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Cindy Buchanan

Sorry, I'm Sorry

he says the third time he turns around in his chair to glance at us.

Can I ask you something? I’m sorry. I see you’ve finished eating.

Can I ask where you folks are from? Me, I’m from Illinois—not Chicago.

A couple of hours south of there. A small farm town no one

has heard of. But isn’t Mexico great? I love it. I’d like to retire here. 

I’m 59. I’m sorry to interrupt but can I ask what you do? Retired?

Damn! That must be nice. What did you do, if you don’t mind my asking.

Engineer and doctor? Shit, sorry, sorry. That must have been interesting.

I’m a delivery guy, well, usually. In the winter I have a small business

plowing snow. We get a lot of snow in the winter! Damn, if I’m not tired

of snow. I like the sun here. Fuck, this is nice. Sorry, sorry. Do you mind

if I sit with you? I don’t mean to interrupt. How long are you here? 

You live here? Fuck me! Sorry. Oh God, I’m sorry. I’d love to live 

here. And the people! It’s cheap to live here, right? No? Fuck! 

Sorry, sorry. My mouth, you know. Irish. Never been able to shut it. 

The nuns, back in the day, they couldn’t stop it either, or get me to not 

look out the window. My daughter’s the same. But she’s bipolar. So 

there’s that. Haven’t seen her for a couple of years. She’s dropped off, 

you know, the grid. Fuck. Sorry. Thank you. Yeah, it’s shit. One son’s

good. Air Force. The other, he’s more artistic. Doesn’t need me either. 

But hey, isn’t the sun great here? And the people! Everyone is just so fucking 

nice! I’d love to retire here. My girlfriend, she bought me a ticket. She said, 

just go, enjoy yourself, relax, have fun. I know I drink too much. But the kids

these days, fuck it, sorry, they got all that other shit: ecstasy, molly, other 

stuff, all that shit. At least this is only booze. Hey, thanks for listening. I’m 

sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I can see you’re having a nice evening. 

You know, sometimes you just got to talk to someone, you know? 

But thanks. Sorry. Fuck me.

Dear Daughter on the Street of Dreams

It’s one of those holidays again,

whole days when I pretend

you call

to tell me you’re sorry you haven’t    


because you are

exhausted from staying up all night with your crying newborn

because you are

busy moving into a place of your own, with a bathroom, maybe even a bedroom

because you are

working a new job—the kind, you know, I would be proud of

I decide to clean, and in a chipped cup at the back of the kitchen drawer

I find

the house key I took 

back when I left you at rehab ten years ago.

The locks are changed now—

the key only works to open

a casket of fear


since you disappeared onto strange streets

        paved with black tar


        with the sweat of forgetting

where the acrid need

to hold you

burns holes in my skin

This Morning Before Coffee

               I catch the Calla Lilies lifting

their creamy bracts to the first

filaments of dawn, a silent

private act of reverence, adoration. 

Outlined against the steel-gray sky,

they stand erect and still, trumpet-

throated, waiting for a sign to praise

with psalms the promises of day

—or are they performing an act of 

supplication: slender Calla stems 

thrusting open spathes toward heaven

so their golden tongues might decry 

the fragility of their pale flesh, mourn 

how easily torn and broken 

they can be, and plead for intervention,

a commutation that halts their slow decay?

A puff of wind interrupts my reveries.

The lilies resume their stoic roles 

of sentries in the window box. I see

the difference between praise and supplication 

is moot; both are lonely cries flung upward

to what is forever mute. Is it wise to emulate 

the lilies? The dirt, after all, welcomes every 

thing, each one, regardless, with great tenderness.

Fear Less

              with gratitude to Pema Chodron

This morning when I stepped onto the familiar path, the wild north wind 

met me with her sleeted breath, stung my eyes, numbed my ears, promised 

me stories uncomfortable, unwanted. I howled back, believing her, pushed 

myself against her too—without effect—until I shifted

opened wide my arms and bid the wind climb in so I might trace 

her hidden face, soothe and call her by my name, and offer

a different story: thanks for her sure song 

thanks for coming one more day.

Cindy Buchanan grew up in Alaska, graduated from Gonzaga University, and lives in Seattle. Her work has been published in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Straight Forward Poetry, Whistling Shade, and Tipton Poetry Journal and is upcoming in The MacGuffin and Rabid Oak. She is an avid hiker and has completed the Camino de Santiago, the Coast to Coast in England, and the Milford Trek in New Zealand. A student of Buddhist philosophy, she hopes to send kindness out into the world.

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