What Elves Talk About in the
Lunch Room
by Joanne Lowery

First and foremost, how hard they worked all morning
in the toadstool-strewn forest.
So much that got cleared yesterday has grown back
thanks to midnight’s fertilizer.
Their arms are too stubby, their shoulders
in need of re-design to spin like pinwheels
as they lift and toss.  Actually
it’s not such bad work, and at day’s end
there’s a pipe to be smoked, a jig
to paradoxically soothe their slippered feet.
Next weekend beckons like a prince on a white horse.
The newcomer Tildazia passes the ketchup
in silence.  Actually she has never seen a prince
though every night she dreams of riding bareback
far from the offer to share her recipe
for lichen au gratin and telling the others
how to knit shawls from moth wings.
When she goes back to finish trimming the gorse,
the chatter falls away from her feet like thorns.

by Joanne Lowery

First I greeted the almost day,
shook its pre-dawn hand and exchanged
folded messages in the negative,
things like
don’t let me get bad news
about my kids, the president, global warming—
give me a break, wontcha?
I stretched the strings in my left arm
so my shoulder would play a less painful
music.  Humming, no lyrics.
Early, while the traffic lights were still
in blinking yellow mode, I drove a friend
to the airport, and after I dropped him off
the car’s destination was revealed
in green arrows on the pavement
reflected from fully operative signals.
So I followed them, and my heart lifted
because my friend had rewarded me
with a bar of imported chocolate
and soon I would go to the job
that masquerades as purpose.
I would eat one row of chocolate squares
with impunity, maybe even triumph.
After all, the sun was about to prove
that it would light our way
one more day, I had not overslept,
and for a second or two
I was not afraid of cholesterol
or small rays of glory.


Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines,
Birmingham Poetry Review, Eclipse, Smartish Pace,
Cimarron Review, roger, and Poetry East.  Her collection Call Me
won the 2009 Frank Cat Poetry Prize.  She lives in Michigan.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 5, Number 1
(Spring 2010)

Copyright © 2010
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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