Staring into the Sun

My grandmother smiled through milky eyes.
I watched, as smoke spiraled out from her cigarette,
held by a gnarled hand, her wheelchair pushed back
against the wall. “I’ve seen it all,” she said, “stared
right at it. Nothing wasn’t worth looking at, nothing
worth ignoring.” She pointed to the ceiling,
water-stained and peeling, a tapestry of neglect.
I took a deep breath, and closed my eyes.
“Look for me now. Can you see the stars?
The Seven Sisters. Orion. The Pleiades?
I’ve seen it all,” she said, and laughed.
“To see it all is like staring into the sun,
magic until darkness falls.”


This Is Just How It Is

On a farm in Iowa, during the Second Great War,
my mother made dresses out of parachutes.
She lost her teeth playing “crack the whip,” raised
goats and cut heads off of chickens. On the night
she died, she said, quietly, through a toothless grin,
“This is just how the world is. This is just how it is.
Goats. Chickens. And dancing like we’re falling
from the sky.”


Poet Benjamin D. Carson lives with his dog Dora on the South Shore of Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Red Fez, The Ampersand Review, Free Inquiry, Cactus Heart, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, and The Charles River Journal.

Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.