The 2River View 27.4 (Summer 2023)

Jeff Friedman

In the Drought

The windows were so dry they shook when anyone walked under them. We had deserts in our eyes, and when we touched things, sparks leaped from our fingertips. Dust floated through our dreams. When anyone would cry, we collected the tears in jars and saved them. Our dowsers followed their jittery forked sticks to gullies and rocky beds where rivers had evaporated. Together, we chanted and danced, praying for rain. The rain fell, but by the time it reached us, it was dry.

The Lies

The lies swarm our town, buzzing so loudly some of us go mad, while others hold their hands over their ears and fall to the ground, and others run inside, locking doors and shutting windows. But some stand very still thinking that they will go unnoticed. The lies cover them from head to toe, stinging them until their bodies throb with pain. The rest of us live inside clouds of lies that vibrate like millions of cellular voices talking all at once.

Jeff Friedman has published nine collections of poetry and prose, including The Marksman, Floating Tale, and Pretenders. His tenth book, Ashes in Paradise, is scheduled for publication by Madhat Press in fall 2023.

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