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Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 25.1 (2004) 122-123

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Hewn Boards

I hear ghosts in the house they
frolic and faint there was a time when
this house was the only one on the flat plain
yawning grasses and thin mud swamps
buggy tracks'd go knee deep
you lived for the rains
when there was little else
horse boned housewives'd sit on the prairie
counting children and clouds
beating rugs til the end of the day
caught up in a coughed mist
the husbands'd drink, put his hands on the Bible,
work on making new ones til almost dawn
they edged me this house
paint and shutters hurting
there's the tots' names carved into a back porch swing
Saylee, Marcus, William, Mary,
who tried to take care of the place,
all taken down in their raw and mild youth
typhus or cholera the doctors didn't know
in '73
now the eaves are hawk swing quiet except for the
dying sounds of sighs
which could be the wind
slowly pulling itself around the exposed corners [End Page 122]

Flags on Poles

the wind blows in chunks you can
view the pieces like blown building sides
scraped from the sky, the nails flying, and I watch
the trees in their folded wings are forced to dance
all arms and shoulders hunched now trying
to extricate themselves from the halved blows
as open hand slaps
think let me off leave me alone and you can't
a tree in the wind is almost an unfortunate infested
in the hives and manic of the heft wind
from my window which is like a slice of wind I
see the acute nervousness and angst as the
two the couple lashed again together
the moist noise from my teapot catches me from another room
the whistle no different from a small strident wind
screaming, streaming through its hurt holes

Peter Layton writes his poetry from Lakewood, California. He is a sometimes teacher and student and moves around a great deal, generally in the Los Angeles area.