Avery Gregurich

Imogene

Fridays the phone would ring right when

we were gonna leave, loaded up with

banana boxes full of lettuce for the salad

bars, mushrooms for the pizza place, our

mouths chock-full of Copenhagen

Wintergreen, only for her to call in her order

tall on “if it’s not too much trouble,”

and three potatoes, one onion and “whatever

else looks decent,” never more than that, and

still we saved hers for last, lingering in walk-in

coolers, trash talking the Cardinals pitching

staff with the waitresses, stealing a plate of

mashed potatoes and tuna fish casserole,

always the last stop was Imogene’s door of

the public housing tract, us throwing rock, paper,

scissors in the van for who had to go, her always

surprised to see me, sorry that her hair wasn’t 

fixed, that her place wasn’t tidied up, asking who 

I was again, telling me about the birds she’d gotten 

to come stay on her feeder long enough for her to

take their picture, holding up little black film rolls

for proof, her checkbook the measure of time,

never a pen to be found, but eventually she’d pay 

up and let me go, too old to jog away but still I did, 

never once, going back to find out if those penned 

up birds ever got away.

Iowa Volley

     after David Ray


from county roads, we storm the hill 

to bury a soldier seven decades after 

he fell.


lined up, saluting, they stare ahead

above the remains left by the war to 

end all.


television crews keep watch. the 

priest sweating bullets, darkening his

full dress.


the family chairs are filled with cousins:

we are all strangers here, behind

the line.


a pair of Chinooks marr the sky, and 

the Patriot Guard Chaplain whispers

“flashback.”


announcement: free popcorn/beer at the 

legion today, bottles forever meant for 

other hands.


when two of the oldest collapse, they blame 

the heat and tell us this happens

every time.


respects paid, the procession moves slow, 

then disbands, each of us glad for the

highway.

Avery Gregurich is a writer currently living and working in Marengo, Iowa. He was raised next to the Mississippi River and has never strayed too far from it.

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