All Articles by Fred Dale


Mid-spring, we’d step into our magnolias,

branches like a many-armed justice, dark

columned trunks brandishing the drilled-

in patterns of woodpeckers. They held us

as we stretched our wildly bruised legs,

leaned exhaustion against their beams,

sorting the mysteries of our boyhoods,

the mingled lies of parents and priests.


Our wrestled explorations with the body

were enough of a savage life, yet it must

have been our play that urged sweetness

through the knotty limbs in host-colored

flowers, the saved lightening of our long,

stunning summers, near-cloying blooms

older than bees, each a bright fruit skin

browned overnight by the moon’s agile


eye. These sad summers, magnolias no

longer witness the red seeds of secrets,

Kids have places to be that are not trees.

I look into their emptiness. Their fallen

leaf tiles of baked terra cotta scream out

when stepped on, such noise, giving me

away to neighbors who return hellos as

I walk by with Earl, children piling up


along our lives.




The earthen pier curls comma-like from the land.

Better yet, it’s an apostrophe marking possession,

converting the loch into a word absorbed in water.

At its barbed end, a girl takes up handfuls of rock,

the substance of its body, and chucks them with

machine-like precision, a whirling varmint raising

holy hell. I feel for rocks—the way she feels for

rocks, spinning in the wind like a roadside prop,

a steady arc and a steady splash, the fish thinking

the rain changed to brimstone. The pier doomed,

the loch’s possession lost, she begins to relocate

Scotland. One spirited girl throws a pier across

a loch, and before her parents realize it, her wild-

ness becomes a moving mountain taking back all

its possessions, until there’s no place she can’t go.