What Comes Next

By Maxine Scates

Featured art: A Flowering Cactus: Heliocereus Speciosus by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Life’s police car, lights flashing, on the sidewalk

in front of McDonald’s and two boys on the bus stop,

one boy moving quickly away from the other

who raised his hands and dropped his pack as the officer

approached, gun drawn. But how did the cop know

which one he wanted since both wore watch caps

and gray parkas and carried backpacks? He seemed

certain enough as he handcuffed the boy

then helped him into the back of the cruiser

his now gunless hand almost gently dipping the boy’s head

into what comes next, all we don’t see swallowing him, the

signal changing, day swallowing me until this morning

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Small Boy

By Joseph Scapellato

Featured Art: Pepita by Robert Henri

The small boy says to his big sister, “Why did we kill all the Indians?”

They’re in the basement playing a video game. Both of them are white.

“We didn’t kill them,” says his big sister, “our ancestors did.”

“Why did our ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“Okay, not really our ancestors because Dad’s family came in the 20s and Mom’s in the Sixties and the Indians were already totally dead by then, mostly.”

“Why did ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“But I guess you could say it was us, pretty much, because today we’re basically the same culture as the culture of the people who killed the Indians back then. And it’s ‘Native Americans,’ not ‘Indians.’ ‘Indians’ is ignorant.”

The small boy says to his angry stepmom, “Why did we kill all the Native Americans?”

They’re returning from the grocery store in hardly any traffic. Plastic bags stuffed with food rustle in the back seat.

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Someone Threw Down a Wildflower Garden in an Empty Lot in Newark

By Theresa Burns

Featured Art: Flowers in a Vase by Odilon Redon

And now, instead of staring at the weeds
and broken bottles from the train platform,
we’re taking in a scene from a Monet.
Asters, cosmos, little yellow fists
of something. All random and confetti.
I’m half expecting a lady in a high-waist
dress and bonnet to appear on a diagonal
stroll through its splendor, pausing
with her parasol so we can selfie with her.
Maybe she’ll hop aboard the light rail
to the Amtrak station, get off in D.C.,
step back into the painting she escaped from.
Who was the genius who thought of this?
What meadow-in-a-can Samaritan
got sick of passing the four-acre eyesore
on the way to work? Shook pity into blossom.
To whom do I write my thank you?
Mayor, surveyor, county clerk, church lady.
Who marched down to city hall, begged
anyone who would listen?

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