Mike Lewis-Beck: “Private Eye”

Private Eye

There’s been no rain.
People wait
before the Hall of Justice—
not waiting for justice, no reign.

First guess. A protest, Chavez country.
No, just a line, a snake dance
for driver’s licenses
or child support payments.

Seven am and the sky a burnt blue.
They wait, haggard now, a Bible
Banger saying God gave them Freedom
Of Choice and won’t take it back…

A young fella, farm shoulders—
no shirt—bums a light for his smoke,
throws the lady her matches back, doesn’t take the light.
The lady says, What that mother Okie crazy do that?
The Bible Banger walks, checks
his red cell, his grey meter, his beat-up
Chevelle wagon, California plates, blue on white.
I pencil out the number, since maybe it’s him.

Seven-thirty am. The hall doors open.


Mike Lewis-Beck writes and works in Iowa City. He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review, Pilgrimage, Iowa Review, Rootstalk, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues. His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” received a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015. His essay, “My Cherry Orchard in Iowa,” received recognition as one of the “Notable Essays” in Best American Essays of 2011. His poetry book manuscript, Wry Encounters, was a Finalist for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award 2016.

Tony Gorry: “Falling Leaves”

Falling Leaves

Quiet creeps down through old elms
now open to the clear autumn sky.
I stand before my childhood home
and the scent of burning leaves
loosens the grip of time.

In bushes near an iron gate
a concrete angel watches, a teacher.
She’s long awaited my homecoming.
She parts hazy curtains, welcoming
me to the clapboard house.
She returns the slatted swing to the porch
and the gazing ball to the lawn
near the sapling my father and I planted
before he went to war.

This lofty tree marks decades
and I’ve grown old and stiff.
yet under its spread
I take on the body of my youthful days
that rolled in piles of leaves
like a forest troll with twig-tangled hair.

A red orange leaf takes flight
and drifts aimlessly down to the lawn
where I stand with leaves from another time
still clinging to me.


Tony Gorry‘s essays, memoir, and poetry have appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Chronicle Review, The Examined Life Journal, The New Atlantis, The Fiddleback, Cleaver Magazine, and Belle Rêve Literary Journal. His essay in War, Literature and the Arts was cited as Notable in 100 Best American Essays 2012. His book, Memory’s Encouragement, was published by Paul Dry Books in April 2017.