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Alfred Fournier


Before it started raining bodies, my friend and I

had just emerged from a coffeeshop and a long

conversation about the rise of hate, the decline

of civil society. We were startled by a thunk,

as the first one crashed onto the roof of a red sedan

halfway across the parking lot. Before we could say,

“My god—,” another and another fell to earth, smacking

against pavement, slamming on top of parked cars,

windshields shattering, alarms going off. One thudded

on the awning above us. I yanked my friend back

as the body of a brown-skinned woman in a long coat

tumbled to the sidewalk at our feet, her skin yet soft

and pliant. They fell without a sound until the awful

whump of impact, one after another, becoming

a steady pattering. Screams of the living were everywhere,

blending into a useless white noise all around us.

But surely, I thought, there is something we can do.

The bodies were old and young, black, white and brown.

An aproned baker, a businessman, his red tie flaring

above him like a broken parachute, a politician, fat as sin,

a tattooed worker, a nurse, a child with her sky-blue

backpack. We looked around for shelter, and I wondered

if we could make it to the car, and if we did,

where we might go, and if this rain was everywhere,

and would it stop? and who were they? and when would we

be rain ourselves, descending silently, to horrify

whatever was left of humanity on the ground.


She would slap her way down the wooden basement stair

in flip-flops with long bare princess legs and golden

princess skin, her long loose tee shirt concealing

triangle princess panties. From my room, I would hear

the opening strains of “Love and Marriage,” her carefree

laugh consuming base American humor, American culture,

such as it is. Her evening ritual disrupting mine, be it reading

or prayer, behind thin walls.

Once, on New Year’s Eve,

I invited her into my room for a drink she declined.

I sensed her hunger for carnal knowledge, tried

to convince her that a virgin might experience

many kinds of pleasure, yet keep herself intact

for marital inspection. She declined with an amused smile,

as if I were Al Bundy, one hand inside my pants,

the other holding a beer. I saw her as less

than Indian royalty, more than I deserved.

I was wrong on both counts. Today I learned

she shares her name with a Hindu Goddess,

a warrior of great beauty, fierce as a tiger.

I admired her commitment to the ideals

of her culture, while allowing herself the pleasure

of late-night reruns. Mostly, it’s her laugh I miss.

The way I could rely upon her nightly descent.

Her scent that lingered in the adjacent room.

Two worlds never quite touching,

brushing the mystery of each other’s curious edges.

The Ride

I’ve been around the sun fifty-seven times 

but the ride seems dull and rusty. I used to marvel 

at a billion stars, and stretch as if to reach, 

but night sky now seems flimsy backdrop 

for a seedy sideshow. For a while, I’d kept urging, 

“Faster, faster!” as if the ride were taking me 

somewhere I desperately needed to be.  

The man at the bottom, unshaven, shrugged, 

leaned back and lit a smoke.

There’s no slowing it either. I can’t seem to stop 

my nieces from having kids, then grandkids.

Each generation has to ride for itself, I suppose. 

If there were a lever to reverse this thing, 

I’d ease back into early knowing moments

when the angle of the sun fell just right 

on my bare shoulders, and the beach 

opened onto what looked, for all the world, 

like an eternity of sea.

Alfred Fournier is a writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His poetry and prose have appeared in Plainsongs, The Main Street Rag, Lunch Ticket, Welter, Third Wednesday, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere. New work is forthcoming at Amethyst Review and Gyroscope Review.

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