Who is Left
by Janet Zupan

   War:  A conflict which does not determine who is right—but who is left

Inside, the trunk is calm: a row of cigars
for babies born, pocketknives with folded blades,
conversations filed in bundles by tour

of duty.  Everything has its space—
the cigars comfortable as fingers
ready for an open palm or smooth face

to stroke.  And the missives, tender
at the proper time, the quick explosions
of new love banded like the surrender

each admits.  A tray of coins, Asian,
oxidized, scarves, silk with military
stripes.  The order leaves room, invitation

to climb inside and close the lid, to curl
in the black scent of teak while measured air
reduces a crumbling summer to fall.

by Janet Zupan

I’m the wind in full moan
no matter how he flips the wingwindow.
Wrappers hiss on his dash.  I’ve cracked

a weedy face in the road he travels
tapped valves loose in the truck
he never paid off.  Speeding down

Pearblossom Highway, he sees
one after another piñon or yucca
contorted from years of gust

and devils.  Forty miles
through their squatting shadows
is the only town, full of fruitstands

boarded by night.  The Ford cuts
a fast shadow across
their wooden faces and he thinks

of my skin, smooth as cherries.
By the end of today’s map, he’ll fall
a hundred miles short

his destination.  He rests
in a Palmdale curve.  The star-
pocked night is round as an eye

fair as the coyote giving
a father’s cry from a canyon.
Dreams are a lull until

sandstorms come between him
and the horizon.  When he wakes
I’m there, hungry

around creosote and sage,
with the shifting shoulders
of a dune, moaning low.

by Janet Zupan

The bus scissors slow through an afternoon
of rickshaws and bicycles, spokes
unsteady in the crowded weave
baskets brimming with open market
accumulations of perch, peppers, rice
fecund green of beans, wrapped
in a salty something the child
can’t place, can’t figure.  She
toes up dirt from the rubber mat
while women holding aisle loops brace
for wheezing brakes, their conversations
the cadence of tinkling glass
between roars of low gear and squeal
ribbons or running children on side streets
bus driver in a backward mirror
reminding the child of faces—her father’s
somewhere out there in the confusion
her mother’s face tangled
in silence beside her, wondering
what to do
what to do   


Janet Zupan earned her M.F.A. at the University of Montana in
1996.  She is presently a college instructor at the same institution.  
Her poems have appeared in
Cumberland Poetry Review and
Talking River Review, and she contributed to a collection edited
by Paul Auster:
I Thought My Father Was God (H. Holt, 2001).  
In March 2005, her editorial (“Painful Echoes”) appeared first in
The Washington Post and thereafter in various newspapers.  She
is presently at work on a book of poetry entitled
Water Maps.

On “Missing the Stop”:  
My mother and I once boarded a bus in
Taipei, a city my dad celebrated and explored, a city my mom
shrank from and feared.  It was a sweltering afternoon; the bus
was packed with Saturday market shoppers.  On a ride that must
have felt comfortable and safe to the locals, we stared ahead,
knowing each lurch of the bus took us deeper into a mysterious,
foreign world.  I don't remember how we finally found our way to
the right stop, where my father waited, calm and smiling, but I
clearly recall the unease, the quease of our fear.

Previous Page    Apple Valley Review, Spring 2006    Next page
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 1, Number 1
(Spring 2006)

Copyright © 2006
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

Missing the Stop
Prodigal Daughter