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poetry

A Wisconsin Book Festival reading featuring the winners of the Wisconsin People & Ideas 2019 Fiction & Poetry Contest hosted by editor Jason A. Smith

The very title of Tom Montag’s latest book of poetry started a Simon & Garfunkel song playing in my head. “How terribly strange to be seventy,” a 27-year-old Paul Simon wrote in “Old Friends” back in the late 1960s.

         I am lazing around, sharing my attic roomwith Cincinnati’s swelter and three more booksfrom the library—Girl of the Limberlost, Jo’s Boys,Dr. Doolittle—when the church bells begin to ring

One would expect gracklesor crows, purple necks stretched outin the backstreet gloom, flutteringfrom dumpster to chain-link fence.

In what seems another lifetime,I drove a bus for Greyhound.Riders weren’t allowed to talk to the driver,and I couldn’t talk to them—company rules—and I wasn’t allowed to look at a map,

tires screech; mother sleepsblood seeps from my forehead gashbroken windshield glassthen blue and red lights flashacross my mother who can’t walk the lineslap on the cuffs; clipped wings of a dove

Spectral presences flit in and out of In Light, Always Light, Milwaukee poet Angela Trudell Vasquez’s first chapbook. Ghosts appear with purposeful messages, the voices of dead ancestors echo, and human remains float over a city.

          —Hyogo-ken, June 1991

I see youTrying to snip yourselfFree from the clash of fabric patternsOutsize the outline of your fierceand stunning soulCoast be not oceanEdge be not your end

Peer into the satchel of fabricsPlush and darkSoft and unforgiving,Hand to hand, pass stitched and muffled suffering

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