Josh lives in Columbia, MO with his wife, Angela. He recently graduated from the Masters of English program at the University of Missouri and now teaches at several schools in the area. His various works have appeared (or are set to appear) in Storyscape, Foliate Oak, Bridge Eight, Scissors & Spackle, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.
The State Orchestra Plays the Lakeside Amphitheater
The Chinese conductor, in her American
debut, drives the band beat by beat with the flick
of her wrists. Her baton swipes gnat and aphid
trombone tone and piccolo pip, alike.
The band buzzes, the band hums, the band—
wave on wave against the green hill—breaks. And
she is a fencer antagonizing sound.
She's a six gun fighter on the edge
of the stage: takes ten measures, turns, and shoots. She's
the captain of a sinking ship, still blitzing
the approaching marauders with sweet, hot
cannon sound. She's a frayed bow drawn across
brittle horse gut strings. She's the wind’s clatter
caressing dry bones. She is music, music,
muscled and moving. She’s BOP and bow
and no more.
She’s settled the score.
at the folk rock concert
fishes the wedge of lime from his
dwindling rum and coke. He plucks the citrus
vesicles in bunches with his teeth.
They taste green and pulpy and
The lights are red, blue,
yellow. The kick drum thrums through
his thoracic cavity. His heart
is all guitar buzz. Were he to spread his
arms wide as an angel’s wings or
helicopter blades, he
could touch a dozen
faces—one for each finger
and enough left over for both elbows.
Were he to twirl a dervish, the bodies
hemming him in would slowly part;
they would let him slip
to the center of the room, towards
the exit signs unholy beacon.
Perhaps there, he could find himself in the
open air: the pulsating dark
just to be his own
hurricane. As it is, he sees
the concert through, goes home quietly, and falls
asleep in his own bed. The next day he
inexplicably wakes with raspberry
jam on his right forearm.
Jam the color of blood,
sweet as sugar, sticky, yet
sure to do him no harm.
The simple music
of morning frost whispers
soft over the graveyard.
Sun pours through
the eastern clouds cast
in oranges, blues, and golds.
The morning air accepts
my breath in foggy
prayers and puffs.
In this light,
urge to be among
the dead strikes.
Thus I stop by the cemetery
entrance to jot a few lines.
I walk on.
The living are always
so sure they have
somewhere to be.
The dead, instead, have
learned total rest.Both of these suit me.