Relationships look simple on a family tree.
A man and a woman connect by one or two dashes.
Lust is one dash and true love
is two, as if in love, one person equals the other
and in lust, dashes.
In any case, the result of the union is someone else
who keeps up the tradition of spreading the limbs
until the year of death, as if life is just one mad
dash from one year to another.
Canned Florida Sunshine
My mom apologized to me for being born
into such a terrible world,
her eyes wet
while stirring the stroganoff, my favorite.
The steam glowed in the yellow
stove-light as she watched me
do my homework.
Then the TV newscaster said it’s 5 till 6,
meaning about dinner time. I was working on my state
report. I got Florida.
My pastor at church
let me borrow his “Canned Florida Sunshine,”
which was an empty juice container
with a stock photo of a palm tree wrapped around it
and the words “State of Florida Department of Tourism”
written on the bottom.
He said I could use it for my presentation tomorrow,
said he bought it on vacation once
and that I would do just fine. But I’m still
a little nervous about it.
How We Show Our Gratitude
Nothing is louder than snow falling
on the roof in the middle of the night
when you’re young. My sister and I snuck
out of bed to flip on the back porch light,
watch the wet leaves freeze and disappear,
and whisper something about it.
If you wake too late, the snow floats
into a slushy root-beer on the street.
First we always ruined our neighbors’
perfect white yards so when night
came and we had to stay close, our yard
was still untouched—a tactic
we learned from a nightly news story about
Alaska’s oil. Long before the cars
started on their way to town,
you and I, ugly trees,
and a graying sky were the whole world.
We debated whether stepping in cotton
candy would feel or sound
the same as snow.
One reason an author
of a book about depression gave:
endings. He got it
on the last page of Anna Karenina. You
got it, I gathered, from middles—
of things. For cure
there was pity and the self-
love of secrets. The music was part
of it too, the way it lifted you
from here to there, and for the length of a song
that feeling you knew there should be a reason for
but wasn’t was gone. And even that ending
would be enough to trigger some people.
With enough insomnia, a common companion
of depression, someday in a dream
you will say, astonished, And all that
time I had been awake, oh
dear, and you could be wrong.
for A. Camus
All it takes
is a fat owl
yawning at dawn
or the burning
smell of fall
in the yard
is about to happen
Dustin Junkert is a writer, musician, and coffee roaster living in Newberg, Oregon. He recently received a BA in Writing/Literature from George Fox University and more recently published an essay in the New York Times as well as poems in Weber: The Contemporary West, Willow Review, and Barbaric Yawp.