John McKernan

When You Enter Heaven


You will be emptied of language.
You will have to reach for every word

the way a child
reaches for the bright candle
or a sphere of white chocolate.

For example.  A Rose
will me missing
akk its letters.  Arranged
instead into the petals of a perfume.

Even the bright thorn
Which pierces your hand
will be only a small triangle of silence
letting you know.  At last.  What you were.
What you finally left behind.

Laurie Kuntz


The skies teem with birds.
Days, nights, we circle deeper into the woods.
Cravings waken on my tongue.
I remember orange slices
my father gave us,
juice and pulp moving under my fingers.
Blisters appear on my heel.

Hansel knots a red scarf under my chin.
He guides me, hand at my elbow.
The house of gingerbread is always rising,
its walls porous and soft.
Candied fruits gling
like bits of colored glass.

In the morning I chop wood and bring water.
The frost whitens the leaves on the path,
and my brother coughs in his sleep.
At night my muscles swell,
and the bed is cold.

The witch rocks all night by the fire,
turns my face on her eye
like meat on a spit.

I wake to the moon leading its light
through my window, the promise of home,
I think of the nightshade in the windowsill,
the vials and colored powders on the shelf.
The oven glows in the morning darkness.