Spotlight: The End of Cursive / City With Two Exits / Downstream, My Older Brother Holds My Hand

The End of Cursive

One day, fog rolls up from the pond’s
dull mouth, skims our face, dissipates.

The songbirds appear misplaced, greedy.
How quickly the sparrows drop

pathside to scratch for winged seeds
lying golden among the goose turds.

The fog’s unraveling strands are cursive,
you say, scrawled in a vanishing ink.

I recall those times we were apart, your fine hand.
Remember the piney ink scenting the fibers?

The birdlike curves of the vowels,
our new words flying headlong forward—

later, exploding off the page
like blackbirds from their twigs and jagged glass.

When you drift away, a startling whiteness
fills the space after you, blurs the gesture:

your shoulders widening,
your face turning to mine,


wait: so much appears left out,

as when dear marks the beginning
and always, the end.



City With Two Exits

A sunny day, this bus barrels
down the city’s gorges
a sudden gust thrusts us across the bridge
rips off the bus roof—
my suitcase unhinged
underwear wanton in the branches
my lumpy cap the acrobat
it dreamed of becoming
twisting down to the whitecaps
my jacket spiraling down too
spastic in its goodbye throes
chest fat with fish breeze
cuffs flashing their brass buttons
and, back and forthing
the inexhaustible leopard sharks
their tender snouts rending the arms—
from the gill slits, a blort of stars



Downstream, My Older Brother Holds My Hand

Stars burn on summer’s black canal,
the adults are slashing the water
with heavy flashlights, hunting bullfrogs.
Eyes blink from the tangled banks.

Sudden plunks, a flurry of sploshes.
We spot our father, whiskey bottle
glimmering through thick rushes, with Ann
in the mud-soaked moccasins.

Opposite, on the bank, Ann’s husband
stalks his quarry. They are all boon friends.
He holds his pillowcase, empty
and a sharp beam to stun them.

Midnight drums with muscular cries,
the chorus resounds, desire
pulses every throat. Our father’s light falters,
dies behind tall reeds. Ann follows.

My brother stops. Tosses off my hand.
Ann’s husband drags his torch down the bank.
All eyes tilt up at him, tensed. Nobody
knows what’s coming.

Stars are drumming the black canal.
The adults are burning and slashing.
Eyes blink on tangled banks. My brother’s
hands are sobbing, Shut up. Shut up.


Lis Sanchez has writing appearing or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Harvard Review Online, Salamander, New Orleans Review, Spillway, The Bark, Puerto Del Sol, The Boiler, Baltimore Review, Journal of Wild Culture, and elsewhere.  She is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Writer’s Fellowship; Prairie Schooner’s Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing; Nimrod’s Editors’ Choice Award; The Greensboro Review Award for Fiction, and others.

Photo Credit: Paul Gussler