P. F. Potvin holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars
where he was awarded the Jane Kenyon poetry scholarship. His works
appeared in Boston Review, Born Magazine, Slope, Sentence, Passages
North, Free Verse, No Tell Motel
and elsewhere. He is on the editorial
staff of Drunken Boat and currently resides in Miami.

Through the Mute

Once settled in the apartment, her habits were casual - jingles after work to girlfriends for hopping, midnight sighs to an ex., and occasional grumps to Dad on Sunday. At first the phone thought little of her contact. But after each session it found an increasing desire to replay her lips, lubed and puckered as they whispered across the cradling blade. Overcoming first-call fright, the phone grew briskly intimate with her. It even started calling at obscene hours. It gave the busy to her friends and employer for months until Dad ordered two whitejackets to burst the apartment. Strolling by you can still hear the phone, crying like a stranded rooster nonstop through the mute.

The Possum Lovers

In the high mountain hut two rangers enter and sluff their gear to the floor. Tomorrow they'll fly to another area of endangered flora, but now one rummages his knapsack, grinning to find the baggie of needles and vials. He snaps on rubber gloves while the other taps his bonelike stick the size of a mule's leg against his yellow kneehigh boot. Then they step outside. Ten minutes later they return from the possum traps to gorge themselves on sandwiches. They abandon the dirty needles and spattered yellows at the door, but prop the cranberried stick at the center of the table, where it stands, ready for anything to come between them.

Desert Waiting

"Thank God for the woman" said the Negev as it lounged in the sun. "Thought I took the left hook down to the river babble at the cross. The night was so pitch I found myself instead, ascending through sap and stick of planted peach until brush, brush - I tripped on her tent rope. She thought I was a mountain, lion or sidewinder, whooping out a warning and flashing her light. In slowmo I recoiled as she unzipped the door, emerged while whispering she'd bring no more harm. She shifted causal then lead me, beam by beam, back to the waiting cross."

A Southern Beard and Otherwise

All lone country tracks lead to the pave of No Surrender. We swiveled the jeep out through brush and thought we found otherwise. But otherwise was just a rumor loosed by rebels whose soldier kin lay buried along the shoulder. For hours we wheeled that main road across Arkansas in silence. I was thinking about otherwise when we braked at a station and asked. The bearded counterman whispered us a secret way to leave No Surrender. Soon we were on another road heading north into the pines. North where beard swore they waited still and stocked with foxes.

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