The Woman Who Moves the Earth

She hops down from the dump truck’s crusty side

and climbs up into the earth mover as graceful

as a gymnast, pony tail bouncing

behind her John Deere baseball cap.

She wields the blade

of the machine and in minutes

levels a great mound of soil

into flat-out respect.

The admiration in which I held my ex-wife

comes to mind. How

when the pipes leaked

she slid under the sink

wrench in hand, saving the day

while I just held her flashlight.

But this is about a woman

who moves the earth

with just her fingers

on the leash of a great yellow beast,

and though she’ll never know,

holds me in the palm of her hand.


Bill Wunder

Bill Wunder’s poems have twice been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and in 2004 he was named Poet Laureate of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His poems have been a finalist in The Robert Fraser Poetry Competition, The Mad Poet’s Society Competition twice, and The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards three times. He has previously been featured in Burningword Literary Journal and was included in Burningword Ninety-Nine, A Selected Anthology of Poetry 2001-2011.

Memorial Day 2002

I’d nearly forgotten that room
but lately, things appear
in the narrow, dark space
between door and linoleum:

Fingertips of palm fronds;
fragments of jungle fatigues;
love beads we wore under them.

Acrid, burning wreckage
of a helicopter delivering mail
and Christmas dinners to a hot LZ.

Foul, strange aroma
of mama-san improvising
meals out of fish heads and rice.

Thunderous roar of F-4 Phantoms
climbing in tandem, urgency in their contrails,
distant varumpf of bombs in mountains.

Sing-song complaints
of mothers moved
from ancestral villages,
their children clinging
to them like jungle vines.

Startled starlings erupt
into the safety of an empty sky
at my best friend’s funeral.

Rifle reports from the gleaming
honor guard, me on my way to war,
him, on his way to a cold permanence.

His mother’s sobs in the frozen air,
my exhaled breath in January sunlight.

Today is memorial day.
There are picnics, parades,
Wal-Mart is having one of their biggest sales,
and the car dealer in town is offering double rebates.

My hand is on the doorknob, and I hesitate,
wondering if whatever lives in this room
is tame enough now, the pain lessened
enough for me to bear.


My neighbor’s television mumbles
all night through yellowed wallpaper.
Beer commercials, game shows,
Star Trek theme at 3 a.m.,
I play puppet to ventriloquist,
lip-sync every sales pitch;
sing their vacuous anthems.

There is safety in this stale room.

Sleep will not come.
My mind sprints,
I am a step behind.
Traffic snarls,
rises from the streets.
Sirens sing to me,
divas fill the night
until morning’s air spills
through my window,
sun warms the floor.

Outside, lions pace
among crowds of strangers
in their stone Serengeti;
they wait for me.

Lions first appeared in [i]Literary Potpourri[/i].


I walk reverently,
footsteps soft as
feathers falling.
I am humbled
by giants, asleep
in Muir Woods.
Solitary sentinels
reach for heaven,
scrape the sky.
End of daylight
tiredly slants,
filters through
canopied roof,
ageless shadows
of God’s cathedral,
illuminating my path.
Overwhelming silence
enraptures me
as angels sing
of God’s gift to man:
the sacred redwood.

Cathedral first appeared in [i]Melange Journal[/i].

Those Red Shoes

phone rings.
he wants me,
I can tell, or
is it those red shoes?

sounds made
by high heels
on reflective,
wooden floors
bedevil him.

I am someone else
in scarlet spikes.
my skirt swirls
in the warm air
surrounding me
like a swarm of honey bees.

my legs, longer
in those red shoes,
belong to a seductress;
a stranger to me.

I am rhythm.
my breasts bounce
upon the off beat.

he is at the door.
my pulse quickens
as I slip on those red shoes,
and one thing leads to another.


Breathe me.
Part your lips,
draw me in
Hunger for me,
want me,
I am all
you require.

Taste me.
Lick my salt,
I lie thick
on your tongue,
like ash spewed
from a volcano.
Feel my tremors,
thirst for me
in the desert.
I am like rain,
I will wash
you clean.

See me,
watch me
love you.
Close your eyes,
feel me enter
the temple.
Love is religion.

Religion first appeared in [i]Coil Magazine[/i].

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