out of work,
out of workman’s compensation,
he works a paper route.
Seven days a week at six a.m.,
he places the papers gently.
Never lobs them,
never leaves them in the dewy lawn .
He abides every instruction:
      If the Buick is gone, leave the paper on the porch.
      Throw it over the dogs, if they’re out.
      Come on in, help yourself to some coffee.
He delivers his papers to people:
Dusty. Double D. Agnes. Herbie.
He knows about their kids–
how many they have,
how often they visit.
They know how he takes his coffee, black.
Tony Mac.
Husband of Sue.
Father of three.
Retired machine operator,
with bad back, neck, knees.
Their paperboy,
a man measured in more than column inches, rides a Harley without a helmet, drives his mother to her appointments, and has two Shih Tzu, Zed and Dude.
Little do they know
about the Thursdays
before the dumpsters roll through,
when he works over the trash waiting to be collected.
He collects the remnants of lives discarded, and leaves newspapers in exchange for their VCRs, lawn chairs, trinkets.
He takes his coffee black and quick
and returns to his route. He’s home by 7 to help his wife off to work.
In with her sandwich, a note
scratched out on a purple Post-it:
Tonight, you will have a present waiting, my love.
by Autumn Konopka

The Garden Of A Child

I entered the garden of my childhood days after

the storm had passed over. A gentle breeze was

blowing and the sky was blue. Seeing in the

undergrowth a bird that had come out of an egg

only a little while ago and had fallen down, I

put it back in its nest.

It all happened yesterday. Today I am a grown-up

man again, and I just can’t put anything back in

its proper place.

–Nirendranath Chakravarti, India


Poem For My Son

I seem to know all about you:

your time, your place, your name,

the clean Indian-wheat colour of your skin,

your unpolished words.

But I know that there are also sounds

that you do not know, shapes

that you wouldn’t recognize.

For instance, the owl’s lean dark cry,

or the sea at Puri

during a small moon’s night.

And, at this hour, when

you are breathing so quietly

beside your mother,

I seem to hear a faraway whisper

that almost tells me

you’re not mine.

I hear the owl’s cry,

the gentle expanding roar

of the blue waters of Puri.

Never mind. I know where my night sleeps,

undisturbed by every sound and thought,

so peacefully.

–Bibhu Padhi, India