By Michael D. Youth
He fought once for the bareknuckle title

in a hay-strewn ring; emerged

to occupy the eye

of a flashbulb lightning storm.

The world spiraling about.

When a fortnight later

word came

(The old man had finally lost it

gone insane,

gnawed the palms out of his work gloves)

he distracted

caught a


and fell.

A body boxed

and dropped

to earth,

just so,

his mother eulogized

the old man,


the September burying.

Sitting ever

at an empty table

looking fixedly


at the rolling untilled


Always in the eyes now, tiredness,


a desire for end, completion, sleep;

wearing that internal stamp, the mark of rage

subsided, the still calm deep

of a field of wheat, windblown at dusk,



Hunting Season
By Jessica M. Sampley

My daddy and I used to ride up and down that old Wilson Bend Road–

Him at the wheel of our ’77 burnt orange Ford truck,

with a gun rack on the window behind his head.

Me in the back, behind the doghouse, close to the glass,

sitting on my throne, the spare tire.

Him in his brown hunting coveralls–

worn with quail-blood black stains.

Me in my new camouflage coveralls and matching sneakers,

hair braided halfway down my back.

We’d stop by Travis’s for two glass bottles of Mountain Dew,

then the screen door would slam behind me

on my run-and-jump over the side into the back.

Greasy tools, empty bottles, a tackle box, and dirty rags

were scattered around my feet.

Daddy would ask if I was too cold,

I’d just shake my head, continuing on,

oblivious to the freezing cold air

that reddened my cheeks and made my eyes water.

He was thinking thoughts unknown to me,

content with his Mountain Dew, Pall-Malls, and 104.7–

all day country, all day long.

And we’d drive on,

past winter-naked oaks and hickories

down a forgotten log road into the north Alabama woods,

looking for the most secluded field–

where the biggest birds would be.