D.o.r.i.s.. W.a.t.t.s

Store in Airtight Container

We've been advised to take some extra care
concerning certain items which may catch
unexpectedly on fire in open air
requiring neither spark nor match.
This is spontaneous flame exploding when,
accompanied by a source of oxygen,
internal heat exceeds ignition point.

Among the things that we've been warned about:

Oily rags, piles of tires, a flour mill in town
that years ago blew up and then burned down,
the straw-damp haystack of a careless farmer,
Mrs. Alva MacElhaney's dead brother,
pistachio nuts stored in excessive number,
the secrets that we've kept from one another.

Widow's Weeds

The gardener so unexpected gone
(no notice, no instructions, no excuse),
the garden left abandoned winter long,
eggplants have shriveled into spent balloons.
Dry pods of okra rattle on bare stalks,
asparagus fern crochets its last dry lace,
and all the old tomato plants, leafless, stark,
lean drunkenly yet stubborn in their place.

Then April brings an unnamed alien green.
Strange leaf and stem replace familiar ones--
there's no more radish, lettuce, carrot, bean--
and she is left to name them on her own:

So Morning Clover, Evening Thistle, Bridal Fringe.
So Satan's Tongue and Devil's Fist. And Coffin Hinge.

Hammer and Anvil

The big horse, hobbled and hitched just inside,
shifted about, shivered, showed the white of his eye.
"Don't hurt him none. He's got thick hide,"
            they always answered.
                      I thought they lied.
So they pumped at the bellows for the pure white flame
and beat the molten metal until the walls all rang.
Then as pure and as patient as Saint Paul surprised,
he let them lift each foot for the sacrifice--
just switched at the flies as if he didn't mind.
            "Don't hurt him none."
                      Some hurts are a different kind.
And I left and ran along the hot summer street
as if someone might catch me, pound shoes on my feet.


Doris Watts lives in Temecula, California. Her poems have appeared in The Formalist (she was twice a finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Competition), Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, and The Mid-American Poetry Review. She graduated from the University of Redlands and completed a Special Major Master's Degree in Technical Communication at San Diego State University where she taught briefly as an adjunct. She has worked as a usability specialist, examining the human interface with hardware and software documentation, and as a technical writer.


Maryann Corbett
Nausheen Eusuf
Anna Evans
Dolores Hayden
Luann Landon
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Alexandra Oliver
Wendy Vardaman
Doris Watts
Holly Woodward
Marly Youmans

Lauren Clay: Addressing feelings of lost cultural identity and sitelessness, this work investigates ideas of the self as discerned through the lense of place and site. The search is influenced by various mythologies of place, such as the inherited place, found through home and community; the internal place which exists in the psyche or imagination; and the discovered place, found through study or travel.
32 Poems
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