlapping gossamer arcs of ephemera. She is the size of the mole on my abdomen, but more frightening than the prospect of slow, sinister understandings. If I could see in sixty frames per second perhaps she wouldn’t be so frightening, but there are many things I can’t keep up with. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night and mistake the explorations of a mouse for the knocking of a ghost at my door. I’d prefer the ghosts, of course. Every night is an orb that glows and floats away. I’d like to depend on the gravity of these words but they, too, escape my mouth and go running. There is a dread slithering through me like a silverfish worse than the chills from a bee sting. I know that nothing is connected but sometimes I feel I could string it all together with my silky, expansive arms and knot it all around my heart. We have been chasing the perfect shot of a sunset, meanwhile the scab on my right shin shines like a morbid sunset, and another sun sets on the hopefulness of honest articulation. Before this picturesque landscape I am fraying with the thought of my ordinary demise. We are nowhere near to letting go.


Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See Rebecca’s list of 5 Things tomorrow.

In the past we wore stiff linens

by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

We must invent a new language to discuss the nature of change,
and perhaps wear a uniform as strict as the passing of time, made of stiff linens.
I will pass the perfect sounds around like a loving cup,
like contagious giggling, a bubbling of guffaws and snorting,
clicking tongues and gnashing dentures, tearing eyes –
I need someone to install a light well in my chest. I’m not ready.
As I discuss the nature of change the skin of my eyes very slowly shifts in color,
my hairs turn grey, long, thick blades of grass curl around my ankles,
bees swarm around my wrists and one by one drop to the earth,
the sunset behind me grows a deep purple.
In the background, a kookaburra chants its haunting melody,
becomes a hummingbird, flies backwards.
It is not in my nature to meditate on death, only to fear it.
Today was white and silent. The continent of your birthmark stares
plainly at me as you stand abashedly before the mirror.
Your pale skin murmurs, soft and shallow like a lake.
Listen: the sharp harmony of all the love notes I ripped up
when we were fighting.
And the peach tree in our backyard has given up, twisted itself in spindly stitches.
We greedily watched it growing, little peaches swelling,
stretched our eager white arms to point at the ones we would bite into first.
We were too full of lust,
like an overly ambitious novel (i’m looking at you, DFW).
Now look down, clenched in your soft palm, your grandmother’s locket
containing a photo so old some chemicals have seeped out, glued itself to the frame –
Remember your grandmother’s eyes that were tired and full of skin,
over the gray noise of the television she said: men are shit.
You inherited her eyes and her bitterness. But you swear
she would never wait as eagerly as you do for the peaches.
It makes you never want to get out of bed again (I haven’t yet).
I am eating bread that I am well aware has mould on it.
But today I did the coffee just right
and I’m finally letting my hair go wild.
We share everything to the point that it is tragic. There is a field
of sunflowers growing inside me,
and you and I were dancing like bees that found the richest pollen
in the flowers of ourselves.
Tonight is tart and chewy like a black olive.
The cold change hasn’t come through yet.
Install a light well in my chest. I’m ready.


Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See more poetry from Rebecca tomorrow.