Helen Losse is the author of Better With Friends, published by Rank Stranger Press in 2009, and the Poetry Editor of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her recent poetry publications and acceptances include The Wild Goose Poetry Review, Shape of a Box, Distillery and Hobble Creek Review. She has two chapbooks, Gathering the Broken Pieces, and Paper Snowflakes. Educated at Missouri Southern State and Wake Forest Universities, she lives in Winston-Salem, NC.
When Trees Pop, by Helen Losse
Two men stand, fists clenched,
inside a ring formed by other men.
The other men cheer the two men on,
while the man knocks another man down.
Nearby, at an overpass, several boys
throw sand and shout the word queer
at certain other boys. Several women
stand shoulder to shoulder, seemingly calm.
But as they turn, one woman bites another
woman on her tongue. Dusk then settles on
the right of way. Tall evergreens and deciduous
trees turn black. A cool wind rocks the bird house,
rustles tree branches, plays a tune on the treble
wind chimes. Life is slowing from the rackets
of men: noise from their cars, trucks,
their thrumming, black jackhammers.
The light of a full, orange moon meets the fog.
That night trees pop, a man dies by another
man’s hand, and several young girls shun
the bad girl to whom they must never speak.